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A History of Hindu Chemistry Vol 1/Introduction/Chapter 2

< A History of Hindu Chemistry Vol 1


The Ayurvedic Period

The Hindu System of medicine methodised and arranged on a rational basis.We now alight upon a period when we find the Hindu system of medicine methodised and arranged on a rational basis, with a scientific terminology.

The two great works of this period are the Charaka and the Susruta. In them we find the study of the subject to have made a distinct advance and to have been evolved out of the chaotic state it was in during the Vedic period. Of the two, the Charaka is by far the more ancient.[1]

The Charaka and the Susruta.There must have been a wide gap between the age of the A. V. and that of the Charaka—an interval of probably a thousand years or more. In the latter the humoral pathology is fully developed, the diagnosis and prognosis of diseases described at length, and an elaborate mode of classification adopted. We have seen above that the physicians were assigned rather an inferior status in society; the healing art was, in fact, never recognised as a division of the Vedas.[2] Still the claims of the indispensable science of medicine, which can be distinctly traced to the A. V., could not altogether be ignored, and ultimately a compromise was arrived at. In the Charaka itself the Science of Life (Áyurveda) is regarded as a secondary or subsidiary branch (upánga) of the Atharvan and as a direct revelation of the gods (Sútra: Ch. XXX. 8-9).

The Susruta even goes a step further and asserts that the self-existent (Brahmá) created Áyurveda, as an upánga of the Atharvan (sútra: I. 3.)

The age of Charaka.We shall now concern ourselves with finding the time of Charaka within approximate limits. The task is not a light one, and it is one of the most abstruse questions of Indian chronology.

M. Sylvain Lévi has recently unearthed from the Chinese Tripitaka the name of a physician named Charaka, who was attached as spiritual guide to the Indo-Scythian King Kanishka, who reigned in second century A. D. The French Orientalist would have this Charaka as the author of the famous Hindu medical work, specially as it would offer an easy explanation of the supposed Greek influence discernible in it.

"Les' éléments traditionnels mis en œuvre par les conteurs peuvent se résumer ainsi: le roi devaputra Kanishka, de la race des Kushanas, règne sur les Yuetchi, sept cents ans après le Nirvāna; il est assisté de ministers éminents, nommés Devadharma et Māthara. Le bodhisattva Asvaghosha est son conseiller spirituel; I'illustre médecin Charaka est attaché à sa personne."


"La mention de Charaka est la première indication positive obtenue sur la date du savant praticien qui dispute à Susruta la gloire d'avoir fondé la science médicale dans l'Inde. Les influences grecques qu'on avait cru reconnaître dans les doctrines de Charaka s'expliquent aisément, s'il est vrai que ce grand médecin vivait au temps et à la cour des Indo-Scythes, alors que l'hellénisme semblait pénétrer en vainqueur dans la vieille civilisation brahmanique."

―"Journ. Asiatique" (1896), T. VIII. pp. 447-51

We confess we are by no means convinced of M. Lévi’s theory. If we are to go by name alone, we can claim a still higher antiquity for our author. The appellation of Charaka occurs in Vedic literature as a patronymic; in short, Pánini felt it necessary to compose a special sútra for deriving the "Charakás" i.e. the followers of Charaka.[3] Then again, Patañjali, who is now generally admitted to have lived in the second century B. C., is known to have written a commentary on the medical work of Charaka, thus further proving the antiquity of our author;[4] and both Chakrapáni and Bhoja agree in alluding to him as the redactor of Charaka.[5] Indeed in such matters we would do well to set store by native traditions. It would be beside our purpose, however, to enter into any lengthy discussion on the grounds on which we are inclined to place Charaka in the pre-Buddhistic era, but we shall summarise below the salient points.

Evidence based upon the handling of the subject-matter.In the handling of the subject-matter the Charaka is not so systematic as the Susruta, but indulges in random, haphazard and irrelevant discourses, which make the reader often lose the thread of the main narrative. The author, whenever he has an opportunity, boldly and with evident relish, launches into metaphysical disquisitions, which, he believes, make up for lack of experiments and observations.[6] In this respect the Susruta is far more scientific than the Charaka. The Nyáya and the Vaiseshika systems of philosophy, which have been interwoven into the body of the text, again remind us of a stage when they were more or less in a state of flux, but had not crystallised into the well-defined form and shape of the sútras in which they have come down to us—this also goes towards proving the high antiquity of the Charaka.[7]

Absence of Pauranic mythologyAgain, only Vedic gods and mantras figure in the Charaka, not a trace of Pauranic mythology being discernible in it.[8] Charaka follows closely the Vedic authority[9] in counting the number of bones in the human body; the limit of childhood he takes to be thirty years—quite in keeping with the conception of the heroic age.

It should, however, be borne in mind that the Charaka, as we now possess it, can by no means lay claim to be the first comprehensive and systematic treatise on Hindu medicine, it represents rather a more or less final development of the subject, just as the elaborate grammar of Pánini is based upon some twenty previous works of his predecessors, notably of Yáska, Sákalya, Sákatáyana, Gárgya and others.

The above has its parallel in the history of Greek medicine anterior to the time of Hippocrates. As Draper observes:

Writings of Hippocrates."Of the works attributed to Hippocrates, many are doubtless the production of his family, his descendants, or his pupils. The inducements to literary forgery in the times of the Ptolemies, who paid very high prices for books of reputation, have been the cause of much difficulty among critics in determining such questions of authorship. The works indisputably written by Hippocrates display an extent of knowledge answering to the authority of his name; his vivid descriptions have never been excelled, if indeed they have ever been equalled. The Hippocratic face of the dying is still retained in our medical treatises in the original terms, without any improvement."

Still more appropriate are the remarks of Littré on the works which now bear the name of "the father of medicine."

