Tag Archives: digestion

The Battle For TamilNadu: Introduction

The Tamizh Open Architecture

Tamilnadu is the land of dharma, Vedas, Vedanta, and Bhakti. Tamizh culture (Kalacharam) is a glorious example of dharma’s open architecture [1] and therefore the Tamizh identity is inclusive. It cuts across religion, jatis, class, and geography. Many thousands around the world identify themselves as Tamizh. Since ancient times, many from outside Tamilnadu have sought shelter inside, and many from outside have come in and also enriched its culture. Tamizh is not just a spoken language and text but an entire culture.  Tamizhs are large hearted and only reject those individuals whose own worldview demands and injects the virus of exclusivity. In this Tamizh framework, no individual or jati or community or religion can claim or exercise a monopoly over Truth.

source: murugan.org

Devotees of Murugan or Amman and other manifestations of the divine in the diverse Hindu traditions do not seek to impose their belief system on others.

This includes the followers of Indic systems such as Jainism or Buddhism which have also coexisted since the Sangam era, as well as those who embraced newer belief systems that originated outside India such as Christianity or Islam or Judaism. In such an open architecture, diversity thrives and unity is established based on mutual respect [3]. Dr. Abdul Kalam is an illustrious example of a practitioner of Tamizh Kalacharam whose interactions with others was based on mutual respect.  The Tamizhs perform Pooja to a multitude of Devis and Devatas and are happy to accommodate two more, with none claiming and imposing superiority over everyone else. This has been the Tamizh and Indian way for thousands of years.

source: hindutourism.com

India is a civilizational state and is perhaps the only civilization that has continually endured since the most ancient of times. Why? There are many reasons, and here is one: Every nation and civilization has to go through a series of crises and upheavals. Each of these challenges demands sustainable solutions. A monoculture can only produce one solution approach that tends to be all-or-nothing and eventually loses out.  Indic diversity continually produces many living Gurus, Rishis, and masters whose bold, varied, and novel decentralized solutions rooted in dharma eventually prevail. Hence, this dharmic form of inclusivity and diversity must be preserved for Tamilnadu’s and India’s long-term stability.

Ramana Maharishi. source: wikipedia

However, this inclusivity is being blatantly misused by a few religious zealots who adopt a history-centric version of Christianity, one of the fastest growing religions in Tamilnadu. To better understand this very important threat, we review a graduate school thesis submitted by a Tamizh Christian convert to a US university [5], advising his western thesis advisors on the best options to convert devout Hindus to their brand of history-centric Christianity. This thesis specifically focuses on how to get Tamils to lower their defenses against conversions in Tamilnadu (“to develop a meaningful form of spirituality which will minimize Hindu opposition to Christian discipleship“). Therefore, it makes sense to limit our discussion to TN noting that if this TN pilot-project succeeds, it will be applied after region-appropriate modifications, to all of India. In this series, we attempt to understand this history-centric Christian view of Tamil Nadu, and the methods being adopted to subvert Tamilnadu’s open architecture.  In this introductory post, we provide a high-level summary of this ongoing battle for Tamilnadu.

History-centric Christianity

The term History-centrism was coined in the book ‘Being Different‘ [2] and is fundamentally different from the Embodied Knowing traditions of dharma in Tamilnadu and India.

This brief two-paragraph description from the book is central to understanding the threat posed to Tamilnadu by this Orthodox or Scriptural or History-Centric Christianity (HCC).

HCC is founded on an unconditional, unquestionable, absolute, literal belief in the Nicene Creed. 

Unless we can fully grasp the full meaning of history-centrism, we will be unable to properly and completely characterize the threat; and without clearly identifying the threat, no counter-response can be developed.

What is inside this Nicene Creed that is the central tenet of this extreme version of Christianity? Tamizhs belonging to all religions and Jatis need to understand this as well. The beliefs are quite simple to read and memorize. We again turn to ‘Being Different’ for a summary of the ancient Nicene Creed that was adopted in 325 CE by the first council of Nicaea. This remains the only set of beliefs that is accepted by all major denominations of the Christian faith, including those in Tamilnadu.

The Nicene Creed was translated into Tamizh by the Catholic Missionary Francis Xavier in the 1540s and used to convert tens of thousands of the Parava fisherman community. He is quoted as having baptized ten thousand Hindus in just one month [5]. Any moderate Tamizh Christian would focus on emulating the positive qualities attributed to Jesus and not interpret this literally as incontrovertible historical truth, but for the fundamentalist, this belief is absolute and those who do not accept this (including moderate Christians) are treated as hostiles. To quote from the thesis, “the bible is God’s revelation and Jesus Christ is the only way to God” and the aim is to “communicate only Jesus Christ and his Gospel to the Hindus”.

