A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 2

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1932 | 241,887 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of ayurveda and the atharva-veda: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the first part in the series called the “speculations in the medical schools”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 1 - Āyurveda and the Atharva-veda

Suśruta says that Āyurveda (the science of life) is an upāṅga of the Atharva-Veda and originally consisted of 100,000 verses in one thousand chapters and was composed by Brahmā before he created all beings (Suśruta-saṃhitā, 1. 1. 5). What upāṅga exactly means in this connection cannot easily be satisfactorily explained. Ḍalhaṇa (a.d. 1100) in explaining the word in his Nibandha-saṃgraha, says that an upāṅga is a smaller aṅga (part)— “aṅgam eva alpatvād upāṅgam .” Thus, while hands and legs are regarded as aṅgas , the toes or the palms of the hands are called upāṅga. The Atharva-Veda contains six thousand verses and about one thousand prose lines. If the Āyurveda originally contained 100,000 verses, it cannot be called an upāṇga of the Atharva-Veda, if upāṇga is to mean a small appendage, as Ḍalhaṇa explains it. For, far from being a small appendage, it was more than ten times as extensive as the Atharva-Veda.

Caraka, in discussing the nature of Āyurveda, says that there was never a time when life did not exist or when intelligent people did not exist, and so there were always plenty of people who knew about life, and there were always medicines which acted on the human body according to the principles which we find enumerated in the Āyurveda. Āyurveda was not produced at any time out of nothing, but there was always a continuity of the science of life; when we hear of its being produced, it can only be with reference to a beginning of the comprehension of its principles by some original thinker or the initiation of a new course of instruction at the hands of a gifted teacher. The science of life has always been in existence, and there have always been people who understood it in their own way; it is only with reference to its first systematized comprehension or instruction that it may be said to have a beginning[1].

Again, Caraka distinguishes Āyurveda as a distinct Veda, which is superior to the other Vedas because it gives us life, which is the basis of all other enjoyments or benefits, whether they be of this world or of another[2]. Vāgbhata, the elder, speaks of Āyurveda not as an upāṇga , but as an upaveda of the Atharva-Veda [3]. The Mahā-bhārata, n. 11. 33, speaks of upaveda , and Nīlakaṇtha, explaining this, says that there are four upavedas , Āyurveda, Dhanur-veda , Gāndharva and Artha-śāstra . Brahma-vaivarta, a later purāṇay says that after creating the Rk, Yajus, Sāma and Atharva Brahmā created the Āyurveda as the fifth Veda[4]. Roth has a quotation in his Worterbuch to the effect that Brahmā taught Āyurveda, which was a vedāfiga , in all its eight parts[5].

We thus find that Āyurveda was regarded by some as a Veda superior to the other Vedas and respected by their followers as a fifth Veda, as an upaveda of the Atharva-Veda , as an independent upaveda , as an upāṅga of the Atharva- Veda and lastly as a vedāṅga. All that can be understood from these conflicting references is that it was traditionally believed that there was a Veda known as Āyurveda which was almost co-existent with the other Vedas, was entitled to great respect, and was associated with the Atharva-Veda in a special way. It seems, however, that the nature of this association consisted in the fact that both of them dealt with the curing of diseases and the attainment of long life; the one principally by incantations and charms, and the other by medicines. What Suśruta understands by calling Āyurveda an upāṅga of the Atharva- Veda is probably nothing more than this. Both the Atharva-Veda and Āyurveda dealt with the curing of diseases, and this generally linked them together in the popular mind, and, the former being the holier of the two, on account of its religious value, the latter was associated with it as its literary accessory.

Dārila bhaṭṭa, in commenting upon Kauśika-sūtra , 25. 2, gives us a hint as to what may have been the points of contact and of difference between Āyurveda and the Atharva-Veda. Thus he says that there are two kinds of diseases; those that are produced by unwholesome diet, and those produced by sins and transgressions. The Āyurveda was made for curing the former, and the Atharvan practices for the latter[6]. Caraka himself counts penance (prāyaś-citta) as a name of medicine (bheṣaja) and Cakrapāṇi,in commenting on this, says that as prāyaś-citta removes the diseases produced by sins, so medicines (bheṣaja) also remove diseases, and thus prāyaś-citta is synonymous with bheṣaja[7].

