History of Homoeopathy in India
Dr Abhijit Chakma
INTRODUCTION: The importance of studying ‘History of Homoeopathy in India’ lies in the very fact that homoeopathy has been surviving successfully for the last 174 years (1839-2013) without any major setback. The year 1796, is the birth year of Homoeopathy, in the hand of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, of Germany. After that, this new system of medicine had not taken a much time to spread all over the world especially in India. 14 years later, in the year 1810, Homoeopathy came to India. It is very difficult to say the exact date for starting homoeopathy in India. Before 1852, homoeopathy was practiced only by some amateurs in the Indian civil and military services and also by some other gentlemen in Bengal. Homoeopathic therapeutic practice came to India, when Hahnemann was alive in Paris, as know from a book published in London in 1852.
THE JOURNEY OF HOMOEOPATHY IN INDIA: The origin of Homoeopathy in India is shrouded in uncertainty. As it is difficult to mention the exact year or date about the starting of homoeopathy in India, the past & existing facts are divided into 7 (seven) segments to understand clearly about the origin & history of homoeopathy in India. The journey so far is mentioned below chronologically.
1. Homoeopathic history in East India especially in Calcutta:
- Before publication of Organon of Medicine Dr. Samuel Hahnemann had proved about 27 drugs as they were recorded in Fragmenta de viribus. A German physician & geologist came to India with his officials for some geological investigations in the year 1810. He set up his base in Calcutta, where he distributed homoeopathic medicines free of cost for the treatment of his ailing workers and people of that locality. The Germen geologist had some knowledge about the homoeopathy and its medicines, mentioned in Fregmenta.
- Dr. Mullen of the London Missionary Society, known to have distributed homoeopathic medicines freely among the people of Bhowanipore of Calcutta, as at that time Bengal was famous area for homoeopathy.
- John Martin Honigberger has learned homoeopathy in Paris in 1835. When he had come to India, the exact date or year was not known. But he practiced homoeopathy for some years in Calcutta up to 1860. He was called famous “ Cholera doctor”. He was also the physician to court of Lahore.
In 1839, Honigberger came to India for the 2nd time and took up the treatment of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. The fakeer Azeez-oo-deen called upon Honigberger as all the native physician had failed to cure the swollen feet, paralyzed organs of speech of Maharaj. Though the Maharaja did not take any European medicine, he was resolved to take homoeopathic medicine if it is prepared in front of him. Honigberger had brought with him the tincture of Dulcamara and three empty corked phials. Dulcamara 3X was prepared and one single drop was given on a lump of sugar to take every morning and evening. A marvelous result began to start. On the third day there was great feeling of well being and the Maharaja ordered the minister to present him with 2 gold bracelets and 2 Kashmiri shawls of the same value. He was therefore the person who introduced the homoeopathy in India and a book appeared in London in the ‘Calcutta Review’ in January issue an article was published as “Homoeopathy, And Introduction into India”.
- In Nov. 1851, a Native Homoeopathic Hospital and free dispensary was started at Calcutta under the patronage of the honorable Sir John Hunter Little, Dy. Governor of Bengal and President of the council of India. Dr. Tonnere, a French allopathic doctor by education but a converted homoeopathic doctor, was appointed as In-charge of that hospital. He was the first Health Officer in Calcutta. But this hospital had a short existence and Dr. Tonnere failed to secure a firm footing in Calcutta. About this time some amateurs in the civil and military services had been practicing homoeopathy in Calcutta with great success.
- Mr. Ed. D’. Latour was one of the judges of the Saddar Dewani Adalat (court). Mr. Latour, treated many cholera cases in India, the mortality was only 30%, recorded in “British Journal of Homoeopathy” in July, 1854. He converted his immediate subordinate Dy. Magistrate, Maulavie Ziauddin Hussein and turned him to become an amateur homoeopathic practitioner.
- Dr. Cooper and Dr. J. R. Russell both were amateur homoeopathic practitioners lived at Fort William.
- Dr. H. Ryfoer, a military pensioner of the subordinate service, who stayed at Coole Bazaar and Khidhirpore used to distribute homoeopathic medicines.
- Rajendra Lal Dutta (Father of Indian Homoeopathy) was popularly known as Babu Rajen Dutta belongs to a scholar family of Bengal and for sometimes he studied in Calcutta Medical College. He was treated for a chronic disease by an amateur homoeopath in India and cured. Therefore, he developed interest in homoeopathy. Being an ardent believer of homoeopathy, he decided to practice homoeopathy by himself in 1861. Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar in 1863 was treated by Dr. R. L. Dutta for one of his chronic illness and got a marvelous result whereas he was treated by many allopathic doctors beforehand. The king of Sovabazar Rajbari, Raja Sir Radhakanta Deb Bahadur was suffering from gangrene of his feet was treated by Dr. R. L. Dutta with homoeopathic medicine.
These two successes played a great role for spreading the homoeopathy in India mostly in Calcutta.
