The Bhrigu Samhita is an astrological (Jyotish) classic attributed to Maharishi Bhrigu during the Vedic period, Treta yuga, although the available evidence suggests that it was compiled over a period of time by the various sishyas (students in the lineage) of Maharishi Bhrigu.
Bhrigu-Samhita: An ancient manuscript with medical matters of interest
The debate on the inclusion of astrology, as a science subject, has been quite acrimonious and at times sanctimonious too. This is evident in several issues of Current Science, other technical and lay publications and in the media.
A good spin-off is the distinct polarization in the academia and the vocal expression of the partisan views. Indeed, such a debate should have been first invited by the UGC, before the decision. Controversy and an evidence-based debate amongst the ‘experts’ is the soul of science and technology. And the eventual consensus and the majority decision are then based on information, data and the level of contended knowledge.
Unfortunately, we still continue to be Lord Macaulay’s educational products. We have not yet revolutionized our memory-loaded learning into conceptbased education. Hence, barring a few exceptions, most of us have no roots in the Indian scientific traditions, languages and age-old knowledge base. We have been raised on a myth that science is universal and not culturally conditioned. Some of us who have attempted to study transcultural aspects of science know better.
During my study for Medicine, I wrote a thesis on ‘The medical aspects of Bhrigu-Samhita’ in 1963. It was a comparative study in the history of medicine. I invited the wrath of my examiners and the thesis was rejected because it was on ‘Ayurveda’!
But what interested me more in Bhrigu-Samhita were the remarkable medical descriptions in Sanskrit, on the circulation of blood, cancer, embolism, etc. I have cited some of these excerpts from the manuscript below:
- ‘The windpipe must be healthy for the movement of pure and impure air to and fro from the lungs. The lungs, in turn, supply the heart with the purified blood. Then the heart circulates the blood to the entire body rather rapidly.’ It is quite a statement in an old Sanskrit manuscript (Bhrigu R II/6: 8–9) (circa 3000 B.C. – Bhrigu Rishi).
- ‘If at times, due to whatever reasons, impure blood, a blood clot, or a piece of fat were to move into the heart, during circulation, this can jeopardize the heart.’ (Bhrigu R II/7: 5–6)
- ‘The germ can also move into the bones or the seat of the heart. The disease is called by the name – Kshaya Roga – The germs are so virulent that via breath a rapid spread can occur from one person to another.’ (Bhrigu R III/20: 5–7)
- ‘At times even the heart will be replaced. Such devices exist in India . . . Indian scientists of a high calibre will one day replace even liver or spleen, in future.’ (Bhrigu R II/10: 1–4)
- ‘Occasionally, diabetics would benefit especially from treatment that is carried out after proper urine examination. There can be help in other diseases too by a careful urine examination.’ (Bhrigu R IV/31: 6–8)
There is an urgent need to salvage many of our ancient manuscripts of medicine, astrology, philosophy, etc. We must conduct 14C-dating to determine the period of the palm-leaf and other manuscripts. But the time has come to look seriously at our heritage in sciences and humanities, without any ancestral vain-glory or an outright rejection because, something does not fit into the western reductionist world-view.
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