- Dr. A.B.D. SELVAM
The term ‘Siddha’ means achievement. Group of Saints known as Siddhars have developed the Siddha medical system during different periods of time. The word ‘Siddhar’ is derived from ‘Siddhi’, which means ‘Eternal Bliss’. Siddhars have achieved supreme knowledge in herbal medicine and enlightened spiritually as well. In short, Siddha Medicine means ‘Medicine that is eternally perfect’.
Origin and Development
Siddha system of medicine is about 10,000 years old. Siddha system is the oldest medical system in India. Several Siddhars have contributed towards the development of this medical system, among them there are 18 prominent Siddhars. Of these 18 Siddhars, Agasthiyar is considered as the foremost and his work is considered as outstanding in Siddha Medicine. Agasthiyar occupies the same position as that of Hippocrates, the Greek physician who is considered as father of medicine. The Palani hill in Tamil Nadu is rich in medicinal plants and it was the abode of Siddhars. The literature of Siddha medicine is available in Classical Tamil and it is mainly practiced in Southern part of India.
Basic Concept and Principles
The basic concept of the Siddhars, ‘food is medicine and medicine is food’ very appropriately captures the holistic approach adopted by Indian systems of Medicine. According to Siddha medicine, there are seven elements viz. saram (plasma), cheneer (blood), ooun (muscle), kozhuppu (fat), elumbu (bone), moolai (nerve) and inthiriyam (semen) that are responsible for physical, physiological and psychological functions of the human body. These seven elements are activated by three components or humors viz. vatha (air), pitha (fire or heat or energy) and kapha (water).
It is believed that these three components or humors are normally available in a particular ratio in our body. When the equilibrium of these three humors is disturbed in our body, various disorders or diseases are caused. The major factors that affect or disturb the equilibrium state of these three humors (tridhoshas) in our body are diet, physical activities, environmental factors and stress.
Use of metals and minerals is predominant in Siddha medicine when compared to other Indian systems of medicine (ISM). Pulse reading, examining the body by touch, voice, color, eyes, tongue, urine and stool are the major basic diagnoses in identifying the diseases and disorders. Siddha medicine also practices Varma (vital points). Siddha medicine instructs the patients ‘to do certain things’ and ‘not to do certain things’, during the medication. The treatment of Siddha medicine is aimed at keeping the three humors at equilibrium state in the body thereby keeping the seven elements in normal condition to have a healthy body and mind.
Formal Medical Education
To become a Siddha medical practitioner, a formal medical education is mandatory. There are many Siddha medical colleges which offer undergraduate degree viz. Bachelor of Siddha Medicine and Surgery (B.S.M.S.), a 5½ years course including a 6 months or 1-year internship period. After completion of this course, one can opt for a Postgraduate degree in Siddha Medicine, i.e. M.D. (Siddha), a 3 years course.
To secure admission into B.S.M.S. course, minimum eligibility is Higher Secondary Course (10 + 2) with the subjects in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Botany and Zoology. Generally, admission/selection for this course is made based on a Common Entrance Examination.
A list of government and private Medical colleges, Universities and Institutions, which offer undergraduate and/or postgraduate courses in Siddha medicine are given below.
1. Government Siddha Medical College, Arumpakkam, Chennai - 600106 (offers both BSMS & MD Siddha).
2. Government Siddha Medical College, Palayamkottai - 627002, Tamil Nadu (BSMS & MD Siddha).
3. National Institute of Siddha, Tambaram Sanatorium, Chennai - 600047 (MD Siddha)
4. The Tamilnadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University, 69, Anna Salai, Guindy, Chennai - 600032 (MD Siddha).
5. Government Siddha Medical College, Palani - 624601, Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu (BSMS).
6. Sri Sai Ram Siddha Medical College, Sai Leo Nagar, Poonthandalam, West Tambaram, Chennai – 600044 (BSMS).
7. R.V.S. Siddha Medical College & Hospital, Kumaran Kottam, Kannampalayam, Coimbatore – 641402, Tamil Nadu (BSMS).
8. A.T.S.V.S Siddha Medical College, Munchirai, Pudukkadai - Post, Kanyakumari – District, Tamil Nadu. PIN: 629171 (BSMS).
9. Velu Mailu Siddha Medical College, No. 48, Grand west trunk road, Sriperumbudur – 602105, Kancheepuram – District, Tamil Nadu (BSMS).
10. Sivaraj Siddha Medical College, Siddhar Kovil Road, Thumbathulipatty, Salem - 636307, Tamil Nadu (BSMS)
11. Santhigiri Siddha Medical College, Santhigiri - P.O., Pothencode, Tiruvanantha-puram – 695584, Kerala (BSMS).
(The list is indicative only)
Siddha medical system is unique in many ways, which can cure many dreadful diseases. It has to be popularized among the common public for best possible utilization. To relieve the humanity from the painful illness, more and more Siddha doctors are required. To achieve the goal, more and more Siddha medical colleges/Universities, research institutions are inevitable for the day. Therefore, it is suggested that more educational and research institutions to be opened in major cities of India or at least in the Metro cities of India to impart Siddha medicine, which will contribute to a disease free society to a large extent.
Siddha medicine is gaining popularity both within the country and abroad because of its wider acceptance as an alternative system of medicine and due to the least side effects as compared to modern medicine. One can choose a career in the field of teaching or research. A wide range of employment opportunities are available for those who opt for a career in Siddha medicine. Depending upon one’s qualification and experience, one can find job in various Government and Private Hospitals, Clinics, Nursing homes, Health Departments, Medical colleges, Drug Research institutes, Pharmaceutical industries etc., which are located in different parts of the country. One can also practice privately as Siddha physician by opening a Siddha clinic.
(The Author is a Scientist in Pharmacognosy Section, Botanical Survey of India, Howrah – 711103. E mail : firstname.lastname@example.org)