are following major Ayurvedic Texts available.
(A) Charaka Samhita
(B) Sushruta Samhita
(F) Bhava Prakasha
CHARAKA SAMHITA: -
Maharishi Atreya, who
was said to acquire Ayurveda from Maharishi Bharadwaj, has
identified himself to be associated with Kaya Chikitsa (Internal
Medicine). Maharishi Atreya taught Ayurveda to six disciples,
viz. Agnivesha, Bhela, Parasara, jatukarna, Hareeta and
Ksharapani. All these six disciples have recorded the teachings
of Atreya, in form of Sutras-, as it was the existing practice
in Vedic literature. Of these records, the compilation made by
Agnivesha was treatised as Charaka Samhita.
Among the six disciples of Maharishi Atreya, Agnivesa was
believed to be brilliant. In spite of such brilliance, Agnivesa
was modest enough, not to add any thing on his own to the
original teaching of his teacher. Thus, Charaka Samhita is a
compilation by Agnivesa, of the teaching by Maharishi Atreya.
This treatise has been acknowledged as the first textbook on
Medicine & Health care.
Agnivesa’s compilation was initially named as “Agnivesa
Tantra”. After compilation of the text by Agnivesa over a
period of time, the text appeared to be lost into the pages of
history. At this time, another Charaka came into the picture
redacted the whole text. Available evidence shows that, this
Charaka belonged to the period of 300 to 200 B.C., which more or
less into Kanishka Periods in Indian history. Thus the book
attained his name as Charaka Samhita.
By 4th century AD (the period of Gupta’s ruling in
India), an important part (almost 1/3rd) of the
treatise was found to be slipped into history, once again. At
this stage, the text was redacted by another scholar, Dridhabala.
As a result of these two historical redaction’s (by both
Charaka and Dridhabala), Charaka Samhita in its present form, is
not the original text preserved through times and was bound to
have some kind modifications in the original text. However, due
to sincere efforts by Charaka and Dridhabala, a major part of
the text appears to keep the original spirit of Agnivesa.
The original contents of the text, presented in form of Sutras
were interpreted by various commentaries. The present
understanding on the Samhita is based upon the interpretation of
some outstanding commentaries only. Charaka Samhita was
translated into Persian and Arabic languages
& also some significant translations in English.
Charaka Samhita synchronizes the beauty of Sanskrit language
(packed into 9,227 Slokas) with a science like Ayurveda
–perfectly. Such beauty of literature is missing in the
consequent texts on Ayurveda. It shows the very impressive
effect in terms of Psychosomatic-View, in the treatment &
cure of diseases. In this samhita, there are landmarks in
scientific nidan (etiology) as Ten process of examine of
disorders /disease. Charaka leads the Rasayana therapy for
rejuvenation and longevity in the mainframe of chikitsa-sthana,
which gives a very significant attitude in Ayurveda environment.
As the teaching of
“Atreya”, were confined to Internal Medicine, the treatise
specializes in this particular branch of Ayurveda only. Charaka
Samhita has 8 volumes, each of which is termed as Sthana
(section). The contents are arranged in a total of 120 chapters
and the number of chapters in each Sthana was kept as variable.
Charaka Samhita-the foremost treatise among its kind had
contributed to the nourishment of scientific spirit of Vedic
intellect. Its content shows a definite advancement in basic
concepts of Ayurveda. The physiological concepts of Ayurveda,
viz. Tridosha Theory look a firm rooting structure in a logical
Preventive health care approaches laid down at the beginning of
medical sciences by Charaka Samhita deserve a complete
exploration. The approaches advocated by it, call for all round
preventive care based on body, mind and spirit.
Scientific methods of clinical diagnosis, determination of
prakriti based upon simple observations of physique and behavior
are explained by Charaka Samhita. The Samhita contributed to the
evolution of therapeutic approaches from Supernatural methods to
Rational methods. It’s therapeutic point out to a highly
evolved holistic approach of health care.
The literary aspect of Charaka Samhita is one of its unique
natures. Charaka Samhita uses an extremely fine poetic language
and interfaces the science, with the sweetness of poetry. Thus,
it attracted a large number of non-medical language scholars
Charaka Samhita was enriched by number of commentaries by
various scholars at later periods. Of them,
Nirantara-Padavyakhya written by Jejjata and Ayurveda-Deepika
commentary by Chakrapani Datta need a specific mention.
