Thursday, 28 July 2016


The Charaka Saṃhitā or Compendium of Charaka (Sanskrit चरक संहिता IASTcaraka-saṃhitā) is a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine).[1][2] Along with the Suśruta-saṃhitā, it is one of the two foundational Hindu texts of this field that have survived from Indian Subcontinent.[3][4][5]

The pre-2nd century CE text consists of eight books and one hundred twenty chapters.[6][7] It describes ancient theories on human body, etiologysymptomology and therapeutics for a wide range of diseases.[8] The Charaka Samhita also includes sections on the importance of diet, hygiene, prevention, medical education, the teamwork of a physician, nurse and patient necessary for recovery to health.[9][10][11]

The aim of life science

Life is of four kinds: Sukha (happy), Duhkha (unhappy), Hita (good) and Ahita (bad).

Sukham-Ayuh is a life unaffected by bodily or psychic diseases, is endowed with vigor, capabilities, energy, vitality, activity, knowledge, successes and enjoyments. The opposite of this is the Asukham-Ayuh.

Hitam-Ayuh is the life of a person who is always willing to do good to all living beings, truthful, non-stealing, calm, self-restrained, taking steps after examining the situation, virtuous, achieves Dharma-Artha-Kama, without conflict with others, worshipping whatever is worthy, devoted to knowledge-understanding-serenity of mind, and to charity and peace. The opposite of this is the Ahitam-Ayuh.

The aim of Ayurveda is to teach what is conducive to these four kinds of life.

Caraka Samhita Chapters 1.1, 1.30 (Abridged)[27][28]

The extant text has eight sthāna (books), totalling 120 chapters. The text includes a table of contents embedded in its verses, stating the names and describing the nature of the eight books, followed by a listing of the 120 chapters.[29] These eight books are[6]

  1. Sutra Sthana (General principles) - 30 chapters deal with general principles, philosophy, definitions, prevention through healthy living, and the goals of the text.[30]
  2. Nidana Sthana (Pathology) - 8 chapters on causes of diseases.[31]
  3. Vimana Sthana (Specific determination) 8 chapters contain training of a physician, ethics of medical practice, pathology, diet and nourishment, taste of medicines.[32]
  4. Śarira Sthana (Anatomy) - 8 chapters describe embryology & anatomy of a human body (with a section on other living beings).[33]
  5. Indriya Sthana (Sensory organ based prognosis) - 12 chapters elaborate on diagnosis & prognosis, mostly based on sensory response of the patient.[31]
  6. Cikitsa Sthana (Therapeutics) - 30 chapters deal with medicines and treatment of diseases.[34]
  7. Kalpa Sthana (Pharmaceutics and toxicology) - 12 chapters describe pharmacy, the preparation and dosage of medicine, signs of their abuse, and dealing with poisons.[31]
  8. Siddhi Sthana (Success in treatment) - 12 chapters describe signs of cure, hygiene and healthier living.[31]

Seventeen chapters of Cikitsā sthāna and complete Kalpa sthāna and Siddhi sthāna were added later by Dridhabala.[35] The text starts with Sūtra sthāna which deals with fundamentals and basic principles of Ayurveda practice. Unique scientific contributions credited to the Charaka Saṃhitā include:

  • a rational approach to the causation and cure of disease
  • introduction of objective methods of clinical examination

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