10 AYURVEDIC TEXT BOOKS TO MASTER AYURVEDA
The concept of Ayurveda is brought upon by our ancient rishis. They invented every aspects of ayurveda and comprised them in the form of books.
There are plethora of books available in the market to make it difficult for you to decide which books are the best ones.
As I am going to cover most important books in the history of ayurveda, before that I must say that these books are not so simple books and celebrated and worshipped across the world. These text books are the foundation of Ayurveda covering each and every aspects of it.
Brihat Trayi - 3 Major Text Books
1. Charaka Samhita
This is one of the foundational book based on ayurveda along with Sushruta Samhita(Will come to that in the next point). It is in Sanskrit language, though it has been translated into many languages.
It describes ancient theories on human body, etiology, symptomology and therapeutics for a wide range of diseases. The Charaka Samhita also includes sections on the importance of diet, hygiene, prevention, medical education, the teamwork of a physician, nurse and patient necessary for recovery to health.
It was authored by Agnivesha, a legendary rishi (sage) and expert of Ayurveda, back in around 1500-1000 BCE. Later on, Charaka, one of the principal contributors of Ayurveda, made corrections and improvements in the book at around 300-200 BCE. Then comes Drudhabala, who wrote the last part of the book, added 41 chapters at around 4th century AD.
Thus, It should be the first text book on your shelf if you are starting this journey of going deep in the world of Ayurveda.
2. Sushruta Samhita
This is again one of the foundational books based on ayurveda along with Charak Samhita. It is named after Acharya Sushruta, a reputed sage and ayurveda expert. Where Charak Samhita deals with internal medicine (Kaya Chikitsha), it deals with the field of ayurvedic surgery (Shalya). It has also been translated into many languages.
The Sushruta Samhita is of great historical importance because it includes chapters describing surgical training, instruments and procedures which are so unique in nature in terms of Ayurvedic history.
It was first authored by Kashiraja Divodasa Dhanvantari in around 1000 BCE. Sushruta re-wrote the book in the 2nd century AD. Then Nagarjuna edited the Uttara Tantra (Supplementary Part) part of Sushruta Samhita in the 5th Century AD. Finally it was written by Chandrata in 10th Century AD.
Thus, it should be your second read after Charak Samhita.
3. Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hrudaya
Both works have been contributed by the same author, named 'Vagbhata'. Ashtanga Sangraha was authored in 6th Century AD, whereas Ashtanga Hrudaya was written in 7th Century AD by Vagabhata. He was one of the prominent classical writers of Ayurveda along with Sushruta and Charak. Many argues that both the works can't be produced by a single author but indeed they are so inter-related that its very difficult to make a judgement on that. They can be considered as reference books to the earlier classical books Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita respectively.
Thus, above 3 books are considered as the fundamental books of Ayurveda. Highly recommended if you want to explore the world of Ayurveda in depth!
Laghu Trayis - 3 Minor Text Books
4. Madhava Nidana
This book deals with the classification of diseases in Ayurveda. This work is dated around 7th Century and covers wide range of diseases along with their causes, symptoms and complications. But the treatment part is not covered in this book.
5. Sharangdhara Samhita
This book was authored by Acharya Sharangdhara. He was a well-known physician and author. This samhita includes a clear expalnation of pharmaceutical aspects of Ayurveda. The author has dedicated seperate chapters for kashayams, powders, infusions etc. The description of various pharmacological formulations used in Panchakarma is also included. Moreover, the first textual elaboration of the diagnosis by means of pulse is also mentioned. It is thought to be originated in 13th Century. One cannot understand the pharmaceutical preparations in Ayurveda without going through the work of Acharya Sharangdhara.
This book was written in 16th Century. It basically deals with herbs, dietetics along with various diseases and treatments. Many of the sutras are adopted from above major textbooks. Few of them are direct quotes from the major text books above. A large section named 'Nighantu' is being covered in this book which gives detailed information about the characteristics of foods, plants and minerals.
This was written in 11th Century by Chakrapani Datta, an Ayurvedic physician and scholar in sanskrit. He explained various types of diseases and treatments. It's prime goal is to provide up to date information about Ayurvedic medicines that will cure people's different ailments. What so unique about Chakradatta is the description of several metallic and mercurial preparations taken place while producing medicines, which later being used in different medications. Therapeutic principles specific for the disease recommended in this book are beneficial even today for the practitioners of Ayurveda.
8. Yoga Ratnakara
This is a 17th Century book explaining various diseases, treatments and incorporated foreign herbs. It has included various medicinal recipes and formulations for Ayurveda practitioners across the world.
9. Sahasra Yoga
This is also a 17th Century book containing 1,000 medicine collections. 'Sahasrayogam' means thousand formulations which roughly consists of 700-1200 formulations approximately.Many has been added later which crossed the number after practical experiences. It has included Ancient Ayurvedic drug index of South India. It is very popular among Kerala Ayurvedic physicians. Even Kerala people keep it as their Ayurvedic Home Remedies guide.The formulations described in the book consist of different Kalpanas like Kashaya (Decoction), Taila (Medicated oil), Ghrita (Medicated Ghee), Choorna (Powder), Asava, Arishta (Fermented liquid), Vati, Gutika (Pill) and Lehya (Linctus). Mixed herbal recipes along with single drug recipes for different diseases and treatments are also explained.
10. Bhaishajya Ratnavali
This book was written and composed by Kaviraj Govinda Das Sen in 18th Century. This is considered as the best book for disease, treatment and medicines.
These are some of the recommended text books that will add extra fuel to your Ayurveda journey.
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