The roots of Siddha medical system, which has been practiced in South India, go far beyond the historical boundaries. It has existed as a separate system of medicine thousands of years before the dawn of history. Although this system declined in later years by the changing modes of life and by the interventions of western colonial influences, it has still continued to exist in many parts of South India. It is said that it has been the mother of ancient medicines such as Ayurveda and some Chinese medicines.
Siddha: The Medical Heritage of India
It is strongly believed that this Siddha system dates back to 10,000 years B.C. The findings of historians and the Tamil literary works such as Tholkappiam, and Thirumandhiram reveal many facts about the growth of science (including medicine). Evidences for the ancient knowledge of Siddha system have been traced even in the archeological findings of The Indus valley civilization. Another important factor for its intrinsic merit is that it has been growing in popularity throughout these centuries. Anyhow there is no doubt that the Siddha system has been the heritage of India, especially of the Tamils, suited to culture, tradition and background of the country.
Siddhars: The Founders of the Siddha System
The Siddhars, who are the founders of this system, had profound knowledge of human anatomy, human physiology, human psychology and treatment of diseases. They have passed their knowledge to the generations through their poetical passages which were recorded by their successors in palm leaves in course of time. They are found in the literatures mentioned above. Many of them are still found in damaged condition in remote villages of South Indian districts. A lot of them are still kept in archeological archives unable to be deciphered. If they could be brought to light surely there will be revolution of knowledge in the medical world. Luckily some of them which have been brought to light recently have begun to attract the attention of the western medical world as these discoveries prescribe medicines for some baffling diseases.
Siddha: The Development of Chemistry
Siddha system has its own well-developed chemistry and the development of alchemy has resulted in the genesis of numeral mineral and metallic preparations. There are mentions about these preparations found in literature written thousands of years before Christ. The unique feature of Siddha system is its usage of minerals, metals and herbs in proper proportions to yield the best effect which we do not find in other systems. Thus this system is well equipped to combat many diseases, even diseases like cancer, which baffle and elude the sophisticated modern medical system.
Siddha: A Holistic Medical System
Siddha system is holistic in itself. It considers the body as a whole, made of five elements, i.e. the earth (mann), water (neer), fire (thee), air (kataru) and atmosphere (akayam) which are the fundamental principles of creation, protection and construction. Western medical systems insist on prescribing medicines to alleviate the suffering. Siddha is very particular about finding the root cause of the disease and treating the patient instead of the disease. Diagnosing the patient and the disease in all possible ways is considered very important in Siddha. It treats the patient to get a complete recovery.
Siddha Literature: Still A Sealed Book
Time has come to go deep and fathom into this sea of medical knowledge. It is quite fitting to conclude this article with the words of Vaidhyarathna Sreenivasamoorthy, the founder principal of the Government school of medicine, Madras(Chennai), “The recent excavations in the North West India had shown that learning and culture had, in very ancient times, gone from South India to many parts of the world, and a day will soon come through translations from the original difficult Tamil, people all over the world could understand the wonderful Siddha literature which is still mostly a sealed book.”