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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 4, p. 457.

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A BRIEF reference to the ancient Indian systems of medi- Ancient
cine will form an appropriate introduction to the account given Indian
in this chapter of the medical and sanitary administration
of British India. The subject of Hindu medicine is one
of special interest, inasmuch as it had considerable influence
on the development of medicine in Europe. The works of
Charaka and Susruta, the two greatest Sanskrit medical
authorities, were rendered into Arabic at the close of the
eighth century A.D., and are quoted as authorities by the
celebrated Arabic physician Ar-Razi, who died in 932. Arabic
medicine in its turn became, down to the seventeenth century,
the chief authority for European physicians, and Charaka is
frequently mentioned in Latin translations of Arabic writers'.
The national medicine of India derived its first impulse from
the exigencies of the national worship, for anatomical know-
ledge had its origin in the dissection of the victim at the
sacrifice, with a view to dedicating the different parts to the
proper gods. The ancient medical science was ascribed to the
gods and known by the collective title of Ayur Veda. The best
era of Indian medicine was contemporary with the ascendancy
of Buddhism (250 B.C. to 750 A.D.), and the public hospitals
which the Buddhist princes established in every city were the
great schools of Indian medicine. The works of Charaka and
Susruta belong to this period. The Hindu medical system,
though not devoid of errors and absurdities, shows, at its best,
a surprising degree of progress in all branches of the science.
The materia mnedica of the early Hindus embraced a vast
collection of drugs, indicating a great knowledge of herbs and
considerable chemical skill. They were acquainted with, and
understood the preparation of, a wide range of chemical com-
pounds, and were the first to prescribe the internal use of
metallic substances. Their pharmacy contained ingenious
Sanskrit Literature, by A. A. Macdonell (1900', chap. xvi.

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