But what is this Āyurveda? We now possess only the treatises of Caraka and Suśruta, as modified and supplemented by later revisers. But Suśruta tells us that Brahmā had originally produced the Āyurveda, which contained 100,000 verses spread over one thousand chapters, and then, finding the people weak in intelligence and short-lived, later on divided it into eight subjects, viz.

  • surgery (śalya),
  • treatment of diseases of the head (śālākya),
  • treatment of ordinary diseases (kāya-cikitsā),
  • the processes of counteracting the influences of evil spirits (bhūta-vidyā),
  • treatment of child diseases (kaumāra-bhṛtya),
  • antidotes to poisons (agada-tantra),
  • the science of rejuvenating the body (rasāyana)
  • and the science of acquiring sex-strength (vājīkaraṇa)[8].

The statement of Suśruta that Āyurveda was originally a great work in which the later subdivisions of its eight different kinds of studies were not differentiated seems to be fairly trustworthy. The fact that Āyurveda is called an upāṅga , an upaveda , or a vedāṅga also points to its existence in some state during the period when the Vedic literature was being composed. We hear of compendiums of medicine as early as the Prātiśākhyas[9]. It is curious, however, that nowhere in the Upaniṣads or the Vedas does the name “Āyurveda” occur, though different branches of study are mentioned in the former[10]. The Aṣṭāṅga Āyurveda is, however, mentioned in the Mahā-bhārata , and the three constituents (dhātu), vāyu (wind), pitta (bile) and śleṣman (mucus), are also mentioned; there is reference to a theory that by these three the body is sustained and that by their decay the body decays (etaiḥ kṣīṇaiś ca kṣīyate), and Kṛṣṇātreya is alluded to as being the founder of medical science (cikitsitam)[11].

One of the earliest systematic mentions of medicines unmixed with incantations and charms is to be found in the Mahā-vagga of the Vinaya-Pitaka , where the Buddha is prescribing medicines for his disciples[12]. These medicines are of a simple nature, but they bear undeniable marks of methodical arrangement. We are also told there of a surgeon, named Akāśagotto, who made surgical operations (sattha-kamma) on fistula (bhagandara). In Rockhill’s Life of the Buddha we hear of Jīvaka as having studied medicine in the Taxila University under Atreya[13]. That even at the time of the Atharva-Veda there were hundreds of physicians and an elaborate pharmacopoeia, treating diseases with drugs, is indicated by a mantra therein which extols the virtues of amulets, and speaks of their powers as being equal to thousands of medicines employed by thousands of medical practitioners[14]. Thus it can hardly be denied that the practice of medicine was in full swing even at the time of the Atharva-Veda ; and, though we have no other proofs in support of the view that there existed a literature on the treatment of diseases, known by the name of Āyurveda, in which the different branches, which developed in later times, were all in an undifferentiated condition, yet we have no evidence which can lead us to disbelieve Suśruta, when he alludes definitely to such a literature. The Caraka-saṃhitā also alludes to the existence of a beginningless traditional continuity of Āyurveda, under which term he includes life, the constancy of the qualities of medical herbs, diet, etc., and their effects on the human body and the intelligent enquirer.

The early works that are now available to us, viz. the Caraka-saṃhitā and Suśruta-saṃhitā, are both known as tantras [15]. Even Agniveśa’s work (Agniveśa-saṃhitā), which Caraka revised and which was available at the time of Cakrapāṇi, was a tantra . What then was the Āyurveda, which has been variously described as a fifth Veda or an upaveda , if not a literature distinctly separate from the tantras now available to us[16]? It seems probable, therefore, that such a literature existed, that the systematized works of Agniveśa and others superseded it and that, as a consequence, it cameultimately to be lost. Caraka, however, uses the word “Āyurveda” in the general sense of “science of life.” Life is divided by Caraka into four kinds, viz. sukha (happy), duḥkha (unhappy), hita (good) and ahita (bad).

