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Important Ayurvedic texts

Ayurveda, a word usually misunderstood as a branch of medicine, is in fact, a much broader study of life. It is a combination of two Sanskrit words, ayuh, meaning life, and Veda, meaning knowledge. In this video, we are going to look at the sages who pioneered this science, various books are written by them, and the chapters they cover.

There were many great sages of the past who delved into the science of life. Charaka, Sushruta, Vagbhata, Madhava, and Sharngadhara were some of them. I mention these names, because their works in Sanskrit are still available to this day, and are easily accessible if only one has the knowledge of Sanskrit.

  • Charaka Samhita by Maharishi Charaka
  • Sushruta Samhita by Maharishi Sushruta
  • Asthanga Hridyam by Vagabhata
  • Sharangdhar Samhita
  • Madhav Nidan
  • Kashyapa Samhita
  • Bhavprakash
  • Bhaisajya Ratnavali

Even today, these books are the guiding textbooks for all ayurvedic programs across the world. Let’s look at some of these textbooks, and the contents that they cover. The first of these is Acharya Charaka’s Charaka Samhita. With Over 8,400 shlokas that are rhythmic and easy to memorize, Charaka Samhita is divided, into 8 Sections, with a total of 120 chapters.

Charaka Samhita is extremely detailed with the causes of various diseases, how to identify them, how to find and make appropriate medication, and various ways of applying it. It describes the embryology, and anatomy, of both humans, and animals. People today will be surprised to know, that this book has a dedicated chapter on alcoholism, various properties of alcohol, and even guidance, on how to get high, without a hangover!

Then, there is Acharya Sushruta’s Sushruta Samhita. Acharya Sushruta is considered to be a pioneer of surgical methods. There are verses describing how to treat accidents to the nose, with skin taken from thigh grafts. There are also verses that describe how to get trained with surgery on various vegetables, leather bags, and dead animals, before performing surgery on humans.

Sushruta Samhita has over 7,000 shlokas, divided into 186 chapters, with descriptions of over 1,000 different diseases, 700 medicinal plants, and more than 100 different ayurvedic medical preparations.

Ashtanga Hridaya, written by Vagbhata, is still the reference book for 100s of ayurvedic medicines, that are still being used to cure various types of illnesses. If you look closely at any of the ayurvedic medicine bottles, you will find their source textbook mentioned on them.

There are many more textbooks, by other eminent authors, that serve as user manuals on how to conduct life, at various levels. Some of them, are Sharngdhar Samhita, Madhav Nidan, Kashyapa Samhita, Bhavprakash, and Bhaisajya Ratnavali. Each one of them gives us profound insights into how to keep the human faculties, of body, mind, and soul free of diseases and full of potency, vibrance, and health.

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