Why is HCC attractive to some converts?

An intriguing question arises when we read the thesis. Why would a Tamizh who is knowledgeable about Vedanta, Bhakti, and other pluralistic traditions of dharma that were nurtured in Tamil Nadu for more than a thousand years, embrace such an extreme Christianity? Why would they prefer this submission to a foreign authority over their own native sophisticated adhyatmic practices that have been available to everybody? Let us examine this question from the thesis author’s perspective.

Indian Rishis, Acharyas, and Gurus may have spent thousands of years searching for the Truth. The Vedas acknowledge the uncertainty about the nature of ultimate reality. But to a believer, the Nicene Creed provides historical evidence of Jesus as the first and only son of God who embodied the absolute and complete truth. While darshanas and Vedanta schools provide intellectual debates and philosophical explanations and techniques to discover the truth for oneself, the HCC truth claim in the Nicene creed provides certainty and proof to its believers – conclusive flesh-and-blood evidence of the Truth. As the thesis [5] claims “In Christianity, God is the only God who revealed Himself in the historical events of the world. However, in devotional theism, he is only a philosophical concept or a mythological figure“.  The absolute and divine truth manifested itself once and exactly once on this earth in history exclusively in the form of Jesus Christ. There is no place for doubting Thomases. One can therefore dispense with the uncertainty of the real world, rational explanations, philosophy, spirituality, or intellectual debates about alternative perspectives.

The Nicene Creed Jesus as the sole living embodiment of truth is the answer to all questions.  In the mind of such a believer, this makes HCC superior to all other traditions. Of course, this requires an immediate and complete rejection of any thought system or data that conflicts with HCC and therein lie the seeds of violence in a literal interpretation of the Nicene Creed. The Divine justification to enforce the Nicene Creed all over the world is done by suitably interpreting the Great Commission.

The Great Commission

On an individual level, History-centric Christianity is not an issue if we operate under the principle of mutual respect. For example, it is perfectly fine if a Christian chooses to take the exclusivity and historical claims inherent in the Nicene Creed dogma literally for his or her own personal religion, while also fully and permanently respecting the equal validity of alternative belief systems for others that reject this dogma. This is the Tamizh way since ancient times. Unfortunately, this is not the case with HCC whose interpretation of the ‘Great Commission’ brings it in direct conflict with other thought systems. The Nicene Creed serves to boost the collective ego of followers. Even the possibility of any other divine manifestation before or after Christ, which can supersede the Nicene Creed is summarily dismissed. Its implications for Tamil Nadu are serious, on par with Wahhabism in Islam that is wreaking havoc, except that the violence and destruction in this battle is below the surface.  The Great Commission (GC) has been used as a convenient scriptural sanction for ‘discipling’ Hindus who worship ‘false gods’.

The Great Commission carries the instructions of a resurrected Jesus to his apostles to spread his teachings to all parts of the world. There appear to be many versions, but the key version used by History-centric evangelists is the one in Matthew 28:16-20 [8], where the instructions are given to followers to baptize all people around the world in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit [5].

Strength and Weakness of HCC

The Great Commission is interpreted recursively by extremist Christians and evangelists to convert Hindus in India today, i.e., the GC is not just limited to the original disciples of Jesus, but to all the disciples of the disciples as well, and is thus a perpetually active instruction until kingdom come.  If total submission to the Nicene Creed is the desired end state of a Tamizh Hindu convert, then the fundamentalist interpretation of the Great Commission provides the necessary scriptural sanction and justification to achieve this tragic end.  In tandem, these two ideas have been useful in massively increasing the membership count and global market-share of Christianity, and spreading the power of the various churches across the globe. A subscription to the Nicene Creed brings you all the collective benefits of being an official member of a globally organized, rich, and powerful religious organization whose headquarters reside in the west.

On the other hand, when its impact on an individual is evaluated on its own merit, HCC suffers from serious deficiencies and has a dismal track record when it comes to problem-solving, which requires deeper scrutiny. Clearly, it contains no sustainable solutions to the psychological problems and lifestyle challenges that afflict individuals today. It is incompatible with Yoga and meditation practices of India that is bringing so much of happiness and spiritual tranquility to millions around the world. It lacks (and does not need) the adhyatmic (spiritual) aspect as well and does not focus on self-realization. The variety of festivals, the colors, the sounds, the sacred chants, the harmony of woman and man and nature, all of which arise from Hindu cosmology are entirely missing. Only events that serve as historical reminders of the Nicene Creed are useful to commemorate. Consequently in Europe and North America, despite several centuries of monopoly, we are witnessing a steady decline in the numbers of HC Christians. An increasing number of disenchanted and disturbed individuals are seeing through the hollowness and futility of this extremist HCC ideology. They are moving toward atheism or moderate Christianity. In both cases, these people have turned to Yoga and meditation techniques that originated in dharma tradition.