(B) SUSHRUTA SAMHITA: -
Sushruta samhita was the second treatise to enrich Ayurveda
during the Samhita Era. This text represents a totally different
tradition of Ayurveda and therefore, the text describes a
different order for descent of Ayurveda. As per the Ayurvedic
doctrine Dhanwantary is said to have taught Ayurveda to Sushruta.
In the historical point of view, Dhanwantary who taught
Ayurveda to Sushruta was supposed to be king of Kashi (presently
Varanasi). His complete name was Dhanwantary Divodasa. Divodasa
was regarded as a great exponent of Ayurveda as a whole. He was
thorough with all the 8 branches of Ayurveda.
To determine the time of Sushruta Samhita appears to be more
complex, as we come across many name of Sushruta, who was an
expert in surgery. However, based upon the period of Divodasa,
it is generally accepted that the author of Sushruta Samhita
belongs too roughly before 600 B.C., which just proceeded the
period of Gautam Buddha.
Contribution of Sushruta & his compilation to modern
surgery are highly acknowledged. Modern world recognizes him for
dissecting the dead bodies to learn Anatomy. Sushruta performed
anatomical dissections only on the bodies of youngsters, which
were customarily buried. He did not have an opportunity to study
the bodies of grown-up adults, as these corpses were being burnt
down religiously, those days. As a result, the total number of
bones enumerated in this samhita is higher, in comparison to the
enumeration of modern anatomy.
Sushruta is acknowledged as the first surgeon. His treatise
describes various surgical procedures to the minute details. The
concepts of Pre-operative, operative and post-operative
procedures describe in the text, provide a strong foundation to
the existing surgical practices. What intrigues a modern
researcher is the precision Sushruta has attained in describing
very minute details of Surgical Anatomy, even in the absence of
Sushruta Samhita describes surgical procedures comparable to
modern Plastic Surgery. He repairs injured bodily parts by
grafting with healthy tissues take from somewhere else, in the
body. Rhinoplasty (Nasal graft) is one of such procedures.
Sushruta also laid down the foundations for the branch of
Military Medicine –to focus onto the specific health needs of
The Samhita describes (brilliancy of Sushruta) two kinds of
surgical equipment. First group is called the Yantra, which
includes a range of instruments like forceps, specula etc and
the other group is called Shashtra, which includes a range of
instruments like knifes, scissors, hooks etc.
Sushruta Samhita enriches the two branches of Ayurveda, viz.
Shalya (Surgery) and Shalakya Tantra (ENT & Eye). The
content of the text was divided among 6 volumes, named as Sthana
(section). It spread into 186 chapters.
interestingly, Sushruta Samhita devotes a chapter to
Marmasthanas (vital points of the body), which is somewhat
closer to Chinese concept of Meridians in Acupuncture. It also
introduces the concept of Medical-Registration.
Hrdayam comprises an important milestone in Ayurvedic
literature. The name of the text implies that, it is the heart
of eight branches (obviously, of Ayurveda). The book was
complied by Vagbhatta and is believed to present in 600AD.
It had attracted the attention of medical men not only with in
the country but also of neighboring countries such as Arabia,
Persia, and Tibet & Germany. With its beauty and brevity of
poetical composition, sequential arrangement of topics, clear
description of precepts and practices of medical science and
many other merits, it has earned its rightful place as one among
the, three great treatises-of Ayurveda. It is an epitome of
Ayurveda catering to the needs of the students, scholars and
medical practitioners alike.
In Ashtanga-Hrdayam, the language is very simple and is totally
free from any kind of poetic demagogy, like the earlier
treatises. The concept was more matured and summarizing
all-important aspect. The Ashtanga-Hrdayam is more practical for
clinical purposes. The text complies information highly relevant
to day today application, instead of going into the depths of
philosophy of Ayurveda.
Ashtanga-Hrdayam contains Six-Sthanas & total number of
chapters being 120. There are 240 short prose lines, two at the
commencement of each chapter.
Ashtanga-Hrdayam perhaps had the largest number of commentaries
to its credit –which suggests its popularity. In all, there
were 44 commentaries, as indicated by historical evidence.
MADHAVA NIDANAM: -
IIn the Ayurveda,
Madhava Nidanam plays the vital role in the treatise
justification. This text comprises the first title among
Laghuttrayee (The lesser triad) in Ayurvedic literature.
Probably, Madhava Nidana was the first treatise on Ayurveda, to
focus on non-medical-specialties. Earlier texts were aimed to
focus primarily on the basis of medical specialties of Ayurveda-the
eight branches. Text, to deal with more specific areas of
clinical practice-were rare before Madhava Nidana.
