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Acharya Charaka in Ayurveda

Acharya Charaka – Time Period, Works, Contribution To Ayurveda

Acharya “Charaka’ redacted the treatise, Agnivesa Tantra which has become popular as “Charaka Samhita’.

“Charaka Samhita’ was the first and foremost authentic text in the literature of Ayurveda. It is one of the greatest trio.

As per the references available in the Chinese translation of the Buddhist text, “Samyukta Ratna Pitahaka Sutra”, it is known that Acharya Charaka was a court-physician of the king Kanishka belonging to 2 century AD.

In Vedic times a branch of Krishna Yajurveda was known as “Charaka’. Vaisumpayana had a disciple Charaka, who himself was known as “Charaka’.

There was another meaning for Charaka i.e. the physician who wanders from place to place offering medical service to the people.

The word “Charaka’ also came to be used for the inferior type of people, commonly a messenger.

Some opine that Charaka is identified with Patanjali, the author of Mahabhashya and Yoga Sutra. But it is not true.

In Bhavaprakasa it is described that “Charaka’ is a sage, born as the incarnation of “Sesha’, the serpent-king, and the servant of Lord Vishnu.

The details pertaining to Charaka, name of his parents, place of birth etc. are not available.

• Basing on the external and internal evidence his date may be fixed as under:

o Acharya Vagbhata (4* to 6* AD) clearly quoted “Charaka’; that means he should definitely have lived before Vagbhata.

o Many references from Charaka Samhita were available in Yagnavalkya Smrithi (3″ Century A.D.) such as ! The concept of Shaddharwatmaka Purusha.

• Garbhavakranti (Development of fetus)

• 6 layers of skin.

• 360 bones.

• Anjali Pramana of Dosha Dhatus ete

o Many a number of formulations of Charaka Samhita are mentioned in Navanitaka (2 Century AD)

o Aswaghosha, the contemporary of Kanishka (1″AD), also quoted many references from Charaka Samhita.

o Milinda Prasna ( 2* BC) has many things similar to those in Charaka Samhita. All these indicate that Charaka may belong to 3-2 century BC.

Internal Evidences

Philosophical background

As the Sankhya Philosophy was dealt with in Charaka Samhita, which is defi- nitely earlier than Sankhyakarika (200 AD), it should have existed before 200 AD.

Religious Condition

Many references from Puranas and Grihya Sutras are available in Charaka Samhita

Political Condition

In Charaka Samhita, many references of Kings, Samanta, Maharajas ete are mentioned. It was the time when Buddhism was developing ie. during the period of Mouryas-Sungas (34-2 BC).

Thus on the basis of external and internal evidences, the date of Charaka may be fixed between 34 and 2 Century B.C.

• Charak a Samhita occupies a very important place in the history of world’s medical science.

• Since 4 century A.D, onwards many a number of great scholars of Ayurveda, authors, scientists, commentators etc. gave utmost respect to the sage Charaka”.

• Famous commentators like Bhattara Harischandra, Swami Kumara, Yogendranath Sen etc, paid their tributes to Acharya Charaka by naming their works as Charakanyasa, Charaka Panjika and Charakopaskara respectively. There are as many as 43 Sanskrit commentaries on this work.

The popularity of this work spread beyond the boarders of our country. In the beginning of g Century AD Charaka Samhita was translated into Ara- bic language.

According to the Colophon, Agnivesa, on the advice of his preceptor Punarvasu Atreya, composed this work which was subsequently redacted by Charaka and Dridhabala.

• In November 1898 Charaka’s Club‘ (Medical organization) was established in New York of United States, It was simply known as medico- historico- social club that discussed a runge of subjects involving fields like medical-medical history-lite rature-poetry and more. This club was founded by a group of four doctors Charles. L. Dana, Joseph Colliers, Fredrick Peterson and Barnad Sachs

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