Ashtanga Hridya Samhita is divided into sutra , nidana, sharira, chikitsa, kalpa, and uttara sthana, and was also written by Vagbhata. It contains 120 chapters and the author quotes Charaka, Susruta Bhela, Nimi, Kasyapa, Dhanvantari and other earlier authors and their works; the chief source, however, is Ashtanga Samgraha. It s a complete but concise description of Ayurvedic medicine.

This book is still studied all over India, more so in the south. It is composed in a combination of verse and prose form. It was written by Vagbhata around the 7th century AD. It is predominantly based on the teachings of Caraka and Susruta Samhitas though it also gives its own views on different topics. Commentaries on Ashtanga Samgraha were written by Arunadatta about 1220 A.D. and by Hemadri a few decades later.

Ashtanga Hridya Samhita is divided into sutra , nidana, sharira, chikitsa, kalpa, and uttara sthana, and was also written by Vagbhata. It contains 120 chapters and the author quotes Charaka, Susruta Bhela, Nimi, Kasyapa, Dhanvantari and other earlier authors and their works; the chief source, however, is Ashtanga Samgraha. It s a complete but concise description of Ayurvedic medicine.

Read & Download "Ashtanga Hridya Samhita" Original Sanskrit Texts:

Vagbhatta_sutra.pdf - 401 KB 
Vagbhatta_nidana.pdf - 216 KB 
Vagbhatta_chikitsita.pdf - 486 KB 
Vagbhatta_kalpa_siddhi.pdf - 110 KB 

Particular stress is laid upon surgery. It does not mention the user of opium in the treatment of diseases and feeling of the pulse for diagnosis. Use of 'killed' (oxidized) metals is also not given in it. Sutra-sthana of Ashtanga Hridya is especially famous and popular. A popular later couplet says : "The best authorities in medicine are Madhava for nidana (diagnosis) , Vagbhata for sutra sthana (theoretical basis or general principles), Susruta for shrira (structure of the body) and Charaka for chikitsa (treatment)."

Ashtanga Hridya has all along been a very popular treatise. Commentaries on it have been written from time to time by as many as 35 important Ayurvedic physicians, each one interpreting it to the best of his knowledge and experience.

Ashtanga Hridya was translated from Sanskrit into Persian in A.D. 1473 by Hakim Ali Mohammed Bin Ali Ismaili Asavali Aseeli, and dedicated to Mahmood Shah I, the ruler of Gujarat.

Ashtanga Samgraha and Ashtanga Hridya, particularly the latter, indicate advancement in knowledge over the two samhitas of Charaka and Susruta. This is particularly noticeable in the new drugs and some of the new surgical procedures that have been introduced. These treatises of Vagbhata were extensively used and, in fact, they overshadowed the earlier samhitas to the extent that some portions of them were lost never to be recovered. Later writers like Sharangadhara, Chakrapanidatta and Bhavamisra quoted these treatises repeatedly in their works.

Rug Vinishchaya 
Rug Vinishchaya, Madhavakara's famous treatise, is written in simple language and style. It is easily understandable by ordinary physicians and became very popular and came to be known as Madhava nidana or simply Nidana. It specializes in the diagnosis of the diseases. The order in which it describes the causes, symptoms and complications of the important diseases sets an example for the future authors such as Vrinda, Vangasena and Chakrapanidatta. Its description of diseases shows a significant advancement compared with that of Charaka and Susruta Samhita.

A special chapter is devoted to small-pox, which previously was described only in a minor way. It, however, literally quotes, many a time, Charaka and Susruta, which shows the borrowing it made from these sources.

In later times, numerous commentaries were written on Madhava's Nidana, which indicate the fame and popularity of this work. The most famous of these commentaries was Madhukosh by Vijayaraksita and his pupil Srikanthadatta in the fourteenth century. The other commentary Antak-darpan by Vachaspati also belongs to the later half of the fourteenth century.

The time of Madhavakara, son of Indrakara, cannot be stated with certainty. Vagbhata mentions Charaka and Susruta but not Madhava. Madhava, on the other hand, does not mention anything about Dridhabala's edition of Charaka Samhita. So Madhava came after Vagbhata but before Dridhabala. Furthermore, Vrinda knew about Madhava. These indirect sources indicate that Madhava may have existed in the ninth or tenth century A.D.

Siddha Yoga 
Vrinda composed Siddha Yoga probably around 1000 A.D. This treatise is a medico-chemical work which 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. The commentator states that Sidha Yoga makes particular mention of the diseases prevalent in western India ; may be Vrinda belonged to that region. Siddha Yoga is in the nature of a samgraha and follows the methods of Vagbhata and others and gives a survey of the classical method of treatment. This is the first large treatise dealing with the prescriptions ; in it Vrinda prescribes mercury for internal use. Siddha Yoga of Vrinda was considered to be very important treatise. It was among the books translated into Arabic.

Rasaratnakara 
Rasaratnakara deals with the preparation and use of metallic compounds, more particularly of mercury (rasa). It describes certain recipes in which vegetable or animal products are used to transform other metals into compounds which look like gold and could be passed off as gold. These compounds, particularly of mercury, were prepared and used in order to make the body undecayable and strong.

Rasaratnakara was written by Nagarjuna. 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. Alberuni mentions of a Nagarjuna resident of the fort Daibhak near Somnath, who composed a book Rasayana. According to him, this Nagarjuna lived about a hundred years before his times. It appears, Natarjuna lived sometimes between the eighth and ninth century A.D. Nagarjuna composed some other works also, which include Kakshaputa Tanim and Arogya Manjari. According to Dalhana, a commentator of Susruta, Nagarjuna reconstructed Susruta Samhita and added Uttara tantra to it. Nagarjuna was quoted as an authority on rasayana by later authors such as Vrinda and Chakrapani.
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. Use of metallic compounds particularly began with Nagarjuna and it increased progressively.


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Prof: Koti Madhav Balu Chowdary

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