Scientific Foundation of Ayurveda is a treatise on the basic fundamentals of this holistic medicine. This book is divided into nine chapters.
Introduction consists of the comparison between the concepts of Ayurveda with other traditional medicines of the world. In the chapter of Indian Philosophies, an earnest effort is made to trace the roots of Ayurveda. Scientific face of spiritualism is brought out very clearly in the language of basic sciences in totally unambiguous terms. In chapter two author explained the concepts of Panchamahabhutas and Trigunas in the language of current sciences, along with experimental proof. In chapter three Tridoshas are explained in language of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Most interesting is the chapter on Embryogenesis and Prakriti. Various mechanisms proposed by Charak with regards to above said subjects are explained in terms of modern understanding of embryogenesis, intra-uterine fetal growth programme and genetic characterization of an individual. Seven prime elements of the body called Saptadhatus and their bioconversions are also explained on the basis of modern biochemistry. In subsequent chapters etiopathology of disease, Charak's ten types of examination and pharmaecology of Rasa, Guna, Virya, Vipaka and Prabhava are elaborated in detail. Lastly, Panchakarma, Rasayana and Vajikarana are also described. Last chapter discusses some concept-based Ayurveda researches by author and also need for integration of Ayurveda into main stream medicine.
The book is intended to bring out the true essence of Ayurveda with the use of totally new scientific vocabulary. The approach is very revolutionary in the sense of achievement. It is a common belief that Ayurvedic linguistic have no equivalent modern terms. This apparently impossible task is accomplished by the author with great finesse. Unique distinction of this work is to decode the subtle messages of the cryptic Ayurvedic sutras giving a very rational contemporary scientific terminology. With the vanishing of linguistic barriers between the modern medicine and Ayurveda, it will be easy to bridge the two never meeting banks of river. This book makes easier for a reader who is trained in modern basic sciences to appreciate Ayurvedic better and similarly it will also help an Ayurvedic student to understand his science in the context of current sciences. Ayurveda is a treasure of knowledge and experiential wisdom. This book presents a new approach of integration. The 21st century medicine can blaze a new trail to scale new peaks of success, with this approach presented by the book.
Prof. Dr. H.S. Palen was born on the 8th Oct. 1941 at Polasa (Andhra Pradesh), graduated in Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery from renowned Podar Medical College (Ayurvedic), Mumbai in the year 1962. He obtained admission to MBBS course again on the basis of his intermediate science merit and completed his MD in Modern Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the prestigious Grant Medical from the prestigious Grant Medical College, Mumbai. He was selected as Hon. Assistant Prof. In Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Grant Medical College and St. George's Hospital and rose to the eminence of Hon. Professor, because of his high academic credentials. Simultaneously, he was also appointed as a part time professor and consultant at the R.A. Podar Medical College and M.A. Podar Hospital, Mumbai. This simultaneous teaching in two different streams of medicines provided his interest in research of Ayurveda. He had been a teacher and examiner for both undergraduates and post graduates in both the faculties (Modern & Ayurveda) at the University of Mumbai for over two decades.
Dr. Palep has also a large clinical and surgical experience in both the fields of Gyn. & Obs. He has presented and published many research papers in conferences and seminars both national and international. He has been invited as a guest speaker at a number of national conferences. He was a research co-ordinator for the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik and project co-ordinator for CCRAS with regards to indigenous herbal oral contraceptive pill. He was convenor of a number of Ayurvedic national level seminars at Mumbai and Nashik etc. He is also in process of authoring one more book titled "Integrated Obstetrics and Gynaecology". Research and development of Ayurveda on Modern scientific basis is his passion. He has founded Dr. Palep's Medical Research Foundation, which is doing a pioneering work in the field of innovative research in Ayurveda.
In l978 the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai launched a project: “Ancient Insights and Modern Discoveries”. In the Life & Health Sciences Division, it was decided to produce a comprehensive monograph which would enlighten practitioners of Modern Medicine with insights of Ayurveda, and Ayurvedic physicians with achievements of modern biomedicine. This task was assigned to me and 7 years of intensive and critical study of Charak, Sushruta & Vagbhata through the eyes of a physician of modern medicine, resulted in the book “Ayurveda & Modern Medicine”, published by the Bhavan in 1986 with a foreword by Dr. Raja Ramanna, the eminent Nuclear Scientist of India. The 2nd enlarged edition was published in 2001, in which I emphasized the point that newer knowledge in molecular biology in the last 25 years has provided a new interface between Ayurved and Modern Medicine, since the Vata-Pitta-Kapha concepts of Ayurved are essentially concepts of molecular biology.
