Charaka Samhita (चरक संहिता)

From Dharmawiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article needs editing.

Add and improvise the content from reliable sources.

This article needs appropriate citations and references.

Improvise this article by introducing references to reliable sources.

Charaka Samhita is one of the core treatises of Ayurveda. It is the most referred samhita by Ayurveda students, practitioners, academicians and researchers. This treatise is popular by the name of Maharshi Charaka who redacted the compendium originally compiled by sage Agnivesha. Charaka samhita is one of the 3 treatises in Brhatrayee (the greater triad of Ayurveda classical treatises). It is believed to be the best treatise to study medicine in Ayurveda.

परिचयः॥ Introduction

Ayurveda - divine tradition of its descent and spread.

Procurement of knowledge - interesting tales from Indian mythology

The physicians of the god in the Heaven called Ashwinikumar.

They were known to be performing various complex surgeries including the plastic surgery and transplants.

When the sedentary lifestyle in human beings became predominant - development of various diseases - suffering and difficulty in carrying out day to day work;

They felt the need to know the science of Ayurveda in order to reduce the suffering and stay healthy.

Ayurveda was then the divine medical science of the gods in heaven; till the saint Bharadwaja went to the lord Indra to request to pass on the knowledge of Ayurveda to him for the benefit of mankind.

This was the important period when the Ayurveda descended from heaven to earth for the first time.

Bhardwaja to his disciple Punarvasu Atreya

Atreya to his 6 disciples

Agnivesha, Bhela, Jatukarna, Parashara, Harita, Ksharapani

Received knowledge from their guru Atreya

It was passed on verbally to saints or seers like Aatreya Punarvasu, Bharadwaja etc and from them to their disciples like Agnivesha, Harita etc.

Each of these disciples created their own treatise

However, Agnivesh was considered most brilliant out of them, hence his treatise called Agnivesha Tantra got much popularity while the other treatises got lost with the time.

Agnivesha Samhita was in verse or sootra form

Expanded upon by Charaka by his annotations or bhashya in such a spectacular way that it popularly now called as Charaka Samhita.

भाषा॥ Language

This classic has been written in Samskrit language. Being the most popular and widely referred treatise on Ayurveda, various Ayurveda scholars have translated it in multiple Indian as well as foreign languages for easy understanding of the text.

ग्रन्थकर्ता॥ About the Author

Carakasaṁhitā is the compendium compiled by the Sage Agnivēśa by the preaching of expounder Punarvasu Ātrēya. It is redacted by Maharṣi Caraka, and thus it becomes popular by the name of Carakasaṁhitā in Ayurvedic fraternity. Ācārya Dr̥ḍhabala, re-redacted the Carakasaṁhitāand added 41 chapters including kalpasthāna, siddhisthāna and 17 chapters of cikitsāsthāna, which were lost in the due course of time in original manuscript. This compendium is considered as the authoritative text on kāyacikitsā and praised as "....śrēṣṭhaḥ....carakastu cikitsitē". Though the details of all aṣṭāṅga (Eight specializations) are given, elaborated description about the kāyacikitsā is available in this scripture and hence it is considered as the authoritative text on kāyacikitsā.

ग्रन्थविषयः॥ Subject / Focus

Charaka samhita is the core treatise on Ayurveda. It offers knowledge about all 8 branches of Ayurveda however, lays special emphasis on Kayachikitsa, (Internal medicine). Thus the popular saying is,

चरकस्तु चिकित्सिते

Charaka samhita is the authoritative text on Chikitsa (medical treatments).

It has detailed knowledge about Rasayana and Vajikarana branches as well. Special sections are dedicated to describe basic principles in Ayurveda, clinical evaluation, medical treatment protocols, Arishta lakshanas, Panchakarma therapies and various medicinal formulations.

रचना॥ Structure

The Samhita comprises 120 chapters categorized into eight sections, or Sthana. The text is written partly in the form of verses, or shloka, and partly in prose. In the last chapter of the Siddhi Sthana (verse 12/52), it is mentioned that there are 12000 verses in the text. However, the present available edition of treatise has 8419 verses and 1111 prose paragraphs. Thus, some 2000 verses seem to have been lost in the course of its existence.


