(Paper presented by Siddha Vaidya P.S.Narasimha
swamy, Director-Agasthya Siddha Literature Research Centre, #1495, Krishna murthy Puram, Mysore-570004, Karnataka State, INDIA.
Ph: 09845167119, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , web: agasthiaherbal.tripod.com)
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
A scientific theory is not a guess or an approximation but an extensive explanation developed
from well-documented and reproducible sets of data derived from experiments, which repeatedly observe natural processes. It
is testable against the empirical world (verifiable) and its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final
word. Based on scientific data, models
are developed and it is important to note that these models are not decided in advance but can be modified and improved as
new empirical evidence is uncovered. Science is constantly subject to peer-review and can be seen to be a self-correcting
attempt to understand nature and the observable universe. Scientific theories do not start with a conclusion or seek only
data that the initial conclusion supports. Further, science does not base its theories on un-testable collections of dogmatic,
mythical or mystical proposals but is characterized by questions, hypothetical proposals, and design of empirical models and
conceptual frameworks with the aim of researching natural events.
It must be emphasized here that to carry out science
it is not always necessary to conduct experiments. Science actually requires that a hypothesis or model is formulated and
that it is then tested against observations to determine its validity. And experiments are just one means of generating those
observations that the validation of a given hypothesis requires.
It must also be emphasized here that within science many
things are not directly observable. No scientist is able to see within the heart of a star or planet, no one has directly
observed "black-holes", dinosaurs, gravity or sub-atomic molecules but much data is available concerning these objects and
few scientists doubt the validity of such findings.
background, this paper will now present the case of the Siddha medicine as a system based on sound principles of ancient Indian
science and always open for validation and evaluation by tools and techniques of contemporary science and technology. The paper
begins with an overview of the system highlighting all its essential aspects.
SIDDHA is one of the oldest medical systems
of India, founded and devoloped by 18 Siddhars (saints) headed
by AGASTHYA SIDDHA and dated to 400-300 B.C. The word “Siddha” means ‘ever sure’, ‘ever lasting’,
‘conquering death’ and so on. Siddhar is one who attains ‘Kaya Siddhi’ (protection of one’s
constitution for the attainment of health and happiness). Although Siddha system declined in later years, in the wake of changing
mode of life and modern medicine, it continues to sustain its influence on the masses because of its incomparable intrinsic
merits. Its increasing popularity in India and abroad speaks
volumes for its ever-lasting efficacy.
- The founder of Siddha System of medicine
Siddha system considers body as
made of five elements (earth, water, fire, wind and ether) which are the fundamental principles of creation, protection and
destruction. The treatment for ailments is based on Tridosha (Vatha, Pitha and Kapha) theory. Diagnosis is through pulse reading
and recording of detailed history of the ailment, environmental factors, food habits, state of mind, etc. and medication is prepared and administered based on these individual factors. The system is famous for
its broad pharmaceutical base involving vegetable herbs (1008 varieties), piosons (64 varieties), salts (28varieties), metals
(9 kinds) and other organic products. The characteristic feature of Siddha medicine is metallic and mineral base which was
later incorporated into the Ayurvedic Materia Medica.
An astounding fact about Siddha medicine
is that although no microscope ever existed during the Siddha period, leave alone sophisticated labs, Siddhars were able to
classify and highlight the therapeutic benefits of more than 6000 herbs. This was probably due to their yogic and spiritual
powers or intutive intelligence. Or maybe they had developed capabilities to directly receive clues from various creations
siddha medicine preparation-the traditional way
The approach of Siddhars was holistic and
not disease-specific, and prominence was given to preventive rather than curative aspects and respiration rather than circulation.
CLUES GIVEN OUT BY PLANTS
Similarities in the shape of the plant part and the human
Ø Brain shaped leaves of ‘centella
asiatica’ and brain shaped kernel of ‘walnut’ are considered as brain tonic.
Ø Heart shaped leaves of ‘tinospora cordifolia’ for heart disorders.
Ø The human genital shaped seeds of ‘citrus colocynthus’for impotency.
Ø The hairy plant of ‘arnebia benthami’ as hair tonic.
Similarities between plant parts and medical conditions
Ø The serpentine roots of ‘rawolfia serpentina’ for snake bites.
Ø White juice-yielding tubers of ‘asperagus recimosis’ for lactation.
Ø Jointed stem of ‘cissus quadrangularis for fractures.
Similarities between plant properties and medical
Ø The horse-urine-smell emitting ‘withania
somnifera’, for general virility.
Ø The leaves of ‘gymnema sylvestrae’ which temporarily paralyses
the sweet sensing taste buds on the tongue, for diabetes.
Similarities between plant part colour and medical
Ø Fair coloured ‘turmeric’, ‘sandal’, and ‘kesar’
for fair complexion.
Ø Red coloured ‘aloe vera’ for red discharge.
Ø White coloured ‘hibiscus’ for white discharge.
Ø Red dye yeilding ‘rubia cordifolia’ for blood purification.
Ø White coloured seeds of ‘abrus precatorius’ for leucoderma.
GUIDELINES FOR SIDDHA VAIDYAS
A Siddha physician should
1. Go for the herbal collection personally
and should not entrust the job to others.
