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Should doctors be using the first aid Red Cross sign? This controversy has brought about the need to understand the deeper meaning behind the doctors’ own emblem.
Doctors are required to use emblem of a staff with 2 snakes entwined.
The emblem has much deeper meaning and is the perfect reminder of well-being. Most medical associations world over use a modification of the emblem: the compulsory triad of a staff, one or two snakes and another object to represent well-being, which can be a candle, lamp (diya), wings, birds, or a kalash (urn), etc.
The emblem represents a state of wellness representing oneness in the Body, Mind and the Consciousness.
The rod or the staff represents the body (erect or healthy), the two snakes represent the duality of mind (wavering mind or the sympathetic state of the mind) and the wings (two wings, the birds, the lamp) signify the unmanifest consciousness (or the parasympathetic state of mind).
For wellness, we need a union of physical, social and mental well-being.
A single snake signifies uncontrolled mind and a disease.
The ambulance emblem is a staff with a single snake without the wings. Absence of wings means no well-being and hence a sick person.
Single snake when used representing wellness is a Sheshnag (kobra snake, Shiva’s neck, Vishnu) with the hood turned inwards and not outwards (meaning ego under control).
Remember, two snakes indicate a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.
Only in a parasympathetic state of mind, can one acquire inner well-being.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA