Looking back through the corridor of time we can easily see that the Indian medicine is holistic, integrated and traditional; it is traditional in the sense that it has a tradition of nearly five thousand years or more. Traditional medicine is the sum total of all the knowledge and practices, whether explicable or not, used in diagnosis, prevention and elimination of physical, mental or social imbalances, and relying exclusively on practical experiences and observation handed down from generation to generation. Therefore, the ancient Indian thought has influenced the Indian medical systems. The Indian thought has its practical concern, intuitive methods and spiritual discoveries. All these have made their presence felt in the medical theories and practices. It is a religion and a commitment for personal growth in all walks of life. It is an integrated understanding. Analysis is made just for better understanding and mainly for explanation. In India, we have six systems of medicine officially taught and practiced. They are Ayurveda, Yoga, Uåni, Siddha and Homeopathy together with Allopathic Medicine. All these six systems are to be called parallel medicine, each being capable of looking after the medical needs of the people or one can be taken instead of the other and until and unless all these systems are integrated, our health care needs will not be met properly: “We need to take care of the Indian Systems of Medicine in our planning because of its resilience and reach within our country.
In India, the State has failed to provide available, accessible, affordable, sustainable and quality healthcare. Integration of all systems of medicine will help in shaping a holistic system which will be accessible, affordable and sustainable for our country and for the world.” The main reason for this pitiable state of affairs is that our country adopted the foreign allopathic system which is the least scientific medical system in the world. Medical self sufficiency is our goal; Gandhiji learned the Bible, he studied Tolstoy and Ruskin but when he started the Freedom Movement he went to Gokhale to accept him as his guru and derived all the ideas for the movement from the Indian classical texts and scriptures. Christ went to John the Baptist and received baptism from him though he did not need a baptism. John and his teachings were known to the people. So also when Gandhi went to Gokhale, the position Gandhi had taken was made clear. After sixty five years of independence. Today eighty percent of the population cannot have access to reasonable health care.
How did this sorry state of affairs in medical practice come about? There are two reasons: 1). We in India failed to continue the study and research in Indian systems of medicine. We went away from the true source of knowledge which made a our system holistic. Allopathic medicine got the political support and it became the medical system, the status it never deserved. Allopathic system got the license to kill and it is properly made use of. If a patient who undergoes treatment in a parallel system of medicine dies, the Allopathic man laughs at the parallel system while hundreds of dead bodies are carried out everyday from the Allopathic hospitals. After Ivan Illich (Limits to Medicine, Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health, Penguin Books 1977) wrote his critique of allopathic medicine, there was no other proper critique on this unscientific system till then. There are, as I have already mentioned, six medical systems, each one claiming to be capable of curing all the sicknesses of people. In the beginning, all the systems grew up similarly.
Based on the experience, humans put together the similar ideas with logic and made different medical systems. All the other scientific systems also developed in the similar way. Now, each system has a well-defined philosophy behind it regarding man, nature and god. The approach to treatment is based on the philosophy behind it. Ayurveda itself has adopted the Yoga system of philoso. Allopathic medicine developed with a holistic view of man and it was not first much different from other medical systems. But in the modern times, it adopted the Cartesian philosophy and it became non-holistic and fragmented in its views. When the whole is not seen, the parts will not be identified as parts. In other words, by putting together parts we cannot make a whole and parts will not be recognized as parts without the whole. If the whole is not seen, the parts are not recognized to be parts of the whole. Hence, the allopath treats the patient parts by parts and the whole human system is not taken into consideration. Specialists treat the parts related to their specialization and the medical coordination does not take place. Medical care is for the humans not for their parts. This difference in approach makes a total difference as far as the result of the treatment is considered.
When actress Smita Patil died, doctors in Breach Kandy Hospital, Mumbai, who treated her issued a press statement saying that all her vital organs were alright as each one looked after her particular parts of the body. But she died! This is an explicit example of the consequences of the so-called specialization. Specialization is good and needed; generalization is also good and needed. One must not lose sight of the part-and-whole relationship. Wisdom is to see things related and unwiseness is to see things isolated. According to Nagarjuna, true knowledge is that which brings in the attainment of all the goals of man. Allopathic medicines are applied desiring one effect and the side (opposite) effects destroys the desired effect. Therefore, Allopathic medicines are not generally to be qualified as scientific. By using machines which employ scientific discoveries to diagnose diseases, a medical system never becomes scientific. Any system of medicine can use it even though that system does not become scientific. I saw an American cartoon long ago, I think, in the Time magazine. It exhibited a board before a hospital giving the names of the specialists there. It stated: Dr so-and so – heart specialist; Dr. so-and-so – neurologist; Dr. so-and-so gynecologist; Dr. so and- so skin specialist etc. and the last one was Dr. so-and-so specialist for all what is left over! Ayurveda sets the humans as part of the whole universe and any change in the universe is affecting man.
