Ancient India Medicines Siddha Yoga, Rasaratnakara, Sharangadhara, Samhita:

Ancient India Medicines

Siddha Yoga

Vrinda composed Siddha Yoga probably around 1000 A.D. This treatise is a medico-chemical work. This work incorporates some of the material from Charaka, Susruta, Vagbhata, Madhavakara, and Nagarjuna. This became very popular. A commentary called Kusumavali was written on it by Sri Kanthadatta around fourteenth century A.D.

Ancient India Medicines
Siddha Yoga

The commentator states that Siddha Yoga makes particular mention of the diseases prevalent in western India. Siddha Yoga was in the nature of a Samgraha and followed the methods of Vagbhata and others. It also gives a survey of the classical method of treatment. This was the first large treatise dealing with the prescriptions.


Rasaratnakara dealt with the preparation and use of metallic compounds, especially mercury (rasa). It described certain recipes in which vegetable or animal products are used to transform other metals into compounds. This looked like gold and could be passed off as gold. Rasaratnakara was written by Nagarjuna.

Ancient India Medicines

From the internal evidence of this book, it appears, it is a work composed after the time of Vagbhata t.e., in the eighth century. Until the seventh and eighth centuries, Ayurvedic drugs consisted mainly of vegetable products. Metals, such as iron, silver, tin, and lead, were very sparingly used for medical purposes.

Sharangadhara Samhita The earliest Indian medical treatise to mention Nadi-Pariksha (pulse examinations) is of the twelfth century. Written in the 13th century, Sharangadhara Samhita describes different types of Pulse in different disease conditions. Two commentaries on Sharangadhara Samhita were written. One was by Adhamalla called Dipika in the thirteenth century while the second by Kashiram called Guarda Dipika in the sixteenth century.


Bhava Misra belonged to the mid-sixteenth century. His treatise Bhavaprakasha is an important medical work. Bhava Misra was the last of the great men of Indian Medicine. He was the son of Latakia Misra and lived at Varanasi in the year A.D. 1550. He was considered “a jewel among the physicians” and the best of the scholars of his time.

He is said to have taught and trained at least 400 students in medicine. In his important and voluminous treatise called Bhavaprakasha, he described the best of the available material of the previous authors and sets forth his own views and experiences. It is also divided into three khandas (parts): Purva, Madhya, and Uttara.

Ancient India Medicines

In it, the author systematically deals with the origin of Indian medicine, cosmology, human anatomy, embryology, physiology, pathology, medicine, diseases of the children, surgery, Materia Medica, therapeutics, dietetics, rejuvenate and elixirs to prolong life. Bhava Misra’s Bhavaprakasha is still popular and is consulted by Ayurvedic physicians in India.

He composed another small pharmacological work called Gunaratnamala. It mentions China root called Tobchini in the vernacular, as a remedy of “Phiranga Roga.” He was the first to mention certain drugs of foreign countries as Badhkashani Nastasi, Khorabani and Parasika Vacha (Acorus calamus), Sulemani Kharjura (date fruit of Suleman) and opium.


Unani medicine got deep roots and royal patronage during medieval times as an alternative form of medicine in India. It progressed during Indian sultanate and Mughal periods.

Unani medicine is very close to Ayurveda. Both are based on the history of the presence of the elements (in Unani, they are considered to be fire, water, earth, and air) in the human body. According to followers of Unani medicine, these elements are present in different fluids. It is their balance which leads to health while their imbalance leads to illness.

Ancient India Medicines
Medical book

All human societies have medical beliefs. These beliefs provide explanations for birth, death, and disease. Throughout history, illness has been attributed to witchcraft, demons, adverse astral influence, or the will of the gods. These ideas still retain some power, with faith healing and shrines still used in some places. However, the rise of scientific medicine over the past millennium has altered or replaced mysticism in most cases.