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Ophthalmic Surgery a Chapter in the History of Sino-Indian Medical Contacts - Deshpande

Ophthalmic Surgery a Chapter in the History of Sino-Indian Medical Contacts - Deshpande

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Ophthalmic Surgery: A Chapter in the History of Sino-Indian Medical Contacts
Vijaya Deshpande
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
, Vol. 63, No. 3.(2000), pp. 370-388.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
is currently published by School of Oriental andAfrican Studies.Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtainedprior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content inthe JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/journals/soas.html.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academicjournals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers,and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community takeadvantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.http://www.jstor.orgFri Jan 18 06:39:30 2008
Ophthalmic surgery: a chapter in the history of Sino-Indian medical contacts1
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 
Although in Chinese culture surgery has not usually been seen as a major partof medical practice, during the Sui (A.D.581-618) and the Tang dynasties (A.D.618-907) it showed a marked flowering in the field of ~phthalmology.~Thereare indications that it was closely related to Indian medical and surgical ideaswhich were transmitted to China. The evidence is found in historical records,popular literature and also in medical works and compilations. Interestingly,the origins of this transmission are seen in Chinese Buddhist canonical literaturewhich emerged during the introduction of Buddhism into China in the lateHan period (A.D.25-220) and the mutual contacts which followed immediatelythereafter.My previous work on glaucoma examined the nature of Indian influenceson early Chineseophthalm~log~.~The scope of the current article is muchwider, encompassing as it does ophthalmic diseases like pterygium, entropionor trichiasis and cataract. These diseases often call for surgical intervention asa way of giving curative or palliative treatment and the descriptions in thesetexts vividly depict the gradual introduction of various aspects of surgery intoChinese medicine.It appears that the entry of Indian ophthalmology into China encourageda re-thinking of ideas regarding the eye and eye diseases in Chinese medicinewhich, at that time, was in its evolutionary stage. New ideas with respect toetiology, morphology, nosology, pathology and treatment, especially involvingsurgical practice, were introduced. In earlier Chinese medical texts, the classi-fication of diseases was based on symptoms and causes, which were viewed interms of the theory of systematic correspondence. The new etiological ideasintroduced through the
theory of Indian medicine necessitated a restruc-turing of medical texts. As a result, it encouraged a systematic study ofophthalmology and possibly of other branches of Chinese medicine as well.To verify the above hypotheses, this article will investigate the origin, route,and nature of this transmission by comparing the contents of Chinese andIndian ophthalmological works of the time.11.
The rise of ophthalmic surgery in China
The story of the evolution of ophthalmology and ophthalmic surgery in Chinesemedicine begins with oracle bone inscriptions, i.e., the observation of someeye afflictions and a treatment based on demonology. Later, a trend of rational-ization and systematization of medicine in the Warring States period
This work was made possible by a Research Fellowship in the history of medicine from TheWellcome Trust.
express my gratitude to them and also to Dr Christopher Cullen of SOAS andDr Dominik Wujastyk of the Wellcome Institute for their valuable suggestions during the courseof my work.
also thank Professor S.
Ruan, and Dr J.
Duan of the Chemistry Department,Peking University, for their help while reading the text of
Longshu pusa yanlun.
Ophthalmology. By this word I mean a study of eye diseases and their treatment as aseparate field of learning, writing and practice, not necessarily modern in its attitude and content.Vijaya Deshpande,
Indian influences on early Chinese ophthalmology: glaucoma as a casestudy
(June 1999),
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