Sukham āyuḥ is a life which is not affected by bodily or mental diseases, is endowed with vigour, strength, energy, vitality, activity and is full of all sorts of enjoyments and successes. The opposite of this is the asukham āyuḥ. Hitam āyuḥ is the life of a person who is always willing to do good to all beings, never steals others’ property, is truthful, self-controlled, self-restrained and works with careful consideration, does not transgress the moral injunctions, takes to virtue and to enjoyment with equal zeal, honours revered persons, is charitable and does what is beneficial to this world and to the other. The opposite of this is called ahita. The object of the science of life is to teach what is conducive to all these four kinds of life and also to determine the length of such a life[17].

But, if Āyurveda means “science of life,” what is its connection with the Atharva-Veda ? We find in the Caraka-saṃhitā that a physician should particularly be attached (bhaktir ādeśyā) to the Atharva-Veda.

The Atharva-Veda deals with

  • the treatment of diseases (cikitsā) by advising the propitiatory rites (svastyayana),
  • offerings (bait),
  • auspicious oblations (maṅgala-homa),
  • penances (niyama),
  • purificatory rites (prāyaś-citta), fasting (upavāsa)
  • and incantations (mantra)[18].

Cakrapāṇi, in commenting on this, says that, since it is advised that physicians should be attached to the Atharva-Veda , it comes to this, that the Atharva-Veda becomes Āyurveda (Atharva-vedasya āyurvedatvam uktaṃ bhavati). The Atharva-Veda, no doubt, deals with different kinds of subjects, and so Āyurveda is to be considered as being only a part of the Atharva-Veda (Atharva-vedaikadeśa eva āyur-vedaḥ). Viewed in the light of Cakrapāṇi’s interpretation, it seems that the school of medical teaching to which Caraka belonged was most intimately connected with the Atharva-Veda. This is further corroborated by a comparison of the system of bones found in the Caraka-saṃhitā with that of the Atharva-Veda. Suśruta himself remarks that, while he considers the number of bones in the human body to be three hundred, the adherents of the Vedas hold them to be three hundred and sixty; and this is exactly the number counted by Caraka[19]. The Atharva-Veda does not count the bones; but there are with regard to the description of bones some very important points in which the school to which Caraka belonged was in agreement with the Atharva-Veda, and not with Suśruta.

Dr Hoernle, who has carefully discussed the whole question, thus remarks:

“A really important circumstance is that the Atharvic system shares with the Charakiyan one of the most striking points in which the latter differs from the system of Suśruta, namely, the assumption of a central facial bone in the structure of the skull. It may be added that the Atharvic term pratiṣṭhā for the base of the long bones obviously agrees with the Charakiyan term adhiṣṭhāna and widely differs from the Suśrutiyan kūrca[20].”

The Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa , which, as Dr Hoernle has pointed out, shows an acquaintance with both the schools to which Caraka and Suśruta respectively belonged, counts, however, 360 bones, as Caraka did[21]. The word veda-vādino in Suśruta-saṃhitā, ill. 5. 18 does not mean the followers of Āyurveda as distinguished from the Vedas, as Ḍalhaṇa interprets it, but is literally true in the sense that it gives us the view which is shared by Caraka with the Atharva-Veda, the Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa , the legal literature and the purāṇas , which according to all orthodox estimates derive their validity from the Vedas. If this agreement of the Vedic ideas with those of the Atreya school of medicine, as represented by Caraka, be viewed together with the identification by the latter of Āyur-Veda with Atharva-Veda, it may be not unreasonable to suppose that the Atreya school, as represented by Caraka, developed from the Atharva- Veda.

This does not preclude the possibility of there being an Āyurveda of another school, to which Suśruta refers and from which, through the teachings of a series of teachers, the Suśruta-saṃhitā developed. This literature probably tried to win the respect of the people by associating itself.with the Atharva-Veda , and by characterizing itself as an upāṅga of the Atharva-Veda[22].

Jayanta argues that the validity of the Vedas depends on the fact that they have been composed by an absolutely trustworthy person (āpta). As an analogy he refers to Āyurveda, the validity of which is due to the fact that it has been composed by trustworthy persons (āpta).

