24th February 2015
Do Dharampal’s notes prove indigenous smallpox inoculation in 18th century India? NO.
CONTINUING FROM MY EARLIER POST.
The date of Edward Jenner’s discovery of the smallpox vaccine is 1798.
WHEN DID THE INDIAN DISCOVERY OCCUR?
The reported accounts preceded Jenner by 10-60 years. Further, the original discovery is attributed to someone 150 years prior, so around 200 years prior to Jenner.
(The operation of inoculation called by the natives tikah has been known in the kingdom of Bengall as near as I can learn, about 150 years and according to the Bhamanian records was first performed by one Dununtary, a physician of Champanager, a small town by the side of the Ganges about half way to Cossimbazar whose memory is now holden in great esteem as being thought the author of this operation, which secret, say they, he had immediately of God in a dream.)
THE DUNUNTARY METHOD
PREPARING FOR THE VACCINE
The inhabitants of Bengali, knowing the usual time when the inoculating Bramins annually return, observe strictly the regimen enjoined, whether they determine to be inoculated or not; this preparation consists only in abstaining for a month from fish, milk, and ghee (a kind of butter made generally of buffalos milk); the prohibition of fish respects only the native Portuguese and Mahomedans, who abound in every province of the empire.
Their method of performing this operation is by:
1) taking a little of the pus (when the smallpox are come to maturity and are of a good kind) and
2) dipping these in the point of a pretty large sharp needle. Therewith
3) make severall punctures in the hollow under the deltoid muscle or sometimes in the forehead, after which
4) they cover the part with a little paste made of boiled rice.
Previous to the operation the Operator takes a piece of cloth in his hand, (which becomes his perquisite if the family is opulent) and with it gives a dry friction upon the part intended for inoculation, for the space of eight or ten minutes, then with a small instrument he wounds, by many slight touches, about the compass of a silver groat, just making the smallest appearance of blood, then opening a linen double rag (which he always keeps in a cloth round his waist) takes from thence a small pledget of cotton charged with the variolous matter, which he moistens with two or three drops of the Ganges Water, an applies it to the wound, fixing it on with a slight bandage, and ordering it to remain on for six hours without being moved.
Then the bandage [is] to be taken off, and the pledget to remain until it falls off itself;
Sometimes (but rarely) he squeezes a drop from the pledget, upon the part, before he applies it; from the time he begins the dry friction, to tying the knot of the bandage,
He never ceases reciting some portions of the worship appointed, by the Aughtorrah Bhade, to be paid to the female divinity before mentioned, nor quits the most solemn countenance all the while.
The cotton, which he preserves in a double callico rag, is saturated with matter from the inoculated pustules of the preceding year, for they never inoculate with fresh matter, nor with matter from the disease caught in the natural way, however distinct and mild the species.
POST INOCULATION DIET
Early on the morning succeeding the operation, four collans (an earthen pot containing about two gallons) of cold water are ordered to be thrown over the patient, from the head downwards, and to be repeated every morning and evening until the fever comes on, (which usually is about the close of the sixth day from the inoculation) then to desist until the appearance of the eruptions, (which commonly happens at the close of the third complete day from the commencement of the fever) and then to pursue the cold bathing as before, through the course of the disease, and until the scabs of the pustules drop off.
They are ordered to open all the pustules with a fine sharp pointed thorn, as soon as they begin to change their colour, and whilst the matter continues in a fluid state.
Confinement to the house is absolutely forbid, and the inoculated are ordered to be exposed to every air that blows; and the utmost indulgence they are allowed when the fever comes on, is to be laid on a mat at the door; but, in fact, the eruptive fever is generally so inconsiderable and trifling, as very seldom to require this indulgence.
Their regimen is ordered to consist of all the refrigerating things the climate and season produces, as plantains, sugar-canes, water melons, rice, gruel made of white poppy-seeds, and cold water, or thin rice gruel for their ordinary drink.
He extends the prohibition of fish, milk and ghee, for one month from the day of inoculation.
An injunction laid on the patients to make a thanksgiving Poojah, or offering, to the goddess on their recovery
The regimen they order, when they are called to attend the disease taken in the natural way, is uniformly the same.
TO SPEED UP
When they want the operation of the inoculated matter to be quick they give the patient a small bolus made of a little of the pus, and boiled rice immediately after the operation which is repeated the two following days at noon.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THIS IS SUCCESSFUL
The place where the punctures were made commonly festures and comes to a small supporation, and if not the operation has no effect and the person is still liable to have the smallpox but on the contrary if the punctures do supporate and no feaver or eruption insues, then they are no longer subject to the infection.
The punctures blacken and dry up with the other pustules.
The feaver insues later or sooner, according to the age and strength of the person inoculated, but commonly the third or fourth days. They keep the patient under the coolest regimen they can think off before the feaver comes on and frequently use cold bathing.
If the eruption is suppressed they also use frequent cold bathing. At the same time they give warm medicine inwardly, but if they prove of the confluent kind, they use no cold bathing, but (keep) the patient very cooll and give coolling medicine.
There usually begins to be a discharge from the scarification a day before the eruption, which continues through the disease, and sometimes after the scabs of the pock fall off, and a few pustules generally appear round the edge of the wound; when these two circumstances appear only, without a single eruption on any other part of the body, the patient is deemed as secure from future infection, as if the eruption had been general.
1. There is no doubt that this is a genuine vaccination methodology. The virus is injected into the body at a point when it directly creates antibodies.
2. But this cannot qualify as a smallpox vaccine.
i) It is an extremely high risk exercise. Live virus taken from humans can kill. There must have been many accidents in this process, where people got infected by the "vaccine".
ii) There is huge uncertainty about the quality of vaccination in absence of any quality control. This means that a good number of people would never have got immunity from this vaccine.
For these reasons I conclude that it is appropriate to cite this as part of the global history of observation and scientific discovery in relation to vaccination, BUT it is inappropriate to say that India had discovered the vaccination for smallpox prior to Jenner.
If the Indian smallpox vaccine was the only available method to mankind, we would still have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, die of smallpox each year.
Moreover, as I mentioned in my FB post, I was from the generation that received the small pox vaccination which then allowed small pox to be eliminated from India. Why did it take 1970s for this to happen, if India had already 'invented' the vaccine.
MILLIONS OF INDIANS DIED, TENS OF MILLIONS WERE DISFIGURED FOR LIFE EVEN IN THE 20TH CENTURY. Compare the pathetic record of the “Indian vaccine” in India vs. the TOTAL AND ABSOLUTE control over the disease by the PROPER smallpox vaccine. That proper vaccine did not require the massive dietary rigmarole, nor the extensive time wastage on useless activities.
So, well done on Indian observation powers and attempts to create a vaccine. But unfortunately we can’t declare this to have been successful.
Btw, there’s yet another controversy in this regard, something to do with claims made in the Vedas. Download and read if you wish.