"Lorsqu'on recherche l'histoire de la médecine et les commencements de la science, le premier corps de doctrine que I'on rencontre, est la collection d'écrits connue sous le nom d'œuvres d'Hippocrate. La science remonte directement à cette origine et s'y arrête. Ce n'est pas qu'elle n'eût été cultivée antérieurement, et qu'elle n'eût donné lieu à des productions même nombreuses; mais tout ce qui avait été fait avant le médecin de Cos a péri. Il ne nous en reste que des fragments épars et sans coordination; seuls, les ouvrages hippocratiques ont échappé à la destruction; et, par une circonstance assez singulière, il existe une grande lacune après eux, comme il en existait une avant eux: les travaux des médecins, d'Hippocrate à l'établissement de l'école d'Alexandrie, ceux de cette école même ont péri complétement, à part des citations et des passages conservés dans des écrivains postérieurs; de telle sorte que les écrits hippocratiques demeurent isolés au milieu des débris de I'antique littérature médicale.

and internal evidence.Of internal evidence the first notable, feature is the style.

The simple, unvarnished prose of the Charaka reminds one of the Bráhmanas of the Vedas. Thanks to the researches of Bühler and Fleet, we have now some idea of the prose Kábya style as it existed in the second century A. D. The literary prose inscriptions discovered at Girnár and Násik, although less ornate and artificial than the romances of Subandhu and na (seventh century A. D)., abound in long-winded metaphors and alliterations and thus stand in bold constrast with the simple prose of the Charaka.

Between the period of the A. V. and that of the Charaka there must have been composed several medical treatises, each reflecting the spirit and progress of its age[10]. At the time of the Charaka itself there existed at least six standard works by Agnivesa, Bhela, Játukarna, Parásara, Hárita, and Kshárapáni, respectively. Charaka simply based his work on that of Agnivesa[11], which he completely recast and remodelled. Later on, Dridhavala added the last forty-one chapters[12]. The other five works seem to have perished[13]. Vágbhata, the epitomiser of the Charaka and the Susruta, mentions the works of Hárita and Bhela, which were probably extant in his days.

On reading the Charaka, one often feels as if it embodies the deliberations of an international Congress of medical experts, held in the Himálayan regions to which even distant Balkh (Bactriana) sent a repersentative in the person of Kámkháyana (see p. 25). The work professes to be more or less of the nature of a record of the Proceedings of such a Congress.[14]

Bodas in discussing the philosophical disquisitions of the Bráhmanas observes:

"It was a special function of the Brahmá priest to give decisions on any disputed points that may arise in the course of a sacrifice, and this he could not have done unless he was a master of ratiocination. Such decisions, which may be likened to the chairman's rulings in a modern assembly, are scattered through the ancient Brāhmanas, and are collected together as so many Nyāyas in the Pūrva Mímamsa aphorisms of Jaimini."[15]

We would invite the reader to go through the "Discourse on the Tastes" (pp. 25-28) and he will naturally agree that the above remarks apply with equal force to our author. In short, judging both from the manner and the matter of the work, we have little hesitation in placing it in the pre-Buddhistic era. We shall revert to the subject under Susruta.

The age of Susruta.As regards the Susruta we are on more solid grounds. Its terminology and technique, in general, do not differ much from those of the Charaka. In style the Susruta is rather dry, pithy, laconic, and matter-of-fact, as the Charaka is discursive and diffuse, and its composition altogether would point to a much later date. This is easily accounted for. The Susruta, such as has been preserved to us, is generally held to be a comparatively modern recension by the celebrated Buddhist Chemist, Nágárjuna,[16] who is said to have added the Uttaratantra or the Supplement.[17] Here for the first time in the history of Hindu Medicine and Chemistry, we come accross a personage who is historical rather than mythical (see below). That the redactor thoroughly recast and remodelled the Susruta is evident from the fact that there are numerous passages in it which agree almost verbatim with the Charaka, and which appears to have been amply laid under contribution.

The Susruta is par excellence a treatise on surgery[18] as the Charaka is on medicine proper. Ancient India must have acquired considerable skill in the handling of the lancet; for in the Charaka we find a distinction drawn between the "Káyachikitsakas," i. e. the physicians properly so called, and the "Dhanvantvarisampradáyas" i. e. followers of Dhanvantvarí or the Chirurgeons—a distinction which we have already noticed in the beginning of the Vedic Age.

The age of Susruta has been the subject of animated controversy for a long time past. The Hindus regard this branch of Ayurveda as a direct revelation from the Asvins or the Divine Surgeons (see p. i, Intro.). The origin of this myth can be traced to the Rigveda as already seen. In the Mahábhárata, Susruta is spoken of as the son of the sage Visvámitra and in the "Várttikas" of Kátyáyana (about 4th century B. C.) we also find mention of the same name. It is not, however, easy to establish any connection between these names and our present author. That there was a Vriddha (old) Susruta, exisiting as early as the fifth century A. D., has now been established almost beyond doubt. Dr. Hoernle, to whose profound scholarship and indefatigable labours the world is indebted for the excellent edition of the Bower Ms., has deduced from palæographic evidence that it must have been copied within the period from about 400 A. D. to 500 A. D.[19]—a conclusion at which Prof. Bühler has independently arrived. The work professes to be by Susruta, to whom it was declared by the Muni Kásirája. The origin of the Ayurveda as given in the Bower Ms., is on much the same lines as in the Charaka and the mention in it, among others, of such names as Hárita, Bhela, Parásara, and the Asvins as founders of the science of medicine, would go to prove that even so early as the 5th century A.,D., the old Susruta had come to be regarded as of mythical origin, and that therefore it must have been composed many centuries anterior to that time. Several important recipes as given in the Bower Ms., e. g. those of the "chyavanaprása," "silájatuprayoga" (the doctrine of bitumen p. 53) etc., occur in practically identical recensions in the Charaka. This is easily accounted for. The Charaka, the Susruta, and the Bower Ms., and even the Ashtáṅgahridaya of Vágbhata have more or less a common basis or substratum. In order to understand this point more clearly it is only necessary to refer for a moment to the legal literature of the Hindus. The "Mánava Dharmasástra" or the Institutes of Manu, which still exercises a potent influence in the regulation of the social life of the Hindus, is by no means the ancient work that it pretends to be. Modern research has shown that it is only a recension, or rather a recension of a recension, of "Dharmasútras" connected with the Vedic Schools, incorporating at the same time the laws and usages of the age at which it was remodelled.[20]

It would equally be a great mistake to suppose that the knowledge—chemical and therapeutical—which our Susruta embodies is only representative of the time of its final redaction. As a matter of fact it is a repository of the informations on the subject accumulated from the Vedic age to the date of its final recasting.

