Andhra Medicine

The traditional medicine in Andhra Pradesh is known as Ayurveda (the knowledge of life).  Major religions in Andhra Pradesh have claimed the origin of medicine from their Gods.  Vaishnavaites believe that Dhanvantari, the incarnation of Vishnu as the lord of Ayurveda.  Shiava  physicians believe that Shiva is the lord of medicine, Vaidyendra, and believe that all the Rasa Saatra (Chemistry) was revealed by lord Siva or his wife Parvati.  Ravana, famous devotee of lord Siva, learned the science from Parvati and wrote Arkaprakasa.  Jains followed a different school of medicine called Samantabhadra School.  According to Jaina tradition all knowledge was revealed to Jain sages by the ‘the protector,’ and this revealed knowledge was divided into 12 divisions. Medicine is one of these twelve divisions and is known as Praanavaaya.  Another tradition is the Sidha School of Medicine or Agastya Sampradaya, which was founded by sage Agastya in Tamilnadu and spread to Andhra.

Translations of Sanskrit literature into Telugu by Brahmin scholars started in eleventh century A.D.  But, medicinal literature was studied in Sanskrit until thirteenth century. Later commentaries on these Sanskrit texts appeared in Telugu.  Original works in Telugu started only after sixteenth century.  Many original works and translations from Sanskrit appeared in 16th and 17th centuries.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to get information on various scientists from Andhra Pradesh.  The tradition of not giving due credit to the authors and scientists is a real obstacle in the reconstruction of Medical history in Andhra Pradesh.  This may be due to the reluctance of the scientists to give their personal details because of their lack of interest in name and fame.  As a result, the history of medicine and ancient medical research remains in dark like rumor, without any personal details of scientists. To piece together such information and to come to an understanding of what was medicine like in Andhra is a very difficult task. Lack of federal and state support in such endeavors is another stumbling block, which, of course, is an outcome of reduction in the Telugu national pride in an attempt to develop Indian national pride.

Western medicine in Andhra Pradesh started with British influence and has a history of  154 years. Nawab Nasir-Uddaula Bahadur Nizam IV, the then king of Hyderabad state, impressed by Dr. William McAllen, started Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad in 1845.   William McAllen’s lectures were translated into Urdu in the classroom, while he was lecturing.  Today, there are 10 medical schools that teach allopathic medicine in English:

1) Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad;
2) Gandhi Medical College, Hyderabad;
3) Kakatiya Medical College, Warangal;
4) Guntur Medical College, Guntur;
5)Rnagaraya Medical College, Kakinada;
6) Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam;
7) Sri  Venkateswara Medical College,  Tirupati;
8) Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool;
9) Siddhardha Medical College, Vijayavada;
10) Dental College, Hyderabad.

The total number of seats available in all these colleges every year is 1060.  The population of Andhra Pradesh is approximately 71 million.  Obviously, these ten colleges are not enough to serve the needs of Telugus.  Telugu medium medical colleges are even unthinkable at this time-may be, after two or three hundred years from now, and that too if English remains in power!

The state of higher education in Andhra Pradesh:
1) Out of every thousand (1000) persons in Andhra only four (4) (0.4%) obtain higher degrees. At the Indian Union level the number is slightly higher (0.6%). In the US 22.2% have 4 or more years of college education (1994).
2) Out of 1,000,000 only 110 obtain postgraduate degrees. (the Indian Union: 250 PG).
3) Out every 1,000,000, only 13 are involved in research.
4) Reservations based on tribes/castes/religions are a great draw back. (Approximately 70% of seats in higher education are reserved for people of various origins).
5) Politics and corruption in establishing educational institutes, lack of infra structure, lack of standards in education, far less number of institutes and colleges than required etc. are responsible for the situation.
6) There is not enough government funding for higher education.
7) The higher education needs to be liberated and privatized.

1) "History of Ayurveda," Hymavathi Polavarapu
2) Andhra Pradesh Darshini, 1996
3) "Andhra Mahabhagavatamu," Potana Bammera
4) "Haravilasamu," Srinadha
5) The Universal Almanac, 1996
6) Manorama Year Book, 1997

Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 05/30/1999

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