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Medicine in the Veda: Religious Healing in the Veda

Medicine in the Veda: Religious Healing in the Veda

Kenneth G. Zysk

  • ISBN: 9788120814011, 8120814010
  • Year of Publication: 2009
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Edition: Third reprint
  • No. of Pages: 338
  • Language: English
Rs. 495.00

Tracing the history and evolution of Indian medicine is a complex enterprise. Continuities of doctrine and practice rarely occur, preventing historians from positing an unbroken succession of development from earliest time. Until now most commentary has focused on later stages of Indian medical science that feature approximate analogies to the Hippocratic and Galenic systems. This volume looks back to the earliest period (1200-200 B.C.) in which a clearly discernible medical tradition can be ascertained, providing a comprehensive analysis of the healing lore contained in the ancient Vedic texts.

The book is divided into two sections. The first examines the various internal and external diseases that afflicted the Vedic people and the treatments used to cure them. Zysk includes translations of particular hymns devoted to the eradiction of specific illnesses and to the consecration of medicines. The second part encompasses textual annotations to the individual hymns together with extensive cross-reference to other Vedic texts, and a valuable bibliographic essay. Without minimizing its magical religious roots, Zysk shows how Vedic medicine relied on close observation of phenomena in order to develop its unique form of mythical and religious classifications as well as how the healing system reveals a basic understanding of the relationship between humans and their environment.

Review(s)

This is a major achievement which has considerable furthered our understanding of medicine in the Vedic age, and no disagreement on details can negate that.-Rahul Peter Das, Traditional South Asian Medicine, Vol.6,2001

While hitherto studies of Indian medical science mostly focused on analogies with the systems of Hippocrates and Galen, this work traces the first discernible medical tradition as far back as possible (ca. 1200?) and probes into the healing lore preserved in the oldest texts. Vedic medicine, in spite of its magico-religious connotations, was based on close observation of the phenomena and stressed the relationship between man and his environment in its healing practices. Continuity in practice and doctrine is no major feature of the diachronic development of Indian medicine. Thus, Zysk has given us an accurate and lively picture of medicine in ancient India, for which we have to be most grateful to him. - The Journal of Indo-European Studies, Vol.26, No.1 & 2, Spring/3

This volume looks back to the earliest-1200-200 B.C. in which a clearly discernible medical tradition can be ascertained, providing a comprehensive analysis of the healing lore contained in the ancient Vedic texts... . Without minimising its magical-religious roots, the author shows how Vedic medicine relied on close observation of phenomena in order to develop its unique form of mythical and religious classicications as well as how the healing system reveals a basic understanding of the relationship between humans and their environment. This volume has been enriched by insertion of translations and annotations of medical hymns from the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda. - National Herold, Oct. 1997

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