The Legacy of Caraka

Item Code: IDH473
Author: MS Valiathan
Publisher: Orient Blackswan Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9788173716676
Pages: 710 (Line Figure With Illus:)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.3" X 5.6
Weight 960 gm
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Book Description

Back of the Book

Caraka, the master physician, is believed to have lived in the first century AD. The Samhita composed by him forms the bedrock of ayurvedic practice today. His contribution to India's cultural inheritance was profound.

Caraka Samhita was, in fact, a revision of an older text Agnivesa Tantra, which was written several centuries before Caraka's time. Caraka's revision became so popular that it was translated into Tibetan, Arabic, English and many Indian languages. The Legacy of Caraka retells the Samhita in a new format. Instead of adhering to the sequence of the Sthanas in the original, the author has retold the Samhita through thematically structured chapter, in contemporary idiom. The retelling has involved some degree of restructuring and condensation but ha ensured that whatever is stated can be traced back to the original. In a detailed introduction, the author has commented on specific of view of modern medicine.

This book will be special interest to students of Ayurveda, medicine and other sciences, and those interested in the history of science in India.

About the Author

A native of Kerala, Dr. MS Valiathan received his medical education in India and subsequent training in surgery and cardiac surgery in the UK and USA. During a career spanning three decades as a cardiac surgeon and investigator, his major interests were cardiac surgery in children, studies on a tropical heart muscle disease and the development of cardiovascular devices. His contributions in these areas are embodied in a monograph and many scientific papers. A Vice-Chancellorship followed before he took up the study of the Caraka Samhita as Homi Bhabha Senior Fellow at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka, India.

Dr. Valiathan is married to Ashima, an orthodontist. They have a daughter, Manna, and a son Manish.



This book had its origin in the Gandhi Memorial Lecture I was privileged to give at the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. I had heard of Caraka from my school days but to read his Samhita many years later was to come under the spell of a master physician whose contribution to India's cultural inheritance was profound. I was tempted to retell Caraka Samhita in a format which, I thought, would appeal to the students of ayurveda, medicine and other sciences at the college level and all others interested in the history of science in India. The hesitation I had in an ayurvedic excursion was overcome by the encouragement I received from Sri Raghavan Thirumulpad - a renowned savant of Kerala - who never spared himself in guiding me during my two year journey through Caraka country. In the large body of Car aka literature I consulted, the commentary of Cakrapani and translation by Prof PV Sharma were of utmost help to me. However, instead of adhering to the sequence of Sthanas in the original, I have retold the Samhita through thematically structured chapters which, one hopes, would be easier on modern readers. The retelling has involved some degree of restructuring and condensation but has ensured that whatever is stated can be traced back to the original and that no chapter in the eight Sthanas of the original has been left out. In the introduction, I have commented on some aspects of Caraka's philosophy, concepts and practice which could be of interest to the academic community in the present context.

I am grateful to Dr PM Unnikrishnan of the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions, Bangalore for reading my manuscript and not only suggesting emendations and refinements but also assisting in the preparation of a glossary. Professor KV Sarma, whose studies on ancient science texts in Sanskrit are models of scholarship, has laid me under an obligation by making an index for this volume. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the assistance of Dr Indira Balachandran of the Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal for checking the botanical names of plants (see Botanical Names). The identification and terminology of plants mentioned by Caraka are beset with great difficulties and any errors which persist are entirely mine. I am grateful to Mr Abraham Joy for preparing the illustrations and drawing inspiration for his work from the carvings of the Kusana period when Caraka is believed to have lived. The rich collection of photographs of the sculptures of the Kusana period in the American Institute of Indian Studies, Delhi, provided the material for introducing authenticity into the drawings of Mr Joy. For estimating the number of references to various disorders, 1 was generously supplied a digitised version of the Caraka Samhita by Prof Yamashita of the Kyoto University. My sincere thanks are due to him and to my daughter and a pathologist, Manna, who carried out the computer search for references. I am indebted to Prof PSVN Sharma of, the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal for facilitating my search for modern psychiatric resonance in Caraka's description of insanity I must also place on record a debt of gratitude to my family who have ungrudgingly stood by me through my busy surgical decades and subsequent digressions into unrelated territories.

I was honoured by the Homi Bhabha Council who awarded me a Senior Fellowship, and would convey my sincere thanks to the Trustees for their support. 1 am beholden to Dr Ramdas M Pai, President of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education for the facilities given 1'0 me [or carrying out the study in Manipal. It is a pleasure to extend my sincere thanks to Ms Usha Kamath for preparing the manuscript with great care and admirable efficiency and Ms. Padmaja Anant of Orient Longman Private Limited for her editorial thoroughness and excellence. If the book succeeds in drawing wider attention to the theme of Caraka's legacy, its pages will have amply rewarded one of my best hopes.


