Marma chikitsa (मर्म चिकित्सा): A universal sustainable medical system


Pain is the most common feature and foremost indicator of any traumatic lesions or disease. Human beings continuous endeavour to lead a life free from pain has developed various medical management systems all over the world. Similarly Marma Chikitsa (मर्म चिकित्सा) - Marma science and marma therapy is an inherent power of human to heal himself through the management of important points which have been known and practiced since Vedic Era. The concepts of other oriental sciences i.e. acupressure/acupuncture are also based on these points but their description in marma chikitsa have been more precise and informative. Marma chikitsa has withstood the test of time as an effectual treatment line even in the conditions where there is no surgical or medicinal support. It preserves its effectiveness in curing and providing relief for everyone irrespective of the demographics which makes marma chikitsa a universally sustainable medical system.

Marma points have found their place in martial arts too which were taught to most competent and promising warrior to discourage its misuse. Like ‘kalari ’ practiced in South India in which these points are used to attack the opponent and cause maximum damage. And the severity of its harm can be judge by the instances where one after a major accident survives and the other with minor injury may succumb to death. Such an incident shocked the world of cricket in 2014 when the Australian batsman, Phil Hughes died in a domestic match after being struck by a cricket ball. Time has witnessed the loss of human from such incidents that proved to be fatal and Hughes unfortunately wasn’t the first one to die on field. Even Lord Krishna, the deity worshiped across in Hindu tradition left his corpus after a hunter who from afar mistook as a deer and stuck an arrow in his foot. Thus it becomes essential to know about the certain parts of the human body where injuries need more consideration and should be protected from any trauma.

This made the knowledge of marma points important but because of their ability to cause severe harm they were not taught directly. They were made part of tradition such as wearing turban on head etc. Marma points are also inherent in various human postures and yoga asanas that we adopt in day to day life. Also while reciting mantras as a part of worship routine in India; specific areas are touched where marma points are located too.

Understanding Marma points

The anatomically defined sites which are the junctions of mansa (muscle), sira (blood vessels), snayu (ligament and tendons), asthi (bones) and sandhi (joints) is referred to as Marma.

According to Ayurveda they are the junctions where Vata, Pitta and Kapha elements meet. They are not superficial landmarks on the body surface but are deep-seated important physio-anatomical structures each having its own width, height, depth and conscious level.

The word Marma comes from Sanskrit language where its importance is explained by the phrase “Marynti iti marmani” (मारयन्ति इति मर्माणि) which means that any harm to these points is hazardous to health. Any injury to these parts may lead to severe pain, disability, loss of function, loss of sensation (anaesthesia) and death. Acharya Sushruta (Revered as Father of Surgery by Allopathic and Ayurveda surgeons alike) also mentioned in Sushruta Samhita, chapter 6, that these points should be protected from any cut or injury during surgery.

The location of marma points in human body is described precisely in the text Sushruta Samhita. There are total 107 points located in front and back of body. Further marma points are classified in different classes based on their properties, location, composition and severity. The size of the particular marma is also mentioned. To find the correct position of marma, they are measured in “angula” (अंगुल) where one “angula” is the width of self finger. This reduces the chances of missing the point. In different anomalies or ailments marmas points behave in different ways as they may turn stiff, tender, cool, hot, swollen, rough, uneven or depressed. Blocked energy is released by stimulating the affected marma point with the desired depth of pressure applied in tandem with time of pressure, number of rounds or/and vibrating it.

Depending on the quality and nature of marma points, an individual can treat him/herself which helps to protect thyself from various disorders, increases immune power and preserves good state of health. While some marma points are stimulated in specific diseases only by the professional health care practitioner who has detailed understanding of its nature, severity and composition.

Importance of Marma points in daily life

The scope of marma chikitsa is immense as it helps to prevent disorders caused by physical exertion and psychological disturbances that have become the part of life due to factors like incorrect life style, stressful jobs, bad food habits and pollution. There are certain points in marma chikitsa that can be practiced daily which help to detoxify, strengthen and revitalize, and to rejuvenate and relax the body. Marma chikitsa provides relief in dealing with psychological or somatic disorders caused by stress, over activity and restlessness.

Besides Marma chikitsa is also used for the treatment of various disorders related to Musculoskeletal and Nervous system. Few common problems generally faced by people that are effectively treated in marma chikitsa are Lower Backache, Knee Pain, Cervical Neck Pain, Neck Sprain, Ankle Sprain, Migraine, Frozen Shoulder, Sciatica, Tennis Elbow, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Paralysis (Himeplegia, Paraplegia, Facial Paralysis), Various Spinal Disorders, Stress and Anxiety and more. Even in Hypertension and Diabetes (NIDDM) it can be used as an adjunct to other medications as per physician’s advice, for their better management.

Benefits of Marma Chikitsa

  • Marma chikitsa is the natural way of treatment and recovery inherent in every human being with no side effects when done properly.
  • It can also be self practiced daily like yoga and other exercises which help in releasing the stress, stiffness of muscles & joints and to re-energize the body.
  • It helps to boost immunity power and improve the function of body organs by achieving homeostasis.
  • It provides a preventive & curative measure for disorders related to muscles and bones common in present times for most of the population due to prolonged sittings or bad body postures
  • It helps to reduce the pain of nerves, muscles, ligaments, bones and joints and activate the mal-developed or deformed body parts or musculature etc.
  • Marma chikitsa can be used for treatment of various disorders as an individual therapy or in conjunction with other medical treatments: Allopathy, Ayurveda (आयुर्वेद), Siddha (सिद्ध), Unani (यूनानी), Homoeopathy, etc.
  • Cost of treatment is very low as rehabilitation of health is possible without medicine and has a fast action.

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Dr. Sunil Kumar Joshi

MS (Shayla Tantra) | Professor and Head of the Department (Gurukul Kangari State Ayurvedic College, Haridwar)

Haridwar, Gurukul Kangri

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