The Purpose Of The Study Of Medicine
Outlining the objectives or purposes which medical education provides, Caraka says:
This science should be studied by the Brāhmaṇas, the Kśatriyas and the Vaiśyas. By the Brāhmaṇas with a view to benefiting all the creatures, by the Kśatriyas as delivering their role of projectors and by the Vaiśyas as a means of livelihood; and in general, by all with the object of attaining virtue, wealth and pleasure.
Whatever endeavor a practitioner of medical science makes towards the relief of the ailments of the patients, immaterial to whoever is the patient, he should be virtuous. Whatever wealth or patronage he is able to secure from his association with kings and merchant-princes for ensuring his and his family's life is all that constitutes the wealth of his life. He is satisfied with whatever honors and services he commands through the health services he confers.
Study of Medicine
As per Kaśyapa
Dealing with this question as to why medicine should be studied, Kaśyapa, declares:
Medicine should be studied by the Brāhmaṇa for the sake of the knowledge of truth, for acquiring spiritual merit for himself and for extending help to humanity; by the Kśatriya for the sake of safe guarding the health of the people; by the Vaiśya for the sake of a livelihood; and by the rest for the sake of service. All may study it for the sake of living the good life.
As per Śuśruta Samhitā
In another ancient classic, the Śuśruta Samhitā, we find Śuśruta approaching the great Dhanvantari with the request for granting relief from sufferings to humanity in its pursuit of happiness, for the sake of prolonging lives and for the sake of general good of the people. He further declares in the same book saying,
The purpose of the medical science is release from suffering to those who are diseased and for the maintenance of well-being of the healthy.
He further defines Ayurveda thus:
Medical science is eternal, sacred and bestower of heaven, fame, longevity and subsistence.
From these references it can be seen that there were three main objectives which induced people to take up the study of medicine.
- The first objective, which is the one that is generally the sole objective in this commercial age, is the earning of a livelihood and the people that took up medical due to hefty incentives when recruited by the Vaiśya or the merchant class.
- The second objective was the acquisition of fame and prestige and the people to whom this objective had the strongest appeal were chiefly from the Kśatriya or Rajanya class, characterized by bold, authoritative and adventurous spirit. Some of these were reigning princes and were able to spread their medical knowledge to whole populations and their bold, heroic and enterprising spirit may have initiated many bold experiments, especially in surgery. These types of medical students were the consultant and specialists.
- The third and the most important class of people was that which took up the study of medicine with the objective of the pursuit of knowledge for their own sake or for serving humanity from motives of mercy and philanthropy. This class came mainly from the Brāhmaṇas and it is mainly from this class that the teachers, research scholars and missionary doctors were recruited.
Role of Buddha Sādhus
Later on the spirit of service and philanthropic zeal received further impetus from the ethical teachings of the Buddha and a large band of Buddha Sādhus. These sages dedicated their lives to charitable works and the spread of medical knowledge of India not only to greater India but to the far corners of the then-known world.
The remarkable progress of medicine during the golden age of Ayurveda was due to selfless and pioneering spirit evinced by Brāhmaṇa teachers and the Buddhist Sādhus. This spirit was emerging in other parts of the world and gained supremacy in knowledge and science.
All these three classes of medical practitioners, though motivated by different impulses, shared in common the three-fold ideal of human life, namely Dharma, Artha and Kāma and though each worked in its own particular way, they all served the country and in greater or lesser measure enhanced its well-being and glory.
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India