The remarks of M. Berthelot regarding a Greek technical treatise, which, from palæographic evidence, seems to have been written about the 11th century A. D., apply with still greater force to the Susruta.

"En effet la date de rédaction originelle n'est certainement pas le même pour les divers articles que le traité renferme: les uns étant plus anciens et remontant parfois jusqu'à l’antiquité gréco Egyptienne; tandis que les autres reproduisent des recettes postérieures et des additions peut-être contemporaines du dernier copiste. En tous cas, ce traité continue la vieille tradition de l'orfèvrerie alchimique, qui remonte aux anciens Egyptiens."—"Coll. des anciens alch. Grecs.," t. iii., trad. p. 307.

The period when the Susrura received its final cast must always remain an open question. Vágbhata in his Ashtáṅgahridaya makes copious extracts both from the Charaka and the Susruta. The latter must therefore have existed in their present form prior to the 9th century A. D. Mádhavakara in his Nidána quotes bodily from the Uttaratantra, and as the Nidána was one of the medical works which were translated for the Caliphs of Bagdad (see below), it can safely be placed in the 8th century at the latest. In is thus evident that the present redaction of the Susruta must have existed anterior to that date, and that it had become at that age, stereotyped as it were. The Vágbhata and the Nidána are simply summaries of the Charaka and Susruta,[21] and were written at a time when the latter had become very old, and were therefore studied by few experts, and their abstracts were likely to be prized by the general practitioners.

Vágbhata concludes his masterly treatise with the following observation, which is highly significant:—

Vágbhata's apologia"If a work is to pass current as authoritative simply because it is the production of a sage of old, why are the treatises of Charaka and Susruta alone studied and not those of Bhela and others[22]? It thus follows that whatever is reasonable [methodical and scientific] is to be preferred."[23]

Read between the lines the above is to be taken as an apology on the part of our author for appearing in the field; it further establishes clearly that even during his life-time the Charaka and the Susruta were regarded as hoary with the prescription of age, and their memories had passed into the region of tradition.[24]

The Commentators of Susruta.The earliest commentary of the Susruta that has been partially preserved to us is known as the Bhánumati by Chakrapáni Datta, the celebrated author of the medical work which goes by his name (about 1060 A. D). The other well-known commentary, the Nibandha Samgraha, is by Dalvana, who lived in the reign of Sahanapála Deva whose kingdom was situated somewhere near Muttra. Dalvana acknowledges his obligations to the previous commentators, namely Jejjata, Gayadása, Bháskara, and Mádhava whose dates it is not easy to ascertain.

The purity of the text.Since a remote period the text of the Susruta has been jealously preserved and no tampering with it tolerated. Thus Dalvana refuses to recognise the authenticity of a passage, because an ancient commentator, Jejjata, has not noticed it.[25]

Haas on the age of SusrutaWe have been at some pains in arriving at an approximate age of the composition of the Susruta, because attempts have been made now and then by a certain school of European scholars to prove that the medical works of the Hindus are of comparatively recent date. Haas has propounded the bold and astounding theory that the systematic development of Hindu medicine took place between the tenth and sixteenth centuries A. D.[26] We shall see later on that this is precisely the period which marks the decadence of the Hindu intellect in the field of medicine and mathematics.[27] We should not have thought it necessary to discuss seriously the various arguments which Haas adduces in support of his views, some of which Dr. Hoernle curtly disposes of as "an elaborate joke," were it not for the fact that this German critic represents a school which cannot or will not see anything in India, which can claim originality or antiquity. In his blind zeal to support this theory, Haas has been led into the most egregious blunders. He comes to the strange conclusion that the works of Vágbhata, Mádhava and Sárṅgadhara and others supply the germs, out of which the Charaka and Susruta have been elaborated, forgetting or ignoring that the former repeatedly and gratefully acknowledge their indebtedness to the latter.

and the origin of Indian medicine.Haas is anxious to prove that the Hindus borrowed their notions of humoral pathology from the Greeks, and that the origines of Indian Medicine are to be looked for in the writings of Galen and Hippocrates; indeed he goes so far as to suggest that the very name of Susruta is derived from the Arabic word Sukrat (=Sokrates), which is often confounded with Bukrat, the Arabic corruption of the Greek Hippocrates.[28] There is certainly a strange similarity between the chapter on "Initiation" in the Charaka and the "Eides" of Æsculapius as pointed out by Roth,[29] and there is also much in common between the doctrine of humoral pathology of the Greeks and the Hindus respectively—suggesting that borrowing may have taken place on one side or the other. But the Hindus would seem to have priority of time in their favour.

