Musings on Medicine, Myth, and History: India’s Legacy Paperback

Musings on Medicine, Myth, and History: India’s Legacy is a collection of fourteen short essays. It presents a holistic view of ancient medical history and Indian developments in ophthalmology, the authors’ medical specialty. Deep respect for their homeland is apparent, as is their concern for sighted and visually impaired patients at home in the United States or on service trips abroad. Readers may be surprised to learn that cataract surgery was first described and performed in India nearly three thousand years ago. Much of current practice in ophthalmology can be traced to medical pioneers in Ancient India. This book is sure to broaden your perspective of India’s contributions to modern health care. But also, in the process, you will become better acquainted with many other aspects of India, which was once the world’s leading economic “superpower.”

This book of twelve small essays by a highly recognized Ophthalmologist also known for his free services to underprivileged children with eye problems across the world gives a wonderful overview of the cultural heritage of India from ancient times with particular reference to Medicine.

If you are an M.D or some other Medical Professional, you will be especially thrilled that you discovered it. The Co-author Leela Raju. M.D is his own daughter.

Starting with a brief reference to the ancient Vedas and the Upanishads, the author begins with the publication of Susruta Samhita by an ancient surgeon known as Susruta who lived sometime during the period 800 to 600 BCE. Then comes the publication of Charaka Samhita by the ancient physician Charaka who is believed to have lived sometime during the period 300 BCE to 100 CE. We can relate to this part of India’s Legacy in Medicine in terms of modern Allopathy by remembering the contributions of the Surgeon William Halstead and the Physician William Osler both of whom made their contributions in the middle part of the 19th Century.

Then around 400 BCE, Sage Patanjali publishes his Yoga Sutras laying the foundations for a stage by stage of eight stages procedure for transcendence beyond our minds leading to our Soul’s union with God. Of these, today what we are emphasizing are only the Asana (Postures), Pranayama (Regulated Breathing Routine) and a little bit of meditation at the end. Still, the benefits of Yoga are as powerful as or even more powerful than Physical Therapy or Chiropractic manipulations.

Last but not the least is the evolution of Ayurveda with its foundations based on the discovery that a proper balance of three personality traits Vata, Pita and Kapha is essential for the proper functioning our bodies and minds. Imbalances among them came to be recognized as causes for disease and all treatments are based on correcting these imbalances. We can make sense in this concept in terms of Modern Medicine by equating it with the notion of Homeostasis when we try to restore vital parameters such as temperature, blood pressure, sugar levels etc. to normal values.

Once you browse through it for the first time, you won’t put the book down till you read it from page to page. Thereafter, you will treasure it as a valuable addition to your home library. That is because of the highly researched end notes and references to the author’s other publications that it contains.

This collection of fourteen essays by Vadrevu K. “VK” Raju presents information in a relaxed style that fosters reader enjoyment while imparting fascinating history, present-day facts, and supported opinions. Learning about India’s legacy and continued relevance in an increasingly connected world has expanded my knowledge and kindled increased awareness of important global issues. I found MUSINGS ON MEDICINE, MYTH, AND HISTORY: INDIA’S LEGACY very readable with important ideas presented succinctly.

Part I serves as an introduction to Hinduism and Ayurvedic principles. How refreshing to learn that a primary facet of Hinduism is one of respect and good will toward the beliefs of others.
Part II of this delightful book presents the astonishing tale of Susruta, sometimes called the Father of Surgery, who compiled the Susruta Samhita, an ancient medical text which among other things, gives practical techniques for various surgeries, particularly for disorders of the eye.
Part III informs of the 1890 accidental discovery of the Bower Manuscript, the oldest surviving manuscript on Ayurveda.

The last, and perhaps most inspiring section of this book (Part IV), is entitled: “The State of the Nation: India’s Medical History, Colonialism, and Independence.” This section deals with the subjugation of Indian physicians during the nineteenth century. Essay eleven examines medicine in modern India and increases understanding of how and why medical care in developing countries suffers. Astounding is the fact that three-fourths of the world’s blind children live in developing countries. Non-profit organizations and individuals from around the world are helping. One is the Eye Foundation of America established by Dr. V. K. Raju. The foundation’s goal is to eliminate avoidable blindness, particularly among children.

“It is an easy read that gives one a look at India’s history – past, present and future.
It’s is written by an internationally know ophthalmologist and explains that India’s medicine and science was far advanced of Western civilization. There is much wisdom and we can learn much from India’s culture ,” George Bohigian MD, wrote of the book.

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