Mind and Body deals with the relationships between the ancient philosophical schools of Asia and medicine. It explores the mutually dependent relation between the mind and the body, and argues that Asian and Hippocratic medical systems, as well as the body and consciousness, should not be studied in isolation.
The volume also demonstrates how ancient medical traditions can be used to Improve the physical and mental health of people today. It comprises papers compiled by medical practitioners and researchers including specialists of ayurveda, siddha, unani, homoeopathy, Sowa-Rigpa, naturopathy, yoga, and acupuncture, from different parts of Asia, Including India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Ranjit Roy Chaudhury (1930-2015) was an Indian pharmacologist, a leading medical researcher, specialist in medical teaching, health planner for the country and a senior official with the World Health Organization Headquarters. He was the recipient of several prestigious honours, including the Padma Shri, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, and the Dr B.C. Roy Award.
Kapila Vatsyayan is Life Trustee, India International Centre, New Delhi, and Chairperson, IIC-International Research Division. She has authored over 15 books and has received a number of distinguished awards, including the Padma Vibhushan, the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award, and the Thalia Prize.
Since 2003, In Its second phase, the IIC-Asia Project has adopted unconventional methods to explore different dimensions of Asian civilizations and cultures, and uncover their familiar and yet uncharted paths. In 2005, for instance, it organized the conference `Sui-Dhaga: Crossing Boundaries through Needle and Thread', which explored the stitching together of diverse cultures of Asia through embroidery and textiles. Another composite programme was 'Culture of Indigo: Exploring the Asian Panorama', which discussed the issues of the indigo plant and its pervasiveness in Asia—the methods of extraction, the trade routes, the dyeing traditions in different regions and their artistic expressions, especially in the visual arts, and the political history of movements like the Champaran agitation. It concluded with a discussion about indigo in the market place and how synthetic indigo gave rise to the popular and global phenomenon of the denim jeans, as also attempts at revival of natural indigo in India, Indonesia, Japan and elsewhere. These resulted in various publications.
In 2012, the Asia Project held an international conference titled 'Mind and Body in Health and Harmony in the Asian Systems of Medicine'. The present volume is a result of this conference. It was felt that the present generation considers that medicine is only Allopathy and Western. The relationship between the ancient systems of Asian philosophy and medicine has thus largely remained unexplored. It was considered important to emphasize the fact that the Asian philosophic schools and the systems of medicine are not isolated and must be carefully studied, giving due respect to their interrelated nature. The conference saw the participation of various medical practitioners and researchers from different parts of Asia and also of those practicing what are called the 'alternative systems of medicine' in this country. These included specialists of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Homoeopathy, Sowa Rigpa, Naturopathy, Yoga, Acupuncture based on the Chinese system, and also representatives of the traditional systems from Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
As far as speculative thought in India is concerned, I feel there has been a focused attention on the mind-body relationship. The mind-body relationship has been deeply investigated in the Vedas and the Upanishads—especially, the Katha Upanishad. In the conception of man (purusa), there is a keen awareness about the body of man as a representative of the human being and also of the universe. The micro-man and macro-man are related. Needless to mention that this would not have been possible if there was a lack of interest in man's physical body. It is the body metaphor only which is extended to investigate the nature of the universe. The mind-body relationship is most central to Upanishadic thought. The Katha Upanishad adopts the metaphor of a journey.
Know thou the soul (atman, self) as a riding in a chariot,
The body as the chariot.
Know thou the intellect (buddhi) as the chariot-driver.
And the mind (manas) as the reins.
The Taittriya Upanishad explores the mind-body relationship using the simile of five sheaths of the mind and the body.
Annamaya kosha, `foodstaff sheath (Anna)
Pranama kosha, 'energy' sheath (Prana/apana)
Manomaya kosha, 'mind-stuff sheath (Manas)
Vijnanamaya kosha, 'wisdom' sheath (Vijnana)
Anandamaya kosha, 'bliss' sheath (Ananda)
Regarding anna or food, it says:
Verily, they obtain all food
Who worship Brahama as food
For truly, food is the chief of beings;
Therefore it is called a panacea.
From food created things are born.
By food, when born, do they grow up
It both is eaten and eats things.
Because of that it is called food.