The doctrine of humoral pathology.The doctrine of humoral pathology or at any rate the first beginnings of it can be traced so far back as the time of the Rigveda.[30]

In the Atharva-veda, which may be looked upon as the parent of the Ayurveda, we naturally come across ample evidences of an ingrained belief in the causation of diseases by the disturbance of the humors. Thus we have such terms as "Vátíkrita," i.e. a disease brought on by the derangement of the humor "Váta" (wind or air), "Vátagulmin," &c.[31]

Pre-Budhistic in origin.Early Buddhist literature also furnishes us with abundant proofs of this nature. On going through the chapter on "Medicaments" in the Mahávagga, we are often reminded of the contents of the Susruta.[32] From Pánini also we can glean technical terms as used in the Ayurveda, suggesting that a system of medicine existed in his life-time.[33]

Positive historical evidence.We have thus what amounts to positive historical evidence that during the life-time of Buddha and even much earlier the doctrine of humoral pathology and the Ayurvedic method of treatment were in vogue.[34]

In the Várttikas of Kátyáyana also (4th to 3rd century B. C.) the three humours of váta (air), pitta (bile) and sleshman (phlegm) are ranked together.[35]

Regarding the age of the Vinaya Text, Rhys Davids and Oldenburg say:

"The Vibhanga and the Twenty Khandhakas were at that time (circa 350 B. C.) already held in such high repute that no one ventured to alter them; a sanctity of this kind is not acquired without the lapse of a considerable time; and we think it is not going too far to say, Firstly, that these books must have been in existence, as we now have them, within thirty years, earlier or later, of, at least, 360 or 370 B. C." (Intro. p. xxiii).

The question of priority settled for good.It is therefore evident that almost before the birth of Hippocrates, the Hindus had elaborated a system of medicine based upon the humoral pathology. And yet Hass would have it that the Greeks, in the field of medicine as in several others, were the "pioneers and the first teachers of the world."[36]

M Liétard very justly observes that if it could be proved that the doctrine of humoral pathology was broached in India anterior to the time of Hippocrates, not only would the originality of the Hindus be established, but that of the Greeks would be compromised thereby.[37] The question may therefore be now taken as settled for good.

Concluding remarks.The capacity of a nation must be judged by what it has independently achieved in the several fields of knowledge and branches of literature—Mathematics, including Arithmetic and Algebra, Geometry, and Astronomy; Phonetics, Philology, Grammar, Law, Philosophy, and Theology.

Cantor, the historian of mathematics, was so much struck with the resemblance between Greek geometry and the Sulva sútras that he, as is natural to the European, concluded that the latter were influenced by the Alexandrian school of Hero (215 B. C.). The Sulva sútras, however, date from about the 8th century B. C., and Dr. Thibaut has shown that the geometrical theorem of the 47th proposition, Bk. I., which tradition ascribes to Pythagoras, was solved by the Hindus at least two centuries earlier,[38] thus confirming the conclusion of v. Schroeder that the Greek philosopher owed his inspiration to India.[39] Nor must we forget that the most scientific grammar that the world has ever produced, with its alphabet based on thoroughly phonetic principles, was composed in India about the 7th or 8th century B. C.[40] As Professor Macdonell remarks: "we Europeans..............................2500 years later, and in a scientific age, still employ an alphabet which is not only inadequate to represent all the sounds of our language, but even preserves the random order in which vowels and consonants are jumbled up as they were in the Greek adaptation of the primitive Semitic arrangement of 3000 years ago."

It is curious to reflect that the upholders of the "Greek Culture" are often found ready, though unconsciously, to twist and torture facts and conclusions to serve their own purpose, and reserve to themselves the benefit of doubt as regards date; but whenever the priority of the Hindus is unquestionable, an appeal is made to the theory of common origin and independent parallelism of growth.[41] These scholars seem to smart under a sense of injury if they have to confess that Europe owes an intellectual debt to India, hence many a futile attempt to explain away positive historical facts.[42] It may not be superfluous to add here that Albérúní, before he took to the study of Sanskrit, entertained notions similar to those of Haas, d'Alviella and others, but after his intimate acquaintance with the literature of the Hindus he had to change or modify his views. We are here reminded of the essay written by Dugald Stewart "in which he endeavoured to prove that not only Sanskrit literature but also Sanskrit language was a forgery made by the crafty Brahmans on the model of Greek after Alexander’s conquest" (Macdonell).

Those who attempt to prove that India owes her civilisation—or at any rate such advance and progress in the arts and sciences which make civilisation worth the name—to Hellenic influence seem to be only one degree removed from a Dugald Stewart.

The analogy more superficial than real.After all, we are afraid, too much has been made of the resemblance between the Greek and the Hindu theory and practice of medicine. The analogy is more superficial than real, and does not seem to bear a close examination. The Hindu system is based upon the three humors of the air, the bile and the phlegm, whilst that of the Greek is founded upon four humors, namely, the blood, the bile, the water and the phlegm—a cardinal point of difference.[43]

Vágbhata.Next to the Charaka and the Susruta, the medical authority, who is held in the highest estimation throughout India, is Vágbhata, the author of Astáñgahridaya (lit. heart or the kernel of the eight limbs or divisions of the Ayurveda). Indeed, in many parts of the Deccan the very names of Charaka and Susruta were forgotten, and Vágbhata is looked up to as a revealed author, and this is one of the reasons which led Haas to conclude that the former succeeded, and owed their inspiration to, the latter[44] (see ante p. xxxiii).

The treatise of Vágbhata may be regarded as an epitome of the Charaka and the Susruta with some gleanings from the works of Bhela and Hárita, and contains little or nothing that is original.[45] In Surgery alone the author introduces certain modifications and additions. Mineral and natural salts chiefly figure in the prescriptions along with vegetable drugs; mercury is incidentally mentioned, but in such a perfunctory manner that it would not be safe to conclude that any compounds thereof are referred to. There are, however, a few metallic preparations recommended in it, which would presuppose an advanced knowledge of chemical processes.[46]

The opening salutation of Ashtáñga, which is addressed either to Buddha or some Buddhistic emblem, clearly reveals the religious faith of its author, there is a tradition current among the learned Pundits of S. India, "that Vágbhata, formerly a Brahmin, was persuaded by a Bauddha priest to adopt his religion, which he embraced in the latter part of his life."[47] Internal evidence also fully supports our author's proclivities towards Buddhism,[48] and he seems to have flourished at a time when the religion of Sákya Muni held its own in India. The Chinese pilgrim I'Tsing speaks of a compiler of the eight divisions of the Ayurveda—possibly this may refer to Vágbhata.[49]

