Bhattara Haricandra was a versatile genius who was famous in the literary as well as the medical world.
He was the author and was the court-physician of the king Sahasanka and the oldest known commenter on the Caraka Samhita. He is also referred as Maheswara.
His year of birth and death are unknown but he is estimated to have lived in the 5th century CE based on his contemporaries and the works that referenced his work.
His charming diction, style and beauty of assonance give him a sovereign place among poets. • A tribute to him is made in the beginning of Harsa-Carita by the great poet Bana. • Another tribute to his literary genius is paid by Vakpati in his Prakitra work called Gaudavaha where he takes delight in reading Bhasa, Agnimitra, Kuntideva and Kalidasa, and also in diction and style of Subandhu and Haricandra.
Only a few of his poetic works are available today -- most having been lost due to the ravages of time.
Commentary on Caraka Samhita
Bhattara Haricandra authored the Caraka-nyāsa which is the oldest known commentary on Caraka Samhita. This statement is supported by the fact that he is quoted by all other known commentators of the Caraka Samhita.
His commentary is considered to be the best by many authorities like Indu, Tisat and Maheswara and it is almost impossible to expound the doctrine of Caraka without consulting the Caraka-nyāsa.
Period Of Origin
He is the contemporary of king Sahasanka whose date has been established as 375-413 A. D.
The king Sahasanka is very often incorrectly identified with Vikrama or Candragupta II. King Vikrama, was a predecessor of Sahasanka. There is no mention of Bhattara among the Nine Gems of Vikrama's court. A person of so high a repute as that of Bhattara would surely have found a place among the Nine Gems. Thus the date of Sahasanka, viz. 5th century CE. i.e. after Vikrama is considered to be the date of our Bhattara Haricandra. He must have flourished before the 8th or 7th century A. D. is proved by references to him by Bana and Vakpati quoted above who flourished in the 7th and 8th centuries respectively. His existence before the time of Vagbhata is amply proved by the fact that Tisata, the son of Vagbhata quotes Bhattara Haricandra.
Candrata wrote a commentary after seeing Jejjata's is the spelling correct? commentary. Candrata was the grandson of Vagbhata and son of Tisata. Jejjata was the pupil of Vagbhata and hence his contemporary. We find that Jejjata has quoted Bhattara Haricandra. This chapter written by the great preceptor is well expounded by Bhattara Haricandra.
Hence we deduce that Bhattara Haricandra existed before the time of Vagbhata. Besides this the commentary of Cakrapani corroborates our statement. Vagbhata follows the opinion of Haricandra Bhattara. Haricandra has also written a commentary on Kharanaada Samhita which was redacted later on by Indu. This Samhita was a living force till the time of Arunadatta and Hemadri.
Haricandra's commentary Caraka-nyāsa is only partially available i.e., only chapters 1-3 and 5 of the sutrasthāna are available today. This remaining manuscript can be found in the Madras Government library.
- It refers to the Quotation given above.
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India