Siddha system of medicine: The South Indian alchemy

Akbar Husain & Arshi Raza Naqvi
Department of Psychology
Aligarh Muslim University

The use of metals, minerals and particularly mercury in medicine is an ancient practice in India, and this was a part of the Tantric legacy inherited by Ayurveda. Siddha system of medicine is prevalent mostly in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu. This paper focuses on the eighteen siddhas prevalent in the Tamil tradition and the role of muppu in making mercury piles of exceedingly high potency intended to prolong life, and its effectiveness in producing visions and in stimulating the psychic centres. The siddha formulary based on the nine kinds of uppu (salts) is also mentioned here. The siddha system of medicine successfully integrated the therapeutic aspects of the Rasa school with the herbal approach (Kashtha-aushaadha) of Ayurveda. Its formulae are reputed to be remarkably effective. The authors emphasize that there is a need to highlight the siddha system of medicine based on the works in Tamil into English, so that the world may appreciate its contribution and effectiveness.


This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002