Cordier, following no doubt the authority of 'Vaidyakasabdasindhu,' states that, according to Rájatarañginí, Vágbhata lived at the time of King Jayasimha (1196-1218 A. D.); this view is quite untenable, and it is one of the many instances which would go to prove that Kalhana in writing his Chronicles had often to draw largely upon vague traditions, and hence his dates are to be accepted cum grano salis.[50]

Csoma de Körös was the first to announce that the Thibetan Tanjur contains among others translations of the Charaka, the Susruta, and Vágbhata.[51] Georg Huth, who has recently critically examined the contents of the Tanjur, concludes that the most recent date at which it can be placed, is 8th century A. D.[52] This is in agreement with the fact that the Vágbhata was one of the medical works translated by order of the Caliphs. But no positive information as regards the most distant date is yet available;[53] Kunte, from internal evidence, is inclined to place him "at least as early as the second century before Christ."

Hindu Pharmacopœia in the 7th century.That Hindu Pharmacopœia in the 7th century ran on the lines of the Charaka and the Susruta, and did not include any elaborate metallic preparations is evident from the testimonies of Vána and of the Chinese pilgrim, I-Tsing. Thus, we read in the Harsha-Charita: "among their number, however, was a young doctor of Punarvasu's race named Rasáyana, a youth of about eighteen years of age, holding an hereditary position in the royal household, in which he had been cherished like a son by the King. He had mastered Ayurveda in all its eight divisions, and, being naturally of an acute intellect, was perfectly familiar with the diagnosis of diseases:"[54] I-Tsing also records: "I made a successful study in medical science, but as it is not my proper vocation, I have finally given it up."[55] In his rules on giving medicine he further lays stress on abstinence and fasting and recommends such drugs as the myrobalans, ginger, pepper, liquorice, etc. In both instances, in vain do we look for any metallic salts, which form the leading features of the later Tantric and Iatro-Chemical Schools.[56]


  1. Cf: "The theological doctrine of the nature of disease indicated its means of cure. For Hippocrates was reserved the great glory of destroying them both, replacing them by more practical and material ideas, and, from the votive tablets, traditions, and other sources, together with his own admirable observations, compiling a body of medicine. The necessary consequence of his great success was the separation of the pursuits of the physician from those of the priest. Not that so great a revolution, implying the diversion of profitable gains from the ancient channel, could have been accomplished without a struggle. We should reverence the memory of Hippocrates for the complete manner in which he effected that object."—Draper's "Hist. of the Intellect. Dev. in Europe," I. p. 393 (ed. 1896). The services rendered by Charaka, Susruta and their predecessors were equally valuable.
  2. The six limbs or divisions of the Vedas are sikshá (phonetics), kalpa (ceremonial), vyákarana (grammar), nirukta (etymology), chhandas (metre) and jyotisha (astronomy).
  3. कठचरकाल्लुक्। 4.3.107.
  4. आप्तो नाम अनुभवेन वस्तुतत्त्वस्य कार्त्स्येन निश्चयवान्, रागादिवशादपि नान्यथावादी यः स इति चरके पतञ्जलिः। Quoted in the "Laghu Mañjushá" of Nágesa Bhatta.
  5. पातञ्जल-महाभाष्य-चरकप्रतिसंस्कृतैः।
    मनोवाक्-कायदोषाणां हर्त्रेऽहिपतये नमः॥

