The different cultural traditions in the world had profounded their medical system to cater the needs of their society suitably like, Greek, China, Arabs and India.  In India we had two distinct cultures one is Vedic and the other one is thanthric.

The sages of the south India, who practised thanthrism contributed and established a Medical system to serve the humanity in general and their own society in particular.  Those sages were called as Siddhars and the medical system profounded by them is called as Siddha system of medicine.  Though the creation of this system is ascribed to Lord Siva the creator of the universe, the sage Agasthiya is considered as father figure of this medical system.  He is also considered to be the father figure to the Tamil language and culture.  Even today Lord Siva is named as Vaitheeswaran, Maruntheeswarar.  You all know that Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world, which has got greater antiquity.  It was nurtured and developed in different point of times by three Tamil academies (Tamil Sangam) of which the First Tamil Sangam dates back 3000 BC.  The oldest Tamil book ‘Tholkappiam’ is also considered to be written in 3000 BC.  As RSH Risely rightly puts ‘Decon itself is one of the ancient geological formations in the world’ and the great Tamil scholar K.A.Appadurai states that the culture of the Tamils is the cradle of civilization.  The third Tamil Academy (Kadai Sangam) was established in the 2000 BC.  The books like “Thirukkural” and others are the monumental evidences to evince their antiquity.  The philosophy and the medicine are like two sides of the coin.  The great philosophers like Aristotle, Galen were the great philosophers and also physicians.  The siddhars were also the great philosophers and physicians.  Some of the treatises in Tamil have been named in the names of medicine like Thirikadugam (Three pungent) and Elathy (Cardomom), though there is no relevancy with the medicine.

It is indisputable truth that the rich Tamil heritage, the culture and the medical system have got greater antiquity.

The Ayurvedha and Siddha are twin systems of India and have got greater similarities and both the systems are the great heritage and pride of India.

Antiquity of Siddha Medicine

Siddha medicine has a background of mythology and geneology.

The first profounder of the system God Siva has transmitted the science to Uma Devi .She in turn passed it on to Nandi Deva. He has taught Sage Agathiya and Agasthya to Pulathiyar, Bogar, Theraiyar and others of Pothigai Hills.


There are so many theories to explain the    Origin of Siddha Science and its antiquity .According to Lemurian Continental origin theory – Based on the literary work – It is believed that the Kumari-k-kandam was lost in the Indian Ocean.
Mediterranean Origin theory explains that Dravidians belong to Mediterranean stock and due to Aryan invasion moved towards south. South Indian Origin theory evinces that Tamil Nadu is the homeland of Tamils.


Ancient Period

  • Archaeological Evidences:
    There are very few monumental evidences available to know the history. There are evidences to prove that Pallava ruler Nandivarman donated a village – Kumaramangala vellattu to Physician.
    Chidambaram temple inscription of 13th century gives a list of grants to Vaidyar (physician), Jatyambashtha, Barber and Surgeon & Mid-wives.
    Thiruvavaduthurai inscription of Vikrama Chola dating back to 121 A.D refers to
    medical school.  Princess Kundavai Nachiar established a free dispensary in the name of her father Sundara Chola


King Shahji 1684 – 1712 A.D – Constructed a hospital & employed physicians from Hyderabad & Arabia.
King Serfoji – Took interest in the preservation & propagation of Indigenous medicines. He published ‘Sarabendra Vaidya Muraigal’
The Dhavantri Mahal – Research was practiced in a tantra system like Siddha, Unani & Ayurveda


In 1919 the Madras Mahajana Sabha wrote to Govt about the importance of Indigenous medicines
Sound Vernacular indigenous medical education to the children of this country.
Afford cheap and good medical help to the public.
Systematizing the existing indigenous medical help.
Funds allotted to up-keep of libraries consisting of books relating to Ayurvedic, Unani & Agastyar traditional medicine.


Notes on drugs & compounds used in these medicines should be investigated thoroughly. Summary of the notes on medicines should be discussed in detail.
The composition & methods of preparation should be standardized.
Statement showing the diseases treated at the Govt Hospital should be maintained.
Report on analysis of drugs should be maintained.


