'Varmam' is the branch of Siddha system of medicine which involves a special kind of therapy based on vital points called varma points present in the body.
According to tradition, the origin of this therapy is considered to be divine. Lord Siva taught varmam to his wife Parvathi; later Parvathi taught to their son Lord Murugan. Lord Murugan then taught Siddhar Agathiyar. Agathiyar later gave a written form that reached the masses. But the original texts (and their copies), directly written by siddhars, are not available now. Poetic forms recorded by their disciples that were used for learning are available, which consists of more than fifty thousands of such poems.
It is also said that this special therapy evolved from ancient Dravidian martial art ‘varma kalai’ (Varma kalai’ is a Tamil word meaning "art of vital points"), gradually with the inclusion of so many internal and external medicines. Siddha practitioners who practiced varmam were called as varma asans. Thus it became a unique therapy.
A Tamil varma text called “Vaakata Nithanam” mentions various synonyms like Vasi, Puravi, Kaalam, Uyir, Mayakkam, Pranan, Kalai, Suvaasam, Saram, Yogam, Param and Sivam for this therapy.
According to varma theory, there are points in the body which are storing points of Prana vayu (vital energy), through which energy is transmitted to various parts of the body and all the functions of the body are mediated.
These points when stimulated increase the flow of energy, heal disease or boost the immune mechanism.
To stimulate the varma points Pressure should be applied in these points at a particular and given strength as mentioned in Varma literature. However, the same points if wrongly activated may cause pathological changes or diseases and may even result in death. Trauma or injury to tissue or organs around these vital points is harmful and cause diseases which are detailed in Varma texts. The practice and method of pressing the varmam points need a great expertise and even a slight deviation may cause adverse results or danger
This healing application called ‘Varma Vaidhiyam’ is specially used to treat patients suffering from nerve, bone and Joint disorders and disorders resulting from any kind of trauma.
CLASSIFICATION AND NUMBERS
There are different schools of thoughts in the total number of these varma points or vital points as found in texts authored by different siddhars. But the most accepted and commonly used is 108 varma nilaigal (points). Siddha texts like ‘Varma kannadi’ and ‘Varma suthiram’ and many others have described in detail about these 108 vital points. Among the 108, 12 are major points which control the functions of the vital organs of the body.
The following classification can be found mentioned in the siddha varmam texts
The widely used ones are the 12 Paduvarmams and 96 Thoduvarmams as there is less consistency with the other categories because of the way of application and the deeper knowledge needed to apply them. In these categories, the Nokku varmam is rarely seen practiced, as those masters who were able to do this are almost extinct.
EFFECTS AND TREATMENT METHODS
Stimulation of varma points consist of five main aspects as stated below:
Varmam treatment includes two main components
A) Varma Physical Therapy, which is generally known as the varmam therapy.
1. Varma Elakku Muraigal (Varma Relieving Methods)
2. Varma Thadavu Muraigal (Varma Massage Methods)
3. Varma Amarthal Muraigal (Varma Pressure Methods)
4. Varma Thodu Muraigal (Varma Touch Methods)
5. Varma Pinnal Muraigal (Varma Plaiting Methods)
6. Varma Thattu Muraigal (Varma Blowing Methods)
7. Varma Chavuttu Muraigal (Varma Stamping Methods)
8. Varma Vasi-Yoga Muraigal (Varma breathing &Yogic methods)
B) Varma Drug Therapy
Special therapy using drugs (Medicines), which are manufactured from crude drugs derived from plant, chemical and animal origin.
I. Internal Medicines
II. External Medications