- Dr. Mahendralal Sirkar helped in establishing homoeopathy in India. He has obtained M.D. degree from Calcutta University. Dr. R. L. Dutta had converted Dr. M. L. Sirkar to homoeopathy. He was basically an allopathic physician, but after reading some books on homoeopathy he got interest in the subject. After seeing the efficacy of homoeopathic medicine with Rajen babu, he became a member of homoeopathic society.
- Around 1863 – 1864, Dr. Berigny, another French homoeopath came to Calcutta and set up homoeopathic practice.
- Dr. Pratap Chandra Majumdar took his L.M.S. degree from Calcutta Medical College in 1878 and later got the honorary degree of M.D. from USA. Converted to homoeopathy by his Father-in-law, Dr. B. L. Bhaduri he fortified his grasp of Hahnemannian Homoeopathy as the worthy assistant to L. Salzer for a pretty long time. He proved a number of indigenous drugs, and wrote a large number of books in English and Bengali. He edited the Indian Homoeopathic Review, the second oldest homoeopathic journal in India. He attended the Fourth International Congress held in Chicago in June 1891. In 1881 in collaboration with Dr. D. N. Roy, Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College was established and maintained till his death.
- At the end of 19th century, another great man Sri Mahesh Chandra Bhattacharya with a broad imagination and outlook entered into the field of homoeopathy as a chemist and pharmacist. He used to selling good quality medicines at a very cheap rate and thus making homoeopathic medicines popular among poor people of our country. He also compiled and published a pharmacopoeia in Bengali and English.
- Dr. B. K. Bose a son of a Judge was born in India in 1879. The son of a good house soon developed into a riotous rebel against the British occupants. Persecuted by the British as an anarchist, he had to flee to America via France. Then fortunately he was directed to Dr. James Tyler Kent, who took him to the Hering Medical College and imparted knowledge of homoeopathy. Here he also had a brief acquaintance with Sir John Weir of Royal Homoeopathic Hospital who was then an out-going student. After this he took his admission into the Kansas City University where he obtained M.D., D.O. degree and then returned to India. In India at first, he started his practice at Calcutta and then shifted to Banaras where he became the family physician of Shri Motilal Nehru. Later on, he migrated to Calcutta, where he has been the backbone of the Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital.
- Dr. J. N. Majumdar belonged to a family, which did pioneering work in introducing homoeopathy in India in the second half of the nineteenth century. His grandfather Dr. Pratap Chandra Majumdar was among the first few homoeopaths who started practicing in India around 1870. Dr. J N Majumder was a brilliant student of Calcutta University and did his M.Sc. (Physiology) and M.B. securing first position in both the exams. Soon after his degree, he went to Scotland and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (F.R.C.S.) of Edinburgh. In course of time not only he became a good homoeopath in India but worked relentlessly to acquire official recognition for Homoeopathy from the Government of India.
2. Homoeopathic history in South India:
- In 1846, homoeopathic hospitals were started by Surgeon Samuel Brooking, a retired medical officer at Tanjore and Paducuta in south India under the patronage of the Rajahs of those states.
- In the golden pages of the history of mankind, Fr. Muller’s name shines bright, inspiring men of goodwill to works of charity. Father Augustus Muller S J landed in Mangalore, India on 31st Dec. 1878. He brought with him a small chest of homoeopathic medicine from Catellan, a homoeopathic firm in Paris, which he effectively used to treat students, their relatives and common people. In the year 1880, he started a regular dispensary offering free medicines and consultation at Kankanady hills, which was known as “Homoeopathic Poor Dispensary”. Fr. Muller did not stop with the dispensary but continued ahead with the establishment of Saint Joseph’s Leprosy Hospital & Asylum in 1890. In 1895, Fr. Muller started a General hospital for the poor. The homoeopathic dispensary started by Fr. Muller in 1880, has now taken form of mighty institution offering under graduate and post graduate medical education, training and research in homoeopathy.
The Govt. of India recognized the humanitarian work rendered by Fr. Muller and awarded him Kaiser-e-Hind in 1907.
3. Homoeopathic history in North India:
- In the year 1867, Banaras Homoeopathic Hospital was established with Sri Lokenath Maitra, as physician In-charge. He was a converted homoeopath by Dr. R. L. Dutta.
- In Aug. 1869, Homoeopathic Charitable dispensary was opened at Allahabad. Priyanath Bose, a layman, but practicing homoeopathy was put In-charge of this hospital.
- Dr. Younan had the good fortune of permanently curing Pt. Moti Lal Nehru’s Bronchial Asthma by administering him only a single dose of medicine. Pt. Moti Lal was so impressed by this miracle that he purchased a library from an American Homoeopath and he studied Homoeopathy and used to prescribe medicine to his relations and friends. After his death, the whole library was donated to Allahabad University.
- Dr. Diwan Jai Chand was born on 3rd July 1887 in Bhawalpur State (now in West Pakistan) and did his initial medical education at the K.E. Medical College, Lahore. On return from U.K. he joined service with the Punjab Government as Dy. Sanitary Commissioner. He resigned soon after and started a clinic at Lahore in 1915. He soon became converted to Homoeopathy. After independence in 1947, he had to shift to Delhi as a refugee and established his clinic in New Delhi. He was President of the All-India Institute of Homoeopathy, Delhi Branch for some years. He also founded and edited an excellent journal- “Health and Homoeopathy”.
