Introduction to Charak samhita
Charak samhita is the ancient text of Ayurveda. It forms the base of theoretical part and fundamentals of Ayurveda.It is a Part of Brihattrayee i.e the three big/most important texts of Ayurveda. The details about who wrote it, and who edited it will all come in due course as they come in the text itself. The only thing I would like to tell you is that they were created by selfless Rishis of India. These Rishis were so selfless that they didn’t expect anything in return of their favor to mankind. They didn’t even mention their full name, address etc. They did not get any material benefit.. They did it only to help us.. the poor suffering mankind..
The period of writing these texts is also not clear. There are many guesses about it but most widely accepted view is that they are about 2500 years old. Now something to survive and to be in use for so long it must be a timeless gospel truth ,isn’t it?
I plan to translate and explain Charak samhita verse by verse. This is a very time-consuming process as it is very vast (Read endless 🙂 ) as well as difficult to translate as it is in Sanskrit language.( Read difficult for me, not for you 🙂 )
I am also going to give translation of the famous commentary Ayurved deepika by Chakrapanidatta along with it.
( It feels very funny as well as rude to call these great souls just by their first name , but calling them Sir chakrapani will seem funnier , so I will stick to just Chakrapanidatta . 🙂
Though this translation is mainly meant for physicians I will try to keep the language simple so that anyone who is interested can understand, because though the medicine part must be reserved for qualified doctors, I believe that everyone has a right to benefit from prevention part, and to improve the quality of their life.(Don’t blame me if you feel guilty while stuffing wrong food down your throat after reading my blog 😉 )
** Beware, very lengthy info**. 😉 If you are allergic to detailed lengthy information run away at this moment. or if you would permit, i may prescribe an anti allergic ayurvedic medicine if you would like so that you benefit from reading this eternal science 🙂
Charak samhita has eight sthanaas.It means the text is divided into eight places or sections. Sthaan literally means place. The total number of chapters in Charaka samhita is 120.The eight sthaanas are
It contains 30 topics. Sutra means thread. It means sutra sthaan is the thread which connects all ayurveda together.Sutra also means something which is told in short and is the summary of a large text. The sutra sthaan is designed such that you get a general idea of whole ayurveda so that when you go to next Sthaanas you at least get a general idea of what is being said.The Sutrasthana is further divided into Chatushkas but I will come to it someday later as it is getting very complicated for a beginner 😉 in short, Sutrasthana deals with –
its fundamental principles,
the guidelines for a healthy life,
how to change your diet and lifestyle to suit the changing seasons,
what are the most important things to do in a day ,
How, when and how much food should be taken,
the virtues of a good physician,
the elements necessary for succesful treatment of diseases and for being a succesful vaidya (physician),
Main theories of Ayurvedic treatment,
important combinations of medicines(mahakashay),
and a few important ailments,
and much much more..
It contains 8 chapters about causes and diagnosis of diseases.It describes the symptoms, causes, premonitions and prognosis of 8 important diseases. The interesting thing is that it is explained whether a disease is easily curable, difficult to cure or incurable so that a vaidya understands that if a disease is not getting cured it is his fault of improper treatment or the disease is innately difficult to treat.
8 chapters containing the maan i.e normal quantity/amount/attributes of doshas, medicine,desha(environment/body), seasons, power,immunity, diet,saatmya(which means habituating), emotional strength, physique and age.It also deals with medical ethics, training of physicians etc and an important topic about rasa(tastes)
Shaarir means anatomy. Ayurvedic Anatomy not only deals with visible anatomy but also with how humans came into existence and how an embryo takes live form. It states that human body consists of a body, a soul, a mind , five senses(which are different from the five physical sense organs i.e the immaterial organs which let us gain knowledge obtained by physical sense organs, and the five karmendriyas.It explains anatomy,embryology, and measures to get a healthy progeny.
5. Indriya Sthaana
The fifth Sthaana in Charaka Samhita is Indriya sthaana. It contains 12 topics
It deals with mainly inauspicious signs about a patient’s health. Signs which show a patients bad prognosis and mostly signs and symptoms about patients impending death. They are called the arishta laxanas meaning signs of impending doom. Literally Arishta means a disaster.
6. Chikitsa Sthaana
Chikitsa Sthaana means a section which describes treatment of diseases. It contains 30 subsections.
The Chikitsa Sthaana describes the Chapters for Rasayana and Vaajikaran before starting treatment of diseases.
Rasayana means Rejuvinative treatment, which helps in prevention of diseases. Charaka samhita emphasises that we should try to avoid diseases by taking these daily health supplements, which are described to be taken according to your body type.
Vaajikaran comes after Rasayana and means Aphrodisiac treatment. Though this is most advertised aspect of Ayurveda nowadays, it is clearly mentioned that these should be given only to people who have a good control over their mind and its main use is to have healthy progeny and more number of offsprings as it was considered important to have more children in those days.
After Rasayana and Vaajikaran in four chapters, treatment of various diseases is given in the remaining chapters. Jwar (Fever) is the first and largest topic and it covers all sorts of infective diseases. Ayurveda does not separately list all fever causing diseases like modern medicine but considers them as one disease ‘Fever’ and separate treatments are given as per nature of Fever. E.g. separate treatment for continuous fever, intermittent fever, etc. Also separate medicines are explained for fever with Diarrhoea, Fever with cough and so on, so automatically most infective diseases get covered in the topic fever. But diseases like cough, fever are again explained in other separate topics because they are many times present even without fever.
Treatment of rest all diseases are explained in further topics.
7. Kalpa Sthaana
It contains 12 topics. The medicines needed for the two important karmas, of Panchakarmas, i.e. treatments – Vaman and Virechan are explained in this section.
It contains 12 topics which deal with the Vyaapadas i.e. the problems which can occur while doing the panchakarma treatments and how to prevent and treat them if they occur.
It also deals with the importance of protection of Trimarmas i.e. the three most important organs of the body, i.e. Head (brain), Heart and Bladder. By bladder whole urinary system is taken into consideration. And we too see in practice, that most deaths occur due to failure of one of these three organs.
Some interesting facts about Charak samhita-
Charaka Samhita is written in Sutras i.e concise shlokas to make it easy for learning by heart as in those days paper and printing was not available. The meaning of these concise sutras was expected to be taught by Guru to his Disciples. We are far luckier as we can just open the book and find the references .
The first step in understanding the samhita was to learn it first, and then detailed knowledge was given after the disciple could recite the whole text.
The important commentaries on Charaka samhita are-
Ayurved Deepika- Chakrapani-1066 A.D
Charaka Nyas-Bhattar Harichandra-400-600 A.D
Nirantarpadvyakhya-Jejjat 875 A.D
Out of these, Ayurved Deepika by Chakrapani is the most famous one.
I have explained how Charak samhita came into existence in my post
Dridhabala rewrote nearly one third of the Charaka samhita as it had been lost. He wrote 17 topics of Chikitsa sthaana and complete Kalpa sthaana and Siddhi Sthhaana.
Here I complete the introduction to Charaka Samhita . The Deerghamjeevitiya Adhyay is the first chapter of Charak samhita. I will write on it in my next post.