The Knowledge of Anatomy in Ayurveda and Modern Medicine: Colonial Confrontation and Its Outcome
EA Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2009
51 Pages Posted: 28 May 2012
Date Written: August 4, 2008
In my paper I shall argue that Western medicine has passed through epistemological and paradigmatic shifts from Bedside Medicine to Hospital Medicine to Laboratory Medicine. The singular act of post-mortem dissection differentiated Hospital Medicine from Bedside Medicine and established its unquestionable authority over Indian medical knowledge systems. In Āyurvedic knowledge, there is no single conception of the body, but a dominant one – a bodily frame – through which dosa-s, dhātu-s and mala-s flow. On their behalf, Āyurvedics were caught within a two-edged sword. First, since antiquity treatment of a disease could be efficiently resolved by tri-dosa theory and marman-s, without having any modern anatomical knowledge. Second, to establish Āyurveda as a valid and eternally “modern” repository of knowledge, learning modern anatomy became mandatory for high caste Āyurvedics to usurp it from the lower-caste practitioners. Consequently, a shift from traditional philosophy of tri-doṣa theory to “modern” notion of organ localization of disease occurred. It reconstituted the philosophical matrix of Āyurveda through this modernization of Āyurvedic knowledge of anatomy.
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