    Vide salutation in the commentary named आयुर्व्वेददीपिका on the Charaka by Chakrapáni.
  6. This has given ample scope to a recent commentator, the late Kavirâja Gangádhara Kaviratna, who in his जल्पकल्पतरु, surpasses Charaka himself in philosophical dissertations.
  7. The Nyáya of Gotama enumerates 16 padárthas (categories), while Charaka under his (medical) disputation, वादमार्ग, mentions 44 categories (Vide Vimána. Ch. VIII. 22., also A. C. Kaviratna's Eng. trans. pp. 564-65). Bodas in his learned Introduction to the Tarkasamgraha of Annambhatta (pp. 12-14) places the aphorisms of Gotama and Kanada in the period between 400 B. C. to 500 A. D.
  8. The names of Krishna and Vásudeva occur in a salutation in the supplement added by Dridhavala. Chikitsita. Ch. 21. 92-93. ed. Gañgádhara). But Krisna-worship was in vogue at the time of Pánini; 4. 3. 98. See also Lassen's Alterthumskunde I. p. 648. Bühler also points out that "the earlier history of the puránas, which as yet is a mystery, will only be cleared up when a real history of the orthodox Hindu sects, especially of the Sivites and Vishnuites, has been written. It will, then, probably become apparent that the origin of these sects reaches back far beyond the rise of Buddhism and Jainism."—Intro. to "Apastamba," &c. p. XXIX.
  9. Namely 360; Sáríra. Ch. VII, 5. According to the Institutes of Vishnu "it (the human frame) is kept together by three hundred and sixty bones" (XCVI. 55). This has been adduced by Jolly as a "reason in favour of the high antiquity of its laws." Vide Intro. to Vishnu, pp. XVIII-XX. See also Jolly's "Medicine" (Grundriss), p. 42.
  10. We are at present engaged in examining the Bráhmanas, the Upanishadas and Buddhistic literature with a view to glean information on these points and hope to announce the results in the second volume.
  11. Charaka himself naïvely assigns his reasons for giving preference to the treatise of Agnivesa in the words:—"of the six (authors) Agnivesa was the most "sharp of intellect" (sútra Ch. I 2.)
  12. विस्तारयति लेशोक्तं सङ्क्षिपत्यतिविस्तरम्।
    संस्कर्त्ता कुरुते तन्त्रं पुराणञ्च पुनर्नवम्॥ Siddhi. Ch. XII. 28.
    Also Chikitsita. Ch. XXX. 112; ed. D. N. Sen and U. N. Sen.
  13. Cf. "We know how often in India the appearance of a convenient abstract has led to the neglect and subsequent loss of all earlier works on the subject."—Intro. to Stein's Rájatarñginí, p. 25. In Burnell's Tanjore catalogue Pt. I. pp. 63-65, a full analysis is given of Bhelasamhita, from which it would appear that this work is still extant, though in a mutilated form. Dr. Burnell remarks; "the most superficial comparison shows how much Vágbhata was indebted to this ancient work."
    An "Hárita Samhitá has recently been published; but its authenticity is questionable.
  14. Cf. "La lecture de cet ouvrage nous initie aux compterendus de véritables congrès philisophiques et médicaux, dans lesquels des maîtres accourus des points les plus éloignés de l'Inde et même de l'etranger, prennent successivement la parole."—Quelques Données Nouvelles a propos des Traités médicaux Sanscrits antérieurs au XIIIe siècle, par P. Cordier, p. 3.
  15. Intro. to Annambhatta's Tarkasamgraha, p. 28.
  16. "यत्र यत्र परोक्षे नियोगस्तत्र तत्रैव प्रतिसंस्कर्त्तृसूत्रं ज्ञातव्यमिति प्रतिसंस्कर्त्तापीह नागार्ज्जुन एव" Vide Dalvana's commentary.
  17. Cf. "It is said by Dalvanáchárya, the commentator of Susruta, that at the time of war between the Bauddhas and Hindus, the Susrutatantra was re-edited and rendered more comprehensive by the renowned chemist Siddhanágárjuna with a supplement called "uttaratantra." Since that period it has been known by the name of Susruta Samhita." Introduction to "Vaidyakasabdasindhu" p. 6. by Kavirája Umesachandra Gupta Kaviratna.
  18. For a description of the surgical intstruments together with their drawings, see Wise: "Commentary on the Hindu System of Medicine, (1845) pp. 168-170.
  19. On the date of the Bower Ms., See "Journ. As. Soc." LX. Pt. 1. p. 79.
  20. Vide Bühler's Introduction to "the Laws of Manu": pp. XVIII et seq. "Sacred Books of the East," Vol. XXV.
  21. This statement we make in a qualified sense, and we fully agree with Roth when he observes "Udoy Chand Dutt in seiner Mat. Med. bezeichnet das Werk als eine methodische geordnete Compilation aus Charaka und Susruta. Ich glaube er thut ihm damit Unrecht: Vágbhata der sich übrigens mehr an Susruta hält, ist nicht so unselbständig." "Zeit. deut. morg. Ges." 49. p. 184.
  22. e.g. Játukarna, Parásara, Kshárapáni, etc. see p. xxi.
  23. ऋषिप्रणीते प्रीतिश्चेन्मुक्त्वा चरकसुश्रुतौ।
    भेड़ाद्याः किं न पठ्यन्ते तस्माद्ग्राह्यं सुभाषितम्॥"
  24. On the age of Vágbhata see below under its proper heading.
  25. अनार्षोऽयं योगः, जेज्जटाचार्य्येण नोक्तत्वात्। तस्मान्न पठनीयम्।

    Chikitsita. VII. 3.

    Many such instances may be cited. For the purity of the text we are much indebted to these commentators.
  26. Kehren wir nunmehr wieder zur historischen Frage zurück, so konnen wir jetzt einen Anfangs—und einen Endpunkt aufstellen, zwischen welche wir mit einiger Sicherheit das Entstehen der systematischen Wissenschafft der Medizin bei den Indiern verlegen müssen, nämlich den Zietraum von der Mitte des 10. bis Zur Mitte des 15. ]ahrhunderts.—"Ueber die Ursprünge der Indischen Medizin, mit besonderem Bezug auf Susruta." "Zeit. deut. morg. Ges." XXX. p. 642.
  27. Vide "Decline of Scientific Spirit" pp. 190-198.
  28. No less preposterous is the etymology of Kásí (Benares), which Haas derives from Kos, the native place of Hippocrates.
  29. "Indische Medicin: Charaka," Z., D. M. G., Vol. 26. p. 441. Roth, whose knowledge of the Vedic and, to a certain extent, of the Ayurvedic, literature was encyclopedic, simply points out the analogy and stops short there. M. Liétard, who evidently borrows his information from Roth's article, jumps at once to the conclusion that the Hindus owe their inspiration to the Greeks!—Bull. de l’Acâd. de Méd. Paris, May 5, 1896 and May 11, 1897.
  30. * * * त्रिधातु शर्म वहतं शुभस्पती॥ 1. 34. 5.
    Sáyana's commentary to the above:—
    हे शुभस्पती शोभनस्य औषधजातस्य पालकौ युवां त्रिधातु वातपित्तश्लेष्मशमनविषयं शर्म सुखं वहतं प्रापयतम्।
  31. This has been lately pointed out by Jolly ("Medicine" p. 41): The discussion on the term quoted above is so very important that we think it desirable to quoted it at length:—

    "The history of the interpretation of this hymn is of uncommon interest, because it illustrates forcibly the particular closeness of relation between the hymns of the Atharvan and the practices reported in connection with them. Professor Weber, Indische Studien, IV, p. 405, translated the hymn under the caption 'Gegen hitziges fieber,' and guided especially by the more immediate meaning of garáyugáh, 'the product of the placenta, after-birth,' he thought that the hymn referred to puerperal fever, or the fever of a child. Ludwig, Der Rigveda, III, p. 343, surmised that the hymn was directed aginst inflammation, and Zimmer, Altindisches Leben, p. 390, refers to it in connection with the word vâta in the first stanza, which he would translate by 'wound;' he also identifies váta with 'wound' etymologically. The compound vátabhrâgâs in the first stanza, as he understands, means 'suffering from wound-fever.' But Zimmer's theory that the word váta ever means 'wound' has not sustained itself: váta is 'wind in the body;' vátíkritanásanî (VI, 44, 31) is 'destroyer of the disease which comes from wind (of the body);' cf. báta byádhi (vátavyádhi), 'diseases produced by wind (in the body),' in Wise's Hindu System of Medicine, p. 250, and see Contributions, Fourth Series, Amer. Journ. Phil. XII, p. 427." Bloomfield's A. V. p. 246.

