(The 10th April, 1955)
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have met here to-day to pay our homage to the memory of Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, who was born in 1755, just two hundred years ago. I think it is not necessary for me to go into the details of the extraordinary career of this great man, who was a linguist, a physician, a scientist, a clinical researcher of the first rank and a faithful and conscientious servant of God and man. You all know the struggles and tribulations of his life and also how he ultimately succeeded in convincing the world of his medical theories.
So far as India is concerned, the earliest recorded case of homoeopathic treatment appear to be the treatment of Raja Ranjit Singh of Lahore in 1839. According to a report, reproduced in the Homoeopathic Herald, Calcutta, submitted by the late Dr. Mahendralal Sircar to the Homoeopathic Congress held in London in 1881, John Martin Honigberger practised in Calcutta for some years upto 1860 and was known as a cholera doctor. His successes in homoeopathic treatment drew the attention of Raja Ranjit singh, who, though unwilling at first, placed himself under the treatment of Honigberger against vehement opposition from his Court physicians.
The Raja improved considerably under the homoeopathic treatment and was so pleased that he presented to Honigberger a pair of heavy gold armlets and a pair of expensive Kashmir shawls. This added fuel to the fire of jealousy of the Court Vaids and Hakims, who ultimately managed to wrest the distinguished patient from the hands, of the foreigner and succeeded in sending him to the other world.
Since the time of Honigberger, the progress of homoeopathy in Bengal during the latter half of the nineteenth century was marked by the continued enthusiasm for homoeopathy both in the amateurs and professionals. In this connection we may mention the names of Mr. E. de Latour of the Indian Civil Service, Maulvie Zianuddin Hossain of the same department. Dr. C.F. Tonniere, M.D., Babu Rajendra Dutt and Dr. Thiennette Berigny. The conversion of Dr. Mahendralal Sircar, M.D, D.L., C.I.E., to homoeopathy in 1867 marked the beginning of a prosperous era in the history of homoeopathy in Bengal.
Amongst the prominent homoeopaths of this time were Dr. Leopold Salzer, Dr. Preonath Bose and Dr. Gobinda Chandra Ray. The year 1878 witnessed a very unhappy incident. Dr. Mahendralal Sircar who was a member of the Faculty of Medicine of the Calcutta University was practically forced to resign on account of his conversion to homoeopathy. Dr. Sircars learned and dignified letters in this connection are regarded as invaluable gems in the homoeopathic literature. Dr. Sircar was a genuine worshipper of science.
It was he who founded the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science. A man of his calibre certainly did not surrender to quackery! Since Dr. Sircars time, up to the present day, the study and practice of homoeopathy have steadily progressed through the following decades not only in Bengal, but also in other provinces.
I shall not inflict on you a long speech, elaborating the various aspects of the principles of homoeopathy, as propounded by Hahnemann, as I am sure, you are all familiar with them. I shall, however, say just a few words regarding the scientificity of the law of similars and the therapeutic value of high potencies, the two main points, which are supposed to be crucial by the opponents of homoeopathy. Every scientific principle proceeds on the basis of the enquiry, how? When one step has been explained, we ask the same question, how? We go on like this, until we are forced to a halt and compelled to accept certain assumptions, which cannot or need not be proved.
Take any proposition of geometry. It is proved by the preceding propositions, which in their turn, are proved by earlier propositions, We go on like this and come to a halt at the axioms and postulates which have to be assumed. The truth of these assumptions are not proved by simpler propositions, but they are true, because they yield results which are true. If we find that the results derived from them are not true, the assumptions will also be false. As a matter of fact, this has happened in the case of geometry. After Enclids geometry had reigned supreme for about two thousand year, it was discovered by Lobatcheffsky that the postulate of parallels could not be accepted as a general truth and this led to the discovery of non – Euclidean geometry.
In a similar manner, every branch of science ultimately depends on one or more assumptions which cannot be proved. Let me take the example of the law of gravitation, which is certainly a scientific law, regarded as a universal law of nature. The law is this: Any two masses m and m situated at a distance r apart, attract each other with a force varying directly as the product of the masses and inversely as the square of the distance, i.e., the force is k mm/r2, why is it mm and not (mm)2? Why is it inverse square and not inverse cube? Then again how is the force created? How is it that the force is absolutely independent of the medium separating them.
It may be vacuum, or air, or water, or glass, or steel, or flint, but the force is the same. It is not affected by cold or heat or by rest or motion. Can you imagine anything more arbitrary? The top – ranking scientists of the world have racked their brains for three centuries to find out the why or how of the law, but their efforts have failed. Still we have regarded it as a universal law. Why? Because it has led to results which are true.
It has explained the fall of the apple to the ground, the motion of a particle down an inclined plane, the motion of a particle projected in air, the motion of the pendulum of a clock, the motion of water through pipes, the motion of water in rivers and canals, the tidal waves of seas, the motion of the moon round the earth, the motion of the earth and other planets round the sun and so on. the truth of the deductions is the basis of the truth of the assumptions.
The revolutionary ideas of Einstein regarding space and time, have totally dispensed with the gravitational force, butt hat is quite another story, into which I shall not enter. The point is that the law of gravitation, though perfectly arbitrary and incapable of proof, has been regarded a universal fundamental law, only because it has led to results which are true.
Let me come to medicine. The juice of calendula leaves has a favourable action on cuts or wounds. This is a truth. It has been known to man for many centuries. We may not yet know why or how this happens, but it is a fact. Some attribute it to the chlorofill contained in the juice, some to other properties. Even if we do not known why or how, the juice will not cease to have its effect. So long as it has its effect, it is perfectly scientific to use it. Let us extend our ideas a little and consider the law of similars. It is a law which has been proved in innumerable cases through years and years.
The phenomenon of a hand scotched by heat being relieved by heat is not a got-up concoction. It is a physiological fact much more convincing than the motion of the moon round the earth. It is not unlikely that the law of similars might, in future, be merged into some other law of wider significance, but the law will be there. Its basis is far stronger than the basis of Newtons law. Unless God chooses to remodel the fundamental physiological and biological make – up of the human body, the law of similars will remain a universal law.
As regards the action of high potencies, in addition to the practical therapeutics results, attempts are being made to understand the phenomenon by modern scientific methods. The researches of Boyd and others have gone a long way and we may expect, in future, a better clarification of the issue. In the mean time the obvious therapeutic results obtained by the application of these drugs on patients are quite enough to justify its scientificity.
Before I take may seat, I will just request the audience not merely to concern themselves with the theories and principles, but also to the proper administration of the drugs. They should not only adopt the medical principles advocated by the great Hahnemann, but also try to attain his ethical standard.
In every system of medicine, whether it is homoeopathy or otherwise the relation of the physician and the patient is not merely the relation of a shop – keeper and customer, though, in ordinary life, there is always need of give – and – take on both sides. Just as the profession of teaching ought to be above mere shop – keeping, so the profession of attending to the sick and supplying him with proper medicines, should also be regarded as a very sacred duty, to be performed with the greatest care and with the clearest conscience.
It is necessary that the teaching and practice of homoeopathy and also the manufacture of drugs should be under the strictest scientific control. Whatever may be the nature or constitution of the controlling body, it is essential that the supervision should be thorough. This is true not merely for homoeopathy but also for any other system of medicine, practised for the purpose of healing the sick.
With these words, I pay my deep and sincere respects to the late Samuel Hahnemann, one of the greatest geniuses of modern times. Jai Hind!.