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Marma in Ayurvedic Treatment
Charak Samhita I .134
"Only that which can bring about a cure is a correct medicine. It is only he who can relieve his patients of their ailments who is the best physician."
In Ayurveda, Marma pressure points are junctions in the body, usually close to the skin surface, of important nerves with muscles, veins, bones and joints. In ancient Vedic times, marma points were called bindu – a dot, secret dot or mystic point. It is said that marmas are constituted of six vital elements: soma (sleshma, phlegm), marutha (vata, air), teja (pitta, bile) and the three mental types: rajas, tamas and satva. Marma adi is the science of manipulating marmas or vital points. The stimulation of marma points improves pranic flow by limiting stagnation in the body. According to Susruta, author of Susruta Samhita, the ancient treatise on ayurveda, human body contains 107 marma points which, when struck or massaged, produce desired healing or injurious results. Like acupressure, marma adi functions by pressing these points through which the prana (chi in Chinese) flows. After a Marma Point Treatment the nervous system is calm and revitalized, an essential factor for maintaining mind-body balance.
This section contains weasel words, vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. Such statements should be clarified or removed. (August 2010)
There is also a martial art based on this marma known as marma kala. Marma kala is an ancient Indian martial technique which prevailed even before the other martial arts came into existence and you can find the discussions about marma kala in vedas also like arthava veda and other medical scriptures.
It is said that marma kala is a technique which is used not to harm humans but to heal humans and this is was used very much in the latter way than the former way as this is a very specialized technique in which you target not the human body i.e. not the outside structure but you target the inner structure of the human body which is the very source of functioning and living if you mistakenly even touch the other nerve other than which you have to work upon then the person can also suffer death.
In this technique you will target the nerves, pressure points, and the joints, of the humans which specifically deals with some or the other vital function or functioning of the body and do you know what are martial arts basically based upon, they are not basically meant to train the physical outer body but they are specifically meant to train the inner body and the inner system to overcome any physical disaster or calamity if your inner system is not that strong as that of the one who has a through practice then it can be very dangerous to get entangled with the one who has practiced it.
In marma kala the teaching is giving where exactly to put the pressure and how much to put the pressure because excessive pressure can lead to death and vice versa so a through knowledge of this art is very much essential to use as it takes years of practice. simultaneously you should also know how to capture the pressure and release the pressure if not death is certain.
Today marma kala has become extinct and the people are moving towards other martial arts other than this very powerful art.
Marmas and Vedic Sciences
Just as mantras are the seed powers that underlie speech and language, so marmas are the seed sites that underlie the body and its movement.
The Vedic vision regards the entire universe or macrocosm as the cosmic person or Purusha, within the human body as a replica a microcosm. This means that the mapping of the energy fields in the human body reflects that of the universe as a whole.
Marma was part of Dhanur veda The four upavedas are: Dhanur veda-Martial arts, Ayurveda – Medicine for both body and mind, Gandharva veda- music, dance and literature, sthapatya veda-vasthu or directional influences and architecture.
Marmas and Ayurveda
Through the right use of marmas our entire physical and mental energy can be consciously increased decreased or redirected in a transformative manner.
When manipulated, marmas can alter both the organic function and structural condition of the body.
At marma sites toxins, stress and negative emotions get lodged and are held sometimes for years. Relieving pain, blockage or swelling at marma sites is an important therapeutic aid and one of the first stages of many Ayurvedic treatments.
Marmas and System of Yoga
Marmas are key energy centers for the practice of yoga on all levels from yoga postures o deep meditation.
Yoga postures affect the energy held in the limbs, joints and spine whic contain important marmas. Asanas can be used to stimulate and balancec marmas in various ways.
Marmas connect to the nadis(subtle nerves) and chakras of the subtle body and mind. Thus marmas are important for healing subtle and physical body.
Marmas similarly have a place in higher Yoga practies of concentration, mantra and meditation. Special mantras can be used with particular mamas in order to increase physical or psychological strength, adaptibility and immunity.
Marma, tantra and Siddha medicine
According to the Siddha system, the entire universe originates from the union of Lord Shiva- Being Sat and his wife Parvati-energy or consciousness force (Cit-Shakthi). Prana at rest is Shiva and in motion is Parvati. The marma as a form of treatment connects to both Shiva and Shakthi forces.
The Siddha system refers to marmas relative to the effects of the moon and the planets on the human body, bringing in an astrological link as well.
Marmas and Martial Arts
Marmas were associated with the use of armor for the body, which was devised to protect these vital points from injury.
Rig Veda speaks of using protective coverings to protect these marmas. It refers to prayer or mantra as the best protection.
Mahabharatha contains many references to marma. It mentions protective coverings for the marmas of elephants and horses as well as soldiers. At that time great warriors coud use their powers of Prana and mental force as fighting tools, energizing arrows with natural forces like fire and lightning.
The highest form of martial arts is the marma Adi of which knowledge of the marmas was the central part.
Marmas are conjuction points of consciousness in the body. There most common application is in Ayurvedic massage. They are also very important in Yoga asana and meditation.
There are 108 major marmas in the body where Purusha (consciousness) is brought into Prakritti (body) to give life to the living being (both humans and animals have these points).
