ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on October 21, 2012


Medical care in India has a very long history. Some of the earliest evidences of medical practice are found in the ATHARVA VEDA and a later work ATREYA SAMHITA which was written by the sage named ATREYA. He compiled the scattered medical details into a comprehensive compendium. Another tract called AGNIVESHA SAMHITA documents the Art of healing in a textbook comprising of nearly 12000 verses. Later works like CHARAKA SAMHITA and SUSRUTA SAMHITA contained material relating to surgery. The SUSRUTA SAMHITA particularly describes nearly hundreds of surgical instruments needed for medical care. These works contained copious materials on epidemics and surgical procedures. However it was King Asoka who established many hospitals and academies for teaching medicine. The icons, friezes and frescoes found in the cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora bear testimony to this. Similar evidences are also found in Buddhist stupas in Amaravathi and Nagarjunakonda. Though ayurveda had developed extensively in India and had a symbiotic relationship with Arabic medicine, it gradually gave way to other systems of medicine. This was on account of successive invasions of the Indian subcontinent which resulted in the decline of indigenous medicine.


One system of indigenous medicine which co-exists with Ayurveda is SIDDHA. This was a system which originated in ancient Tamil nadu in south India. Its originator was the well known sage SIDDHANAR who had compiled a treatise consisting of nearly 70000 verses. In subsequent years, many others too like TIRUMOOLAR, KARAVURAL, and BHOGAR contributed to this system of medicine. The manuscripts which are all in Tamil contained details about 25 types of salts, 64 rare stones, 9 metals, 120 metallic salts and nearly 1008 varieties of herbs. Some of the later works by sages like AGASTYAR, PULASTYAR and NANDESHWARA were in Sanskrit.


The first major competition to Ayurveda was the introduction of unani system of medicine by Muslim rulers during the 13th century. Places like Delhi, Aligarh, Lucknow and Hyderabad which were centers of Islamic culture, became nodal points of UNANI system of medicine. The Hakims who practiced this were however willing to utilize some of the effective drugs in the ayurveda system.


This however changed with the coming of Europeans in the 16th century. It was the Portuguese Albuquerque in 1510 who introduced Allopathic medicine in India by establishing the Royal hospital in Goa. This later became a Jesuit institution in 1591. With the emergence of East India Company as a political power in India they setup in 1740, a medical department. This comprised entirely of British military surgeons who were assisted by the local people. In 1833, a committee setup by Lord William Bentinck drafted a medical curriculum. This led to the establishment of Madras Military Medical School in 1835 followed by another one in Calcutta. By 1845, another college was setup by Sir Robert Grant in Bombay. A similar attempt in introducing allopathic medicine was done by the French in 1823. They called the institution Ecole de Pondicherry.


Another system of medicine which found a foothold in India was homeopathy. Homeopathy which was propounded by Samuel Hahnemann was based on natural laws of cure. It was quite unlike allopathy and gained a lot of followers and critics.

During the entire British period, the indigenous system of medicine which comprised of Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani languished. It was only after independence, indigenous system of medicine got its due recognition.


Submit a Comment

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR


    3 years ago from India

    Thank you Larry Rankin for your nice comments

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR


    3 years ago from India

    Thank you Cyber Shelley

  • Larry Rankin profile image

    Larry Rankin 

    3 years ago from Oklahoma

    Very enlightening overview.

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from India

    Thank you CyberShelly, I'm glad you liked it

  • CyberShelley profile image

    Shelley Watson 

    5 years ago

    What a very interesting, well researched hub. Thank you for taking the time to share with us. Up, interesting and useful.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)