MESOPOTAMIAN AND VEDIC MEDICINES! (Post No.7165)

Goddess Gula with her Dog
Gula

WRITTEN  by LONDON SWAMINATHAN

swami_48@yahoo.com

Date: 1 NOVEMBER 2019

Time  in London – 17-49

Post No. 7165

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from Babylon in Berlin Museum

There are lot of similarities between the Mesopotamian and Vedic beliefs regarding diseases and medicines. Atharva Veda has more similarities than other Vedas with the Mesopotamian Cuneiform tablets. Only in Hindu religion God is called Doctor and Medicine (Bishak and Beshajam). After the Vedic period Hindus advanced with great speed. But Sumerian, Babylonian and Akkadian stopped growing. We see the same old belief prevailing in 6th and seventh century BCE in Babylonia. That was the time of Buddha, Mahavira, great physicians Susrutha and Charaka in India.

Following are notable similarities between the Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Vedic India:–

1.They believed that diseases are caused by Gods and Evil spirits

2.They used magical spells to drive away the disease causing demons.

3.They wore talismans made up of animal, plant and inanimate objects to protect them from the demons or evil spirits

4.They worshiped Gods or Goddesses in charge of medicines.

5.They thought Gods who become angry send the diseases to earth to punish people.

6.Both the cultures did surgeries and had surgical instruments.

7.To some extent they used herbal medicines.

8.They had trained medicine men, magicians to cure diseases.

There are dissimilarities as well.

First let us look at the Vedic literature.

Atharva Veda is dated around 1000 BCE or earlier. This Veda consists mostly of charms, spells, incantations, magic, sorcery, demonology and witchcraft. It deals also with plants and vegetable products as helpful agents in the treatment of diseases and for the prolongation of life.

In Atharva Veda we have even remedy for promoting the growth of hair (AV 6-163-1/2)

In the Atharva Veda the hymns for the cure of diseases and of possessions of demons are known as BHAISAJYANI, while those for prolongation of life and preservation of youth and health are known as AYUSHYANI.

It can be compared with the tasks of two types of medicine men ASU and AASIPUS in Mesopotamia.

Ritual healers or exorcists were called Aasipus and other healers were called Asus. They were highly respected during Neo Assyrian period (About 900- 612 BCE) . They were employed by kings along with astrologers, diviners and scholarly professionals.

Mesopotamian gods were short tempered and they signalled their displeasure by sending diseases. The Asipus were experts in reading them and they mediated between the victims and gods. The gods had the power to provide well being and plenty and bring about disaster if they so wished.

A catalogue from the first millennium BCE lists the texts expected to be mastered by a ritual healer. It features several series of incantations and rituals for healing and protection from various evils, handbooks on diagnostics and physiognomy, and medical remedies as well as descriptions of plants and stones used as therapeutic substances.

But the ‘Exorcist’s Manual’ as the catalogue is now called now, also registers various types of omens dealing with signs in heaven and on earth. The physicians performed basic surgeries

Hammurabi’s Law

According to Laws of Hammurabi (1800 BCE), the physicians also healed broken bones and performed eye surgery as well as veterinary care, for which he could charge a fee of ten shekels of silver, depending on the social status of the client.

The laws also specify the punishments (either financial or physical) that a physician could face if his interventions appeared to  injure or kill a patient.

India had great eye surgeons like Jeevaka during the time of Buddha. He charged a very high fee for surgeries Susruta is the first one to talk about artificial plastic nose. He lists lot of surgical instruments. Asvins of Vedic literature were experts in treating patients and providing them artificial limbs. Dhanvatri is the God of  Medicine in Hindu scriptures. A Tamil Pandya king was given an artificial hand and he was called ‘Pandya with a Golden hand’ 2000 years ago. These are just a few examples.

Charaka and Susruta, two great physicians, list the qualifications of physicians.

Mesopotamian Gods and Demons

While the ritual healers regarded the gods of wisdom and magic, Ea (Enki) and Marduk (Asalluhi) as their guardians, physicians especially  venerated the heling goddess Gula and her consort Damu.

Goddess Gula was known as ‘Great Physician of the Land’ and was portrayed as applying bandages to treat skin sores, operating with surgical instruments ,reciting incantations, and performing midwifery. She was often shown with a dog. Like Hindu Yama and Bhairava she was accompanied by a dog.

The cures for snake bites are similar to cures in the Atharva Veda. Mesopotamians feared Lamashtu, the baby snatching demoness. This type of belief is in India as well. Tamil Skanda Sashti Kavasam hymn mentioned the child devouring  demon. Tamils used white mustard seeds to drive away the demons from pregnant women and new born babies. Manasa Devi is worshipped in Bengal to get protection from snake bites.

Source Books:

Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks Yale University, 2019

History of Chemistry in Ancient and Medieval India, P Ray, 1956

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3 Feb 2018 – Sushruta was the Father of Surgery. He describes a lot of surgical instruments. On the basis of his description, model instruments were created.

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In two of the couplets he agrees with Charaka and Susruta, the great authors of …. A lot of surgical instruments, surgeries like rhinoplasty (plastic surgery for …

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—subham–

Picture of Theseus killing Minotaur

Written by London swaminathan

 

Date: 13 FEBRUARY 2017

 

Time uploaded in London:- 9-44 am

 

Post No. 3633

 

 

Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.

