The Rogārogavāda of Vīreśvara is a Sanskrit polemical work on traditional Indian medicine (āyurveda), written in 1669. It is an interesting and unusual work of a dialectical nature entering into a discussion of the views of ancient scholars of medicine.
The importance of the Rogārogavāda lies in its polemical nature. The very earliest works in the Indian medical tradition, the compendia ascribed to Caraka and Suśruta, record in detail an ancient tradition of medical debate that was later to influence all traditions of philosophical, legal and scholarly argument and debate in India. Yet although the medical tradition changed and evolved through history, dissent over theoretical fundamentals rarely broke out as overtly as it does in the present work.
The author Vīreśvara is not shy about his talents: he tells us that his teacher was surrounded by the very cream of brahman students, but that of all of them there was just one who was superior to all the others: himself! And his work, he claims, will cause the professors of all sciences to fall silent: he has produced a new and amazing wonder. In this relatively concise work, he systematically takes the principal theories of pathology in classical medicine, and refutes them one by one. He attacks the classical theories of humoral imbalance, diseases caused by bad karma, accidents, secondary diseases, hereditary diseases, birth defects, contagion, and corruptions of the humours and the body tissues. His final view seems to be that disease and illness are random, acausal events.
During my visit to the IIAS, I shall be completing work on critically editing this seventeenth-century tract from the surviving manuscripts, translating it into English, and preparing an introduction that sets the work in its intellectual context.