In 1965, while I was a student of Human Anatomy at Kurnool Medical College, I had the opportunity to know about Dr. J. C. B. Grant (1886-1973), the author of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy. The 5th Edition of his Atlas was published in 1962 and was available in India in our Medical College Library.
Born in Loanhead (south of Edinburgh) in 1886, Grant studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and graduated with an M.B., Ch.B. degree in 1908. While at Edinburgh, he worked under the renowned anatomist Daniel John Cunningham. Grant became a decorated serviceman of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War before moving to Canada.
Grant established himself as an ‘anatomist extraordinary’ at the University of Toronto, publishing three textbooks that form the basis of Grant’s Anatomy. The textbooks are still used in anatomy classes today, and made unforgettable memories for those who found themselves in his classes nearly a century ago. One of Grant’s many accomplishments was establishing a division of histology within the department.
As a medical student, I used Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, the seminal work of Scottish-born Dr. John Charles Boileau Grant, who would become the chair of Anatomy at the University of Toronto in 1930 and retired in 1965. I was granted the Short Service Regular Commission in the Indian Army Medical Corps during September 1969.
Students continue to use Grant’s textbooks today, and for the more artistic anatomist there’s even a Grant’s Anatomy Coloring Book, published in 2018.
At the University of Toronto, Dr.McMurrich, Chair of Anatomy was succeeded as chairman in 1930 by Dr. John Charles Boileau Grant. Dr. Grant wrote three text books, of which “An Atlas of Anatomy” (published in 1943) rapidly gained international prominence and is still, one of the most widely used anatomical atlases in the world. It is now known as “Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy” and is in its tenth edition. The atlas was based on a series of elegant dissections done either by Grant or by others under his supervision. Many of these dissections are currently housed in Grant’s Museum at the University of Toronto.
The Rudi-Grant Connection is about knowing the man, the building blocks and the structural units and organization of the human body. To defend the human existence, the Rudi-Grant Connection lays the emphasis on knowing the person who is at risk apart from knowing the agent posing the risk.
THE IDENTITY OF MULTICELLULAR HUMAN ORGANISM:
Daniel John Cunningham was born on 15 April 1850 in Scotland. After his initial schooling at his home town, Crieff, he took up the study of medicine at the University of Edinburgh and passed with honours. He is best known for the excellent series of dissection manuals, namely Cunningham’s Dissection Manuals. Cunningham’s Manual of Practical Anatomy has provided me the learning tools to know and understand Man’s External and Internal Reality and its Identity as described by Cells, Tissues, Organs,and Organ Systems.
I learned the truths about the living human body and about Life while dissecting the dead human bodies in a systematic manner. The Manual of Practical Anatomy which guides us through this entire process was published in England. The author Dr. Daniel John Cunningham prepared the Manual while dissecting cadavers of British or Irish citizens. He had never encountered cadavers of Indian citizens. At Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India, where I was a student, the Department of Anatomy obtains dead bodies from Government General Hospital Kurnool and most of the deceased are the poor, illiterate, and uneducated people of that region. None of the deceased had the chance to know this man called Cunningham and Cunningham had no knowledge about the existence of these people who arrive on our dissection tables. But, as the dissection of the human body proceeds, inch, by inch, we recognize the anatomical parts as described by Cunningham. The manual also lists some anatomical variations and we very often exchange information between various dissection tables and recognize the variations mentioned. The dissections also involve slicing the organs and studying them, both macroscopically, and microscopically. We did not miss any part of the human body.
So what is the Identity of this Human person or Human subject who experiences his life using the sensory experiences such as pain and temperature? How does the living Human organism maintain its Identity and Individuality? Apart from the Cultural Traditions of India, several Schools of Religious Thought claim that the Human Individuality and true or real Identity is represented by Human Soul. Where does this soul exist in the human body? What is the location if the soul is present in the living person? Does man have a soul? How does the human organism acquires Knowledge about its own structures and the functions they perform? To explore the burdens of pain and suffering in Life, I ask my readers to know the reality of man and the nature of his existence.
The Buddhist Doctrine of Dependent Origination of Pain and Suffering:
( The photo image of Lord Gautama Buddha belongs to Ms. Ewa Serwicka. www.dalekoniedaleko.pl )
Prince Siddhartha got married at age 16 leading a life of luxury and comfort in a royal palace. While he took a fateful chariot trip outside the palace, for the first time in his life, the young prince witnessed irremediable suffering in the form of physical disability, sickness, old age, and death. He left the palace at the age of 29 leaving behind his young wife and an infant son. After 6 years of ascetic life, while meditating under a pipal tree (later called ‘Bodhi’ or Tree of Enlightenment), he became Supreme Buddha (c.528 BC) and preached his first sermon at Sarnath and continued his preaching until his death 49 years later. The Full Moon Day of the month of May or Vaisakh is celebrated as ‘Buddha Purnima’. He outlined his doctrine of the Four Noble Truths; 1. Suffering or Dukha is implicit in Existence. 2. Suffering has a cause – the Doctrine of ‘Dependent Origination’ – suffering is the result of one’s desires for pleasure, power, and continued existence. 3. Suffering can cease (stop desiring). 4. Cessation of suffering can be brought about by the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path; Right Views, Intentions, Speech, Conduct, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration. Buddha preached to his followers, known as ‘Sangha’, the True Law or Dharma. He described a three-part scheme of Buddhist life which combines 1. Initial Faith or Saddha, 2. Training in concentration or meditation called Samadhi, and 3. Ethical and Disciplinary practices called Sila. Unlike Jesus Christ, Buddha never performed miracles. He was not superhuman. He did not restore life to any dead person. He did not restore vision to any blind person. He did not restore the hearing ability of any deaf person. He did not restore the ability of speech of any mute person. He did not miraculously heal any sickness or cured bodily disabilities or infirmities. Gautama Buddha believed that the greatest miracle was to explain the truth and to make a man realize it.
