Talk:/Medical Institutions in ancient india/Hospitals and Equipments/Obstetrics Hospital

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Obstetrics Hospital


�Before the commencement of the ninth month,the physician should get erected a lying-in room on a site free from bones, sand and broken bits of earthen vessels, in a soil which is excellent with regard to color, taste and savour, facing east or north, with the wood of bael, false mangosteen, putramjiva, marking nut, three leaved caper and catechu or with any other wood which the brahmans who are knowers of the Atharvaveda recommend. This should be well-built, well-plastered and well-furnished with doors and windows and in accordance with the principles of architecture, there should be arrangements for a fire-place, water-storage, pounding, lavatory, bath-room and kitchen and it should be comfortable in that particular season.


"The following articles should be kept there ready to hand - ghee, honey, rock-salt, sanchal black and bid salts, embelia, costus, deodar, ginger, long pepper, the roots of long pepper, the elephant pepper, Indian penny wort, cardamoms, glory lily, sweet flag, piper chaba, white-flowered lead-wort, asafetida, rape seed, garlic, clearing nut, kana, kanikaa, cadamba, linseed, balvaja, birch, black gram and maireya and sura wines. Similarly, two grinding stones, two heavy pestles, two wooden mortars, an untamed bull two gold or silver cases for keeping sharp needles, sharp metallic instruments, two bed-steads made of bael wood and faggots of false mangosteens and zachum oil plauts, for kindling fire. The female attendants should be numerous, being mothers of many children, sympathetic, constantly affectionate, of agreeable behaviour, resourceful, naturally kind-hearted, cheerful and tolerant of hardships. There should also be present Brahmanas who are knowers of the Atharvaveda, Whatever else is thought to be necessary should be kept, also whatever else the Brahmanas and old dames advise, should be carried out��.

�The labour ward must be eight cubits long and four cubits broad and attractively built, with the entrance facing the east or the north. The patient should be attended by four women who are trustworthy, expert in obstetrics, well disposed, aged and who have clipped their finger-nails close".

�We shall now describe the procedure with regard to the construction of the nursery. A skilful architect should build and furnish the nursery It should be excellent, beautiful, well-lighted, sheltered from draught, admitting of air from only one direction, strong, free from such pests as marauding beasts, animals, fanged creatures, mice and moths, well-planned as regards the places of water-storage, grinding, lavatory, bath and cooking, comfortable daring all seasons, and provided with beds, seats and spreads suited to each season. Moreover the rites connected with protecting the house from the influence of evil spirits as also those with propitiatory, auspicious, sacrificial and penitential offerings should be performed and the house should be filled with clean and experienced physicians and with those attached to the family. Thus has been described the procedure with regard to the construction of the nursery�.


Besides these we have descriptions about purgatoriums or recreating homes where the quinary purificatory procedures etc. were undergone. Then there were Svedangrah or sudatoriums and also health-homes.

We shall set down the procedure regarding the immurement therapy. In an area resided in by princes, physicians, the twice-born communities, saintly men and men of virtuous deeds, free from alarm, salubrious, close to a city, where the necessary appurtenances may be had, one should, having selected a good site, cause a retreat to be built with its face towards either the east or the north. It should be of the following description: high roofed and commodius; built in three concentric courts, furnished with narrow ventilator; thick walled; congenial in all weathers; well lighted; pleasing to the mind; proof against noises and disturbing agents, untenanted by women, equipped with all the requisite appurtenaces, and having physicians, medicines and Brahmanas ready at call �.


From the descriptions given above, it becomes evident that particular care was taken in selecting the site for hospital, which gave protection from excessive wind, irritating noise and dust and uncomfortable light. Even the modern hospitals have something to learn from this ancient institution especially with regards to precaution against irritating sounds.


The building too was constructed under the supervision of expert structural engineers who were clever at the arrangement and division of apartments.


Although the original conception of hospital construction was of an aristocratic type, it was modified according to needs.


A striking feature in this picture of ancient hospital is the seasonal consideration. Arrangements were made so as to keep the rooms cool in summer and warm in the cold season. The methods employed then may seem crude to the world accustomed to air-conditioning, but they were the rudiments of ideal construction and the indigenous ways of achieving the desired result, astonish us. There were special places for the voidance of urine and feces and bath�rooms were provided. The standard of cleanliness achieved was verv high

�In a ward built thuswise, which is auspicious, clean and protected from the sun and the wind, one is free from diseases - psychic or somatic or diseases caused by external factors.


The patient should be always clean, with close clipped finger nails, wearing white raiment and devoted to the auspicious rites of Santi and Mangala and to honoring the gods, the Brahmanas and elders�.


The hospitals were well equipped with various devices and instruments. A list of some of these Yantras is given below.

That the hospitals were primarily meant for the diseased need not be reiterated, but some departments of the general hospitals or hospitals specializing in certain branches, like purgatorrams were frequented by healthy persons also thrice a year to undergo the course of purgative, revirilification and rejuvenation.

�Therein (in the retreat constructed) being cleansed with the purificatory measures and on having regained his happiness and normal strength, he should undergo the vitalization procedure. We shall first describe the cleansing procedure."


A few quotations will throw an interesting side-light on the beds, its accessories, cleanliness and decorations of the rooms.


�The ward must be equipped with beds that are free from discomfort and well spread with a cloth and with its head towards the east, and with instruments kept ready. The surgical patient feels comfortable in his movements if the bed is well made and spread with a cloth. The gods have their dwelling in the east and hence his head should lie towards the east as a sign of obeisance. There he should lie freely attended by friends who are amiable and pleasant-spoken�.