History of Varmakalai

Varmakalai (the art of varmam) is considered to be very auspicious. It is believed that Lord Siva taught this art form. Indians overwhelm by saying that all rare art forms originate with roots from God. For example, epics illustrate that Tamil and Sanskrit have their origin from the sound of the 'Oodukkai' (musical instrument in the hand of Lord Siva). Bharatha Naatiyam (the traditional dance) originated from Lord Siva. Kama Sutra (the art of love and sex) originated from Lord Siva. So it is of no surprise when it is said that varmakalai, the rare art that saves humans from diseases, also originated from Lord Siva.

Odivu Murivu Sara Suthram 1500 : Verse 833

According to the above versus, Lord Siva taught varmam to his wife Parvathi; later Parvathi taught varmam to their son Lord Murugan. Lord Murugan then taught Siddha Agasthiyar. Agasthiyar later gave a written form that reached the masses. But the original texts (and their copies), directly written by siddhas, are not available now. Saints who have grasped the meaning of the siddhas sayings have given a poetic form, which is used in modern day learning. So far, around fifty thousand (50,000) songs are available. The narrated history has been mentioned in the 41st prose of " Kai Mathirai Thiravukol " as follows:

Kai Mathirai Thiravukol : Verse 41

The above narration cannot be merely considered as a made-up story. One of the names that denote varmam is 'Siva'. Another name that denote varmam is 'Vasi', which means air. If you repeat 'vasi' continuously, you can hear 'Siva'. 'Sivam' means life. That is why Thirumoolar preached the philosophy of 'Love is Sivam' (Love is Life). One of the current available texts 'Sarasuthram' gives the criteria for teaching varmam to eligible students.

Sarasuthram : Verse 4

It says that a varmam teacher should teach varmam only to a 'sivayogi'. Sivayogi is the one who loves all life forms. In all the varmam texts written since Thirumoolar till ones in 18th - 19th century, varmam is spoken along with sivam.

The history that is said so far has been taken from epics. In reality, varmakalai might have its roots in self-defense martial arts. It is the tactics man might have learnt by observing birds and animals. In Kalari (Defense Varmalogy), practiced in southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala, various forms like Elephant Form, Tiger Form, Fox Form, Lion Form, Hanuman Form, and etc. are still in use.

In cockfight, to improve the fighting spirit, the owner of the cock will massage the back of the cock. This looks similar to how now a days the teacher gives a pat on the student's shoulder to encourage him or her.

From the medieval period, the ornaments worn by man in the ears, fingers, legs and foot, knowingly or unknowingly gave him health and energy. The body piercing done in the name of god also helped him to improve his life. Similar to how circumstances helped him to learn the about various parts in the body that helped him to improve the health, he also learned about the parts that caused illness. He used this knowledge to attack his enemy and create damage. On the other hand when he got hit, with spiritual thoughts, he cured himself by tuning the points that revived the good health.

Though he could command victory over his enemies, he also performed rituals and took the help of 'Kalari Moorthy - Kali' god. Also to save the life of the people, who were injured by his enemy, he took the help of the god 'Kalari Moorthy - Sarabesvarar'.

Hence, for the growth of varmakalai, mankind's capability, thinking process and action played a dominant role. Our ancestors invented this art to help the mankind. It is our duty to preserve this rare art.

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