The greatest contribution to modern medical thinking made in 1857 by Claude Bernard, the father of experimental medicine, was the idea that “the circulating body fluid, the blood serum and the intra-organic fluids all constitute the internal environment which preserves the necessary relations of exchange and equilibrium with the external cosmic environment”.
“Vital phenomena possess their rigorously determined physicochemical conditions. When one or more of these physicochemical processes are abnormal in specific regions of the body, their elucidation provides “manifestations” of the patient’s disease, which becomes the basis of prognosis and treatment (close similarity to Dosh-dushti and Doshau-aishamya).
In the preface to the latest medical book ‘Molecular Nuclear Medicine’ - the Challenge of Genomics and Proteomics to Clinical Practice (2003, Springer). Dr. Henry Wagner writes: “We must begin to develop a new scheme of disease classification on the basis of the regional molecular processes in patients with similar problems and similar manifestations of illness. We must develop a diagnostic classification scheme based on groupings of abnormal regional biochemical manifestations. We must relate these groups of molecular manifestations to prognosis and treatment. This requires identification of the manifestations as they are expressed by loops of functional interactions of metabolic substrates amongst each other, and with their respective molecular targets, be they transporters, receptors, enzymes or other proteins”.
This concept of “Disease as Disequilibrium” due to excessive interaction, absent interaction or erroneous interaction between signaling molecules and their molecular targets in various organs and tissues is identical with the Ayurvedic concept of ‘Rogastu dosha-uaishamyam/ Dhatu-samya kriya prayojanah. Ayurveda has very appropriate words for excessive interaction – “Atiyoga”; absent interaction – “Ayoga”; and erroneous interaction - “Mithyayoga”.
Fifty years back my friend the Late Dr. K. N. Udupa was an eminent example of a person highly trained in both Ayurveda and Modern Medicine. He made attempts to interpret Ayurvedic concepts and Ayurvedic research in terms of the language understood by modern medicine.
Dr. Palep also had the benefit of training in both Ayurveda and Modern Medicine. Knowledge grows by addition of new concepts, expansion or modification of prevailing concepts and some times by rejection of old concepts.
Dr. Palep tries to interpret the Ayurvedic concept in the light of the knowledge gained from modern medicine using the vocabulary of current life science. He has tried to show that new knowledge can be assimilated without demolishing existing Ayurvedic concepts. My emphasis is on the need to assimilate new knowledge, not do much on “how” the assimilation should take place. The spirit of Charaka, Sushruta and Vagbhata does not allow any other option to the Ayurvedic physician, or for that matter to any physician.
Dr. Palep has been encouraged by my exhortation to try and integrate the intuitive and experiential wisdom of Ayurveda with the experimentally verified newer knowledge of 21st Century bio-medicine, using the vocabulary of modern bio-chemistry. For instance the Vata concept can readily accommodate current knowledge about nerve impulse transmission and muscular contraction in terms of ion channels – Na+, K+, Cl-, Ca2+ and nitric oxide and carbon monoxide (the latter two are indeed “Vayu” or gas). ATP is the universal energy currency in all living cells - the modern version of the concept of “Ojas”. Pitta concept can easily accommodate the current knowledge about hundreds of various types of enzymes and enzyme-mediated interactions - cAMP and cGMP, phospholipases; protein kinases and phosphatases, and regulatory adapter or scafolding proteins, transcription factors etc. The concept of “Agni” encompasses all metabolic enzymes. Kapha concept can accommodate all the recent knowledge about the synthesis and degradation of various families or proteins: structural proteins, matrix proteins, proteins regulating cell proliferation and differentiation.
In 1896, Lokamanya Balagangadhar Tilak, in an editorial comment in his mouthpiece “The Kesari”, made the following perceptive comments which deserve the utmost attention of all Ayurvedic physicians and all those who are interested in the advancement of the ancient Indian System of Medicine and all the policy makers who guide research in Ayurveda : “If the renaissance of Ayurveda has to occur in India it is the responsibility of those who have the benefit of western medical education, to take the lead in this effort”.
