Siddha medicine

siddha medicine

siddha medicine

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List of researchers who are exploring siddha
and contributors who presented a communication on siddha in workshops at FIP


Members, biodata and research topics

S.P. Anandan (Foundation for Research and Sustainable Development (FRSD), Madurai)

Biodata

S.P. Anandan is the founder of the Foundation for Research and Sustainable Development located in Madurai. He participes to various governmental programmes on biodiversity, notably on endangered botany species, and gives lectures in Universities and NGOs.

Abstract of the project on siddha medicine

Cittarkal and ancient rock-cut caves of Saduragiri Hills, Western Ghats
Among the eighteen cittarkal belonging to the Tamil tradition, there were many who travelled to the hills of the western ghats in Tamilnadu, and chose to live and to meditate there, in rock-cut caves. Thanks to their supernatural powers (cittikkal), they adapted themselves without difficulty to the environmental conditions of these caves. There are dozens of caves located in the Saduragiri hills of the western ghats; each of them bearing the name of a cittar. For example, korakkarkuntam is a rock-cut cave in the Saduragiri hills where the cittar Korakkar is believed to have prepared his panacea for prolonging life. As in earlier times when cittarkal used to meditate in caves with the help of kayakalpam, prepared from the herbs of the hills, some hermits continue to frequent these caves and to collect medicinal plants and sacred trees.
My paper is the result of a biological survey carried out to document endangered medicinal plants endemic to the Saduragiri hills; it was whilst this survey was in progress that the caves were spotted. I have studied the environment of sixteen caves in the hills and I have biologically listed the rare and endangered medicinal plants in the ecosystem.

T. Anandan ( CRIS , Chennai)

Biodata

T. Anandan is working at the Council Research Institute for Siddha, Chennai, as researcher. He has been appointed Director of this institut as the replacement for Dr Velusamy, retired.

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

The transformation in the practice, education and research on siddha system of medicine consequent of the social changes
The practice of siddha medicine has undergone radical change both in the preparation of medicine and in the pharmaceutical forms in which the medicine is administered. In this era, in order to achieve the goal of global acceptance and of advancement in the field of medicine, education, practice and research have experienced greater changes according to the guidelines issued by WHO. These changes will be discussed in detail.

Niklas Thode Jensen (University of Copenhagen)

Biodata

Niklas Thode Jensen is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Copenhagen. Under the Erasmus/Socrates program, he spent one year at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and at the Wellcome Institute, London. His field of interest is the historical study of colonialism in the medical domain on which he has written a few articles.

Abstract of the project on siddha medicine

The Tranquebar Connection: Encounters of medicine and science in the Danish East-Indies, 1700-1850
From its inception in the 17th century the medical corps was an important element in the Danish East India Company and in the company’s main colony in South India, Tranquebar. In the 18th and first half of the 19th century the medical world of Tranquebar consisted of three groups: the surgeons employed by the company; the medical doctors of the protestant Danish-Halle mission; and the practitioners of traditional Indian medicine. This project will investigate the encounters and interactions between these groups of European and Indian doctors; between the doctors and the various groups in Tranquebarian society; and between their diverse forms of healing and perceptions of illness (suffering) and sickness (disease). Investigating these encounters the project will provide significant information about living conditions and health problems in colonial South India as well as about the indigenous forms of healing, for instance Siddha medicine. It will also shed light on the scientific achievements of the doctors in Tranquebar, many of whom were doing research in the natural sciences. Through their connections to Indian doctors, princes, and scientist of other colonial nations on the subcontinent and in colonies around the world, Tranquebar became a hub of science. It can be styled The Tranquebar Connection.

N. Lalita (GIDR, Ahmedabad)

Biodata

N. Lalitha is Associate Professor in Economics, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad. She has participated in a project on access to medicines in Tamil Nadu and her current field of research is concerned with Intellectual Property Rights in the domains of industry and pharmacy. She has given many lectures on this subject and has published numerous articles in journals of Economics and Sociology.

