From the Jacket
The science of Ayurved is considered an Upanga (subpart) of Atharva Veda when it was written in text form. But 600 B.C. was the beginning of most creative period of this Ancient Indian Medicine as stated by Dr. P. Kutumbiah. It was in this period that a galaxy of medical teachers and stalwarts like Atreya the physician and Sushrut the surgeon made it a leading science of healthcare in the world and sowed the seeds of scientific temper. Keen observations, discussions, experiments, documentation and putting them into practice for the betterment of the human race was the order of those times and went on up to 200 A.D. Though it gradually declined after that, so many concepts, postulations and remedies are relevant and useful in health care of today.
This book explains them in an inquisitive manner which can be appreciated by a modern practitioner. It serves as a foundation material explained in an explicit way. Every statement is supported with reference from classical text of Samhitas. Clinical subjects are discussed more elaborately. They are described in modern scientific perspective without losing the fabric of Ayurvedic concepts. This is also useful for an ISM practitioner as a reference book. Any medical person who wants to have a holistic picture of the science of Ayurved will welcome this book.
Dr. Kumud Nagral belongs to the first batch of integrated medical graduates of Maharashtra and is a strong proponent of integrated medicine. During graduation she received training at Podar, J. J. & St. George Hospitals. She was on teaching faculty of Podar Medical College for sometime and then opted for family practice where she excelled and has worked in many medico-social endeavours. Reproductive health and family welfare is her speciality and has taken part in many clinical studies and trials. She is a member of Intersystem Biomedica Ethics Committee.
Because of her scholastic abilities in both the sciences with proficiency in Sanskrit she can deal with the subject and reveal the concepts and contents of the Samhitas in a simplistic and intelligible manner and present an unbiased picture.
Ayurved, the Science of Life, stands for a holistic approach to the strategy of living of a human being. It lays emphasis on homeostatic harmony in the human body and its interaction with the environment. There is always a reminder that Human being is a microcosm of the macrocosm of the Universe. It implies that the medical science is not a domain of only the physician and makes participation of patient, nursing faculty etc. also mandatory. While defining health, besides physical well being, it also includes mental, social, cultural and spiritual Health. It stresses that Health is a supreme foundation of Righteous path (Dharma), Wealth (Artha), Fulfillment of desires (Kama) and Eternal bliss (Moksha), hence it has to be preserved by all means.
Since long I have cherished an aspiration that every medical man in India should know what Ayurved stands for:
It is a national heritage and science of life.
Even in today's advanced medical science it can certainly Swasthavritta, Panchakarma, Prakriti, Agni etc.
It can give new conceptual clues for the speciality branches of modern medicine if probed deeply.
It can add choices to the present array of modalities and drugs available to the speciality branches through research. Some ailments may be treated with a different perspective if Ayurved viewpoint is known to the physician, especially a family physician.
Minor ailments can certainly be managed by simpler remedies.
To achieve this, one needs to take a voyage through the Treatises and Samhitas. It is difficult because of language barrier, lack of interest, difficulty in understanding the terms. Used etc. Something should be available which is presented in modern scientific language, short and interesting and not boring, and at the same time doing justice to the themes of the Ancient Science.
As integrated practitioners, with a sense of pride and duty, I have decided to put forth this kind of work in front of medical fraternity to acquaint them with our Science of Life i.e. Ayurved.
While going through different chapters the reader may feel that there is repetition in some places; which is true. I had to resort to repetition. Even if the reader goes through only a particular chapter without reading other chapters, he should have no difficulty in understanding the subject. With this intention, the concepts behind that particular topic are repeated. While mentioning the herbs, colloquial names are given more prominence as they can be understood better by an Indian reader.
Original Sutras (texts) are quoted at many places. I hope that majority of Indian doctors know Devanagari script and are familiar with many Sanskrit words as we use them often in our day-to-day conversation. I have realized that sometimes the meaning is understood better by reading the Sutra rather than going through its translation or interpretation in English.
An honest attempt is made to touch only the salient points which can be understood and made use of in today's context of preventive and therapeutic aspects and lifestyles.
The description in the chapters is reproduced as per the text of the Samhitas. Now it is imperative to think, how it can be made use of in today's context of health care for the benefit of humanity. Hence some ramifications are noted at the end under Introspection in some chapters.