  An appreciation  
  List of illustrations  
  List of Illustrations  
I Caraka and his legacy I
  Historical Caraka - Philosophical moorings - Medical science - Pharmacology - Practice of medicine - Caraka the teacher - human destiny  
II Atharva Veda to Caraka xvii
  Atharvan echoes in Caraka - Human body in Atharva Veda  
III Diseases in Caraka's period xxiii
  Infectious diseases and infected conditions (disgestive disorders, fever, leprosy, smallpox, pulmonary TB, abscess, cellulites, sores) - Non-infectious diseases (seizures, piles, gaseous lumps, heart diseases, alcohol-related disorders, pallor, polyuria, bleeding disorders, insanity)  
IV Doctrines and concepts l
  Five constituents of matter (pancabhuta) - Three dosas (tridosa) A regimen dictated by seasons (rtucarya) - Natural urges (vegas)  
V Five evacuative procedures (pancakarma) lxiv
VI Procedures for rejuvenation and enhanced virility (Rasayana and vajikarana) lxviii
VII Medicinal Plants lxx
  Classification - Mechanism of action - Preparation of formulations - Anti-dosa plants  
VIII Food and drinks lxxvii
XI Habitat lxxx
X Learning to be a physician lxxxii
Section 1
  Mind and matter; life and death; health and disease; food and drugs; a code of living; a physician's calling  
1 Ayurveda 1
  Branches of Ayurveda - Categories in Ayurveda - Equilibrium of dhatus - Equilibrium of dosas - Settling disturbed equilibrium of dosas - Summary of drug formulations  
2 Drugs formulations in therapeutics 15
3 Sense perception and well-being 20
  Oiling the body - Role of smoking, food, sexual intercourse, general conduct, traditions  
4 Life in accord with the seasons 30
5 Suppression of natural urges;
comments on physical miscellany
6 The medical quartet 39
  Types of physicians - Forecasting outcome  
7 Three desires, means of knowledge and some triads 44
  Means of knowledge (authority, perception, inference and reasoning) - Rebirth -Disease and treatment (triads of life, strength, causation, action, time, diseases, disease channels, physician and treatment)  
8 Lubricants in therapeutics 53
  Action - Candidates for therapy - Administration - Basis of dosage - Method of therapy  
9 Fomentation 59
  Choice of candidate - Techniques  
10 Evacuative therapy 65
  A house for therapy - Two forms of therapy  
11 Imbalance of dosas - varied expressions 73
  Disorders of the head - Disorders of the heart - Abscesses - Swellings - Imbalance of dosas  
12 Slimming and building up in therapeutics 84
13 Obesity and leanness; stray remarks on sleep 88
  Obesity - Leanness -Sleep  
14 Blood 92
  Narcosis - Fainting - Coma  
15 Food as the source of man and his diseases 95
  Origin of man and his diseases - Food as the source - Wholesome and unwholesome food  
16 Rasas 100
  Evolution and attributes - Six rasas -Action of tastes - Antagonisms in foods  
17 Food and drink 110
  Food - Drink - Water - Post-prandial drinks  
18 the fate of food and drinks in the body 140
  Food and drink - Dhatus as targets of dosa perturbation  
19 Physicians - genuine and fraudulent 144
20 Rasas, dosas and a healthful diet 146
  rasa-dosa interaction - Downstream aspects - Dietetic rules  
21 Epidemics; reflections on lifespan 151
22 Norms for the quantity of meals 156
23 Body - a network of channels 159
  Flow through body channels - The heart and its ten great vassels  
24 Disease - Manifold expressions of deranged dosas 163
25 Infestation by worms (krmi) 166
  Evacuative measures for intestinal and head worms - Eradicative measures  
26 Training of a physician - theory, practice and ethics 169
  The physician at the bedside - the body of the patient - Initiation of treatment -Drugs for evacuative therapy  
27 The body and its knower 184
  The individual (mind, sense organs, intellect, prakrti) - The self - the supreme Self -Causes of sorrow and disease  
28 Conception 191
  Begetting a child - A religious ceremony - Perturbed dosas - Early pregnancy and gender of the baby-Signs and symptoms of pregnancy - The self and the embryo  
29 Genesis of the embryo 195
30 Pregnancy - fetal development, anomalies and personality types 198
  pregnancy (sequential development of fetus) - Fetal development and anomalies - Personality types  
31 Antenatal and postnatal management 204
  The fetus and the course of pregnancy - Antenatal care - Miscarriage - A house for delivery - Childbirth -After delivery - Breastfeeding - The nursery  