That the medical instructions of the Āyurveda are regarded as valid is due to the fact that they are the instructions of trustworthy persons

(yato yatrāptavādatraṃ tatra prāmāṇyam iti vyāptir gṛhyate).

But it may be argued that the validity of Āyurveda is not because it has for its author trustworthy persons, but because its instructions can be verified by experience

(nanvāyur-vedādau prāmāṇyaṃ pratyakṣādi-saṃvādāt pratipannaṃ nāpta-prāmāṇyāt).

Jayanta in reply says that the validity of Āyurveda is due to the fact of its being composed by trustworthy persons; and it can be also verified by experience. He argues also that the very large number of medicines, their combinations and applications, are of such an infinite variety that it would be absolutely impossible for any one man to know them by employing the experimental methods of agreement and difference. It is only because the medical authorities are almost omniscient in their knowledge of things that they can display such superhuman knowledge regarding diseases and their cures, which can be taken only on trust on their authority. His attempts at refuting the view that medical discoveries may have been carried on by the applications of the experimental methods of agreement and difference and then accumulated through long ages are very weak and need not be considered here.

The fourth Veda, known as the Atharva-Veda or the Brahma-Veda, deals mainly with curatives and charms[23]. There is no reason to suppose that the composition of this Veda was later than even the earliest Rg-Vedic hymns; for never, probably, in the history of India was there any time when people did not take to charms and incantations for curing diseases or repelling calamities and injuring enemies. The Rg- Veda itself may be regarded in a large measure as a special development of such magic rites. The hold of the Atharvaṇic charms on the mind of the people was probably very strong, since they had occasion to use them in all their daily concerns. Even now, when the Rg-Vedic sacrifices have become extremely rare, the use of Atharvaṇic charms and of their descendants, the Tantric charms of comparatively later times, is very common amongst all classes of Hindus.

A very large part of the income of the priestly class is derived from the performance of auspicious rites (svastyayana), purificatory penances (prāyaś-citta), and oblations (homa) for curing chronic and serious illnesses, winning a law-suit, alleviating sufferings, securing a male issue to the family, cursing an enemy, and the like. Amulets are used almost as freely as they were three or four thousand years ago, and snake-charms and charms for dog-bite and others are still things which the medical people find it difficult to combat. Faith in the mysterious powers of occult rites and charms forms an essential feature of the popular Hindu mind and it oftentimes takes the place of religion in the ordinary Hindu household. It may therefore be presumed that a good number of Atharvaṇic hymns were current when most of the Rg-Vedic hymns were not yet composed. By the time, however, that the Atharva-Veda was compiled in its present form some new hymns were incorporated with it, the philosophic character of which does not tally with the outlook of the majority of the hymns.

The Atharva-Veda, as Sāyaṇa points out in the introduction to his commentary, was indispensable to kings for warding off their enemies and securing many other advantages, and the royal priests had to be versed in the Atharvaṇic practices. These practices were mostly for the alleviation of the troubles of an ordinary householder, and accordingly the Gṛhya-sūtras draw largely from them.

The oldest name of the Atharva-Veda is Atharvāṅgirasaḥ, and this generally suggested a twofold division of it into hymns attributed to Atharvan and others attributed to Aṅgiras; the former dealt with the holy (śānta), promoting of welfare (pauṣṭika) and the curatives (bheṣajāni), and the latter with offensive rites for molesting an enemy (ābhi-cārika), also called terrible (ghora).

The purposes which the Atharvaṇic charms were supposed to fulfil were numerous. These may be briefly summed up in accordance with the Kauśika-sūtra as follows:

