Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/69

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


BRAHMAN SCIENCE. 6$ In medicine the Brahmans learned nothing from the Greeks, but taught them much. Arab medicine was founded on trans- lations from Sanskrit works about 800 a.d. Mediaeval Euro- pean medicine, in its turn, down to the seventeenth century, was, in many important respects, based upon the Arabic. The Indian physician Charaka was quoted in European books of medicine written in the middle ages. Decline of Hindu Medicine. — As Buddhism passed into modern Hinduism (600-1000 a.d.), and the shackles of caste were imposed with an iron rigour, the Brahmans more scrupulously avoided contact with blood or diseased matter. They left the medical profession /to the Vaidyas, a lower caste, sprung from a Brahman father and a mother of the Vaisya or cultivating class. These in their turn shrank more and more from touching dead bodies, and from those ancient operations on ' the carcase of a bullock,' &c, by which alone surgical skill could be acquired. The abolition of the public hospitals, on the downfall of Buddhism, must also have proved a great loss to Indian medicine. The Muhammadan conquests, com- mencing in 1000 a. d., brought in a new school of foreign physicians, who derived their knowledge from the Arabic translations of the Sanskrit medical works of the best period. These Musalm&n doctors or hakims monopolized the patronage of the Muhammadan princes and nobles of India. The decline of Hindu medicine continued until it sank into the hands of the village kabiraj, whose knowledge consists of a jumble of Sanskrit texts, useful lists of drugs, aided by spells, fasts, and quackery. But Hindu students now flock to the medical colleges established by the British Government, and in this way the science is again reviving in India. Indian Music. — The Brahmans had also an art of music of their own. The seven notes which they invented, at least four centuries before Christ, passed through the Persians to Arabia, and were thence introduced into European music in the eleventh century a. d. Hindu music declined under the Muhammadan rule. Its complex divisions or modes and numerous sub-tones prevent it from pleasing the modern European ear, which has been trained on a different system ; but it is highly original and E