The two fields in which India excelled in the past were philosophy and medicine. Here was not the 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 'restoring 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.
This is even more true of the realm of medicine. Medical theories have to be justified and tested in everyday life, and medical science of India could not have survived if it had not stood this test of day to day verification and fulfilment. That it did is due to the fact that the system of medical education laid great emphasis on practical work in every branch of it, specially clinical study of patients in order to enable the students to have a thorough grasp of the secrets of the structure, functions and behaviour of each and every part of the human mechanism in health as well as in disease. Both the Samhitas, Charaka and Susruta repeatedly emphasize the necessity and importance of practical work. Charaka says :
The Man who is acquainted with the characteristics of all diseases; versed in all therapeutic measures and conversant with the true pharmacological properties of all drugs, is worthy of being made the custodian of king's life.
Not even a prosodial instant is introduced here without the authority of the main scientific concepts. The same are the interpretations and the same is the composition of the work; only the arrangement is changed for the sake of conciseness.
Consulting all the main treatise, the treatise of Astanga Sangraha is compiled in various sections and chapters. It is free from improper prolixity, omission and repetition and is a treatise containing the tripartite science of Life viz. etiology, symptomology and medicament, is an elucidator of the parts, the real meaning of which is obscure, it removes for the most part the controversial and conflicting points between our and other treatises and is a composition just befitting the spirit of the age. Astanga Sangraha is up-to-date especially on account of assimilation of the topics from a good many of treatises. So what cannot be learnt from Sangraha must be an impossibility.
Who can reach the end of the boundless ocean of Ayur-veda? Here is collected the cream of the knowledge of the disease and drugs of the whole universe.
With the attainment of full independence, a new era is set; India finds herself at the cross-roads and has to make her choice now. There is the imperious call of the spirit of the modern analytical science in every heart desiring advancement and equality with other nations of the world, and there is also the fond attachment to the hoary past, glorious and supremely scientific in the golden age of Ayurveda, but apparently not in accordance with what is now regarded as valid and reasonable from the point of view of modern analytic science.
This is the position in which Ayurveda has been placed at present. Now it is the duty and responsibility of the scholars of Ayurveda to rise to the occasion an0 following the example of later writers and commentators by adapting meticulously the principle of strict adherence to the fundamentals of Ayurveda, to redact, rewrite or further specialize in different branches or sections as demanded by the exigencies of the present time and place. New theories examined in the light of experience and experiment if proved to be according to the fundamentals of Ayurveda may be included and interpreted in Ayurvedic terminology.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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