The object of the present work is to present in easy and up-to date manner the Etiology, Pathology and Symptomatology of Diseases from the standpoint of Ayurvedic Medicine. Much doubt and discrepancy have arisen in the understanding of Nidan (the collective Ayurvedic name for these subjects) owing to the average teacher and student not clearly grasping the true spirit and import of the great Ayurvedic Samhitas of old, which- by the way- are properly studied only by a few scholars. Mine is an attempt to clear up the mist and to pave the way for a better understanding of the subject.
The old work of Madhavakar of Bengal, known commonly as Madhava Nidanam, has held the field for several centuries. Though a valuable compilation by itself, it is in my humble opinion, not the most suitable work for the beginner as it is intended and employed to be. It often lacks the perspicuity of the fine style of the Rishis and fails to grasp the necessity of the student’s preliminary grounding in Anatomy and Physiology and in the great Theory of Tridosha on which all such works are based. This theory, I may add, is perfectly compatible with the findings of modern Physiology without the necessity of distorting ancient Ayurvedic texts, though the average Ayurvedic teacher on one side and his foreign rival on the other have often failed to do justice to it. Besides, centuries have rolled by since the work of Madhava was written and the symptoms and manner of incidence of certain diseases have changed greatly. Even novel diseases seem to have appeared. Ingenious but futile attempts have often been made to explain them away by Ayurvedic practitioners who seem to forget that even Charaka and Sushruta had clearly grasped the possibility of new or ‘undescribed’ diseases. All this, I am afraid, has given rise to sophistry and lacks that liberal and laborious spirit of research which the sage writes of Ayurveda have always advocate.
Bacteriology too, as a subject closely allied to Pathology, has been much neglected, even though a clear recognition of the share of microbes and animal parasites in the causation of certain diseases occurs in all the ancient Samhitas of Ayurveda. In my opinion, we can no longer afford to ignore this important subject and the advances made in it by modern workers.
Keeping all these facts in view, I have endeavoured to write this work of Nidanam on modern lines. The text is mainly that of the old Samhitas, though I have, where necessary made a few additions in my own language to bring the subject fairly up-to-date. For the selection and arrangement of the text and my new commentary I am alone responsible. In the latter, I have endeavoured to fill-in the gaps that exist and to correct erroneous impressions which have gained currency. I have also attempted to explain and establish what might appear to be innovations to conservative scholars, by quoting plenty of evidences from ancient texts in support of my views. How far I have been successful in my efforts can be judged only by those who are capable of judging such a highly technical work impartially. But I do venture to hope that my work will be found a useful companion to the student and teacher alike.
It may not be out of place here to add why I have written this work in Sanskrit. It will readily appear to all thoughtful men that Sanskrit is yet the classical language of Ayurveda and it is the only medium through which all Ayurvedic practitioners of Indian can be approached.
I crave the indulgence of my learned critics and readers for the errors which may have crept into my work. I would be much obliged to them for pointing these out to me for the improvement of future editions, should I be fortunate enough to see them through the press.
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