Charaka/Caraka, Ayurvedic physician lived in the period between the third and second Centuries B.C. He was the court physician of the Buddhist king Kanishka.
The term Charaka literally means ‘wandering’/touring’. He travelled far and wide and gained knowledge.
Scientist Charaka was reputed as the principal exponent of kaya chikitsa.
Charaka Samhita is a compendium of ‘Ayurveda’ (science of life), a treatise in Sanskrit. This medical treatise was later translated into Persian, Arabic and Latin in the 8th Century A.D. It contains knowledge about plant, mineral and animal origin of some substances used in the treatment of diseases.
Frequent urination with a ‘sweet – tasting urine’ was described as diabetes mellitus in this ancient Ayurvedic classic – Onion, garlic, aloe, custard apple leaves, cabbage, bad leaves, turmeric have blood sugar – lowering action / effect. Ayurveda hails Indianness.
Patanjali is known to have made a redaction of the Charaka Samhita.
Scientist Charaka and Atreya counted the number of bones in the human body as 360; according to Susruta, the count was 300.
The human skeleton actually consists of about 206 separate bones of many sizes, shapes, and functions. This discrepancy in the number is explained by the fact that both Caraka and Susruta counted ‘processes’ or ‘protuberances’ on certain bones as individual bone pieces.
Rejuvenation therapy in old age (Vardhakya and jara): ‘herbs, herbal products (vegetarian and fruitarian diet) and lemon, ginger, amlaki, silajatu (minerals) as aphrodisiac par excellence.
Postponement of physiological senescence :
- commitment to non-violence for submerging anger
- moderation of diet.
Gleaning wisdom from ancient scientists is like a treasure-hunt of knowledge. Scientist Caraka said, “Happiness is impossible without dharma.”
Therefore all individuals should stay tuned to the performance of dharma. Dharma, in short, is one’s duty. A famous definition of dharma (which is insufficiently described as a religious merit)
It is called dharma because it, viz., the principles of sustenance as cognised by the elite, maintains and supports the society or the individual; dharma is a moral obligation.
In the present day, we say Comprehension of the true nature of the disease and controlling of the pains (and the other distresses that arise thereby), – this is the physicianness of a physician. He is not the Lord of the span of the (patient’s) life.
— Brhma vaivarta 16
What is a disease? It is disease. Anything that brings sadness and grief and suffering to the human person (or the Purusha).
The Indian snakeroot (rauwolfia) Rauwolfia serpentina from the Himalayan region was used by the Indian physicians for centuries before it was pirated into Germany by pharmaceutical companies; reserpine was extracted from the root and found spectacularly effective in the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure, colloquially called high BP) – the pharmaceutical companies became rich and popular. The richness of the Indian soil was exploited.
Mydriatic magic of belladonna (deadly nightshade)
In the last century B.C., Atropine extracts from the Egyptian henbane were used by Cleopatra to instill in the eyes to dilate the pupils, to appear more beautiful and alluring. Legend ranks her as an immoral (immortal, too in history) voluptuary, “belladonna” implies in Italian “beautiful lady”.