The sobering fact is that Nicene-Creed History-Centrism is neither necessary nor sufficient (and is absolutely of no relevance) for any person to reach a higher level of consciousness and self-realization.

How does this orthodox Christianity resolve this problem?  There are two ways to do this – the honest way and the dishonest way. The honest solution is a dharmic resolution, which we discuss first.

Jesus as one of many Avatars or Gurus

Many moderate Christians in India have consciously or subconsciously adopted this approach, either completely returning to their dharmic Tamizh roots, or embracing an Indic version of Jesus that rejects the exclusivity and historicity of the Nicene Creed dogma. In the latter case, a devotee worships Jesus or Mary or any other deity as their own Ishta Devata while fully respecting and acccepting the traditional deities of Tamizhs, their village and sea deities, and their family deities, as equally valid. Here, Jesus is considered (by those who believe) as one of the many avatars or gurus or great thinkers without asserting superiority and therefore, there is no need to convert others to follow the “one true God”. Diversity is preserved. Importantly, this message is passed to following generations so that their children do not fall prey to churches and padres that preach extreme Christianity.

The great commission is not interpreted as a perpetual appeal to convert, but as a encouragement to emulate noble ideas. In such an interpretation, HCC+GC is not a militaristic vehicle to assert and enhance a collective identity and destroy other faiths.  A person who achieves great progress in this dharmic path of self-realization has the potential to become a living Guru and emulate all the (non-mythical) achievements attributed to Jesus. Among the multitude of manifestations of the divine in India, one more is easily accommodated, as noted Tamizh thinker and commentator S Gurumurthy has pointed out many times.

Such a solution preserves mutual respect and a live and let-live attitude. However, such a solution is also a threat to the clergy and history-centric churches since it eliminates the middlemen. Therefore, these vested interests denounce such an amicable approach as ‘unchristian’ and instead promote an alternative predatory approach that preserves their existing power structure. However, the historicity of the Nicene Creed is tied to Europe and Middle East and is completely alien to Tamizh and Indian culture. To execute GC in India requires an adaption of the GC that is suitable to the Indian context. This is achieved through a practical technique that Christian theologians in the 1950s called contextualization [5].

Four-step Process of Contextualization

The thesis quotes the following definition of contextualization: “the translation of the unchanging content of the Gospel of the Kingdom into verbal form meaning to the peoples in their separate culture and within their particular existential situations”.  The thesis states that contextualization is a “missiological necessity” and that the Bible itself as an example, with the incarnation of Christ as the best example of contextualization. The apostle Paul is considered the person who best contextualized the Nicene Creed, and the thesis cites this remarkable quote about Paul: “he became all things to all people, and he did that to win more people to Christ” [5].

We propose the following top-down four-step process to conveniently summarize the conversion approach for Tamil Nadu that is described in the thesis.

  1. Nicene Creed specifies the unchanging end goal.
  2. Great Commission decides the strategy required to achieve this goal.
  3. Contextualization identifies the model that fulfils the Great Commission and is scalable, dynamic, and best suited for a context (e.g. Hindus in India or Tamil Nadu).
  4. Digestion refers to the means and methods used to implement a contextual model for converting (‘discipling’) people belonging to one or more communities or Sampradayas.

The first two levels are common to all countries and regions and specifies the high-level goal and strategy. The third level of contextualization is applicable to a specific country, or region such as Tamil Nadu when the country is diverse. The fourth level of digestion implements a contextualization ‘use case’ of how best to harvest Hindu souls belonging to specific ‘castes’ or sampradayas. The achieved harvest numbers versus the targets are tracked and updated on a regular basis and stored in databases. A quick search of the internet can provide examples.


Digestion is a term coined by Rajiv Malhotra and is another key concept to grasp. We directly present the explanation from his book ‘Being Different’ [2] along with some highlighted points:

The thesis communicates that the aim is not to reject but to digest Hinduism into HCC quite clearly: “Christ can be communicated not as the destroyer of Hindus, but as the Crown of Hinduism”.  Furthermore, one “accepts the biblical truths revealed in the writings of the Hindu saints on the assumption that Christ has revealed His light in the Hindu world in the past and He is also actively present now“. Digestion is not done randomly or in haste, but carefully, in order to minimize the risk of the digester’s own traditions getting changed. It is carried out by smart evangelists with full awareness and clarity about the risk versus reward structure inherent in this delicate process, with the first and last goal of preserving the History-centrism encoded in the Nicene Creed. Therefore, the need for deception is critical. The United Nations is planning to make cultural appropriation illegal.

