Ancient Indian Physicians – Maharishi Charaka

Maharishi Charaka

Charaka (also Charak) was a great medicine genius of ancient India. He is generally referred to as "the father of Indian medicine". He graced the royal court of Kushan emperor Kanishka as the royal physician. He explored new avenues in the field of Ayurveda, the ancient medicine system in India. He successfully presented new concepts of digestion, metabolism and immunity and developed Ayurveda as a reliable system of medicine.

Charaka earned huge fame and glory in the field of medicine with his book 'Charaka Samhita' in which he described his research and new concepts on human anatomy, the functions of different body parts, effects of different ailments on the body parts and the treatment through medicines. He described his views on some aspects of genetics. For instance he stated about factors determining the sex of a child. His treatise on medicine 'Charaka Samhita' heavily depends on the principles and medicinal research of ancient physician Atreya. Agnivesa penned a detailed book in 8th century B.C to further elaborate research of Atreya. Charaka further polished and revised Agnivesa's work in a new form, resulting in the Charaka Samhita. \

Charaka Samhita book has been translated into many foreign languages, Arabian writer and historian Al Beruni described the 'Charaka Sahmita' as the best book on medicine in the world.
• Charaka Samhita is divided into eight parts. It comprises 120 chapters in total
• Each part of the book is known as 'Sthana'. Eight parts of the Charaka Samhita are: 1. Sutra, 2. Nidana, 3. Vimaan, 4. Sharir, 5. Indriya, 6. Chikitsa, 7. Kalpa, 8. Siddhi.

Charaka : Important Points
● known as Father of Medicine, debate around which time period he existed.
● Was an Ayurveda practitioner.
● Author of Charaka Samhita – deals with physiology, etiology, embryology etc. Emphasis on physical examination and rational cure of diseases.
● Emphasized on the principle that prevention is better than cure.
● Wrote extensively on digestion, metabolism, immune system, genetics like the factors responsible for sex of a child.
● probably the first to have made a reference about smallpox.
● steered Indian medicine towards scientific approach, away from the notions that diseases are caused by supernatural forces and that treatments were possible by rituals and prayers.

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