Talk:/Medical Institutions in ancient india/Royal Physician and Hospital/The Royal Hospital

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The Royal Hospital


"The physician who wishes to administer the procedure of emesis or purgation to a king or a person of kingly circumstance or a wealthy man must keep ready before beginning his treatment, his full armamentarium.��


�Only those who are kings or of kingly circumstance or men of abundant wealth can be given the purgation procedure, in this manner.��


His time of daily visit to the king was very early in the morning

Vaidya�s visiting time:


�And during the eighth division of the night, he shall see his physician, chief cook and astrologer.��


The physician was given preference in interviews.


Vaidya�s interview:

�Having seated himself in the room where the sacred fire has been kept, he shall attend to the business of physicians and ascetics practising austerities, and that in company with his high priest and teacher and after preliminary salutation."


Besides emergencies and important demands on his fund of wisdom, he had to be in constant vigilance regarding the purity of the food, drink and medicine served to the king, in which task he had to supervise both in the kitchen and at the service in the dining hall He had first to taste the food himself and see it eaten by the cook and servants, and then let it be served to the king.


Kautilya says:

Having taken out from the store-room of medicines that medicine the purity of which has been proved by experiment and having himself together with the decoctioner and the purveyor tasted it, the physician shall hand over the medicines to the king. The game rule shall apply to liquor and other beverages�.


He had to supervise not only his food and drink and medicine but he had to supervise his bed-chambers too


Protection of the king's bed-stead by incantations."


"The king's bed stead should be well protected all round by muttering incantations for protection."


Thus the royal physician was expected to look after the king in every detail of his life so as to maintain perfect health and longevity. He had to manage the luxurious methods of treatment in disease befitting the royal personage, he had to look after the queen, with special care during pregnancy, delivery and puerperium, he was responsible for the health of the prince and such other needs of the king and his family. Thus be was expected to be an expert in all the branches of medical science.


All this goes to show how greatly were the medical man and profession in demand even in ancient times and particularly by the king who had regular establishment, dispensary, nurses and physician of his own. Such a royal physician was easily the prince of his profession and an acknowledged and respected leader in the realm."


It was therefore the ambition of those that took up the study and practice of medicine to be one day the king�s physician or honoured by the royal personage; as Susruta says:

�He who studies this science which is expounded by the self-existent Brahma and which is eternal and which is laid open by the Lord of Kasi, is, being of the merit of holy deeds, worshipped by the kings on earth and goes to heaven after death.��


But the selection of the Royal physician was based on such a high standard that only the best, wisest and ablest could hope to be chosen by the king (says Caraka). The Royal physician�s responsibility was very great In Vagbhata�s words:


"The attendance on a king is as dangerous as a sport with weapons, snakes and fire. It can only be discharged by modest persons through very great dexterity. Having acquired unattainable sway and great honour from the king, one should remain vigilant so as to retain and enjoy them for a long time.�


Lastly this subject cannot be complete without quoting the verses of Vagbhafca that describe the way in which the physician should conduct himself before his royal master; they are very Interesting and betokens the wisdom of those times.

If it is in the interest of some one else, lie should see that time and place are propitious. At all times, the physicians speech should be consistent with the ends of righteousness and the king�s welfare. He should not proffer counsel unless solicited, for such gratuitous advice might easily be deemed a great presmption. He should never act in a way that is prejudicial to the king�s good, for, it would mean destroying his own support. The physician should see that what he says it palatable as well as wholesome. If he wishes to advise the king against an evil course, he should do so in strict privacy and in words that are noble and dignified. But even this he should do only when indifference on his part would be blameworthy. If such advice is met with a rebuff, the physician should hold his peace. Conversation that is distasteful to the king should not be persisted in. As between a man who is learned but a poor psychologist, and a man who is unlettered but is good at reading people�s minds, the former, even if he is in high favour, will soon slip into extreme disfavour and the latter from even extreme disfavour will rise into high favour.


In is only after acquainting the king that any measures, however slight, should be undertaken. As regards the treasury and the royal harem, the physicians visits to the places should never be uncalled for and when they take place, they should be as brief as possible.

He should show great satisfaction even at the bestowal of small rewards never betraying a haughty frame of mind.


While at court, he should avoid confidential conversations with any other than the king himself; he should also eschew gossip- mongering, hostile disputation, imitating the king either in his sartorial habits or in his pleasures and recreations. But if the king himself has bestowed anything as a mark of favour, it should be worn for enhancing the royal pleasure, and while careful in being attentive before his royal master at all times, the physician should allow himself only a smile when the occasion demands loud laughter.


When a secret relating to some one else is being narrated, the physician should seem as though he were dumb, when a secret concerning himself is being divulged, he should put on the quadruple armour of deafness, fortitude, sweetness and perfect ease of manner.


He should not take excessive pains with the object of putting himself in a too highly exalted position, for it will be found that the joy of soaring high cannot compensate for the pain of the fall when it comes��.


Though closely associated with the royal person, the physician is not to strain that intimacy in any way nor press it to selfish advantage, for it is said that too great a liking or even dislike for a person from the king is fraught with danger. The physician should do nothing without having first apprised the king of it and taking his leave. He must show satisfaction with whatever he receives from the king as remuneration. He should not speak lies nor back-bite against others. He must be modest and not imitate the king in dress or manners. Where he might laugh he should only smile and thus conduct himself with great restraint. This is the way by which he may avoid coming to grief and remain happy and secure.


Being such a royal physician, we may admit, demanded all the wisdom, caution and ability that the best of men are capable of.