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Caraka-Samhita (Set of 5 Volumes)

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Item Code: NAU168
Author: A. Chandra Kaviratna and P. Sharma
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Language: English
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 8170304717
Pages: 1522
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 3.46 kg
Book Description
About The Book

The Caraka Samhita, is originally the work of Agnivesa, who composed it by collecting the teachings of his teacher Punaravasu Atreya. This text presumably small in size and content was later improved and enlarged by Caraka on whose name it came to be known popularly as the Caraka-samhita. The subject matter of the Caraka-samhita has been divided into eight sthanas (sections).

Caraka samhita earned great reputation and became the most authoritative text representing the School of Medicine. It was translated into Persian and thence to Arabic in the 8th cent. A.D., Caraka- samhita has maintained this status till today when all the other ancient texts of Medicine almost went into oblivion.


It is a great pleasure for me that I could aid in a kind of "repatriation" of an important translation of the Caraka Sarphita. In the years 1890-1925, the first complete English translation was performed and published privately (without the Sanskrit text) in Calcutta by Pandit Avinash Chandra Kaviratna. This publication took the form of 68 fasciculi printed for subscribers in this long period of 35 years. An important and very valuable contribution of the knowledge about Ayurveda in the world.

Starting with fasciculus Nr. 38 of 1906, the publication work was continued by his son Kaviraj Pareshnath Sarma Kavibhusan after Kaviratna's death. This fasciculus starts with Cikitsisthana Chapter V verse 53 in Pareshnath Sarma's numeration, which is verse 54 in the later translations of Priyavat Sharma and of Ram Karan Sharma and Bhagwan Dash, resp. (published by Chowkhamba, Varanasi).

The fasciculi state on the front pages: "Published by", followed by the name Kaviratna or Sarma, but fasciculus Nr. 64 of 1912 state these persons as translators. This fasciculus was dedicated to Sir Alfred Croft for his support of an encouragement for the work. However, a note in the files of the University Library of Tübingen, Germany, claims that the translator would have been Kisori Mohan Ganguli and not Kaviratna himself. The source of this information is unknown. There may, therefore, be some uncertainty as to who really performed the actual translation work.

Only one earlier attempt was made to translate the Caraka Samhita. Mahendra Lal Sircar started a translation, with the assistance of Kaviraj Brajendra Kumar Sen, which was published in Calcutta Journal of Medicine VoL. III (1870) and Vol. IV (1871). This work was, however, discontinued after Sutrasthana Chapter III verse 30 (according to the later translations mentioned above, yet Sircar numbered verse 29 as 27, left verse 30 unnumbered and excluded the very last, closing verse of the Chapter).

Since I have made it a private task for my own studies to gather all translations of ancient scriptures on the most important science of Ayurveda, I had the translation of the Caraka Sarphitä published by Kaviratna copied from bound fasciculi found in German libraries. This was the only way to obtain this work, since it had been out of print for several decades. In a contact with the present publisher, I learned that they had searched in vain for this translation in India. It is not only a satisfaction that I could supply these copies for a reissue, but also out of a kind of thankfulness to a country that to me in many ways is like a spiritual horneland.


Those who have enquired into the subject know that the medical literature of ancient and mediaeval India is exceedingly voluminous. All the works, if capable of being collected together, would fill a fairly large library. Besides a respectable number of works that profess to be comprehensive treatises on the causes of disease and its cure and the normal conditions of health, the number of abridgments is almost unlimited. The reason of this is not far to seek. In the absence of Colleges and Universities established and conducted under royal patronage and thronged with students from every part of the country, individual practitioners, whose professional success became marked or whose learning was generally admitted, attracted a fairly large number of pupils around them. Like the professors of other branches of knowledge, medical practitioners also, in conformity with the excellent custom of the country, had to teach their pupils gratis, supplying them at the same time with the free board and quarters by incorporating them temporarily with their own families. These teachers very frequently compiled abridgments of their own, drawing largely upon the larger standard works, and incorporating with the abstracted matter the results of their own experience. Almost all these abridgments were compiled for use in the lecture room and received from their authors beautiful and poetical names. Sometimes teacher of greater ambition, who desired to address the whole profession instead of their immediate pupils, made more pretentious compilations or wrote excellent commentaries on works or abridgments of acknowledged authority. In this way the medical literature of ancient and mediaeval India increased and swelled into almost gigantic proportions.

Of all these works, however, the most ancient one that is still extant and universally studied by the profession is "Caraka Samhitä." Professor Wilson supposed "that from Caraka and Susruta being mentioned in the Puranas, the ninth or tenth century is the most modern limit of our conjecture; while the style of the authors, as well as their having become the heroes of fable, indicate a long anterior date." Dr. Royle, in his "Essay on the Antiquity of Indian Medical Science," has cited passages from the Latin translations of Avicenna, Rhazes, and Serapion in which Caraka is mentioned. Professor Wilson is of opinion that the Arabians of the eighth century cultivated the Hindu Works on Medicine before those of the Greeks; and that Caraka and Susruta, and the treatise called Nidana, and others, were translated and studied by the Arabians in the days of Harun and Mansur (A.D. 775), either from the originals, or from translations made at a still earlier period into the language of Persia. The age, however, of Caraka, is not its only recommendation, for by a strange coincidence it happens at the same time to be the most comprehensive treatise we possess on disease and the general conditions of health. An older work called "Ayurveda," and supposed to have formed a part of the Atharvan, is frequently mentioned. But no trace can be had of it in any form however mutilated. It is believed to have been of divine or at best of inspired origin. If it really existed and was no myth of later times, there can be no question that it had perished even at the time the work of Agnivesa (upon which "Caraka-Sarphita" is based) was compiled. Another ancient is "Susruta-Ayurveda." The universal belief is that the great work of Caraka preceded the latter in point of time. Internal evidence also supports this view.

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