Earlier known as AgniveshaTantra, CharakaSamhita dates back to 3000 years and is famously regarded as the 5thVeda of the sacred Hindu scriptures. CharakaSamhita is the foremost scripture on Ayurveda, a Sanskrit term, defining an ancient medical treatise summarizing the Hindu art of healing and prolonging life.

The knowledge of Ayurveda was transferred to Daksha Prajapati, from Brahma – the creator of the Universe. It reached Punarvasu Atreya through Ashwini Kumar, Lord Indra, and Bhardwaj. Punarvasu Atreya taught Ayurveda to his six disciples- Agnivesha with his exceptional skill and wisdom compiled a text, popularly known as CharakaSamhita.

The text is divided into 8 major sections covering varied health issues viz. Shalya (Surgery), Shalakya (ENT&Ophthal), Kayachikitsa (General Medicine), Bhootvidya (Psychology), Kaumarbhritya (Paediatrics), Agadtantra (Toxicology), Rasayana (Rejuvanating Therapy), and Vajikarana (Improving sexual potency for Good Purpose).

The Credentials

Theme of book- Acharya Atreya

Author- Acharya Agnivesha

Illustrator- Acharya Charaka had written the Samhita in specific sequence imparting the fundamentals and details of Ayurveda medicine.

Re-writer-Acharya Dṛḍhabala a 5th century contemporary later added 17 chapters of Cikitsasthana and completeKalpasthana and Siddhi sthana.

Ayurveda is not only about curing diseases but its unique scientific contributions are credited to Charaka Sahita. The scriptures of Charaka Sahita include:

·         a rational approach to the causation and cure of disease

·         introduction of objective methods of clinical examination

The extant text has aṣṭangasthana (eight sections), totaling 120 chapters and 9295 sutras. The text starts with Sutrasthana which deals with fundamentals and basic principles of Ayurveda practice.

However the 8 sections of the text areas follows-

  1. Sutrasthana (30 chapters, 1952 sutras), (Remedies, diet and duties of a doctor)
  2. Nidanasthana (8 chapters, 247 sutras), (Eight chief diseases)
  3. Vimanasthana (8 chapters, 354 sutras), (Pathology & Medical Studies)
  4. Sarirasthana (8 chapters, 382 sutras), (Embryology & Anatomy)
  5. Indriyasthana (12 chapters, 378 sutras),(Diagnosis & Prognosis)
  6. Cikitsasthana (30 chapters, 4904 sutras), (Special Therapy)
  7. Kalpasthana (12 chapters, 378 sutras), (General Therapy)
  8. Siddhi sthana (12 chapters, 700 sutras).(General therapy II)

Before going further it’s our duty to honor and acknowledge the four Acharyas namely Acharya Atreya, Acharya Agnivesha, Acharya Charaka, and Acharya Dṛḍhabala. The thesis on ‘Practice of Medicine’ inherited by us today owes its roots to these great spiritual gurus.

Below mentioned is the objective elaboration of different chapters of CharakaSahita. It is to be noted that the basic philosophy guiding all the chapters is formed on the ratio: Mind+ atma+ sharir= jivatma (every human being).

Sutrasthana1st chapter

This chapter reveals the origins of Ayurveda and throws light on its eventual maturation in the field of health and medicines.

Sutrasthana specifically focuses on ‘AsatmendriyarthSamyog’which stands for improper or too much exploitation of the sense organs of vision, sound, smell, sense and touch.

The chapter explicitly defines the importance of physical and mental health for the holistic wellbeing. The physical ailments in one’s body are attributed to Tridoshas which are Vata, Pitta and Kapha – the three fundamental principles of nature which govern all the activities of your mind and body.

To be more specific, Tridoshas directs the proper functioning of the three major bodily components which chiefly includes-

·         Tissues or Dhatus– There are seven Dhatus including rasa, rakta, mansa, meda, asthi, majja, shukra. They build up body when properly exploited.

