Prof. K. R. Srikantha Murthy (b. 1929) is an alamnus of Govt. Ayurveda college, Mysore (1948) and Post-graduate centre in Ayurveda, Jamnagar (1958) now known as Gujrat Ayurveda University. He has served as professor and principal of all the three Govt. Ayurveda colleges of Karnataka state and Govt. Unani Medical college, Bangalore and retired from service in 1984. Recently he served as National
He has been continuously engaged in teaching and literary pursuits over the last fifty years. He is the author of many independent books, scores of scientific monographs on Ayurveda. He has translated into English almost all ancient texts of Ayurveda such as Astfiga hrdaya, Aänga samgraha, Mädhava mdana and Shrngadhara Samhita. This book-translation of Suruta samhita-is the latest in the series.
He is the recipient of many titles and awards from many prestigious: animations.
The book furnishes glimpses of life and works of great men who propounded and propagated Ayurveda-the science of ancient Indian Medicine, commencing from the period of Indus valley civilization up to the present day in chronological order.
Information is collected from various sources, sifted carefully and only those which have been held as reliable by the present day authorities are furnished. Discussions on points of dispute have been avoided and only the opinions accepted by majority of scholars are provided. The book is neither very elaborate nor very brief contains all available information in a nutshell. Doubts regarding personal whereabouts, dates etc of many personages still awaits confirmation by further research.
The author who has a flair bar history has made the book best suited for study by all categories of Ayurveda. Students, Teachers and research workers. It fulfils the long felt need of such a book on history of Ayurveda.
Pictures of some persons available at the time to printing are included which makes the book more interesting. Index at the end contains not only the names of persons but also of some important and popular books.
In the following pages I have furnished information about life and works of great men who propounded, developed ad propagated Ayurveda- the science of medicine of India. Unfortunately details of life, identity, date and other whereat: ts of these ancient personages are not correctly known. Rags for this pitiable condition are many and varied, such Se authors of books not furnishing their name and other personal information in their books, absence of conclusive archeological, historical and literary evidences, social and political conditions of this country in different periods of time and so on.
Even with such drawbacks, modern historians, Sanskrit Ayurvedic scholars, ideologists of both India and other countries have collected good amount of information on this subject which helps to form a consistent history of Indian Medicine. Such information might be either correct or even wrong. However views and opinions which have been accepted widely by majority of scholars are furnished here. Due attention has been paid to highlight significant contribution of each person for the advancement of Ayurveda. Discussions, debates and points of dispute between scholars have been avoided so as to make a consistent reading.
There were many great men in ancient times other than those mentioned in this book. But only those who have been prominent and popular have been selected; while describing their personal whereabouts, salient features of their books have also been furnished. Thus, this book is Biographical and Bibliographical survey. It is designed to serve as a text book for the study of History of Indian Medicine, prescribed as a subject for graduate and post-graduate courses in Ayurveda in the country. Much information has been collected from works of present day authorities of Ayurveda- chief among. Them are the following—
I had dealt with the same subject in my earlier book, “Luminaries of Indian Medicine”. After some years of publication, it was found to be unsuitable for the purpose due to may reasons such as lack of chronological arrangement, inadequacy of information, incompleteness and even presence of some errors. These prompted me to write a separate book on this subject, which is now in your hands.
I have arranged this book assigning personages chronologically to specific periods of Indian History. All details about them and their works as known today have been furnished. Salient features of ancient books both available and unavailable have been given which will help in the search of unavailable ones in future. This survey has been updated with inclusion of personages of the present day and their contribution to advancement of Ayurveda.
The author of this book Dr. K.R. Srikantha Murthy, LKMS, HPA is respected as a good scholar of Ayurveda. He had regular college training for his LAMS and post-graduate training in Post Graduate Institute of Jamnagar where an Ayurvedic University has been established last year. When he was taking his course for post-graduate degree, I had observed in him a tendency and craving to do some useful research work that may be helpful in reviving the pristine glory of Ayurveda.