In all the chapters I have tried to describe the terms in today's conventional medical language but it is very difficult to explain or provide exact meaning of the terms or concepts in that language of today's conventional medicine. To make the reader familiar with the terms and gross meaning or concept implied in those terms, a glossary is provided at the end. I hope it may help the reader in understanding the concepts.
It would not have been possible for me to bring out the book in this form without the valuable suggestions. Insistence on correct references and meticulous corrections on part of Shri J.D. Gupt of Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan and Dr. Jayashree Joshi, a reproductive endocrinologist and a research scientist of repute and of course I am indebted to my husband Dr. S.I. Nagral, who is the main inspiration behind this endeavour. The author is thankful to all of them.
I am aware that this book has covered only a fraction of the science and so many concepts are not discussed. But as noted earlier, this is an attempt to give a glimpse of the science as if browsing through a windows.
Basically Ayurved is a science through which we understand the life.
Conceptually it is a biological science and has some similarity with what we call molecular science.
Subsequently this nomenclature is applied in reference to the life and health of a human being and hence it was transformed into a medical science.
“The process of exploration and attempts to understand life started from time immemorial and hence it is said to have been originated from Brahma, the creator of the Universe. But it was transformed into a medical science around 3000 B.C. much before Greek medicine. It reached its zenith in the times of Charak and Sushrut (800-600 B.C.)” – Dr. P. Kutumbiah.
Sushrut Samhita describes how this medical science was initiated in today’s from.
The wise and learned sages intersected in the welfare of a mankind approached the Maharshi Divodas Dhanwantri, king of Kashi who was in Vanaprathashram with other Maharshi and prayed – “the environmental diseases. We cannot see their suffering and feel sorry for them. Hence we wish to learn the science of Ayurveda to allay their diseases to maintain their health and make them happy. Please teach us the science because in it lies the salvation, both material and spiritual. Please accept us as disciples.” And thus the science was instituted.
Charak Samhita describes it with an array of questions :
What is life?
Life is the correct combination of body sensory & motor organs mind and soul which has uninterrupted continuity.
Life can be good or bad or happy or painful. This science describes the ways and means and the extent to which we can make it that way i.e. good or bad.
What is the Purpose?
Main purpose is to maintain the health (Physical, mental, spiritual) of the health and to cure the disease of the unhealthy.
Is it eternal or perishable?
It is eternal as it existed since eternity, it is natural and so evident like in fire.
Why should one learn it?
To help human beings to attain righteousness prosperity, happiness and for self help and earn a living.
Brahma narrated the science of Ayurved to Prajapati who in turn taught Ashvinikumars. Indra who learnt from them documented the same in one thousand chapters and one lakh stanzas. Further it was divided into eight specific branches namely.
1. Shalyatantra (Surgery)
2. Shalayantantra (Ophthalmology & Otorhinolaryngology).
3. Kayachikitsa (Medicine)
4. Bhutavidya (Psychiatry)
5. Kaumarabhritya (Paediattrics)
6. Agadantra (Taxicology)
7. Rasayantantra (Rejuvenation)and
8. Vajeekaranatantra (Science of Fertility and virility)
It got the name ‘Ashtanga Ayurved’ by 1800 B.C.
Later it was acquired by three great sages namely Dhanvantari Punarvasu Atreya and Kashyap. Each of these personalities gave stress on the main clinical disciplines and developed them. Subsequently they evolved as Dahnvatari Sampradaya (Surgery) kashyapo Sampradaya (Obstetris, Gynecology) & paediatrics) and Atreya Sampradaya (International Medicine). The tradition was perused and implemented in the form of training at different levels. Clinical application diagnosis, treatment etc. and documented the details meticulously in the form of Samhitas and Granthas by renowned personalities like Charak Sushrut Vagbhat and Madhavakar etc.
In this book an attempt is made to put before the modern medical practitioner of India, an overall view of different facets of the science of Ayurved. A window is created and as one browses through different topics if further interest develops one may go deep into it through conventional ways of study of Ayurved.
But even this preliminary work may help in inculcating a more holistic attitude while dealing with problems and diseases in day to day practice. If that happens it fulfills the aspiration behind this Endeavour.
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