More complex systems of Marmas look almost identical to the Chinese Acupuncture meridians. This information on Marmas is found in a proper translation of Shushrut Samhita. It was used extensively by ancient surgeons who would not cut energy channels when they would operate. This would insure proper healing after the operation.
What is Marma?
Etymologically it is said that, each letter of word Marma has got a significant meaning. Ma means Prana or Vayu, the “Repha” indicates house or seat. Hence the word marma means seat of vayu or Prana. Vaghabata expresses the same idea.
The term Marma is derived from the Sanskrit term Mring marane or Mru prana tyage. That means which causes death or death like miseries.
The word Marma in this context refers to certain vital points on the human anatomy. Three groups even now practice the marma vidya –
Ayurvedic Practitioners (Marma Sastra)
Tamil / Sidha Practitioners (Varma Vidya)
Martial Art Practitioners (Kulayan / Abhyasa Marma)
History and its development: -
Reference of the word Marma is seen in Atharva Veda. During Vedic period, knowledge of marma was known to kings and warriors. It was applied in battlefields to hit and achieve maximum fatal effect against their enemies. Therefore it can be assumed that this science was used both in warfare and surgery.
As a practical science, the Marma therapy has widely acclaimed as an effective treatment method and has been in vogue from time immemorial in many parts of south India, especially in Kerala & Tamil Nadu.
In Ayurveda the 107-point marma system, of the ancient Indian surgeon Susruta, which was developed primarily for helping the surgeon to safely operate on the human body and the 108-point marma system of the ancient tamil Sidhas (saints) meant primarily for treatment of various ailments and diseases, the 64 points marma system of Kalari abhyasis (practitioner of traditional martial art) of Kalaripayattu peculiar specific of northern Kerala was developed with the specific purpose of injuring or killing an adversary in a personal combat and / personal defense.
Vaghbhata is of the view that structures which show irregular pulsation and where the pain on pressure persists can be la-belled as Marmasthana. According to Susruta, Marma is a conglomeration of anatomical structures namely Mamsa (muscle), sira (blood vessels), snayu (ligaments and nerves), asthi (bone) and sandhi (joints).
The statements clearly help in deriving a conclusion that there are certain very vital anatomical points in the body, which are having a secret and significant life values and they are composed of nerves, muscles, blood vessels, joints, ligaments and bones. It is not necessary that all these structures should be present collectively at a time for the composition of marma. Even if only two structures are present it may constitute a marma point.
In Ayurveda the knowledge of marma has a very vital role to play. The diseases affecting these areas were considered to be having a very bad prognosis. More over the disease not affecting the marmapradesha are relatively easy to cure.
Signs and Symptoms of Injury: -
The symptoms of injuries on each marma have been described in detail in the Samhita granthas. There are certain general symptoms as giddiness, delirium, falling down, unconsciousness, abnormal movements of the body, rise of temperature, relaxation of joints; fainting, belching, pain and different symptoms due to the vitiation of vata will be manifested due to the injuries in any of the five types of marmas.
Vagbhata notes, “When marmas are injured a person rolls in bed due to pain, feeling as though entering into emptiness. He suffers from faintness and restlessness and has difficulty breathing. Due to severe weakness he cannot lift his legs and hands, has a burning sensation in the heart, cannot stay in any posture for long and may soon succumb to death.
Five types of Marmas relative to symptoms when injured: -
Sadya Pranahara; - Immediate death causing.
Kalantara Pranahara: - Long-term death causing
Vishalyaghana: - Fatal if Pierced
Vaikalyakara: - Disability causing
Rujakara; - Pain causing
A marma injury in which frequent convulsion, extreme weakness, loss of sensory observations, vertigo, shivering, severe dyspnoea, fatigue, burning sensation are observed and the patient will feel no relief from symptoms at any stage, may probably die.
Area of marma therapy: -
There are various areas where Marma chikitsa can really contribute.
To name a few
Reduction techniques (Shoulder joint)
While treating old traumatic lesions
Balance the energy in body
Physical & mental wellbeing through Massage or healing therapies
To balance & activate Chakras and nadis
Marma therapy and doshic types: -
Naturally the treatment of marmas must consider such constitutional factors. Marmas as energy centers are most connected with Prana and with the corresponding vata dosha as already noted, but they have their effects on the other two doshas as well.
Vata types can use marma points to monitor and treat the level of Vata in their bodies and minds. They can benefit from marma therapy that aims at reducing Vata from its various places of accumulation in the large intestine, bones, joints and nervous system. Marma therapy can be used for pain relief, reducing stiffness, stopping tremors, relieving constipation, calming down anxiety, relieving stress, promoting sleep and other vata reducing actions.
Pitta types can use marma points to monitor and treat the level of pitta in their bodies and minds. They can benefit from marma therapy that aims at cooling down high pitta from its various places of accumulation in the small intestine, liver and blood. Marma therapy can be used for removing acidity, cleansing the blood, detoxifying the liver, countering infection, stopping inflammation, calming anger and other Pitta-reducing actions.
Kapha types can use marma points to monitor and treat the level of kapha in their bodies and minds. They can benefit from marma therapy that aims at moving and eliminating Kapha from its places of accumulation in the stomach and lungs, lymphatic system and fat tissues. Marma therapy can be used for reducing mucus, removing congestion, eliminating edema, promoting weight reduction, increasing physical and mental activity and other Kapha-reducing actions.