Ladies and gentlemen,
Each year, every homoeopath remembers the great Hahnemann for his wonderful discovery of the homoeopathic system that treats both body and soul. Reproduced here is a leaf from his life.
It is very interesting to note that he considered hands as most important organ, when he was unaware of homoeopathy. In 1775, Samuel Hahnemann was preparing to leave his school. In his farewell dissertation, he spoke on ‘The wonderful construction of the human hand‘. He said, ‘what shall I say of the arts discovered with the help of the hands or of the clothing made by them? What of the buildings constructed either for human comfort or for protection or for necessity? Moreover, what laws would we possess, what products of genius, if we were without hands? The hands are indeed the benefactors that enable us to hold converse with Plato and with Aristotle, with Hippocrates and with Galen, and with others who are prominent in the ancient world….‘
Of all the organs, why did Hahnemann select ‘hands’? A scholar of his times Stephen Hobhouse gave an explanation, “Hahnemann took hints about hands from the first and last books of the ‘De Usu Partium’ of Galen, the father of mediaeval medicine.”
This shows Hahnemann’s final inclination towards curiosity about the human body, health and medicines. This was the beginning of his upcoming discovery. To make a diagnosis, hands are conveniently considered. Feeling of pulse, examining condition of nails, skin of palms and fingers give clues to the health of a person. A salute with hands, a hand shake, twitching and cracking of finger joints, biting of nails, restless hands moving objects on a table, swelling of hands and pain in fingers, are also some of the symptoms helpful to select a remedy. See the repertory on fingers and hands and you will be surprised that more than one hundred pages are attributed to ‘Hands’ by Kent. Note the inscription in the first edition of the ‘Organon’. This is how Hahnemann gave prime importance to hands:
‘Truth, for which all the eager world is fain
Which makes us happy, lies forever more
Not buried deep but lightly covered over
By the wise Hand that destined it for men.’
Very few of us know that besides being a doctor, Hahnemann was a good counselor too. He wrote a letter to a tailor in Gotha, “Man (that delicate human machine) is not constituted for overwork. If he does so from ambition, love of gain, or other praiseworthy or blameworthy motive, he sets himself in opposition to the order of nature and his body suffers injury or destruction. The more so if his body is already in a weakened condition, then what you cannot accomplish in a week you can do in two weeks. It is not only the greater bodily exertion that injures you but even more the attendant strain on the mind, the overwrought mind in turn affects the body injuriously. If you do not assume an attitude of calm, indifference, adopting the principle of living first for yourself and only secondly for others, then there is small chance of your recovery…. If you are a philosopher, you may become healthy, you may even attain to old age. If anything annoys you, ignore it, if anything is too much for you, have nothing to do with it, if others seek to drive you, go slowly and laugh at the fools who wish to worry you. What you can do comfortably, that do; what you cannot accomplish, do not bother yourself about, for our temporal circumstances are not improved for over-pressure of work….Remain deaf to the bribery of praise, remain cold and pursue your own course slowly and quietly like a wise and sensible man…No horrible dreams disturb the sleep of him who lies down to rest with calm nerves….Follow my advice and when all goes well with you, remember Dr. S. Hahnemann”
On ‘Vastu Shastra’
In an essay on ‘Epidemics in General’, he anticipated the town planning movement, “In towns about to be built houses higher than two stories should not be allowed, every street should be at least twenty paces in width and built quite straight, in order that the air may permeate it unimpeded and beyond every house, there should be a courtyard and a garden as broad and twice as long as the house. In this way the air may be readily renovated, behind the houses in the considerable space formed by the adjoining gardens and in front by the broad straight streets.”
Hahnemann was very particular about maintaining hygiene in construction matters. He really knew today’s ‘Vastushastra’.
On Wine and smoking
Hahnemann had a pleasing personality. Dr. Franz Hartmann, a critic as well as admirer of Hahnemann wrote about his personality, “we often had an opportunity of admiring the amiability with which he charmed us all. There sat the silver-haired old man, with his high arched brow, his bright piercing eyes and calm countenance.” He liked talking about objects of the natural sciences, the condition of foreign countries and their inhabitants. In his leisure time, he used to take moderate amounts of good wine and his meals ended with a smoking pipe. On wine, he said, “I cannot recommend the frequent use of wine unless it be mixed with water as was the custom of Romans and Greeks“. On smoking, his remarks were, “It is a useless habit acquired in my earlier days when I had to sit up every other night to earn bread for my children whilst I pursued my own researches during the day“. This shows that moderation in every sphere is justified.
On philosophy of death
Soon after his eighty-eighth birthday, on which Hahnemann was in excellent health and spirits, he became affected with bronchial trouble to which he had been prone in the spring for a number of years. The illness lasted for ten weeks and Hahnemann knew that his days were numbered. “Everyone in this world works according to the gift and powers which he has received from Providence. Providence owes nothing to me; I owe much to providence, yes, everything. A year has only twelve months. Only a small space is left before our goal is reached….and then the last moment, simple, joyful and welcome in this moment to him who has striven to render himself worthy of it.” At five in the morning on July 2nd, 1843, Hahnemann died. His face expressed an ineffable calm. Death could not detract from the angelic goodness that belonged to the expression of his features. Engraved on his tomb were words that spoke of the virtuous deeds of great Hahnemann, ‘Non inutilis vixi- I have not lived in vain‘.