Well-Mannered Medicine: Medical Ethics and Etiquette in Classical Ayurveda

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9780199859962: Well-Mannered Medicine: Medical Ethics and Etiquette in Classical Ayurveda

Well-Mannered Medicine explores the moral discourses on the practice of medicine in the foundational texts of Ayurveda. The classical ayurvedic treatises were composed in Sanskrit between the first and the seventh centuries CE, and later works, dating into the sixteenth century CE, are still considered strongly authoritative. As Wujastyk shows, these works testify to an elaborate system of medical ethics and etiquette. Physicians looked to the ayurvedic treatises for a guide to professional conduct. Ayurvedic discourses on good medical practice depict the physician as highly-educated, skilled, moral, and well-mannered. The rules of conduct positioned physicians within mainstream society and characterized medical practice as a trustworthy and socially acceptable profession. At the same time, professional success was largely based on a particular physician's ability to cure his patients. This resulted in tension, as some treatments and medications were considered socially or religiously unacceptable. Doctors needed to treat their patients successfully while ostensibly following the rules of acceptable behavior.

Wujastyk offers insight into the many unorthodox methods of avoiding conflict while ensuring patient compliance shown in the ayurvedic treatises, giving a disarmingly candid perspective on the realities of medical practice and its crucial role in a profoundly well-mannered society.

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About the Author:


Dagmar Wujastyk is a postdoctoral research fellow at Zurich University in Switzerland and co-editor of Modern and Global Ayurveda - Pluralism and Paradigms. She has taught Sanskrit at the University of Bonn and Cambridge University.

Review:


"Wujastyk admirably places Ayurveda precisely where it needs to be: out of the hands of nationalist-extremists and into the disciplinary realms of the histories of medicine and science. Much of this material is about professionalization and the history of the medical discipline as it existed in the early centuries of the first millennium. We need more books on Ayurveda like this one, and I would like to note here that this book has won a permanent place on my graduate syllabus it is a wonderful book from which to teach, and Well-Mannered Medicine would be an excellent addition to courses on South Asian culture,
ethics, and the history of education."--Journal of the American Oriental Society


"Dagmar Wujastyk's thorough study of medical ethics in classical Ayurvedic texts adds substantially to our knowledge of Ayurveda as a medical system. Ethics here includes the moral attributes required of a physician, personal presentation, medical education, the doctor-patient relationship, medical deception, and much more. In this first rate study, Wujastyk avoids the danger of evaluating Ayurveda from the standpoint of Western medicine. This is required reading for everyone with an interest in Indian medicine or cross-cultural medical history."--Frederick M. Smith, Professor of Sanskrit and Classical Indian Religions, University of Iowa


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