475-221) gave rise to the theory of systematic correspondence which pro-pounded correspondence of internal organs with the outer parts of the body.More and more diseases were distinguished and their treatment was soughtusing internal medicine. Pharmaceutical prescriptions formed the usual treat-ment for any illness at this time.Confucian doctrine which regarded the human body as a sacred gift fromone's parents, not to be mutilated in any way, came in the way of anydevelopment in the field of anatomical knowledge and surgery. For this reason,very few ancient Chinese medical texts deal with s~rgery.~Still, there came ashort phase in Chinese medical history when legends related to surgery flour-ished. They were associated with one Hua Tuo
203) who was thefirst Chinese doctor to use anaesthesia. He is also said to have performedvarious surgical operations on patients. Their descriptions remind one ofsurgical operations performed by ~baka,the legendary figure of Indian medi-cine who is frequently mentioned in Buddhist literature. The death of HuaTuo seemingly marked the end of the earlier phase of Chinese surgery.5After this time, from ZBYHL6 to QJYF and onwards, ideas regarding thepossibility of a surgical treatment are manifest. We shall see in the followingsection that they are, more likely than not, reflections of the passing referencesto eye diseases and their treatments in Buddhist canonical literature as well asperhaps brief encounters with Indian medical men.Chinese historical records of the seventh century
suddenly revealnarratives of several episodes of cataract surgery using a golden needle, invari-ably carried out by Indian medical men. Additionally, Chinese medical textswhich appeared soon after refer to
Longshu pusa yanlun
Bodhisattva N?ig?irjuna's7 work on ophthalmology
and so did popular literat-
Stephan Palos, The Chinese art of healing (New York: Bantam Books, 1972), 12.B.J. Andrews, 'The making of modern Chinese medicine', (Ph.D. thesis, University ofCambridge, 1996).Titles of Chinese and Indian medical texts are abbreviated as follows: QJYF-Beiji qianjinyaofang
%-Important prescriptions (worth) a thousand (pieces of) gold, writtenby Sun Simiao, the famous medical writer of Tang times (A.D.581--682), first published in A.D.652. (Beijing: People's Hygiene Publications-
1987).ZBYHL--Zhu bing yuan hou
(A.D.610)-'A complete discussion of the originand symptoms of all diseases
written by Chao Yuanfang of the Sui dynasty. (Guoli Zhongguoyiyao yanjiusuo
Taipei, 1964).TZJLY-Tianzhu jing lun yan
RE-An Indian Classic of Ophthalmology in WTMY-Waitaimiyao --Medical secrets of an official,
compiled in A.D.752 by Wang Tao,
(Beijing: People's Hygiene Publications, 1996).LSPSYL-Longshu pusa yanlun or Bodhisattva Nagirjuna's Treatise on Ophthalmology, inYFLJ-Yi fang lei ju, compiled in the fourteenth century A.D.,first published in Korea in 1445A.D.,reprint by Dong Yang Medical College, Seoul, Korea, 1965.LMZL-Longmu zong lun
Nagarjuna's complete treatise' of the twelfth century A.D.in Baoguangdaoren michuan yanke longmu zonglun
&-(Beijing: People'sHygiene Publications, 1964).YHJW-Yinhai jingwei
exhaustive and comprehensive survey of the silver
*@-'Thesea'. It is falsely attributed to Sun Simiao, and is now recognized as a text compiled sometimebetween A.D. 1343 and A.D. 1373. (Beijing: People's Hygiene Publications, 1956); also JurgenKovacs and Paul
Unschuld (tr. and annotatedtEssentia1 subtleties on the silver sea; the Yin-hai jing-wei: a Chinese classic on ophthalmology (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: Universityof California Press, 1998).SS-Suirutasamhita--a famous traditional Sanskrit work (early first millennium
of whichthe final redaction is of the first and second centuries A.D.It deals extensively with ophthalmologyin its last chapterviz. Uttaratantra (UT).
Singhal and
Sharma, Ophthalmic and Otorhinolaryngological considerations in ancient Indian surgery (Allahabad, India: Singhal Publications, 1976). AH-Agariga Hrdayam-with Vidyotinibhasa,tika (Chaukhambha Sanskrit series, Banares, 1950). The last chapter which includes diseases of the eye is Uttarasthana (US). 
Nagarjuna was a famous Buddhist philosopher from South India of the second century A.D.He was the founder of the Madhyamika philosophy of the Mahayana school. His works havealso been translated into Chinese and form a part of the Chinese Tripifaka. The same nameNagarjuna is also associated with the expert who revised SuSrutasamhita and added the Uttaratantra

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