32 The individual and the cosmos 215
33 A count of body parts 218
  Skin, the body frontier - The parts of the body - Bones - Sense organs - Vital principles - Viscera - The body essences  
34 The spectre of death 223
  Warning signs - Sudden death - Prognostic role of a house call  
Section 2
  Rejuvenant and virile therapy; diseases and the regimens for treatment  
35 Rejuvenant therapy (rasayana) 233
  Celestial origin -Two regimens for rejuvenation (intramural and extramural) - Rasayana formulations - Rasayana formulation with metals  
36 virile therapy (vajikarana) 243
37 Fevers (jvara) 251
  Causation - Classification and clinical features - treatment - Other fevers  
38 Pitta-induced bleeding disorders (Rakta pitta) 269
  Cause - Clinical features - Clinical outcome - Treatment  
39 Gaseous and hemorrhagic
lumps of the abdomen (gulma)
  Five types of lumps -Signs and symptoms - formulations in treatment - Abdominal lumps in women  
40 Polyurias (pramehas) 285
  Kaphaja Prameha - Pittaja Prameha - Vataja Prameha - Treatment - General measures  
41 Skin disorders including leprosy (kustha) 292
  Causation - Seven types of kustha - Other skin disorders (ksudra kusthas) - Treatment  
42 Phthisis (sosa) 302
  Causes - Premonitory signs and clinical course - Body processes as the basis of clinical features - Treatment  
43 Insanity (unmada) 310
  Classification on the basis of causation - Treatment  
44 Epilepsy (apasmara) 317
  Clinical features - Treatment - Delusional state in epilepsy - Disease begetting disease  
45 chest injuries and their sequelae (ksata ksina) 323
  Clinical features - Treatment - Diet - Formulations  
46 Swelling (svayathu) 328
  Classification - Sites - Treatment  
47 Abdominal disease with distension (udara) 328
  Classification - Treatment  
48 Piles (arsa) 348
49 Digestion and digestive disorders (grahani) 359
  Digestion - Digestive disorders - Treatment  
50 Disorders of pallor (panduroga) (anemias) 371
  Kamala - Earth eating (pica) - Jaundice with white stools  
51 Hiccup; shortness of breath (hikka; svasa) 377
  Causes and mechanisms - Types - Management  
52 Cough (atisara) 396
  Cause - Management  
53 Diarrhea (atisara) 396
  Types - Management  
54 Vomiting (chhardi) 405
  causes - Management  
55 Cellulitis (visarpa) 410
  Types - Clinical features - Management  
56 Thirst (trsna) 420
  Clinical Feature -Management  
57 Poisoning (visa) 425
  Types - Qualities - Clinical course - Clinical features - snakes and snake bite - Bites by spiders and other creatures - Procedures - Other measures of management - Suspected bites - Homicidal poisoning  
58 Alcoholic disorders (madatyaya) 440
  Proper and other uses - Clinical features - Management - Complications  
59 Sores and injuries (vrana) 448
  Causes - Classifications - Clinical features - Clinical course - Treatment  
60 Three regional disorders
bastic, hrdaya and siras
  Vital regions (marmas) of the body - Disorders of the vital regions - Disorders of the head - Pelvis - Heart region and chest disorders - the head region  
61 Numb and immobile thighs (urustambha) 478
62 Disorders of perturbed vata (vatavyadhi) 482
  Clinical features - treatment - Mixed types - Wrapping  
63 Disorders of perturbed vata and blood (vatasonita) 495
  Clinical features and types - Treatment  
64 Disorders of the reproductive system; reflections on the principles of therapeutics 503
  Disorders of the female genital organs - Disorders of breast milk (ksira dosa) - Seminal disorders and impotence (sukradosa) - Principles of therapeutics  
65 Drugs for evacuation (emetics and purgatives) 520
  Emetics - Purgatives - Preparations/formulations  
66 Evacuative procedures (pancakarma) and formulations 545
  Emesis an purgation (general guidelines, complications and management) - Head evacuation - Suitable and unsuitable clinical conditions for evacuation (emesis, purgation) - Enema (non - lubricant, lubricant) - Head evacuation - Enemas (general conditions, procedural details, formulations for non-lubricant and lubricant enemas) - Complication of enemas and guidelines for management - Special enemas - Post-evacuation management  
  Epilogue 584
  Botanical names 585
  Glossary 600
  Index 629


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