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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 191-192

Musings on medicine, myth, and history; India's legacy

Consultant, Division of Public Health Administration, National Health Systems Resource Centre, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission26-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance01-Aug-2021
Date of Web Publication30-Aug-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Palak Nayan Agarwal
National Health Systems Resource Centre, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmrp.cmrp_75_22

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How to cite this article:
Agarwal PN. Musings on medicine, myth, and history; India's legacy. Curr Med Res Pract 2022;12:191-2

How to cite this URL:
Agarwal PN. Musings on medicine, myth, and history; India's legacy. Curr Med Res Pract [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 27];12:191-2. Available from: http://www.cmrpjournal.org/text.asp?2022/12/4/191/355207

Author: V. K. Raju and Leela Raju

Publisher: Eye Foundation of America

Language: English

ISBN: 0998518301

Editor: Garry McDaniel, EdD

Edition: 1st

Pages: 172 pages

Price: Rs. 250

Medicine is practiced rather as an art, than merely a profession by physicians as their practice matures, and bold strokes of the philosophy delineating their art of medicine reflect in the patient care and a wholesome career. The threads of this philosophy are woven by individual experiences, personality, upbringing, culture, peers and mentors, which guise the psyche of a physician. The author of this book, born and brought up in a country which was the hotspot of the art and science of not just medicine but also a way of life, reflects upon the past and the present of it through this book, reinstating his philosophy's raison d'etre.

Beginning with the introduction of India through religion of Hinduism, whose scriptures contained the very early texts from Ayurveda, the knowledge of life emerged, the ambiguity with the beginning of a defined set of rules to follow Hinduism and rather it being an ever-evolving, highly accommodative, liberal and rational religion are explained simplifying it by mentioning the act of being selfless and doing good as being the very essence of it. The second chapter is an evidence compilation of the origins of Ayurveda, as described by various researchers, who found it mingled in religion and its rituals. Ayurveda is now a recognised Whole System of medicine, and the linkages with religion and spirituality are being discussed, debated and researched widely.[1] The basis of Ayurveda in each individual's prakritis of vata pitta or kapha and principle treatment lying in balancing these humours is explained in a simple manner, elucidating its personalised, preventive and predictive approach.[2]

The second part of the book deals with the genesis of Surgery, which is credited to Susruta, the compilation of his works done through the Susruta Samhita which is still a utilised text to train the students learning the Shalakya (Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology) and Shalya (Surgery and Orthopaedics) tantra in Ayurveda.[3] A dedicated chapter on ancient ophthalmology in Susruta Samhita which mentions various ophthalmic surgeries such as pterygium, trichiasis and even cataract, gives a glimpse on how advanced Ayurveda was for its time.

The third part of the book, quite an interesting one, describes how ideas and knowledge were navigated through travellers, lost and rediscovered which makes the notion of India being considered a melting pot for the world for its highly evolved society a more conceivable one. A debate around the birthplace of medicine is mediated by the possibility of exchange of ideas taking place, through evidence of similarities in Greek and Indian System of Medicine, is mesmerising in the sense that the world has always been closely connected even before we could imagine it to be. The further chapters deal with unintentional attempts at reviving the history (good and evil) of medicine through clubs and discussions and explore various cultural connotations associated with physicians around the world.

The last part of the book deals with the current state of medicine in India, by studying the evolution from the Vedic times to the current era, and how the evolution of society affects the evolution of medicine and health as a whole. The influence of Mughal and then British invasion, and with that the gradual westernisation of medicine in India, leading to subordination of traditional physicians and its consequences are discussed. The exploitation of India by the British crown, impoverishing people, making them disease prone and leaving a broken public health system, infested with bureaucracy, has left India still struggling to find its footing as a performer when the world health statistics are compared. The contrast between the booming healthcare technology and pharmacy market of India, yet the health system being elementary, is also investigated. A chapter on trials and tribulations of practicing Ayurveda in the 21st century, highlighting the created inferiority of Ayurveda to modern medicine and an ego battle between the two systems, concludes how the glorious past of the Indian System of Medicine needs to be resuscitated.

To review the book briefly, it is a musing in its true essence and effortlessly manages to navigate the reader through hallways of glorious past of India including Ayurveda, the science of life that sprung from its roots. A riveting and factual description of origin and development of surgical skills by ancient pioneers of medicine from India, essays on the evolution of medicine and its wisdom trade-off throughout the world and the current scenario of our forgotten legacy ties the readers' weltanschauung and makes one ponder, contrary to the author's wish.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Kessler C, Wischnewsky M, Michalsen A, Eisenmann C, Melzer J. Ayurveda: Between religion, spirituality, and medicine. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013;2013:952432.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sharma R. Prajapati PK. Predictive, preventive and personalized medicine: Leads from Ayurvedic concept of Prakriti (Human Constitution). Curr Pharmacol Rep 2020;6:441-50.  Back to cited text no. 2
Patwardhan K, Kumar M. Surgical practice and Ayurveda: A realistic analysis of the current debate. J Ayurveda Integr Med 2021;12:195-7.  Back to cited text no. 3


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