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About Siddhas

Siddha is one of the oldest system of medicine practiced in India. This system was developed in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is supposed to have been conceived by the Siddhas or evolved souls ( numbering 18) who lived in the past. The word 'Siddha' comes from 'Siddhi' which means an object to be attained or perfection of heavenly bliss.

Siddhas or Siddhars were great doctors of medicine, philosophers, men with deep knowledge of anatomy and chemistry and savants noted for their wide travel, simple living and high thinking. The Siddhas have their own manuscripts or basic works, written in secret code. Some of the treasured treatises on medicine are poems in palm leaf manuscripts which are now preserved in the Saraswathi Mahal Library, Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu. They were the pioneers in the use of metals and minerals in the treatment of diseases.

The systems of Siddha and Ayurveda are very much similar. In both systems, the basis of treatment is the three element theory or 'tridosha' (three humours). The three humours are Vatha (air), Pitta (bile) and Kapha (phlegm). It is believed that without these humours an individual cannot exist and imbalance of these may cause diseases. There are number of medicines common to both Siddha and Ayurveda. In both systems medicines are prescribed to set right the imbalance in the three life factors.

In Siddha, diseases are diagnosed mainly with the help of signs and symptoms of diseases. Other factors that help to diagnose diseases are touch, examining the pulse, tongue, colour, speech, eyes, faeces and urine. The main aim of Siddha is to assure a healthy life to man kind.

In the Indian tradition, the Siddhas are generally classified into Natha Siddha, Rasa Siddhas, Mahesvara Siddhas, and Sangata Siddhas. the Rasa Siddhas are medicine men, while the Sangata Siddhas are the Buddhist Siddhas. the doctrinal difference among the various groups of Siddhas are minor, and a genuine Siddhas would not mind acquiring initiation into several of these groups. To become a Siddha, sectarian affiliation is unnecessary and irrelevant. Yet it is customary to classify Siddhas into the above groups.

About Siddhi

A siddha is one who has attained siddhi, i.e. "power, prowess, strength, ability", then a special kind of psychic and supernatural, miraculous, occult power. There are eight kinds of super natural powers called as "Ashtama Siddhis": 1.ANIMA (shrinking) -- Power of becoming the size of an atom and entering the smallest beings. 2.MAHIMA (illimitability) -- Power of becoming mighty and co-extensive with the universe. The power of increasing one's size without limit.3.LAGIMA (lightness) -- Capacity to be quite light though big in size. 4. GARIMA (weight) -- Capacity to weigh heavy, though seemingly small size. 5.PRAPATHI (fulfillment of desires) -- Capacity to enter all the worlds from Brahma Loga to the neither world. It is the power of attaining everything desired.6.PRAKASYSM (irresistable will) -- Power of disembodying and entering into other bodies (metempsychosis) and going to heaven and enjoying what everyone aspires for, simply from where he stays.7.ISITHAVAM (supremacy) -- Have the creative power of God and control over the Sun.8.VASITHAVAM (dominion over the elements) -- Power of control over King and Gods. The power of changing the course of nature and assuming any form.

Culture & History of Siddha Medicine:

The science of medicine is of fundamental importance to man's well being and his survival, and so it must have originated with man and developed as civilization advanced. It is therefore rather pointless to try to determine the exact point of time when any system of medicine was evolved and codified. A system of medicine is not a discovery but a gradual evolution during successive periods of history. It owes its progress to great men, who have not only enriched the science, but also society and civilization as a whole.

There are two ancient systems of medicine in India, the Siddha that flourished in the South and the Ayurveda prevalent in the North. Instead of giving the name of any one individual as the founder of either system, our ancients wisely attributed their origin to the Creator. According to tradition, it was Shiva who unfolded the knowledge of Siddha system of medicine to his consort, Parvati, who handed it down to Nandideva and he, to Siddhars. Therefore it is called 'Saiva Sampradayam' (tradition of Shive), or 'Siddha Sampradayam'. In the case of Ayurveda it was Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, who taught the science to Prajapati, he to Aswini Devatas and they, in their turn, to Atreya etc. So this tradition is called the Brahma or Arsha Sampradaya (the tradition of Rishis). The inference to be drawn from these traditions is that, there is no exact point of time to which the beginning of these systems could be traced. They are eternal, without a beginning or end; they began with man .

The Tamils have a distinct civilization, which is not disputed by historians. The recorded history of the Tamils is thousands of years old. Apart from the literature of the first, the middle and the last Sangam periods which bears ample testimony to the extent of Tamil civilization and its eminence, mention is made even in contemporary Sanskrit literature about Cholas, Pandiyas and Cheras and their kingdoms. A civilized society must naturally have had a system of medicine which catered to the health needs of its people. This was the Siddha system. The term 'Siddhi' means 'achievement' and the Siddhars were men who achieved certain results in medicine, as well as in yoga or tapas. The results in medicine were achieved by the Siddhars through their mental powers, they bequeathed to their 'Chilas' or pupils, who preserved and propagated the science.

Eighteen siddhas seem to have existed. They should have lived at different periods and bequeathed their experiences in medicine and yoga to posterity. The names of these eighteen Siddhas differ from one source to another. It is not necessary to dogmatise which of these enumerations is correct. Some of the Siddhas, for example, Kapila and Kakabujanda have written treatises both in Tamil and in Sanskrit. It is possible that the originals were written in Tamil and that they were translated into Sanskrit later.

The following is the list of eighteen Siddhas according to one recension: 1. Nandi 2. Agasthiyar 3. Thirumular 4. Punnakkeesar 5. Pulasthiyar 6. Poonaikannar 7. Idaikadar 8. Bogar 9. Pulikai Isar 10. Karuvurar 11. Konkanavar 12. Kalangi 13. Sattainathar 14. Azhuganni 15. Agappai 16. Pambatti 17. Theraiyar and 18. Kudhambai.

Names like Bogar, Idaikadar and Theraiyar are of recent origin and these Siddhars lived probably in the middle ages. There are also authors of Siddha treatises like Sattaimuni, Yugimuni, Macha Muni, Kakabusundar etc., whose works are available in parts at the present day and are being used