Abstract of the project on siddha medicine

Challenges in Protecting the Traditional System of Medicine: A Case of Sidda Medicine
In Asian countries such as India, China, Sri Lanka, which are rich in natural resources, traditional systems of healing continue to be practiced by a section of the population. Modern medicine, even where programmes exist to make it available on the grassroots, as for example in India, continues to be mainly reserved for the urbanized middle classes and do not touch the majority of the rural population. It is interesting to note that in India, although the classical healing traditions (Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Yoga, Homeopathy) are being organised by creating separate administrative departments in the government and setting standards for these medicines, they do seem to only be considered as second hand medicines, which are almost completely neglected in public health policies.
Many of the modern medicines are derived from plant genetic resources. A conservative estimate mentions that value of such plant-based medicines could range between $20mn and $40 billion. While a large percentage of this would have directly accrued to the modern pharmaceutical industry also, it would be worthwhile to look at how much of this has accrued to the traditional medicinal sector and is actually shared with the community that may possess important knowledge about such resources. Though the traditional form of medicine is practiced on a large scale, yet many stakeholders may not be completely aware of and the appreciate usefulness of such practices. The increasing use of the traditional knowledge based practices and biotech based applications have resulted in countries resorting to multilateral and bilateral agreements in sharing the biogenetic resources. The Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) was brought in and has been ratified by 178 countries basically with the purpose of promoting the sustained use of such resources in order to benefit every stake holder and particularly benefit those communities and individuals which would possess knowledge of and use of genetic resources. This knowledge holders traditionally derived knowledge of a use of a particular resource, which has been passed on to them either orally but may not have been documented adequately. Hence such rich awareness about genetic resources could be limited to a particular community or known to many in a community but practically only a few would be putting them in practice. Hence, such knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant to biodiversity (traditional knowledge) are legally protected under Article 8(j) CBD. It states that “Subject to its national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices”.
In the particular case of traditional knowledge is valuable not only to those who are dependent on it for their livelihood, but to modern industry as well and particularly to the agro pharmaceutical industry. The proposed study would focus on the current practices in protecting indigenous knowledge of medicine and the modus operandi of sharing the benefits arising out of commercializing such knowledge resources either with the individual or with the community at large. Hence in the process, it becomes relevant to identify the methods and practices in (a) identifying the source of traditional knowledge which could have been passed on to generations as a `right’,(b) where it has been identified protection becomes the basic condition (c) and once identified and protected how effectively are these practices transferred to the organized industry to benefit the society. The last question becomes very complex and relevant since what does a community expects to get from protection of their TK and further by commercializing the same. Traditional medicine particularly in Asia can be distinguished into codified systems of traditional medicine and the non-codified medicinal knowledge. Hence in such cases, while access to the genetic resources may be permitted through the regulated bodies, the `associated knowledge’ which rightfully belongs to a community may not be recognized or get its due credit. Hence, the tentative central questions proposed to be raised in this project are: What are the existing systems of protecting traditional knowledge as practiced by individuals, community and the system practiced by the government?
In codified cases, how are the plant resources sustained from over exploitation and biopiracy? what does the community gets as a reward for protecting/ sharing the knowledge? Are there fixed standards for producing the traditional medicine on a required scale and how are they regulated.

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Manufacturing Siddha Medicines: Issues in Standardisation and Procurement
Regulations pertaining to the manufacture of Siddha medicines come under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics rules of 1945. As part of the regulations, as for chemical pharmaceutical units, Siddha manufacturing units should adhere to the “Good Manufacturing Practices”, which assures users that the medicines are manufactured in accordance with world standard manufacturing practices. However, sufficiently widespread, unorganized manufacturing of Siddha medicine takes place, which is difficult to bring under any regulation. The GMP not only cover manufacturing practices, but also ensure that only standard raw materials are procured. It emerges from the current procurement practices adopted by two manufacturing groups, TAMPCOL and IMPCOPS, who also supply health care facilities to the Government of Tamil Nadu, that these agencies procure raw materials by tender, specifying certain standards. These raw materials come from various places in India and some items are also imported. Just because the raw materials are provided by different agencies, adequate attention isnot presently being paid to: a) sustainable aspects of the raw materials, or to b) benefit sharing practices. It is evident that many of the medicinal plants are becoming extinct and hence, if the procuring agencies are not adequately sensitized about the sustainability aspects of herbs particularly, many of them will be added to the extinct list and a number of currently available Siddha products will also become extinct. Hence, in the institutionalizing of Siddha medicines it is necessary to pay great attention to the sustainability of resources: this is the need of the moment.

