History of Verma Kalai
According to the mythological sources and the legends Lord Shiva was the master of this art form who had taught this art form to his son Lord Murugan and Lord Murugan again taught this art to the sage Agastya, foremost of the Siddhar's, during the times of Sangam Literature. He transferred the knowledge of this art to other Siddhar's and he also wrote treatises on this art in Tamil. The presence of shrines to Agathiar in Courtallam suggests that he researched the art there.
Varma Kalai is lineally incorporated into the new and advanced forms Kuttu varisai and Adi Murai (Southern Kalari) and also in Silambam forms like guru salavarisai, salavarisai (various form) and tani-salavarisai (advance). Salavarisai even has names like salam-varisai, which means 'way of greetings or respects'. Knowledge of Varma Kalai was considered vital in all these arts to become a Grand Master. The teachers were named as Aasan and the grand masters were called as Periyaasan or Iyan.
The art was taught only to selected individuals, by giving prominence to but due to the strict requirements for new students it never gained large numbers of adherents. Due to its secretive nature, Varma Kalai remained largely unknown even in India until the release of the movie Indian, in which Kamal Haasan played the role of a Varma Kalai expert. The film's popularity generated a resurgence of interest in the art.
Currently Varma Kalai is practised in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, usually as part of Kuttu varisai and Kalari training.
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