As great masters in yoga, medicine and alchemy, the Siddhars carry a great historical importance in South India. According to legends, their roots go back well beyond the 7th century B.C.. In Tamil, Siddhar means ‘the one who is accomplished’, which indicates a very high level of physical as well as spiritual perfection.
The Siddha system is based on the principle of developing a healthy mind through a healthy body to stay youthful and achieve spiritual perfection. This presupposes, apart from performing various practices, a life in harmony with environment and changing climatic conditions. Yogic exercises bring well-being to body and mind, while nutrition is of particular importance in the Siddha system (principle ‘food is medicine’).
The wisdom of the Siddhars has been handed down by palm leaf manuscripts containing writings in the Tamil language. In particular the medical teaching, one of the oldest in the world, is still widely followed today. The noteworthiness lies in the fact that it goes far beyond combating the symptoms of disease, and rather treats its origin. The teachings of the Siddhars deal with the consumption of the right food to prevent diseases, and the application of natural remedies to reverse the ill effects once occured.
Siddha medicine, which is partially integrated into the prevalent modern medicial system of South India, is increasingly being developed and acknowledged by Western doctors too. Since 2001, the ‘Traditional Knowledge Digital Library’ has been publishing and translating ancient Indian scriptures in an endevour to protect ancient knowledge, prevent the registration of unfavorable patents, while at the same time providing access to the precious teachings.
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