Health has been a continuing concern of man and
the world is now recognizing the holistic principles of traditional medical systems.
Ayurveda encompasses the entire corpus of Indian medical wisdom. Ayurveda is
the science and art of good living. It is as much a worldview as practical
discipline. The Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine presents details from core texts
in Sanskrit, Hindi, Kannada, Telgu and Tamil culled from forgotten and little known
manuscript and journals. It thus includes traditional details the spirit and outlook of
original texts other authors would miss. The six volumes thus present a
comprehensive and factual knowledge of Indian medicine for the modern
The books have been edited by two of the most distinguished scholars
of Ayurvedic medicine. Volume one to three by Prof. S. K. Ramachandra Rao
and volumes three to six by S. R. Sudrashan. The entries are arranged
alphabetically. They are descriptive and analytical in nature and present a
comprehensive view of all aspects of Ayurveda. The six-volume project initiated
by the eminent cardiologist V. Parameshvara is published by Popular
About the Editor:
He is the editor of the first three volumes of
Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine was trained in the Indian Institute of Science.
He has been the Head of Department of Clinical Psychology, National Institute of
Mental Health and Neurosciences Banglore; Professor of Indian Studies Callison
college Study Centre for the University of the Pacific; Director of the Project fro
the Study of Consciousness SAVS Scientific Research Academy; Chairman of a
section of the Kannada Encyclopaedia project of the Mysore University and
Visiting Professor National Institute of Advanced Studies Banglore.
From the Back of the Book
The well being
of the individual is treated holistically, involving the mind body and spirit. The book
explains he basic concepts of Ayurveda because here the theories determine
practice. The well-defined philosophical framework is what gives Indian medicine
consistency and integrity. Philosophical formulations gleaned from definitive texts
Indian religions are well known in the world. The philosophical systems that emerged on the Indian soil have also engaged the attention of scholars all over the world. India’s achievements in the field of science and technology have also been recognized. However, the fact that India developed a system of medicine, thousands of years ago, has not received wide coverage in the world. And that the system thus developed is still prevalent among the masses of India is likewise not generally known, even to historians of medicine.
There are manifold reasons for this general ignorance of Indian medicine among historians of medicine, medical practitioners outside the country and intelligentsia interested in the problems of health and disease,. One is, absence of authoritative and well documented publications in English by Indians, dealing with this branch of medicine. The European indologists who have taken an interest in Indian medicine and have written on the subject do not seem to carry much credibility, because they are alien to the traditional details which are indispensable to the understanding of the spirit, outlook and value of Indian medicine. The literature available on this topic written in the traditional style of Indian languages have proved to be enigmatic to the modern reader. A great need is, therefore, felt for an authentic publication which communicates to the modern mind the traditional wisdom of India concerning medical practice.
The Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine in six volumes has been planned to fulfill this need. The first volume provides the historical perspective as well as acquaintance with the medical literature in India. The volume has been prepared by Vidyalankara Prof. S.K. Ramachandra Rao, who hails from a family of traditional physicians and is the President of the Ayurveda Academy, Bangalore. Besides being a Sanskrit scholar and well versed in Ayurveda, he has also been a scientific worker, having headed the department of Clinical Psychology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore (with which he is still associated as consultant to the Ayurvedic Research Unit).
The volume will be followed in due course by other volumes dealing with the basic ideas methods of clinical investigation therapeutic procedures pharmaceutical practices and materia medica of Indian medicine. It is hoped that a comprehensive and factual knowledge of Indian medicine will be available to the world when the series is completed.
Indigenous medical wisdom in India known as Ayurveda goes back to a hoary past. Even in the early strands of the Vedic corpus belonging to a period several centuries, prior to the Christian era, we find references no only to medical practice but to elaborate medical theories. Medical wisdom in India was systematized at a slightly later period, and a remarkably rich medical literature has grown up since those days. Medical practice based on this systematization has continued to our own day, despite the growing popularity of Western medical practice.