  • quickening of intelligence, accomplishment of the virtues of a Brahmacārin (religious student);
  • acquisition of villages, cities, fortresses and kingdoms, of cattle, riches, food grains, children, wives, elephants, horses, chariots, etc.;
  • production of unanimity (aikamatya) and contentment among the people;
  • frightening the elephants of enemies, winning a battle, warding off all kinds of weapons, stupefying, frightening and ruining the enemy army, encouraging and protecting one’s own army, knowing the future result of a battle, winning the minds of generals and chief persons, throwing a charmed snare, sword, or string into the fields where the enemy army may be moving, ascending a chariot for winning a battle, charming all instruments of war music, killing enemies, winning back a lost city demolished by the enemy;
  • performing the coronation ceremony, expiating sins, cursing, strengthening cows, procuring prosperity;
  • amulets for promoting welfare, agriculture, the conditions of bulls, bringing about various household properties, making a new-built house auspicious, letting loose a bull (as a part of the general rites— śrāddha), performing the rites of the harvesting month of Agrahāyaṇa (the middle of November to the middle of December);
  • securing curatives for various otherwise incurable diseases produced by the sins of past life;
  • curing all diseases generally, Fever, Cholera, and Diabetes;
  • stopping the flow of blood from wounds caused by injuries from weapons, preventing epileptic fits and possession by the different species of evil spirits, such as the bhūta, piśāca, Brahma-rākṣasa, etc.;
  • curing vāta , pitta and śleṣman, heart diseases, Jaundice, white leprosy, different kinds of Fever, Pthisis, Dropsy;
  • curing worms in cows and horses, providing antidotes against all kinds of poisons, supplying curatives for the diseases of the head, eyes, nose, ears, tongue, neck and inflammation of the neck;
  • warding off the evil effects of a Brahmin’s curse;
  • arranging women’s rites for securing sons, securing easy delivery and the welfare of the foetus;
  • securing prosperity, appeasing a king’s anger, knowledge of future success or failure;
  • stopping too much rain and thunder, winning in debates and stopping brawls, making rivers flow according to one’s wish, securing rain, winning in gambling, securing the welfare of cattle and horses, securing large gains in trade, stopping inauspicious marks in women, performing auspicious rites for a new house, removing the sins of prohibited acceptance of gifts and prohibited priestly services;
  • preventing bad dreams, removing the evil effects of unlucky stars under whose influence an infant may have been born, paying off debts, removing the evils of bad omens, molesting an enemy;
  • counteracting the molesting influence of the charms of an enemy, performing auspicious rites, securing long life, performing the ceremonies at birth, naming, tonsure, the wearing of holy thread, marriage, etc.;
  • performing funeral rites, warding off calamities due to the disturbance of nature, such as rain of dust, blood, etc., the appearance of yakṣaSy rākṣasas, etc., earthquakes, the appearance of comets, and eclipses of the sun and moon.

The above long list of advantages which can be secured by the performance of Atharvaṇic rites gives us a picture of the time when these Atharvaṇic charms were used. Whether all these functions were discovered when first the Atharvaṇic verses were composed is more than can be definitely ascertained. At present the evidence we possess is limited to that supplied by the Kauśika-sūtra. According to the Indian tradition accepted by Sāyaṇa the compilation of the Atharva-Veda was current in nine different collections, the readings of which differed more or less from one another. These different recensions, or śākhās , were Paippalāda, Tāṇḍa, Maṇḍa, Śaunakīya, Jājala, Jalada, Brahmavāda, Devādarśa, and Cāraṇa-vaidya. Of these only the Paippalāda and Śaunakīya recensions are available. The Paippalāda recension exists only in a single unpublished Tubingen manuscript first discovered by Roth[24]. It has been edited in facsimile and partly also in print. The Śaunakīya recension is what is now available in print.

The Śaunakīya school has the Gopatha-brāhmaṇa as its Brāhmaṇa and five sūtra works, viz.

  1. Kauśika,
  2. Vaitāna,
  3. Nakṣatra-kalpa,
  4. Āṅgirasa-kalpa
  5. and Śānti-kalpa[25] ;

these are also known as the five kalpas (pañca-kalpa). Of these the Kauśika-sūtra is probably the earliest and most important, since all the other four depend upon it[26]. The Nakṣatra-kalpa and Śānti-kalpa are more or less of an astrological character. No manuscript of the Āṅgirasa-kalpa seems to be available; but from the brief notice of Sāyaṇa it appears to have been a manual for molesting one’s enemies (abhicāra-karma). The Vaitāna-sūtra dealt with some sacrificial and ritualistic details.

