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When I get time, I listen to music, or read books. If any is left, I blog!

Monday 26 August 2013

It Happens Only In India

To most of you, recent reports on 'Head Transplants' in human beings might appear bizarre. Few would however realise that science was merely on a 'reinventing spree'! Because, as early as the second millennium BC, organ transplants were known in India. In a way, this establishes the diminishing gap between mythology and reality.

Look at these oft-repeated mythological tales:

Sati (Parvati in her earlier birth) falls in love with Shiva and marries him against her father Daksha's wishes. Feeling let down, Daksha invites everyone for a grand ritual at his palace, except the couple. Yet, Sati attends the ceremony. Daksha ignores her at first, then begins to publicly abuse Shiva. Unable to bear the shame, Sati sets herself to Yogic fire. When news of her death reaches Shiva, he decides to punish Daksha. His aides wreck the sacred site, slice Daksha's head, and hurl it into the sacrificial fire. Later, relenting to other gods' pleadings, Shiva resurrects Daksha by fixing a goat's head on his body.

In the second legend, Parvati while preparing for bath realises she is alone at home. So, she shapes some turmeric paste used as skin cleanser into a lad's form. Making it come alive, she asks him to guard the entrance. When Shiva returns home, the lad blocks his entry. In rage, Shiva beheads the lad. Later, moved by Parvati's grief, he orders his aides to fetch the head of any life form sleeping with its head to the North. They return with a baby elephant's head. Shiva attaches it to the lad's body and revives him. Ganapati or Ganesha was born thus.

The science of Ayurveda with its amazing ability to sustain and revive life, was a gift to mankind from Lord Brahma. He blessed Daksha Prajapati with this knowledge. Daksha passed it on to Ashwinikumaras, celestial twins with human bodies and horse-heads. Dhanwantari learnt it from them, and chose Sage Bharadwaja to propagate it.

Among Bharadwaja's disciples was Atreya (900 BC), author of 'Atreya Samhita', the world's oldest book on medicine. Sushrutha (600 BC), son of Sage Vishwamitra who gave us the 'Gayatri Mantra', was a master of surgeries. In 'Sushruta Samhita', he elaborates over 300 surgical procedures including Rhinoplasty. Charaka (400 BC) compiled over 1200 illnesses with their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment in 'Charaka Samhita'.

Vagbhata, Patanjali, and Nagarjuna who followed, took Ayurveda to greater heights. Vagbhata's work, 'Ashtanga Hridaya' captured the essence of Ayurveda in easy to understand verses. The renowned Ashtavaidya (masters in eight branches of medicine) practising Ayurveda today in Kerala, are descendants of Vagbhata's disciples. Patanjali added a new dimension with 'Yoga Sutra', a book on Yogic postures. Nagarjuna through his 'Rasa Shastra' introduced therapeutics using heavy metals. Another priceless contribution was that of Shalihotra in the form of Veterinary sciences.

How apt were Martin Luther King Jr's words: 'If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values...'

   "Many of the advances in Sciences that we consider to have been made in Europe were in fact made in India centuries ago."    
                                                                                                                                                     ~  Grant Duff