Classical Ayurveda textbook: How to conceive a boy
by Alka Dhupkar
May 8, 2017
[Ed: It is not an understatement to say that even in India, the land of its birth, a massive amount of misinformation, misunderstanding and plain ignorance about Ayurveda prevail, to some extent egged on by the partisans of conventional allopathy. The hue and cry raised in this instance is over the content of a text over two thousand years in age, which BAMS students study as one of the classics of Ayurveda. That such foolishness should draw so much public attention is little less than embarrassing.]
In the state-owned Maharashtra University of Health Science, the third year students of Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine, and Surgery have to learn, among other things, how to "conceive a male child". The process of creating a male foetus is called `pusanvan'. According to the text, any woman who desires a boy should be "blessed with the pusanvan ritual" as soon as she gets pregnant, reports The Times of India and Mumbai MIrror. The text has been taken from Charaka Samhita, the pre-2nd Century CE compilation on Ayurveda, which is a part of the current BAMS syllabus.
Want a baby boy? Collect two north facing branches of a Banyan tree (east facing will also suffice) that has grown in a stable, take precisely two grains of urad dal mustard seeds, grind all the ingredients with curd, and consume the mixture.This recipe is not some self-styled godman's prescription to fool gullible couples. It's part of the third-year Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine, and Surgery (BAMS) textbook that informs students on techniques to conceive a boy.
The text has been copied from Charaka Samhita, the pre-2nd Century CE compilation on Ayurveda, which is included in the current BAMS syllabus. According to the textbook, the process of creating a male foetus is called `pusanvan', and any woman who desires a boy should be "blessed with the pusanvan ritual" as soon as she gets pregnant.
The textbook lists various techniques to ensure the birth of a boy. One such technique is rather expensive. It says: "Create two miniature statues of a man out of gold, silver, or iron after throwing the statues in a furnace. Pour that molten element in milk, curd or water, and on an auspicious hour of Pushp Nakshatra, consume it."
The BAMS syllabus in the state is supervised by the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) in Nashik, and Dr Dilip Mhaisekar, former dean of the Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College in Nanded, is the vice-chancellor.
Objection to the textbook's contents were recently raised by Ganesh Borhade, a member of the district supervisory board of the PreConception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, who is also associated with the Lek Ladki Abhiyan supervised by advocate Varsha Deshpande.
"Doctors with BAMS degrees have a thriving practice not just in rural areas, but also in cities such as Mumbai, Pune, and Nashik. Many people shun allopathy in favour of Ayurveda, and if this is what medical students are being taught, God help this society," Borhade said. He brought the textbook content to the notice of the PCPNDT Act authorities in the state, but it is unlikely that such content will be removed from the textbooks in the coming academic year.
Dr Asaram Khade, the Maharashtra PCPNDT Act consultant, told Mumbai Mirror that a letter has already been issued to the joint secretary, public health, Government of India regarding the syllabus in violation of the PCPNDT Act, even as Borhade warned that the Centre had less than a month to act. "The academic year starts in July, and such content supports female foeticide" he said. Borhade pointed out a part of the content in the textbook, which he said had no scientific backing whatsoever. The portion of the content said, "Cook rice flour with water, and while cooking, the woman should inhale the steam. Then add water to the cooked flour, and soak a ball of cotton in it. The woman should lie on the threshold so that her head touches the ground. Then, with that cotton ball, the liquid should be poured in her nostrils. It should not be spit out, instead it should be swallowed."
MUHS Vice-Chancellor Dr Mhaisekar said the BAMS curriculum was decided by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), and that he had written to the ministry regarding the objectionable content. "We are awaiting a reply from the ministry," Mhaisekar told Mumbai Mirror yesterday. "The MUHS doesn't have the right to add or delete from the syllabus. There are seven members from Maharashtra in the Central Council of Ayurveda and all of them are aware of this content," he said.