·         Waste products or Malas – There are four Malas namely excreta-wax, sweat, stool and urine. Major diseases are caused by these basic impurities present in the body in one form or the other.

·         Loosely translated to Energetic Forces or Doshas.

In the similar manner, the dysfunction of the two out of three basic mental characters (Trigunās) is responsible for any kind of mental illness. The Trigunas characterizing the human’s mental substance are Sattva (Purity and Knowledge), Raja (Action and Passion) and Tama (Ignorance and Inertia). Out of the three Raja and Tamagunas are responsible for the worries, stresses and depression leading to the mental illness in a person.

Then there are 3 types of medicines elaborated in Sutrasthana are-

1. Daiva Vyapashraya– A kind of divine medical attention. It Deals with all physical disease connected to the karma of this janma& last janma(birth).

2. Yukti Vyapashraya– It deals with medicines, diet, daily schedule, and various detoxification procedures.

3. Satvawajaya–It is an in-depth Psychological treatment.

Sarirasthana–1 to 8chapters

Chapters on Sarirasthana try to correlate some ancient ayurvedic knowledge with modern anatomy, physiology, pharmacy etc.

Crucial and knowledgeable health related issues – specifically on Embryology & Anatomy – emphasized in these chapters are as follows –

1.   Determinations of male or female foetus during pregnancy – If the pregnant lady is doing most of her work with left hand or her activities are mostly inclined towards left-side then her chances of bearing a female foetus are higher.

Simultaneously, all feminine likings in food, male infatuation, increasing foetal movements on the left side and milk secretion first from left breast denote female foetus.

Similarly, polarities in the above mentioned points e.g. major right hand side inclinations, denote male foetus. Again, it should be remembered that the explanations and conjectures are mere possibilities based on years of observations and practices. Hence, any physician’s conclusion based on the above observations should not be taken at its face value.  (Cha.sha.2/24)

(**AUTHOR’S NOTE – FEMALE FOETICIDE IS A BARBARIC CRIME AND AGAINST HUMANITY. THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS NOT DIRECTED TOWARDS ANY MISDOING.)

2.   Causes of Congenital Anomalies – The lesson throws light on various causes of birth defects in any child. As per the ancient philosophy of medicines faulty sperm & ovum, Purva Karma (pre-karma) of foetus and uterine condition are major reasons for Congenital Anomalies in a child.

Other pre-birth conditions attributed to this malady are improper time of conception, dietary & routine habits of mother, imbalance of doshas in mother and child. (Cha.sha. 2/29)

3.   What causes the diseases? – Causes of diseases in a child or any person are based on Daiva &Purushartha –

What is Daiva? – PurvaJanma Karma (Behaviour in last birth) is Daiva/Destiny.

What is Purushartha? – Karma in present janma is Purushartha.

When Destiny and Purushartha are against the human being, the person acquires one or the other type of disease. It is believed that the haunting misdeeds – not yet offset – in this birth ricochet in the form of one or the other disease. The good news is that once the karmas are offset the given disease also gets cured in due course. (Cha.sha.2/44)

4.   Do’s for a long-lasting health- Maintaining a timely and healthy diet also reflects in the thinking and behaviour of a person. It is not advised to indulge oneself in too much sensory pleasure(sanvedīangasukhas)derived from the five sense organs

5.   Sense organs or indriyas drive the person towards materialistic forces like entertainment, food, sex. On the contrary, extrasensory or paranormal forces take the person towards the path of truthfulness, charity, forgiveness. Extrasensory happiness is divine in nature and automatically keeps the person free from diseases and evil forces. (Cha.sha. 2/46).

