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Workshop on manuscriptology and Siddha medical manuscripts

For the first time in the world, a workshop is being held on Manuscriptology & Siddha Medical Manuscripts, especially for registered medical practitioners. It has been organised by the Prof K. Nachimuthu Institute of Research for Language and Culture (NIRLAC -, Coimbatore, a charitable trust dedicated to the study of Tamil language, literature and Siddha medical texts along with Arts Research Institute, Coimbatore (ARI -

Nearly 65% of all the palm leaf manuscripts available in the world today pertain to Siddha Medicine. They contain a treasure trove of information; from physiognomy to disease diagnosis to pharmacology to treatment protocols and much more. And yet, not even a handful of scholars can decipher the ancient Tamil, the manuscripts are written in.

Commentaries that are available are often erroneous, since they are more literary than scientific in approach. Also, the Siddhas were known to couch their intuitive knowledge of the human body and spirit in the 'twilight language' or 'paribashai'. All this has led to these manuscripts languishing in libraries and private collections around the world, instead of being actively used to serve humanity.

"The medical treasure trove of the Siddhas belongs to the people and it can reach them best through qualified doctors. Once they learn how to decipher the Tamil manuscripts, they can use the knowledge both in their practice and to undertake further scientific research into cures for various illnesses," says NIRLAC Honorary Managing Trustee, Dr.N.Shumugom.

A two day workshop was organized in Coimbatore on 31st Jan & 1st Feb 2009. In the workshop, the background information regarding how palm leave manuscripts were prepared, how texts were written in palm leave manuscripts, how palm leave manuscripts were preserved and how manuscript Tamil language has to be decoded into modern Tamil language was discussed in detail. The participants even decoded a small Siddha medicine text book available in the palm leave manuscripts. The participant strength was limited to just 15 so that the teaching is more effective. The participants were mostly Siddha doctors, Ayurvedic doctors and Homeopathy doctors.

Introduction to the palm leave manuscripts were given by Pulavar P.V.Nagarajan. He has more than 35 years of experience in decoding palm leaf manuscripts. He completed his graduation in Bachelor of Literature (Tamil) at Chennai University.  He held the responsibilities as Senior Technical Assistant in Department of Palm Leaf, Tamil University, Tanjur; Senior researcher – ‘International Dravidian Linguistic Association’, Trivandrum; Editor - ‘Tamil Peragaraathi Virivaaka Thittam’ Department of Tamil, Chennai University. He has published 56 books on various topics like literature, grammar, Palm leaf catalogue, translations, history of ‘Ramananda Swamigal’ and ‘Kandasami Swamigal’ etc. He has participated and has organized numerous workshops and conferences on Tamil language. He is well versed in Indian languages like Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and English.  Presently he is Secretary, ‘Thava Thiru Gaja Poojai Sundara Swamigla Tamil Aaivu Maiyam’, Goumara Madalayam, Coimbatore.

To provide a glimpse of what happened during the workshop and also to share the knowledge with others, we have posted the video recording in the following link:

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