The Legacy of Caraka

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Orient Blackswan, 2003 - Medicine, Ayurvedic - 634 pages
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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 Stha Nas In The Original, The Author Has Retold The Samhita Through Thematically Structured Chapters, In Contemporary Idiom. The Retelling Has Involved Some Degree Of Restructuring And Condensation But Has Ensured That Whatever Is Stated Can Be Traced Back To The Original. In A Detailed Introduction, The Author Has Commented On Specific Aspects Of Caraka S Philosophy, Concepts And Practice, As Seen From The Point Of View Of Modern Medicine. This Book Will Be Of Special Interest To Students Of A Yurveda, Medicine And Other Sciences, And Those Interested In The History Of Science In India.

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LEGACY OF CARAKA – A REVIEW BY T.M.MUKUNDAN (The Legacy of Charaka by M.S.Valiathan) This work – a rearrangement of Charaka Samhita by a distinguished surgeon, is a welcome change in the attitude of the Allopathic medical establishment of India. For too long has the community of Allopaths in this country neglected the medical wealth contained in the Ayurvedic literature. This attitude, one can safely say, has only worked to the detriment of the health of the nation. In this book, “The Legacy of Charaka”, there is a long introduction – running to 86 pages, which gives us some idea of the perspective of the author, the motivation for undertaking this work and his interpretation of the text. The author explains his work thus, “I was tempted to retell Charaka 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….instead of adhering to the sequence of sthanas in the original, I have retold the Samhita through thematically structured chapters. Although there has been some degree of restructuring and condensation,…no chapter in the eight sthanas of the original has been left out.” This book certainly is a massive effort, of going through an enormous text, the most important text of Ayurveda, and restructuring the contents. The introduction is followed by the translation of the text, running to about 600 pages. The following are some of the mistakes this work suffers from: (I) Mistakes arising from trying to understand and translate Ayurvedic terminologies to Western Allopathic terminologies (II) Author’s lack of proper understanding of Ayurveda and lack of Ayurvedic clinical exposure (III) The author’s preconceived notion that Ayurveda is not a legitimate independent system of medicine but is there only as an ancient cultural heritage. Its current use could be to strengthen the Allopathic medical knowledge, in particular, its pharmacopia. (IV) Technical errors and improper translation (V) Basis for some statements not clear (VI) Printing errors (I) The author judges ayurveda from the criteria and concepts of the Allopathic system. This is one major drawback of this work. Ayurveda has an independent, comprehensive and complete conceptual framework, based on the worldview of the Indian philosophical systems or Darshanas. Whether this framework is correct or not is to be judged only by the results – whether the Ayurvedic system is able to cure diseases today, and not if it is able to satisfy the criteria of the Allopathic system or those of modern Western science. The full review is available at It is recommended only for people in Ayurvedic field. 


Atharva Veda to Caraka
Diseases in Carakas period
Doctrines and concepts 1
Medicinal plants
Food and drinks Ixxvii
Drugs formulations in therapeutics

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