Wednesday January 24, 2018

Acharya Charaka: Indian father Of Medicine, Author of Charaka Samhita “scince of Ayurveda”

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Acharya Charaka
Acharya Charaka: Indian father of medicine
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By Gaurav Sharma

Who is Acharya Charaka:

Acharya Charaka, contributors to Ayurveda, a system of medicine and lifestyle developed in Ancient India. Most people regard Hippocrates (460-377 BC) as the father of medicine, but only a few are aware of the novel contributions made by a man named Charaka “Indian father of Medicine” in the way the human anatomy and physiology is perceived to function.

Long before the birth of Hippocrates in the early centuries of the common era, Charaka authored a medical treatise called Charaka Samhita or the compendium of Charaka.

The ancient medical manual “charaka samhita”, regarded by many in the West as an ‘Alternative Medicine’ manuscript, is a guide on how to live a healthy life. Simply put, the Charaka Samhita is a guidebook of preventive medicine.

The compilation of medical treatise enshrined in the Samhita, also forms a foundational text for the ancient science of Ayurveda or the ‘knowledge of long life.’

Widely respected and translated in the traditional medical field (particularly during the Arab and the Roman empire), Ayurveda is the best known among the three medical traditions of the Indian sub-continent, the other being the Unani and Siddha schools.

The Ayurveda lays down a well-structured and well-defined view of medicine by segregating it into a series of eight disciplines, namely:

  • Surgery (Shailya Chikitsa)
  • Head, eye and throat medicine (Shaakalya Chikitsa)
  • Mental health (Kaaya Chikitsa)
  • Pediatrics (Kaumarbhrtya Chikitsa)
  • Toxicology (Aganda Tantra)
  • Pharmacology (Raasayana Tantra)
  • Reproductive Medicine (Vaajikarana Tantra).

Such is the immense wealth of health information expounded in the Ayurveda, that it is sometimes compared to the works of Galileo, Archimedes, and Euclid in their respective  fields.

Ayurveda is one of the invisible pillars, which balances the dysfunctional public health system of India. It has become an important part of the government policy, with an independent ministry known as AYUSH, dedicated to the research and education of Ayurvedic healthcare.

Apart from modern western healthcare centers, a revolution of tele-ayurvedic-health centers has taken India by storm.

Comprising of hired tele-operators, these traditional health centers essentially come in the shape of a village house with divisions of mud walls and bamboo sticks.

Those inflicted with diseases call up the center, the staff listens to their problems, and after consulting the Charaka Samhita, they prescribe ayurvedic medications to the patients.

The emphasis on listening to the patients rather than sending them off for pathological tests is based on Charaka’s philosophy of medical examination, that of finding the root cause of disorder through a series of questions and answers, reminiscent of a dialogue between the teacher and a disciple.

These traditional health-centers exemplify the efficient use of modern technology and communication networks to popularize the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is still, however,  poles apart from how modern medicine visualizes the human body and the way it functions.

The operating principles of Ayurveda utilise the concept of the body’s basic doshas or humors. These include the element of movement through Vita or bile, transformation in the form of Pitta or phlegm and stability and lubrication via Kapha or wind.

Disturbing these elements from their proper location means inviting an illness to follow suit. To prevent such a calamity from happening, Charaka prescribes some practical yet deeply meaningful metaphysical strictures.

The practice of mindfulness, exercising good judgment, calming the senses, being aware of time, place and the self apart from inculcating a good lifestyle are some of the tips that Charaka postulates for imbibing good health.

The notion of Deha-Prakriti, which means ‘the nature of the body,’ distinguishes Charaka’s Ayurveda as a highly personalised medical discipline.

Each person at the time of conception is thought to be endowed with a particular nature (Prakriti), which determines his predisposition to diseases. This justifies the immense emphasis paid on the history of a person while prescribing medication.

The nature of wisdom and its exercise is another factor that is central to Charaka’s concept of good health. For this reason, as much for the practical aspects of his encyclopedic work, Charaka become quite popular during the early 19th Century.

Charaka mania fueled the circle of doctors in New York to establish a Charaka Club. This inexplicably filtered to the educated nationalist Indian elite who were searching and yearning to discover their historical roots.

Lately, however, Charaka’s popularity has declined to a great extent.

Irrespective of the such drifting upheavals, what sets Charaka’s monumental work uniquely apart from modern medical science and indeed from the medical profession itself, is its farsightedness to visualize the body as a part of a vast, natural and cosmic system of causality.

Urban India, with its concomitant stress and competition, can find solace by embracing Charaka’s teachings on healthy living, and thereby avoid the sight of a medical complex for good.

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.