2. Be well versed with the preparation
and purification processes.
3. Prepare medicines according to individual
4. Know the proper ‘anupanam’
(vehicle) through which the medicine is administered.
5. Pluck the plants only on the specifid
days as mentioned in the ancient scripts.
6 .Use roots plunging towards north direction
only as such roots have more medicinal value.
7.Not be greedy and help patients who are
8. Offer a prayer to Mother Earth before
uprooting a plant.
There are eight kinds of diagnostic procedures
in Siddha practice to aid better understanding and treatment of the ailment as desribed below:
Pulse reading: Balanced Vatha pulse, Pitha pulse and Kapha pulse will be like the walk of a hen, tortoise and frog respectively.
Urine test: Upon adding a drop of sesame oil to the urine collected in a mud pot, if the oil floats like a thread, it
is Vatha domination, if the oil floats as a round ring it is Pitha domination and if the oil spreads, it is Kapha domination.
Eyes: Eyes look dry in Vatha, yellowish in Pitha and watery in Kapha.
Feacal test: If the stools float on water it indicates good digestion, absorption and assimilation, and if it sinks the
diagnosis is otherwise.
Voice: Hoarseness indicates Kapha and low tone Pitha.
Touch: If the body is cold it is Vatha, if it is hot it is Pitha and if it is sweating it is Kapha
Colour: Skin looks pale in Kapha and rough in Vatha, skin and hair split
Tongue: Cold and hard is Vatha, red or yellow is Pitha and white and sticky is Kapha
COLLECTION OF HERBS AND PREPARATION OF MEDICINE
Right from collection of herbs to the
preparation of medicine, Siddhars have laid down certain guidelines, which when followed strictly can lead to the purest and
most potent end-products with virtually no side effects. For instance, usage of mechanical devices in place of pestle and
mortar, and commercial-scale and season-insensitive plucking of plants have led to distortion of the efficacy of the end products
and extinction of rare medicinal flora. Such aspects that go against the ancient prinicples need to be scientifically investigated
A siddha vaidya should personally do the collection of herbs
AND METALLIC PREPARATIONS
These are the byproducts of Siddhars’
alchemy practices and the details are found in their treatise called “Rasa Sasthiram. With their vast knowledge of the
vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms, Siddhars made the best use of these byproducts termed as ‘parpam’ (bhasma)
and ‘chendooram’ (sindhoora). Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, sulphur, silver, gold and copper were
converted to ‘ashes’ by ‘sand bath’, ‘puta’ and similar other specialized processes. The
metallic contents of the bhasma are ‘killed’by these processes and the bhasma is potentiated by some herbal extracts
and juices which can help preservation up to 100 years or even more without loss of its potency. Thus the therapeutic powers
of some seasonal herbs which are not readily available throughout the year are also preserved during the making of metallic
and mineral preparations. After preparation, the bhasma was subjected to range of potency tests and even if a small quantity
of metallic content was found in the end product, the whole process used to be repeated several times to arrive at the finished
product in colloidal form with no metal toxicity to the human system.
a copper wire and copper bhasma The ‘puta’ system of making metallic ashes
Burning process in the preparation of a Siddha metallic preparation
A MAJOR SOURCE BOOK
Late Dr.K.M.Nadakarni (India)
made a great contribution to herbal science through his monumental work “Indian Materia Medica” with Ayurvedic,
Unani, Siddha, Homeo, Naturopathic and Home remedy appendices and indexes. The botonical identity, action and uses in Indian
systems of medicine and homeopathy, the details of parts used, and the constituents, uses, essential acids and alkaloids of
more than 2600 plants are studied and documented in this book. Similar details are also given for 58 minerals and 130 animal
origin ingredients. This was done through extensive research and systematic experimentation and fieldwork. The contents of
this book open up exciting opportunities for scientific and technical studies in Siddha medicine.
EXCITING POSSIBILITIES AHEAD
In conclusion, it must be said that Siddha
medicine offers exciting avenues for investigations in the light of modern science and technology. Such investigations can
lead to significant breakthroughs not just in herbal pharmaceuticals, but in conceptual and practical knowledge as well, with
far-reaching benefits for the existing system of healthcare as a whole. But such investigative studies must necessarily be
multidisciplinary, with full involvement of scholars in ancient Tamil scriptures, veteran Siddha Vaidyas, and tribal folks
with knowledge of fieldwork, historians and several other members of the Siddha medical community at the local level. Exploration
of the goldmine of Siddha knowledge and wisdom is certainly worth substantial investments of human and financial resources.
1.Dr.K.M.Nadakarni’s Indian Meteria Medica (1954)
2. Siddhar padalgal (collection)
3.Nam nattu siddhargal by Dr.Manickavasagam
5.Vadavaidyathukku adi by Sri. Balaramaiah
6.Medicinal plants of India by ICMR
7.Siddha Medicine an overview by Prof.B.V.Subbarayappa
9.Padinen Siddhargal Vaidya Sara sangraham (collection)
10.Herbal Heritage, Vol.4, 5, and 8 by Dr. P.S. Narasimhaswamy
album of the author
and courtesy of .The Hindu’ folio dt.22nd oct.2000