Talk:/Medical Institutions in ancient india/method of theoretical and practical study/Practical

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Practical

 

The common charge made against the ancient Indian genius in general and her medicine in particular is that its nature is more speculative and theoretical than practical and useful India suffered in the estimation of the world more through world�s ignorance of her achievements than through the absence or insignificance of such achievements.

 

The two fields in which India excelled in the past were philosophy and medicine. Hers was not a philosophy to be studied in the arm chair and left at that. Her philosophers were realists and practical men. They tested the validity of their conclusion by resorting to the practice of yoga and religious devotion. Yoga and practical religion were closely allied to philosophy and never was philosophy a mere intellectual or imaginative pastime and adventure.

 

The Hindus have been a practical people and have never allowed their theories to run away without yielding actual results affecting daily life is the opinion of the great western scholars who have studied original books with a scientific spirit.

 

This is even more true of the realm of medicine. Medical theories have to be justified and tested in everyday life, and medicine and surgery in India could not have survived if they had not stood this test of day to day verification and fulfilment. That they did is due to the fact that the system of medical education laid great emphasis on the study of anatomy and physiology, on dissection of dead bodies and on practical demonstrations, on models as well as on the clinical study of patients in order to enable the students to have a thorough grasp of the secrets of the structure and functions and behaviour of each and every part of the human mechanism in health and disease.

 

Both the treatises, Caraka and Susruta repeatedly emphasize the necessity and importance of practical work. Susruta, the treatise on surgery tries to give even greater importance to practical study

 

�Now listen as I describe its foremost branch which is not in conflict with direct experience, authoritative text, inference and example".

He gives priority to practicals in the enumeration of methods of study. In ancient works the order of words or phrases is kept meticulously according to their importance.

 

As Indian Medical science paid as much attention to the study of practical work as it did to theoretical side, we shall review in detail some of the various references pertaining to practical work found in the classics of medicine To get recognition by the king, the physician should study as well as do the practical work.

 

�The physician should definitely study this science After studying, he should take practical training. One skilled in both science and art deserves recognition by the king".

"Therefore the intelligent man who desires health and long life, should not take any medicine prescribed by a physician who is a stranger to the art of application.�

 

While describing the qualities of a Vaidya, Caraka gives equal importance to practical work as to theoretical study.

 

"Clear grasp of theoretical knowledge, wide practical experience, skill and purity (of body and mind)�these are to be known as the tetrad of desiderata in a physician�.

 

Hence the physician who possesses the fourfold accomplishment consisting of theoretical knowledge, clear interpretation, right application and practical experience, is to be regarded as the reclaimer of life.

"But salutations be constantly proffered to those others who are learned in the science, skilful, pure, expert in performance, practised of hand and self-controlled�.

 

�The man who is acquainted with the characteristics of all diseases, and is versed in all therapeutic measures (is a worthy physician).'''

�He should be one who is thoroughly versed both in theory and practice, who is skilful, upright, pure, deft of hand, well equipped, possessed of all his faculties, who is conversant with human nature and line of treatment, who possesses special insight into the science, who is free from self-conceit, free from envy, free from irascibility, endowed with fortitude, who is affectionate towards his pupils, proficient in reading and skilful in exposition.��

 

��The physician is he who �physics�, who is skilled in the application of textual wisdom and who knows all aspects of life correctly . The following are the qualities of a physician�full knowledge of the texts of the science, experience of practical work, deftness of hand ...�

 

Botany

�The goat-herds, shepherds and cow-herds and other fores�ters are acquainted with the names and forms of plants."

 

No one can claim to have a perfect knowledge of the use of medicinal herbs by the mere acquaintance with the names or even the forms of them.

 

If one who knows the uses and actions of herbs, though not acquainted with their forms may be called a knower of science, then what need be said of the physician who has a knowledge of herbs in all their aspects.

He is the best of physicians who knows the science of the administration of drugs with due reference to clime and season, and who applies it only after examining each and every patient individually�.

 

�Of that this is the test - That it is of such and such nature ��� of such quality, of such efficacy, is born of such a country or region,��������� of such a season, gathered in such a manner, preserved in such�� a������� way, medicated thus and in such dosage, administered in such��������� a disease, to such a��������� person, either eliminates or allays such and such a humor and if there be any medication, in similar manner should it also be examined��.