evolution of nomadic man from prehistoric time to a
modern society has always been full of struggle to
overcome the diseases that they face. In prehistoric
time, people use to explore the surrounding materials
like, mud, plant or animal products for the cure of
diseases. Initially it would have been a hit and trial
method. When any method was successful it become
folklore and passed to the next generation in particular
community. This community knowledge became traditional
knowledge as it was practiced for many generations.
Plants are commonly available source to the societies so
the exploration of plants was much more to seek a relief
from any kind of disease. Fossil records indicate that
human started to use plant as medicine is about 60,000
years ago (Fabricant & Farnsworth, 2001).
In the ancient time great civilizations like, Indus
valley, Mesopotamia, Greece and Roman were well aware
about the medicinal plants and their uses. In India,
medicinal knowledge was compiled in the form of Ayurveda
which means the Science of life. It is believed that
Ayurveda was preached and practiced by various Rishi
(Sages) over a period of thousand years 2000-500 BC (Dwivedi
& Dwivedi, 2007). Ayurveda is itself a complete book of
medical knowledge and having description of almost all
major branches of modern medical sciences like,
Medicine, Paediatrics, Gynecology, Surgery, and
Psychiatry etc. Plants are the major source of Ayurvedic
medicines and it is used either alone or in combination
with various plants and sometimes also with animal
In India, traditional knowledge passed from one
generation to the next generation orally in Gurukul
(Residential schools run by the Rishis), thus there is a
great accumulation of traditional knowledge in society.
In the Gurukul, students were taught in Sanskrit medium
about different branches of sciences. Thus, Indians were
not much concerned about the copyright or intellectual
property rights because of high moral practices.
However, there were many Rishis who have explored
various branches of Ayurveda for example Sushruta has
written about detailed procedure of surgery and Charaka
wrote about the medicines.
India has always been under constant invasion by the
outsider viz Arabs or the western powers. Many of the
indigenous traditional knowledge have been translated
and used by the outsiders back in their own countries.
There are instances when invaders have destroyed ancient
literatures however, Ayurvedic treatments are still
practiced by many trained practitioners and some
knowledge is still kept alive as family secretes and
practiced by many as a tradition.
For full text of this article contact the publisher on