The Medical Profession in Ancient India: Its Social, Religious, and Legal Status
AbstractAncient Indian literature refers to medical professionals by a variety of terms, including bhiṣaj, cikitsaka, and vaidya. Further, even though ancient India produced detailed and comprehensive medical treatises written in Sanskrit, texts dealing with religious law and ritual consider medical professionals as impure and unworthy of participating in rituals. Through the close reading of texts and philological analyses, this paper seeks to uncover the various meanings of the Sanskrit terms and to see how medical professionals attempted to redefine their profession through a variety of strategies, including the adoption of new nomenclature
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