The Kauśika-sūtra was commented on by Dārila, Keśava, Bhadra and Rudra. The existence of the Cāraṇa-vaidya (wandering medical practitioners) śākhā reveals to us the particular śākhā of the Atharva-Veda, which probably formed the old Āyurveda of the Ātreya-Caraka school, who identified the Atharva-Veda with Āyurveda. The suggestion, contained in the word Cāraṇa-vaidya , that the medical practitioners of those days went about from place to place, and that the sufferers on hearing of the arrival of such persons approached them, and sought their help, is interesting[27].

Footnotes and references:


Caraka, 1. 30. 24. This passage seems to be at variance with Caraka, 1. 1.6; for it supposes that diseases also existed always, while Caraka, 1. 1. 6 supposes that diseases broke out at a certain point of time. Is it an addition by the reviser Drḍhabala?


Caraka, 1. 1. 42 and Āyurveda-dīpikā of Cakrapāṇi on it.


ṣṭāṅga-saṃgraha, 1. 1.8. Gopatha-Brāhmaṇa, 1. 10, however, mentions five vedas, viz. Sarpa-veḍa, Piśāca-veda, Asura-veda, Itihāsa-veda and Purāṇa-veda, probably in the sense of upaveda, but Āyurveda is not mentioned in this connection.


Brahma-vaivarta-purāṇa, 1. 16. 9, 10.


Brahmā vedāṅgam aṣṭāṅgam āyur-vedam abhāṣata. This quotation, which occurs in the Worterbuch in connection with the word āyur-veda, could not be verified owing to some omission in the reference. It should be noted that vedāṅga is generally used to mean the six aṅgas, viz. Śikṣā, Kalpa, Vyākaraṇa, Chandas, Jyotiṣ and Nirukta.


dvi-prakārā vyādhayaḥ āhāra-ninñttā aśubhanimittāś ceti; tatra āhāra-samutthānāṃ vaiṣamya āyurvedaṃ cakāra adharma-samutthānāṃ tu śāstramidam ucyate.
      Dārila’s comment on Kauśika-sūtra, 25. 2.


Caraka, vi. 1. 3 and Āyurveda-dipikā, ibid.


Suśruta-saṃhitā, 1. 1. 5-9.


R.V. Prātiśākhya, 16. 54 (55), mentioned by Bloomfield in The Atharva-Veda and Gopatha-Brāhmaṇa, p. 10. The name of the medical work mentioned is Subheṣaja.


Ṛg-Vedaṃ bhagavo ’dhyemi Yajur-vedaṃ sāma-vedam ātharvaṇaś caturtham itihāsa-purāṇaṃ pañcamaṃ vedānāṃ vedam pitryaṃ rāśiṃ daivarn nidhiṃ vāko-vākyam ekāyanam deva vidyāṃ brahma-vidyāṃ bhūta-vidyāṃ kṣattra-vidyāṃ nakṣatra-vidyāṃ sarpa-deva-jana-vidyāṃ.
vii. 1. 2.

Of these bhūta- vidyā is counted as one of the eight tantras of Āyurveda, as we find it in the Suśruta-saṃhitā or elsewhere.


Mahā-bhārata, II. II. 25, XII. 342. 86, 87, XII. 210. 21. Kṛṣṇātreya is referred to in Caraka-saṃhitā, v1. 15. 129, and Cakrapāṇi, commenting on this, says that Kṛṣṇātreyaand Ātreya are two authorities who are different from Ātreya Punarvasu, the great teacher of the Caraka-saṃhitā.


Vinaya-Piṭaka, Mahā-vagga , vi. 1-14.


Rockhill’s Life of the Buddha, p. 65.


Atharva-veda, II. 9. 3, śataṃ hy asya bhiṣajaḥ sahasram uta vīrudhaḥ.


Gurv-ājñā-lābhānantaraṃ etat-tantra-karaṇaṃ. Cakrapāṇi’s Āyurveda-dīpikā, 1. 1. 1; also Caraka-saṃhitā, I. 1. 52.


Cakrapāṇi quotes the Agniveśa-saṃhitā in his Āyurveda-dīpikā, vi. 3. 177 - 185.


