Fundamental Principles of Siddha
The universe consists of two essential entities, matter and
energy. The Siddhas call them Siva (male) and Shakti (female,
creation). Matter cannot exist without energy inherent in it and
vice versa. The two co-exist and are inseparable. They are the
primordial elements Bhutas, not to be confused with modern
chemistry. Their names are Earth, water , fire , air and ether.
These five elements are present in every substance, but in
different proportions. Earth, water , fire , air and ether are
manifestations of these 5 elements .
The human being is made up of these five elements, in
different combinations. The physiological function in the body is
mediated by three substances (dravayas), which are made up of the
five elements. They are Vatham, Pitham, and Kapam.In each and
every cell of the body these three doshas co-exist and function
harmoniously. The tissues are called dhatus. Vatham is formed
by Akasa and Vayu.Vatham controls the nervous actions such as
movement, sensation ,etc.
Pitham is formed by fire and controls the metabolic activity
of the body, digestion, assimilation, warmth, etc. Kapam is
formed by earth and water and controls stability. When their
equilibrium is upsets disease sets in. The chart below may help
to visualize the different properties. In addition to the
influence of the Tridoshas the seasons also affects body
The five elements:Earth, water , fire , air and
Tridoshas according to Siddha Medicine
The three doshas may be compared to three pillars that support a
structure. From the charts below it can be seen that Tridoshas
are involved in all functions of the body, physical, emotional
and mental. The bodily activities, voluntary and involuntary are
linked to Vatham.Pitham is linked to bodily changes involving
destruction/metabolism. All constructive processes are performed
by Kapam. They function dependent on each other. They permeate
every single structure in the body. The maintenance of the
equilibrium is health, disturbance is disease.
characteristic is dryness, lightness, coldness &
heat, mover of the nervous force of the body
smoothness, firmness, viscidity, heaviness
Formed by Ether and Air, controls the nervous action that
constitute movement, activity, sensation,etc. Vatham
predominates in the bone.
Formed by Fire, controls the metabolic activity of the body,
digestion,warmth, luster, intellect, assimilation,etc. Pitham
predominates in the tissue blood.
Formed by Earth and Water,controls the stability of the body
such as strength, potency, smooth working of joints. Kapam
predominates in other tissues
Vatham predominates in first one third of life when activity,
growth ,sharpness of function of sense, are greater
Pitham predominates in the second one third of life
Kapam predominates in the last one third of life. Diminishing
activity of various organs and limbs
Location pervades the body
Location- in alimentary canal from cardiac end of stomach to
end of small intestine
Location- in chest ,throat, head and bone & joints
-acts as thermostat of body
The seven tissues (dhatus) one of the three doshas predominate
as shown in chart above in third column. The seven dhatus are:
Rasa (lymph), Kurudhi (blood), Tasai (muscle), Kozhuppu (adipose
tissue), Elumbu (bone), Majjai (marrow) and Sukkilam and
Artavam (male and female hormones) (4).
Method of Treatment - The
treatment for the imbalance of the Tridoshas are made up of the
five elements. The drugs are made up of the five elements. By
substituting a drug of the same constituents (guna) the
equilibrium is restored. The correction of the imbalance is made
by substituting the drug which is predominately of the opposite
nature. An example is of Vatham imbalance is cold, dry thus the
treatment will be oily and warmth. For inactivity of limbs,
massage and activity, are prescribed. If Pitham dosha is
increased, warmth is produced; to decrease Pitham, sandalwood is
administered, internally or externally because of its cold
Five types of Vayu
Vatham is considered to be the primary dosha because it activates
the other two doshas. Vatham is the outcome of the ether and
air of the Panchamaha Bhutas. The location and functions of the
air is not much different from that of Ayurveda.
located in mouth and nostrils (inhaled)
- aids ingestion
located at anal extremity (expelled)
equalizer, aids digestion
circulation of blood and nutrients
functions in upper respiratory passages
Table of Bhutas ( proportion) and metals
Prithvi (1 ½)
Appu (1 1/4)
The eight methods of diagnosis (sthanas) are nadi (pulse), kan
(eyes), swara(voice), sparisam(touch), varna (color), na(tongue),
mala (faeces) and neer (urine).
