Ancient India Medicines Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita:
Ancient India Medicines
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 contains eight divisions (ashtanga Sthanas) namely sutra, Nidana, vimana, sharia, Indriya, Chikitsa, Kalpa and Siddha Sthanas. Each division is further divided into numerous chapters. It describes not only the existing knowledge about Medicine aspects but also the logic and philosophy behind the medical systems.
The present manuscript of Charaka Samhita has a long history behind it. As stated earlier, it was originally composed by Agnivesa one of the six students of Atreya, and hence embodied the teachings of the latter.
Charaka Samhita deals elaborately with subjects such as Foetal generation and development, an anatomy of the human body, function, and malfunction of the body. This was done depending upon the equilibrium or otherwise of the three Senses of humor of the body, viz., of Vayu, pitta, and Kapha.
It further also described etiology, classification, pathology, diagnosis treatment of various diseases and the science of rejuvenation of the body. It discussed elaborately the etiology of diseases on the basis of the Tridosa theory. Additionally, it also gave a detailed description of the various diseases including those of the eyes, the female genital organs, normal and abnormal deliveries and diseases of the children.
Charaka’s materia medica consists chiefly of vegetable products. Apart from this, it also contains animal and earthy products. All these drugs are classified into 50 groups. This classification was done on the basis of their action on the body. Commentary on Charaka Samhita by Chakrapanidatta, called Charaka Tatparya-Tika or Ayurveda Dipika was done in the eleventh century (A.D. 1066), is very famous.
This treatise was the main source of knowledge about surgery in ancient India. Susruta Samhita, as we know it now, is not in the original form which Susruta gave it and which he called. It was first called Shalya Tantra consisted of only five divisions, viz., sutra, Nidana, Sharira, Chikitsa, and Kalpa. Shalya Tantra was later revised and supplemented.
Later addition of Uttara-tantra’ consisting of three divisions called Shalakya, Bhuta-Vidya, and Kaumaryabhrutya, makes eight divisions in the present Susruta Samhita. Of the commentaries on Susruta Samhita, the most renowned is that of Dalhana called Nibandha Samgraha written in the twelfth century AD.
Another commentary is by Chakrapanidatta wrote in the eleventh century. It is called Bhanumati and only a portion of it is available now.