R. Maruthakutti (Manonmanian Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli)

Biodata

R. Maruthakutti is a lecturer in Sociology at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli. He has taken part in various projects in the fields of women’s development, the aged and Public health. He has attended various seminaries in India and overseas and is the author of publications in national and international journals.

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Siddha practices in Kongu region, Tamil Nadu
This proposed research on Siddha practices will be carried out in three sub-cultural regions viz. the Erode, Salem and Palani areas of Tamil Nadu. These regions are very renowned for this medicine due to the presence of hills which possess a rich diversity of medical plants and which are considered to have welcomed various cittarkal? considered as the authors of medical manuscripts.
This sociological study will look at the comparison between practitioners who consult patients in the Siddha ward of government medical hospitals, the siddha doctors of panchayat dispensaries, those in private Siddha clinics, and in the religiously endowed hospitals (Siddha). The data as it concerns the practitioners will evaluate: their socio-demographic profile, their education, their perception and the expectations they have of their medicine, the diagnostic they used and the medicines they distributed, the tariff of consultation; and as it concerns patients: their socio-demographic profile, the illness provoking the consultation, previous therapeutic attempts, the perception of Siddha medicine and of the doctor, and the content of the consultation.
This study will allow for the defining of the therapeutic role played by Siddha medicine in this area and will offer a field of comparison between it and other studies conducted in different areas of Tamil Nadu. Its focus will be on ascertaining the choice of the siddha medicine in preference to other practices and also towards the socio demographic factors which condition the choice.

C.S. Mohanavelu (Principal Investigator, U.G.C., New Delhi.)

Biodata

Mohanavelu has been reader in History at Presidency College, Chennai. His research has been devoted to the perception of Tamil litterature, language and knowledge in the Archives of the Misssion of Halle. He is the author of the book “German Tamilology” and of articles in Indian and German journals.

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

A Few German Diary Reports on Siddha medicine in the Halle Mission Archives
Wiph the arrival of the first German named Balthasar Sprenger in south-west India in 1505, Indo-German interactions are now already 500 years old. But significant German interest for Tamil studies came to be only from 1706 onwards.
German Lutheran missionaries visited Tamilnadu on 1706, to spread the Gospel. Coming from cold Europe to the hot tropical Tamilnadu without any knowledge of tropical diseases, they knew nothing about the corresponding indigenous medical treatment, better known as the siddha vaittiyam. Dozens of German missionaries, who suffered from tropical diseases for the first time in Tamilnadu, were cured by the native medical-men – the cittayavaittiar - with tropical herbs. According to a German diary report dated February 20, 1726, the Tamil medical-men knew of as many as 4448 diseases and their corresponding herbal drugs. Struck by nascent curiosity, mixed with pleasant surprise, the Germans collected hundreds of medical palm-leaves to know ever so more about Siddha medical system. They sent rare Tamil medical manuscripts with notes on each disease to Germany “in a remarkable haste by the next available ship”. This kind of medical interest outshone and overshadowed their very purpose of coming here, which led to a spiritual paralysis. I will also outline a proposal for a digital archive, in order to make Siddha medical data stored in German Archives, available to medical researchers.

Kanchana C.V. Natarajan (University de Delhi)

Biodata

Kanchana C.V. Natarajan is a reader at Delhi University. Her areas of academic interest are Classical Indian Philosophy, Gender Studies from philosophical and cultural perspectives, the philosophy of Tamil cittar on which she has published many articles in national and international journals. She held a Commonwealth Post Doctoral Fellowship for research on the body in tradition at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London.

