collection of hauma hamiddha's scattered posts

Posts tagged ‘european’

Is Ayurveda really scientific?

This report on the downgrading of Ayurveda raises the important issue
of whether Ayurveda is really scientific. If we define Ayurveda as the
school Hindu medicine that is described in the charaka and sushruta
saMhitas then one can make a very direct textual analysis to establish
its scientific content. Even a casual reading of the sushruta
saMhita suggests that it can definitely be considered a serious
part of the Hindu scientific tradition even as Galen and Hippocrates
can be considered a legitimate part of European scientific tradition.
Ayurveda is merely a phase in the long line of development of the
Hindu medicine from the time when the Aryans were still in the Asiatic
steppes to the time of their conquest of Outer Asia. Roots of Hindu
medicine traced through the atharvan-Angirasa literature can be pushed
back to the common Indo-European period resulting in similarity with
basal Greek and Europic folk medicine. However it was only after the
Aryans had fully expanded in India that their pharmacopeia developed
to the extant seen in Sushurta’s saMhita. This continuous tradition of
Indian science shows remarkable ideas and hypothesis even in the
Atharvan period, followed by remarkable insights into physiology due
to the school of the vaisheshika sage panchashika asurAyaNa and
sulabhA. In sushurta’s treatise we can see a scientific treatment of
the following: 1) Diagnosis and description of disease and relevant
anatomy. 2) Theories of disease causation due to biological organisms
and 3) Parasite transmission. While much of this shows a remarkably
modern approach to the problems thus making ayurveda qualify as a work
of science. However like any other work of science it contained
concepts that might be falsified in the future- leading to them being
termed misconceptions. There were two devasting flaws of Ayurveda: 1)
the trihumoral theory and 2) the hypothesis of pulse diagnosis. While
this falsification of the underlying hypothesis for treatment may have
destroyed Ayurveda’s relevance it actually did not. Much of
pharmacopeia development is an emprical process and the AV and
Ayurveda excelled at this. Thus a significant part of Ayurveda’s
pharmacopeia may have relevance even today. However, I feel for
Ayurveda to re-enter the scientific mainstream it must adopt the more
modern theories of physiology and medicine and cut down the
frivolous aspects of pulse diagnosis. Hence we need to defend Ayurveda
along with the necessary ground work to revamp it and bring it back
to the mainstream. Keeping it where it froze in the 8th century AD and
insisting on the unnecessity of change may make it go extinct. Nor is
it keeping with the spirit of the great Hindu sages of yore.

Tag Cloud