 

 

contact; swami_48@yahoo.com

 

 

Vedic Hindus’ great discoveries include the decimal system, domestication of cow, bull, horse, the use of wheel, the concept of time, marine trade, divinity of man and arts. The proof lies in the 10,000 hymns of the Four Vedas. They are considered the oldest records of religious experience of human beings. Jacobi and BG Tilak dated them 6000 BCE. Others dated them 2000-1500 BCE.

 

Cows and bulls have more references in the Vedas than any other religious literature in the world. They gave them a holy status. They used them as similes for the affection and heroism. Indra is praised as bull among the humans in the Vedas. Later bull was made the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Every temple of Shiva has a big bull statue (Nandhi) in front of him. Though we have references to the bull in other civilizations, if we accept the date of the Vedas as 6000 BCE, then that is the oldest literary record.

 

“There were bulls which had massive strength, youthful and intoxicated bull, a bull with a steady gait, a vagabond and a forest bull, a fleeting bull, billowing bull in search of a mate. Indra is compared to a massive bull.” (Animals in Sanskrit Literature by Dr M K Sridhar)

Vrsabha (Bull) is referred to in the Rig Veda 1-116-12; 2-5-6;1-94-10; 1-160-3; 6-46-4;7-101-1;2-16-5;

 

Valmiki in his Ramayana aslo called Rama, a bull among men.

In Sangam Tamil literature which is 2000 year old, we see at least 70 references. Kings and heroes were addressed as Bulls.

In Kalidasa

Kalidasa used bull as a simile to the heroism or force of a leader in Raghuvamsam.

 

“He who has a befitting physique for his heroic deeds in kingship, with a sizable chest, bullish shoulders, tallish stature like a sala tree, and with dextrous arms, abided as a personification of the devoir and valour of kshatriya-s. [1-13]

 

As a calf attains the build of an impetuous bull, or a calf of elephant donning the build of an impulsive young elephant, raghu steadily attained a majestic and pleasing build when his adolescence is bested by his youthfulness. [3-32]

Oh, curvaceous lady, this chitrakUTa mountain with its mouth of a valley sending forth gurgling sounds of rapids, mud-like rainclouds attached to its horn-like apices, thus resembling a proudish bull whose cavern mouth sends forth a continuous bellowing and the tips of whose horns are smeared with mud dug up while indulging in butting against the side of a mountain, rivets my sight. [13-47]

 

“I have a wife, young girl; you may therefore resort to my younger brother…” Thus bull-shouldered Rama directed that lustful sUrpaNakha.(12-34)”

6b63d-bull-seal_0

Bull in Indus Valley

We have excavated more seals with bull figure in Indus valley than other animals. Surprisingly no seal with cow or no figure of cow is discovered in the valley. This shows the reverence they gave to the cow.

Sumerian Bull

Cattle evolved from the now extinct aurochs; water buffaloes are common in the seals of third millennium BCE Mesopotamia and it has been argued that they were imports from India.

 

0c090-ibni-sharrum-seal

Egyptian Bull

In Egypt, the king was hailed a s a Mighty Bull and his people were The Cattle of God.

Apis was the bull god worshiped as symbol of natural forces.

 

One of the most ancient of all the evidences of funerary cults comes from the very distant past in the extreme south, from Tushka in Lower Nubia, where burials have been excavated from the twelfth millennium BCE which were surmounted by the skulls of the wild bull, the aurochs, Bos primigenius, which roamed the valley until it was exterminated by the kings of the New Kingdom, ten thousand years later.

In Mithraic religion in Rome, a bull was killed.

 

Cretan ritual had the artistic leaping dances in which the humans imitated the bulls. The bull faced demon Minotaur of ancient Crete was killed by the hero Theseus.

 

In astrology, the bull is represented in the zodiacal sign of Taurus.

 

Bull in Tamil Literature

The primeval bull must have been a powerfully impressive symbol of vitality and masculine strength. The bull is of particular importance in the history of religion; bulls were worshiped in various cultures. There were symbolic rites in which a bull is defeated or sacrificed. Lord Krishna defeated seven bulls according to Hindu mythology. Tamils have the heroic game of Bull Fighting known as Jallikkattau or Manju Virattu. Unlike the Spanish bull fighting, here the bull is not killed but only tamed.

a09b5-bull2bsand

Tamil poets describe the bulls goring the wet ant hills with their horns and with mud on the horns accompanying the cows (Akananuru 64)

 

A fish caught in the fishing rod fights like a bull tied to ropes (Akam.36)

 

The tall black bull with white legs looked like a mountain with waterfalls.

The white bull with dots over its body resembles the twilight sky with shining stars.

The red with its curved horns appears like the God Siva wearing the crescent moon on his head. (Kali 103)

 

The bells on the horns of the reddish black bull are like the bees humming over the Naravu flower buds. (Kali 105)

 

Sources:

The Treatment of Nature in Sangam Literature, M.Varadarajan, 1969

Dictionary of Symbolism, Hans Biedermann, 1992

Who is Who in Ancient Egypt, Michael Rice, 1999

The Imagery of Kalidasa, Dr(Mrs) Vinod Aggarwal, 1985

Dictionary of the Ancient Near Eas, British Museum, 2000

sanscritdocuments.org

4e4b2-apis

Picture of Apis of Egypt

–Subham–