This four-stage process is set up so that no step is redundant. The third and fourth steps involving contextualization is always designed so that it preserves and propagates history-centrism as enshrined in the Nicene Creed at any cost by following the Great Commission. This is done by missionaries in order to eliminate or at least greatly minimize any chance of “syncretism” or contamination of this “pure” Christianity by the age-old village and sea Gods and Goddesses and traditional deities of Tamil Nadu who are “false gods”. The thesis is very careful about how the mechanics of the digestion process should work. There is no equal place for our native Tamizh deities in HCC. Once digestion is complete, they are to be excreted as waste.

Syncretism damages both dharma traditions and History-centric Christianity whereas Digestion only distorts dharma traditions while strengthening HCC.

The thesis explicitly clarifies that “Contextualization is not syncretism, because syncretism is the amalgamation of various pagan beliefs with God’s truths” and it cannot compromise the Gospel with the heathenism of Tamizhs. The author is clear that “the Hindu text should be used to support the Christian view“.

"Syncretism is an apostasy that is condemned in the Bible".

The extraordinary level of detail to which a Tamizh convert to HCC can go to, in order to preserve the beliefs in the European Nicene Creed, prove his loyalty to his western masters, and reaffirm the irreconcilable difference and superiority of his new found faith over his lower native Tamizh traditions can be seen in this statement: “I have used God with a capital “G” in places where reference is made to a deity of a monotheistic religion; a small “g” is used in places where reference is made to a deity to one of the gods of the Hindu pantheonThe inherent casteism in the thesis is also stunning.  It explains how the mass-conversion of poor and ‘low-caste’ Tamizhs have adversely affected the quality of the Christian faith, and that they were so far unable to convert many ‘upper caste’ Hindus. In fact, the main goal of the thesis is to rectify this situation and bring ‘quality’ to HCC.

Operating within this safety net, the evangelist can safely navigate through any culture in the world and convert families en masse. One can incorporate additional “contextual” layers without disturbing the dogmatic core. The fourth step ensures that the implemented contextualization model is maximally effective in its marketing impact on the target audience.

Contextual layers are created in a culturally appropriate manner in order to simulate the appearance of a dharmic solution. 

In short, contextualization and digestion employ deception and the net result is the destruction of indigenous traditions to feed and strengthen the predatory system. Therefore, for contextualization to succeed, a cultural genocide is necessary and if contextualization wins the battle for Tamilnadu, the cultural genocide of Tamizhs is guaranteed.

Breaking India and Beyond

A dogmatic system that simulates an external dharmic layer would necessarily have to appropriate Tamizh traditions and techniques. However,  dharma traditions of Tamilnadu and India are incompatible with Nicene Creed dogma or indeed any other Abrahamic dogma, and therefore cannot be directly or openly borrowed. It can only be digested. In other words, the original meaning, intent, objectives are deliberately erased. Note the sheer hypocrisy here. HCC’s own beliefs are deemed unquestionable and absolute. Their own ceremonies that mark history-centrism are deemed meaningful while the customs that have been held sacred by Tamizhs for thousands of years can be mangled, bent, and distorted at will since they are false and no one cares anyway. Once this happens, the dharmic symbols, metaphors, traditions, techniques, temple architecture, Puja, Kavadi, Kumbhabhishekam, Bhakti, Jnanam, Thiruvizha,  … practically every dharmic element in Tamilnadu belonging to every class and community can be cannibalized and reinterpreted spuriously in support of Nicene Creed and to assert its supremacy. The poetry and songs of the Azhwars and Nayanaars, the wisdom of the Siddhars and so many Tamizh saints can all be deconstructed and falsely reinterpreted to support this extreme form of Christianity.

Such a contextualization is required to reduce the difference anxiety [2] in Tamizh Hindus who are induced to convert but are repelled by the alien dogmatic and racist roots of history-centric Christianity. Digested customs allow Tamizh Hindus to voluntarily and happily enter the spider web of the Nicene Creed “on their own terms” without giving up their age-old customs and traditions. The aim is not to win over a few Hindu intellectuals but to appeal to entire masses and communities. The thesis explicitly identifies the central role of family in the Tamizh Hindu society and aims to convert and subvert entire families. Targeting individuals is expensive, not scalable, and runs the risk of the person returning to his dharmic family fold after being socially shunned [5].

The Breaking India threat is real and analyzed in the best-seller by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan [4]. This book is a must-read and is available in multiple Indian languages. An upcoming conference with an exclusive focus on Tamilnadu will be studying related topics.

source: swadeshiindology.com

The threat is not just to Tamilnadu but to all other Indian states as well.  A superficial unity and pop culture based on speaking Tamizh and watching Tamil films is woefully insufficient to defend against this sophisticated and organized threat. Only the deep culture of Tamilnadu rooted in dharma has the capability to integrally unite and prevail in this battle. It is important for Tamizhs to understand the depth of their culture that they have inherited from their ancestors, and the evangelists are aware of this too.

