Anciently under Indian System of Medicine this branch was titled as ‘Bala’ as quoted in the ref below by Vagbhatt :
Later it turned out to be BALA-ROGA because it dealt with the diseases which occurred in a child from anti-natal care to mid of teen-age (estimated). This branch was also named as “Kumar Bhritya” in some text but this term became popular after a spell of time.
Although according to Ayurveda, Kumar Bhritya is a broad term which includes prasuti vigyan (Obstetrics), stri chikitsa (Gynecology) and bala chikitsa (Paediatric), but due to today’s need into consideration Kumar Bhritya branch refers to only bala swastha evam chikitsa (Paediatrics).
There are many ancient texts which specifically explain the subject Kumar Bhritya. Some of them are as follows:
- Kashyap Samhita
- Vridh Kshyap Samhita
- Pravartak tantra
- Bandhak tantra
- Hiranyaaksha tantra
- Ravankrit kumartantra
- Bala tantra
- Kumar tantra
- Bala chikitsaamrita
Kashyap samhita remained out to be the most accepted and popular Ayurveda text in all of the above texts. It is also known by the name of Braddha Jivakiya Tantra. He lived and worked around the 6th century with his followers. The major information about the text is :
- Updeshta (A spiritual Guide): Mahrishi Kashyap
- Tantrakarta (Editor) : Vridha Jivaka
- Pratisanskarta (Revised by) : Vatsaya
A renowned scholar i.e. Chakrapaani and the commentator of charaka and sushruta samhita gave the nirukti of Kumar Bhritya word-
‘Kumarasya bharanam adhikritya kritamKumarbhrityam ‘
This implies that the tantra which is build up for the upbringing and maintenance of children is known as Kumar Bhritya.
Acharya Sushruta have given an elaborated and meaningful definition of kaumaryabhritya, which is as follows:
‘Kaumaryabhrityam naam kumarbharandhatrisheerdoshashanshodhnaartham dustastanyagrahasamuthananch vyadhinaamupshamnaartham’
(Sushruta sutra sthana 1)
This phrase clearly defines that Kumar Bhritya is the tantra which deals with the upbringing and maintenance of children, purification of mother’s milk, diseases which originate due to impure milk or grahas (planets) and treatment of other kind of diseases. He explained the different prospects of Kumar Bhritya in the last volume (uttartantra) of his text by giving brief description about shukra (sperm) & aartava (menstrual blood) diseases, stana roga (breast diseases), klebya (impotency), mudagarbha (child birth problems), garbhini roga (Gestational disorders), yoni vyapada (gynaecological problems), bandhyatva (infertility) etc.
The importance of Kumar Bhritya is given by Acharya Kashyap in his text Kashyap Samhita-
‘Balasya hridyamaushadhamanyat, pramanamanya upakramoanye ch visheshah’
(Kashyap Samhita, Vimana Sthana 1)
Like agni (fire) is said to be the greatest of all, in the same way Kumar Bhritya is said to be the greatest among eight branches of ayurveda. The development of a new born to a man comes under this Kumar Bhritya subject and then only the principles of other branches can be applied on a full fledged human. The medicines of a child should be hridya i.e. good to taste. Their medicine’s dose, administration method and treatment are entirely different from adults.
The branch of Kaumaryabritya has given special importance to “Bala-graha”. Many important diseases of children was not given specific names, so they got their place under bala-graha. These are believed to be related with super natural things and their treatment is also given as daan, dakshana, bali etc. Various bala-grahas with their modern point of view are as follows:
||Collapse due to dehydration or Meningitis|
||Impetigo, Pemphigus Neonatorum|
||Diarrhoea with electrolyte imbalance|
||Chronic diarrhea with vitamin A deficiency|
||Tetanus, Rabies (Hydrophobia)|
||Parenteral diarrhea with hypertonic dehydration, Pneumonia|
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