Established the Govt school of Indian Medicine in Madras in 1925 to teach Ayurveda, Siddha & Unani.
Establish provincial rural dispensaries, Municipal & District board dispensaries.
Established in 1926, a Govt Hospital of Indian Medicines attached to the school.
Instituted a Post-Graduate course in 1930 in Indian Medicine for the graduates of Western Medicines
F.I.M.   -           Fellow of Indian Medicine
ALIM   -           Associated Licentiate in Indian Medicine
 In 1914 - AIM (Associate in Indian Medicine) Constituted a Central Board of Indian Medicine to act as recommending authority to the Govt for registration & supervision of pharmacies & teaching institutions.
 Established a college of Indian Medicine in 1947.
Gave sanction for starting a Research Institute in 1947.
Sanctioned ‘Village Vaidya Scheme’ in 1947.
The formation of Government Indian Medical School.
The Government Indian Medical School was formed by Dr. G. Srinivasamurthi as its first Principal and 120 students were admitted per year. In 1933 L.I.M. course was extended from 4 years to 5 years. The final year was devoted for special clinical training. In 1940 Sir Mohammed Usman Committee was appointed for the improvement of the curriculum.

Creation of Indian Medicine Department in TamilNadu

Mrs. A. Rukmani Lakshmipathi - Minister of Public Health Department- the medical school was up graded to college of Indian Medicine.
In 1948, Col. R. N. Chopra committee- recommended for a scientific methods in the development of indigenous system.
In 1955, Shri Dayashankar Trikanji Dave a committee recommended - uniform standards, training for P.G. and research facilities.
Metha Committee - the University of Madras approved an Indian Medicine college at Palayamkottai in 1964.
The Indian Medical Practitioners Co-Operative Pharmacy and Stores (IMCOPS) was established in 1945 at Madras-Mfg & Analysis of Drugs.

Later development of Siddha Medicine in Tamil Nadu

During the II World Tamil Conference Siddha medical field came to limelight.
Then Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai sowed the seed for revival and K. Anbazhagan nurtured it.
Siddha Scientific Development Committee was formed –Publishing rare Siddha text books, preservation of Cudjon leaves.
Madurai Kamaraj University started a UG Course in 1966 and P.G. Course in 1972.
At present Dr.M.G.R. Medical University- gives the Siddha degree and now its being awarded as BSMS (Bachelor of Siddha Medicine and Surgery).
Role of Central Government in the development of Indigenous Medicine
In 1969- the Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (CCRIMH) was established.
In 1970, the Central Council for Indian Medicine under L.C.I.M. Act for registering and regulating their practice.
In 1975 Central Research Institute for Siddha in Madras for conducting scientific research.
In 1995 Siddha Medicinal Plants Garden was developed in Mettur Dam.
In 2005 National Institute of Siddha in Tambaram was inaugurated by Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.


Sages who attained ‘Siddhi’ or Heavenly bliss and super natural powers by meditation are named as Siddhas. ‘Siddha’ is a Sanskrit term, which means ‘perfection’. The known history of Siddha Vaidya began with the sage Agathiyar who is believed to be the father figure of Tamil civilization and Tamil medicine (Siddha medicine) and his eighteen disciples. He contributed heavily by writing treaties and manuscripts on all fields of human biology, meditation and spirituality and also therapeutics, which later expanded by his disciples.” Dr. Rajkumar Raghunathan.

Persons who have accomplished spiritual perfection are also called Siddhas. The southern part of India gave birth to great saints in the distant past and they had great achievements in different fields of art and science.
Siddha Vaidya is the longest living medical system in the world.

Siddhars Contd..

Siddha Vaidya means the "Knowledge of Health", by being one of the oldest systems for health and longevity; it provides tried and true, time honoured remedies for prevention of illness of the body. Being a part of Indian culture, often the scholarship between the saints of the north and south was exchanged and therefore it is very difficult to put a demarcation line between Ayurveda and the system of medicine that was conceived, patronized and propagated by saints [Siddhas] of South India.

Some of the basic principles of Ayurveda and Siddha systems of medicine are common. However, Siddha system of medicine has made unique and significant contribution to therapeutics and pharmacy.”

“The Tamils had a distinct and unique civilization. The recorded history of Tamils is thousands of years old. The origin of Tamil language is attributed to the sage Agathiyar and that of Siddha medicine is also attributed to him. His name is found in different puranaas, both in Tamil and in Sanskrit” says Dr. Bhagawan Das, Deputy Minister of Health, India. “In considering the significant contribution that the Siddhas have made to material medical and pharmacy, one unique feature of the system has to be borne in mind. The prevention and the cure of illness are the basic aims of all systems of medicine. The Siddha system has, in addition a concern for the immortality of the body.”

