By Sharanya Gopinathan
A third-year Bachelors of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery textbook, supervised by the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, and the curriculum of which was decided by the (separately kind of ridiculous) Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), is apparently full of rubbish, but rubbish of the extra worrying kind.
The textbook apparently contains full passages that explain what to do to conceive a baby boy. By explain we of course mean gives very specific and arbitrary instructions, such as a direction to take north-facing branches of a banyan tree that has been grown in a stable (?), two grains of urad dal, and grind them together with curd, and consume. In case you had a banyan tree grown in a stable with no branches facing north, east facing branches would also do. Another option is to melt two statues of men made of gold, silver or iron, and then drink the liquified metal after mixing in curd, water or milk during the auspicious Pushp Nakshatra hour. Other directions include making a woman lie on a threshold with her head touching the ground and pouring water used to cook rice flour down her nostrils. Or something.
In addition to being a bit bizarre and hilarious to a reader that has nothing to do with it, it’s of course shocking that the methods to be used to conceive boys are being taught to Ayurveda students. It of course sends the message that there’s something beneficial and desirable about carrying boys instead of girls. As Dr Asaram Khade, a consultant to the government, said to the Times of India, such content supports female foeticide.
Considering that the academic year begins in July, the government has just about a month to rectify the textbook, else a whole new batch of students will be taught this regressive material. The material, by the way, comes from Charaka Samhita, a pre-second century ayurveda compilation. Mm, just what the doctor ordered. Not.
This has happened before, by the way: in December 2016, Malayalam daily Mangalam published a list of nonsensical tips to help you conceive a male child. As ridiculius as that was, it’s far less serious than when such nonsense is being taught to actual students and future practitioners of ayurveda.