Mar 25, 2010

Anekantavad and the Study of Materia medica

Dr. Ajit Kulkarni M.D.(Hom.)

Resume: The need to study materia medica as one indivisible totality. As a single spectrum. With its diversity: in form, function and structure. It represents gestaltism, an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. The organizing principle within the remedy intertwines all components together to render the structure of oneness. Anekantavad is the doctrine of many-ness of truth, that there can never be only one point of view. Anekantavad could be an answer for many debatable points in homoeopathy.

Totality of Symptoms

Drug one. Proving of one drug on many healthy provers. Innumerable symptoms produced. A mess of symptoms. Provers many. Symptoms many. Drug one. Is the drug’s action uniform? It cannot always be hoped to be uniform because it has to be ‘modified’ or ‘shaped’ in accordance with the reflections cast by the several provers involved, each one of them, yearning its own uniqueness or being a ‘law unto oneself.’

Hahnemann came out with, unique solution of ‘Totality of symptoms’. He understood well the indivisibility of a human being. A human being who comes with varigated symptomatology is to be looked upon through unity.

Hahnemannian concept of totality of symptoms is not related to symptoms only. It is the gestalt concept that embraces the holistic thinking.

Organising Principle

While dealing with the scattered, incoherent maze of symptoms in Materia Medica, it is necessary to understand that drug’s pathogenetic action is a unitary one, reflective of oneness. Who maintains this oneness in data? What makes the data a live one? How one symptom is related to other symptom? Symptoms are important or relations which get developed are important?

These pertinent questions have one answer and this is the ‘organizing principle’ which makes the data components bound together. The properties of components define the relations. The relations define the manner in which oneness is reflected. And the oneness is present because of the organizing principle.

The Portrait

The processes of analysis, evaluation and synthesis are fundamental to the study of Materia Medica. Through the analysis, we try to split up the data on the basis of the properties each component carries; while evaluation marks the valuation of the underlying properties giving these properties their due and synthesis binds all the properties together, defines the relations on which the components stand and creates the design, the portrait. Synthesis reflects the connectedness, unfolds the phenomenon, unravels the cause------ effect ----- cause ----- effect vicious cycle, the chronological, sequential, evolutionary and yet integrated and standardized portrait, thus renders the strong structure to utilize for the sake of application.


The major determinant of all these processes is ‘perception’. Perception to a human being is a trickish aspect and hence difficult to achieve. Sensibility involves fine feeling, keen power of perception, sensitive openness to emotional influences and sensibility is the most requisite of a student who wants to study Homoeopathic Materia Medica. In contrast to phenomenological view of study of Materia Medica, Noumenon - the essence conceived only by intellect, intuition or reason, and thing-in-itself- the reality, or sense or essence exists in itself, also is an important way of contemplation. For applying perception, however, isomorphism-the concept of relationship on similarity base has to be followed Otherwise, ‘perception is right but application is wrong’ may result.

Perception differs from individual to individual. Individual’s sensitivity, sensibility, his experiential field, his vision - have bearing upon the perception. In Homoeopathy, however, perception is the central theme of concensus.


We can apply the concept of Anekantavad to the concept of totality and hence to perception. Anekantavad is the doctrine of many-ness of truth, that there can never be only one point of view. There are infinite points in space from where to look at anything. Problems occur because of inability to see the other’s point of view, to acknowledge that one’s version of truth is just that - one version.

The doctrine of Anekantavad is identical to the concept of totality of symptoms. One can look at the symptoms through various points. It is not that my point is the only point, and that my point is the only right point. Rigidity, resources, experience and overall the mental make-up act as a bar in perception of right order.

This is best illustrated through the oft-quoted story of the seven blind men and the elephant. Relying on their sense of touch, each one groped about and tried to make sense of the object in their path. The one who was near the elephant’s trunk, felt it and was convinced he had touched a serpent from a tree. The one near the pachyderm’s massive legs thought they were pillars, another took it to be a grove of trees. Each one, from his place near a particular part of the elephant’s anatomy, had a different perception about the huge structure. Soon, a quarrel ensued, as none was able to comprehend the other’s point of view. “How can all of them be such fools”, each blind man thought of the other.

Everyone remained rooted to his spot beside the elephant. Since each one was convinced of the validity of his own explanation, the quarrel went on. “Let us move around this object”, one blind man suggested. The moment they did so, they realized that although each one was correct in his place, they were all wrong, since their view had been limited by their staying in one spot. The blind men moved around, collated their views, and finally realized that what they were trying to describe, from different position, was in fact, an elephant.

It was only after perceiving the whole that the parts get their sense of reality. In other words, one has to go beyond one’s ego-bound self to a greater realization of a larger, all encompassing self.

Study Homoeopathic Materia Medica with the Anekantavad doctrine. Be unbiased; apply a larger, all-encompassing vision. Study with organized, integrated thinking. Perception is not easy. It is the most difficult part of life. It has to be developed, through great efforts.

Homoeopathic case taking involves a perspective and prospective vision. A Homoeopathic physician has to define his ego during the process of an interview. If the same process is applied towards the study of Materia Medica, it will help understanding the heart of the remedies in a better way.

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