4. Homoeopathic history in West India:
- In 1870, Maharaja Bahadur of Jaipur called Dr. G. Salzar of Calcutta for the treatment of his cataract, which was cured by homoeopathic medicine.
Thus the Galaxies of homoeopathic physicians were appeared, like Dr. D. N. Roy, Dr. B. N. Banerjee, Dr. Chandra Sekhar Kali, Dr. J. N. Majumder, Dr. N. M. Choudhury, Dr. Barid Baran Mukherjee, Dr. Diwan Jai Chand, Dr. S. K. Nug and all others.
- 5. Struggle for Recognition of Homoeopathy in India (Pre & Post Independence):
- In 1943 the West Bengal Government under the leadership of Mr. Fazlul Haq, then Chief Minister of Bengal, took up the cause of Homoeopathy and constituted the first State Faculty of Homoeopathic Medicine. However not much effort has been put by the other states.
- The background was rather gloomy and hopeless. The leader of the Congress Party Shri Bhula Bhai Desai bluntly told Dr. K. G. Saxena that he did not recognize Homoeopathy as a scientific system however with the exception of Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah who in favor of homoeopathy.
- With the advent of Central Legislative Assembly’s resolution the second logical step was to organize the Homoeopathic professionals into a corporate body through which further efforts to be made to develop the system. To achieve this objective, the All India Institute of Homoeopathy, was established in the year 1944 with its central office at Delhi.
- The resolution was discussed for three hours and unanimously adopted as an official resolution on 17th February 1948 under first Health Minister of India Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and Resolution Passed by the Indian Parliament was approved after a long fought battle.
- The Homoeopathic Enquiry Committee was appointed by Government of India to make a survey of the position of Homoeopathic practice in India, to report on the available training facilities and the need to regulate such training in Homoeopathy in relation to medicine and also as to the desirability and mode of State control of the practice of Homoeopathy. The committee submitted a report and made recommendations in1949. In 1952 some action in the form of a Homoeopathy Adhoc Committee and later Homeopathic Advisory Committee came about.
- In 1952, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur expressed her desire to form a Homoeopathy Adhoc Committee with Director General of Health Services as Chairman, Dr. C.G. Pandit, Secretary, ICMR and Dr. J. N. Majumdar of Calcutta, Dr. L. D. Dhawale of Bombay, Dr. Diwan Jai Chand & Dr. M. Guru Raju as its members.
6. Formation of Apex Body for Homoeopathy:
- In 1967 a bill was discussed and the Government decided to constitute a committee of 36 parliamentary members for consideration of establishment of Central Council. The Central Council of Homoeopathy Act was made in 1973 and the then Health Minister Dr. Karan Singh on behalf of Government of India constituted the Central Council of Homoeopathy (C.C.H.) in December, 1974. As soon as the Central Council was nominated, the Government abolished the Homoeopathic Advisory Committee.
- The National Institute of Homoeopathy was established in December, 1975 as an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India, registered under the West Bengal Society Registration Act of 1961. This institute was set up with a view to promoting the growth and development of Homoeopathy in the country by producing graduates and post graduates in Homoeopathy
- In 1970, under the advice of Dr. K. G. Saxena, the then Hony. Advisor of Homoeopathy, the Central Government decided to form Central Homoeopathic Research Institute and thus Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy had been established on 30th March, 1978 under Society’s Registration Act XXI of 1960.
7. Formation of Separate Department for all existing alternative systems of medicine:
- All the alternative systems of medicine were given a separate identity by creating separate department as ISM &H (The Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India in 1995 which was renamed as AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), in November, 2003.
CONCLUSION: Today, India is one of the important countries to lead this system of medicine in the world. CCH, NIH, CCRH & AYUSH all together is the depiction for Homoeopathic System of Medicine in India. At present there are about 195 medical colleges of homoeopathy in the country allowed by the Central Council for Homoeopathy including 38 post-graduate colleges to teach & promote Homoeopathic System of Medicine.
- Archives of the Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital.
- Chand DH. History of Homoeopathy in India in the 19th Century. First Edition. B Jain Publishers (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 2007.
- Chatterjee R. History of Homoeopathy in India. Bulletin of the National Institute of Homoeopathy. Vol- 12. No. 4. October, 2009. Published in February 2010, Kolkata.
- Internet searches: http//homoeoint.com (visited in May, 2011).
- Internet searches: www.medindia.net (visited on January, 2014)
- Sarkar BK. Essay on Homoeopathy. Reprint Edition. Birla Publications Pvt. Ltd. Delhi, 2004- 2005.
- Saxena KG. Struggle for Homoeopathy in India.
Address for correspondence:
*Dr. Abhijit Chakma; MD (Hom.)
Senior Research Fellow (H),
Clinical Research Unit for Homoeopathy,
¼ Main Road, Colonel Chowmuhani,
Krishnanagar, Agartala- 799001
Great article sir. Any idea which was first Homeopathic journal in india. And if these old journal entries are available even now?
Very Nice work Abhijit. feel proud of you. keep doing good things.