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

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The first step in theoretical study was the mastering of the texts thoroughly. The texts of the science which were the treatises on medicine and surgery current then, such as Caraka and Susruta Samhitas, were written mostly in a very concise style known as Sutra style. The books were in combined form of both prose and verse The prose was in a concise style while the verse was mostly in its simplest form that is Anustup. They were meant to be easy for cramming by the pupils and comprehended in their scope of exposition an encyclopedic range of subjects Their main characteristics were the logical exposition of the theories and methodical classification into various categories.


The exposition of the subject begins with a general outline of the subject in brief followed often by a detailed description of its various aspects. Again at the end there is a recapitulation of the whole matter, mentioning in brief all the subjects covered in the chapter. One of the chapters is devoted entirely to the enumeration of the subjects in the form of index. This system of exposition of a treatise was intended to preserve the text intact and to prevent interpolations.


The chapters represent various methods of exposition, namely simple description, catechism, debates and discussions. The teachers of Ayurveda like the philosophers that they also were, attempted to arrive at full and precise definitions of the terms and concepts, on which they used to build the frame-work of the science. They attempted to show the original derivations of words m order to enable the student to understand the original as well as the current connotation of the terms used in the treatises; they made a lavish use of similes culled from nature and daily life, in order to illustrate and clarify the meaning of their words to all the three grades of intelligence of the students' that comprised the class.


There is a remarkable catholicity of outlook in their teaching and they stimulated further achievements in the field of knowledge by giving constant impetus to the pupils for progress.


This theoretical knowledge was imparted by an oral system of education. This was the practice adopted for the acquisition of Vedic knowledge as well as the knowledge of any other branch of science in ancient India.


The method adopted in actual training as described in Caraka and Susruta is as follows:


�Beloved one! As regards the method of study, listen as I describe it. The preceptor should impart instruction to the best of his ability, to the disciple who has approached him in a state of cleanliness wearing his upper garment and with an attentive mind at the appointed hour of instruction. One should learn to recite word by word or verse by verse. Again they should be linked together properly as words, phrases and verses. Having thus formulated them, they should be repeatedly recited. One should recite neither too fast nor in a hesitant manner nor in a nasal twang but should recite bringing out each syllable distinctly without over-stressing the accents and without making any distortions of the eye-brows, lips and hands.

One must recite systematically and in a voice not too high-pitched nor too low. No one should intrude when they are studying�.


Caraka describes how the teacher imparts the knowledge to students.

�The student, seating himself at ease on even and clean ground, should, concentrating his mind, go over the aphorisms in order repeating them over and over again all the while understanding their import fully, in order to correct his own faults of reading and to recognise the measure of those in the reading of others. In this manner, at noon, in tne afternoon and in the night, ever vigilant the student should apply himself to study. This is the method of study�.