Intro: Around 1780, nose of an English soldier was restored by an Indian vaidya and this made plastic surgery popular worldwide.
An English Army officer, Colonel Koot whose nose got cut in a battle with Haider Ali was operated upon by an Indian vaidya around 1780. This was mentioned by him in his diary. Later on this Englishman learnt the art and science of plastic surgery and spread it to the world.
Plastic surgery, the latest surgery technique of modern times was developed in India. This surgery involves using the skin on cuts and wounds to restore their lost glow and texture. India was the first to develop this science in the world.
Haider Ali ruled Karnatak State during 1780s. There were many battles between him and the English army during 1780-84. One of the attacks was mentioned in a diary of an English officer whose name was Colonel Koot. He had attacked Haider’s army but was defeated and in the battle his nose was cut by Haider’s sword.
Colonel Koot wrote: “I was defeated and captured by the soldiers who took me to Haider Ali. He cut my nose as punishment. Then he provided me a horse and handed over the part of my nose and asked me to leave the place which I obeyed. I reached Belgaum where one vaidya saw me and asked how my nose got cut. I lied to him that I was hit by a stone.
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“The vaidya was not convinced and asked me to confess the truth. I had no option but to confess the fact. He asked who cut my nose. I told him that the king did so. He then asked why did he do so. I replied that it was because we attacked his army. He wanted to know as to what I would do with this. I said I would go to England. I had no alternative.
“The vaidya then assured me that he could perform a surgery and heal the injury. I was not convinced. But accepted his suggestion and went to his house where he performed the operation.” Col. Koot described this operation in 30 pages of his diary. Operation was successful and the vaidya gave him certain ointment and asked him to apply that daily. In 15 days the nose was completely healed and he went to London.
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Three months after this incident he was delivering a speech in the British Parliament. He began with a question “Do you believe that my nose was cut?” People said “no” in utter surprise and bewilderment. Then he narrated the entire story to the people sitting in the Parliament. He said Indians are so well advanced in medicine and surgery that they can even perform difficult surgeries.
After some time a delegation from England came to India and met that vaidya. They were shocked to know that such surgeries were performed in every village of the country and were taught in the gurukuls. Soon some members of the delegation joined one of the gurukul and learnt the technique of plastic surgery.
After they went to England they started practicing plastic surgery there. All of them wrote in their diaries how they learnt the technique. One of them wrote that he learnt the technique of plastic surgery from a person belonging to ‘barber’ community.
This also indicates to the rich tradition of our country where all the people had equal opportunity of learning irrespective of his or her caste or social status. Entry to gurukul was not restricted on the basis of caste. There was no discrimination in imparting education on the basis of caste.
One of the Englishman wrote in his diary that his guru was a barber and he asked this man to perform a plastic surgery. In 1792 a Maratha soldier came to him with severed hands and requested him to join them. The guru asked this Englishman to perform the operation which he did successfully under his guru’s direction. His name was Thomas Crusoe. He wrote with surprise that his guru did not took any fees from him for teaching him plastic surgery. Thomas Crusoe started a surgery school after he returned to England where a good number of students learnt the surgery technique.
The irony is we have the details of the surgery school of Thomas Crusoe which he started in England but the names of those Indian 16 from whom he learnt the surgery are missing from this book and the world is oblivious of their contribution.
– Ajay Vidyut