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  

Jayanta Bhattacharya

Indian National Science Academy

Date Written: August 4, 2008

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Bhattacharya, Jayanta, The Knowledge of Anatomy in Ayurveda and Modern Medicine: Colonial Confrontation and Its Outcome (August 4, 2008). EA Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2069158

Jayanta Bhattacharya (Contact Author)

Indian National Science Academy ( email )

Mata Sundari Railway Colony,
Mandi House
New Delhi, 110 002
India

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