  32. One or two instances may be quoted here:—"Now at that time a certain Bhikkhu had a superfluity of humors in his body"—Vinaya Texts: pt. II. p. 60.

    "And the blessed one said to the venerable Ánanda: 'A disturbance, Ánanda, has befallen the humors of the Thathágata's body"—ibid, p. 191.

    The various kinds of salts used in medicine as also the eye ointments, to wit, black collyrium [stibium], rasa ointment [rasáñjana], sota ointment [srotañjana] &c. ibid. p. 90, are exactly the same as prescribed in the Susruta and other works on Hindu Medicine. (See also under añjanas, p. 93 of this book).

    Note specially the reference to vatthikamma which is a Páli corruption of the Sanskrit vastikarma:

    "Now at that time the Chhabbaggiya Bhikkhus, since a surgical operation had been forbidden by the Blessed One, used a clyster."

    No body has yet been bold enough to suggest that in the Mahávagga Greek influence can be traced.

  33. The very terms Ayurveda and Ayurvedika i.e. expert in the Ayurveda occur in nini. We give below a list of some of the technical terms.

    शिशुक्रन्दयमसभद्वन्द्वेन्द्रजननादिभ्यश्छः ४।३।८८; परिमानान्तस्यासंज्ञाशाणयोः ७।३।१७; खार्य्याः प्राचाम् ५।४।१००; खार्य्या ईकन् ५।१।३३; आढ़काचितपात्रात् खोऽन्यतरस्याम् ५।१।५३; लोमादिपामादिपिच्छादिभ्यः शनेलचः ५।२।१००; सिध्मादिभ्यश्च ५।२।९७; रोगाञ्चापनयने ५।४।४९; कालप्रयोजनादोगे ५।२।८१; अर्श आदिभ्योऽच् ५।२।१२७; रोगाख्यायां ण्वुल् बहुलम् ३।३।१०८; कथादिभ्यष्ठञ् ४।४।१०२।

  34. The Jívaka Komárabhachcha, who treats Buddha, derives his surname from "kaumárabhritya," a technical term for one of the eight divisions (astángas) of Ayurveda, meaning treatment of infants. Vide the Mahávagga, pt. 11, p. 174.

    In Asvaghosha's "Life of Buddha" we also read: "Atri, the Rishi, not understanding the sectional treatise on medicine, afterwards begat Átreya, who was able to control diseases."—Beal's trans. p. 11. This Átreya (Punarvasu) may have been the same sage who taught Agnivesa.

  35. Weber's "Hist. Sanks. Lit." p. 266, Eng. trans. ed. 1892.
  36. "Wenn aber einmal der Boden von der Vorstellung geräumt ist, dass die Araber den Susruta und Charaka schon im 9. Jahrh. gekannt haben müssen, und wenn auf der andern Seite sich herausstellte, dass die Theorien der indischen Autoritäten in ihren Grundzügen mit denen des Galen übereinstimmten, so stünde nichts der Annahme im Wege, dass auch auf diesem Felde, wie auf so vielen andern die Griechen wieder das bahnbrechende Volk und die ersten Lehrmeister der Welt gewesen sind":—Z. D. M. G. Vol. 30. p. 670.
  37. "Il est évident que si l'on arrivait un jour à pouvoir reporter jusqu'au delà de l’époque d'Hippocrate, la formation de la doctrine médicale indienne, son originalité serait incontestable, mais, du même coup, celle de la médecine grecque serait fort compromise, puisque, comme je le rappellerai dans un instant, les theories sont à peu près identiques de part et d'autre."
  38. Journ. As. Soc. Beng. 1875, p. 227.
  39. In his learned work: "Pythagoras und die Inder." pp. 44-59.
  40. See Goldstücker:"Pánini: his place in Sanskrit Literature."
  41. Cf. "une affirmation nouvelle de l'unite de l'esprit humain. Chaque fois que l'homme au même degree de culture se retrouve dans le mémes circonstances, il tend à penser, à croire, à sentir, à agir de la même façon."—Goblet d' Alviella on "Classical Influence in Literary and Scientific Culture in India"; "Bull. de l' Academie Royale de Belgique," 3rd Series, T. 34, pp. 484 et seq.
  42. In the mind of the average European this belief has taken too firm a hold to be easily eradicated. As Dr. Johnson observes: "Modern writers are the moons of literature; they shine with reflected light, with light borrowed from the ancients. Greece appears to me to be the fountain of knowledge."

    Thanks, however, to the recent researches of orientalists, this notion is fast disappearing. The late Prof. Max Müller, who always held the balance evenly in deciding between the rival claims of the East and the West, in his last work, thus gives expression to the European sentiment: "In some respects, and particularly in respect to the greatest things ………, India has as much to teach us as Greece and Rome, nay, I should say more. We must not forget, of course, that we are the direct intellectual heirs of the Greeks, and that our philosophical currency is taken from the capital left to us by them. Our palates are accustomed to the food which they have supplied to us from our very childhood, and hence whatever comes to us now from the thought-mines of India is generally put aside as merely curious or strange, whether in language, mythology, religion, or philosophy.—"Auld Lang Syne": second series, p. 161. Elsewhere he says:

    "Another excellent result which may, and I hope will, follow from our increased acquaintance with the actual thoughts and literature, as well as with the personalities of Oriental peoples, is a loosening of that prejudice which undoubtedly obtains, even among scholarly circles, in the West. It would be perhaps too much to complain that classical scholars, for instance, should have a decided repugnance to admit any actual influence on Greek thought or institutions as having been exercised by the thinkers of the East, however ungrudgingly that privilege is conceded to Egypt. Personally I think that they are quite in the right in maintaining that such an influence is, except in a few instances, at present entirely unproven. But surely there are many points of analogy which are most instructive, and suggestive at least of more than an analogical connection; points that may throw light upon the natural course of the evolution of human conceptions and, in doing so, help to throw light on dark corners of the history of that culture out of which our own has arisen. It is a common saying that it is impossible to know any one language well without at the same time knowing another, and I venture to think that a similar remark holds good of the history of religion or of ethics, or of institutions, or of philosophy."

