It seems like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is trying to make its presence felt in the field of medicine. The organisation has come up with their own explanation about how doctors should take an oath by the father of Ayurveda – Maharishi Charak. 

In an attempt to abolish the practice of taking the Hippocratic oath, swayamsevaks have made over 3,000 medical students take the ‘Charak Shapath’. “Which country do we live in? It’s India. So, it only makes sense for our country’s doctors to take an oath that had been propounded by the father of Indian medical science of Ayurveda,” says Dr Prashant Chaudhary, General Secretary, Maharashtra, National Medicos Organisation (NMO) – the medical wing of RSS.

What’s the difference between Hippocratic oath and Charak Shapath?

Hippocratic oath

The most widely known and followed Greek texts, the oath was written by Hippocrates – known as the father of medicine. It’s said to be taken by medical practitioners all over the world, vowing to uphold certain ethical standards, including medical confidentiality and non-maleficence, in their career.

b’Credit: Wikipedia’

Here’s an excerpt of the oath’s translation:

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.

Charak Shapath

It is believed that this text was written around the first century A.D. In the “Charak Samhita”, the medicinal qualities and functions of 100,000 herbal plants have been described. Charak has also emphasised on the influence of diet and activity on mind and body. The oath also highlights certain standards that should be maintained by doctors.

Here’s an excerpt of the oath’s translation:

Having entered, thy speech, mind, intellect and senses shall be entirely devoted to no other thought than that of being helpful to the patient and of things concerning only him. The peculiar customs of the patient’s household shall not be made public. Even knowing that the patient’s span of life has come to its close, it shall not be mentioned by thee there, where if so done, it would cause shock to the patient or to others.

The introduction of the oath into the field of medicine actively began after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power in 2014. Now, the organisation wants more medical colleges to adopt it instead of the Hippocratic oath, which had been a rite of passage for graduating medical students since time immemorial.

Dr Yogendra Modi, President of Indian Medical Association, Gujarat chapter, told Ahmedabad Mirror, “I think intention of the both the oaths is same — best possible treatment to patients and service to humanity. So, I don’t find anything wrong with Charak Shapath.”

‘They are trying to saffronise everything’

Disagreeing with Dr Modi’s line of thought, Dr Harijit Bhatti, President of AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association tells ScoopWhoop News, “This is just an attempt to saffronise everything. RSS wants to show that they are against Western culture. It’s okay to promote Indian medicine and the benefits of Ayurveda, but it’s not alright if they want to do it by completely undermining the significance of western medicine.”

“It’s a completely unnecessary concept. Taking the Hippocratic oath is an age-old tradition and I don’t see any reason why it should be replaced. Taking pride in Indian legacy is good, but not by replacing something that has been practiced since eons. The RSS should come up with some other way to promote our culture,” said Dr Sovan Sinha, Consulting Physician, Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Kolkata.