There are book and books on the Science and Art of Heal and Healing. Each brings its own viewpoint, often focusing on its merits while concealing the demerits of a particular system. An average reader is left stranded upon the crossroads of life and death wondering which way to go. The line between help and harm is often thin when it comes to the choice between various modalities available for treatment, each proclaiming its own as the best, if not the only one. Our temples of learning, I the Medical Colleges I, have turned into scientific bazaars where health is traded-off like a commodity. But in all this what is lost is the patient's own ability to heal himself.
This book tries to take up some of these questions and answer them in a practical way through useful insights as well as facts that can help an average reader navigate through the paths of life when besieged with ill-health. Though meant for all categories of readers, the book will be especially helpful for the average seeker of health and those looking for an understanding and a direction on issues related to healing. It is also an attempt to provide brief workable guidelines which may be practically useful for resolving some of the health issues that are of a more general nature.
Dr. Alok Pandey is a doctor by profession and philosopher by temperament. On a spiritual journey, Dr Pandey discovered that neither prevalent scientific and intellectual notions nor traditional religios and conventional spritual belief could satisfy his quest to resolve deep existential issues regarding life and death.
He studied Medicine at the prestigious Armed Forces Meedical College, Pune, and served the Indian Air Force as a General Physician and Psychiatrist for 20 years before taking voluntary retirement to settle in Pondicherry to pursue the trail of his inner life.
Dr. Pandey is member of Sri aurobindo Ashram and a founding member of Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Integral health and Research (a unit of Sri aurobindo Society, Pondicheery), dedicated to the work and the vision of Sri aurobindo in the field of health.
In addition to being a contributing editor of quarterly NAMAH (New Approaches to Medicine and Health), editing numerous books, delivering lectures and holding workshops in India and abroad, Dr. Pandey has also authored the books death, dying and Beyond and Veda of the Body.
Medicine has been described as priesthood. In ancient times, it was priests who practised the art of healing. Though it would be reasonable to presume that mankind always had some kind of medical practice since its earliest dawns, the two earliest-known ancient systems of medicine are the Indian followed by the Greek. Atharvaveda, the first Indian text on medicine, deals with an occult understanding of diseases and accordingly prescribes certain methods to ward them off. It also contains its own pharmacopeia-a list of herbs used for treating ailments. In the Vedic age, this knowledge was derived by intuition. It is said that the seers came together to contemplate upon the diminishing lifespan of humanity. In response to their prayers, the truths of health and prolongation of life was revealed to them by Indra, the lord of luminous worlds. In ancient treatises, we also have the accounts of Danvantari, the physician of the gods, and the Aswin Kumars, the swift- footed, fair twins who ride upon the horse associated with bringing health, promoting longevity and curing diseases. One of the efforts of the Vedic seers was to discover the secret nectar of immortality with the help of certain esoteric practices and the intercession of the gods who represented to them certain powers and aspects of the Divine Reality that stands behind the cosmos and its complex processes. Though much of this ancient knowledge is now lost, at least in its proper application, something of this has come down as folklore and tradition. However its more modern and scientific version has come down as Ayurveda, literally meaning 'the science of life'. It is recognised as the first scientific system of medicine. Its two famous texts, one by Charaka and the other by Susruta belong to the post- Vedic period around 600 BC. According to the compendium of Charaka, health and disease are not predetermined and life may be prolonged by human effort. The compendium of Susruta defines the purpose of medicine to cure the diseases of the sick, protect the healthy, and to prolong life. Both these ancient compendia include details of the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous ailments. The Susruta Samhita is notable for describing procedures on various forms of surgery, including rhinoplasty or nose repair, the repair of torn ear lobes, cataract surgery, and several other excisions and other surgical procedures. Most remarkable is Sushruta's penchant for scientific classification: His medical treatise consists of 184 chapters, in which 1,120 conditions are listed, including injuries and illnesses relating to ageing and mental illness. The Sushruta Samhita describes 125 surgical instruments, 300 surgical procedures and classifies human surgery in 8 categories.
The Ayurvedic classics mention eight branches of medicine: kayacikitsa (internal medicine), salyacikitsa (surgery including anatomy), salakyacikitsa (eye, ear, nose, and throat diseases), kaumarabhtya (pediatrics), bhutavidya (spirit medicine), aqada tatitra (toxicology), rasayana (science of rejuvenation), and vapkaraa (aphrodisiacs, mainly for men). Apart from learning these, the student of Ayurveda was expected to know 10 arts that were indispensable in the preparation and application of his medicines: distillation, operative skills, cooking, horticulture, metallurgy, sugar manufacture, pharmacy, analysis and separation of minerals, compounding of metals, and preparation of alkalis. The teaching of various subjects was done during the instruction of relevant clinical subjects. For example, teaching of anatomy was a part of the teaching of surgery, embryology was a part of training in paediatrics and obstetrics, and the knowledge of physiology and pathology was interwoven in the teaching of all the clinical disciplines. The normal length of the student's training appears to have been seven years. But the physician was expected to continue to learn.
