The ancient Hindu sages from time immemorial had been cognizant of the benefits of massage and shampooing and taken to practising them. Whereas, it is but of late that the advantages of these methods have begun to be appreciated by the Western Medical School and it no longer hesitates to acknowledge them as efficacious therapeutic agents.
The Science of begetting healthy and beautiful children, which is just beginning to receive attention in other countries was not unknown to the ancient Hindus, and Manu in his Mánava-dharma-Sásira has laid down special injunctions which still form an integral part of the domestic life of the orthodox section of the community. As a matter of fact, they knew that mental impressions of the parents at the time of conception exercise a great influence over the future destiny of the child in embryo.
Thus we read in the Sástras: - "A woman, though at a distance, conceives a child of the shape of the person she loves ardently and thinks of at the time. Just as a tree that grows is not different from the parent tree whether we plant a branch or sow a seed, so the main features of the child partake of the features of its father, though there might be slight changes due to the soil."
The subtle soul co-operates with the Manas (the mind); the mind co-operates with the senses; the senses perceive objects; all this takes place in little or no time. The above is the connection between the soul and objects around us. What is there which the mind cannot comprehend? Therefore, wherever the mind enters, the soul follows it.
"The soul being subtle, whenever it enters another soul, requires some time and an effort of the mind to know the latter. The soul, which intensely meditates on an object, assumes the shape of that object." etc. etc.
In a book entitled Bhoja-Prabandha being a collection of the anecdotes realating to the reign of Bhoja Rája, by Pandita Ballala there is narrated the detail of an interesting surgical operation which had been performed on the Rájá, who was suffering from an excruciating pain in the head. All the medical aid obtaining at the same time was availed of, but in vain and his condition became quite critical when two brother physicians accidentally arrived in Dhar, who were duly called in. These physicians, after carefully examining the patient, held that unless surgically treated no relief could possibly be afforded to the Royal patient. Accordingly they administered an anaesthetic called Sammohini with a view to render him insensible and, when completely under the influence of the drug, they trephined his skull, removed the malignant portion of the brain, the actual seat of the complaint, closed and stitched up the opening and applied a healing balm to the wound. Then they administered a restoration known as Sanjivani to the patient, who, thereupon, regained consciousness and felt quite at ease. This incident (as narrated by Thakur Saheb of Gondal in his Short History of Aryan Medical Science) goes to prove that the attendant physician of Buddha, is likewise recorded to have practised cranial surgery writh the greatest success. Instances of successful cases of abdominal section are also not rare. Thus it will appear that the ancient Indians knew and successfully practised surgical operations which are regarded now-a-days as the greatest triumphs of modern surgery. The purpose of chloroform in the palmy days of yore was used to be served by Sammohini, but there is hardly a drug known to modern Pharmacopeias, corresponding whith Sanjivani which certainly lessens the chances of deaths that at present sometimes occur under anaesthetics.
* Vide - Baráha Mihir's Brihat Samhitá Book, II. Chapter lxxv-Verses 1-3.
Let them, who allege that the Hiudu system of the healing Art is unscientific, now pause and reflect ere they make such an unwarranted and irresponsible assertion. How can a system which contains so accurate an account of the unions of bones and ligaments, anastomoses of nerves, veins and arteries, etc. and which assures the world of the existence of three crores and a half of veins and arteries in the human body giving facts and figures thereof with such mathematical precision, be regarded as being unscientific?
It is certainly an undeniable fact that one of the colossal achievements of modern Western Medical Science is its Anatomy; but the point at issue is whether the process of laying open the structures of the body with the lancets, is at all a satisfactory method. For, is it not a fact that the finest and the minutest arteries of the skin are never disclosed, if the scalpel is used so recklessly to remove the skin all at once and not allowed to go deeper into the muscles to expose the minute branches of blood vessels and nerves that may happen to lie embedded therein? But, on the contrary, look at the process promulgated by Susruta for demonstrating practical Anatomy! Its originality and perfection beats hollow all the known methods, although it was discovered in almost the pre-historic age. The process prescribed by the Hindu system is as follows: - Cover a dead body with Kusa grass and place it at the edge of the water of a rivulet. After three days take it out carefully, and gradually take off the succsesive layers of the epidermis and dermis and of the muscles beneath by gently and lightly rubbing it over with a soft brush. Thus the smallest and the thinnest arteries, which have by this time swelled and obtained a distinct existence are made palpable everywhere even to the minutest.
The process is termed, as we have pointed before, Ava-gharshana by Susruta. The Western method might be an easier and a more off-hand one, but by no means precise.
Though the merit of discovering this mode of dissection is due to Susruta, we are all blind to it and call Hippocrates the father of Medicine ! It is generally believed that with a view to further his researches and perfect his knowledge, it is Hippocrates who inaugurated the system of dissection of dead human bodies and he did the work secretly. Credulous people may lend a willing ear to such assertions but the fact is, that it was not till a century later that Hirophilus openly resorted to dissection of human bodies and thereby earned an undying fame in Europe, obliterating Susruta's name for ever, though, virtually speaking, he (Susruta) was the pioneer of dissection and figured in the world more than a millenium before the advent of Hippocrates and over eleven centuries prior to the age of Herophilus.