"It is culture that withstands shocks, not a simple mass of knowledge" - Swami Vivekananda

Tamizh separatism encouraged by HCC converts and their western masters is specifically designed to widen faultlines among Indians and between Tamizhs [4].

A first step could be the bifurcation of Tamilnadu like what happened to Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh with each of the two new Telugu states dominated by a global History-centric religion. Tamizh and Hindi and Kannada speakers are cleverly drawn into futile linguistic and culture wars in a digital era where on-demand mobile translation between Indian languages is becoming a reality, while the Breaking India process continues unhindered.

The Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) is an especially important propaganda tool in this thesis. It greatly aids digestion and is crucial for alienating the ordinary Tamizh from the traditions and culture of his and her own ancestors and to turn new converts against their own communities. As Swami Vivekananda observed: “and then every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more” [6].

A knowledgeable observer of Indian affairs commented: "We must realize that the real issue isn’t regional languages causing chauvinism as much as it is de-linking from dharmic culture to create Westphalian problems". [7].

The negative impact of this cultural genocide and wholesale destruction of Indic customs is balanced by projecting a positive public image of the clergy and churches who are portrayed in popular Indian media and movies as social justice champions who feed and educate the hungry and poor Tamizh, as kind nuns who shelter orphans, and as NGOs that fight gender inequality and caste-discrimination, etc. The beauty of contextualization is that in the future it can be potentially accomplished by shedding its ‘Breaking India’ image. How? We conclude this introduction with this discussion.

Cultural Genocide of Tamilnadu

Contextualization, when perfected, can allow a HCC convert to be ‘India first’ and ‘Tamizh first’ in external appearance.  Note that in the four-step process, only the first two steps are non-negotiable. The last two steps are adaptive and context-dependent. Unity of purpose with HCC churches and its chosen people located outside India is based solely on the shared loyalty to the Nicene Creed. Such a convert will be able to go to the border in Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh and lay down his life as a martyr not for Bharat Mata, but as a soldier of an India that surrendered to The Kingdom of Christ.  During peacetime, he/she will perform Christunatyam  and practice Christian Yoga. Every relevant aspect of existing Tamizh traditions will be digested and simulated for superficial display in such a Taminadu, but in reality, Mother India and its sacred geography and dharma would have perished.

Contextualization of the Nicene Creed and its implementation using digestion is like a neutron bomb that will annihilate India's adhyatmic civilization while preserving its territorial assets and economic prosperity for the benefit of His Kingdom. It sacrifices India's atma to harvest its souls.


  1. Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s Philosophical Unity. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2014.
  2. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Harper Collins. 2011.
  3. Difference With Mutual Respect: A New Kind Of Hindu-Christian Dialogue. RajivMalhotra.com.
  4. Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines. Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan. Amaryllis. 2011.
  5.  Ashram: A Contextualized Model for Discipling the Hindus of Tamil Nadu.
    Poovelingam R. Solomon. Andrews University. 1994.
  6. Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Volume 5. On the Bounds of Hinduism. Prabuddha Bharata. 1899.
  7. Private email communication.
  8. Wikipedia entry for ‘Great Commission’.


Thanks to the twitter handle that shared the thesis for review.

Thanks to the ICP blogger and editor for constructive feedback.

[Guest Post] Indian Medicine, European Gloss

The following post was composed by Dr. Ashok, New Delhi. You can follow him here on twitter.

source: chronicletodaynetwork.com


Siddha is one of India’s traditional knowledge systems. The impact that Siddha medicine has had on modern health care has not been fully understood. It is imperative to analyze and trace the progress of the ideas and methods of Siddha medicine into the western systems of medicine, and see if due credit was given to the original Siddha scholars who came up with the ideas. The following article is my humble effort to view the dissemination of Indian Siddha medical knowledge in the background of European imperialism.

The Hippocratic Oath

The Chinese physicians take an oath to adhere to medical ethics in the name of Sun Simiao, who is referred to as the “The king of Chinese medicine”. His teachings are a ‘must read’ for every Chinese medical practitioner. The Japanese doctor takes a similar oath in the name of the “Seventeen rules of Enjuin”.  Enjuin was a Japanese Buddhist scholar of the Ri-shu school in the 16th century. Similarly, Israeli physicians take “the oath of the Hebrew physician” (3), while Islamic scholars of the world, especially in Malaysia, have begun to take oath in accordance with Islam. It is called the “Islamic oath”. However, when it comes to India, curiously, the Indian physician follows the “Hippocratic Oath”(17). Hippocrates was not an Indian, and neither did he ever visit India. Then why do Indians pledge in the name of Hippocrates?