6.   Steps to be followed before Conception- Both partners should detoxify their body by Panchakarma followed by dietary and schedule habits which must contain MadhurDravyas (sweets). It has been proved that sweets help decreasing body heat and maintaining sperm temperature which is good for fertilization. Both ayurvedic and modern medicine follow protocol of thorough check-upfor both the partners before conception owing to the rising cases of infertility in the modern day. (Cha.sha. 8/4)

7.  Conception period –Ayurvedic medical calculations shows that conception during the odd days of month higher the chances of forming a female foetus. On the contrary, conceiving on even days of month increases the probability of bearing a male foetus. (Cha.sha.8/5)

8.  Difference between Abortion & Miscarriage– Abortion means spotting or menstruation like flow during 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. Any kind of bleeding during this period is indicative of discontinuation of pregnancy.Remember, here the term abortion should not be mistaken for ‘Induced Abortion’ which means purposefully ending the pregnancy for health or personal reason of the expected woman.

On the other hand, a natural discontinuation of pregnancy after the 4th month is called miscarriage. Spontaneous end of pregnancy owing to the incapability of embryo or foetus of surviving independently is the reason behind miscarriage. To avoid this issue the Acharya has advised monthly regimen. (Cha.sha. 8/23)

9.   Pre-natal care – Construction of labour ward with proper interiors & equipment is advised by acharya. (Cha.sha.8/33)

10. Post-natal care – Stages of labour, delivery, infant care, problems regarding lactation and issues related to hygiene are also described here. Cha.sha.8/36-63.

11. Functions of Tridoshas – Nature or temperament of human being depends upon tridoshas of mind. Balancing these Vata, Pitta and Kapha in order to maintain a healthy life, is the one of the basic principles of Ayurveda.

The imbalances in Vata, Pitta and Kapha are called as Tridoshas. They play very crucial roles in human anatomy and physiology.

Vata assures proper functioning of body movements, running, walking, excretion of urine and faeces. Pitta controls digestion of food, functionality of eye, body colour, hunger and thirst. Finally, Kapha checks on movements of joints, strength, braveness, weight of the body. (Cha.sha.4/36-41)

12. Digestion process – In a normal digestion process, oleation makes the food softer, kledakakapha makes it moist, vata brings it to stomach and finally pachak pitta digests the food. Finally, at proper temperature good juice from solid food turns into rasa, rakta and remaining five dhatus i.e. mansa, meda, asthi, majja, shukra. (Cha.sha. 6/15)

Description of skin, bones and other body parts – There is a good description about seven layers of skin i.e. Stratum corneum, licidum, granulosum, spinosum, basale, Papillary, and Reticular.

It also discusses six main body parts and total number of bones. The most interesting part of the story is that all these information is given in the scripture by the Acharya without facilities like microscope or other such equipment. (Cha.sha.7/4-5)

13. Cell concept–The concept of cells or somatic cells is vividly described in this chapter. These cells make up all the internal organs, skin, bones, blood and connective tissue.  It is explained here that there are infinite parmanu(atoms) in body that cannot be seen with naked eyes. They are microscopic structures called cells – and somatic cells in modern day science. (Cha.sha. 7/17)

Sutrasthana chapter 5-8 (Swasthavrittachatushka)

  1. Diet Precaution – The four chapters on Swasthavrittachatushka explains how ‘Prevention is better than cure’. The lessons unfolds the principal of daily precautionary measures to keep away the nuisance of various sufferings and drugs intake. The importance of dietary restrictions is mentioned here and the lessons uniquely expand various factors relating to food and digestion. Acharya claims that a healthy digestive system is the secret to a healthy lifestyle. One should divide stomach into 4 parts – 2 for food, 1 for water, 1 for air for digestion to take place properly. (Cha. Su. 5/7)
  1. To avoid disorder and deficiency – A complete diet maintains the resistance power of the body which is quintessential in fighting various diseases. As per the acharya, daily diet of a person should include shashtitandul, shalitandul, moong dal, saindhav salt, amalaki, antarikshajal, cow milk and ghee, meat of forestanimals and birds and Honey.(Cha. Su.5/12)
  1. Personal Hygiene – Personal hygiene include anjana, medicated smoking, nasya, brushing of teeth, oral care, messaging hand and body with oil, cleaning soles, sponging the body with medicated powders, and wearing clean soft clothes after bathing are advised. (Cha.Su.5/15-101)
  1. Health and seasons – During uttarayan-adankal :-

The sun is more powerful. The sun travels towards the north. This results in more heat in the atmosphere, due to this, moisture reduces & dryness increases in atmosphere.

