ISPP 2015

Career Opportunities in Pharmacy
Tabiyat: Medicine and Healing in India



double is the most commonly used word in India for physical and psychological health it's also the title of a Wellcome collection exhibition in India about the particular ways that one of the world's great civilizations has addressed a universal concern human health my name is Ratan Vaswani I'm the curator of double yet let's look at some of the exhibits this is a key working welcome libraries iconographic collection it's endlessly reproduced in India and around the world one of the reasons it's reproduced so often is that this is the only known historical illustration showing the interior of the human body as understood in Ayurveda the organs and the channels are not anatomically accurate but unlike pictures showing chakras the body and its contents are presented in biological terms this is a drawing from an 18th century manuscript which is a copy of thusly Iman Saudi which means man Saudis Anatomy the original work was written in Persia in 1386 C II it illustrates each of the body systems in a standard way a circular headed figure faces the viewer with legs bent hands on thighs and internal organs labeled with text this image is similar to the previous one that we saw from the city Imam Saudi the circular headed figure is squatting in the same distinctive stance as in the Islamic work the text surrounding the image is old Gujarati body parts are labeled using both Sanskrit and Persian very significantly though the difference between this and the previous image is that chakras have been added very faintly to the spinal column as is typical in images of Hindu meditators at the bottom you can see various animals these relate to Hindu iconography training in Western medicine spread under British rule some Indian authors attempted to equate the organs depicted in Western textbooks with synthetic chakras in this 1903 book the subtle body and the anatomical body has shown side by side this is a typical Indian depiction of the human body in a meditative pose juxtaposed with the Western anatomical view of the body meditation practices have co-evolved with and complement Indian medicine this Yantra which is a meditation plaque uses mantras sacred syllables or words to focus the mind it's in the form of a mandala a radially balanced diagram that symbolizes an encompassing wholeness this illustration is from a mail-order catalogue it's an advertisement a doctor and a patient in traditional Indian clothes sit in front of western-style medicine cabinets on the walls are Western medical diplomas it reveals the early attempt to market Ayurvedic medicine as a modern scientific equivalent to Western pharmaceuticals this is an engraving published in the gentlemen's magazine in London in 1794 it shows kawaski a man who had his nose reconstructed variations of the technique survived in India over many centuries a flap of skin in size from the forehead was grafted onto the stump from which a new nose was formed you can see just below the portrait of kawaski a smaller drawing which shows the operation and then just to the right you can see drawings of the of the the nose flap this is a watercolor painting commissioned by Colonel James Skinner in 1825 it shows an ear cleaner at work ear cleaners are still to be found on Indian streets but in declining numbers traditionally ear cleaners would first scoop out the wax using a long steel needle called a chimney and then apply cleansing oil with a spatula called a Szalai this is a watercolour painting of Chautala devi who's the indian goddess of small hawks and the pox generally sitala was invoked in a practice called variolation which is a folk medical practice where a healthy person's skin was scratched and rubbed with smallpox crusts and the the mild infection that followed immunized against more powerful strains so this practice variolation predates vaccination which is immunity through the introduction of material from a related disease cow pox traditional bone setters are amongst the most common specialist practitioners of Indian medicine in North India they're associated with wrestlers who developed a working knowledge of treating dislocations and sprains that they suffered many bone setters take the the word pale varm wrestler as a surname and the pale van the wrestler whether wrestling or healing is a noble figure in India we see here Hanuman the monkey God standing on a mountain range this is an episode from the Ramayana the great Hindu mythological epic Hanuman the monkey god is the arms constant companion when Lakshmana her arms younger brother was fatally wounded the only cure was sanjivini a magical herb growing on a Himalayan mountain Hanuman couldn't identify the particular herb the Sanjivani so he carried back the entire Mountain Libya medicine and healing in India is at the CS MVS Museum in Mumbai the exhibition runs from January the 12th to March the 28th 2016

3 thoughts on “Tabiyat: Medicine and Healing in India

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.