Historical review of addressing health issues of animals (elephant and cow) with special reference to Ayurveda in Kerala

Ashtavaidyan Narayanan Nambi

Veterinary science has an early mention in some of the most ancient literature of In-dia. Atharvaveda, the pro- genitor of Ayurveda provides significant information about ail-ments of animals and their cure through herbal medicines. Ancient Indian history is full of events and incidences pertaining to the importance of livestock in then society. Many legends and myths of traditional Indian culture have been found associated with plants and animals building and reinforcing the idea of world as a family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) where plants animals and human beings were considered with an equal importance. This would be surprising to many who are not aware of Indian culture that most of the legends in Hindu mythology have been made associated with some plants and or some animal as their repre-sentatives. This was probably to endorse importance to these creatures among the followers of the deity. Earlier India probably has lived a life con- centric with religion at its center and the cow (and other animals) occupying an important place, not only merely on their nutritive lacto grounds, but also for cultural ethos.

Ayurveda has many mentions about the diseases of animals and their cures. In Caraka Samhita with reference to Jwara (pyrexia) this is said that pyrexia affect every living being may it be human or animal or even insects. In earlier periods, when Ayurveda was supposed to be in full-blown practice, there were specific branches of veterinary Ayurveda dealing with different species of animals and their disease. The science was possibly more evolved and specialized as is indicated by various divisions of veterinary Ayurveda. The Gautam Samhita, the Ashva Ayurveda and Hastya Ayurveda are the ancient treatises on animal science availa-ble till now. Palakapya, an ultimate authority on elephant medicine belonged to the Rigvedic period 2000–4000 BC. He wrote Hastya Ayurveda dealing with elephant medicine and dedi-cated this to Lord Ganesha a deity with a human body and elephant head. Elephant medicine and surgery was further divided into four parts by Palakapya, viz, Maha Rogasthana or major diseases, Ksudra Roga Sthana or minor diseases, Shalya Sthana or surgery and Chikitsa Sthana or materia medica diet and Hygiene. He classified various ailments of elephants into: Adhyatmika (physical) and Agantuka (accidental or incidental); causes of ailments were clas-sified as Manasa (caused by mental reasons) and Doshaja caused by disturbance of body Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Hastya Ayurveda also mentions about anatomy of elephant, treatment of different kinds of diseases, training of elephant and also classification of elephants on the basis of a number of physical and trait characteristics. Shalihotra (2350 BC) was probably the first known veterinarian of the world and the father of Indian veterinary sciences.

This presentation will explain in detail about the history of Veterinary care from Ayurveda, various experiences with photos and illustration about the management of animals. It also will give a glimpse of future herbal care for animals and potential space for business in all over the world.

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