  • Sutra Sthana (30 chapters) covers basic principles of Ayurveda with seven groups of tetrads (logical groupings of four chapters, or Chatushka) including medicaments (Bheshaja Chatushka), preventive and promotive medicine (Swastha Chatushka), directions of utilizing Ayurveda principles (Nirdesha Chatushka), preparations useful for treatment (Kalpana Chatushka), Disease categories and classification of diseases (Roga Chatushka), Management principles of disease (Yojana Chatushka) and dietary principles (Annapana Chatushka). The last two chapters are called Sangraha Adhyaya including important aspects of Prana (vital energy) and summary of topics discussed in the entire Samhita.
  • Nidana Sthana (8 chapters) discusses the etiopathogenesis and important clinical diagnostic tools for eight major diseases.
  • Vimana Sthana (8 chapters) contains specific information about diet, dietary rules, epidemics, teaching and learning methods, various types of examinations.
  • Sharira Sthana (8 chapters) describes details about the composition of the human body, its origin, the importance of body, mind and soul co-ordination, embryology and anatomical aspects of a human body.
  • Indriya Sthana (12 chapters) explains diagnosis and prognosis of disease with bad prognostic features and dreams on the basis of senses.
  • Chikitsa Sthana (30 chapters) gives treatment protocols and specific remedies for various ailments.
  • Kalpa Sthana (12 chapters) contains usage and preparation of medicine.
  • Siddhi Sthana (12 chapters) describes principles of Panchakarma (five therapeutic procedures for body purification) and preparations useful for these procedures.

This compendium is divided into 8 sections and 120 chapters (sūtrasthāna-30, nidānasthāna-8, vimānasthāna-8, śārīrasthāna-8, indriyasthāna-12, cikitsāsthāna-30, kalpasthāna -12 and siddhisthāna -12 chapters). Sūtrasthāna describes about the fundamental principles of Ayurveda to maintain the health of a healthy person and to cure the diseases of diseased person in the form of sūtra. In nidānasthāna, 06 Somatic and 02 Psychosomatic diseases description is available according to nidānapañcaka.

In the guidelines of treating any disease, it is said that; if treatment is done based on the different stages of dōṣa-bhēṣaja-kāla-bala-śarīra-sāra-āhāra-sātmya-satva-prakr̥ti-vaya-agni concepts, then only it will become successful. Method of aṁśāṁśavikalpanā of these concepts is described in planned manner in the vimānasthāna. By understanding these concepts, physician can do the successful treatment to any disease.

Caraka has added śārīrasthāna to this compendium, to attain a comprehensive knowledge about the satva, ātmā, śarīra. Somatic disease causes psychiatric disease and vice versa. The same is explained in the following verse as -- śarīraṁ hi sattvamanuvidhīyatē sattvaṁ ca śarīram|| (Ca. śā. 4 / 36).

In the process of treating complicated diseases, often mortality is high. In such conditions to avoid unpopularity of vaidya, a unique section, called indriyasthāna is given in this compendium featuring with symptoms/signs impending death of human beings and the same is explained in the following verse as


prāpnuyāt niyataṁ vaidyō yōasādhyaṁ samupācarēt || (Ca. sū. 10 / 8)

. Based on the observation of these signs, vaidya can avoid treating the complicated cases.

As per Carakasaṁhitā, the first and foremost aim of Ayurveda is maintaining the health of a healthy individual. Towards achieving this goal, śarīra and manō bala are important to prevent the diseases. So, first two chapters of cikitsāsthāna are dedicated to rasāyana and vājīkaraṇa concepts. In latter chapters management of diseases of Jvara etc. are described, in the way of achieving the second goal of the Ayurveda, i.e. curing the disease - prayōjanaṁ cāsya svasthasya svāsthyarakṣaṇamāturasya vikārapraśamanaṁ ca|| (Ca. sū. 30 / 26).

