The nature being the mother of mankind has always had soothing effect. But in the process of learning for his comfort man has neglected the untoward effects on nature. Whenever man has disobeyed the nature’s law, nature has feed back with massive form of destruction. Long back ago, authors of ancient Ayurvedic texts have understood this concept & tried to campaign the massage to the entire world.
The concepts of micro-organisms or disease produced by organisms are not new to Ayurveda. Communicable or infectious disease is one such concept, which is discussed b/w the Acharya & the Disciples. It conveys the message that whenever an effort is made to disturb the nature, the nature will destroy the human roots. Even the modern science has the same basis to prove it & the principles of preventive medicine are also based on it.
Authors of ancient Ayurvedic texts were more familiar about the contacted diseases along with the mode of spread which usually fall under communicable diseases. Certain group of diseases is transmitted from one person to another by direct or indirect contact while another group of diseases born from common sources of polluted air, water, land and disturbed climate. There are some other groups of disease which are due to contact of the person with some living beings which are not seen by naked eye. The Ayurvedic physician described infectious diseases under the fallowing main contexts through which usually the diseases pass from one person to another.
Chakrapani, the commentator of Charaka says that even though the individuals have difference in physical constitution, food habits, suitability, strength, immunity, age etc still there are such factors as are common to all individuals and the vitiation of these factors leads to the simultaneous manifestation of diseases having the same set of symptoms leading to the destruction of countries. The factors which are common for all the inhabitants of a country are air, water, land and season. Charaka has divided the etiological factors into Niyata Hetu and Aniyata Hetu. The Niyata Hetu are the inevitable disastrous factors includes the harmful effects of sun, moon, stars and planets such as floods, cyclones, landslides, earth quakes, tsunami etc. Whereas the Aniyata Hetu are the evitable disastrous factors includes Prajnaparadhaja (terrorism, accidents etc), Shastra prabhavaja (wars – nuclear weapons, missiles etc advanced weapons), Abhisyangaja (effects of pathogens, evil forces & unhygienic condition) and Abhishapaja (curse). All these factors not only influence the individuals but also the society leading to destruction of community and even responsible for the disease causing organisms. These will results into spread of epidemics. Such diseases are termed as Janapadodhwansa Rogas.
So it is clear from the above description that the Janapadodhwamsa Rogas are the variety of diseases which originate from a common source i.e., natural calamities are prevails in the community destructing people enmass. These will include epidemics and pandemic diseases. Epidemics occurs when an infectious disease spread beyond a local population, lasting longer and reaching people in wider geographical area. When that disease reaches worldwide proportion it is considered as a pandemic. No specific disease of this nature is described but depending on the situation a variety of diseases could be produced due to a common cause of polluted natural calamities such as air, water, land and climate etc. Dalhana says cough, asthama etc are spread through by inhaled air through nostrils & fever, smallpox etc through the skin. Bhela says that the polluted air produces pratishyaya (viral flu) and bataalikaa pitikas (plague) in axilla, groins, neck etc from vitiated vata, pitta, kapha and rakta, when water and land contaminated it loses all its properties and responsible for growth of various germs which help to spread the infectious diseases. The people of respective area suffer from many diseases like respiratory, intestinal, arthropod-borne, surface infections etc. infectious diseases which will affect the community and become one of the major social health issues.
Another context where the communicable or infectious diseases are described is in the Agantuka Rogas which includes Sankramika Rogas and Graha Rogas by manifestation of krumi (parasites).
The Agantuka are those which are caused by the external factors like bhoota (microbes), visha (poison), vayu (air), agni (fire), hata (injuries), kama (lust), krodha (anger), bhaya (fear /psychic) etc. endogenous micro-organisms target the immune system of the body. The bhoota denotes graham as well as micro-organisms. Thus bhootopasarga is described as a very important cause for diseases of external origin. In Yajurveda bhoota are referred as micro-organisms which cause disturbance to the human beings. The disease caused by such micro-organisms is called as Aupasargika roga by Sushruta.
There is significant difference in the pathogenesis of Agantuka rogas. Charaka says that here the disease is produced first and then the vitiation of doshas and dushyas occur. So in the production of a disease even though the disease causing organism or any other agantuka hetu is capable of bringing about certain signs and symptoms of the disease initially; if this is not followed by vitiation of doshas and subsequent vitiation of dushyas in dosha-dushya-sammurchana then it will not succeed in producing a fully manifested disease. If a bhootopasarga fails to bring about subsequent vitiation of doshas and dushyas, it will not get established in the body. This is why many diseases (e.g. poliomyelitis) subside as sub clinical infections causing mild fever, malaise before entering the clinical horizon. This description is almost equal to the modern concept of epidemic triad viz., agent, host and environment and their interaction in the development of infectious diseases.
Certain group of diseases is spread from one person to another by direct or indirect contact and is termed as Sankramika Rogas. Sushruta has clearly mentioned that diseases (Aupasargika rogas) like kushta (leprosy), jwara (fever), sosha (tuberculosis), netrabhishyanda (conjunctivitis) etc. infectious diseases spread from one person to the other. The exposure or contact can be a simple association, touch, inhalation of other’s expired air, eating together in one plate, sleeping & lying together and wearing other’s clothes etc things. Even sexual contact with an infected woman is said to give rise so many sexual transmitted diseases. Vagbhat says all the diseases are transmitted like this only but skin diseases & diseases of the eyes have more communicability. It is also stated that Agantu roga can vitiation of dosha which may leads to manifestation of a new Nija roga and vice versa.
Even though the Ancient authors not clearly described about the various modes infectious diseases transmission, but we can understand from the above statement that the some infectious diseases will spread by direct skin contact or use of used articles of the patient (kushta, netrabhishyanda etc), some by direct droplet infection (sosha, yakshma etc), some by with oral injestion (jwara etc), some by sexual intercourse (upadamsa etc). In this way the authors of ancient Ayurvedic texts have highlighted the infectious diseases.
There are some other groups of disease which are due to contact of the person with some living beings which are not seen by naked eye called as Graha (evil demons) named as Graha Rogas. The class of evil demons supposed to capture humans & produces a variety of symptoms which is Agantuja in nature. The Grahas are described as living beings with contagious property, residing in filthy unclean places protected from sun rays. These are having ability to feed on blood & meat. Some may be pathogenic while others are non pathogenic. When the human beings are attacked by the evil demons, the attacked person will have evil desire and produces fever, vomiting, loose motion and other constitutional of infective nature.