Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

13.  The ‘present case’ was of a medical, not a surgical, nature.

14.  The Hindoo practitioners are called ‘baid’ (Sanskrit ‘vaidya’, followers of the Veda, that is to say, the Ayur Veda).  The Musalman practitioners are generally called ‘hakim’.  The Egyptian school (Misrani, Misri, or Suryani, that is, Syrian) never practise bleeding, and are partial to the use of metallic oxides.  The Yunani physicians approve of bleeding, and prefer vegetable drugs.  The older writers on India fancied that the Hindoo system of medicine was of enormous antiquity, and that the principles of Galenical medical science were ultimately derived from India.  Modern investigation has proved that Hindoo medicine, like Hindoo astronomy, is largely of Greek origin.  This conclusion has been expressed in an exaggerated form by some writers, but its general truth appears to be established.  The Hindoo books treating of medicine are certainly older than Wilson supposed, for the Bower manuscript, written in the second half of the fourth century of our era, contains three Sanskrit medical treatises.  The writers had, however, plenty of time to borrow from Galen, who lived in the second century.  The Indian aversion to European medicine, as distinguished from surgery, still exists, though in a degree somewhat less than in the author’s time.  Many municipal boards have insisted on employing ‘baids’ and ‘hakims’ in addition to the practitioners trained in European methods.  Well-to-do patients often delay resort to the English physician until they have exhausted all resources of the ‘hakim’ and have been nearly killed by his drastic treatment.  One medical innovation, the use of quinine as a febrifuge, has secured universal approbation.  I never heard of an Indian who disbelieved in quinine.  Chlorodyne also is fully appreciated, but most of the European medicines are regarded with little faith.

Since the author wrote, great progress has been made in providing hospital and dispensary accommodation.  Each ‘district’, or unit of civil administration, has a fairly well equipped combined hospital and dispensary at head-quarters, and branch dispensaries exist in almost every district.  An Inspector-General of Dispensaries supervises the medical administration of each province, and medical schools have been organized at Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Lahore, and Agra.  During Lord Dufferin’s Viceroyalty and afterwards, energetic steps were taken to improve the system of medical relief for females.  Pandit Madhusadan Gupta, on January 10, 1836, was the first Hindoo who ventured to dissect a human body and teach anatomy.  India can now boast of a considerable number of Hindoo and Musalman practitioners, trained in European methods, and skilful in their profession.  Much has been done, infinitely more remains to be done.  Details will be found in I.G. (1907), vol. iv, chap. 14, ‘Medical Administration’, The article ‘Medicine’ in Balfour, Cyclopaedia, 3rd ed., 1885, on which I have drawn for some of the

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