The Siddhas have developed a discipline called Kaya Kalpa designed for longevity with complete freedom from illness. During the time of occupation by the British, indigenous languages and practices were suppressed, but are now seeing a revival in their use, due to their effectiveness. India‘s government recognizes and supports five major medical systems, including Siddha Vaidya. Schools and colleges exist for most of the natural and holistic systems such as Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha, and the Arabic system, Unani, along side with allopathic medicine.

These therapies and treatments were recognized and sought after even thousands of years ago for their ability to create younger, smoother skin and a more youthful overall appearance, and for there rejuvenative abilities. The herbal and oil therapies from south India gained such a reputation that they were sought by Marc Anthony for his Queen Cleopatra.The Siddha Vaidya system gained its greatest recognition with the rasayana therapies or rejuvenation therapies.

Siddhars Contd..

Siddha Vaidya medicine defines health as a complete presence of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social balance.

Daily regimes and diet that is appropriate for the individual are the starting point for the indigenous ways of health and life for the people of south India. The basic theories of Siddha Vaidya advises each individual on the correct way of living, eating, meditating, exercising, and use of massage for their own well being. Looking at the individual as a whole of a larger picture includes social and familial health a tradition the Hawaiians observed as well. Like the Siddha the Kahuna was called to 'set things right'-Ho'oponopono, meant to set right the relationships between living members of the family for emotional health, as well as the spiritual and family health. The family Gods and the ancestors were summoned, and treatments to the body with herbs and plants to activate the physical healing were completed all the while stabilizing the mental state of the individual. In much the same way Siddha Vaidya consider all aspects of the individual.

This is being called Quantum prevention, as it is an active approach to health for the individual. Where the role of the doctor or practitioner is more of an educator and the responsibility of prevention rest with the individual to love and honor his/her body, preserve it's integrity to the fullest and strive for a full and maximum life span. Here the doctor/practitioner is not treating illness but promoting youthful maintenance and rebuilding of the body. The aim of Siddha Vaidya and Ayurveda, proper diet, lifestyle, family, career, etc. is for prevention of illness, so medicine is not needed, these are systems for health and living.

Siddha Vaidya recognizes eight branches of medicine, the same as western medicine except Geriatrics, the study of diseases of the aged. Instead Rasayana or rejuvenation therapy is given. The aim of their therapy is to maintain the youth of the individual along with long life. This is attainable through cleanses of the body with Abhyanga (Massage) and Svedana (steam, warm compress)and(Pancha Karma) done seasonally followed with rejuvenation treatments (Kriya Kalpa) which activate the body's ability to rebuild and renew itself.

Siddha Vaidya recognizes the body's innate ability to adapt to habit. It's ability to activate dormant repair mechanisms. Through this knowledge, lifestyle regimes, seasonal cleanses, and rejuvenation therapies done regularly aid the body and build on effectiveness through the body's cellular memory. These therapies and cleanses use plants and oils derived from plants or the combination of herbs and other plants to activate the body's repair mechanisms.

Siddhars Contd..

All the proven indigenous medical systems, whether it is the Chinese, Hawaiian La'au Lapa'au, American Indian, or the Ayurvedic and Siddha Vaidya use plants or the combination of plants for the medical formulas. Our modern medical formulas grew from these systems, from these village pharmacies. Modern medicine is at a crossroad looking for new paths for its growth and journey. This is where the combined wisdom of all civilizations with traditions of using minor doses of a plant or minor doses of multiple plants such as Homeopathy can be investigated.

The growing popularity with different complimentary medical systems that use time tested formulas of herbs and medicinal plants may hold the key for future growth of the pharmaceutical and life sciences. As we know the human body is a system of inter connected systems of chemical, neuronal, hormonal, etc. where nothing exists separately. Every change in any part of our body affects every other, while the body is maintaining an intricate balance requiring millions of interactions. This homeostasis happens spontaneously at various sites through out the body. To affect a change in the body modern medicine extracts the most powerful or most active chemical, whereas Siddha Vaidya uses a multiple of plants. Some supporting the action of the others herbs, with others enhancing the prime herb effect, while some will calm, activate, or stimulate other systems of the body to achieve the desired results. Plants and herbs used by Ayurveda and Siddha Vaidya can be used by healthy persons as a tonic, as well as for sick patients as a medicine, whereas modern medicines are meant only for patients and often have side effects.