The core truth of astrology is that the position of the planets and stars affects humans and controls his destiny; the causes are seen and the effects are seen but the relationship between the cause and the effect is not understood. And hence, the analysis and application the astrologer gives is without science and then it is an entertainment!. In a house perfectly built according to vastu sastra also people get sick.
The palmist thinks that the whole universe is represented on the palms. The date, time and the position of the planets at the time of birth is decisive of the future of the humans. A human being is part and parcel of the universe and to be related to the whole is healthy and to be divided is to be sick. So far, so good.
One of the main presuppositions of palmistry is that according to the thoughts in the mind the lines on the palms change and according to the change humans act. This premise cannot be proved. Take it for granted. Even when the lines change humans need not act accordingly. A human is free. That means having put all the conditions for acting she or he may act or may not act. People know that I like papaya very much. But when it is served it does not follow that I eat it. I may have other reasons not to eat it. Hence, palmistry also is good for entertainment in spite of it having a sound basis. But Ayurveda has a tangible and experiential basis and it works well. Put the cause and conditions for action and see that the effect follows. This is science. Though allopathic institutions and practitioners hold that this modern medicine is scientific it is rather a blind man’s to shoot. 35% of the allopathic medicines are made according to the scientific standards set forward by the allopathic system but 65% medicines are based on observation. Allopathic medicine as a science has not grown beyond the scientificity of astrology, palmistry and vastu sastra.
Another big thing is that we have many specialists and specializations! The specialists are given doctorates, too. So what does this specialization mean? Does the specialization mean that allopathic medicine is scientific? It is more dangerous! A close friend of mine did his doctorate in zoology. He is a very good researcher. He took his subject: “Nature of the metabolic change in a particular kind of snail when affected by a particular disease in a particular village in Andhra Pradesh.” There are thousands of metabolic changes, known and unknown, in snails. The sicknesses are manifold which affect the snails. There are millions of fields in Andhra Pradesh. Thousands of varieties of snails are there. In this situation, my friend studied one of the metabolic changes while thousands of other changes could be studied. A million specializations could be done in the same situation. Hence, what is done as specialization is a little about the least. By doing such a doctorate, my friend has not become a scientist.
A medical specialist knows a little about the least. It is very dangerous that such a specialist is dealing with a human being. The specialists become visiting doctors and they are utterly irresponsible to the patients. He is unable to coordinate the treatment and many Smita Patils die. The great poet Vallathol ironically wrote: “If the poor are born or dead, why should I waste my tears! Another problem with the allopathic medicine is the symptomatic treatment. They are suppressing the symptoms, not removing the cause. First of all, there are many cases where the sickness is different but the symptoms are similar. Moreover, after suppressing the symptoms the cause remains and recurrence of the sicknesses is common. MRIs and X-Rays are machines and they do not go wrong. But the reader goes wrong. In symptomatic treatment, these machines are applied where the symptoms are, not where the cause is. About 70% of the people will lead a moral life without much compulsion. Some 20% will be law-abiding with some compulsions. But about 10% will never be law-abiding in spite of the compulsions. When this 10% of people increase in the world we say that it is a very bad world.
A high percentage of medical men have joined this group. They send patients from doctor to doctor, from medical test to medical test. Every thing for a cut. They prescribe costly medicines to get a cut from the pharmaceutical companies. Of course, they are instructed by the medical representatives. Most of the ‘evening booth’ doctors in their life-time prescribe only some 20 medicines at the most. Powerful antibiotics, steroids, calcium tablets, painkillers, and vitamin tablets occupy their list of prescriptions. Most of them do not waste their time to study any thing new in the medical field. They themselves are antiquated. They exploit the ignorance of the ordinary patients and recover fast the donation money they had spent for medical education. Now the situation is such that any body can be a medical person if he/she has money. Now there are many Homeopathic and Ayurvedic doctors as followers of these Allopaths. Will Indian mothers deliver more Bhagat Singhs to shoot the Dyers in our country? Medical fanaticism is fostered by the medical corporations.
I stress the need for medical integration to stop the medical fanaticism, need for the affordable medical treatment for all with medical morality in practice and at the same time I want to point out the vital need for integration and as we understand the drawback of the so-called (un)scientific Allopathic medicine.