Marma means vital points of the body. Usually the joints where bones, arteries, veins, nerves meet are called Marma. Marma therapy concentrates on manipulating these vital points for healing. Even heart, brain and such other vital organs are also called Marma. This is the transcript of interview conducted with a traditional Agasthya Marma practitioner – Dr Ajayan. S. MD (Ayu) PhD. He can be contacted at – [email protected] Dr Ajayan is available for consultation in Trivendrum and Coimbatore, India.
Marma Therapy originated from Agasthya Marma Shastra. In clinical practice, this therapy is quite commonly used in the treatment of musculo-skeletal disorders and nervous system disorders.
Now a days, degenerative diseases like arthritis, muscular disorders etc are quite common. Agasthya Marma Shastra can be very beneficial to these patients, through medicines, massage techniques and bandages.
The Marma science is a comprehensive science which mainly focuses on external stimulation to the Marma points. Other techniques like bandaging and oral medicines are also part of Marma therapy. The science is described in more than 23 sections (Sthanas), in the text book – Agasthya Marma Shastra.
Some of the sections are –
Udumuru Shastra – how to heal fractures.
Gettumuru Shastra – art of bandaging
Karu Nadi Shastra – Pulse reading etc.
Many other Sthanas (sections) are also there, but are not yet published.
Marma Shastra basics video
Founder and language
This whole medical science is described by Sage Agasthya. Almost all text books about this science is currently available in Tamil and Malayalam language. The original verses (poems) are written in a language called ‘Malayalima’ – a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam language, used commonly by people in Travancore and Kanyakumari district areas.
Ayurveda and Marma
Ayurveda and Marma Therapy – How they are related?
The basic principles behind both the medical sciences are same. Like Ayurveda, Marma Shastra also believes in
Pancha Mahabhuta principle – 5 basic elements
Marma and Prana
Marma is related to Prana. Prana is the main seat of Vata Dosha. In Ayurveda also, we can see that Vata Vyadhi is a separate entity. Marma Shastra deals with Vata Dosha in a subtle manner – how Vata acts in the body, how Vata is anatomically arranged, how it acts, etc aspects are explained in detail.
Different types of Vata as per Marma Therapy
10 types of Vata is considered.
5 Main Types, as explained in Ayurveda – Prana Vata, Udana Vata, Vyana Vata, Samana Vata and Apana Vata.
Along with these 5, another 5 Sub types (Upa Vata) are considered.
Each Vata has specific Sthana, Particular colour, managed by particular Diety.
For example, a type of Vata called Devadatta is explained. This type of Vata Dosha does not leave the body even after death. It leaves the body only after body decays.
Marma basic principles
Why it is called Marma Shastra? What is the basic principle?
Prana (the vital force in the form of air) is there in all parts of the body. It has a specific way of travelling through the body. The Prana resides in certain parts of the body (such as heart, brain, kidney, body joints etc). When there is imbalance, people come across problems in these vital points where Prana resides. These vital points are called Marma.
Ancient seers classified these Marmas as primary, secondary, accessory Marma etc. Whenever there is injury or anomaly in these Marma points, the subtle Prana gets imbalanced. There are totally 108 such Marmas. Theoretically, Marmas are numerous, but from a clinical point of view, number of Marmas is 108. During treatment, these 108 Marmas are concentrated.
The movement of Vata is considered very important. Vata Dosha has certain pathways in the body. Whenever there is a breakage of such Vata pathway, it results in Abhighata (injury / vitiation) of the related Marma. It yields to symptoms. If the Marma abhighata (injury / vitiation) is very severe, the resulting symptoms can be compared to that of effect of poison in the body. They symptoms manifest very swiftly.
If the injury happens not on a Marma point, but only near to it, or if the injury is less severe in nature, then it leads to minor symptoms or it may lead to a disease at a later stage.
The basic aim of Marma therapy is to clear the channels, to maintain proper circulation of Vata. This is achieved by external stimulation, oral medication, pulling techniques, bandage techniques etc.
Marma treatment indications
What are the diseases that are commonly treated with Marma treatment?
Marma therapy mainly concentrates on diseases pertaining to
Marma – vital body points,
Asthi – bones
Snayu – muscle tendons
Sandhi – bone joints etc.
It does not concentrate much on other diseases such as fever, diarrhea, etc. But if the injury to the bones, muscles or Marma points leads to symptoms like fever, skin disease, mental disorders (as in PTSD – Post traumatic Stress Disorder) etc, then Marma therapy is used.
Basically, diseases pertaining to neuro-muscular, loco motor system, nervous system and blood circulation systems are well treated with Marma Shastra.
Planning in Marma Chikitsa
How treatment planning is done in Marma Chikitsa?
In Marma clinical practice, basically there are two types of cases.
