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Can medicine be Western in origin?

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Murali KV
Murali KV
The author, a medic and a graduate of the University of Cambridge, is currently a consultant and has over half-a-dozen peer-reviewed scientific publications, ranging from clinical research to population genetics.

Christianity turns out to be the only great world religion — great in the sense of widespread and influential — that had no teaching or interest in hygiene. In the early years of the church, the holier you were, the less you wanted to be clean. Cleanliness was kind of a luxury, like food, drink and sex, because cleanliness was comfortable and attractive. The holier you were — and this really applied to monks and hermits and saints — the less you would wash. And the more you smelled, the closer to God people thought you were.

“What is causing this hideous plague that is killing one out of every three Europeans, and what can we do to prevent it?” And the doctor said the people who were at risk for getting the plague had opened their pores in warm or hot water, in the baths, and they were much more susceptible. (Mieszkowski 2007)

What are the basic essentials of life?

  1. Breathing (air)
  2. Drinking (water)
  3. Eating (food)
  4. Excreting (waste from the body)

Common sense would dictate that an advanced civilisation should be completely adept and excel in such basic necessities of life. (Dharampal 1971, 1983) Let us see how the Christian West and modernity fair in each of these cases but to end pleasantly and in a good note, let us begin with the most stinking item, and often a matter of urgency, as the first for consideration in this short article.

Queasy stinker! Will you, say after eating on a plate, just wipe it “clean” and then reuse the same plate for eating without at least washing it with water, if not as well with soap? Nobody in the right sense of mind will do it, not just you. Even the lazy-kind amongst us, who ignore to wash their hands before a meal, absolutely would not delight in such an endeavour. Even if such a treatment is imposed on criminals on the death sentence in a jail, it would be considered a human rights violation scam.

Yet, every single time a Westerner or a Westernised “intellectual” (sepoy) goes to the toilet and passes stools, and after that, they just wipe themselves off. That too not with wet wipes. Dry paper. Incidentally, it is masochistic (for those who love a good burning sensation up there) as well. With a modicum of knowledge of our own skin elsewhere, we know it is no smooth affair with the natural grooves (both visible, semi-microscopic and microscopic) on the skin. Down there, it is a perfect recipe for a nauseating disaster. Let alone basic hygiene…

Forget that, most animals only wipe themselves off (let us not mention cleaning by licking here; not everybody will have the tolerance of a medical student!); so it is not after all that bad. Let human social animals be animals will be the defence of the sycophants of the West and our “intellectual” elites. This author would be called a Sanghi for wanting to prevent the heart burns that will arise out of a-hole burns.

Next, what about the anatomically healthy position to pooh-pooh? The Indians squat on an Indian toilet and that my friend is the only healthy way to do it. Nothing else. To sit and pooh, as in a Western commode, is akin to blocking the hole and blowing with the force of the exhaust of a jet engine. In the long run, it leads to all sorts of gut diseases and ill-health (constipation, piles, prolapse… please Google for images and you would not use a Western toilet again). Mate, it ain’t no nose to blow the way you like!

Of course, we all know the well-known criticisms about the toilet seat sat on by many many different people, all their skins touching it lovingly and its dermatological consequences. But who bothers. It is so cool to “ape” the West and let one’s bottom to stink like a country English pub’s toilet or burst like rock n’ roll. In fact, use of the word “aping” is an insult to the apes as it appears animals are not that stupid: they know how to excrete and keep themselves clean.

We cannot handle the stench anymore… so let us move on to a better (topic) area.

What is water? If we, for a moment, remove our sycophancy soaked (not just tinted) Western glasses and probe into the history of our erstwhile colonial masters, we will see that they paid their labour in barrels of beer. One of the reasons was that the water available in England (rest of Europe too was no exception) was unreliable and the risk of diseases such as Cholera was so high that they drank only beer. All the water needs for the body’s metabolism was met from beer and whatever was possibly available from potatoes and steak. Perhaps the beer was so strong that it kept all the noses knocked off that they could not smell the others who would have also not bathed for months, if not years, as water was not available and even if available they were too poor to warm it. In fact, till the smelly Westerners colonised India and destroyed its native sciences and industries (100 years after industrial revolution), they were the beggars of the globe. The entire West constituted less than three per cent of the global GDP, almost as late as the start of the 1800s. (Maddison 2001)

Here is an interesting quote from MEDIEVALISTS.NET: “Medieval writers saw bathing as a serious and careful activity. One medical treatise, the Secreta Secretorum, has an entire section on baths. It notes that the spring and winter are good times for bathing, but it should be avoided as much as possible in the summer. It also warns that excessively long baths lead to fatness and feebleness.” ( 2013)

Next, less said the better. Otherwise, PETA will sue the author for promoting animal cruelty. It is wrong to hold the hump of a “pet” bull and play with it, but it is fine for any number of cows to be slaughtered for one’s own taste buds. It is freedom to eat what one wants, even if that means 100s of families will go without water: each kilogram of beef costs 3500 litres of water and all a person needs according to World Health Organisation (WHO) is 7.5 to 15 litres per day as bare minimum and 20 litres per day as a comfortable minimum. Yes, the “intellectuals” freedom of palate is more precious than life-saving water to the poor.

With almost all chronic diseases, like heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, etc. linked strongly to meat eating, especially to red meats such as beef (Group 2A carcinogen according to WHO), it is still cool to eat “red.” Lest one cannot make holy cow jokes in Club West, can we?

Forgot to breathe, properly. Yes, one has to qualify it with the word “properly,” otherwise “forgot to breathe” might mean dead. But does it matter, actually? Most “intellectual” fans of the West are walking brain dead anyway, aren’t they? It is a matter of fact that many people would have heard in many fancy personality development and other such fashionable workshops, and “sexy” yoga sessions, that we do not breathe properly as we have forgotten the proper technique in the breathtaking “advanced” modern times. Many people even breathe in while their tummies go in. How removed are we from being properly alive, let alone living naturally healthy? So they have to be taught “breathing exercises.” Well, it is the phrase for those that cannot pronounce pranayama. There are too many a-s in the word and it is a party-trick tongue-twister for our champagne drunk “intellectuals.” Moreover, why bother with a lowly word from a Hindu language called Sanskrit, while you can savour Alsatian whites with Scottish oysters at the Alliance Français and eulogise about the Germans’ work on Vedas at the Max Mueller Bhavan.

To summarise, a (non-)civilisation that is so superior and advanced that it has no need to remember how to excrete, drink, eat and breathe and thus is “aptly” considered the mother of medicine. Hail (the) West!

And, the Hindu civilisation is regressive, superstitious and unscientific… above all, intolerant, especially to the “universal” scientific standards of the hygienic West. Ahem.

(Many thanks to Sudarshan T Nadathur for reviewing the draft)

Must read for the conscientious:

Dharampal. 1971. Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century: Some Contemporary European Accounts. Impex India.

The limitations of Aravindan Neelakandan and why he should keep to his expertise

Suggested reading and references:

Dharampal. 1983. The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century. Biblia Impex.

Maddison, Angus. 2001. Development Centre Studies The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective. OECD Pub. 2013. “Did People in the Middle Ages Take Baths? –” April 13.

Mieszkowski, Katharine. 2007. “The Filthy, Stinking Truth.” Salon. November 30.

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Murali KV
Murali KV
The author, a medic and a graduate of the University of Cambridge, is currently a consultant and has over half-a-dozen peer-reviewed scientific publications, ranging from clinical research to population genetics.
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