Charaka Samhita
The also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

:चरक संहिता) is an early Ayurvedic
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 text on internal medicine
Internal medicine
Internal medicine is the medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. Physicians specializing in internal medicine are called internists. They are especially skilled in the management of patients who have undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes...

. It is believed to be the oldest of the three ancient treatises of Ayurveda. It is central to the modern-day practice of Ayurvedic medicine; and, along with the it is identified as an important source of medical and life understanding and practice in antiquity.


The work as extant dates to the Maurya period (3rd to 2nd century BCE).
The text, written in Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 , is the work of several authors and may represent the work of a school of thought.

Sanskrit is a term for a wandering religious student or ascetic. According to legend,
the serpent-king Shesha
In Hindu tradition, Shesha or Sheshanaag is the king of all nagas, one of the primal beings of creation, and according to the Bhagavata Purana, an Avatar of the Supreme God known as Sankarshan. In the Puranas, Shesha is said to hold all the planets of the Universe on his hoods and to constantly...

, who was the recipient of Ayurveda, once visited the earth and finding it full of sickness he became moved with pity and determined to become incarnate as the son of a Muni
"Muni" is a common abbreviation for "municipal" or a city-related service or organization:*The Muny, an outdoor musical theatre in St. Louis, Missouri*Municipal bond*San Francisco Municipal Railway, the public transit agency for San Francisco, California...

 for alleviating disease; he was called Caraka because he had visited the earth as a kind of spy or cara; he then composed a new book on medicine , based on older works of Agniveśa and Atreya
An Atreya is a descendant of Atri, one of the great Hindu sages whose accomplishments are detailed in the Puranas.The descendents of Atri Rishi use Atreya as their surname just like many other Gotras, or clan names used by the Brahmin community of Hindus in India and Nepal. In Northern India,...

pupils ().


The extant text has (eight sections), totaling 120 chapters. These 8 sections are Sūtra sthāna (30 chapters), Nidana sthāna (8 chapters), Vimana sthāna (8 chapters), Sarira sthāna (8 chapters), Indriya sthana (12 chapters), Chikitsa sthana (30 chapters), Kalpa sthana (12 chapters) and Siddhi sthana (12 chapters). 17 chapters of Cikitsā sthāna and complete Kalpa sthāna and Siddhi sthāna were added later by Dridhabala (9th century). The text starts with Sūtra sthāna which deals with fundamentals and basic principles of Ayurveda practice. Unique scientific contributions credited to the include:
  • a rational approach to the causation and cure of disease
  • introduction of objective methods of clinical examination

“Direct observation is the most remarkable feature of Ayurveda, though at times it is mixed up with metaphysics. The emphasizes that of all types of evidence the most dependable ones are those that are directly observed by the eyes. In Ayurveda successful medical treatment crucially depends on four factors: the physician, substances (drugs or diets), nurse and patient. The qualifications of physician are: clear grasp of the theoretical content of the science, a wide range of experience, practical skill and cleanliness; qualities of drugs or substances are: abundance, applicability, multiple use and richness in efficacy; qualifications of the nursing attendant are: knowledge of nursing techniques, practical skill, attachment for the patient and cleanliness; and the essential qualifications of the patients are: good memory, obedience to the instructions of the doctors, courage and ability to describe the symptoms.”


The most celebrated commentary on this text is the Carakatatparyatika or the Ayurveda Dipika written by Cakrapanidatta (1066). Other notable commentaries are Bhattara Harishchandra's Charakanyasa (c.6th century), Jaijjatas Nirantarapadavyakhya (c.875), Shivadasa Sena's Charakatattvapradipika (c.1460). Among the more recent commentaries are Narasimha Kavirāja's Charakatattvaprakasha and Gangadhara Kaviratna's Jalpakalpataru (1879).

Charaka Samhita on nursing

"The Caraka (Vol I, Section xv) states these men should be, 'of good behavior, distinguished for purity, possessed of cleverness and skill, imbued with kindness, skilled in every service a patient may require, competent to cook food, skilled in bathing and washing the patient, rubbing and massaging the limbs, lifting and assisting him to walk about, well skilled in making and cleansing of beds, readying the patient and skillful in waiting upon one that is ailing and never unwilling to do anything that may be ordered."

External links

Further reading

  • Kaviratna, A.C. and P. Sharma, tr., The Charaka Samhita 5 Vols., Indian Medical Science Series, Sri Satguru Publications, a division of Indian Books Centre,Delhi 81-7030-471-7
  • Menon, I A and H F Haberman, Dermatological writings of ancient India Medical History. 1969 October; 13(4): 387–392. seen at The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London June 1, 2006
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