Atreya and His Academy of Medicine



The sage Atreya may be regarded as the first great teacher of systematic medicine. The composition of the body was divided into three elements: Vayu, Kapha and Pitta. Vayu regulates all the psychic and nervous activities, both sensory and motor. Pitta is responsible for all digestive and metabolic activities including enzyme activities of the body. Kapha serves as a lubricant to all the organs of the body. Blood (rakta) is considered as a vehicle for the three elements (tridhatu) in the human body to keep the internal balance, what is known as the homeo-static to the modern physician. Each of the three elements is subdivided into five different sub-elements.

In a healthy body these elements remain in a state of equilibrium. With improper food this proportion tends to change, leading to diseases. Such disturbances are also caused by psychic factors and seasonal changes. Therefore the physician has to consider the whole body and not just the affected part or organ. His treatment aims at correcting the origin of the disease and not merely symptomatic relief.

Atreya had also divided substances into sixty-three types of tastes which were further subdivided into after-taste and comparative and superlative degrees of taste. An understanding of these was necessary for the physician.

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