All these instances show how mind-body relationships are essential to the philosophical and medicinal systems of India. This book is a compilation of selected essays read out at the conference and includes very significant contributions to further the debate on mind-body relationships. Each essay puts forward a very unique point. Dealing with the body and the consciousness, they stimulate one to wonder about the theoretical and practical similarities and differences in these Asian systems with the Hippocratic system. For someone interested in the textual traditions of Indian and the Asian medical systems, this volume will be thought-provoking.
Lastly, I would like to add that this conference would not have been possible but for the guidance and help, at every stage, of the internationally recognized medical specialist, Professor Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, a former member of the World Health Organization and who has contributed an introduction to the volume. Professor Chaudhury passed away recently and this volume is dedicated to his fond memory as a token of our indebtedness to him.
This Book Contains the presentations of world-renowned experts in different systems of Asian medicines at the international conference titled 'Mind and Body in Health and Harmony in the Asian Systems of Medicine', organized by IIC-Asia Project at the India International Centre from 11 to 13 December 2012. India, with its rich heritage and ancient knowledge, is home to many systems of medicine. We are fortunate to have medicinal systems like Ayurveda, Unani, Homoeopathy, Siddha and Sowa Rigpa. The conference also saw the participation of experts and researchers in Thai, Tibetan and Myanmar systems of traditional medicine. Besides this, experts in Yoga and Acupuncture further enriched the discussion. At a time when the country is embarking on a programme of holistic health, it was appropriate to hold this meeting. Indeed, representatives of the Government of India and the World Health Organization participated in the conference.
The theme of this conference was conceived by Dr Kapila Vatsyayan, Chairperson of the IIC-Asia Project, who provided a platform for the experts and scholars of these different systems of Asian medicine to not only look into the richness of these systems, but also focus on how the systems could come together and offer solutions to the various problems that people are facing today. We know that even experts in the Allopathic system are now turning to traditional systems like Ayurveda, for management of diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and bronchial asthma.
The unique feature of this conference was the attempt to look at the different components of the functioning of the body through the prism of various medicinal systems. While this relationship at the level of speculative thought and medicine could not be discussed in great detail, it was the underlying theme in many of the presentations. The two levels, i.e. consideration of the body qua body and the thought system of the mind, came through in different ways in the presentations by the specialists on the diverse medicine systems in Asia.
Dr P.N. Tandon's essay in this volume emphasizes that all Asian countries regard mind-body interaction and harmony as an essential element for promoting human health. He maintains that spiritual values are unique and different from religious values. Spirituality strives to strengthen the inner world, harmonizes interpersonal relationships and achieves the feeling of transcendence. The essays by Dr Aung Myint, Professor G.D. Sumanapala and Dr Charas Suwanwela talk about the traditional systems in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, respectively. Dr Myint recounts that the medical concept of the Myanmar system is influenced by Buddhist philosophy as well as its own traditions and customs. It has numerous medical treatises, a variety of potent and effective medicines and a diversity of therapies. Dr Sumanapala observes that Buddhism, Ayurveda and local traditions have shaped the Sri Lankan traditional system. Together with indigenous medical systems, Buddhism plays an important role even today in promoting mental health in Sri Lanka. Dr Suwanwela mentions that the Thai system is derived from both the Indian and Chinese systems. According to the Thai book Kampir Samuthanvinchai, there are ten main lines running over the surface of the human body which can be used to explain symptoms and provide treatments. These lines start around the umbilicus and each of them has branches which intersect at critical points. Essays by Dr Namdol Lhamo and Dr Tsultrim Kalsang bring out the special features of the traditional Tibetan system, based on its authentic medical text known as the rGyud-bZhi or the Four Tantras. The Tibetan system claims that the human body is physiologically made up of three principal energies, seven bodily constituents and three waste products. Their fundamental bases are the five elements, and mental consciousness has its perpetual continuum from that of its previous lives. The twenty-five aspects of the body have to be in equilibrium for a healthy mind and body.
In the valedictory address, Shri Keshav Desiraju, former Special Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, noted that while the strengths of the traditional and modern systems should be combined, it is the practitioner who has to be good. This applies to many sectors, be it health or education. Desiraju also maintained that the system of identification and training of suitable students and their subsequent deployment in the field requires a lot of attention. At the end of the day, we have to keep the patient in mind who requires equitable, affordable and quality healthcare at an accessible distance.
This book contains a wealth of knowledge and information which not only brings alive our heritage of these ancient systems of medicine but also shows the way these systems can be used today for improving the physical and mental health of our population.
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