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Concept Of Holistic Medicine Dr. Shriniwas Kashalikar
Concept of Holistic Medicine: Dr. Shriniwas Kashalikar
The concept of holistic medicine emerges as a result of realization of the underlying unity
and continuity amongst the apparently different disciplines of medicine. In fact it emerges
from the realization of the universal unity and continuity. This is emergence of SATVIKA
JNAANA (Geeta 18.20).
It is usual for most of us to get stuck to the differences as they strike our senses; and build
our concepts; based on these observations of ours. The knowledge of different disciplines
and recognition of their separate existence; as disjointed or disconnected entities; is called
RAJASA JNAANA [Geeta 18.21].
Those who either practice mixed or integrated medicine or are not averse to dialogue or
advocate it, may fit in this category.
The third variety is ignorance about every other medical discipline and adamant adherence
to any given medical discipline alone is state of darkness called TAMASA JNAANA
[Geeta 18.22]. Most of the warring factions from different medical disciplines opposing the
emergence of holistic medicine can fit in this category.
The word holistic is derived from the Greek word holos which literally means a] Taking in
the whole of something b] Whole of organism is a more fruitful field of study than its parts
It can be stated for the sake of simplicity and further clarity that the holistic medicine is
Trans-religious [not religious or not non religious i.e. neither holy nor unholy],
Trans-national [neither national nor non-national/anti-national],
Trans-cultural [neither of a particular culture nor against any particular culture],
Trans-intellectual [neither bound in a particular intellectual framework nor opposed to a
particular intellectual framework],
Trans-ideological [neither committed to a particular ideology nor opposed to a particular
Trans-scientific [neither unscientific nor locked in rigid criteria of physical sciences]
Study of holistic medicine constitutes efforts to understand, visualize and realize the multi-
charactered, multifaceted, multidimensional and multi-layered complex nature of life (in
addition to what is learnt in allopathy or what is learnt in any one discipline). The intention
of the study is to comprehend the continuity and validity (or otherwise) of the concepts of
different disciplines (allopathy, Ayurveda, SAANKHYA philosophy, homeopathy, yoga,
Chinese medicine etc.) which emerge and get evolved from different levels of
consciousness of differently constituted individuals in different regions with different
The approach of holistic medicine can neither be classified as eclectic, analytical, synthetic
or reductionist etc. The holistic approach embodies all these as means to “see” the unity
and continuity in different phenomena.
The holistic medicine is therefore not a new system or new discipline of medicine. It is a
way to see things as they are rather than how they appear and thereby preserve and
promote health and improve effectiveness of healing.
Implications of Holistic Approach
Holistic approach simultaneously makes us aware of possibilities as well as limitations. For
example understanding the ayurvedic concepts such as DOSHA, DHATU, MALA, their
balance, their imbalance, concept of PRAKRUTI i.e. constitution etc. with holistic
approach, add new dimension to the knowledge of the student of physiology as well as to
the diagnostic skills of a clinician from the discipline of allopathy.
Understanding of the concepts of panchakarma, naturopathy, yoga etc. with holistic
approach makes the treatment also more effective because several different modalities and
remedies in the repertoire act at different levels or different points and complementarily.
Besides, holistic understanding of human existence, which is fundamental to the study of
holistic medicine gives us insight into the enormous healing powers within the patient and
helps us to help him/her to use them beneficially.
This is a great benefit in terms of empowerment of the clinician as well as the patient.
Holistic approach relieves health care providers such as doctors and paramedics and all
others; from the unhealthy patronizing and condescending attitude and makes us aware of
our limitations, i.e. gives us knowledge of our ignorance! It gives us the courage to see our
ignorance and admit it. It imparts intellectual honesty to admit the ignorance hidden under
the Greek, Latin, Sanskrit or other esoteric/mystifying terms, characteristic to many
branches of science in general and medicine in particular.
(Take for example hysteria. We do not know any physiological mechanisms underlying
this condition. But the ignorance is hidden under the term. Another example is that dreams,
thoughts , emotions etc. The ignorance about the physical dimensions of dreams, thoughts,
emotions etc, even as we can not dispute or disprove their existence; is hidden under
Holistic approach reduces hypocrisy and imparts humility.
Some more examples from the disciplines of medicine are as follows. Holistic approach
enables us to see the limitations intrinsic to the concept of standardization of weight,
height and possible errors in interpretation of biochemical parameters and calculation of
regimentalized doses of drugs due to lack of due consideration to variations in the
Holistic approach cautions us against indiscriminate use of ayurvedic drugs without due
consideration to the variation in the quality, nature, source etc. of the ingredients of the
drug as well as the constitution of the patient and the type of climate.
Holistic approach gives us insight into the possible mechanism of the action of
homeopathic drugs on the one hand and cautions about the ambiguity in the method of
diagnosis arising out of subjective factors related to the doctor as well as the patient, on the
Holistic approach reveals to us the possibility of “cosmic homeostasis” on the one hand
while simultaneously exposing the possible fallibility intrinsic to bigotry in the practice of
gemology, astrology, numerology etc. due to number of different approaches with
fundamental differences in the interpretations, without sufficiently convincing reasons.
Beside all above, implication of the holistic approach is readiness to change and
accommodate new ideas, i.e. not getting shackled in dogmas of any kind.
But possibly the most important implication is development of proper perspective about
the health and healing, which would help in development of proper policies of services,
education, research, production in the field of mainstream medical care, education,
research and coordination of all these with a variety of policies (influencing the health
directly and indirectly) in other fields such as education, industry, environment, agriculture
From practical point of view, syllabus of holistic medicine including Namasmaran,
prayers, water therapy, proper food (diet), mud packing, massage, yoga, music, colors,
aroma and such simple healing methods (so much recommended by Mahatma Gandhi) and
so many health promoting research and service activities can be introduced.
It is this holistic approach, which would help the decision-makers; to realize that the
national unity and even freedom (which is essential for global unity) would be in
jeopardy in absence of such holistic (unifying) steps.
DR. SHRINIWAS KASHALIKAR