Abstract of the project on siddha medicine

Configurations of Tradition in Siddha Medicine
Siddha vaidyas today are often grouped with diverse medical practitioners throughout the world under the rubric of “traditional” doctors. Many vaidyas embrace this designation of traditional, wielding it in ways that lend authority to their practices and distinguish them from the hegemony of biomedicine. While the historical study of medical knowledge and practices has greatly advanced over the past two decades,the nature of authority entailed in calling something traditional, as well as the continuities and fissures between this contemporary designation and prior ways of specifying medical identity and difference, have been little studied.
In this project, I will bring into dialogue the premodern and modern self-referential practices of South Indian vaidyas who trace the origins of their knowledge to the Tamil siddhars. I will examine the ways that these vaidyas have transformed themselves over the past two hundred years. In demarcating clear divisions between Tamil, Sanskrit, and Western medicines, vaidyas today consider themselves to occupy a unified medical space called “siddha medicine” or “Tamil medicine.” However, a look at premodern medical writings in Tamil indicate that individual lineages took preference over broader considerations of a pan-Tamil medicine. By comparing these premodern writings to contemporary accounts of siddha medical tradition, I will map shifts in the self-referential practices of medical practitioners from vaidya to siddha vaidya, to Tamil vaidya, and to traditional vaidya (parampariya vaittiyar).

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

The Tamil siddha medical tradition: a biographical note on Pokar, the alchemist
My research focuses on Pokar's alleged journey/‘flight’ to China, his encounter with the Chinese master Kalanki, his apprenticeship, and his consequent conceptualisation of siddha medical theory. As with many cittarkal, Pokar's life is shrouded in various confused, superficial, and exaggerated accounts found in myths, folklores, oral, literary, and on websites. My research tries to retrieve the life of Pokar from all the exaggerated claims made by various siddha experts. A few scholarly studies have identified three Pokar belonging to three different historical periods.
My paper has taken into account the possibility of three Pokar, and I have reconstructed the life and times of Pokar III from the text Pokar 7000.

S.Jega Jothi Pandian ( CRIS , Chennai)

Biodata

S.Jega Jothi Pandian is working as researcher in the librairy at the Council Research Institute for Siddha

Abstract for the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

A Pathway to Eternal Bliss: Kayakalpam in Siddha Medicine
Kayakalpam is the art of rejuvenation which is highly developed in the siddha system of medicine. A science of longevity aimed at the attaining of moksa, it deals directly deals with heart, mind and soul theory in the interests of increasing the quality, and improving the pattern of life.
Among the eighteen cittarkal, Tirumular, Pokar and Konkanar framed the basic principles of kayakalpam. Regular food habits, breathing practices, meditation and auto urine therapies are some features of kayakalpam. The variations and similarities among these authors are discussed in this paper.

Stanly Paul S.(PhD Gvt siddha medical college, Palayamkottai)

Biodata

Stanly Paul S. is 4th-year student at the Government siddha college, Chennai. His interest field concerns the study of metals and their use in iatrochemistry.

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Natural bio-ores in siddha
In this era of standardization of traditional system of medicines, standardization of the raw materials lead the show. As noted in the siddha literature, the elements present in the macrocosm is said to be present in the microcosm as well. The whole universe is composed of the elements present in the periodic table and the ones yet to be identified, so as the human body. As these elements were deficient, the siddhars opted for the natural bio-ores as raw materials. Siddha system of medicine had deviated a lot from the right path till the beginning of the eighteenth century when the synthetic products and metals obtained from various chemical processes became to be uses as raw material. But it is awesome responsibility to eliminate the taints that are sticking to the traditional systems of medicine. The natural bio-ores are made up by the main constituent elements, trace elements and the micro-organisms.
The main constituent elements present in Tatu materials is around one to four. The methodology of heating processes (pyrology) noted in siddha literature had been charted in perfect manner by considering the melting points, other physical chemistry values of these main constituents and the calorific values of specific fuels used.