“There is no effective cure for malaria in Ayurveda hence the Vaidyas should willingly use quinine which is effective for this purpose”.
In the 107 years that elapsed after these words were written by a visionary, the amount of new knowledge that has accumulated in our understanding of life science is several orders of magnitude more extensive than what existed 2500 years back.
My journey in to the world of Ayurveda started in the year 1957 with the admission in to the course of Graduate Faculty of Ayurvedic Medicine (G.F.A.M.) at the R.A.Podar Medical College (Ayurvedic), Mumbai. In this course, Ayurveda and Modern medicine were taught as parallel subjects. Modern anatomy, physiology and biochemistry subjects could be easily understood with the background of physics, chemistry and biology. Where as the Ayurvedic panchbhautic model of creation and life were difficult to digest since they were philosophical contemplations based on religion and spiritualism. The Ayurveda states that the human body is made up of earth, water, fire, air and sky (akash). The modern medicine taught that the chemistry of human body is made up of only four elements, viz. carton, hydro-gen, oxygen and nitrogen. How to comprehend these two different sets of knowledge of Modern Medicine and Ayurveda? I was at cross roads. I successfully completed the course and was convinced that my choice between the two systems should be Modern Medicine to make my career. Then I pursued Modern Medical Studies to become a post graduate in Obstetrics and Gynecology and subsequently rose to a position of Hon. Professor at the Grant Medical College. I was also fortunate in getting an assignment of teaching simultaneously at my almanater, Podar Medical College to teach in Ayurvedic Obstetrics and Gynecology. This gave me a chance to continue my enquiry in deciphering the Ayurvedic language in to modern scientific language. An article carried in Soviet science magazine many years ago also stimulated my urge for this enquiry. The author in this article tried to argue that some of the things described in ancient mythological works, which are dismissed by most of us as just figments of imagination, indeed could be based on definite scientific knowledge available at that point of the time in the history of human evolution. In support of his argument he gave some examples from Indian mythology. One example was the use of Brahmastra in Ramayana. The vivid description by Valmiki portrayed all the effects following the use of Brahmestra, which are comparable to the effects of an atomic fission. The author argues that such minutest and detailed effects on plants, animals and other living beings described by Valmiki can not account for simple figment of imagination. Another example which the author referred to was that of the calculation of distance between sun and earth as described by Aztec civilization. With all the modern advances in the telescopes, the margin of error in the distance calculated by Aztec people varied by just 0.003. The ancient civilizations appeared to have possossed a very highly advanced knowledge of mathematics and allied sciences. Without the advanced mathematics they could not have built structures like Ramnathaswami temple at Ramesh-waram in South India and pyramids and sphinx in Egypt. Obviously there was science that was flourishing. This science was lost in sands of time and we lost the links. The arguments developed by the author impressed my impressionable mind when I was still a student. Then an urge developed in me to find the meanings of various Vedic mantras and also the concepts of life and Upanishadic model of creation and aswell the concepts in Ayurveda. Constant inquiry extending over three decades resulted in startling insights solving many of the puzzles that Ayurveda presented. The end result of this pursuit is this book titled “Scientific Foundation of Ayurveda”.
A clinical study relating to recurrent pregnancy loss with the use of Ayurvedic herbs helped me to regain tremendous confidence in Ayurvedic therapy. This work subsequently helped me in establishing two of my research formulations viz. Sujat and Torchnil. Both of them have received tremendous support from many renowned modern Obstetricians as an effective alternative therapy in prevention of recurrent pregnancy loss and prevention of pregnancy complications, e.g. PIH (Pregnancy induced hypertension) and IUGR (Intrauterine growth retardation). I consider these formulations as my tribute to ancient wisdom.
Most of the literature in Ayurveda is in the Sutra format. Sutras are highly compressed poetic renderings of highly meaningful principles. Details of the subject were expected to be expanded and explained by teachers to students of Ayurveda. Thus there is a wide gap of knowledge with regards to details which a student needs in the form of literature. Most of the proofs or validations of the sutras in Ayurveda are based on common sense examples. These are not based on biochemistry. Today biochemical basis for most mechanisms in living body are understood. The Scientific Foundation of Ayurveda is intended to fulfil these lacunae by trying to explain the basic principles of Ayurveda in the language of modern scientific medicine.
