Introduction to 'Lectures on Organon of Medicine' by Dr. Manish Bhatia

Hahnemann wrote his Organon of Medicine between 1805 and 1842. A
large part of his work focused against the then prevalent medical
system. Nearly 200 years have passed since then and human life and
the medical system have changed beyond recognition during these
years. No medical text of that time is in publication now – none except
the Organon of Medicine by Samuel Hahnemann. Homeopathy has also
survived numerous attacks since then. The question that comes up
frequently is – are Hahnemann’s words still relevant?

To answer this question honestly, one needs to understand his words in
great detail and also needs to understand the medical practices of his
time and those of the modern era, equally well. But understanding
Hahnemann’s words is not easy. The German language of 200 years ago
was different from the one that is commonly used nowadays. Words and
writing styles have changed significantly. Even the translations available
are in old English, with long-winded sentences and difficult words. Most
of the translators have also introduced some translation errors, which
sometimes give a different meaning to Hahnemann’s words. For e.g.,
read the first aphorism from various translations.
The physician’s high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed. -
Dudgeon (Hahnemann, 1829b) /Boericke (Hahnemann, 1921a)

The physician’s highest and only calling is to restore health to the sick, which is called healing. -
Wesselhoeft (Hahnemann, 1829c)

The first and sole duty of the physician is to restore health to the sick. This is the true art of healing. -
Hering (Hahnemann, 1824)

The physician’s highest calling, his only calling, is to make sick people healthy – to heal,
as it is termed. - Künzli (Hahnemann, 1921b)

The physician’s highest and only calling is to make the sick healthy, to cure, as it is called. - O’Reilly
(Hahnemann, 1921c)

Can you see the differences? Boericke and Dudgeon use the word
‘mission’; Hering uses ‘duty’; Wesselhoeft, Künzli and O’Reilly use the
word ‘calling’.

The original is:
Des Arztes höchster und einziger Beruf ist, kranke Menschen gesund zu
machen, was man Heilen nennt.

The problem lies in the translation. In German we have "Berufung",
which means: mission, calling, and "Beruf", which means occupation,
vocation, business, and trade. If you change the word ‘mission’ to
‘occupation’, the aphorism can be interpreted in a different way.

You might also notice that Künzli and O’Reilly have not used the word
‘restore’ in their translation. The word ‘restore’ actually qualifies how the
sick should be made healthy. The depth of the aphorism changes
without it. Such mistakes or differences in words may seem insignificant
to a casual reader, but can have far reaching consequences and often
change the meaning of the aphorism.

Through this work, it is my humble effort to make the words of
Hahnemann easy to understand and follow. I am not a scholar in
German language; to take care of the translation errors, I have studied
all the translations of the 4th, 5th and 6th editions of the Organon in
parallel, and my friends Siegfried Letzel and Hans Weitbrecht have
helped me trace and correct several translation errors. I have kept the
Dudgeon/Boericke translation (6th edition) as the base for this work as it
is the most popular of all the existing translations, but wherever there
were significant differences or errors in translation, I have made
corrections to the aphorisms to make this work accurate and authentic.

To add stress, I have also highlighted several phrases and words in
aphorisms by either making them bold or with underlines. Some words
have been explained/defined within the text of aphorisms using square
brackets [ ].

People can debate about the choice and meaning of certain words in the
original German text, but those who have studied all of Hahnemann's
works thoroughly can understand the soul behind those words. It has
been my effort to reveal that soul through these lectures.

I have also tried to explain most of the aphorisms in modern language
using modern day examples, clinical cases and correlating the words
with modern science wherever possible. The first volume of this book
covers lectures up to aphorism seventy. Two more volumes will follow
soon to cover the rest of the Organon.

The Organon is often considered difficult to understand and
Homeopathy difficult to practice. In the preface to the 5th edition of
Organon, Hahnemann (1829b) also wrote:
The application of homeopathic principles appears easy, but in
reality is most difficult and irksome; it demands most careful
thought and the utmost patience, but these find their reward in
speedy and permanent recovery of the patient.

I agree with him totally. This work is just a small effort to share my
understanding of his work with all of you. If this work helps you
understand the Organon better, if it inspires you to practice
homeopathy, to stay true to the principles, I’ll consider myself

Author: Dr. Manish Bhatia

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