MEDICINE WOMEN & MEDICINE MEN IN PRAKRIT GSS (Post No.11,240)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 11,240

Date uploaded in London – 5 SEPTEMBER 2022         

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

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GATHA SAPTA SATI (GSS) is an anthology of 700 verses in Prakrit language. It means 700 Gathas. Gathas mean verses in a particular style or genre. It is equal to Arya (aaryaa) metre in Sanskrit. In Prakrit they call the book Sattasai (The 700) or Gathakoso (gaathaakosa- A Treasury of Gathas)

The GSS is written in Maharashtri Prakrit language. Hala, a Sathavahana king, compiled 700 important verses during his time. It includes 44 verses composed by him and 260 poets anterior to Hala including seven women poets. It is erotic in nature and reflects the sentiment of Love. We find many Tamil words like Amma, Akka and Attai (Mother, Elder sister and aunty) in the collection. But Tamil Sangam poems rarely talk about immoral women in families. Only courtesans are referred to in Sangam poems. In the GSS we find immoral characters in the families. But GSS verses touch many areas which the Tamil poems don’t deal with.

I have collected some GSS Prakrit verses which show the importance of village medicine men and women.

In the villages lived physicians of both sex -women and men. We hear about a few diseases as well. Friends and relatives enquired about the health of others. Though it is not a book on medicines like that of Charaka or Susruta, we can at least get a glimpse of village life and the health concerns of ordinary people.

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“Whom shall I tell that the ploughman’s son does not know the least that the daughter of the house holder may meet with a calamity in this wretched village where no physician is available?” 6-100

Prakrit verse is given below in Sanskrit :-

Mandam api na jaanaathi halika -nandanah iha his dagdha graame

Grha pati suthaa ipadhyate avaidhyake  kasya saasmah (kathayaamah)

-anonymous

It shows that it is really very hard to live in villages without physicians; there were such villages in some parts.

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Here we see a physician who was the paramour of a housewife

“Under the pretext that the girl had been bitten by a scorpion, she was led in the presence of her husband to the house of her paramour-physician having been held by the hands of her skilful confidantes while she was swinging round the pair of her hands.3-37 (Poet Mallasena)

Prakrit verse is given below in Sanskrit:

Pati puratah eva neeyate vrschika dashtaa iti jaaravaidhya grham

Nipuna sake kara dhruthaa buja yuga laandolinee bhaalaa

3-37 (Poet Mallasena)

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Simile of disease untreated by a physician

“Separation from you is very much unbearable (to me) like a disease untreated by a physician, like one’s residence in the midst of kinsmen without  possession of wealth, and like one observing the opulence of  one’s enemy – 4-63

Prakrit verse is given below in Sanskrit:

Vyaadhihi iva vaidhya-rahitah dhana-rahitah sva jana Madhya vaasah iva

Ripu kruddhi darsanam iva dussahaneeyah tava viyogah

4-63 (Poet Vaamadeva)

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Enquirer of welfare

Sukha prcchaka and sukha prcchikaa show that men and women enquiring about the health of friends and relatives.

Even today when friends and relatives meet one another after a gap in time ask Are all of you well? Is every one in the family hale and healthy?

Here are two verses:

“O fever! Benefactor (as you are), having brought back from a distance (our dear) one, so difficult to meet with, who enquires after our welfare, you will not be held guilty evn if you take away my life”.1-50

Sukha prcchakam janam durlabam api duuraath asmaakam aanayan

Upakaaraka jwarm jeevam api nayan na  krtaaparaadhah asi

1-50 (Poet Swargavarmanah)

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“O you favoured one enquiring about our welfare, fragrant with perfumes! There is no need of anxiety on anybody’s part to know whether my dysenteric fever is high or low. Do not touch one affected by smell (of fever)”

Graama jwarah me mandah athawaa na mandah janasya kaa chintaa

Sukha prcchaka subaga Sugandha- gandha maa gandhiaam sprsa –

1-50 (Poet Kaala)

Only from the above two verses we hear about kind of diseases.

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Use of white bandage on sores or wounds is spoken about in 5-58

We have references to deaf and dumb patients in 7-95 and  7-96

People used bitter medicines (4-17 and life restoring drugs (4-36)

Here are those two verses from fourth century (sataka)

“The ploughman quaffs in such a manner the naturally pungent medicine cooled by the fragrant wind blown from the lotus mouth of the lady who enquired about well being, that remains no residue of it.4-17  (Poet Trilochana)

Sukha prcchikaayaah halikah mukha pankaja surabi pava nirvapitam

Tathaa pibhathi prakrti kadukam api aushadham yathaa na nitishtati

4-17 (Poet Trilochana)

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“The mother in law , having left aside any other work , protects the life of daughter in law, as if she were a life restoring medicine for her son, when she ( the daughter in law) is about to lose her life(literally when her life breath is approaching her throat for departure),  at the sight of new clouds”.4-36 (Poet Vihvala)

Sanjeevanaushadhim iva sutasya rakshati  ananya vyaapaaraa

Svasnuuh navabra darsana kandaagatha jeevitaam snushaam

4-36 (Poet Vihvala)

—subham–

tags- GSS, Gatha Saptasati, Sattasai, Hala, Medicine, men, women

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