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Siddha is another form of ancient Indian medicine very popular in the southern parts of India.

Legends say that Lord Shiva (one of the Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) handed down the knowledge to goddess Parvati, who in turn passed it on to Nandideva another mythological character. The medical system then got handed down to gurus.

Siddhi in Tamil, a south Indian language, means perfection. And those who have attained an intellectual level of perfection are called Siddhas. In ancient Tamil Nadu it is believed eighteen such Siddhars lived during different periods. The Siddha system of medicine, therefore, was written in different periods.

The unique aspect of this system is that this form of medicine aims at the immortality of both the soul and the body. According to Hindu philosophy there are two modes of salvation for humans. One is the salvation of the metaphysical self and the other is the physical salvation with the body rendered immortal. The latter is called Jiwan Mukti, and the Siddhas aimed at this also. The immortality of the perishable body may sound strange to a rational mind. But the aim had the effect of setting very high standards of medicine.

Thus, there are medicines in Siddha system which supposed to have the effect of arresting the degeneration of the cells in the body. Alchemy is an important aspect of this form of medicine. But the success of this aspect of the system is not established although there are some experts of the system who even today claim to transmute metals.

However, alchemy was not the primary work of the Siddhas. They essentially wanted to evolve drugs which would arrest the decay of the body. They believed that this could be achieved when drugs were prepared from non-decaying material like metals and minerals. The advantage of was that they could be prepared and preserved at all times and seasons. Whereas the vegetable based drugs could be collected and prepared only during their respective seasons. Under such unpredictable environment they thought that it was not safe to depend on vegetable drugs only.

Like all the traditional Indian medicines, Siddha is based on the concept of Man as a part of the universe and therefore on the harmony that exists between the two. The therapies are based on body humours and other characteristics which exist in Ayurveda.

Mercury and sulphur play a major role in the therapeutics of this medical science and often, they are used in combination. The addition of sulphur is expected to control the fluidity of mercury. Siddha medicine has an interesting way of categorizing the drugs. On the basis of mutual interaction they are called enemies or friends. The drugs which are compatible with each other are called friends and those who do not are enemies. The Siddha practitioner considers these aspects while administering them. The diagnosis is based on findings from eight aspects; pulse, eyes, voice, touch, colour, tongue, faeces and urine.

Siddhas have developed a longevity discipline called "kayakalpa". Something akin to Gerontology of the modern medicine. Gold and mercury figure prominently for rejuvenation. More than the medicine, it is the discipline of life that the Siddha system advocates for longevity. Controlling the breathing and diet are methods suggested in this system. Meditation and yoga are also significant aspects of the Siddha system.