Caraka, 1. 1. 40 and 1. 30. 20-23:

hitāhitaṃ sukhaṃ duḥkham āyus tasya hitāhitaṃ
mānaṃ ca tac ca yatroktam āyur-vedaḥ sa ucyate.

In 1. 30. 20 the derivation of Āyurveda is given as āyur vedayati iti āyur-vedaḥ, i.e. that which instructs us about life. Suśruta suggests two alternative derivations —āyur asmin vidyate anena vā āyur vindatīty āyur-vedaḥ, i.e. that by which life is known or examined, or that by which life is attained. Suśruta-saṃhitā, 1. 1. 14.


Caraka, 1. 30. 20.


Trīṇi saṣaṣṭhāny asthi-śatāni veda-vādino bhāṣante; śalya-tantre tu trīṇy eva śatāni.
      Suśruta-saṃhitā, III. 5. 18.

Trīṇi ṣaṣṭhāni śatāny asthnāṃ saha danta-nakhena.
iv. 7. 6.


A. F. Rudolf Hoernle’s Studies in the Medicine of Ancient India, p. 113.


Ibid. pp. 105-106. See also Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa, x. 5.4. 12, also xii. 3. 2. 3 and 4, xii. 2. 4. 9-14, viii. 6. 2. 7 and 10. The Yājñavalkya-Dharma-śāstra, Viṣṇu-smṛti, Viṣṇu-dharmottara and Agni-Purāṇa also enumerate the bones of the human body in agreement with Caraka as 360. The source of the last three was probably the first (Yājñavalkya-Dharma-śāstra), as has been suggested by Dr Hoernle in his Studies in the Medicine of Ancient India, pp. 40-46. But none of these non-medical recensions are of an early date: probably they are not earlier than the third or the fourth century A.D.


The word upāṅga may have been used, however, in the sense that it was a supplementary work having the same scope as the Atharva-Veda.


Some of the sacred texts speak of four Vedas and some of three Vedas, e.g. “asya mahato bhūtasya niḥśvasitam etad ṛg-vedoyajur-vedaḥ sāma-vedo 'tharvāñ-girasaḥ ,” Bṛh. u. 4. 10 speaks of four Vedas; again “Yam ṛṣayas trayī-vido viduḥ ṛcaḥsātnāniyajūṃṣi,” Taittirīya-brāhmaṇa, speaks of three Vedas. Sāyana refers to the Mīmāṃsā-sūtra, 11. 1. 37 “śeṣe Yajuḥ-śabdaḥ” and says that all the other Vedas which are neither Ṛk nor Sāma are Yajus (Sāyana’s Upodghāta to the Atharva- Veda, p. 4, Bombay edition, 1895). According to this interpretation the Atharva-Veda is entitled to be included within Yajus, and this explains the references to the three Vedas. The Atharva-Veda is referred to in the Gopatha-Brāhmaṇa, 11. 16 as Brahma-Veda, and two different reasons are adduced.

Firstly, it is said that the Atharva-Veda was produced by the ascetic penances of Brahman; secondlyit is suggested in the Gopatha-Brahmāṇa that all Atharvanic hymns are curative (bheṣaja), and whatever is curative is immortal, and whatever is immortal is Brahman—

Yetharvāṇas tad bheṣajaṃ, yad bheṣajaṃ tad amṛtaṃ, yad amṛtaṃ tad Brahma .”
      Gopatha-brāhmaṇa, 111. 4.

See also Nyāya-mañjarī, pp. 250-261.


Der Atharvaveda in Kashmir by Roth.


The Kauśika-sūtra is also known as Saṃhitā-vidhi and Saṃḥitā-kalpa. The three kalpas, Naksatra, Aṅgirasa and Śānti, are actually Pariśiṣṭas.


tatra Śākalyena saṃhitā-mantrāṇāṃ śāntika-pauṣṭikādiṣu kormasu viniyoga-vidhānāt saṃḥitā-vidhir nāma Kauśikaṃ śūtraṃ; tad eva itarair upajīvyatvāt.
of Sāyana to the Atḥarva-Veda, p. 25.


Is it likely that the word Caraka (literally, a wanderer) had anything to do with the itinerant character of Caraka’s profession as a medical practitioner?

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