Another form of Abhyanga is the use of the major and minor marma points.
Marma is discussed in one of the four main Vedas, and also detailed in
the classical Ayurvedic text, Sushrut Samhitá. The marma points are
similar to Chinese acupuncture, only no invasive use of needles is
Some say they are
also the points where the three aspects of Self-realization meet, i.e.,
inner Self, outer world, and between the two (knower, known, and process
of knowing). They may also be the junctions between the physical,
astral, and causal bodies. In short, they are points that have great
importance to a person’s body, mind and spirit. Although the marmas are the junctions of all five principles (i.e.,
flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones, and joints), at each point a
predominance of one principle exists. It is at these points where
Abhyanga can most effectively restructure or rebalance the system to
function most healthily. Further, Abhyanga helps develop the preventive
health and longevity of the body and mind by ensuring the proper
balance and flow of hormones, fluids, immune factors, etc.
Kerala is a state in southern India where Pancha karma Abhyanga has been preserved. However, unlike Pancha karma, it is used more for rejuvenation purposes than for cleansing. Various contemporary forms of Abhyanga are used in Kerala, and are very effective. Some modern authorities note that some of these practices are especially useful in healing serious mental disorders. However, other modern authorities believe they aggravate the condition. Practitioners have noted that procedures such as shiro dhárá have evoked troubling past emotions in some persons. Therefore, persons who have very deep emotional problems may be advised by some practitioners to heal through herbs, aromas, and professional counseling first.
Several important differences exist between Kerala and ancient Pancha karma therapies.