Nadi Vignanam- diagnosis and prognosis by reading of
Nadi in Siddha means two things -one is the pulse and the other
is the nerves. In Yoga philosophy there are 72,000 nadis or
meridians. They take root from the main sushuma , intertwined by
the ida and the pingala. These are three most important nerves in
the body along the spinal cord. The sushuma resides inside the
spinal cord, and ida and pingala cross at the chakra points along
spine. Science has yet to locate these three nerves. They are
part of the sympathetic nervous system. The pulse is influenced
in health or in a disturbed state by the nerves mentioned above
and their minute branches all over the body.
The following pre-conditions are necessary before taking
The patients should not have oil on his/her head and the body
should not be wet.The pulse should not be taken after a meal,
running, any physical exercise, emotional disturbances (anger,
joy). The general rule is for males , the right hand pulse is
taken , female -left hand pulse. But owing to anatomical
variations other places for pulse taking can be used, such as
ankle, ear lobes .
The pulse should also be read at different parts of the day
according to the season.
(NB: Most of these temperature changes are based on Indian
weather . This could vary in other countries.)
April to May, the pulse read at sunrise. June to July.
October, and November the pulse should be felt at noon. December
, January and February the pulse is read while the sun sets. In
March , August and September the pulse is read in the right
hand. Due to the disturbance of the doshas by the temperature
changes, the normalcy of the pulse is affected.
This is due to the increase and decrease of the doshas in the
day (warmth, cold), seasons and atmospheric changes. This
increases and decrease will affects the life stream or Jeeva
dhatu. At noon the heat of the noon sun increase pitha dosha thus
normal pitha pulse will not be felt. In the cold season karpa
pulse is increased. In the hot season because of the dryness,
the vatha increases and in autumn pitha increase. So these
natural seasonal changes will be reflected in the pulse. This is
the reason in the hot months (April to May) the pulse should be
felt before sunrise. As pulse reading is subjective, evaluation,
concentration and experience is valuable.
Vatha increases in morning for 4 hours after sunrise.
Pitha for the next 4 hours and karpa in the
evening. In earlier part of night vatham increases,
pitham during middle of night and karpam at end of
The place for feeling of this pulse is on the lateral aspect of
the right forearm, two centimetres up from the wrist -joint. The
index, middle and ring fingers are used to feel the vatham, pitha
and karpa nadi in this respective order. An experienced Siddha
practictoner can read the threedoshas by placing his/her finger
on the radial artery. In feling the pulse, the pressure should
be on one finger after another. The pressure alternates, on
alternate fingers. The pulse is felt in the order of
vatha nadi, pitha nadi and kapa nadi.
Vatha nadi imbalance will indicate flatulence of the
abdomen , pain and ache all over the body, difficulty in
urination, fever, change in voice, constipation , dry cough,
discolouration of skin.
Pitha nadi imbalance will indicate eyes, urine, and
faeces become yellowish, burning sensation in the stomach,
headache, thirsty, dryness of mouth, confusion, diarrhea.
Kapa nadi imbalance will indicate heaviness of the body
and head, sweet taste of tongue, cold to touch, loss of appetite,
flatulencem cough with phlegm, m difficulty in breathing.
Urine examination (neer kuri)
Water is urine and kuri is signs and symptoms. Theraiyar was one
of the latter authors of Siddha medicine who wrote on urine
examination and stages of health. He explains the colour and
consistency of the urine in different doshas and disease. He
also talks of the spreading of a single drop of oil on the
surface of the urine indicates imbalance of specific dosha and
prognosis of disease. (This practice should only be undertaken by
Siddha practitioner) In Ayurveda and Unani medicine the urine is
examined mostly for its colour, smell, consistency and deposit.
Urine analysis is more important than examination of sweat or
faeces. Urine is the waste product of metabolism and has to be
eliminated from the body. A person can be constipated for days
but if urine is not excreted for a day serious health
consequences can result. The waste product from every tissue
metabolism are carried in the blood to the kidneys which removes
the excessive salts and suspensions and eliminates them. Normal
urine is thin straw colour and odourless. The colour of the
urine comes under five division, yellow, red, green , dark and
white . Each of these are further divided as illustrated below.