T. Rajendran (Siddha practitioner, KK District)

Biodata

T. Rajendran is a siddha practitioner, specialist of varmakkalai. He was trained in homeopathy but practises mostly siddha in his clinic which received outpatients as well as inpatients. He is the founder of several associations in order to promote siddha, varma, cilampam, and yoga knowledge, to teach these disciplines through courses, to treat patients in remote places and to manufacture his patented drugs.

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Varma point induction experiences with traditional practitioners
I am a post-graduate homoeopathic physician belonging to a traditional varma practitioner's family, and I have gained much experience from other such practitioners whom I met, with a view to improving my knowledge of Siddha and varmakkalai. Most of these traditional practitioners are illiterate or minimally literate and could not understand the basic needs of society or the need for education. They believe themselves to be the authorities of the practice, but because of this ignorance, they are destroying the value of the particularly experiential knowledge of our tradition. Even though some traditional practitioners have had higher education, they have no interest in exposing their knowledge freely and openly.
I wish to narrate an experience of mine: once, my master sent me out to purchase a piece of cloth from a shop as for a bandage for a patient when, actually, it was to avoid the exposing of his induction or varmam point stimulation treatment given to an unconscious patient. Incidents of this kind frequently occurred when I met with practitioners to learn from them.

M Ramakrishnan (Manonmanian Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli)

Biodata

M. Ramakrishnan is a reader in Sociology at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, India. His field of research is the sociology of the family, the sociology of health, and Human Rights and social justice. He participated in projects sponsored by the Social Welfare Department, Tamil Nadu, and other institutions. He acts as a resource person in the training of social workers, NSS volunteers etc. He has attended numerous seminars in India and published many papers in Indian journals.

Abstract for the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Siddha practices in Kongu region, Tamil Nadu
A study has been conducted on five reputed traditional bone setters who belong to three different family traditions. These indigenous bone setters differ considerably in their experience, methods and techniques of diagnosis and adaptation to other systems of medicine. The objectives of this study has been to estimate the achievements of bonesetters and their contributions to the field of traditional medicine; to find out common as well as the distinct methods of diagnosis adopted by the traditional bone setters; to assess the safety and efficacy of the treatment provided by them, and lastly to study their attitude towards other system of medicine with a view to understand the dilution which has taken place with regard to traditional medicine in general and bone-setting tradition in particular.

Brigitte Sébastia (IFP/CEIAS et Centre d'anthropologie Toulouse EHESS Paris)

Abstract for the workshop
"The institutionalisation of therapeutic practices in India. Social and legal perspectives" FIP 7-8 December 2006

Role of associations of experts in the revitalization of Siddha medicine
Since 1970s, siddha medicine is taught and practised in two governmental colleges in Tamil Nadu. However, the learning and the treatment of patients are extremely criticized because of their reductive aspects by the hereditary practitioners (paramparai cittamaruttuvar) s well as by the students coming from these families. This situation encouraged the hereditary practitioners to form associations and to conduct trainings on certain specialties of siddha medicine, which are not taught in governmental colleges. Meetings are organized in order to increase the exchanges on the clinical results, formulations and manufacturing processes of medicines. While the government seeks to draw aside from the therapeutic field the therapists who possess no officially sanctioned curriculum, these associations offer them the means to re-appropriate their medicine. By ensuring a continuous training, delivering diploma, and encouraging the circulation of knowledge and the homogenization of the medicinal formulations, they act as true institutions.

