Author Dr. Rajan Sankaran
Published by: Homeopathic Medical Publishers, Mumbai, India
Year: First Edition, 1997
Pages: 236 plus index, hardcover
Reviewer: Vatsala Sperling
In order that I may do justice to the book 3 by Dr Rajan Sankaran, The Soul of Remedies, and review it for what it stands for, what its strengths and weaknesses are, I am inclined to pick up a simple and timeless book most homeopaths know about – the ninth edition of Materia Medica with repertory, by William Boericke.
It was first published in 1901. I pick a random rubric from page 561: PROPENSITY to pray, beseech, entreat. The remedies listed are Aurum metallicum, Pulsatilla, Stramonium, Veratrum album. In the materia medica part, Boericke gives symptoms from head to sleep, concluding with modalities and remedy relationship.
Aurum mind symptoms include self-condemnation, worthlessness, profound despondency, disgust of life, thoughts of suicide, great fear of death, peevishness and vehemence at least contradiction, anthropophobia, mental derangement, constant questioning without waiting for reply, cannot do things fast enough, over-sensitiveness to noise, excitement, confusion.
On reading these symptoms, we get an idea as if the person is in a very dark place in his life. But is it true that every time we see an Aurum metallicum case, the person is going to be in the very dark place? This is where Dr. Sankaran’s sketch of the soul of Aurum metallicum is different from how and what we read about Aurum metallicum in our classic materia medicas.
Dr. Sankaran sketches a portrait, a snapshot of this remedy while describing its miasm, little quirks and specialties, nature, behavior, tendencies and the situations that contribute to development of a special personality. We get to understand that an Aurum metallicum person is highly responsible, neat and tidy, moralistic, principled, conscientious, religious, exact, high achiever who does the right thing because his value system calls for it.
He expects the same from others and he cannot stand someone opposing him. He becomes dictatorial, very critical of everyone including himself. He wants to succeed. Being a religious person, he prays, beseeches, and entreats the higher powers. Even if we never saw a person in his ultimate dark place, if we pay attention to the overall picture and the little brush strokes that create his portrait, we can see Aurum metallicum emerging clearly.
Similarly, Boericke describes Pulsatilla as someone who is weepy, timid, irresolute, fearful of being alone, likes sympathy, fuss and caress, has religious melancholy, and is highly emotional. Dr. Sankaran’s description of Pulsatilla shows us a state of inner weakness that the person is trying to cover up by finding gentle people who can give her tenderness, love and caress.
She shows affection because she needs affection for herself. Weeping makes her feel better, hugs and caress make her feel better. They can take religion to the point of fanaticism. So, a Pulsatilla person has propensity to pray, beseech, entreat because she needs love and affection, or she is a religious fanatic and may see religion as a source of love and affection.
Stramonium too has religious affection, and he prays, reads scriptures day and night, because that is something that gives him a way out of his intense fear of darkness, sense of being alone in the wilderness, terror, helplessness. He is begging, beseeching God for help.
Veratrum too is religious, praying and beseeching, but his tendency to do so stems from loss of social position and his showing off and making a grand impression by way of doing religious gestures, prayers. Again, Boericke’s picture of mind symptom shows more a person who is at the darker end of the spectrum.
So, you see, how Dr. Sankaran’s portrait of the soul of the remedies brings a picture alive for us in which we see how a particular state is elicited. These soul-portraits allow us to recognize and spot a remedy in a person who may not yet be in the dark end of the spectrum of his symptoms.
As I am dipping into Dr. Sankaran’s third book, I am amused by the title, The Soul of Remedies. People have souls, animals and plants do too. But remedies? Aren’t they simply sugar pills moistened with a few drops of the potentized medicinal substance?
Indeed, that is what they are. However, before you ask Dr Sankaran why he is teaching us about the soul of the remedies, allow me to share an anecdote with you. During my writing adventures in Homeopathy, from 2004 till now, an editor very dear to me, questioned me, “Are non-living things considered sentient beings?”
An answer to this question depends on whom you ask because words like soul, spirit and sentient beings are either taken too lightly or too seriously by people. Some consider every atom, every molecule to be a sentient being with innate intelligence and some consider even living beings nothing more than a sum total of their body parts.
However, it is consoling to know that all old cultures and traditions see the living as well as non-living components of nature / creation as entities with soul, awareness, intelligence, spirit, consciousness, or else, the natural laws, orders and expressions cannot be sustained. As a reviewer, I am totally fine with assuming that remedies can have soul, a dynamic intelligence.
In the introduction to this book, Dr. Sankaran states clearly that every remedy has a wider range and greater scope than any one individual can see or describe. The remedy picture we read about, presents just one version, and does not include a complete profile as are given in our classic materia medicas.
However, remedy pictures or a version of truth as experienced by a practitioner, in this instance, Dr Sankaran, are a “point of view” based on his clinical practice. Now, this “point of view” calls for a serious consideration as hundreds and thousands of practitioners across the world have corroborated encountering remedy pictures as painted skillfully by Dr Sankaran.
The strength of this book, the Soul of Remedies, resides in the connections that Dr Sankaran points out: connection between basic delusion, source, miasm and symptoms. All these aspects have to be fully understood if we are to understand a remedy correctly. Before beginning to read the Soul of remedies, it is better to first read and grasp Dr. Sanakarn’s the Spirit of Homeopathy and the Substance of Homeopathy. In these books he has presented his take on miasms, and the Organon.
In this book, we get become familiar with the soul of just about 100 most common remedies from Aconitum to Zincum, that most regular homeopaths use frequently. The soul-portraits are done in two, maximum three pages. Brevity is a definite strength of this book and we also get to read the chief rubrics for all 100 remedies.
I would rather not spoil your fun by going into a detailed description of the rest of the book. But I would of course add that reading and retaining the remedy soul-portrait as described adeptly, briefly and succinctly by Dr Sankaran, will definitely help you in forming a picture of the remedies in your mind without encumbering you with 1700 symptoms that you might read in the materia medica from the earlier centuries. You can learn to quickly spot a remedy and then you can do the leg work and read from every source till the cows come home.
In the end of the book, there are brief chapters on Dr Sankaran’s miasm description and a chart that lays out the differentiating features of minerals, animals and plants. Both these chapters are from the prior two books, and here they serve the function of refreshing your memory.
I do wish Dr. Sankaran will sketch eloquent and vibrant soul-pictures of many, many more remedies, specially, the new remedies for which sufficient materia medica information is not available, and we will get to read volume 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on.