Siddha system of medicine is one of the ancient medicine systems of India. It is considered to be Dravidian of origin and has all its literature in Tamil. Moreover, at times it seems quite similar to the traditional medicine system of Ayurveda. The founders of Siddha are supposed to be saints of Shaivite tradition, belonging to Tamil Nadu. These saints practiced an unorthodox level of spiritual practice to attain liberation. They followed constant yogic discipline to acquire yogic powers called Siddhi. In effect they came to be known as Siddhars.
According to the Siddhar tradition, there were 18 enlightened souls, who
achieved extra ordinary powers. Amongst them, Agasthiyar or Agasthya is
regarded as the most enlightened one and is even credited for finding
the Siddha culture and medicine system. These saints or Siddhars
transcended the barriers of time and space via vigorous practice of
yoga, meditation; use of substances called Rasayanas and breathing
practice similar to Pranayam.
This gave them the power to look into the various materials and
substances, beneficial in eliminating the sufferings of the common man.
Thus, Siddhars were saints, doctors, alchemists and mysticists all at
the same time. To provide relief to the people, Siddhars wrote their
findings on palm leaves, which are still stored by some of the private
families of Tamil Nadu and passed from generation to generation. In the
Siddha medicine system, metals, minerals and chemical products are used
The 18 siddhars are