Tuesday 4 January 2022

Medicine During Vedic Times


During the vedic times , Aswini Kumare were the practisioners of medicine and were given the divine status. Dhanvantari was the god of Medicine.

Atharva veda was the first book where we find mention about the diseases, its cure and medicines. According to it, the diseases were caused by the demons and spirits wntering into the human body and can be cured by magical charms and spells. Atharva veda mentioned cure for mant of the diseases which include diarrhea , sores , cough, leprosy, fever and seizure.

However, the era of  practical and more rational cure to diseases emerged around 600 BC. Takshila and Varanasi emerged as the centres for medicinal learning.

The two important treaties during this time were:

         Charak Samhita (deals with Ayurveda) by Charak

         Sushruta Samhita (deals with Surgery) by Sushruta

Before them, Atreya and Agnivesa had already dealt with principles of Ayurveda way back in 800 BCE.




Charak Samhita mainly deals with use of plants and herbs for medicinal purpose. In a way , it mainly deals with Ayurveda as a science having the following eight components.

       →Kaya Chikitsa ( general mmedicine)

       →Kaumara Bhrtya ( Paediatrics)

       Shalya Chikitsa ( Surgery)

       →Salakya tantra ( Opththalmology/ENT)

       →Buta Vidya (Demonology/psychiatry)

       →Agadha Tantra ( Toxicology)

       →Rasayana Tantra(Elixirs)

       →Vajikarana Tantra(Aphrodisiacs)

In Charak, Aamhita extensive note on digestion, metabolism and immune system is written . Charaka emphasizes that the functioning of a human body depends on three Doshas:

1.Bile, 2.Phlegm and 3. Wind. Three doshas are produced with the help of blood , flesh and marrow and the body becomes sick due to  an imbalance between these three doshas.

Drugs can be used to restore this balance. Charaka in his book has put more emphasis on prevention rather than cure. Genetics also finds a mention in charaka Samhita.




Sushruta Samhita deals with practical problem of surgery and obstetrics. Sushruta studied anatomy in great detail with the aid of a human  dead body. His forte was mainly:

         Rhinoplasty ( plastic surgery)

         Ophtalmology(ejection of Cataract)

Surgery was termed as Sastrakarma during those times. The book sushruta Samhita records in detail the steps to be taken for the performance of a surgery. In this field, one of the greatest contributions of Sushruta was Rhinoplasty which means restoration of a mutilated nose through plastic surgery. The ejection of cataracts from eye was even done by Sushruta with ease and using simple surgical tools. Hence, it can be inferred that India also saw best of the developments in medicines during the Indi-Greek rule in India In 180BC-10AD.

In the medieval period , Sarangdhara Samhita written in 13th century emphasized on the use of opium in medicines and for urine examination in laboratories.

The Rasachikitsa system dealt with treatment of diseases using mineral medicines.

The Unani system of medicine came to India from Greece with the book Firdausa Hikmat written by Ali-bin-Rabban.