1. Sudden injury – acute cases. If the blunt injury is minor, then, external stimulation is given on pressure points and corrected. If the injury is severe, then, bandaging, oral medication and other techniques are adopted.
2. Neuro-muscular disorders and such other diseases – Like sciatica, tennis elbow, cervical spondylitis, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, etc. In these disorders, apart from the site of disease, the other places of origin of disease is also looked into. For example, in cervical spondylitis, patient may have just hand pain, but the cause of the disease lies at the level of neck.
In such diseases, first Deepana (improving digestion strength), Pachana (relieving indigestion) treatment is administered. This helps to relieve inflammation and swelling at the affected area. Once inflammation or swelling is under control, then massage techniques are adopted. Then, based on need, bandage, oil pouring (Taila Dhara), oral medicines to fight degeneration (Rasayana), etc techniques are adopted.
Difference in concept of Swedana – between Ayurveda and Marma therapy – In Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatments, to eliminate imbalanced Doshas out of the body, first Snehana (oil treatment) is done. This is followed by Swedana (sweating treatment). Sweating helps to mobilise the Doshas, which are then expelled out by Vamana (vomiting therapy), Virechana (purgation treatment) etc.
But in Marma therapy, Swedana is done only with the warmth of the hand. In Marma points, only the heat of the palm is sufficient for stimulation. Aggressive form of sweating treatment at Marma points may cause harm. So here, Swedana is done only with the hands.
Types of pressure application
Applying pressure over certain points of healing –
There are different types of pressures applied over the required Marma points. With a simple thumb, there are five types of pressures that can be applied. Like pressing deeply with the tip of the thumb, sliding movement / kneading with the white surface of the thumb, using the sides of the thumb tips, vertical pressing with the thumb, etc.
These pressure techniques are used to stimulate Marma points.
Even the position of patient is also very important. For example, when treating marma of right arm, the right elbow should be flexed and right palm should rest on the left shoulder.
As per Marma Shastra, with hand, there are 17 types of massages / pressure techniques. Based on the part of the hand used, there are different types of massages.
A very important point to consider here is, when a particular Marma is stimulated with pressure / massage techniques, there will be derangement of Prana from that position. The Prana may travel to next point, (say, from wrist of the hand to the elbow joint and further to shoulder joint and so on). This path of displacement of Prana is called meridian or path. So, whenever a marma is stimulated, other Marmas lying in the same path should also be taken into consideration. So, after correction of one Marma point, its pathway is corrected by techniques like pulling, kneading etc. This helps in restoration of normalcy of Prana movement.
Factors affecting the success of Marma therapy
Age of the patient – younger, the better. The treatment yields better results in patients below 50 years of age.
Associated diseases – such as diabetes, thyroid complications, which may affect the regeneration of tissues.
Generally, Marma therapy yields good rate of success in muscular disorders, brachial neurological problems after road traffic accidents, Miniscal tear, muscular spasms, Motor neuron disorders, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, sports injuries etc.
Marma for Parkinson’s disease
Approach of Marma therapy in Parkinson’s disease –
In Marma Shastra, injury or imbalance in Ucchi Marma leads to Parkinson’s disease. (Keep your thumb over the nose tip, extend the palm over your head and touch the scalp with the tip of middle finger. That point is Ucchi marma). Even injury to this Ucchi Marma may lead to Parkinson’s symptoms after 3, 6 or 12 years. Another Marma called Churiyadi Marma – on the atlanto occipetal joint. If these two Marmas are affected, it leads to parkinson’s disease.
Like all other diseases, here also success rate depends on severity of disease, age etc.
Usually Thalams (head pack) with oil, head massages and oral medicines are administered.
All brain degenerative disorders like Parkinsons are considered as Majja Dhatu (~marrow tissue) anomalies. So, for regeneration of this Majja Dhatu, usually 3 -4 combinations of oils, fats of certain animals, birds are used to prepare Thalam, oral medicines etc.
Use of animal fats
Animal and bird fats used in Marma Shastra –
Hen, Peacock, Goat, Rabbits, Frog, specific types of Lizards etc are used. In most of the cases, the muscle and fat of goat is widely used in Marma treatment.
Line of treatment for Paralysis
Nasya treatment, Thalams (head pack, prepared with blood of hen along with other herbs) over Ucchi Marma is done for 5 – 7 days. Then oral medications are used first. After 5 – 6 days, massage, pressure techniques are adopted. A variety of Gorochanadi Gulika is used here.
Marma chikitsa for psychological disorders
How far Marma Chikitsa is useful in psychological disorders?
If Psychological disorders are arising due to vitiation / injury of Marma, especially a Marma called Choratindakalam, (in the neck around C7 – T1 area), in such disorders, massages, oral medication is used in treatment.
Massage on head, ears and on feet helps to induce sleep normally. Feet massage is given special importance in treating insomnia. There is a Marma called Uppukutti Marma (near to the tip of calcaneum). Injury to this Marma usually leads to sleep disorders, insanity, etc. Here, Thalams, kashaya and other preparations from tender coconut water etc are used.
