Saivism and Siddha

Siddha traditional medicine system which has a Dravidian origin basically incorporates three healing therapies in its holistic Siddha therapy:

Saivism and Siddha

  • Divine method of therapy(Devamaruthuvam)
  • Rational method of therapy(MAnidavaruthuvam)
  • Surgical method of therapy(Asuramaruthuvam)

The roots of the Siddha system of medicine are intertwined with mythology, Saivite philosophy and culture of the ancient Dravidian or Tamil culture. Siddha traditional medicine emerges from a Saivite philosophy. Its principles find rest in the manifestation of universe the macrocosm in man the microcosm.

Saivism Philosophy
It can be safely said that perhaps Saivism is the first monotheistic religion which maintains that god is all prevailing in the entire Universe and considered as the macrocosm and man is his image or a manifestation and referred to as the microcosm. This philosophy states that all the elements that build the universe are also present in the basic constitution of man.

The five elements of the Universe are earth, air, water, space and ether and both the macrocosm (Shiva) and the microcosm (human body) find manifestation in it. A perfect and healthy balance of these elements is necessary for proper functioning of the Universe.

It is known that matter and energy cannot exist separately and as per Saivite mythology Siva is the matter and Parvati his ‘Sakthi’ or energy. They are manifestations of one another and cannot stay separately. This philosophy is behind the worship of Shiva in his ’ardhnareeshwar’  (half male and half female) form which reiterates that Shiva and Parvati (matter and energy) are two sides of the same coin which cannot exist without each other.

Siddha medicine and Saivism Philosophy
According to the Saivism philosophy, man is the manifestation of Universe. He is constituted from the same ingredients which make up the Universe;

  • Earth (the solid form)
  • Water (neer)
  • Fire(radiance or heat)
  • Air (the gaseous form)
  • Ether (Akasam), depicting the ethereal space between the organs.

The physical or tangible form and a subtle or non-tangible form co-exist in man. One cannot stay without another. In Siddha system, these are termed as Panch Mahabhutas or five bhutas. . In this the basic physical form exemplifies the physical characteristics present in a man.

The element Manifested in Color Ratio Sense
Air Breathing expansion contractility and mobility Black ¾ Nose
Water Saliva, all secretions of body, blood White 1 & ¼ Tongue
Fire Body warmth, sleep, hunger, thirst, beauty, emotion, passion Red 1 Eyes
Earth Skin, hair, flesh, tissue, bones Golden to light green 1 & 1/2 Skin
Ether Nervous and genetic process Light Blue 1/2 Ear


Thus, the inseparable physical form and its characteristics or the five elements are correlated with the senses; hearing is caused by element ether or space, smell is caused by element air, vision is due to the element fire, the sense of taste is due to the element water and finally the sense of touch is owed to the element earth.

It is maintained that when there is a change in the appropriate Bhuta in the body, whether an increase or decrease; the person becomes ill. To overcome this illness, the equilibrium of Bhutas has to be reestablished and maintained.

Siddhars have also divided the human body based on the physical element;

Body part Element Panch Mahabhuta
Neck Air Vayu
Abdomen Water Appu
Legs Earth Prithvi
Chest Fire Theyu
Head Ether Akayam

This classification is exclusive to Siddha traditional medicine and cannot be found in Ayurveda texts.

The inseparability of Siva and Sakthi or in simpler words matter and energy finds manifestation in different yogic rituals, meditation, rejuvenating compositions such as massages. All these lead towards the goal of a healthy body, long life and may be with some supernatural powers! The verses in the text Thirumandiram are represented as dialogues between Siva and Sakthi which play a pivotal role in the Siddha medicine. To quote a few examples;

  • In Matrka Bhedatantram, the text is explained as dialogue between Chandika Devi (a manifestation of Siva’s consort) and Sankara (Siva).
  • In Rasarnavakalpa, dialogue enfolds between Bhairava (a form of Siva) and Devi (his consort)

The dynamic philosophy of Saivism is reflected in every aspect of this medicine system. Through a complex and intricate process of healing derived from the Saivite philosophy, Siddha treatment can cure many diseases.

Author: Pooja S. Banerjee

A pharmacist by profession,Pooja has research experience in the field of herbal medicine and medicinal chemistry. She has also authored many International and National research and review papers in peer reviewed journals. Her passion for writing has made her foray into the world of medical writing. She writes travel blogs for creative satisfaction.


  1. A nice post on Siddha medicine system….

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