Buddhism and medicine

31 Aug

Buddhism and medicine

The Pali texts describe the Buddha as the physician (bhishak) and as the surgeon (sallakatta).Ashvagosha the poet (80-150 B.C.E), calls Buddha Maha –Bhishak (the great physician). At a later stage in Buddhism, Buddha is worshiped as Bhaishajya Guru (the Guru of all physicians).

There is a natural association between Buddhism and medicine. Buddhist doctrine recognizes the phenomenon of suffering, unravels its causes, understands the state of elimination of suffering and prescribes the right method for elimination of suffering.

This procedure involving four steps (also found in Samkhya Yoga) is analogous to the four-fold approach of the physicians’ viz. recognition of the ailment, diagnosis, visualization of health and prescription of therapy. In later Buddhist texts like Bhaishajya Vastu, the Buddha uses medical terminology and suggests remedies for physical and mental ailments.

Incidentally, some of the celebrated physicians and surgeons of the ancient  India were Buddhists. Jivaka well known physician was a friend and physician of the Buddha. Akasa-gotra, his cotemporary was also a famous physician. Nagarjuna (c. 120 to 250 A.D.) a scholar, saint and mystic was associated with medicine. Later in 4th century A.D. Vaghbhata, a great name in Indian medicine after Charaka and Shushrutha was a Buddhist. There were of course many well –known physicians among the Tibetan Buddhists.

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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Buddhism



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