The time of day and meals eaten will affect the color of the
1. Color of urine similar to water which straw has ben soaked-
2. Lemon colour-good digestion
3. Reddish yellow -heat in body
4. Color similar to forest red or flame colored - extreme
5. Color of saffron- heat in body at highest level
1. Red color with slight dark red- the blood has become hot
2. Bright red colour-more hot than above
3. Dark red- blood in urine
1. Green with slight dark colour- cold in the body
2. Green with sky blue - cold and poison in body
3. Green with blue-vatha imbalance
4. Blue color and slimy urine early vatha disease
5. Leaf green -late vatha disease
1. Dark red- jaundice or serious pitha disease
2. Reddish dark-destruction of blood cells (haemolysis)
3. Greenish dark-impurities in the blood
4. Pale white and dark- vatha and kapa disease, feverish with
1. Pale white and clear-reduction of warmth in body, indicates
incurable nature of illness
2. Mucous discharge -kapa dosha due to excessive heat
3.Milky white-indicated destruction of marrow and the possibility
of wasting disease
4. Pale white with mucous and bad odour- inflammation and ulcer
in the urinary passage from kidney to bladder or renal or
5. Semen like urine-highly depleted kapa dosha and disturbance of
6. Urine with no sediment - incurable disease
7. Urine like milk or buttermilk- incurable disease
8. Urine resembling washings of spoiled meat- bad functioning of
kidneys and depletion of blood and kapa
9. Urine like melted ghee or dense- indication of impending
If urine is light and clear it indicated vitation of kapam and
weakness of bladder. Heavy urine indicates disturbance of all
doshas. Could also indicate internal ulceration and odema of the
Pungent smell indicates ulcer in the bladder. Acidic smell
indicates excessive heat which may lead to coldness in limbs.
Honey smell of urine indicates increase of blood in unhealthy
state. Smell of raw meat indicates possibility of disease of
muscle or adipose tissue.
Increase froth indicates destruction of muscle and fat. Yellow
or reddish indicates jaundice. No froth or little indicates
vitation of tridoshas.
The window to the soul and internal health. If vatham is
imbalances the eyes will be shifty and dry. Pitham imbalance
-eyes will be yellow and sensitive to light. If kapa in excess,
watery secretion and oiliness and lack of lustre. In disturbance
of all three doshas, eyes will be inflamed and red.
In kapa vitation -voice is heavy. In pitha vitation -voice will
be short. Vatha will be different from the other two. Voice also
Vatha derangement-touch will be cold. Pitha -hot. Kapa
Vatha vitiated -body of person becomes rough, skin and hair
appear broken. Does not like cold. Memory is affected,
Pitha in excess-cause excess thirst , hunger and burning
sensation. The lips, palms, feet and eyes will be red.
Kapa in excess-body is soft and oily. Loss of appetite and
The tongue diagnosis is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM). Refer to TCM in AM&M report on organ location and
In vatha derangement, tongue will be cold, rough , furrowed. In
pitta, it will be red or yellow. In kapa, it will be pale and
sticky. In depletion of tridoshas tongue will be dark, with the
papillae raised and dry.
Undigested food-the stool will sink. Digested food -stool
Provoked vatham-faeces is hard and dry. Pitta vitation, it is
yellow. Kapa disturbance it is pale. Lack of digestion fire the
faeces is watery. Foul smelling of varied colour and shining the
disease is incurable.
The Siddhas have developed a discipline called kaya kalpa. This
discipline address the sections on longevity and fountain of
youth with complete freedom from illness. It is similar to
rasayana of Ayurveda and gerontology of modern medicine. Kalpa
means 'able, competent'. The Siddha were more concerned with
quality and longevity of living than with pursuit of sex.
Gold and mercury are administered in rejuvenation. More than
medicines it is the discipline led by the individual that ensures
longevity and freedom from illness. Breath control (pranayanam)
and diet are two important parts of this discipline. Proper
diet will promote physical stamina and mental equilibrium. The
less ones eats the healthier can remain. In today's world it
pays to be mindful of everything that we ingest .