Dakshinayan (Visargkal):- The moon is more effective than clouds in the sky. So the moisture & cooling in the atmosphere are slowly on the rise. The period is much cool and light and the body gets stronger due to cool, clear, non cloudy days.

Sometimes seasonal change or ritus brings about changes in the atmosphere. The body tries to get adapted to the changing season and amid this it bears minor disturbances. (Cha.Su. 6/4)

  1. Natural urges in the body – As per Ayurveda, there are thirteen types of non-suppressible urges in the body which should not be inhibited. These natural calls from body help maintaining the body balance, hence ignoring such calls might lead to serious health hazards. The thirteen such Natural urges in the body are as follows-

·         Urge to pass urine

·         Urge to eliminate faeces

·         Urge to eliminate semen

·         Urge to pass out flatus

·         Urge to vomit

·         Urge to sneeze

·         Urge for eructation

·         Urge to yawn

·         Urge to eat (hunger)

·         Urge to drink water (thirst)

·         Urge to shed tears or cry

·         Urge to sleep and

·         Urge for heavy or fast breathing caused by over exertion.

(Cha.Su. 7/3-4)

  1. Physical exertion – Regular workouts which is bearable and pleasant, is beneficial for both mind and body.

Acharya writes that body building for keeping one’s bodyfit has long term health benefits. But, overdoing it might result in various health hazards hence one should perform it half of his capacity.

7.   Saddvritta-In literal term, sadd means good; vritta means regimen therefore Saddvritta means good regimen. It is the code of conduct which helps preserves the perfect balance between mind, body and society.

Again, an accurate regimen directly controls the way in which a person lives and socializes. All this includes dietary habits,sincerity in study, healthy professional and work schedule, bladder-bowel habits, respect to elders, good behaviour with females. The codes gained by practicing Saddvritta are as follows –

·         Lakshnam (description)

·         Vyavaharikasaddvritta (ethical conduct)

·         Samajikasaddvritta (social conduct)

·         Mansiksaddvritta (mental conduct)

·         Dharmikasaddvritta (moral conduct)

·         Vaiyaktikasaddvritta (physical conduct)

(Cha.Su.8/18, 19-28)

Why one suffers from disease?

Sutrasthanachapter-10,11,12

All the major treatises of Ayurveda give strong emphasis on the observance of the laws of ‘Swasthavritta’ i.e. the code for a healthy conduct. ‘Swasthavritta’ literally means ‘the regime of abiding in one’s own nature’. One who doesn’t follow Swasthavritta falls ill. It is basic human tendency to crave for the following three wishes-

1.   Praneshana (life saving wish)

2.   Dhaneshana(crazy for money)

3.   Parlokeshana (curious about life after death)

Man runs behind materialistic things in life and develop a kind of negative energy around him. This energy brings along various kind of physical and mental illness.

Ayurveda gives a rather more sensible approach towards wellbeing in life. Ayurveda believes in reincarnation i.e. punarjanma (rebirth) and purvajanma (last birth). An interlinking between the karma of the past and present life forms the basis of many Ayurvedic treatments. It also tells how past life karmas are responsible for diseases in current life. As a part of the resolution, the chapter focuses in sayings of acharya-aptopadesh, where aptopadesh means looking into the saying of seers in authoritative classical and other texts, so that one can draw a logical inference based on scientific principles. The Acharya further goes on to state that the Tridoshasvata is the fundamental root cause of all diseases.