Acupuncture and Marma therapy
Origin of Acupuncture is influenced by Marma Therapy.
There is many similarities between Acupuncture, Acupressure and Marma techniques. In Kanyakumari district, there is a place called Chitara. This place has many caves. In these caves, many inscriptions of Jains and a few Chinese can be seen. This clearly indicates that Chinese scientists were here to study this technique. There are many similarities between the meridians used in Acupuncture treatments and those of Marma therapy.
After Indian independence, Indian Prime Minister, Javahar Lal Nehru appointed Mr Roy to study how the transition culture and medical sciences from India to China had taken place. He has written that Chinese came to India to study Ayurveda, Marma treatment and applied these principles in their medicine system.
Another Tamil History book explains about a Siddha (sage who has mastered Marma Shastra and spirituality) called Poga Siddha. He is from India. He traveled across many countries, including Nepal, China and Arabian countries. Through his journey, he taught Marma techniques to the local people and in turn learned about their medicines. He collected many herbs from those places and brought to India. Many exotic herbs like Kumari (Aloe vera), Chilli etc were incorporated to Indian system of medicine by such scholars. Especially in Siddha medicine, we can see wide use of many plants that are from other countries.
Ancient study of Marma Shastra
How Marma Shastra was studied in Olden Days?
The essence of Marma Shastra lies in Prana (vital force). It is different from Vata Dosha. It is the vital force which lies minutely in the body. A small part of Prana lies in the body. The wholesome Prana is constituted by God (Paramatma). So, minute part of God, in the form of Prana, lies in our body. The same vital force is exhibited throughout the world and one part lies in us, the human beings.
In Ancient times, Acharyas (seers) believed that those who can use this Vital force in proper way, can only learn Marma Shastra. If the science is learnt in a wrong way, or if it is practiced with wrong techniques, increase in pain / increase in disease process, unconsciousness etc may result. Later, after 6, 12 or 24 years, neurological problems, brain disorders etc can also develop.
So, science was protected from common people, to avoid misuse. Those who have good control over mind, are only capable of practicing this technique in the right manner. To learn this technique, at the age of six years, student was brought to the teacher. Student was staying with the teacher, learning Pranayama, Kalari (Martial arts) and theoritical aspects of Marma therapies for 12 years. By the time the student reaches 18 years, Pranayama and Kalari were enabling him to achieve harmony of mind, harmony of breath, sense organs, limbs etc.
So, such a person, who has good control over his body and sense organs certainly will use this science in a positive way only, to help other people and to cure diseases. He will be free from negative vibes such as hate, revenge etc. After the student crosses 18 years, then only, the secrets of practical aspects of Marma Shastra are taught to the student.
First, the disciple has to massage and pressure point treatment over the Guru. Based on the results, Guru will correct the disciple, and then direct him to perform these treatments over the patient.
Nowadays, rules are not stringent. Those who have a flavour of Indian culture, with learning of Ayurveda and other Indian sciences, can easily learn and adopt Marma techniques like massages, types of oils like different types of Murivenna, bandaging techniques etc. So, anyone with a helping mind is open to learn this noble science.
Spiritual healing in Marma treatment
How spiritual healing is involved in Marma Treatment?
As per the Marma science, in its purest form, should only be practiced by Shiva Yogi (who have attained higher spiritual levels.) The body performs voluntary and involuntary functions. The invisible involuntary functions can only be known by the help of spiritual power, called Prana or Shiva.
So, such a Shiva Yogi can know the pathology of the patient, wrong movement of Prana etc in the patient’s body and can heal. Such a person is also called Siddha. Those who can visualise the inner functions and pathology of the body with the help of spiritual eye are called Siddha. So, such a person, who practices Marma science, can transmit his spiritual energy to the patient by means of eye contact, by his words, by breath, by his thoughts or by the help of touch / massage. This is because Prana that resides in our body and others is the same. Only thing required is a conductive pathway. That conductive pathway can be established by constant practice, dedication, etc.
If we are able to reach to that level, we can treat at that level. But normal healers use massage, stimulation and oral medicines to heal.
In Agasthya Marma Shastra, there are less English books. Many books are there in Malayalam and Tamil. Language has become a big barrier in propagation of this science. Even in the Malayalam and Tamil books, many concepts are there in the form of formula (Sutra), inner meaning of which can only be taught by a Guru.
A few books of Marma therapy are –
Marma Sootra – written by Agastya Muni
Marma Shastra Patangal – By Kaimanam Karunakaran Vaidyan – Malayalam book
Marma Shastra Samahara – has 33 sections – written by Unnikrishnan Vaidyan – Malayalam book
Now many works are going on in English language as well, which might be published shortly.