Hippocrates (wikipedia)

To understand this phenomenon we need to look inside the history of medical care. First, we summarize the state of healthcare in medieval Europe, and then briefly compare it to the situation in India and the east. It must be noted that during this time period, Europe’s economic situation was completely different from what it is today. Its economy (as per Angus Maddison, the macroeconomic historian) was a mere 1 % of the world economy. In comparison, India’s share was around 26 % until the 18th century (18).

European chamber pot (alamy.com)

Health challenges faced by medieval Europe

  1. Bathing was considered “unspiritual”, and even “sinful”. For example, in 14th century Tuscany, the only time a person ever bathed was when he married, when both bride & groom would bath in a tub. Boniface-1 & St. Gull condemned bathing. Apparently, the Norwegians never washed hands after eating in those times. Bathing was considered a prelude to sin, and in the penitential of “Burchard of Worms“, we find an exhaustive catalog of the various sins that are accrued when men and women bathed together. Before the renaissance, people practiced sweat-bathing and perfuming to avoid bathing their whole life. The Catholic church banned bathing to prevent Syphilis (2).
  2. Only the rich used perfume to mask body odor. That is how the deodorant was invented (the usage of Right vs Left in Social Studies also stems from this context. Right of aisle were the rich, and to the left of aisle were the smelly poor.).
  3. Many women did not groom their body hair until the 1920s.
  4. In the Victorian era, bodily waste was emptied inside their bedrooms into chamber pots (since homes did not have plumbing) which would then be thrown off the window.
  5. Toilet paper was invented in the 1800s.
  6. Many were infested with head & body lice, and they used mercury to treat themselves. This led to several fatalities (10).
  7. Many suffered from STD. The most feared diseases included smallpox, dysentery, measles, leprosy, typhus and especially the plague. There was no cure available, and widespread epidemics could wipe away large populations of Europe (23).

Healthcare and Medical Sciences in Ancient India

Since ancient times, Indians had given prime importance to  bathing, grooming , soundarya, medicinal practices etc.  Harappa , Mohenjedaro, Lothal, and other settlements show evidence of possessing separate toilets & drains as early as 3000 BCE (19).


A large well and bathing platforms at Harappa (Obed SuhailCC BY-SA 3.0)

The following Shloka from the Vishnu-purana gives the philosophy of protecting our environment by the adoption of safe and hygienic defecation practices:

Dashasthan paritjay mutram kurya
Jalashay Shathasthan
Purishartha tirtham nadyam Chaturgunam !
Dharashauch na kurvita shauchashudh
Mabhipsta ! Chulukairaiv Kartabya
Hashtatshudhi Vidhanta!

  • Urination ought to be done at least at a distance of 10 cubits from the source of water. Defecation to be done at a distance of 100 cubits from the source of water.
  • At least 40 cubits distance is to be observed while urinating near a river or a temple, and defecation at least at a distance of 400 cubits.
  • Urination and defecation ought not to be done in running water or a river. Water should be taken in hand and washed away from the river.

Similarly the Manusmriti, Narad Puran, the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, and several traditional Indian texts emphasize the importance of hygiene (20).

Centuries of theft as well as the confiscation of Indian manuscripts, and the destruction of ancient Indian universities have deprived Indians of a clear understanding of their own heritage of cleanliness and hygiene. Currently, the Indian sanitation & hygiene standards are in dire need of improvement. The Swach Bharat campaign has provided a much needed impetus in this direction, and India needs to look no further than its own dharmic tradition in order to reclaim its position as world leader when it comes to sanitation and hygiene.

Ayurveda and Siddha

There is evidence to show that both Ayurveda and Siddha systems of medicine can be traced back to the Indus valley (Sindhu-Sarasvati) civilization. History is witness to the great achievements of Ayurveda, but Siddha medicine, which happens to be localized mostly in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, remains relatively unknown in other parts of India. Both texts are similar in content but Siddha medicine has more of a chemical component to it, and is rooted in local Tamil tradition. It uses several Sanskrit words while describing compositions.

statute of Agastya (Indonesia). wikipedia

Siddha medicine was started by the great Rishi Agastya (who also gave the world the Tamil language), and it had 18 founders, who are revered as Siddhars. Siddha medicine employs herbs, minerals,  and chemicals as remedies. Use of metals started from the period of Vagbhata (6th Century CE). Siddhar Korakkar was the first to introduce Cannabis as a medicine. Mercuric sulphide was termed as “lingam” and it was used as one of the “ashtadhatu” while preparing the shiv ling. This shiv ling had several purifying properties owing to its chemical composition. Perhaps this is the reason why water is dropped at a slow pace above the shiv ling & the collected water is purified, and free of bacteria & viruses. Theraiyar, in his Thylavarkachurukkam, insists that a physician should clean his hands many times and bathe after examining a patient. By some accounts, a Siddhar traveled to Mecca under the name of Yakub and taught the Arabs (1). ‘Varma’ was a branch of Siddha medicine which dealt with trauma & internal injury. By the 18th century Siddha medicine developed hundreds of specialized branches of science. Siddha medical practitioners were required to follow a strict code of discipline (1), (6).

