Varma ati

Varma ati

Varma ati or marma ati (also called Varma Kalari ) or Varma Kalai ( _ta. வர்மக்கலை) is a martial art practised in old Travancore including present day Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and is called the southern style of kalarippayattu. [cite journal | author = Zarrilli, P. | year = 1992 | title = To heal and/or harm: The vital spots (marmmam/varmam) in two south Indian martial traditions--Part I: Focus on Kerala's kalarippayattu | journal = Journal of Asian Martial Arts | volume = 1 | issue = 1 ] . Its a unique "Neuro Martial Art" in warfare practised by the Royal Thiruppad Nadans to defeat/kill the enemy without any external injuries are called Varmam. "Varma Kalai" is the master of all arts, royal to its name, practised by special Asaans (super masters). An Asaan of special rank is a super master over 108 Kalaries. These Asaans were the real kingmakers and known as Gramavadins or Gramanis, a term applied to communities like Nadars and Ezhavas. They were the very ancient rulers of South India. Link []

Varmam or Marmam

When one is affected by Varmam, it stimulates or blocks one or more of the 10 Vayus (air) governing the life centers of the body, which in turn acts on the Sapta Dhathu (Seven Vitals) of the body namely Ninam, Kapham, Majjai, Suklam, Moothiram Pethi and Viyarvai (blood, lipid, marrow, semen, urine, stools, sweat) respectively, and makes the desired effect to the enemy and causes his death or unconsciousness.

Sidha Grandhas

This Art is the one mentioned in the 300000 Grandhas (Books) of the early Sidhas. More than 75% of the original Sastras have been either lost, sold out or destroyed due to negligence and also through the over conservative character of the people who handled this Art. Yet, there are sufficient quantity of these rare Grandhas, in the form of Palm-Leaf Texts in Southern India, especially in Malabar, South, and Central Travancore. The Asaans of Kanyakumari, Kollam and Trivandrum Districts, although getting weaker at present, are still alive to the standard of these rare records. In order to learn this Art, it was necessary to work with an Asaan for a minimum period of 12 years in those days. This Art was not taught to anyone who came forward. There are some quality specified for the student of the Art, as specifid in the following malayalam verses related to this art:

"Sishyanentru panirandu varidam kaathal,Mathiyan puthi avanil irunthuthanaal,Appane karuthudan porul vanki Nool than Eiiye,Eiiyvado Yerukkappa, Sivayogikke,Igathile Chandalarku Eiinthayanaal, Chavu-Adupol, Paazh naragil veelntai sonnen"

This can be translated somewhat like:

"Who is the worthy one to be taught?Keeping for years twelve, under you,And if you find in him the quality desired,My son, spare the secret knowledge to him,But, who the one to be taught by you?None, none, but a Saint! - a Shiva YogiBeware it be not given to the unjust of this world,Lest thou be fallen into the pits of hell-fire"

Although most of the vital Marma Sastra treatise is lost, presently more than 100 are traced out. Each book (in Palm-Leaf Text) consists of 100 to 1000 verses, written in Malayalam using Tamil scripts with Tamil phonetics.These Sastras were not available to common men until the recent past when it was openly published by some of the Asaans. One of such publications made by K.Kochukrishnan Nadar, in the year 1970, in the Malayalam language, but with Tamil phonetics, is given below:

1.Brahma Nila Sutram, 2. Vahada Nidanam, 3. 'Marma Nidanam, 4. Kadikaram' (Kannadi), 5. Marma Sutram, 6. Marma Sutra Thiravukol, 7. Agastiya Thiravukol, 8. Marma Thiravukol, 9. Marma Aani Thiravukol, 10. Marma Kandi, 11. Marma Bheerangi, 12. Marma Bheerangi Thiravukol, 13. Marma Narambarai, 14. Ulpathi Narambarai, 15. Odi Muri Chari', 16. Kettu Mura Chari, 17. Odivu Murivu Kettu Suttiram, 18. Murivu Kettu Thiravukol, 19. Narambarai Suttiram, 20. Kaivallyam, 21. Marma Alavu Nool, 22. Naalu Mani Mathirai, 23. Marma Kuru Naadi Sasthram, 24. Kuru Naadi Sasthram.

