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 9 - Thu use of Ornaments

Putting on of ornaments and jewels was a fashion, aesthetic practice, [satisfaction of vanity and a medical utility—all at once in Caraka’s period

[Carakasaṃhitā Sūtrasthāna 5.17]

“The wearing of jewels and ornaments brings prosperity and is auspicious, promotive of longevity, decorative, dispersive of worries, exhilarative, attractive and vitalizing”.

Besides the metal ornaments and jewels, people used to put on some special herbs (auṣadhi) which were considered ag protective of life and prophylactic and curative of particular disease.

[Carakasaṃhitā Śārīrasthāna 8.18]

Thus we find that the putting on of jewels (maṇidhāraṇa) as well as herbs were prescribed for children (kumāra) who had not yet attained adolescence.

[Carakasaṃhitā Śārīrasthāna 8.62]

These two were the precepts of the Atharvana (atharvaṇa) also.

The love for ornaments was however never allowed to overstep the boundaries of propriety. When a patient was admitted to the therapy room for treatment, he was bereft of all ornamentation. It was only when he was to be discharged and exhibited before his friends and kinsman as cured that he was dressed well and made to put on ornaments. (alaṅkāra-alaṅkṛta—Sū. 15.17).

Similarly no ornaments were to be put on during Kutipravesha (kuṭipraveśa). Students too did not put on ornaments as that would not suit the austere ideals of student life and natural surroundings. It was only when the natural charm was required to be supplemented by ornaments and decorations or when the auspicious occasion demanded such gaiety or when some medical purpose was supposed to be served that light or heavy ornaments were required to be put on.

It was enjoined upon a woman going to unite with her husband for procreation to put on garlands and ornaments to add to her natural womanly beauty.

[Carakasaṃhitā Śārīrasthāna 8.9]

Similarly the mother taking the child for naming ceremony (nāmakaraṇa) was to put on light and variegated ornaments.

[Carakasaṃhitā Śārīrasthāna 8.50]

A wet-nurse was required to put on herbs (oṣadhi) when suckling was to begin.

[Carakasaṃhitā Śārīrasthāna 8.58]

The decorative use of ornaments was not restricted to women only. At the time of sexual congress, ornaments were to be put on by both the parties. Even in daily routine of wholesome living both man and woman were exhorted to wear garlands and ornaments as they brought auspicious results.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 2/3, 24-25]

Gems were believed to have very cooling effects and as such they were used as therapeutic measures, e.g. women wearing gems and ornaments were prescribed in burning sensation (dāha) in fevers.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 3.265]

Even applications of gems were made.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 4.106]

The therapeutic use of jewels did not end with such cooling properties they were believed to possess. A person with consumption should always keep himself dressed and decorated with ornaments as an alleviating measure.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 8.179]

The following gems and herbs were put on as a prophylactic measure against snake poison.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 23.252]

Besides these medico-cum-decorative uses of gems and ornaments we find references to the merely aesthetic use of these e g in the description of wine parties. At such a party a person was required to be well-decorated in conformity with the gay spirit of Bacchus prevailing on the occasion

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 24.22]

Not only the participants in the revelry were required to be decorated, but the attendant women were also to present themselves gaily decorated in consonance with the spirit of gaiety.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 24.16-17]

Vessels used on such occasions were ornamental so that there may be no discordant note to mar the joy pervading the atmosphere.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 24.15]

But these gems, even in such drinking parties, contributed their mite towards mitigating the effects of drink Gems were believed to be cooling and refrigerant agents and as such they served the medical purpose also.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 24.153]

The vessels used for filling refrigerant medicines were made of rich metals and were used as cold applicators.

[Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 24.154]

From the various descriptions in Caraka Samhita we find that the following metals, gems, precious stones and other materials were in use during the period.

Arka (Maṇiviśeṣa) - Cikitsāsthāna 7.85;
Kanaka - Sūtrasthāna 5.18;
Kāca - Cikitsāsthāna 17.125;
Kāñcana - Cikitsāsthāna 1(4).59;
Gajamauktika - Cikitsāsthāna 23.252;
Garamaṇi - Cikitsāsthāna 23.252;
Tāpya - Cikitsāsthāna 16.78;
Tīkṣṇāyasa - Cikitsāsthāna 1(3).16;
Marakata - Vimānasthāna 23.252.
Rīti - Siddhisthāna 3.7;
Varāṭaka - Cikitsāsthāna 26.224;
Viṣamūṣikā - Cikitsāsthāna 23.362;
Vaidūrya - Cikitsāsthāna 23.262;
Sarpamaṇi - Cikitsāsthāna  23.262;

Besides these we come across references to (pravāla, vidruma, śaṅk?, śukti, sīsaka, sūryakānta, ayas, mākṣika) etc.

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