A depiction of 18 Siddhars (velacherymahan.com)

Let us now examine the spread of Siddha medical techniques to the west.

Digestion of Indian system of Medicine: Case Studies

Siddha medical texts were extensively translated, studied & taught by the Dutch, Italians, Germans, French, and the British. Whitelaw Ainslie stayed in India and studied “Agasthiyarvaythiaamayinooru”& other medical texts extensively for more than 20 years, and published the “Materiamedica of the Hindoos” in 1813 (24). We briefly discuss three important instances of the digestion of Siddha medicine. The interested reader is encouraged to read the cited references.

Case 1: Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner (source: bbc.co.uk)

The credit for inventing modern medicine was given by western historians to Edward Jenner. He is regarded as the father of immunology for his invention of Vaccination,  a technique where you expose the patient to a small quantity of the virus that is not enough to cause disease, but just sufficient to make the body immune to it. It was Dr. J. Z. Holwell who sent a  most detailed account of the Indian rites of vaccination to the College of Physicians in London in 1767. Subsequently, Jenner earned his M.D degree (5). This technique saved millions from the small pox virus, which had already killed hundreds of thousands  of people in Europe, and left the survivors blind. Little do people know that the technique of vaccination was practiced widely in India, and the Indians were immune to this disease thanks to its indigenous systems of medicine (11).

Case 2: Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur (ozlusozluk.com)

Louis Pasteur is widely celebrated as the French chemist and microbiologist who discovered microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is credited as the creator of the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. He propounded the germ theory of disease. He is known for using pasteurization as a technique for sterilisation. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology, together with Ferdinand Cohn, and Robert Koch, and is popularly known as the “father of microbiology” (7). What is the real source of these discoveries? We provide an alternative thesis here, along with evidence.

It appears that Louis Pasteur obtained this knowledge from the Tamil Siddha text Sillarai Kovai. It so happened that a Jesuit named Friar Jean Baptist de Choisuel working in Pondicherry came across this text, and subsequently wrote a book in French, titled “A New sure shot and easy method for treating patients with Rabies”. This book was sent to France, and reached Louis Pasteur. Soon after, a vaccine for Rabies, and many other medical principles surfaced there. The book is preserved in the archives of Venves, Paris (8, 9). Thus it appears that modern sanitation in Europe began after Louis Pasteur published his germ theory of disease (inspired from Siddha medical texts). Until these discoveries, sewage often used to mix with the drinking water supply in Europe, leading to widespread cholera epidemics.

Case 3: Robert Koch

Robert Koch (britannica.com)

Robert Koch is also regarded as the father of Microbiology. He received the Nobel prize for isolating the bacteria  “Mycobacterium tuberculosis“. Few are aware that he worked for the notorious East India Company and spent most of his time in Madras, but also traveled extensively within India.  Koch was investigating the cause and possible treatment of Anthrax, Plague & Cholera. He explained the same germ theory of disease, which was also detailed by Louis Pasteur. The Tuberculosis bacteria was already described as Yaksma in Rig Veda & Yajur Veda (25). Furthermore, all the above mentioned diseases, their etiology,  and treatments have been clearly explained in Ayurveda and Siddha texts (11).

Additional Reading

K V Ramakrishna Rao has done research on the appropriation of the Tamil texts on indigenous knowledge systems by European scholars. I briefly summarize some findings below, and interested readers can visit his blog.

Portuguese Physician Garcia dOrta (1501-1568), Finnish Botanist LEcluse, Christovas da Casta, Dutch scholar Henrick Adrian Van Reede (1637-1691), Johann Ernest Grundler (1677-1720), Charles Clusius, Linchoten (16th century), Poludanus (explaining the writing of Linchoten) and others had studied Siddha medicine and sent voluminous palm-leaf books back to Europe.

Tranquebar was the Fortified Scientific Research Centre for Europeans. It had members of naturalists, orientalists, linguists and historians from the Danish colonies and the mother country, including missionaries.  Parthalomius Ziegenbalg, Heinrich Plutscha, John Fryer, Samuel Brown, James Petiver, The United Brothers (1768-1848), and many more came from different parts of Europe to India with the dual aims of mining traditional Indian knowledge, and religious conversion.