Abstract for the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

A clash of practices: siddha medicine exportation and foreign laws on drug quality
Little is known about Siddha medicine outside those Asian countries with significant Tamil communities. Over the last few decades, however, the revitalization of this scholarly medical system originating in the state of Tamil Nadu has been acting as a push towards promotion on the international markets. The distribution of this medicine is not without problems as its practitioners make a great deal of use of metals and of mineral compounds whose tolerance thresholds in the finished product are drastic in some cases, due to toxicity. Warnings of the high levels of metal detected in Canada and England in various drugs belonging to traditional Indian medicines have prompted the health ministries of these countries to strengthen their quality control policies by compelling the specialised manufacturers to apply “Good Manufacturing Practices” and to list the ingredients of each formulation.
Some practitioners, to avoid the risks linked with toxicity, have chosen to give up using metals and other dangerous products in their formulations. Other practitioners believe, however, that these elements are the key to the efficacy and the singularity of Siddha, and therefore do not alter their formulations. How is the export of Siddha medicine and its drugs to be carried on in this situation? In answer to that question a study must, first of all, be carried out, of the regulations pertaining to the importing of medicinal products as might contain residual doses of toxic elements, and the extent to which the export of these products is feasible thereby estimated. I shall next look at the methods developed by the makers of Siddha medicaments (at different production levels) to distribute their products outside India.

G.Gnana Sekari ( CRIS , Chennai)

Biodata

G. Gnana Sekari got her phD at Madras University. She is working as librarian in the Council Research Institute for Siddha, Chennai

Abstract for the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

An effective tool in organising digital knowledge on siddha medicine
An expert system in information technology serves as a potential tool in the management of digital asset. An expert system is a knowledge-based system which facilitates organization of knowledge in such a manner as to fill the gap or compensate for the absence of an expert in a particular field.
Siddha system is an impressive and ancient Indian medical system which, historically, was not popularised due to the secrecy maintained by the cittarkal. The expert knowledge in this field is found in the form of Tamil poems and was not properly organized. This information should be organised in digital format so that it is easily accessible to, and understandable by, a layman.
This paper aims to describe the organization and digitization of information about siddha medicine in the form of expert system with hypertext facility. This study mainly explains, how these two modern information technologies can be used to manage the digital asset.

J. Soundrapandi (PhD Christian College, Tambaram)

Biodata

J. Soundrapandi is a phD studiant in botany at Christian College, Tambaram.

Abstract for the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Systematization and identification of botanical materia medica of siddha medicine: Sources, methods and implications
Siddha medicine uses an extensive pharmacopoeia that includes botanical, animal, mineral and metallic preparations, and possesses a vast vernacular pharmacopoeial literature made up of kunapatam, nikantu, malai vakatam and karpa suttiram. These writings, preserved in codified poems and oral transmission, are an accumulation of knowledge about the pharmacology and ecology of herbal, animal and mineral medicines. Much of siddha medical writing awaits systematic study, de-coding and standardization, hence, this presentation will attempt simply to address the botanical aspects of this medical tradition.
I propose to elucidate and systematically review the botanical materials contained within the materia medica of siddha texts to determine their identification and use. Identification of medicinal materials, especially plants, provides the basis for phytochemical and pharmacological characterization. Ethno-botanical knowledge of cittavaittiyar and the ethno-pharmacological survey of fresh plants, as well as raw material marketing in the State, were utilized to validate, authenticate and identify the botanical materia medica. Attempt is made in this study to harmonize nomenclature and place classification of siddha medicine with that of the binomial naming system and botanical systems of plant classification. I intend to demonstrate the taxonomic richness of siddha’s botanical materia medica. By using the botanical data, I also propose to examine the extent of dependence of siddha on local ecosystems for its pharmacopoeia, and its implications for resource conservation.

V. Sujatha (Jawarlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

Biodata

V. Sujatha teaches sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Deldi. Her research interests are sociology of health development and Indigenous knowledge systems of India. She is the author of “Health by the people. Sociology of medical lore” and of some articles.

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Body and self: non dualism in siddha medicine
While the social, political and economic aspects of systems of medicine such as siddha and ayurveda have received research attention from social scientists, the cognitive and conceptual dimensions of the medical knowledge have not been examined as much. This paper seeks to present the underlying view of the body in Siddha medical literature and show how this is undergoing transformation.
The idea behind this paper is to delineate, if selectively, the substantive concerns of siddha medicine and to show that it involves a distinct view of the body and its environment and, for the knower, entails a definite set of methodologies. The siddha view presents a conception of the body and nature that includes its gross (material) and subtle (non material) aspects, so that the body and mind are not treated as dual entities.Such an enquiry into the cognitive framework of systems of medicine is relevant to the emergence of alternative conceptions of science in a unipolar world. It also interrogates biomedicine’s position as the sole arbiter of the reality of the body, and considers epistemologies that offer a different conception of knowledge and knower.
The paper will conclude a brief section on the changes that characterize medical conceptions of siddha system.

