Title: The Substance of Homeopathy
Author: Dr. Rajan Sankaran
Published by: Homeopathic Medical Publishers, Mumbai, India.
Year: First Edition, 1994
Pages: 370, hardcover
Reviewer: Vatsala Sperling
The Substance of Homeopathy is the second book by Dr. Rajan Sankaran and I am delighted to be reviewing it here. After publishing his first book, The Spirit of Homeopathy, Dr. Sankaran dug deep in to the realm of miasms and the link between drug source and its symptomatology. The outcome of these adventures is presented in The Substance of Homeopathy.
In book 1, the Spirit of Homeopathy, Dr Sankaran presented the idea that disease is a delusion, and it could be resolved and cured brilliantly using homeopathic remedies. So, he set out to understand the remedies that form the “substance” of Homeopathy.
He also tried to classify the disease state (or the state of delusion) as reaction to how reality is perceived, used the word “miasm” to describe these reactions and expanded and added new miasms – acute, ringworm, malarial, typhoid, leprous, cancer and tubercular – to the three original miasms, psora, sycosis and syphilis, as described by Samuel Hahnemann. This expansion helped him understand the new and emerging diseases in the contemporary world.
In his attempt at classification of diseases, Dr. Sankaran ponders the four basic miasms – acute, psora, sycosis and syphilis, connects them to four stages of life and personality types, and concludes that the state of mother and father at the time of conception is inherited as miasm.
This explains why children born to the same parents have different miasms. Miasms are not genetically inherited. They are parental states that are passed down across generations. Dr. Sankaran also describes multi-miasmatic disease states and remedies.
For example, Arsenicum album at times can display acute, psoric, sycotic and syphilitic miasms and depending on life situation, one or the other miasm is expressed predominantly. Could miasms be used for classifying remedies into groups?
In answering this question, Dr Sankaran realizes that there are only a few remedies that belong solely to just one miasm, for example, acute – Aconitum, psora – Psorinum, sycosis – Medorrhinum, and syphilis – Syphilinum. The rest of the remedies, just like Arsenicum album, show multi-miasmatic states.
Apart from miasms (types of reactions to the perceived reality), Dr. Sankaran studied the mineral kingdom in a systematic manner by mastering the periodic table of elements, and he also studied the animal kingdom to discover the themes that are commonly encountered in the animal kingdom.
He makes a confession (really!!!) about his knowledge of botany being poor. To have a definitive word about the plant kingdom, homeopaths would wait another 19 years before Dr. Jan Scholten would publish his ‘Wonderful plants’ in 2013 and Dr. Yakir would come up with Wondrous Order, Systematic Table of Homeopathic Plant Remedies, book 1, flowering plants in 2017).
But Dr. Sankaran would not stop in his track with the expression “my knowledge is poor”. He would eventually enrich our understanding of the plant kingdom by placing plants in groups with common sensation/sensitivity.
While expanding his consciousness about miasms, mineral, animal and plant kingdom remedies that would constitute the bulk of this book, the Substance of Homeopathy, Dr Sankaran experienced that a homeopathic stimulus works even when a potentized remedy is not given.
This realization came upon him during provings – the most characteristic symptoms were expressed by the people who had not taken the remedy that was being proven. This observation in which the effect of the remedy extended beyond its physicality – encouraged him to explore the healing power of music and try to prescribe it based on homeopathic principles.
In his experiments and thinking, he realized that when we persistently move toward the ultimate source of all substance, experiences and expressions, the superficial differences between the various branches of knowledge like botany, zoology, chemistry and music, disappear and we encounter the truth that unifies everything into a state of pure consciousness.
Now if someone tried to prove this lived experience in a highly divisive and materialistic laboratory setting that considers a double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial as gold standard, you can only imagine their embarrassing defeat.
An assignment for teaching Argentum metallicum, a remedy unknown to Dr. Sankaran at that time, prompted him to study mineral remedies and in this book, he shares with us his findings on metals from the fourth, fifth and sixth rows of the periodic table, anions, cations, halogens, salts and acids.
Around this time, Dr. Jan Scholten had just published his book, Homeopathy and minerals (1993), and his next book, Homeopathy and the elements would be available only in 1996. In those early days of studying minerals as a group that displayed a certain characteristic common to the group, Dr Sankaran’s experiences and views on the mineral remedies and a nifty chart that summarized the essence of these minerals (pages 247-249) was a lifesaver for homeopaths who had just started to wake up to the realities of periodic table of elements as a source of understanding remedies.
This chart would eventually be included in the booklet, “Schema” that would become an essential quick reference book for homeopaths across the world who were beginning to dip their toes in the Sensation school.
In this book, you get to read about provings of ringworm, Bacillinum, Ferrum metallicum, Calcarea silicata, Naja, Cannabis indica and music. You also get to read about Dr. Sankaran’s personal experience with a long list of many remedies from the plant, mineral and animal kingdoms.
For these remedies, the author not only gives the main aspects of the cases that pointed him toward the remedy, but also gives analysis, rubrics and the follow-up – all, very, very briefly. In the end, you get a solid, practical and usable idea about the remedies and you can blend the knowledge gained by reading Dr Sankaran’s take on the remedies with what you have already retained in your mind from your earlier readings from other sources.
Reading, memorizing and retaining materia medica as written by the masters from prior centuries is a daunting task. A lived-in experience of the remedies in the contemporary world, and seeing it connected to the rubrics that act as signposts in our journey for choosing remedies, is a treat that Dr. Rajan Sankaran offers liberally all through this book, the Substance of Homeopathy, and we would do very well to make this book a part of our continuing homeopathy education.