Indian Medicine

Dominik Wujastyk

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:
Indian Medicine


Contemporary India has what anthropologists such as Charles Leslie have termed a “pluralistic medical system” (see Ayurveda in the Modern World). This expression captures the idea that a person experiencing illness may have recourse to multiple therapeutic resources. For nondangerous illnesses, an ill person is quite likely to be treated at home by friends or family members, perhaps using therapies and ideas that have been passed down from earlier generations through family traditions. Other ill persons may turn to temple healers, herbalists, village healers, ascetics, exorcists, practitioners of modern establishment medicine, unani tibb, ayurveda, siddha, or a host of other diverse forms of healing (see, for example, The Human Body). Forms of medicine are often combined, in spite of having different explanatory models. An important distinction exists between forms of medicine sanctioned and financially supported by the government (establishment medicine) and others. The Indian government’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare devotes most of its budget to modern establishment medicine (MEM). But it also has a Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). Thus, in India, the latter forms of medicine can also be considered “establishment” medicine. Outside South Asia, these forms of medicine are normally part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and this different status gives them a different historical and social trajectory. “Indian medicine” is commonly understood to refer to medical systems that have their historical origins in South Asia. The present bibliography will focus especially on ayurveda, the most ancient and widespread of theses systems and the one with the longest continuous literary history. The Sanskrit word āyurveda, meaning “knowledge for long life” has now entered the English language and routinely appears in English dictionaries. It can therefore be used, without the diacritical mark, as an English word signifying classical Indian medicine.

Article.  15934 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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