Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/420

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

passed no prohibition on the matter. I find also that in Bengal the opinion of learned Pundits was given on this point in Lord William Bentinck's time, and the Shastras made to declare that '^ Dissection was permissible to a Brahmin seeking Medical knowledge/' My own opinion had always been that this was the insuperable bar to the study of our Western Science of Medicine by good caste Hindoos, and I had commenced some time ago a paper on this subject for submission to Government, recommending that Brahmins wishing to study Medicine might be excused the study of Practical Anatomy. And yet it would seem that your holy Vedas hold no such prohibition, and that this, like many other superstitions — and I use the word with all respect — has grown up in these later and more degenerate days of your religion. What a strange subject this for reflection that we who pride ourselves in having quite lately overcome this prejudice of humanity — for it is only in the commencement of this present century the study of Anatomy has become legal in Great Britain — should have been anticipated by N^atives of this country some three or four hundred years ago, and that I, a humble representative of the Western Aryan races, should stand here trying to persuade you to go back to your old ways of knowledge ! Verily ! Verily ! ! saith the Prophet, " The thing that hath been, is that which shall be ; and that which is done, that which shall be done ; and there is no new thing under the sun. But we are not obliged to trust merely to the fable legends of Hindoo Mythology for the assertion that medicine in this country is an old and honored science. When the Greeks came to India with Alexander, they found, amongst the traces of civiliza- tion which raised their astonishment and admiration, the practice of medicine far advanced. Thus Arrian informs us, " The Grecian Physicians found no remedy against the bites of snakes ; but the Indians cured those who happened to fall under that misfortune." And again Nearchus informs us, " Alexander, having all the most skilful Indian Physicians about his person, caused proclamation to be made throughout the camp, that whoever might be bitten by one of these snakes should forthwith repair to the Royal Pavilion to be cured." This was 300 years before Christ, and now in 1878, more than 2,000 years after, we have the Government of India and Dr. Shortt vainly offering a reward for the precious but lost knowledge ! These Physicians are also said to have made other cures. *^If any among them feel themselves much indisposed," says Nearchus, '* they apply to their Brahmins, who, by wonderful and even more than human means, cure whatever will admit of it." Not only did the Greeks derive