It is surprising to notice that the Marma Sastra treatise contains a lot of philosophical treatment in addition to its human anatomy and medicinal prescriptions. The Palm Leaf record is mostly in the form of crude poetical recital. The prayers offered to god or goddess is noteworthy:

"Aadi mudal antham, mudivillatha gnanam,Anaithu uyirkum uyiragiAan pen yillanagi,Othi mudiyatha sakti, Umayagi,Omkaram athil thontri ulakukkellam,Niidam udan sristi, sthiti, samharamCheyyum nimalar moovar paadam adipanichuKarimugana tholuthuKodi Anda Pindam Kaappu thane"

To translate it:

"To that infinite, fothomless abstractOf Gnana from the Alpha to Omega,And, which the Gnana by itselfIs the Omega and Alpha, andThat which has sprung up as life,In the whole beings of Universe, butWhich by itself is neither male nor femaleYet, works as male and female in everything,And that light which is the cosmic power beyond praiseOne which is the Shakti born as Universal Mother,Within the Cosmic letter Om-supreme,And that power which has spread out into threeFor creation, preservation and destructionTo you, I bow down and submit myself, for thy helpMay the help come from the Cosmic supreme to me" .


The origin of this Varma Kalari is not possible to be strictly specified. In most of the Sastras, different Sages tell to their children or disciples, specially using the term, "ente makane kelkoo", meaning, "hear my son". This allows us to think that this branch of science was handled by specific family attached to Saintly Rulers because the subject deals with wars, wounds, cures, and saving the life. It also maintains a link with god because we observe that whenever an Asaan needs to revive a semi-conscious or unconscious victim, he pleads with the god-supreme to make his attempt a success. This connection links up the material body with the spiritual 'life' or Soul, through the mediums of panchabhootha or five elements activating the movement of "life" within the body, carried through the ten vayus. As a matter of fact, this is the fundamental principle of Yoga and Samadhi connected with Saints. To cite an example to this special character:

"Indriyam lingathil kandidiloEnthan Guruveai Uzhl ninainthuMunthi thilartham ara yira kiil,Puramaa murayai elakka sugamaame.

Naakkathu ulle vaankidukilNalamaai Edathu kaal thudaiporuthilEthamaai vithi murayai thaakkaThaanulle amartha chariyagum"

It says:

If semen appears to ooze out from the male organ, due to an infliction on Marma spot, think your Master: pray to god, and slowly press on half measure below the "Thilartham", touch and soothen the place, and the victim will get well, and the oozing of semen will stop.

If the tongue gets pulled in, due to infliction on marmam, press and kick the hip joint to the correct measure; and the tongue will retain its normal position.

What a strange phenomenon to play with the hip joint to rectify the defect at the root of the tongue!The Masters of Marma Kalari are very thorough with the number and position of human veins, arteries, ligaments and the activation of life centres. The following version explains to it:

"Solvom Naadi njarampin thohaye kelu, Kelappa,Chenni thanil Aayiramaagum, Chirantha Chevi rantilum Moovayiram,Chirana Kan randil naalayiram, CheppukirenMookkathil moovayirathu munnooti muppathakum,Aagume Thol, pidari Aayiram thaan, appane karuvinil mulathavare

Vaarana kantathil Aayiramentrum, Vantha karam rantilum moovayiramValar thozhin kiil Thoppilin mel kurana pidariyin kiil YennayiramKurippaga Vila mudal moovayiramaagum VeranaLingam athil Yiirezhayiram entru esampinaare"

It explains that:

The veins for chin-1000, Ears-3000, Eyes -4000, Nose-3330, Soulder-1000; Neck-1000, Arms -3000, Soulders to Navel-3000, and in the Linga or the Male Organ-14000 etc

The list goes on like this, explaining details of every part of human body, including the hairs. It is very surprising to see that the Marma Kalari Asans had knowledge of a crude form of genetics or germinalogy. The following stay witness to it:

"Thanentra vinduvodu Vaayu sentru,Malarkkul viilnthal, malarilullaEthalkalellam moodikollumThenentra vaayu vodu Theyu nintru thirattum thane:Sol periya thinam ontril kadugu polam,Thinam naanil Malli polamMattumaintham Nalathile Mani polamAmappa thinamaaril Nellikkai polai,Aana thinam Ezhukku Punnaikkai pol.Omappa, Ettam naal Panchapootham,Ormayudan Ehil thontrum PanchasharamPathu mudal Ainthu naalum Kozhi anda vadivathagumAchappa Aaru thinkal Guda dwaramNarampu than Ezhupathiirayiramaachu,Charam petra Onpathile Uyir than vanthu.Santahmaru gnanam undaamUchivazhi muttum Uram petta Vindu aachu,Utta thayar avarkalkku aayasamachuu"

It says:

In the first day of union of the male and female eggs, it takes the form of mustard seed, fourth day as coriander seed, and in the sixth day as amlaki. In the eighth day the five elements (Panchabhootham) takes charge; Ninth day it takes the size of a crow's egg. In the 10th to the 15th day, it grows to the size of a hen's egg. In the sixth month the excretory system of anal opening develops; and in between the sixth and seventh months the veins take form-totalling 72000. In the ninth month life comes to stay with six types of knowledge in it, and the mother feels tired.