Intention of writing this book is also to stimulate interest of a modern scientist to understand Ayurveda in his own scientific language. Another objective was to demolish a myth that Ayurveda cannot be comprehended by modern medicine men. The third objective is to make an Ayurvedic student to feel more confident to understand his science in the light of modern medicine and thus make him shed his complex of inferiority. Finally this effort is expected to stimulate both the practitioners of modern medicine and Ayurveda to do research in Ayurveda.
I am grateful to Padma-vibhushan Dr.R.D.Lele, an eminent scholar and a physician for writing a foreword to this book. He has great interest and knowledge in Ayurveda. I also wish to gratefully acknowledge the fact that he gave a lot of en-couragement to me for conducting research studies in to Ayurveda. I am proud to be the student of this great teacher at the Grant Medical College.
I also want to acknowledge my gratefulness to Dr. Vijay Doiphode, Dean, Faculty of Ayurveda, University of Pune, for writing his valuable opinion about this book.
I also want to acknowledge my teachers and mentors who helped me to shape my thoughts. To name only few of the many are Dr. P.N. Awasthi, late Vaidya Vasudev Vyas, late Vaidya M.Y. Lele, Vaidya D.S. Antarkar, Dr. Ashok Vaidya and S.I. Nagral. I also acknowledge my indebtedness to my good old friend Dr. Kishor M. Mukati, who inspired me to become a doctor. I also want pay my respectful tributes to late Dr. R.V. Sathe, an eminent physician and former Vice-chancellor, the University of Mumbai, who was a great source of inspiration and support during my difficult student days.
I want to acknowledge my thanks to my wife Dr. Lalita and my children Manisha, Ashutosh and Jaydeep for all the support and help rendered in bringing our this book.
I also wish to thank all those who have helped me in my research in Ayurveda. Notable amongst them are Dr. Ranjan Bhatt, Dr. Paul Devsagayam, Dr. S.G. Deshpande and Dr. Iyer K.S., U.M. Pandya, Alka Mehta, Shruti Asher. I also wish to thank Mr. Gerry Bodekar of Green’s College, Oxford University and Dr. Arun Bhatt, an eminent clinical pharmacologist for their valuable suggestions with regards to this book. I also thank the publishers - Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishtan, Delhi.
Ayurveda, the Hindu medicine is the proud heritage of India. The word Hindu does not relate to any religious group, but only signifies a geographic region around the river Sindhu or Indus. The Arabs pronounced Sindhu as Hindu and thus the word Hindu took its root. The Vedas and Darshanas were born and bloomed in the cradle of this Indus valley civilization. Ayurveda is considered to be an extension of Atharvaveda. Thus Ayurveda has its moorings in Hindu philosophies, sciences and spirituality. It is precisely for this reason an effort is made by the author to trace all its moorings, viz. philosophy, science and spirituality in different chapters of this book.
Uniqueness of this system is its holistic approach to life that has centered on the nature and its rhythms. One can trace its origin to antiquity. It literally means the science of life. Ancient Hindus believed that the life is a mixed bag of experiences, which are wholesome, unwholesome, happy and sorrowful. Ayurveda is defined as a science that reveals what is appropriate and as well auspicious for a happy and long life. It is both an art and a science that has evolved by a quest continued over millennia for the relief from suffering or disease in mankind. Objectives of this science are to ensure the maintainance of positive health of an individual and also the relief from the disease. Suffering is disease and happiness is health. According to Ayurveda, a man is considered to be healthy, when he is in a pleasant state of mind and soul and when all his organs of cognition and conation are in perfect state of function. And also have his Doshas, Agnis, Dhatus and Malas in a state of balance.
Sama is the state of balance. Sama stare of dosha, agni, dhatu and mala is the reflection of homeostasis of millieu interior of the body, which is essential for health. Prasan-nata denotes happiness and equipoise. Homeostatis of body associated with happy state of soul, mind and perfect state of all the organs of cognition and conations is defined as Swastha, the state of complete health. It is a perfect definition of health by any standard.
In the holistic approach of Ayurveda, the body, mind and soul are the subjects for the consideration. These entities are represented in human body as Sthula sharir (corporal body), Sukshma sharir (astral body) and Karana sharir (causal body) respectively.
