Garcia da Orta

Garcia da Orta (1501-1568) was one of the most famous doctrors and reseraches of medicine, of the 16th century. The bones of new Christian da Orta were convicted for judaizing, and burnt.

Garcia da Orta was a Portuguese of Jewish origin. As the situation of the Jews in Portugal became more and more difficult, not to say perilous, the Portuguese Jews emigrated to the new colonies which were discovered by the Portuguese mariners.

Garcia da Orta.
Garcia da Orta.

Garcia chose to emigrate to Goa, in India. And after some years, experimenting with the medicinal applications used in India, he wrote a book “Os Colóquios dos Simples e Drogas e Coisas Medicinais na India” ((Colloquies of the simple, and Drugs and medicinal applications in India).

When this book, printed in Goa,- the Printing Press was installed in Goa, in 1545, the first printing press in all Asia –appeared in Europe, it became overnight a best seller, and was avidly read by the doctors of all European countries.

In 1563, this illustrious doctor, old-time professor of the University of Lisbon, Garcia de Orta gave to print a notorious text, where the purpose of the drugs and medicinal applications of India confront two models of knowledge: the old established texts, and the experimental.

A Dr. Ruano coming from Portugal to Goa maintains a discussion with Orta, and clearly they represent two types of mentality and of a vision of the world.

The Portuguese government honored Garcia with a 20 Escudos note.
The Portuguese government honored Garcia with a 20 Escudos note.

Garcia was the son of Spanish Jews, who had fled to Portugal . He was born in Castelo de Vide, and in 1525, was already a doctor, having studied in Salamanca. He became professor of the University of Coimbra, and in 1534, perhaps fearing the Inquisition, he sailed to India, on the vessel “Rainha”.

The bones of Garcia de Orta were exhumed twelve years after his death, and was put for trial by the inquisitors. The judges of the archbishop of Goa could not rest until his bones were rendered to ashes. Garcia’s bones were burned, convicted for judaizing.

The Inquisition in Goa lasted 252 years, from 1560 until 1812. And were it not for the fact that Goa was occupied militarily by the British during the Napoleonic wars, I believe that the British had a lot to do. They had to banish this iniquitous organization, which sent to the stake, more than 39,000 people. They were unjustly accused of venerating in secret their ancient God. God of the Hebrews, God of the Bible. Not only new Christians (marranos) were martyred in Old Goa. But also many Goans who had been Christianized, by the inquisitiors accused of secetely going back to worship of their old “gods”.

Alfredo de Mello

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