The Science of Medicine and Physiological Concepts in Ancient and Medieval India (An Old and Rare Book)
The science of medicine was very well developed in India of yore, and the training of a physician was thorough and methodical. The comprehensive curriculum, although more clinically oriented, included exhaustive training in the basic sciences. The teaching of anatomy was correlated with surgery, and the physiological principles were emphasised during the teaching of internal medicine. There were no watertight compartments of different disciplines of medical sciences; and neither anatomy nor physiology formed one of the original eight main divisions of the ancient Indian medicine. Curiously the equivalent for the word physiology did not even exist in the terminology of Ayurveda!
The birth of "physiology" as a science in its own right and name is very recent. Originally the word "physiology" had a connotation of an enquiry into nature, which later was extended to the study of natural phenomenon and objects. "Physiology" as applied to a special aspect of medical knowledge was first used by Jean Fernel (1497-1588), who, in 1544, gave the title ""Physiologia"’ to the first of the three parts of his treatise on medicine titled ‘‘De Natural: Parte Medicinae Libri Septum’’. Jean Fernel considered the relationship of anatomy to physiology similar to that of geography to history; and confessed that it was like "one passed from what one could see and feel to what was known only by meditation’’. Thus, until the later part of the nineteenth century, physiology remained as a handmaid of anatomy.
According to Western historians, the first to express views on the functions of the body was Alcmaeon of Crotona (500 B.c.). But the physician-philosophers of all nations, in ancient times, did speculate on the functions of the body even when they did not understand much about the anatomy of the body. The ancient Indians included such speculations not only in their various systems of philosophy (shada darshana), but also discussed the form and function of the human body in purely religious treatises.
The present monograph commences with a succinct summary of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine, and briefly surveys the physiological concepts as found in the ancient Indian texts. This is followed by papers by various scientists, modern as well as Ayurvedic, touching on various aspects of physiology as well as philosophy, in so far as it has speculations on the functions of the human body. The succeeding sections of the monograph narrate the story of Unani Tibb (Greek medicine) and the concepts of physiology in medieval India. This period of Indian history is considered synonymous with India under the Muslim rule, which commenced around 1200 A. D.
The chronology of ancient Indian texts as well as some of the historical events, has never been settled to the satisfaction of scholars of all shades of opinion. Therefore, there might be discrepancies in the dates quoted by various authors in this very monograph. But, in general, the Indian history from a chronological point of view, consists of the following periods:
The Vedic period should commence from the time when the Vedas were first written (? 2,500 B.c.), but this is a very moot question to settle. Therefore, the period from pre-historic times to 1,000 B.c. is referred to as the pre-Vedic as well as Vedic period of Indian history. The period from 1,000 B.c. to 200 B.c. is called the age of Upanishads, and from 200 B.c. to 500 A. D. the age of Dharmashastras. From the beginning of the fifth century the Puranic period, which coincides with the early medieval period, commences. This period extends into the early part of the twelfth century— the later medieval period of Indian history; although the Middle Ages in Europe extended from approximately 500 to 1450.
To the monograph is appended a glossary of Sanskrit words which will help the reader to have a better understanding of most of the material in the text. Very free use has been made of Sanskrit words throughout the text, with most of them translated by the authors; however, some words do not have equivalents to describe them accurately in English.
It is hoped that a quick glance through the monograph will help our foreign physiologist friends to have at least a glimpse of the "Glory that was Ind’’, in so far as it pertains to the science of medicine and the physiological speculations of her people.
So, here is wishing you happy reading!
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAS220 Author: N. H. Keswani Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 1974 Publisher: National Book Trust, India Language: English Size: 9.50 X 6.00 inch Pages: 198 (35 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.27 Kg