Historical knowledge

Siddha medicine in Tamil Nadu

The author presents a detailed insight into the principles and practices of the Tamil medical tradition of Siddha. Siddha’s history along with its principles of diagnosis and treatment is compared to that of north India’s Ayurvedic medical tradition. In this way, both traditions of Indian medicine are understood in relationship to one another.
Tradition attributes a divine origin to Siddha medicine. Both the universe and the human body derive from the same five basic elements: wind, space/ether, fire, water, and earth. They combine to provide each individual with his or her unique configuration of the three basic humours or doshas in human beings: wind, bile, and phlegm, called the person’s basic nature. A skilled physician uses various methods, including the examination of the patient’s pulse and urine, to diagnose an imbalance in the patient’s basic nature. Treatment, aimed at the restoration of the imbalance, involves the use of plant-based and especially metal- and mineral- based medicines, which are said to be imbued with an esoteric substance called muppu.

Zysk, Kenneth. (2008). “Sidda Medicine in Tamil Nadu”, in Esther Fihl (ed.), Tranquebar Initiativets Skriftserie, no. 4. Nationalmuseet.

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