Now that the attention of the Central and State Governments of India has been drawn towards Homoeopathic teaching and practice it is high time that all fundamental tenets, scope and sphere of Homoeopathy should be discussed threadbare and serious attempts are to be made by the Homoeopathic profession to arrive at agreed decisions regarding all cognate controversial matters. If we forget out main objective and indulge in mutual mud-slinging we would dig our own graves. It is desirable that all our discussions should relate to principles and not personalities.
All discussions regarding Homoeopathy will miss their mark if they are carried on without reference to historical perspective and objective conditions under which Homoeopathy was ushered into existence. We should always bear in mind that Homoeopathy was and is still a rebel child in the therapeutic world. We should not forget the life-story of Hahnemann, his herculean labour covering a period of half-a-century in discovery of a novel system of drug-therapeutic and his relentless fight with his contemporaries in order to establish the rationality of his system of treatment and at the same time to prove the absurdity, irrationality and therapeutic sterility of the system of treatment current in his time.
Two-fold are the contributions of Hahnemann to the field of medicine. His destructive criticism of the medicinal system was accompanied with a great constructive effort. He revolted against the therapeutic practices of blood-letting, leeching, cauterising and thousand other torturesome, ineffective and positively harmful methods. He wanted his followers not to deviate an inch from his instructions and directions. Here was sown the seed of discord. None could claim the phenomenal genius, clear insight and firm conviction of Hahnemann. Many physicians though eager to follow his foot-steps, could not shake off their hitherto followed practices and ideas. They took recourse to Homoeopathic system of treatment but were hesitant to discard all auxiliary therapeutic practices under all circumstances.
They used drugs Homoeopathically but their previous experience led them to take recourse to auxiliary methods of treatment; and this they did in the best interests of their patients according to their own light. Hahnemann failed to appreciate their psychology and criticised them mercilessly and imputed base motives to them for their lapses. He had no consideration for them rather he alienated them from him through his writings which often exceeded the bounds of decency and common courtesy or professional etiquette. Towards his old age he became more and more intolerant and lent an easy ear to anybody who reported against his erstwhile disciples for any use other than the mere administration of Homoeopathic drugs.
For a detailed history our readers are requested to go through the volumes of Hales Biography of Hahnemann. It was Hahnemann who first used the terms “Pure Homoeopaths, Pseudo-Homoeopaths, Bastard and Mongrel Homoeopaths, etc.” and vitiated the atmosphere of the Homoeopathic profession. It is true that Hahnemann suffered much injustice and persecution at the hands of his contemporaries and apothecaries and his patience was sorely tired. But every discoverer of a new truth has to meet with such oppositions, persecutions and calumny. More tolerance and magnanimity were expected of a great person like Hahnemann!
In the early stage of Homoeopathy the followers of Hahnemann were recruited from medical students, medical graduates fresh from colleges and laymen having no medical institutional training. Hahnemann could train them up strictly according to his views and instructions. But with the spread of Homoeopathic system of treatment many allopathic practitioners with their experience of many years came to be converted to this new medicine; and with it differences of opinion started to grow and became more and more acute. Though they accepted Hahnemanns system they could not discard totally many of their ideas and therapeutic procedures practised so long with their best of intentions.
They accepted Hahnemanns therapeutic Law of similars in the treatment of diseases but were not ready or convinced enough to give up all other therapeutic auxiliaries excepting administration of specific drugs. They could not equate Homoeopathy with Hahnemannism. Conflicts broke out between them and Hahnemann as regards the scope and sphere of Homoeopathy in the field of medicine. This clash of ideas and practices broke out openly with the publication of Archives in 1882 a monthly homoeopathic journal edited by Dr. Staff. Dr. Staff and Gross reckoned themselves as “pure” Homoeopaths implying thereby that they followed Hahnemann to the letter.
On the other hand a group of Homoeopaths under the leadership of Dr. Moritz Muller proclaimed themselves to be free Homoeopaths. In 1837 Dr. Muller wrote in his article History of Homoeopathy: “The less strict homoeopaths did not find the therapeutic procedure of the old school to be thoroughly rejectible, nor did they consider an exclusively homoeopathic method necessary. They allowed both systems of medicine to stand side by side, yet unmingled and confused, during this period of medical evolution and sanctioned the use of them one after the other, according to apparent needs.” Of course this attitude was absolutely reprehensible to Hahnemann who asked them either to be full-fledged Allopaths or cent per cent Hahnemannian Homoeopaths.
From this time on he lost control over his tongue and pen and started to admonish them with the zeal of a sadist and a tyrant thus: “The converted are only hybrids, amphibious, who are most of them still creeping about in the mud of the allopathic marsh and who only rarely venture to raise their head in freedom towards the ethereal truth.” It is a truism that habit and preconceived notions die hard. Many who crossed the line and joined Hahnemann were trying to shake off their traditions but faltered on many occasions as their experience was meagre and conviction not so strong as that of Hahnemann. But Hahnemann did injustice to those honest seekers after truth as he put them in the same category with those who were really half-hearted opportunists and slack in faith and conviction.
For the sake of historical exactitude we are bound to admit that in this controversy Dr. Muller approached the subject with a stricter scientific attitude of mind. His contention was that “the dispute concerns the limits of Homoeopathic procedure at the sick-bed; Hahnemann and some friends of Homoeopathy give to the homoeopathic process of healing a greater extent in a concrete case than its other friends.” Hahnemann opined that nothing else is required to be done except the selection and administration of a homoeopathic remedy in the treatment and management of a sick individual: whereas the other party held that there was certainly a scope for using auxiliary therapeutic methods excepting drug- administration in the treatment of a patient.
Both the parties agreed on the truth of the “Law if Similars” but they differed as regards the limits of Homoeopathy and the extent to which it is admissible to take recourse to auxiliary methods. Even after the lapse of a century and a half we think we are not yet in a position to give a clear-cut verdict on this controversial matter. So it was no wonder that difference of opinion was marked in the early part of the history of Homoeopathy.
But it is unfortunate that we are still labouring under that undesirable legacy of mutual mudslinging and stultifying the fair name of Homoeopathy, whereas the root problem is still far from being resolved. A fuller and more detailed study of this chapter of controversy between so-called pure and mixed Homoeopaths in the history of Homoeopathy will throw more light on the subject and we hope to continue it in our future issues.