Atharvaveda and Charaka Samhita

by Laxmi Maji | 2021 | 143,541 words

This page relates ‘Caraka-Samhita (Ayurveda book)’ found in the study on diseases and remedies found in the Atharvaveda and Charaka-samhita. These texts deal with Ayurveda—the ancient Indian Science of life—which lays down the principles for keeping a sound health involving the use of herbs, roots and leaves. The Atharvaveda refers to one of the four Vedas (ancient Sanskrit texts encompassing all kinds of knowledge and science) containing many details on Ayurveda, which is here taken up for study.

Caraka-Saṃhitā (Āyurveda book)

Some of the famous books of Āyurveda are—Caraka-Saṃhitā, Suśruta Saṃhitā, Aṣṭāṅga Hṛdaya, Aṣṭāṅga Saṃgraha, Kāśyapa Saṃhitā, Mādhava Nidāna, Rasaratna Samuccaya, Bhāvaprakāśa, Yogaratnākara, Śāraṅgadhara Saṃhitā.

Caraka-Saṃhitā -Āyurveda has been widely practiced in India since time immemorial. The purpose of preserving the views of the ancient Ācāryas was to create several later texts. The oldest, richest, scripturally written and justified compilation is the Caraka- Saṃhitā. The available Caraka-Saṃhitā is not the work of a single person. Because it is said at the end of the Caraka-Saṃhitā that this book was written by Maharṣi Agniveśa, one of the disciples of Maharṣi Ātreya, reformed by Caraka and filled by Kapilbala's son Dṛḍhabala. That is the most important books in Āyurveda after Atharvaveda are Maharṣi Agniveśa compiled the pieces of advice of Ātreya to create Agniveśatantra which was farther reformed by Caraka to composed Caraka-Saṃhitā. Later Caraka-Saṃhitā was reformed and compiled by Maharṣi Dṛḍhavala. It is heard that in the absence of full-fledged Āyurveda practice, when premature death and ageing occurred in the society, the snake god Śeṣa-nāga was born on the earth in the form of Caraka and reformed the Āyurveda of Agniveśa in a just manner and the Caraka- Saṃhitā, after its name, appears to have been composed in the first century AD. The Caraka-Saṃhitā consists of eight sections and one hundred and twenty chapters. Sūtra sthāna describes the symptoms and needs of Āyurveda, description of physical and mental defects, application of minerals and herbs to cure diseases, etc.

Nidānasthāna describes the symptoms of various diseases; The role of bitter acid juice at the root of various diseases is discussed in the Vimāna sthāna; The description and features of the limbs of the human body are described in the Śarīra sthāna; In Śarīra sthāna describes the role of the various senses in the emergence of disease; Causes and remedies of various diseases described in the Cikitsāsthāna; In Kalpa, sthāna describes product quality judging and making medicine from different plants; In Siddhi, sthāna describes the doctor's medicine service and non-service trial etc. Many annotations and comments have been written as a proof of the great popularity of the Caraka-Saṃhitā.

Notable among them are the commentaries by Cakrapāṇi Daṭṭa (eleventh century AD), Carakatattvadīpikā by Shivdas Sen (sixteenth century AD), Jalpakalpataru by Gangadhar Roy (eighteenth century) etc. Caraka-Saṃhitā, the best book of Kāyacikitsā, is an impeccable work on the philosophy, disease and cure of ancient Indian medicine[1].

That is why the Mahatma Dṛḍhabala said firmly—

cikitsā bahṇiveśasya svasthaturahitaṃ prati yadihāsti tadanyatra yannehāsti na tat kvacit ||

Footnotes and references:


Caraka Saṃhitā -Vol. I & II: with elaborated Vidyotini Hindi Commentary, trans. Kasinatha Pandey & Gorakha Natha Chaturvedi, Varanasi, Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, 2015, pp. 1-1024, 1-1120.

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