The text focuses only on the Clinical Pathology therefore,
occupies an important place among the whole array of Ayurvedic
treatises. This treatise comes in existence by Acharya
Madhavakar, who had written the major text ”Roga-Vinishchaya”,
popularise as Madhava Nidanam in 700 AD.
In this treatise, there are 69 chapters, which show perfect
Nidana (etiology). Madhava Nidana covers the Clinical Pathology
of many diseases, much in depth to samhitas. In this text 68
types of diseases is noted, by its characters, symptoms,
etiology (nidana) and chikitsa (therapeutics); by the original
wordings of Charaka, Sushruta & Vaagbhatta. Diseases like,
Rheumatoid arthritis, Hyper-acidity, Obesity was considered by
Madhava Nidana as independent disease entities, which were
covered in samhitas very briefly.
are only two well-known commentaries of Madhava Nidana. The
first one was written by Vijayarakshita –in the name of
Madhukosha-Vyakhya in 12th century AD. The second was
by Vachaspati, in the name of Atanka-Darpana.
Nidana was among few texts to be translated into Arabic language
during the regime of Harun-al-Rashid. A part of Madhava Nidana
was translated by Dr. Mulen Bold into English in 1974 and was
published by E.L.Brill, Leiden.
SHARNGADHARA SAMHITA: -
Samhita is assigned to the early part of 14th century AD and
prepared by Sharngadhara. Except giving out his name as the
author at the commencement of the text, he has not furnished any
information about himself or his other workers. Perhaps, this
text is the last treatise to use the word “Samhita” in its
title. It constitutes the second text among Laghuttrayee.
the time of this treatise, Alchemy –the Ras Shastra was primed
well. A number of mercurial compounds were identified to act as
potent medical agents. As a result, the samhita devoted to
chapters exclusively for the purification and processing of
Mercury and other metals and metabolites.
is designed to serve as a practitioner’s handbook, as it
himself states. Written in simple and easy language; the book
consists of 32 chapters with, 2600 verses in all.
is the first Ayurvedic treatise to describe Nadi-pariksha
(examination of pulse) as a method of diagnosis of diseases. It
is the first book describing the mechanism of respiration by
making use of new terms like Ambara-Peeyoosha, Vishnupadamrita
(both to mean oxygen) and Jeevaraktashaya (to mean heart).
new technique of introducing drugs into the blood stream through
an artificial wound (Soochikabharana Rasa Prayoga) and Snayuka
Krimi Roga (guinea worm infection) has been recognized for the
first time through this text. Clear definitions of
pharmacological terms & also the method of preparation of
all types of recipes are found only in this text.
found herein are simple, easy to prepare and effacious and hence
make the treatise a good practitioner’s handbook.
Samhita lays down specific guidelines for collections of
medicinal plants. These guidelines were aimed to ensure that the
herb is collected from healthy and uncontaminated source, while
it is at an optimal level of medicinal effects.
BHAVA PRAKASHA: -
It is a famous treatise written by
“Bhava Mishra” in 1500-1650 AD. There are very
systematized & elaborative views of Pharmacology in this
text. Due to this reason, Bhava-Prakasha is one of the highly
popular texts referred to, by practicing Ayurvedic physicians.
this text all types of matter –“plants, animals &
minerals”; show their properties in Ayurvedic form very
beautifully. The original text is in the form of Sanskrit-Slokas.
It covers 649 herbs for their medicinal effects, in all.
treatise follows the ancient Ayurvedic literature in context of
basic principles and therapeutics. It is a crisp presentation of
thought processes in a simpler language.
text has three divisions. The first division, know as Prathama
Khanda deals with the fundamentals of Ayurveda. This is
supplemented by a Nighantu (means a dictionary) and Terminology
& Pancha-Karma procedures. The second division known as
Madhyama Khanda, contains the therapeutics related to 71
diseases entitles are described. The last division known as
Uttara Khanda deals with Rasayana and Vrishya chikitsa.
the main contribution of the entire text comes from the
supplementation by Nighantu. The supplement contains a large
number of herbs not covered by earlier texts –described
elaborately, for their medicinal effects. Thus, the treatise
takes its credit for studying new medicinal plants, in terms of
Ayurvedic Concept of Pharmacology.
Nighantu divided the medicinal herbs under 23 groups based on