Indian medical wisdom has unfortunately been confined to India; and the West is largely ignorant of it. Even in India, the traditional medical practice seems to be losing contact with the system as it was crystallized over two thousand years ago. This is so because much of the early and core medical literature, which is in Sanskrit, is still in manuscripts, hidden away in libraries and private collections; only a few major texts like Charaka’s samhita,Suruta’s Samhita and Vagbhata’s Sangraha and Hrdaya have been printed and translated into English. The influence of the philosophical systems, especially of Samkhya and Nyaya-Vaiseshika, on medical thought in India has not been sufficiently appreciated. The generation of practicing physicians who are also scholarly has almost disappeared. Thus the authentic tradition of Indian medical thought has not yet been presented to the modern mind. The medical world at large is almost entirely ignorant of the relevance or the value of Ayurveda.
The present series of volumes constituting The Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine i an attempt to present in a manner that would appeal to the modern mind the theoretical and practical issues as was formulated in Ayurveda several centuries ago. In so doing, we have relied entirely on original texts, which constitute the nucleus of Ayurveda, and on the commentarial literature thereupon, and have attempted to reconstruct the authentic perspective of Ayurveda The following volumes have been planned and are under preparation:
Volume I Historical Perspective
Volume II Conceptual
Volume III Clinical Examination, diagnosis and methods of Treatment
Volume IV Diseases; Drugs and their preparations
Volume V Materia Medica (in two parts)
Volume VI Folk Medicine
These volumes of the Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine have been planned
to appear in two phases. each complete in itself; the first phase comprising of three volumes viz. Volume I: Historical Perspective: Volume H: Conceptual Framework; Volume Ill: Clinical Examination and Diagnostic Methods and the second phase comprising of volumes dealing with diseases, drugs and their preparations, materia and medica and folk medicine. The first phase is now completed and three volumes that are now being issued represent a comprehensive and self-contained account of the general and fundamental aspects of Ayurveda covering all the theoretical involvements of Ayurvedic practice. Work on the second phase is in progress.
Ayurveda being a system first and practical discipline next, there is here an
elaborate conceptual framework, involving numerous well-connected ideas
concerning health and disease. Unlike other systems of medicine (barring the
Chinese), Ayurveda leans heavily on philosophical and metaphysical
orientations of the Darsanas, principally Samkhya. Nyaya and Vaiseshika and considerably on Yoga. The well-being of the individual is treated not only as a medical issue, but as a total affair involving the body, the mind and the spirit. Further, the idea of medical care emphasizes equally the preventive and curative aspects. There is thus in Ayurveda an extensive and eminently practical literature concerning health and hygiene. This volume deals with all significant and basic concepts regarding health, hygiene, therapy, treatment methods and medical care. Philosophical formulations as can be gleaned from the definitive texts are also included here.
It has been kept in mind by those who are involved in this Project that the
purpose of any encyclopedia is not only to provide information but to relate it. The entries are designed to introduce the reader to the basic principles guiding Indian medicine in the context of the country’s geography, history and culture. Care has been taken to present the details objectively, and in accordance with the traditional framework. We have refrained from taking sides in the controversy regarding the relative merits of the different systems of medicine.
While the present Encyclopaedia is ultimately based on the original texts, commentaries and annotations in Sanskrit, a large number of works on Ayurveda written and published in English and in some of the Indian languages (Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil) have been consulted, as also many elderly specialists in this system of medicine. We are indebted to all these authors and scholars. But the formulations of the concept and their applications have uniformly been made in accordance with the original textual tradition disregarding later versions, evaluations and amendments.
The enlightened interest of the eminent cardologist of Bangalore Dr. V. Paramaeshvara has originated this project and has been sustaining it. Being himself a physician trained in the best traditions of modern medicine he is interested in the world getting acquainted with the contributions of traditional medicine in India so that there could be greater benefit to mankind.
I am grateful to my son Dr. S.R. Sudarshan who has helped me in the preparation of this volume and to my student Prof. M. Sridhara Murthy for preparing the typescript for the press.
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