In ancient Greece, temples dedicated to the healer-god, Asclepius, functioned as centres of medical advice, prognosis, and healing. At these shrines, patients would enter a dream-like state of induced sleep known as 'enkoimesis', not unlike anaesthesia, in which they either received guidance from the deity in a dream or were cured by surgery. These temples provided carefully controlled spaces conducive to healing and fulfilled several of the requirements of institutions created for healing. In the Asclepieion of Epidaurus, three large marble boards dated 350 BC preserve the names, case histories, complaints, and cures of about 70 patients who came to the temple with a problem and shed it there. Some of the surgical cures listed, such as the opening of an abdominal abscess or the removal of traumatic foreign material, are realistic enough to have taken place, but with the patient in a state of enkoimesis, induced with the help of soporific substances such as opium. A towering figure in the history of medicine was the physician Hippocrates of Kos (ca. 460 BC-ca. 370 BC), considered the 'father of modern medicine'. The Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of around 70 early medical works from ancient Greece, strongly associated with Hippocrates and his students. Most famously, Hippocrates invented the 'Hippocratic Oath' for physicians, which is still relevant and in use today.
As the intuitive ages began to recede and mankind entered into a darker age, much of this deeper knowledge was eclipsed or else degraded into superstitions and belief systems. The tide of time turned a new leaf and the lamps of reductionist analysis began to look at man with the keen but soulless eyes of the prevalent materialist doctrine. A mechanical model of man began to replace the living temple of God and medicine soon became a science like physics and chemistry and the physician a student of the human machine and its laws of operations. The 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA by James D. Watson and Francis Crick would open the door to molecular biology and modern genetics. During the late 19th century and the first part of the 20th century, several physicians, such as Nobel Prize winner Alexis Carrel, supported eugenics, a theory first formulated in 1865 by Francis Galton. Eugenics was discredited as a science after the Nazis' experiments in World War II became known; however, compulsory sterilisation programmes continued to be used in modern countries (including the US, Sweden, and Peru) until much later.
Thus was born what we regard today as 'modern medicine' , an offspring of the twilight age. It developed, nursed by the analytical reason of man, till almost late 20th century. It is only in the later part that yet another leaf seems to be turning in the history of human time. It is because of an increasing dissatisfaction with the existing models and the stark commercial attitudes that are its natural accompaniments that some individuals have once again begun to search for the deeper causes of health and illness and seek a more enduring relief from the malady called man. Still it is an age of transition and we see two parallel movements coming together, seeking reconciliation and synthesis. The old intuitive gleam seems to be returning again as mankind rekindling its interest in the lost secrets of ancient civilisations, the Vedas and the occult, and spiritual side of life. Meanwhile modern medicine continued. to be hailed in many quarters as the one and only authentic and scientific system capable of relieving human suffering; all the rest being dubbed 'faith-cures'! Quite naturally, we are in the phase of a cusp. It is like the proverbial darkness before the dawn, and in the field of medicine it has taken the ugly turn of commercialism, where patient is a client and health care is a product that the physician sells to bring profits to the big corporate house called the 'hospital' . This may not be true of all places of healing, yet it would be a truism to say that the 'art and science' of medicine is turning be the 'commerce' of medicine and the priests of the temple of the gods (the human body's ancient view) are graduating into licensed owners and sellers of tools and gadgets to fix the problem of the human machine.
The rise of 20th century consumerism turned the tide of science from a search into the Nature of things to its practical use and selling ability in the global market. As a consequence, there has been a proliferation gadgetry and equipment, each vying to entice and allure, impress and woo the mind of the user. All has been sullied by its profaning touch. Everything has become marketable, from the self-proclaimed 'gurus' with their magic 'techniques' to simple requirements of everyday life, such as water that once used to be free. Everything now comes with a price tag: the 'swamis' and their discourses, the fitness lifestyle courses, and even the quality of air, we breathe.
The field of medicine too has not remained untouched by this consumerism. We see a sudden proliferation of drugs, hospitals and equipment, each proclaiming an edge over the other, each claiming to be the 'right choice'. The modern allopathic doctor has lost his charm of the 1960s, when he was still a friend and member of the family. More frequently he is now an agent for selling a product and his name and expertise is but a means to earn revenue for the hospital to which he is attached. Though some doctors have remained immune either due to heredity or due to their constitution, yet this disease has no doubt infected a large section of:the medical fraternity. We see a proliferation of New Age tools and gadgets and alternative healing techniques and technicians who have set up shops to entice the ‘disgruntled’ patient, to provide panaceas in an age of stress and tension, or sometimes even cheaper solution (not always though) to earn some quick money and make a runaway success. As in all thing, there is a great Mix of good intentions and bad results or sometimes the reverse as well.
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend