In every culture there is always an important role played by traditions and many a times a blind faith has been put on them by the people of region without verifying the efficacy of these traditional practices. At the other end, in the name of modernization and civilization, many people disregard them as awful or backward practices. They consider everything in tradition as superstition or foolishness of illiterate person. The truth lies somewhere in between in these two lines of approach. It is not right to except everything in tradition without verifying the data nevertheless it is unscientific to reject everything in tradition only because they are old.
Many subjects which where treated as myth have now become facts. The blood circulation described by Sushruta samhita (1500BC) was considered as myth till Harvey. The secretion of gastric juices and its role in digestion as described by Charaksamhita (1000BC) was a myth till Pavlov. The description of plastic surgery by Sushruta samhita (1500 BC) would have remained a myth, if it would not have been seen by a British physician during there war with Marathas. Now it is scientifically accepted and propagated by he surgeons of the west. The head transplantation described in the Vedas will remain a myth till it is practically demonstrated. As the poet Kalidas has said rightly: all things which are old necessary are not true, all things which are new should not necessarily be without fault. To the wise man both should be acceptable only if they stand true to the test, the unwise however gets swayed by the current of others opinion.’’
Ayurveda, the science of life, does not deal exclusively with the treatment of human being. It also deals with treatment of animals and plants. Therefore there is Ashwaayurveda (medicine for horses) by Nakula, Gajaayurveda (medicine for elephants) by Shalihotra, Vrukhshaayurveda for the trees by Parashara.
EIGHT BRANCHS OF AYURVEDA
The following are the eight branches of Ayurveda:-
The kayachikitsa is the major branch in Ayurveda. It deals with mainly the diseases of jaatharagni (the digestive and metabolic system). And also with diseases of skin, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, orthopedics,
Etc. This branch is widely practiced all over India and is very popular amongst ayurvedic physicians.
Shalyatantra or surgery is also a part of Ayurveda and is a very important branch. Many people consider Ayurveda is without surgery and seek ayurvedic treatment for avoidance of surgery. Though it is correct that a lot of surgeries can be bypassed with the help of timely ayurvedic treatment, many a times it is seen that the surgery and only surgery is indicated and hence it is recommended. The ksharasutra therapy is a specific therapy in the ano rectal diseases like anal fistula and is accepted world wide. The anorectal diseases, the urinary diseases, the cysts, tumors, acute and chronic ulcers are some of the lesions dealt with by this branch. Blood letting therapies, agnikarma, kshaarakarma are the other Para surgical procedures that are performed under this branch.
The shalakya tantra deals with the diseases of eye like refractive errors (myopia etc.)retinal diseases, diminished vision, red eye, pain in eye, etc. There are special therapies like tarpanam,putapaka, aschyotana etc. for the treatment of eye diseases. The surgical procedures of eye such as lekhanam, chhedanam,lingnaashavedhanam are also a part of this branch of Ayurveda. It also deals with diseases of nose ear and throat. Many acute and chronic infections such as adenoids, tonsillitis, sinusitis, and otitis, allergies, polyps are parts of this branch of Ayurveda. Even dental science and diseases of oral cavity are also looked after herein. This branch also deals with extra cranial diseases like trigeminal neuralgia, migraine, and different types of headaches.
The Agadtantra is a study of different poisons of animal as well as plant origin. The clinical features of these poisons, the treatment of these poisons are described here. It also encompasses some of the environment purification procedures.
The baaalatantra or the pediatrics deals with a proper care of growth and development of a child right from its status as a fetus. The ante-natal care, the garbhasanskaaras (the intellectual and psychological development of fetus) for the better progeny, the masanumasika garbhini paricharya ( monthly antenatal care) for the better health of the fetus and mother, the post natal care, the 16 sanskaaras of a child including suvarnapraashana, are the part of baaalatantra along with the diseases of children.
Rasayanatantra or geriatrics also includes rejuvenation therapies. The longevity and better life are always a desire of a mankind. This is dealt in by this branch along with geriatrics. The day to day toxins as deposited in our body make it fragile this therapy is directed towards strengthening the body tissues.
The sex medicine is a separate branch in Ayurveda as it is called as vaajikarana. This also includes fertility and anti sterility treatments along with ejaculative and other sex related disorders of men.
Along with these branches some consider panchakarma as a separate branch. Panchkarmas are intense de-toxification programs and areas essential for human body as is the regular servicing for a vehicle.
Dravyaguna or the study of plants, rasashastra - the study of metals, minerals, the gems and precious stones, mercury, the bhaishajyakalpana - the pharmacological processes, swasthavritta - the preventive and social medicine, are some of the branches which were separated and developed in medieval and later periods.
Ayurveda has a real wide scope. It not only considers body or mind but also believes inexistence of soul and hence a separate branch called as Bhutavidya is developed for the cure of the diseases which are of psychological, Para psychological and diseases beyond that.