So this Sastra deals with every details of the human body from its first day of formation to its end, studying all the required aspects of its growth, infliction and the remedies. The Sastra does not encourage harming any man through the application of this Marma Kalari. But it urges to use it only as a self-defence. It recommends avoiding a confrontation.

It says:

Thanakku Yethiri yar vanthalum thaninthu pinvankumNallon pole, Naay entru unnai avan yesinalumNayakane entru nee pottikondu suruthy solliNee poga ethirppanagil, thurisamudanNee saiyyum muraiyum solven

Even if your enemy charges you, say welfare to him, but, if the enemy still attacks you, I teach you the ways to handle him quickly.

This is a very noble character, which was found in the early Jains and the Buddhists. Peace was the aim of the community. But, if someone violates the codes of peace, nothing wrong to arrest his pride for which the Marma Kalari may be applied.

There is a form of Kalari with sticks (Chilambam). There are many branches under it. Dr.J.David Manuel Raj has written a book on it " History of Chilambam Fencing". Sticks or swords can be used as the offensive weapon. When applied with sticks, the infliction of marmam is very effective. For example:

Valatha eduthu valathu veesi, Edatha madakki othiram. Mugathinu, kaalinu, kaalinu mugathinu. Edatha madakki Othiram, kadathala, Munathala, Pirathara.

This is the first step, which slowly increases into 12, 108, and 1008 etc, each aiming at the Marma centres of the body.

Yet another example of applied Varma Kalari is given below:

"Pakarume Kaattinile maattan vannuPazhi kedu chathidave thuninthaanakilAgam pathri Odiye nee pnaalumthanAvan nenne vidillanna ennu kandaalJagathile en Guruve thuna nee ennuChuvadu moonnu avanayume chutti vannuUgathile ninaichu randu cuvadu edamaaiUdanodi kaal chippi arukilthaaneArukathinil chuzhi athile kai perukkiAppane peru viral kondu uuntrilThiramaaga vizguvaane, vizhunthittaloChippiyile neererum, kaal asainthidaatheVarukume chippikkarukethanValarnthintha lingam athu churungi pokumKaruvaana mookku thanil neerolikkumKan sivakkum, kaal asaiyamal tharikkum"

It prescribes that:

If you are attacked suddenly in the jungles, and if you are not spared even at the point of extreme humble requests, my son, take the three crucial steps of the Martial Art, circling your opponent; suddenly take two steps to the left and charge your enemy with your toe at the kuzhi of the Kaal chippi.. Your enemy will fall down; swelling will appear on the spot with pain of snakebite. His leg will become numb and motionless. His male organ will be pulled in, and he will bleed through his nose with lipid, his eyes will become red and he will surely die.

"Vikada thala Kadamunain OramaagaAnukki thaakkil, pozhuthu uthikkumTharunamathil Ezhumpum lingamPoovayarai kandayudan paayum vinthu,Azhum, chirikkum, koothadumappa,Athalathil murivuttal apatham pare"

This is an application during the course of Chilampam, or fight with sticks. It says:

If the enemy is attacked at the side point of Kadamuna, in twenty-four hours the male organ will become erect, and on the first sight of a female, he will ejaculate. The victim will cry, he will also laugh and behave like in epilepsy and there is no cure for him.

The following Sastra reveals the secret nature of expression maintained in Varma Kalari:

"Chenkathali poothirukkum vanam than pakkamAttham athe kuzhiyin mele,Aakatha Chandi ennaal anainthu paaru,Adiyatta maram pole vizhuvaan maiye"

If your enemy is too strong for you, just press him at the small dent of the Poonkathali forest, you will see him fall like an uprooted tree!

So much severe and incredible are the effects of application of Varma Kalari and that much, even more, are the quality, patience and character required to maintain, preserve and handle such an Art. It is totally meaningful that Sainthood is prescribed for the Super-Masters of this Art, like the Saints of Buddhism and Jainism. Four stages are prescribed to become a Super-Master. At the end of the fourth stage he attains the perfect Sainthood observing the sacred codes of "Ahimsa" or Non-Violence, which declares the noble principles of Varma Shastra. By practicing these noble principles of the Varma Shastra, a man shall be enlightened of the true mission of his life on this earth.

ee also

Varma Kalai


* "Culture of Travancore Arts ", a paper submitted by Dr.M.Immanuel, at Annual Conference of Association of Third World Studies

* "Tekkan Kalriyude Marmam" by Ramu Asan and K.Kochukrishnan Nadar. Published by K.Kochukrishnan Nadar, in the year 1970, kerala

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