Why is Charaka Shapath so controversial? Why is it not allowed in medical schools?

Recently, the Dean of Madurai Government Medical College was removed from office after students were awarded Maharshi Charak Shapath. The National Medical Commission recommended in February that the Maharshi Charak Shapath replace the Hippocratic Oath in medical schools.

However, Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya said it would not be imposed on medical students and would be optional after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) got on it. opposite.

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The Maharshi Charak Shapath is part of a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda called “Charaka Samhita”. It is assigned to 1st-century sage Maharshi Charaka. The text is believed to have been composed between 100 BC and 200 AD.

The part of the text called Charaka’s oath is basically a set of instructions given by a teacher to prospective students. Students must unconditionally agree to these terms in order to receive medical education.

The Charaka Samhita is considered an encyclopedia on Ayurveda. It is one of two texts that lay the foundations of Ayurveda and Indian medical science – the other being Sushruta Samhita, a treatise on medicine and surgery.


Charaka’s oath is considered discriminatory because his administration’s instructions state that it must be taken in the presence of “holy fire, Brahmins and doctors”, thus underscoring caste prejudices.

“You [the student] go devote yourself to me and consider me your leader. You will be subject to me and you will conduct yourself forever for my well-being and my pleasure. You shall serve and dwell with me as a son or a slave or a supplicant,” the instructions read.

Another part of the oath that points to caste bias reads: “If you desire success, wealth and fame as a doctor and heaven after death, you will pray for the welfare of all creatures starting with cows and Brahmins.

An obviously discriminatory part of the Charaka Shapath states: “No person, hated by the king, or who hates the king, or who is hated by the public, shall receive treatment.”

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The gender bias in the oath is quite blatant. Several lines of the text testify to this.

“Those of very unnatural, wicked and miserable character and conduct, those who have not claimed their honor and those who are about to die and likewise women who are not watched by their husbands or guardians shall not receive treatment,” read an instruction to students.

Currently, the modern Hippocratic oath is administered to students as it obliges doctors to treat patients regardless of background, gender, and character.


On March 31, the NMC issued a circular containing a modified version of the “Maharshi Charaka Shapath” with eight dots.

This version of the Charaka Shapath was non-discriminatory and completely harmless. However, one line reads: “I will treat patients of a gender other than my own in the presence of relatives or attendants.”

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But, according to Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, who was present at the swearing-in ceremony at Madurai Medical College, the version read by the students was closer to the original, discriminatory version.

“I will direct all my efforts and abilities towards the desired goal of my Guru,” said the version read by Madurai students. This sounds very similar to the original Charaka Samhita oath which asks students to serve teachers “like a slave”.

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