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Medicine in India

Systematic Medicine, Medical Concepts And Therapies, Surgery, Modernization And Globalization, Bibliography

The historical record for Indian civilization begins in the third millennium B.C.E., with the Indus Valley culture, but beyond evidence of a good knowledge of the plant and animal environment, little information can be recovered concerning the healing traditions of this time. Simple ideas related to disease and healing can be found in greater abundance in the corpus of religious hymns called the Vedas, composed originally in an old form of Sanskrit during the early to mid-second millennium B.C.E. These ideas have much in common with religious materials worldwide: a concern with hostile demons, curses, and poisoning, and a detailed awareness of the plant world as a source of healing herbs. Outside the metropolis in India today, such ideas continue to form a prominent part of health-related beliefs and activities. Considering health as, in Georges Canguilhem's words, "a margin of tolerance for the inconsistencies of the environment," such practices and ideas can be seen as a perfectly reasonable and indeed rational extension of the use of a continuum of efforts—from prayer to warfare—as means for creating an acceptable environment in which to live.

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