Ayurveda has its firm foundations in Hindu theology. It has evolved from the Vedas. Vedas represent the man’s quest for understanding himself in relation to the universe. Life was considered divine, vedic seers were the seekers of true path.
In the beginning, the elements of nature were worshipped as gods. Gods were created by man in his own form depicting his values, ideas and ideals. There were gods for health and also for misery and death. They believed in their divine power. They feared their wrath, which could lead to diseases. They devised mantras, divinations, incantations, charms, amulets to propitiate them. Simultaneously the herbs, minerals and animal products were empirically experimented in various diseases. All along the scientific enquiry continued and the knowledge grew in leaps and bounds leading to the understanding of many scientific facts pertaining to life. They understood the cyclic nature of the life and death. Rigvedic Mahamrityunjaya mantra is just one example. It explains the cyclic nature of life by describing that the seed constituted the causal body of a tree. (Urvarukamiva bandhanat mrityormukshiya mamritat).They also understood that this universe depends on the sun for all the energy through solar radiations. Rigvedic prayer to Sun god describes Sun as the soul of the universe. (Surya atma jagatah).They also understood the fact, that Sun is the creator. (Asau adityo Brahma). Athat-vaveda, the last of the four Vedas describes apart from mantras, various empirical methods for treating diseases by the use of plants, herbs, animal products and minerals. Upanishads form the highest level of scientific enquiry that led to the model of creation as projected by Hindus. Development of six Darshanas viz. Sankhya, Vaisheshika and Nyaya etc. rationalized and systematised the various scientific developments.
Sat or the Brahman is at the core, in other words it forms the central theme of this model. Sat denotes existence. Sat is also the truth that prevails in all the three times, i.e. past, present and future without any change. Only out of this existence of Sat, the creation of this universe is believed to have occurred. The Brahman is also described as the supreme knowledge and the principal cause for programming of the cosmos and as well the embodiment of cosmic wisdom. (Prajnanam Brahma: the great scientific statement from Rigveda called mahauakya). This knowledge is infinte and is called Mahat. It pervades whole of the universe as an occean of matrix. (Satyam jnanam anantam Brahma). This Brahman is the cause for inducing Prakriti in to dynamic mode to begin the creation. Creation requires the consummation of female by a male. The male is the symbolism accorded to Purush. Female is the symbol of Prakriti. Conjunction of these two is the cause of life. Phallic form of worship of Shiva is but the symbolism of this very concept: Shivalinga has two parts, which are called linga and yoni (the phallus and female genital apparatus). The Purush is the Brahman. Universe is the macrocosm. It is represented in mythology by six petaled lotus. This macrocosm is believed to be originating from the Brahman Lord Vishnu in mythology is depicted symbolically in sky blue color reclining on a hooded serpent. The abode of Sri Maha Vishnu is the blue waters of occean representing the all pervading matrix of intelligence. Thousand headed serpent is the symbolism that represents the knowledge. Lord Vishnu represents the Brahman or cosmic widom. Through his navel the whole macrocosm springs out in the form a lotus. God Brahma, who represents this creation, is depicted to be born in this lotus. All living and non-living beings including the man form the microcosm. The representation of Brahman in man is his Atman, the soul. Soul is the cause of the consciousness. Consciousness is different and superior to the mind.
Thus the concept of Prakriti-purusha-samyog represents both the aspects of science and spirituality just as two sides of a coin.
John Ecceles, an eminent scientist states that the consciousness and the intelligence are not the same, but are distinctly different. He believes that the self conscious mind, a self subsistent entity integrates the multifarious activities of the neuronal machinery to give the unity of conscious existence from moment to moment. This individual consciousness or Atman was considered to be dwelling inside the heart of every individual as the representative of the divine spirit in nature or Brahman, by ancient Hindu civilization. Atman carries with it the burden of past lives and is responsible for determining one’s life span and capabilities. In essence the description of Brahman fits in to a form of a wisdom that programmes the whole of the cosmos. Similarly the functions of the Atman in the body can be understood in terms of programming of seventy two trillion odd cells of body in to making of one individual person. This concept of Atman in man is similar to his genome that has undergone so many transformations throughout his genealogy, which is responsible for the programming of his entire life span. This aspect is discussed in greater details in the text.
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