The word Marma literally means a Tender full vital point, which
is a conjugation of muscle, nerve, joint, bone, tendon , artery and vein either in combination of two, three etc., or all the above structures.
The father of Surgery– Sushruthacharya, defines Marma as “Marayanthi ithi marma” – which means, that certain vital anatomical locations in the body, when injured shall become painful and cause malfunctioning of the local organs or even cause sudden death (marayanthi) of the individual.
The actions of Marma are controlled by the Pranic Vayu (cosmic energy principle in human body).This Prana Vayu is essential to maintain the life or longevity of a person. Sushruthacharya in his treatise Sushrutha Samhita, in the 6th chapter of Shareera sthana, says that “a person with a surgical amputation of limb will survive, but a person injured at the base of the toe, may not, since the base of toe is a marma point.
Post surgically, after amputation, the channels of the body near the area of amputation get closed, thereby preventing the loss of pranic energy from the body. But where as in case of an injury to the toe, the person loses his life, due to the gradual loss of Prana Vayu or the Vital force.
There are 108 Marmas in the human body. The Marmas are classified based on the anatomical structures involved or based on the action potential caused in the body when it is injured. It is classified into the following 5 varieties based on the vulnerability it causes after the injury, namely-
1) Sadhyapranahara marma : When a marma falling in this category gets injured, due to the spontaneous loss of the Prana vayu , death is imminent to occur.
2) Kalanatara pranahar marma :These Marmas result in kalanthara (gradual) loss of life( pranahara), after a lapse of time.
3) Vishalyaghna marma : The word shalya refers to a foreign body. When a foreign body pierces these varieties of Marma, the injured person survives as long as the foreign body remains in the place of injury. But instead if removed, it results in the death of that individual.
4) Vaikalyakara marma These varieties of Marma when subjected to injury caused deformity of those organs which are dependent on that particular Marma for their energy distribution. The word Vikalya or Vaikalya means deformity
5) Rujakara marma : These Marmas neither result in deformity nor cause death, but results in excruciating pain (ruja) when injured.