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Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets – Medicine and Martial Arts in South India - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets: Medicine and Martial Arts in South India

Roman Sieler


This book provides an ethnographic studie of siddha medicine, one of the recognized Indian medical systems, and one of its subtraditions, varmakkalai, “the art of the vital spots,” a South Indian esoteric practice combining medical and martial facets in one coherent tradition. Drawing on diverse materials, including Tamil manuscripts, interviews with practitioners, and, most centrally, apprenticeship learning, the book traces vital spot practices, both in different traditions such as Yoga and Ayurveda, and in different combat practices, and bases its argument on his in-depth ethnographic resea ... More

Keywords: varmakkalai, vital spots, apprenticeship, embodiment, knowledge transmission, secrecy, siddha medicine, Tamil Nadu, martial arts, traditional medicine

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780190243852
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190243852.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Roman Sieler, author
Assistant Professor, Heidelberg University