Vaidya (वैद्यः)

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Vaidya (वैद्यः) is a Sanskrit term which is used to denote any medical professional in general and an Ayurvedic practitioner (Physician/Surgeon/Doctor) in specific. This term indicates profession (medical practitioner) when used as a noun. It is also used as a title or a prefix to the name of an Ayurvedic practitioner and can be abbreviated as ‘Vd.’ when used as a title before name.

Introduction

Vaidya means the medical practitioner who has completed theoretical as well as practical training in Ayurveda. In today’s time this title can be used by licenced Ayurveda practitioners who have completed 4.5 years course of Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine & Surgery along with 1-year internship from an institute recognised & approved by Central Council of Indian Medicine.

Definition of a ‘Vaidya’

Vaidya means a person of profound knowledge. [1]

Synonyms of Vaidya

Few terms are synonymously used in Ayurveda treatises to denote Vaidya. These are,

  1. Bhishak
  2. Chikitsak

Qualities of a medical professional

Ayurveda places a lot of importance on acquiring good qualities by a medical practitioner. It is mentioned that, a good Vaidya is the one who is proficient in theoretical as well as practical knowledge of Ayurveda, who is experienced in performing various Ayurveda treatments, and possesses dexterity and purity (Of body and mind).[2]

Attitude of a medical professional

मैत्री कारुण्यमार्तेषु शक्ये प्रीतिरुपेक्षणम्| प्रकृतिस्थेषु भूतेषु वैद्यवृत्तिश्चतुर्विधेति|| (Char. Samh. 9.26) [3]

maitrī kāruṇyamārtēṣu śakyē prītirupēkṣaṇam| prakr̥tisthēṣu bhūtēṣu vaidyavr̥ttiścaturvidhēti||

In this verse Acharya Charaka has provided a brief guideline about the attitude of an ideal physician towards any patient. He says that a physician should always have a friendly interaction with a diseased. Physician should always be compassionate towards patients, take utmost care for those who are curable and should not enforce intense treatments in those diseased individuals who have already reached beyond the reach of medicine.

Duty of a Vaidya

Chikitsa is said to be the duty of a Vaidya. By this, it is understood that, the duty of a physician is to perform such treatments that will act to balance the disequilibrium of vital elements of the body. This balance and equilibrium then lead to the state of sustaining health and well-being. [4]

Raja – Vaidya (Royal physician of ancient India)

In ancient Bharatvarsha, there was a tradition of Royal physicians. These physicians were appointed as the chief physicians of the king of the empire. They had specific role and special duties like identifying the attempts of poisoning to the king and many such highly skillful responsibilities as a royal physician. Ayurveda texts also show specific attributes and duties of these royal physicians. These are considered the basic eligibility criteria for a vaidya to become Raja-vaidya.

हेतौ लिङ्गे प्रशमने रोगाणामपुनर्भवे| ज्ञानं चतुर्विधं यस्य स राजार्हो भिषक्तमः|| [5]

Meaning: The physician, who possesses knowledge of causative factors, clinical features, therapeutics and prevention of diseases, is the best among physicians and is fit for becoming a royal physician

Tribute to a Vaidya as a noble professional

धर्मस्यार्थस्य कामस्य नृलोकस्योभयस्य च| दाता सम्पद्यते वैद्यो दानाद्देहसुखायुषाम्|| (Char. Samh. 16. 38)[6]

Meaning: By virtue of his aptitude to bestow physical happiness and longevity the physician is regarded as the donor of virtue, wealth and desires belonging to this mundane world and the world eternal.

References

  1. Saini A. Physicians of ancient India. J Family Med Prim Care. 2016;5(2):254–258. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.192322
  2. Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 9 Sutram 6)
  3. Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 9 Sutram 26)
  4. Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 9 Sutram 34-36)
  5. Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 16 Sutram 19)
  6. Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 16 Sutram 38)