G Veluchamy (Director of CRIS , Chennai)

Biodata

G. Veluchamy was the Director of the Council Research Institute for Siddha, Chennai, until his retirement at end of 2007

Abstract of the workshop
“Siddha Medicine: historical, Social and Medical perspectives”

Social use of materia medica in siddha system of medicine
Medicine as everyone knows is not merely a science but an art as well. The siddha system of medicine is one of the oldest in India. The term ‘siddha’ means achievement and the cittarkal were saintly figures who have contributed to the development of this medical system.
According to the cittarkal, the human body (microcosm) is a replica of the universe (macrocosm), and so are foods or drugs irrespective of their origin. The cittarkal, through enumeration, implied that the herbs are used as ‘special foods’, serving to eliminate excesses and to strengthen deficiencies. They have a powerful nutritive impact on a weakened body and their primary action is to stimulate particular organic functions, thereby acting more effectively than normal food.
This paper elucidates the social uses of materia medica, and throws light on their mass production and the hurdles that hamper the growth and development of the popularization of the iddha system of medicine.

Rick Weiss (Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand)

Biodata

Richard S. Weiss is a lecturer in South Asian Religions, Victoria University, at Wellington, New Zealand. His fields of interest are the South Asian Religions, mysticism and devotion in South Asia, and comparative healing traditions in India and Africa, for which he has obtained several academic awards. He has presented a selection of papers at public conferences and workshops and is the author of several publications and book reviews.

Abstract of the project on siddha medicine

Configuration of tradition in Siddha medicine
Cittavaittiyar today are often grouped with diverse medical practitioners throughout the world under the rubric of “traditional” doctors. Many vaittiyar embrace this designation of traditional, wielding it in ways that lend authority to their practices and distinguish them from the hegemony of biomedicine. While the historical study of medical knowledge and practices has greatly advanced over the past two decades, the nature of authority entailed in calling something traditional, as well as the continuities and fissures between this contemporary designation and prior ways of specifying medical identity and difference, have been little studied.
In this project, I will bring into dialogue the pre-modern and modern self-referential practices of South Indian vaittiyar who trace the origins of their knowledge to the Tamil cittar. I will examine the ways that these vaittiyar have transformed themselves over the past two hundred years. In demarcating clear divisions between Tamil, Sanskrit, and Western medicines, vaittiyar today consider themselves to occupy a unified medical space called “siddha medicine” or “Tamil medicine.” However, a look at pre-modern medical writings in Tamil indicate that individual lineages took preference over broader considerations of a pan-Tamil medicine. By comparing these premodern writings to contemporary accounts of siddha medical tradition, I will map shifts in the self-referential practices of medical practitioners from vaidya to cittavaittiya, to Tamil vaittiyar, and to traditional vaittiyar (parampariya vaittiyar).

Abstract for the workshop
"Faults and flaws.Therapeutic Practices Against the Norm in South Asia" FIP 7-9 March 2008

Charlatans, traitors, and renegades in the critique of secrecy in siddha medicine
While secrecy has been a central feature in the transmission of siddha medical knowledge for centuries, the morality of secrecy in South India has dramatically changed since the beginning of the twentieth century. In Tamil-speaking South India and in South Asia more generally, secrecy as a mode of disseminating knowledge has undergone a radical change in value, from its consideration as a moral duty that keeps powerful knowledge in the hands of the good, to its regard as a selfish act that has led to the disintegration of a unified Tamil community. This paper will examine these shifting views of secrecy and the elements of this critique, which was forwarded both by colonial doctors and also by siddha vaidyas themselves. I will further suggest that the function of secrecy as a strategy for garnering prestige is now served by another form of concealed knowledge, that is, Tamil medical knowledge that has been lost in the ravages of time.