Kerala state board Class 9 textbook distorts history, claims Abu al-Qasim Al-Zahwari was the ‘Father of Surgery’ instead of Sushrutha

Sushrutha performing surgeries/ Image Source: Quicksilver

A shocking act of state board textbooks teaching false history to students has come to light in the state of Kerala. The class 9 social science textbook of the Kerala state board has not only falsified facts about Indian contribution to the field of health sciences but also has attempted to secularise the history by crediting someone else for the achievements accomplished by Hindu sages, reports Organiser.

According to the class 9 textbook of the Kerala state board, the Abu al-Qasim Al-Zahwari is the ‘father of surgery’. Al-Zahwari was an Arab physician and chemist believed to have lived some time in the 10th century CE. Some historians claim that Al-Zahwari illustrated certain surgical tools and performed minor surgeries during his time.

The controversial content finds a place on page 34 of the textbook, under the title “Great people and their contributions”.

Class 9 textbook of Kerala state board claiming Al-Zahwari as the father of Surgery/ Image Source: The Commune Mag

However, it is a widely known fact that it is Indian physician Sushrutha, who lived much earlier than Al-Zahwari during the 8th century BCE, who is considered to be the ‘father of surgery’.

Sushrutha, who lived in the kingdom of Kashi, is known to have performed surgeries and detailed several surgical techniques in his text, the ‘Sushruta-Samhita‘.  He is also considered as ‘Father of Indian Medicine‘ and ‘Father of Plastic Surgery‘ for inventing and developing several surgical procedures.

The Sushrutha Samhita, in its extant form, has 184 chapters containing descriptions of 1,120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, 64 preparations from mineral sources, and 57 preparations based on animal sources. The majestic text discusses several surgical techniques including making incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, alkali and thermal cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, and trocars for draining the abscess, draining hydrocele and ascitic fluid, removal of the prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation, vesicolithotomy, hernia surgery, caesarian section, etc.

The treatise also enumerates six types of dislocations, twelve varieties of fractures, and classification of the bones and their reaction to the injuries, and gives a classification of eye diseases including cataract surgery. In addition to this, it also speaks about the management of hemorrhoids, fistulae, laparotomy and management of intestinal obstruction, perforated intestines and accidental perforation of the abdomen with protrusion of omentum and the principles of fracture management, viz., traction, manipulation, apposition, and stabilization including some measures of rehabilitation and fitting of prosthetic.

The deliberate falsification of established facts by crediting one’s achievement to mythical individuals in an attempt to secularise education by the Kerala government has generated a massive controversy in Kerala.

Many in the state are questioning the state board for blatantly ignoring the fact that Sushrutha is widely regarded as the ‘father of surgery’. Reportedly, it is being alleged that the Kerala government are knowingly using such distorted textbooks to teach to students and added that such acts can be a serious threat to the India’s civilizational fabric, as students who learn these errors without verifying actual facts.

Need to change the syllabus in current textbooks: Parliamentary Standing Committee

Incidentally, the controversy has broken out just days after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education met on Wednesday to discuss the revision of current National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) history textbooks in schools.

During the debate over the need for change in the syllabus, former NCERT director JS Rajput and representatives of the Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal (BSM) told the committee that current history textbooks in schools are not doing justice to the subcontinent’s contribution in cultural, artistic advances and a lot of other topics.

The panel had met to mainly discuss the need to remove references to un-historical facts and distortions about our national heroes, to ensure proportionate references to all periods of Indian history, and to highlight the role of great women in Indian history.

NCERT says it has no information on source of claim made in textbook

A few days back, a person named Shivank Verma had filed an RTI application seeking evidence for the claim made in the NCERT textbook ‘Themes of Indian History (Part II)’ for class XII which mentioned that grants were issued by the Mughal emperors for the repair of temples destroyed in war during the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.

The NCERT had, however, said that it has no evidence to prove that Mughal emperors had rebuilt temples destroyed in wars, even when it claims the same in its history textbook. As per a report in The Hindu, the meeting also discussed how the ‘Mughal-era’ is overemphasized in current books, often whitewashing their crimes, while ignoring most Hindu rulers and their contributions to the subcontinent’s heritage.

OpIndia Staff: Staff reporter at OpIndia