Talk:The Vaidyas in Ancient Times

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The Vaidyas

It may be asserted with a fair degree of certainty that the institution of the Vaidya, the physician, is as eternal as medicine itself. It is not confined to a civilised state of society alone. Even when man was in the most primitive stages of his development, there must have been one or the other of his species that came to the rescue of his mate or offspring or members of the tribe or clan in an hour of pain and travail. His remedies might have acquired any shape from that of consoling sounds to herbs and incantations or coarse methods of medical and surgical manipulations.


In India where history begins with the appearance on the scene of the Indo-Aryan clans, the institution of the physician is found to be well recognised and established ever since the days of the Rgveda. The Aswlns loom large in the Rgveda as the physicians of the gods and the divine institution may safely be taken to reflect its counter-part in mundane society, the mundane physicians in a context which denotes that the profession had not yet become here�ditary but was open to any one to pursue (Eg 9-112-2)


The bard I am. My dad is a leech, mummy lays corn upon the stones. Striving for wealth with varied plans ,we follow our desires like kine."

We find again in the following verse the specific reference to the physician, the Bhisak, who is credited with the learning and the possession of disease remedies. Rg. 10 97-6


�He who hath store of herbs at hand, like kings and a crowd of men, physician Is that sages name, fiend-slayer, chaser of disease.�


Even in that early age of civilised society, medicine had already become a complex science and art and presupposed certain degree of knowledge and intelligence that was possible for the highest stratum of society. Thus it was the Brahmana, the natural teacher and priest of the society that was also the physician. The sages held the Soma herb supreme among the plant kingdom and its juice opened their vision to immortal truth. The verse in the Rgveda sings thus ( 10-97-22 )


" With Soma as their sovereign Lord

The plants hold colloquy and say,

O, King, we save from death the man

Whose cure a Brahmin undertakes".


The Atharvaveda is necessarily the source of the Ayurveda, for in it we find the preoccupation with the remedies for diseases, evil spirits and other ailments of man. There the physician is still the magic man priest and therapeutist rolled into one. But the various branches of medical aid have attained their distinctive ramifications. There is treatment by herbs, by organic body-juices, by incantations and we have surgical extractions and the countering of poisons.


Again here is a physician assuring his patient that he will procure all the remedies that mortal physicians are aquainted with.

Already in the Vedic age, four different branches or techniques of treatment were well defined.


The Atharvani, the Angirasi, the Daivi and the Manusi are the four kinds corresponding to magical charms, body-juices or organo-therapy, the divine or psycho-therapy and lastly the human or drug therapy.


In the post-vedic period which is the golden age of Ayurveda, the position of the Vaidya was at the height of its glory In the Caraka Samhita we have a complete picture of the physician, his equipment of learning and therapeutic accessories, his dress and manners, his standard of ethics and his general position in society as guide and leader.