After settling in Mysore he has continued to pursue his academic activities in various ways. As an Associate Editor of National Medical Journal, he has contributed a number of articles and helped to organize and make the journal estimable all over the country.
For the last few years, he has concentrated his energy to compile a short history of biographies of Luminaries of Indian Medicine (Ayurveda) from the earliest pre-Vedic period to the present day. This is a Herculean task and a very difficult subject, but the author has the ardent zeal and courage to make a beginning in this direction. For this bold step he deserves all praise and congratulations from the Ayurvedic world.
The medical historian will find it difficult at present to compile and present to the world a regular and comprehensive picture of History of Medicine of India. The reasons for such a condition are many and varied. The foremost of them is that the medical history is a part and parcel of the national and regional history. Thus unless the facts of chronology and the political and cultural history of India are fully established, it would not be feasible to give a correct portrayal of the medical part of Indian History. Regarding chronology, nothing is certain before 328 BC invasion of Alexander or at any date before the 5th century BC, that is the time of Buddha. There are further peculiar obstacles in ascertaining the chronology, names and biographical details of persons who have important part in the evolution of Ayurveda in ancient period.
Max Muller says- from the actual works themselves written by the poets, philosophers -and scientists of India, little material is to be had pertaining to the life and works of the author. Most often, even the name has to be learnt from he colophons or such other appendages to the original contributed by the editors, commentators and such others. The difficulties in computing the dates are augmented by the prevalence of different eras in vogue in various parts of India.
In spite of such indefinite and compounding circumstances, the author persisted in his work and as a result of indefatigable industry and diligence, he has been successful to complete and publish the book containing the sketches of the Luminaries of Ayurveda, past as well as present. On reading the sketches, one is convinced that he has taken great pains to collect the scattered data from various sources, with one clear motive that is to elucidate the fact that luminaries specially of the ancient period, possessed all comprehensible knowledge, their methods of study— theoretical and practical were quiet scientific, they had humanitarian and universal spirit. They disseminated encyclopedic information regarding evolution of man when in health and restoration of health when man was ill. In old Aryan culture, such persons known as Aptas and were considered authorities and entitled to write main classics. Caraka Maharsi defines such persons as follows:
‘The authorities are men who have freed themselves from son and ignorance by means of spiritual endeavour and knowledge, whose understanding embracing the past, present and future, is pure and at all times, unclouded, it is these that are authoritative, the learned, the enlightened and their word is unimpeachable and true. Why do such men, devoid as they are of passion and ignorance, give utterance to untruth?”
The author has implanted fresh and fertile seed in this particular aspect of the history of Indian Medicine. The sea original son in the Independent India now is very favorable; Higher studies and research in Ayurveda are fast progressing and it is
hoped that some more scholars of Ayurveda may be inspired to do devoted work in this branch.
I wish the author continues his endeavour in this very useful but undeveloped branch and contributes more and more in this matter year by year’.
An attempt is made in this book to acquaint the readers with glimpses of life and works of great men who propounded and propagated Ayurveda, the Science of Indian medicine. India with a long history of more than five thousand years, had a galaxy of eminent men who have enhanced the prestige of Indian medicine the world over. Knowledge of ancient Indians in the science of medicine and their achievements were considered as highly advanced and acclaimed as wonderful. Scholars of many ancient nations often visited India to learn new knowledge.
This book is a Biographical and Bibliographical survey of Indian medicine in historical perspective. Information furnished here is neither too brief, nor too elaborate. Details of discussions regarding identity, date, etc., of personages have been avoided and generally accepted view only is made available.
The long period of this survey is divided into three periods as follows.
1. Ancient period— 2500 B.C.—600 A.D.
2. Medieval period— 600 A.D. to 1600 A.D.
3. Modem period— 1600 A.D. to till date
Ancient period is dealt in two sub-divisions
I. Mythological personages 2. Historical personages
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