(Last Updated on : 23/05/2013)
Charaka Samhita is the Ayurvedic text obtained from the ancient Indian tradition written by the great Ayurvedic physician Charaka. Charaka Samhita is said to be the oldest of the three ancient treaties of Ayurveda. Charaka Samhita has relevance in the modern day practice of Ayurvedic medicine. Charaka Samhita and Sushruta
Samhita are famous worldwide as an important source of old Ayurveda
practice. Thus this book helps to gather an idea of the ancient medicinal practice.
The text Charak Samhita is written in Sanskrit. Sometimes it is believed that it is work of several authors, which represents a definite school of thought. The term 'Charaka' means 'wandering scholars' or 'wandering physicians' and 'Samhita' denotes 'collected' or 'compendium'. The original source of Charaka Samhita is the Agnivesha Tantra based on the teaching of Punarvasu
. It is thought that Charaka has edited this work and in later times another Ayurvedic Scholar Dridhabala extended the Charaka Samhita further more. The Charaka Samhita was most probably written in Mauryan era (around third century BC).
The text contains eight sections having hundred and twenty chapters in total. The Charaka Samhita starts with Sutrasthan, which deals with fundamentals and basic principles of Ayurveda. Charaka Samhita contributes uniquely to the vast area of Ayurveda as it has a logical approach to the cause and remedy of the diseases and it introduces the objective methods of clinical examinations.
Charaka Samhita states that direct observation is the most remarkable feature of Ayurveda though sometimes it can be confused with metaphysics. Charaka Samhita gives emphasis on all types of evidences and says that those evidences are most dependable that are directly observed by eyes. In Ayurveda, the successful medical treatment mainly depends on four factors: the physician, substances (drugs or diets), nurse and patient. The physicians should also possess some qualities like clear grasp of theoretical content of the science, a wide range of experience, practical skills and cleanliness. The qualities that should be present in drugs or substances are- abundance, applicability, multiple use and capacity to produce the desired effect. The nursing attendant should be well aware of nursing techniques, practical skill, attachment for the patient and cleanliness. Charaka Samhita even mentions that patients should also possess some quality to be promptly cured like good memory, obedience to the instructions of the doctors, courage and ability to describe the symptoms.
There is detailed account about nursing in Charaka Samhita. In volume one, section fifteen it is stated that the nursing attendant must possess some qualities. The person should be well-behaved, known for the purity, must be clever and skilled, kind, can perform all the services that a patient might require, capable of cooking food, competent in bathing and washing the patient, rubbing and massaging the limbs, have the physical power of lifting and assisting him to walk about, expert in making and cleansing of beds, make the patient ready and can wait upon the ailing patient and never unwilling to do anything which is ordered to him/her.