Charaka Samhita by CharakaThe Charaka Samhita or Compendium of Charaka (Sanskrit Caraka saṃhitā) is an early text on Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine). Along with the Sushruta Samhita, it is one of the two foundational texts of this field that have survived from ancient India.
Early forms are dated to the period of 900 BCE - 600 BCE, while the later editions of Charaka Samhitā are dated to later centuries.
The extant text has eight sthāna (sections), totalling 120 chapters. These sections are
- Sūtra (General principles) - 30 chapters deal with healthy living, collection of drugs and their uses, remedies, diet and duties of a physician.
- Nidāna (Pathology) - 8 chapters discuss the pathology of eight chief diseases.
- Vimāna (Specific determination) 8 chapters contain pathology, various tools of diagnostics & medical studies and conduct.
- Śārīra (Anatomy) - 8 chapters describe embryology & anatomy of a human body.
- Indriya (Sensorial prognosis) - 12 chapters elaborate on diagnosis & prognosis of disease on the basis of senses.
- Cikitsā (Therapeutics) - 30 chapters deal with special therapy.
Kalpa (Pharmaceutics and toxicology) - 12 chapters describe usage and preparation of medicine.
- Siddhi (Success in treatment) - 12 chapters describe general principles of Panchkarma.
Seventeen chapters of Cikitsā sthāna and complete Kalpa sthāna and Siddhi sthāna were added later by Dridhabala. The text starts with Sūtra sthāna which deals with fundamentals and basic principles of Ayurveda practice. Unique scientific contributions credited to the Charaka Saṃhitā include:
- a rational approach to the causation and cure of disease
- introduction of objective methods of clinical examination
“Direct observation is the most remarkable feature of Ayurveda (आयुर्वेद), though at times it is mixed up with metaphysics. The Saṃhitā emphasizes that of all types of evidence the most dependable ones are those that are directly observed by the eyes. In Ayurveda successful medical treatment crucially depends on four factors: the physician, substances (drugs or diets), nurse and patient. The qualifications of physician are: clear grasp of the theoretical content of the science, a wide range of experience, practical skill and cleanliness; qualities of drugs or substances are: abundance, applicability, multiple use and richness in efficacy; qualifications of the nursing attendant are: knowledge of nursing techniques, practical skill, attachment for the patient and cleanliness; and the essential qualifications of the patients are: good memory, obedience to the instructions of the doctors, courage and ability to describe the symptoms.”
Ancient India Medicines Charaka Samhita Susruta Samhita
That person alone is fit to nurse or to attend the bedside of a patient, who is cool-headed and pleasant in his demeanor, does not speak ill of any body, is strong and attentive to the requirements of the sick, and strictly and indefatigably follows the instructions of the physician. Rao in suggested that the original layer to the Sushruta Samhita was composed in 1st millennium BCE by "elder Sushruta" consisting of five books and chapters, which was redacted and expanded with Uttara-tantra as the last layer of text in 1st millennium CE, bringing the text size to six books and chapters. Tipton in a historical perspectives review, states that uncertainty remains on dating the text, how many authors contributed to it and when. Rao in suggested that the author of the original "layer" was "elder Sushruta" Vrddha Sushruta. The text, states Rao, was redacted centuries later "by another Sushruta, then by Nagarjuna, and thereafter Uttara-tantra was added as a supplement. The text has been called a Hindu text by many scholars.
The pre-2nd century CE text consists of eight books and one hundred twenty chapters. He should be of a mild disposition, noble by nature, never mean in his acts, free from pride, strong memory, liberal mind, devoted to truth, likes solitude, of thoughtful disposition, free from anger, of excellent character, compassionate, one fond of study, devoted to both theory and practice, who seeks the good of all creatures. Based on textual analysis, and the literal meaning of the Sanskrit word charak , Chattopadhyay speculated that charak does not refer to one person but multiple people. Dates of composition of the Charaka Samhita are uncertain. In Sanskrit, charak is a term for a wanderer, sannyasi ascetic , and sometimes used in the context of the ancient tradition of wandering physicians who brought their medical expertise and magico-religious rites from village to village. Surendranath Dasgupta states that the medical tradition of wandering physicians are traceable to the Atharvaveda , particularly the Caranavaidya shakha — one of the nine known shakha of Atharvaveda-based Vedic schools.
Charaka is thought to have flourished sometime between the 2nd century bce and the 2nd century ce. The Charaka-samhita as it exists today is thought to have arisen in the 1st century ce. Studies on ancient Indian medicine indicate, however, that the original text was written several centuries earlier by Agnivesha, who was one of six disciples of Ayurvedic scholar Punarvasu Atreya the other five disciples were Bhela, Jatukarna, Parashara, Harita, and Ksharapani.
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Some of the early works of Ayurveda include the Charaka Samhita. Charaka is its author. The earliest surviving excavated written material containing references to the works of Sushruta is the Bower Manuscript. This Manuscript dates back to the 6th century AD. The Bower manuscript was of special interest to historians. The reason for this was the presence of Indian medicine and its concepts in Central Asia. Charaka Samhita is a huge treatise on ancient Indian medicine.
It is felt to be one of the oldest and the most important ancient authoritative writings on Ayurveda. It is not known who this person was or, if indeed, this represents the work of a "school of thought. This work is sometimes considered a redaction of an older and more voluminous work, Agnivesha Samhita 46, verses , which is no longer extant. The language of Charaka is Sanskrit and its style is poetry, with meter and melody. Poetry was known to serve as a memory aid.