Caraka was an amazing person. He was a doctor, teacher and a preceptor rolled into one. Due to western influence, we are more aware of Hippocrates than our great medical Gurus like Athreya, Caraka, and Susruta.
Caraka’s Samhita is the “Bible” of Ayurveda. What he wrote in his Samhita continues to influence modern physicians, scientists, and historians.
The Samhita has been translated into several western & Eastern languages. Like the medical oath of Hippocrates, the medical oath of Caraka is equally solemn, powerful and impressive. Let us see briefly what Caraka says about several aspects of life.
“That is named Ayurveda and its domain is life, good and bad, happy and unhappy, what is wholesome and unwholesome”.
The gist of his Advice to students of Ayurveda
“Learn from medical textbooks but do not lose sight of reason in the practice of medicine. Obsession with the written texts is the habit of the mediocre. The wise go beyond books and obtain the experience of the world. Learn from sages as well shepards”
“The tridoshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – traverse through all the systems of circulation. When increased they show their symptoms proportionate to the intensity of their morbidity. When decreased, they cease to manifest their qualities. When normal they carry out normal functions the body. If doshas are set right, disorders will take care of themselves”.
“A list of medications would assist the physician of moderate intelligence to practice medicine while offering hints to the gifted for expanding knowledge”.
“There are three methods of diagnosing a disease, the teaching of trustworthy acharyas, by direct observation and by inference”.
“The vaidya (physician) who is of sound mind and understanding should know accurately the disease from the point of etiology (the study of the cause of disease), symptomatology, etc”
“The vaidya who understands the differential diagnosis between the curable and incurable diseases, conditions and begins treatment with full knowledge of the case, obtains success without fail”
On Body Care
“The disciplined man who takes a wholesome diet lives for a period of 36,000 nights or a hundred years, blessed by good men and free from disease”.
“The patient with fever should not be allowed to sleep in the day time. He should not take bath, apply oil on the body, have sexual intercourse. Going out in open when strong winds blow, taking exercise and eating astringent substances should be prohibited”.
“As the central beam supports the wood or bamboo framework of thatch, the heart represents the substratum of all organs of the body. Even a small injury to the heart causes fainting”.
On Cleaning The Tongue
“Tongue scrapers, which should be curved and not sharp-edged, are to be made of metals like gold, silver, copper, tin, and brass. The dirt deposited at the root of the tongue obstructs expiration and gives rise to a foul small: so the tongue should be scraped regularly”.
On Vajikarana (Virile Therapy)
About Charaka“The best sexual stimulant of all is a merry woman, who is pretty, young, compliant and with auspicious signs on her body”.
On Fomentation Therapy
“Even a dry and stiff twig becomes soft and supple on the judicious application of oil and heat”.
“When the purity of blood is disturbed, many disorders occur
“The stomach dictates the norms for the quantity of food”.
“Begetting a child is more than a physical act it is a grand ritual”.
On General Treatment
“Four essential requirements for treatment are – the physician, medicines, Nursing attendant and the patient.
On General Factors That Vitiate Tridoshas
- Use of incompatible foods and drinks, Unctuous and heavy articles of diet.
- Suppression of calls or urges of nature.
- Indulging in exercise or exposure to heat after a heavy meal, fasting or overeating.
- Fatigue or fear.
- Habitual use of new grain, curds or fish.
- Excessive use of salt or acidic substances.
- Black gram, radish, Til, milk.
- Indulging in sex – acts before the ingested food is digested.
- Committing of sinful acts.