Hyderabad researchers show Sushruta and Charaka used music to treat coma 2700 years ago

HYDERABAD: Researchers from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have come out with the first-ever evidence from ancient Indian medical texts to show that Sushruta (800 BCE) and Charaka (300 BCE) had utilised music therapy to treat coma patients. While Sushruta, the father of surgery in India, had prescribed music therapy to bring patients out of coma, Charaka had utilised music on patients, who came out of coma, to clear their diffused mental state. Music was used in ancient India also to treat diseases as myriad as infertility and tuberculosis.
All earlier research studies on music and coma in ancient India had limited themselves to theories without proving from ancient medical texts of Sushruta and Charaka how music had worked in waking up coma patients or treating patients recovered from coma. The study by the UoH team is said to be the first research treatise based directly on the evidence of ancient medical texts.
The results of the study were published in the second issue of the 57th volume of the Indian Journal of History of Science (IJHS), a scientific publication by Springer, the Netherlands. The study by Abirlal Gangopadhyay was supervised by Prof JSR Prasad, head of the department of Sanskrit studies, UoH. It was co-supervised by Prof BR Shamanna of the school of medical sciences.
Gangopadhyay and Prof Prasad cited the instances from the three famous and most important compendiums of Ayurveda where vaidyas suggested music as an alternative therapeutic agent. This research article is unique in its approach as the previous researchers did not address music therapy of ancient India from pure medical texts.
The authors mentioned considerable aspects of music as a therapeutic tool in their study. According to them, the ancient vaidyas mentioned music as an alternative therapeutic agent in pitta aggravation, labour room, virility, TB, alcoholism, therapeutic purgation and emesis, and coma. In the case of coma treatment, there is a sharp difference between Charaka and Sushruta systems of treatment.
“Charaka prescribed music for a patient, who returned to consciousness to protect their confused mind which had come out of a coma. However, Sushruta specified music for breaking the coma. Nowadays, there are instances of using music in coma treatment but suggested samples are exciting, which further indicate that thousands of years ago, perhaps, the father of surgery (Sushruta) was himself the first person, who directly used music to break the coma,” the researchers said.
They said Charaka’s mention of the musician staff in a hospital setup was revolutionary in those ancient times.