    "I know of men who could not construe a line of Sanskrit, and who speak and write of your ancient literature, religion, and philosophy as if they knew a great deal more than any of your best Srotriyas. How often you must have smiled on reading such books! The idea that anything could come from the East equal to European thought, or even superior, never enters the mind of these writers, and hence their utter inability to understand and appreciate what is really valuable in Oriental literature. There is no problem of philosophy and religion that has not been a subject of deep and anxious thought among your ancient and modern thinkers. We in the West have done some good work too, and I do not write to depreciate the achievements of the Hellenic and Teutonic mind. But! know that on some of the highest problems of human thought the East has shed more light than the West, and by and by, depend on it, the West will have to acknowledge it. There is a very able article in the last number of the Edinburgh Review (Jan. 1881), on Dr. Caird's 'Philosophy of Religion.' Dr. Caird is a representative man in England, and more familiar than most Englishmen with the solid work of modern German philosophers. And what is the last result at which Dr. Caird arrives, and of which even the Edinburgh Reeview approves? Almost literally the same as the doctrine of the Upanishads! Dr. Caird writes: 'It is just in this renunciation of self that I truly gain myself; for whilst in one sense we give up self to live the universal and absolute life of reason, yet that to which we thus surrender ourselves is in reality our truer self.' And again: 'The knowledge and love of God is the giving up of all thoughts and feelings that belong to me as a mere individual self, and the identification of my thoughts and being with that which is above me, yet in me—the universal or absolute self, which is not mine or yours, but in which all intelligent beings alike find the realisation and perfection of their nature' (p. 257). I need not tell you or any one who knows the Upanishads how powerfully the same doctrine, the doctrine of the Átmâ and Paramâtmâ, was put forth by your old Rishis.

    "Many years ago I ventured to show that the five-membered syllogism of the Indian Nyâya philosophy is the best form that can be given to the syllogism of inductive logic. But European logicians cannot get over the idea that there is no logic like that of our school-men, and that every deviation from it is a mistake.

    "The same conceit runs through almost all that is written on India. India may be patronised, some works of Indian poets and philosophers may be called clever and curious, but to recognise in anything the superiority of Indian thought, or the wisdom of Indian native opinion, that is out of the question.

    " Bio. Essays:" Letter to K. C. Sen.

  43. Cf. "I'l y a dans le corps quatre humeurs: le sang, la bile, l'eau et le phlegme."—Œuvres d'Hippocrate, T. vii. p. 475, ed. Littré, (1851). Again: "Les quatre humeurs, sang, bile, phlegme et eau, j'ai démontré comment et pourquoi toutes s'augmentent dans le corps par les aliments et les boissons."—Ibid, p. 557.
  44. "An die Stelle des seines Vorrange beraubten Susruta würde ich unbedenklich das Ashtângahridaya setzen."—Hippokrates und die indische Medizin des Mittelalters. Z.D.M.G., Vol 31, p. 649.
  45. See, however, ante p. xxix, foot note.
  46. Preface to Vaidyakasabdasindhu. p. 6.
  47. Preface to Vaidyakasabdasindhu. p. 6.
  48. See the numerous passages quoted by Dr. Kunte in his Introduction to Vágbhata, pp. 14-15.

    The remarkable passage we have cited above, in which our author asserts the right every man to think for himself (p. xxix), is quite in keeping with the rationalistic age in which he lived, and he further observes in the same place that a medicine will have its efficacy all the same by whomsoever it is prescribed, be he Brahma himself or any body else. It should be commended to those who are lost in admiration over the "keen edged intellect" of Samkara, who does not find a better weapon to fight with his opponents than an appeal to the Vedas and other scriptures, see foot note to p. 195.

    वाते पित्ते श्लेष्मशांतौ च पथ्यं
    तैलं सर्पिर्माक्षिकं च क्रमेण।
    एतद् ब्रह्मा भाषते ब्रह्मजो वा
    का निर्मन्त्रे वक्तृभेदोक्तिशक्तिः॥
    अभिधातृवशात् किंवा द्रव्यशक्तिर्विशिष्यते?

  49. "These eight arts formerly existed in eight books, but lately a man epitomised them and made them into one bundle."—I'Tsing: "Records of the Buddhist Religion" by Takakasu, p. 128.
  50. The eminent Sanskrit scholar, the late A. M. Barua, in discussing the age of Kshirasvami discards the authority of Rájtaranaginí and observes:—"I do not see any valid reason for regarding it as a historical authority for all its statements and the more I learn the more my view is confirmed." The name of Vágbhata, however, does not occur in Stein's edition of Ráj., which may be pronounced as the most reliable that has yet appeared.
  51. Journ. Asiatic Soc. xxxvii. (1835).
  52. Zeit. deut morg. Ges, T. lxix, pp. 279-284.
  53. Regarding the bibliography of Vágbhata, see two short monographs by Dr. Palmyr Cordier; also Julius Jolly: "Zur Quellenkunde der indischen Medizin," I. 'Vágbhata, Zeit. deut. Morg. Ges. LIV. pp. 260-74.
  54. Cowell and Thomas' Trans. pp. 143-444.
  55. Takakasu: "Records of the the Buddhist Religion," p. 128.
  56. See, however, below under the marginal heading: "The age of the Tantras dealing with mercury."