Monthly Archives: March 2019

Kashmir’s contribution to Medicine

I recently read an interesting article on medicine, the title of the article was Kashmir’s contribution to the field of Medicine. I got very excited and started reading it but got very disappointed at the end as it gave me an impression that we are so low on this graph that we have to lie about it and do a fake feel-good exercise for our people.

Let’s dissect this article a bit, it starts with Kashmir’s contribution, which it considers an important part of overall Indian contribution and then elucidates the contributions of Sushruta and Charaka. It ends with saying the journey of Acharya Sushruta and Acharya Charaka will continue to inspire the world thousands of years following them. It mentions Sushruta is recognised as the Father of Surgery worldwide. Sushruta-225x300

There is a statue of Sushruta in the Royal Australia College of Surgeons, Melbourne that has the plaque mentioning him as Father of Surgery, which has been donated to the college by one its Alumni, Dr K M Cherian who is very fond of and inspired by Sushruta.

Actually, Sushruta is one of number of individuals who is described as Father of Surgery e.g., Medieval European surgical texts quoted Az-Zahrawi, known to the West by his Latin name Albucasis more often than Galen, the ancient world’s acknowledged master. Az-Zahrawi is the first to detail the classic operation for cancer of the breast, lithotrities for bladder stones, and techniques for removing thyroid cysts. He describes and illustrates obstetrical forceps, but only recommends their use with deceased fetuses, and provides the first known description of the obstetric posture now known as ‘Walcher’s position’. His work is also the first in diagramming surgical instruments, detailing over two hundred of them, many of which Az-Zahrawi devised himself. Many of these instruments, with modifications, are still in use today. Az-Zahrawi is also described as the Father of Surgery. However, this is not my point, both Sushruta and Charaka have made lot of contributions to the field of medicine and surgery and will continue to inspire us all but how can we attribute their contributions to Kashmir.
Sushruta and Charaka have been described as Kashmiris. Sushruta is known to be the son of Vishvamitra, who is one of the most venerated sages of ancient India. Vishwamitra was actually a king who belonged to Amavasu Dynasty but gave away kingdom to his sons and went on to become Brahmarshi. He was the guru of Rama and Sita’s father king Janak also belonged of the same dynasty. His story is narrated in Ramayana and Mahabharata also describes his relationship with Menaka. Sushruta himself practised medicine in the Benares region on the banks of Ganges river, modern-day Varanasi. So how is Sushruta a Kashmiri or even Charaka for that matter who is often referred to as the Father of Indian Medicine. If we look at the Wikipedia page of the Charaka. It says Charaka was the resident of Kapisthal in Panchanada now known as Kapurthala in Punjab. Panchanada was name of Punjab in Mahabharata. Both Sushruta and Charaka were the principal contributors to Ayurveda. Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita are two of the Great Trilogy of Ayurvedic Medicine third one being the Astanga Hridaya. Ayurvedic Medicine is among the oldest medical systems in the world, dating back to the Vedic Period of India around 5000 BCE. If we go by the logic of the author then Ayurveda has also been originated in Kashmir but unfortunately Kashmiris not know it.

I think it is good to inspire people and make them proud of their heritage but it has to be done with honesty otherwise if falls apart. For more on medical advances and contributors, please visit here.