Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva – these four Vedas projects the advancements, richness and infallible dignity of that Era in fields of Science, Engineering, Medicine, Art & Music, Literature & Philosophy and obviously Dharma; hence forming the rigid pillars providing support and intangible aura of nourishment to a mammoth achievable humane goal called KNOWLEDGE!
As discussed in my previous article , I tried to showcase a droplet out of the ocean of information stored in Vedas, as how certain inseparable and important aspects of Mathematics which are claimed to be lately invented or discovered, were already described in the Vedas dating back to around 2000 BC. Few similar facts related to certain discoveries and inventions during the Vedic Era is something which I would like to share in this article of mine.
Let’s start with VYMAANIKA SHAASTRA formulated by MAHARISHI BHARADWAJ on around 1500 BC and it consists of 3000 shlokas and 8 chapters.
Vymaanika Shaastra was all regarding ‘vimanas’, meaning flying vehicles and covered various descriptions, illustrations and details of topics related to aerodynamics, aerospace technology and engineering, and all these were composed several centuries before December 17, 1903, the day on which Orville and Wilbur Wright invented Aeroplane.
The topics covered include, “definition of an airplane, a pilot, aerial routes, food, clothing, metals, metal production, mirrors and their uses in wars, varieties of machinery and yantras, planes like ‘mantrik’, ‘tantrik’, and ‘kritak’” and four planes called Shakuna, Sundara, Rukma, and Tripura are described in greater detail. The extant text is claimed to be only a small (one-fortieth) part of a larger work Yantra Sarvaswa “All about machines”.
Later since 1914 AD onwards, these scriptures were decoded and rewritten for better understanding and Vymaanika Shaastra became one of the special topics of interest amongst researchers and scientists.
It was just a fraction of glimpses of engineering credentials stored in our most rich and invaluable scriptures, the Vedas. Now let’s take a glance in the accomplishments in the field of medicine whose doctrines are hymnatically embedded in the sacred Vedas.
Medicine, surgery and body analysis and treatment roots their basics from Ayurveda and in the ancient era, Pranacharya Charaka and Acharya Sushruta played iconic roles in these segments whose proof is the compilation and embodiment of Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita.
In this article Charaka Samhita is taken to be the topic of discussion.
Charaka Samhita or Compendium of Charaka is a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda. Although the dates of composition of Charaka Samhita are uncertain, yet, Meulenbeld’s History of Indian Medical Literature dates it between fourth century to second century BCE, while the Dridhabala Revision and completion dates it to the sixth century BCE. Traces of series of hymns of Charaka Samhita is found in Atharva Veda whose compilation dates back to 1000 to 1200 BCE.
This ancient text consists of eight books and one hundred and twenty chapters. It describes ancient theories related to human body, etiology, symptomology and therapeutics for a wide range of diseases along with sections on the importance of diet, hygiene, preventions, medical education, the teamwork of a physician – nurse – patient necessary for recovery to fine health.
The extant text has eight sthāna (books), totalling 120 chapters. The text includes a table of contents embedded in its verses, stating the names and describing the nature of the eight books, followed by a listing of the 120 chapters.
These eight books are ~
- Sutra Sthana (General principles) – 30 chapters deal with general principles, philosophy, definitions, prevention through healthy living, and the goals of the text.
- Nidana Sthana (Pathology) – 8 chapters on causes of diseases.
- Vimana Sthana (Specific determination) 8 chapters contain training of a physician, ethics of medical practice, pathology, diet and nourishment, taste of medicines.
- Śarira Sthana (Anatomy) – 8 chapters describe embryology & anatomy of a human body (with a section on other living beings).
- Indriya Sthana (Sensory organ based prognosis) – 12 chapters elaborate on diagnosis & prognosis, mostly based on sensory response of the patient.
- Chikitsa Sthana (Therapeutics) – 30 chapters deal with medicines and treatment of diseases.
- Kalpa Sthana (Pharmaceutics and toxicology) – 12 chapters describe pharmacy, the preparation and dosage of medicine, signs of their abuse, and dealing with poisons.
- Siddhi Sthana (Success in treatment) – 12 chapters describe signs of cure, hygiene and healthier living.
The text starts with Sūtra sthāna which deals with fundamentals and basic principles of Ayurveda practice. Unique scientific contributions credited to the Charaka Saṃhitā include:
- A rational approach to the causation and cure of disease;
- Introduction of objective methods of clinical examination.
Charak Samhita is a subject of thorough study, analysis and research since last few centuries and many segments of the compendium has been decoded and interpreted for the availability of the resources to general public.
Similar to the Vymaanika Shaastra and Charaka Samhita, numerous doctrines and compendiums forms the integral part of the Vedas, like, Sankhya Darshan by Kapil Muni, Aryabhatiyan by Aryabhatta, Sushruta Samhita by Sushruta, Lilavati & Bijaganita by Bhaskaracharya and Panch Siddhant & Bruhad Samhita by Varahamihira. All these compendiums, doctrines and scriptures reminds of a saying that RISHIS WERE ALWAYS RIGHT!