History of Indian Medicine (and Ayurveda)

by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society | 1949 | 162,724 words | ISBN-13: 9788176370813

The History of Indian medicine and Ayurveda (i.e., the science of life) represents the introductory pages of the Charaka Samhita composed of six large sections dealing with every facet of Medicine in ancient India in a Socio-Historical context. Caraka is regarded as one of the pioneers in the field of scientific healthcare. As an important final a...

Chapter 5 - The Practice of Smoking

Smoking seems to have been a common daily procedure in India in olden times as is given in details in Caraka Samhita. In the code of right conduct it is mentioned as an essential item. It was a smoking, curative and stimulant, luxurious and lightening, agreeable and enjoyable. No tobacco was used but a recipe of articles mainly of fragrant group was used. According to the constitutional organisation of the body i.e. Vata or Kapha, some articles were added to the recipe for counteracting the effects of the disturbance of the respective constitution. As smoking was the procedure dependent on fire or heat, it is not inducted in the cases of Pitta constitution because then it enhances pitta tendency. It seems that smoking procedure was administered to women also because Caraka mentions a gravida to be one of the cases for contra-indication which means to convey that except a gravida all women can have resort to smoking

Its Uses Were—

1 Daily habit for recreation and relaxation.

2 To get rid of slight disturbance of Vata or Kapha Unctuous (snaihika) smoke for Vata, and errhines (viarecanika) and dry smoke for Kapha.

3 Remedial—As a treatment of respiratory troubles to soothe coughing and to help the expectoration from the respiratory passage

It is very interesting to find that the shape and size of the cigar described is just similar to the present day cigar

[Carakasaṃhitā Sūtrasthāna 5.23]

“It should then be plastered over a piece of reed and moulded into a cigar resembling the shape of a barley grain and having the thickness of the thumb and a length of eight fingers breadth”

It was not smoked directly but through a pipe. The pipe material was either gold or silver or other metal according to the financial or social status of the smoker, but the real interesting thing is that there were bulges in the pipe i. e. halts for the smoke to check the speed and to filter the smoke.

The times most suitable are meticulously described explaining the indications.

[Carakasaṃhitā Sūtrasthāna 5.33-34]

“Eight specified times are laid down for habitual smoking, because during these periods, the rise of Vata and Kapha is observed. That is, after taking the bath, after taking the meal, after tongue scraping, after sneezing, tooth cleansing nasal toilet and the use of eye salve and at the end of sleep, the self-controlled man should resort to smoking.”

The number of smoking differs according to the purpose for which it is used, even how many puffs are to be taken is also given

[Carakasaṃhitā Sūtrasthāna 5.36]

“A wise man should practise habitual smoking twice a day. The unctuous smoke should be smoked once a day and the errhine smoke thrice or four times a day”

[Carakasaṃhitā Sūtrasthāna 5.35a]

“Smoking should be done thrice, in three puffs each time”

Moreover that the smoke was enjoyed luxuriously is indicated by the description given and by the signs and symptoms described for successful smoking

Besides this, the actions and benefits of smoking as well as the indications and contra-indications of smoking are given in details. The complications arising from untimely or excessive smoking together with their treatment are also mentioned copiously.

The ancient writers have paid full attention to the method of smoking through the mouth or the nose, and separating each, reasons are given for the resort to a particular mode. Thus the whole subject of smoking has been treated with scientific detail and insight.

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