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India is a country of immense spiritual wisdom. Sometime during the past when rituals overtook the spiritual essence many precious spiritual disciplines were lost or cleverly hidden to protect its sanctity. The Siddha tradition originated in south India around the hills of the Western Ghats and was spread from there to different parts of the world. Many Siddhar’s are believed to reside in these hills and surrounding hillocks even today and people flock to these regions and local temples here to receive grace and blessings. In ancient times the Siddha’s wrote down their knowledge in palm leaf manuscripts, some of which are still available with many traditional siddha families living around these hills, viz. states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Today if we take journey through these ancient wisdom of the Siddha’s we learn that everything that they have taught hold good in the modern day. But the context in which these wisdom have been written needs fresh modern interpretation to suit the current and coming generations. This needs a deep understanding of the Siddha system in a strong spiritual footing. As all of you would be aware by now that the Siddhars are highly spiritual beings who wrote these knowledge under heightened spiritual states. Interpreting these knowledge in todays language also needs such heightened spiritual knowledge.
Sage Agasthya has aptly cautioned anybody who tries to apply the knowledge in these texts by comparing the secrets of the body, mind and spirit to have been locked with locks of swarnam (22 carat gold) and the keys to these locks to be made of pure gold. If we use more than the required amount of force the key will break within the lock and this lock becomes inaccessible.
Many times knowledge has been codified within the text and the practitioners receive new keys as he progresses forward in his study. Herbal medicine forms a significant part of the Siddha medical practice and its use of Moolapporutkkal (raw drugs) viz. Mooligai (Plant origin), Dhatu (Metals & other Mineral), and Jeevam (Animal origin). Here we will learn more in detail about the drugs from Mooligai (Plant Origin).
Various Siddha texts have described the use of around 1500 types of plants. These have been divided into 11 sub classes depending upon the part of the plant being used. They are as follows:
- Vergal (Roots)
- Tharaikeezh thandugal (underground stems, Rhizome, Bulb, Tuber, Corm)
- Thandugal & Kattaigal (Stems & Woods)
- Ilaigal (Leaves)
- Puttrugal (Galls)
- Malargal (Flowers)
- Kanigal (Fruits)
- Vidhaigal (Seeds)
- Samoolangal (Whole plants)
- Konthu & Pisin (Resin & Pisin)
Siddha’s followed some basic rules while collecting and processing these mooligai. They are as follows,
- They never let their shadow fall on the plant from which the mooligai was being collected.
- They always collected the mooligai by standing facing the east.
- They always offered a prayer to the Sun before collecting the mooligai.
- They always took permission from the plant and said a prayer before collection.
These practices were in accordance with Siddhars ability to see life in everything and their compassion for the same. These practices protected the energy component of the collected mooligai and also carried the blessing of the Sun, who is the provider of the life giving rays or healing power. Combined with the prayers and special care Siddha medicines were highly efficacious and extremely fast in giving results.