Literatures in Ayurveda
Ayurveda became a designation of Indian system of medicine by the samhita period. Samhithas are the compilation works of practical and theoretical medical knowledge. Among the samhithas or the so called “ knowledge books “ available today , Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita, Kasyapa Samhitha, Ashtanga Hridaya, Ashtanaga Sangraha, are the most important. Charaka Samhita is medicine oriented and Susruta Samhita is surgery oriented. Kasyapa Samhita deals with pediatrics whereas the Ashtanga Hridaya and Ashtanga Sangraha produces out the fundamental principle and panchakarma knowledge.
These Samhitas where mostly compiled by the disciples of great sages. Errors have occurred and some portions are lost in course of time. Ayurvedic texts have been classified into 2 divisions, depending upon the importance and the heaviness of the content written within the samhitas. They are the “ Brihat Trayees “ – three great texts and the “ Laghu Trayees “ – the smaller ones. Here along with these major texts , glimpses of other texts of Ayurveda are detailed
These three Ayurvedic treatises are :-
- Charaka Samhita
- Susruta Samhita
- Ashtanga Hridaya
This is one of the oldest texts in Ayurvedic science. The teachings of sage Athreya were compiled by his disciple Agnivesa, later Charaka redacted it filling up the remaining portions. This is a medicine oriented text. It has 8 divisions (sthanas) distributed to 120 chapters. These 8 chapters are as following :-
- Sutra sthana – 30 chapters
- Nidana sthana – 8 chapters
- Vimana sthana- 8 chapters
- Indriya sthana – 12 chapters
- Saarira sthana – 8 chapters
- Chikitsa sthana – 30 chapters
- Kalpa sthana – 12 chapters
- Sidhi sthana – 12 chapters
Totally there are 120 chapters
This was compiled by Susruta, the disciple of Dhanvantari. Original work contained only surgical aspects and Sidha Nagarjuna appended the Uttara stana and redacted the complete work in its present form. This work ascribes to the Upanishat period. Susruta is the father of surgery. The surgical skills presented by him are tremendous. His skills and works have been brilliantly described in this samhita along with obstetrics, gynecology, labour room etc.
Unlike Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita includes 6 sthanas or divisions. Uttara Stana is said to be an addition to the main text written by Nagarjuna
- Sutra sthana – 46 chapters
- Nidana sthan – 16 chapters
- Sareera sthana – 10 chapters
- Chikitsa sthana – 40 chapters
- Kalpa sthana – 8 chapters
- Uttara sthana – 66 chapters
Tottaly there are 186 chapters (including the Uttara Sthana or else 120 chapters ). This samhita have some famous commentaries written by Jjjetta, Dalahana, Bhaskara Govinda Ghanekar etc.
Even though Kasyapa Samhita, Harita Samhita, Bhela Samhita etc are the original Texts deserved to be the 3rd of the Brihat Trayees, unfortunately they are not available completely. In this background “Ashtanaga Hridaya “ alone was found fit to that position. Ashtanga Hridaya covers up both Kayachikitsa and Shalya Tantra. It was written by Vagbhattta , the son of Simha Gupta and grandson of Vridha Vagbhatta. He is said to be a budhist.
Hridaya means “ heart “. Vagbhatta says that this book is like a heart to the Astangas of ayurveda. The divisions and chapters are :-
- utra sthana – 30 chapters
- Nidana sthana – 16 chapters
- Shareera sthana – 6 chapters
- Chikista sthana – 22 chapters
- Kalpa sthana – 6 chapters
- Uttara sthana – 40 chapters
Totally there are 120 chapters. This is written in the form of poetry.
These includes the following the texts:-
- Bhava Prakasha
- Sarangadhara Samhita
- Madhava Nidana
It is written by Bhava Misra. He is the son of Latakanamisra of Benarus. He belongs to 15 – 16 AD. It covers all the aspect of Ayurveda and is comprehensive in nature. It consists of 3 sections. First one consists of 7 chapters dealing from evolution of Ayurveda to panchakarma procedures. Second section poses 68 chapters dealing with aetiology and management of different diseases. The third section covers Rasayana and Vajikarana.
Written by Sarangadhara. He is the son of Damodara . He belongs to 1363 AD. Subject matter of Sarangadhara Samhita is divided into 3 sections. The first section dealing from pharmacy to disease classification. Second section deals with pharmaceutical procedures. The third section describes Panchakarma and other kriyakalpas. It is considered as a guide by pharmacists as well as the practitioners of Ayurveda. Commentaries made available are by Adhamalla, Kasiram, Rudra Bhatta.
Written by Madhava Kara. He belonged to Bengal ( 8 AD ) and his work Madhava Nidana was earlier known to be as ” Rugvinischaya ” . It deals mainly with pathology. This book contains 79 chapters and lists of fire diseases along with their causes, symptoms and complications.
Nighantus – Dictionaries
This term has been used since the time of Vedas. Word “Kosa” in Sanskrit means “dictionary” or lexicon which is a distinctly identified form of Nighantu.
Ayurveda Nighantu is a compilation of drugs with their pharmacological action of terms indicating the morphology, similarity and properties of drugs (Roopa, upamad gunanjya paka path) are special features of Nighantu. Several Nighantus are used generally as well as specifically in various stream of traditional knowledge. The Amarakosa, Brihat jataka, Laghu jathaka, Brihat Samhita are examples of such treatises. They would generally comprise of topics relating to all realms of human interest. Dhanvantari Nighantu is considered to be the oldest of dictionaries. Other important Nighantus are :-
- Madanavinoda – Madanapala
- Raja Niaghantu – Narahari
- Pathyapathya Nighantu – Vimalla
- Kaiyadeva Nighantu
- Bhavaprakasha Nighantu
- Hridaya deepika .etc.
This is the most important of alchemical – rasasastra works available today. The author is a Vagbhatta but evidently different from author of Ashtanga Hridaya or Ashtanga Sangraha.
Other important books of Rasasastra are Rasaratnakara, Rasendramangala, Rasahridaya Tantra, Rasarnava, Rasendra choodamani, Rasarajalakshmi
Journals and Magazines of Ayurveda
Ayurveda nowadays attract attention of people world wide. Our traditional life science is becoming popularised. These achievements are remarkable. The journals books and articles play an important role in such development. Some of them are “Ayurveda Today” , “Journal of Ayurveda” , “Renaissance” , “The Journal of Research and Education in Indian Medicine” . etc.