Vimanasthana- chapter- 8

In the chapter of Vimanasthana, Acharya describes about the process of ShastraPariksha (selection of the branch of medical sciences) and Acaryapariksha (search for the right preceptor or Guru). He further details the means of learning of medical knowledge as:

o   Adhyayana- Self Learning

o   Adhyapana- Teaching Someone

o   Tadvidyasambhasha- Discussion between two people having the same domain of knowledge

It also describes some of the desirable characteristics of a good student.

Sutrasthana- chapter 11

In the Sutrasthana, Acharya describes the three types of diseases as within the physiology, outside the physiology and psychological. The three routes of diseases have been stated as Kostha or trunks, Shakha or Periphery and MarmaAsthisandhi or Bones and joints. The various information and features of different diseases are defined in this chapter. It also differentiates between the Curable and Incurable diseases. This chapter is divided into eleven sub parts.

Nidanasthana-chapter 1

The Ayurvedic protocols regarding diagnosing various diseases are narrated in details in this chapter. This chapter is further divided into eighteen sub parts, which details the diagnosing mechanism of various categories of disease.

SutrasthanaChapter-10

The Sutrasthana narrates the discussions between Acharya Atreya and Acharya Maitreyi. The discussion elaborates that mere good physician and good treatment does not ensure immortality of an individual. It just helps the individual to come out of diseases. Further details and specifics of this discussion are elaborated in this chapter.

Siddhi Sthana chapter 1-12 – (Detailing the actual panchakarma procedures)

The Siddhis Sthana is the last Sthana of the CharakaSamhita. It describes the process of Basti and its comprehensive regimen. The equipment for Basti, adverse effects of improper instillation and overcoming the adverse effects, are holistically defined in the Siddhi Sthana. The Siddhi Sthana states that there are four types of food i.e. Pan or Liquid, Ashan or Solid, Lehya or Semi-solid and Bhakshya or Chewables.

Indriyasthana(Chapter 1-12)

The Indriyasthanas describe the signs or symptoms which ensures the short lifespan of an individual. The signs related to the longevity of an individual are detailed in the Sharirsthanas. If any of the signs or symptoms mentioned in the Indriyasthanais visible, the physician should not start the treatment of the patient. The fundamental basis for the Indriyasthanas is as follows:

o   Arishtas shown by skin colour and voice

o   Arishtas shown by smell and taste

o   Arishtas shown by touch

Chikitsasthana- 1st Chapter- Rasayana or Rejuvenation Therapy

This chapter is divided into four sub-parts. The Chikitsasthanasection appears after the Indriyasthana section because the latter is cured and fortified by the former. The health benefits of Rasayana are the following:

o   Sharp Memory

o   Strong Voice

o   Stronger and active senses

o   Natural and lustrous skin

o   Longevity

o   Youthful vigour

Some of the drugs prescribed are as follows:

o   Haritaki (terminaliachebula)

o   Pippali (piper longum)

o   Guduchi (tinosporacordifolia)

o   Mandukparni (centellaasiatica)

o   Shankhapushpi (convolvulus pluricaulis)

o   Bhallatak (semecarpusanacordium)

o   Bala (sidacordifolia)

o   Amalaki (embelicaofficinalis)

o   Bibhitak (terminaliabellerica)

o   Yashtimadhu (glycerrhizaglabra)

o   Shilajit (mineral pitch)

o   Nagbala (grewiahirsuta)

Chikitsasthana -2nd Chapter – Vajikarana

The Vajikarana drugs help in the growth of Oajdhatu, which helps in the maintenance of health. Vajikarana also helps in propagating a healthier society, by assisting the process of a healthy reproduction. In the chapter of Vajikarana, there are four sub parts, further detailing this aspect of Ayurveda. Acharya also prescribed that a person who has control over all the five senses should go for Vajikarana, since the energy gained and vitality should be used in the right manner. Acharya states that the ultimate motive of an Ayurveda practitioner should be to serve mankind through propagation of good health.

Published On: 26-06-2014
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