The Jesuit policy of “Theft, Confiscation and Purchase” of Indian Books is repeated in the context of Mackenzie as “Beg, buy or borrow.” [These quotations are from a book referenced in the linked blog].

It was Syphilis which forced the Europeans to come to India in search of a cure.

The Europeans were called Parangi by the Tamils, since they were infected with a contagious disease known as Mega noi”, Granthi noi” and so on. In fact, Johann Philip Fabricius (1711-1791) gives the meaning for “Parangi” as Syphilis in his famous Tamil to English dictionary.

Carl Linnaeus (1707-78) was Influenced by the work of Garcia deOrta. He had several specimens of plants, palm leaf manuscripts sent to him by his Indian counterparts.

Bogar (a Siddhar) taught Ema vittai (the art of converting bae metal to gold with basmam, ash) to the Europeans. On a side note, the Sivavakkiyar poems refute Christian theology implicitly and explicitly.

Theodor Ludvig Frederich Folly came to Tranquebar to study Siddha medicine. After learning from the Tamil doctors, he accused them of being highly superstitious, imbibed with religious doctrines, and dismissed them as Quacks.  Roberto Nobili, Kepler and many others collected several Siddha texts on astronomy . They later accused the Siddhars of being unscientific, and that the knowledge possessed by them was riddled by religious superstition (21).

Despite the extensive knowledge mined from the Siddha Tamil texts, many Europeans stubbornly continued to use Opium as a treatment for practically every disease until the 1900s. It is well known that Opium trade helped expand the British Empire (13). Vast areas of Bengal, Andhra, and Tamil Nadu, were forced to cultivate Opium, which led to the infamous Bengal famines of 1770, 1890, and 1943 in which several millions lost their lives due to starvation (22).

Summary and Conclusions

There is considerable evidence to show that from the early 16th century to the 20th century, several physicians, botanists, military surgeons, pharmacists, and others from Europe had copied, translated , reviewed, experimented & extracted from the Siddha medical texts anything that was a portable & profitable product. That which could not be ‘digested’ and fit into the Christian value system was eventually rejected as pseudo-science. This prejudiced view may have led the colonial powers to believe that the Indians were clouded by religious “superstitions” and that they alone were equipped to extract the scientific & medical truths from the Siddha texts.

It is apparent that the Indian science & its dharma knowledge systems played a significant part in pulling Europe out of the “Dark-Ages”. In fact, Indians today largely believe that modern science is solely a result of the sheer intelligence, creativity, and hard work of the European mind. It is hard to dismiss the claim that the Indian contribution has been neglected deliberately.

The full extent of the loot and destruction inflicted upon India during the British Raj has not been completely understood. Let us break the chains of mental slavery and stop taking any alien oath that was thrust upon us. Let us create our own path, and write our own grand narrative.







6) The Yoga of the 18 Siddhas: An Anthology, edited by T. N. Ganapathy, 2004.

7) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Pasteur

8) http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781137567604

9) https://books.google.co.in/books?id=GkTvCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT125&lpg=PT125&dq=pasteur+siddha&source=bl&ots=4xhqDI4AGD&sig=UNvk4PT5NOmx_qJBrp0rz0xjh1w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjV3qjozeTKAhWDCI4KHVBGDhQQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q=pasteur%20siddha&f=false

10) http://listverse.com/2012/10/22/10-revolting-facts-about-the-18th-century/

11) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336341/

12) http://en.europenews.dk/A-History-of-Medicine-part-3-78482.html

13) http://www.academia.edu/1444383/The_role_of_Opium_in_the_Expansion_of_the_British_Empire_from_1764_to_1825

14) https://books.google.co.in/books?id=0ohiAgAAQBAJ&dq=robert+koch+east+india&source=gbs_navlinks_s

15) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angus_Maddison

16) https://books.google.co.in/books?id=OnJ9QgAACAAJ&dq=isbn:9780199227204&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2tI72zOTKAhWGI44KHT07BqMQ6AEIGjAA

17) http://www.ima-india.org/page.php?page_id=21

18) https://books.google.co.in/books?id=a-JGGp2suQUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Contours_of_the_World_Economy_1_2030AD&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

19) http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org/history-of-toilets/museum/

20) http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org/history-of-toilets/aryan-code-of-toilets-2nd-century-ad/

21) https://siddhadreams.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/the-transmission-of-scientific-knowledge-from-tamilnadu-to-europe-15th-to-20th-centuries/

22) http://www.tehelka.com/2014/06/remembering-indias-forgotten-holocaust/

23) http://edu.turku.fi/tiimalasi/en/diseases.html

24) https://archive.org/details/materiamedicahi00ainsgoog

25) http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/article447635.ece?service=print

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Tamizh Cultural Portal. The author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.