Although Aswini Kumar(s), who are the twin sons of Sun god and Dhanvantari, who emerged from churning of milk ocean (milky way) are initial vedic doctors, Jeevak Kaumarbhritya (around 18th century BCE), contemporary of Gautama Buddha, can be considered as historical ‘Father of Medicine’.
He was famous during his period and treated many monks and kings like Buddha, King Bimbisara, King Chand Pradyot.
Entire Tripitak literature in Pali language describes about ‘medical miracles‘ of Jeevak.
Early Life of Jeevak Kaumarbhritya
He was found as an adbandoned orphan at a roadside in Rajgrih(Rajgir) to prince of Magadh.
The prince(Kaumar/Kumar) found him Jeevit (alive) even after being abandoned and has served(Bhritya) him.
Thus, his name became Jeevak Kaumarbhritya.
He went to Takshila (which is now in Pakistan) for his higher studies a place which could be called as the “first university of the world” and was famous for its specialized study.
He studied the whole 8-limbed Ayurveda (Medical science of 8 subjects) there for many years.
Ultimately he became a great maser and research scholar of this subject. His intelligence and skill are known through different case studies in his life.
Case 1 – “Every plant is a medicine” :- When his studies were done, the mentor of Jeevak examined him by giving a project. The task was to find a useless plant in the 5 miles circumference of Takshila. Jeevak wandered everywhere and reported in conclusion that “Every plant has medicinal and other uses, no plant is useless.” The teacher was extremely delighted to listen his answer.
Case 2 – “Treating a chronic headache through medicinal ghee” :- When Jeevak was returning to Magadh from Takshila, on the way he stayed at Saket(Ayodhya). The wife of a famous businessman (Shresthi) was suffering from chronic headache which was not cured by other doctors (Vaidyas). When he inserted medical ghee through her nose. She got relief within 3 days. The shresthi awarded him with 26,000 coins, chariots and servants. This was the first treatment in Jeevak’s career.
Case 3 – “Treating fistula of Magadh emperor Bimbasar” :- Bimbasar was suffering from fistula. Due to disease, his clothes get stained with blood. Which was witted by his queen. He became extremely sorrowful due to the pain of disease and the other reason was the humour of the queens. This mentally and physically sick king was treated by only one paste of Jeevak. The happy king awarded him with enormous property and appointed him on the post of Royal Doctor (Raj vaidya)
Case 4 – “ Head Surgery of a Shresthi” :- A shresthi of Rajgrih has a chronic disease uncured by the Vaidyas. They speculated that shresthi would live five to seven days. Bimbasar appointed Jeevak on this case. Jeevak tied the patient to the left side for 7 days, on right side for 7 days and central mode for 7 days, then he pierced his skulll and brought out two insects. Then he closed the brain, stitched it and did the bandage. The shresthi according to his promise offered him his whole property but Jeevak took only one lakh coins.
Jeevak successfully operated the most critical kind of Head Surgery
Case 5 – “Intestinal Surgery of a boy” :- The son of a shresthi of Varanasi had tumor in his intestine. He did not recovered even after many treatments. When Jeevak came to see him, he moved his surgical tool on his stomach & brought out intestine. Then he cut off the tumor and stitched the intestine at it’s position. The boy recovered from disease.
Case 6 – “Treating the disease of Avanti king Chand Pradyot” :- King Chand Pradyot invited Jeevak from Rajgrih to Ujjain for his treatment. The king was furious in nature and Jeevak knew that fact. That’s why before giving the king medicine, he fled with Bhadravati elephantess with the excuse of bringing medicine for the king from the forest. As soon as the king took the medicine, seviere vomiting started. This made him very angry and thus he ordered to bring the Jeevak before him. But Jeevak using his tactical brain, reaches Rajgrih safely. After some time, Chand Pradyot recovered completely and rewarded Jeevak by sending a very costly pair of Sivayak garments to Rajgrih.
Jeevak had a big residence, which was also his Hospital in Rajgrih, whose ruins still exist in Rajgir as “Jeevak ambvan”, which literally means the mango orchard. The building was surrounded by the mango orchard where lord Buddha stayed with his disciples. Jeevak had introduced Ajatshatru to Gautama Buddha. Jeevak had even treated the lord Buddha once with his simple medicines.
Many iconic personalities like Charak, Kashyap, Dhanvantri, Vagbhatt etc followed Jeevak and went onto write books on Ayurveda.
Unlike, Hippocrites, Jeevak’s legacy did not find ‘school of medicine’ and popularize his methods.
That is why Jeevak Kaumarbhritya, who lived more than a century before Hippocrites (460-370 BC), was neglected by the world.
But infact, he is the ‘Real Father of Medicine‘.