Charaka, sometimes spelled Caraka, born c. 300 BC in a Maga Brahmin family was one of the principal contributors to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda, a system of medicine and lifestyle thought to be developed about 5000 years ago in Ancient India.
The term Caraka is a label said to apply to ‘wandering scholars’ or ‘wandering physicians.’ see Charaka Samhita.
According to Charaka's translations health and disease are not predetermined and life may be prolonged by human effort and attention to lifestyle.
The following statements are attributed to Charaka:
A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases. He should first study all the factors, including environment, which influence a patient's disease, and then prescribe treatment. It is more important to prevent the occurrence of disease than to seek a cure.
These remarks appear obvious today, though they are often not heeded, and were made by Charaka, in his famous Ayurvedic treatise Charaka Samhita. The treatise contains many such remarks which are held in reverence even today. Some of them are in the fields of physiology, etiology and embryology.
Charaka was the first physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity. According to his translations of the Vedas, a body functions because it contains three dosha or principles, namely movement (vata), transformation (pitta) and lubrication and stability (kapha). The doshas are also sometimes called humours, namely, bile, phlegm and wind. These dosha are produced when dhatus (blood, flesh and marrow) act upon the food eaten. For the same quantity of food eaten, one body, however, produces dosha in an amount different from another body. That is why one body is different from another. For instance, it is more weighty, stronger, more energetic.
Further, illness is caused when the balance among the three dosha in a human body is disturbed.
Part of a series on
History · Deities
Beliefs and practices
Dharma · Artha ·
Kama · Moksha ·
Karma · Samsara
Yoga · Bhakti · Maya
Puja · Hindu temple
Vedas · Upanishads
Ramayana · Mahabharata
Bhagavad Gita · Puranas
Dharmaśāstra · others
Hinduism by country
Gurus and saints
Reforms · Criticism
Calendar · Hindu Law
Ayurveda · Jyotisha
Festivals · Glossary
• edit The text, written in Sanskrit, is the work of several authors and may represent the work of a school of thought. The term Caraka is said to apply to ‘wandering scholars’ or ‘wandering physicians’; and ‘Saṃhitā’ means ‘collected' or 'compendium’. The original source of this text is identified as the Agniveśa Tantra (a treatise by Agniveśa), based on the teachings of Punarvasu Atreya and Caraka is said to have redacted this work (Agniveśakr̥te tantre Caraka pratisaṃskr̥te). Later, another scholar, Dridhabala extended it further (Aprapte Dridhabala sampurite). The work as extant dates to the Maurya period ( 3rd century BCE).