Since saṁśōdhana is the part of treatment of all the diseases and pañcakarma therapy is the śōdhana therapy, to give complete details of pañcakarma medicaments and procedures, kalpa and siddhisthāna are added after the cikitsāsthāna. The concept behind this is universally accepted i.e. the diseases which are treated with saṁśamana therapy can reoccur, but the with saṁśōdhana therapy, there is no such possibility. This is explained in the following verse

dōṣāḥ kadācitkupyanti jitā laṅghanapācanaiḥ|

jitā saṁśōdhanairyē tu na tēṣāṁ punarudbhavaḥ|| (Ca. sū. 16 / 20-21)

This compendium became popular and attained greatest importance in Ayurvedic medical world due to description of all the concepts at the appropriate places. It is authoritative text on kāyacikitsā for the reason that it is explained that all the diseases which were happening in the past, manifesting in the present and going to come in the future are explained. It is the need of the hour that, to understand these concepts in their original meaning and implement in the daily practice as said by Caraka in the following verse

vikāranāmākuśalō na jihrīyāt kadācana| na hi sarvavikārāṇāṁ nāmatōsti dhruvā sthitiḥ|| sa ēva kupitō dōṣaḥ samutthānaviśēṣataḥ| sthānāntaragataścaiva janayatyāmayān bahūn|| tasmādvikāraprakṛtīradhiṣṭhānāntarāṇi ca| samutthānaviśēṣāṁśca buddhvā karma samācarēt|| yō hyētat tritayaṁ jñātvā karmāṇyārabhatē bhiṣak| jñānapūrvaṁ yathānyāyaṁ sa karmasu na muhyati||(Ca. sū. 18 / 44-47)

The Ayurvedic physician, who does not read Carakasaṁhitā meticulously, can not attain complete knowledge of kāyacikitsā. Hence it is necessary to read Carakasaṁhitā with the vākyaśaḥ, vākyārthaśaḥ and arthāvayavaśaḥ in their root meaning. The doctrines and practical concepts of health maintenance and disease cure are available Carakasaṁhitā are exceptionally broad and no where else available.

yasya dvādaśasāhasrī hṛdi tiṣṭhati saṁhitā| sōrthajñaḥ sa vicārajñaścikitsākuśalaśca saḥ|| rōgāṁstēṣāṁ cikitsāṁ ca sa kimarthaṁ na budhyatē| cikitsā vahnivēśasya susthāturahitaṁ prati|| yadihāsti tadanyatra yannēhāsti na tatkvacit| (Ca. si. 12 / 52-53)

In ancient times, study of saṁhitā was done in guruśiṣya paramparā and students use to read in the presence of Guru. So thus they use to understand the saṁhitā vākya along with their root meaning. But in later times due to change in the study patterns, elaborate commentary on mūlasūtra became necessary to understand the true meanings of original sutras. To fulfill these needs many commentators written commentaries on Carakasaṁhitā. First among them is Scholar Bhaṭṭāra hariścandra and the commentary written is ‘Carakanyāsa’. In due course of time, many of the commentaries are extinct. Only Cakrapāṇidatta’s Āyurvēdadīpikā and Jalpakalpataru commentary of Gangadhar Roy are available in complete form. Out of these two, Āyurvēdadīpikā commentary is the most popular and complete guide to understand the Carakasaṁhitā in Ayurvedic world. Experts of Ayurveda considers that, with out reading the Āyurvēdadīpikā commentary along with the original compendium it is difficult to understand the deep rooted Ayurvedic concepts of Carakasaṁhitā.

टीका ॥ Commentaries on Charak Samhita

"Ayurvedadeepika" is the most popular commentary on Charak Samhita written by Chakarapnidatta. Jalpakalapataru commentary is written by Gangadhara. These commentaries are widely used and referred. The electronic version of original Charak Samhita with Ayurvedadeepika commentary is available in Sanskrit language on the website of National Institute of Indian Medical Heritage. The contemporary edition of Charak Samhita in English language is in progress and available for open access as "Charak Samhita New Edition". This edition includes original text, English translation, fundamental principles, scientific researches done on various topics of Charak Samhita.