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Charaka Philosophy

The philosophy of Charaka, arguably the most important theorist of Ayurveda.

Charaka - Ayurveda's First Organiser

The North Indian writer and philosopher Charaka was the writer of the first detailed treatise onayurveda. This treatise is still in print and is still considered to prescribe the organising principles ofayurveda today. All ayurvedic doctors read and study Charaka and in many respects his work has not been superseded by later ayurvedic theorists.

Charaka relied upon Vedic rituals and gods in formulating his Samhita (literally in Sanskrit it means either literature or compilation). The Indian philosophy based around the Vedas is a synthesis of earlier and crude Indian philosophies such as Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Mimamsa, Yoga and Vedanta. He accepted many principles of Buddhism and Jainism although both these schools of thought did not accept Vedic relevance. His only philosophical motive was to figure out a system to alleviate the sufferings of human-being. He believed that his system of medicine should be different from existing ones as they were not effective and had no hesitation in picking up right threads from other Samhitas to incorporate in his system of medicine, but definitely, he refined, such borrowings before incorporation.

The history of medical knowledge in India has a fine innings in folklore, verbal testimony, traditional practice, tribal remedies etc. The time tested improvement galvanized the system in tune with the pass of time. Charaka Samhita is such a refined product from the forerunner - Samhitas, especially from Agnivesa Tantra which were in vogue many centuries ago.

Charaka Samhita dealt with extensively all branches of medical science and human body. Some branches have not been individualized but cleverly and clearly clubbed with other branches with wide elaborations. The Samhita has a great leaning on Mahabharata which is an exclusive encyclopedia from health point of view.

Charaka Samhita

This is an ayurvedic classical text book for internal medicine.The author of the book is considered as Charaka,who was more of physician and excelled in internal medicine.

According to Charaka, health and disease are not predetermined and life may be prolonged by human effort.

According to the Charaka tradition, there existed six schools of medicine, founded by the disciples of the sage Punarvasu Ātreya. Each of his disciples, Agnivesha, Bhela, Jatūkarna, Parāshara, Hārīta, and Kshārapāni, composed a Samhitā. Of these, the one composed by Agnivesha was supposed to be the best. The Agnivesha Samhitā was later revised by Charaka and it came to be known as Charaka Samhitā. The Charaka Samhitā was revised by Dridhbala.

Āyurveda is traditionally divided into eight branches which, in Charaka's scheme, are:

  1. sūtra-sthāna, general principles
  2. nidāna-sthāna, pathology
  3. vimāna-sthāna, diagnostics
  4. sharīra-sthāna, physiology and anatomy
  5. indriya-sthāna, prognosis
  6. chikitsā-sthāna, therapy|therapeutics
  7. kalpa-sthāna, pharmacy
  8. siddhi-sthāna, successful treatment

Useful External links

  • Ayurveda Scholars
  • Ayurvedic Literature

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