History of Indian Medicine (and Ayurveda)

by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society | 1949 | 162,724 words | ISBN-13: 9788176370813

The History of Indian medicine and Ayurveda (i.e., the science of life) represents the introductory pages of the Charaka Samhita composed of six large sections dealing with every facet of Medicine in ancient India in a Socio-Historical context. Caraka is regarded as one of the pioneers in the field of scientific healthcare. As an important final a...

Chapter 17 - The Final Renunciation

According to the Indo Aryan tradition of living, the aim of life is fourfold comprising righteousness (dharma), wealth (artha), pleasures (kāma) and liberation (mokṣa). The achievement of this fourfold aim constitutes full living. In the Caraka Samhita too, the pursuits of life are given in a Slightly modified form. They are reduced to three (dhana-eṣaṇā) the pursuit of wealth, (prāṇa-eṣaṇā) the pursuit of life and the pursuit of the other world (? paraloka-eṣaṇā ?). Though these three are the natural pursuits of life, the supreme purpose of life and also of the science of therapeusis, is the attainment by man of his total liberation from the trammels of nature such as body, senses and mind and to live as pure spirit being one with and merged in the soul of the world known as Brahma. Such an individual as has attained this is called (brahmabhūtabrahmabhūtaḥ) viz., he that has become Brahma, meaning pure spirit

When man has lived the life of pain and pleasure and his senses have been satisfied in a great measure and their clamour for pleasure and sensation have abated, he must resort to solitude and meditation over the causes of being and detach himself from his senses, body and mind. He should cease to have all perceptions of pain and pleasure. He thus gets merged into the original essence that is all-pervasive, that is a state of pure being, a state free from all sensations, a knowledge and awareness beyond the scope of mind.

The Sankhya, the Vedanta and the Yoga systems uphold this condition as the final beatitude which every individual should attain; this is called 41$ or a liberated condition.

Caraka describes this last stage of renunciation in similar, terms (Śārīra 1.154 and 155).

The path leading to that state is also set out in elaborate detail. This is called the upward leading path.

[Carakasaṃhitā Śārīrasthāna 5.12].

“We shall now describe the upward leading path of those who seek liberation. The seeker after final emancipation, who has seen the vanity of the world, should first make his approach to a teacher whose teaching he should then put into practice. Thus he should tend the ceremonial fire, study the sacred lawbooks, understand their meaning and taking them for his guide should mould his conduct thereby. He should seek the good and avoid the evil, he should eschew the company of the wicked, he should speak only that which is true, conducive to the good of all creatures, gentle, reasonable and well considered. He should regard all creatures as himself. He should avoid all reminiscence, desire, questing and discourse with women and renounce all possessions retaining only the following appurtenances: a loin cloth for cover and an ochre-colored garment, and for mending it a case of sewing needles. For the sake of cleanliness he may carry a water pot and as a mark of his order a mendicant’s staff, and a bowl for collecting alms. He may substitute alms by such natural food as is easily available in the woods and just enough to maintain life. If he is fatigued, he may take his rest on a bed improvised with dry fallen leaves and weeds, but he should not do this habitually. He may keep an arm rest as an aid in meditation. He should dwell in the woods and have not roof over his head, avoiding drowsiness, sleep, laziness etc. He should check desire and aversion to sense-objects. He should exercise circumspection in sleeping, staying, moving, seeing, eating, recreation and in fact in the movement of every individual limb. He should be indulgent alike to honourable treatment, adulation, contempt and humiliation, and should be able to put up with hunger, thirst, fatigue, strain, cold, heat, wind, rain, pleasure and pain. He should be unmoved by grief, depression, self-conceit, affliction, arrogance, greed, attachment, envy, fear, anger etc. He should look on egoism etc., as causative of suffering and on the macrocosm and microcosm in the matter of creation etc., as being identical. He should dread procrastination and should never feel disinclined to practise yoga. He should be of an enthusiastic frame of mind. He should bend all his powers of understanding, resolution and recollection towards final emancipation; he should restrain the senses by means of the mind and the mind by means of the spirit and the spirit by itself. He should constantly revolve in the mind the categories giving rise to the body and its members and should resolve that everything that has causation is not the self, is fraught with pain and is transient. He should regard activity as being tainted with evil, and hold the conviction that in the renunciation of all things is trne happiness. This is the path leading to final emancipation; straying, from this, one is bound. Thus have we described the upward leading steps.”

Again to bring about that final renunciation of individuality, the following path is prescribed.

[Carakasaṃhitā Śārīrasthāna 8.143-153]

“From the accession of the pure understanding all these proceed; the right seeking of the company of the good, the total avoidance of the wicked, continence and abstinence and various austerities, the study of the sacred scriptures, meditation, love of solitude; aversion to sense pleasures, perseverance in the path of liberation, supreme determination, the non-beginning of auctions and the complete annihilation of those already done, the desire to quit the world, humility, dreading attachment, the fixing of the mind and understanding in the self and the investigation of the true nature of things—all this procures from the recollection of the true nature of the self. The true recollection comes from the beginning with the right seeking of the company of the good and ending with supreme determination. Having recollected in mind the true nature of all things, man gets relieved from suffering. The methods of inducing recollection are said to be rightly recalling the circumstances and the appearance by comparison and contrast, by concentration of the mind, by practice, by the acquisition of knowledge and by re-hearing. Recollection is so called because by dwelling upon what was seen, heard or otherwise experienced, it collects again the fullness of past experience in the mind. This is the only road, consisting of the power of true recollection which has been indicated for final liberation by those who have attained liberation. Those who set out on this road do not return. This road has been described by the yogis as the path of yoga, and by the liberated seers who have had all the knowledge of philosophy, as the path of liberation All, that results from causes is pain-giving, is other than the self and transitory. Such is not an offspring of the self; yet the Self-sense obtains there, so long as the true understanding is not born; but the sage, knowing ‘I am not this and this is not mine’ transcends everything. In that final renunciation all sensations together with their root, cause, as also cogitation, contemplation and resolution, come to an absolute termination Thereafter the individual self having become one with the universal self is no longer seen as particularised, being rid of all qualities. He has no longer any distinguishing mark. The knowers of Brahma alone have knowledge of this, the ignorant cannot understand it”.

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