Ground Report | New Delhi: What was Hippocratic oath; The call by the National Medical Commission to replace the Hippocratic Oath with the Charaka vote is worrying. The vote calls for denying treatment to women “neglected by their husbands” and “enemies of the king.” India rightly treasures its heritage, but parts of it belong in history books, not hospitals.
The proposal came from the undergraduate board of the National Medical Commission (NMC), a regulatory body that oversees medical education, at a meeting last week. If enforced, medical students will take an oath of integrity, during the white coat ceremony, on behalf of the father of Ayurveda.
“Modern medicine has a history of no more than 200 years. Why should we continue to have doctors take an oath on behalf of a Greek doctor when India has a rich past in medicine? This has been discussed in several meetings. It should be a matter of pride to take an oath in the name of Maharshi Charaka,” a source who did not want to be named told the Times of India. In other words, it is a step to inculcate “Indian values”.
Not only does this end a decade-long rite of passage, but it also means combining alternative medicine with modern professional medicine. It is not necessary to be a doctor to know the Hippocratic Oath. The historic code of ethics has flowed through the time of the Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates. The Charak Shapath is the oath found in the Charak Samhita, a text on ancient Indian medicine authored by Charaka. In theory, both ask students to treat patients to the best of their ability and focus on maintaining privacy.
“The Maharishi Charak Shapath has not yet been uploaded to the NMC site. I’m still waiting to see what’s officially uploaded,” Dr Shivangi Shankar tells me.
What was Hippocratic oath?
The Hippocratic Oath is a code of ethics adopted by doctors around the world. It is believed to have been written by the Greek physician Hippocrates. In its original form, it requires a new physician to take an oath, by a series of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards.
The oath dictates the doctor’s obligations to medical students and the student’s to the teacher. In the oath, the doctor agrees to prescribe only beneficial treatments, according to his abilities and judgment; refrain from causing damage or harm, and live an exemplary personal and professional life.
The classic Hippocratic oath says: “I swear by the physician Apollo and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this pact… I will apply dietary measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will protect them from evil and injustice.”
What is Charak Shapath?
The new election oath is in honour of Maharshi Charaka, considered one of the main contributors to the ancient science of Ayurveda and author of the medical treatise ‘Charaka Samhita’.
Hindustan Times reported that another document providing the highlights of the NMC undergraduate medical board video conference held on February 7 said that the reason for submitting the Hippocratic Oath replacement proposal with Charak Shapath was that “Charak belonged to our homeland: the oath-taking to be held during the White Coat Ceremony in the local/vernacular languages.”
Originally written in Sanskrit, but now translated into Hindi and English, a quote from Charak Shapath reads: “Not for oneself, not for the fulfilment of any worldly material desire or gain, but solely for the sake of suffering humanity, I will treat my patient and excel all.”