In my analysis, Gautama Buddha did not realize the truth about man and the world in which he exists. Apart from suffering or dukha, the experience of Joy, Ananda, Happiness, and Bliss is implicit in the human existence. The nature of dependent or conditioned existence does contribute to feelings of sadness, fear, anxiety, and depression. But, man does derive satisfaction, satiation, and contentment in his living condition and does experience joy, particularly when he recognizes that his mortal existence is made possible because of his unity or yoking with an Everlasting Principle.
Gautama Buddha’s doctrine of dependent origination to account for pain, suffering, and human misery is fundamentally flawed for it fails to recognize the usefulness of pain sensation in protecting the human existence. Most medical interventions investigate the underlying causes and mechanisms that contribute to the experience of pain and suffering and successfully reduce the pain or even totally eliminate it depending upon its cause.
Gautama Buddha’s recommendation to stop desiring to treat the problem of human pain, suffering, and misery goes against the fundamental characteristic of all living things. All living things have the desire to exist and perpetuate their living condition using the power of motion, nutrition, and reproduction. Since the time of its origin, Life has never ceased to exist and continues to exist in spite of the various recorded major and minor extinction events.
PHILOSOPHY OF MEDICINE:
I define Philosophy of Medicine as a systematic study of physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of man’s well-being in relation to health and disease using reflective methods characteristic of Philosophy. This is a systematic study of man as a physical, social, moral, and spiritual being. I am concerned with the status of man in the universe, in his natural environment, in his community, and as an ‘Individual’. Man has come into existence as an individual and he exists as an individual according to the Law of Individuality. Man’s existence is defended by his Immune System that deploys unique molecules (polymers) that display Molecular Individualism. Unlike Gautama Buddha, I would explore the problem of human suffering from my definitions of health and disease. If desire is a causative agent of pain and suffering, I would explore that connection. My philosophical insights would help to make inferences about the purpose and meaning of human life. Philosophy of Medicine is not a ‘Mantra’ or a Magical Word. I am not superhuman. I do not promise miracles. Philosophy of Medicine while exploring the nature of human existence provides the understanding of the vital connections that establish, maintain, and sustain human existence. Such understanding provides a sensory experience called ‘Madhurya’, a sensation of Sweetness which enables man to function better and overcome obstacles; and I maintain that Philosophy of Medicine provides a bodily experience called ‘Ananda’, a sense of perfect happiness, pure joy, bliss, and contentment. The goal is not Enlightenment or Nirvana. The purpose is that of improving the quality of life and gain the experience of a whole life.
“VAIDYO NARAYANO HARI”
Physicians are able to provide preventive, curative, restorative, and rehabilitative services because of the human body’s natural ability to heal itself. The repair process by which body heals itself is described as Inflammation and Repair. Human existence is possible because of these valuable, protective, natural healing mechanisms. This process and these mechanisms are not under a man’s voluntary control.
Indian thinkers claim that the Physician (Vaidya) is equal to LORD God known as Narayana, or Hari. It does not imply that a physician could be superhuman or could perform miracles. A physician understands the natural mechanisms that assist healing and he could use them and manipulate them to provide a remedy or cure. Physician could aim to get connected to the divine gifts of healing that already exist and could seek a better outcome while treating a sick or injured person. The mechanism and the natural process could be identified as Divine.
MEDICINE AND FAITH:
The problems of disease, sickness, and disability associated with human life should not come as a surprise. The verse quoted in the above caption states that human body naturally experiences age related decay, deterioration of function, and is prone to infirmities. The verse further mentions that human body is subject to sickness or disease. Medicine is viewed as the equivalent of the sacred waters of Ganga or River Ganges. Indian Tradition believes that the waters of Ganga are holy and could wipe away man’s sins and cure his spiritual sickness. Similarly, the Doctor of Medicine could administer medicine or provide medical intervention invoking the Divine Power of Ganga and qualify himself to be known as Lord Narayana or Hari. It suggests that the Physician should seek positive motivation while giving a medicine and the patient should be inspired to believe in the efficacy of that medicine. In any case, seeking or expecting a negative outcome would not be of any use in real life. When the natural healing process is considered as a divine gift, all medical interventions begin with a prayerful thought to invoke the blessings of healing.
The threats and challenges to human existence:
The threats and challenges to human health and well-being come from several directions. Tragically, very healthy individuals may sometimes succumb to injury or sickness. The causative factors of several diseases still remain a mystery. There are several medical conditions which are well-known and well understood but they have no proper remedy or cure. There are medical situations where the only choice that is available would be that of seeking Divine Mercy, Grace, and Compassion to tolerate pain and suffering with patience while supporting other living functions.
‘Sarve Santu Niramaya’ – Freedom From Disease and Sickness:
The Motto of the Indian Army Medical Corps is ‘Sarve Santu Niramaya’. This is an idea expressed in the Upanishads. The hymn appears as a benediction to invoke ‘Peace’ and hence it is known as a ‘Shanti Mantra’.
May everybody be blessed with happiness (Sukhinah), May everybody live in perfect health free from sickness (Niramaya), May everybody be assured of well-being , lead a life that is safe and secure (Bhadrani), and May there be no mental thought that could arouse sorrow or grief (Dukh bhaag).
Philosophy of Medicine will explore all these concepts and arrange the information into a meaningful pattern and interpret it to describe the reality of the health status. The purpose of Medical Science is to describe and codify observations and experiences. My service in the Indian Army Medical Corps provided me the insights to understand and define Good Health and my goal is to keep people in Positive Health.