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AGNIVESA

 

The great heritage of the healing art left to us by Krsna Atreya would have been lost to us but for the herculean task of his chief pupil Agnivesa who made a detailed record of the exposition which flowed from the benevolent lips of his preceptor Atreya. It was Agnivesa who codified the knowledge and arranged it in the form of a Treatise which forms the basis of what is now the Caraka Samhita. Krsna Atreya expounded the science of Kaya-Cikitsa to his six pupils among whom Agnivesa was one of outstanding intelligence. His intellect was superior to his co students and his treatise was applauded by the sages as the most authoritative.

 

Thereafter Punarvasu, the most benevolent, moved by compassion for all creatures, bestowed the science of life on his six disciples. Agnivesa, Bhela, Jatukarna, Parasara, Harlta and Ksara- pani received the teaching of that sage.

 

All this has been declared to the foremost disciple by "Punarvasu, the Knower of Truth, who was free from the faults of passion and ignorance, in this discourse on the treatment of Pectoral Lesions and Cachexia.

 

Addressing himself to the six choicest of his disciples headed by Agnivesa, who were dedicated to study and meditation, the master, Atreya, declared as follows, with a view to stimulate inquiry.

It was the excellence of his own understanding and not any difference in instruction by the sage, whereby Agnivesa became the foremost compiler of the science.

Not only was he the most brilliant among the disciples but his compilation received the approval of the committee of experts which declared it to be the best of all and-ever since it became the authoritative text-book on the science.�

This brilliant author of perhaps the oldest written medical work was known as Hutasa or Hutasavesa and Vahnivesa Hutasa and Vahni are but the synonyms of Agni and the later authors substituted the synonyms for the purpose of variation in chapter 44 on fractures we find:

 

The Commentator Cakrapani while beginning the benedictory verse refers to Agnivesa by his synonym.

 

Agnivesa is referred to by his synonyms in Caraka Samhjta. In Siddhisthan 12th chap, verse 53 Agnivesa is referred to as Vahnives.

The Agnivesa-tantra originally consisted of 12000 verses.

Unfortunately Agnivesa-tantra in the original form is not available at present. That logically leads us to the question, as to the period till which the book was available.

Indnkara�������� the commentator of Astanga Sangraha writes_______ this statement has led many to believe that Caraka�s life came to an end before he could complete the redaction of Agnivesa-tantra. But this theory is untenable, because throughout the Caraka Samhita we find at the end of each chapter

this means that Caraka redacted the whole of Agnivesa-tantra,

����������� The following statement of Drdhabala has led some people

to think that Agnivesa-tantra was not available in his time

�He added seventeen chapters in the section on therapeutics as also the two sections of Pharmaceutics and Success in Treatment in entirety, by culling his data from various treatises on the science.

 

�The seventeen chapters and the sections on Pharmaceutics and Success in Treatment in the treatise composed by Agnivesa and revised by Caraka have not been found.��

But such an assumption can be easily set aside. The argument put forward is that he mentions having taken from many other books, and Agnivesa-tantra is not specifically mentioned. But we must not forget that Didbabala is a redactor As we have seen, redaction is the progressive revision of the original text. Additions or omissions can be made according to the progress in the science madeduring that period Natuially the author has to consult all new books for such redaction He has to move with the times and be in constant touch with the changing. He was not a mere commentator who had just to make the text lucid He was a redactor and as such he consulted all available treatises in order to revise and make the text up-to-date The basic text which was to be redacted need not be mentioned as such as it is to be taken for granted as the basic text on which the super-structure was constructed.

 

Again, the verse quoted above means no more than this that the redacted portion of Caraka is not available and it is only by a stretch of unwarranted assumption that we can construe it as mean�ing that Agnivesa tantra was not available. A slight linguistic ambi�guity in the verse has however, caused this confusion. If the reading were��������� the ambiguity would not have occurred.

 

In the Siddhi-sthana 4th chapter, Didhabala describes the meeting of the learned sages under the presidentship of Atreya. Unless we take this to be a mere conventional way of writing in those days, we must conclude that Agnivesa-tantra was available in Didhabala�s time.

There is difference of opinion as regards the portion of section on therapeutics, that have been restored by Didhabala. This creates a problem as to which 17 chapters were restored by Drdhabala. A critical examination of this question by thrashing out all available internal and external evidence indicates that the original text of Agnivesa existed as the basic text for Drdhabala and that a certain portion of the redacted text of Caraka was not available.

 

The style and language of the original texts of Agnivesa, Caraka and Drdhabala can be distinguished on minute examination of the text. Now, we find that there is a mixture of the styles and diction in nearly all the chapters and hence one is led to the natural conclusion that Agnivesa-tantra did exist in the time of Drdhabala,

The Index of all the 120 chapters is given m the 30th chapter of Sutra-sthana. Didhabplas arrangement is quite in accord with that. Though this is not a strong argument in itself, as one can Say that the headings of the chapters might have been taken by Drdhabala from the index in Sutra-sthana or that the whole index in the 30th chapter may be altogether a later insertion.

That the Agnive&a-tantra did exist upto and well after Vagbhata is amply supported by various facts. The following quotations should disperse any suspicion that Agnivesa-tantra was lost in the time of Vagbhata.

 

Jejjata, a pupil of Vagbhata quotes from Aguivesa tantra the following verses. These verses are not found in the Caraka Samhita and hence he must have quoted these from the original Agnivesa- tantra which must have been available in his days.

 

. � - - *

Tlsata, sop of Vighbala in his Chikitsa mentions Agnivesa as a distinct authority showing at Agnivesa-tantra existed in his text.

Cakrapani, the commentator of Caraka Samhita who flourished in the 11th century A D cites pharmaceutical preparations which are not found in the Caraka Samhita This leads us to the conclusion that the original Agnivesa-tantra was available in one of the Cakrapani.

 

O'-Z.�M

The following recipe of Vandya ________ is quoted by Sodhala from Agnivesa-tantra.

Sodhala flourished in the 12th Century A. D. and this shows that Agnivesa-tantra was available even then.

Kanthadatta, the commentator on Vrnda's Siddhayoga who flourished in the 13th century A. D. says:

These verses are also not found in the Caraka Samhita and hence it can be presumed that they have been taken directly from the Agnivesa-tantra itself.

Sivadasa Sen who flourished in the I5tb century A. D. says in his Tattva-candrika:

As this verse is not found in the Caraka Samhita, the only possible source of it must be Agnivesa-tantra which must have been available in the fifteenth century. After that period no more citations from the Agnivesa-tantra arc available except one suggestive reference by Gangadhar Sastri in the 19 th century.

75

More references will be unearthed by scholars in the course of research.

Besides this premier work on Ayurveda, several other works are ascribed to Agnivesa. AnjanaNidana, a treatise on diseases of the eye is one such book.

t

This closing sentence definitely ascribes the work to Agni�vesa He is also quoted by Vagbhata, Bhavamisra, Tisata and "Rudra- bhalla and other authors. There are two or three commentaries written on this book.

A third work NidanaEsthana (pathology) also stands in the name of Agnivesat

Dowson speaks of Agnivesa as a sage and son of Agni and an early writer on medicine. We learn that Bharadwaja and Agastya were his preceptors in archery (Dhanurvidya qgfqgi) and that Bharadwaja gave him the Agneyastra which Agnivesa gave to his pupil Diona. This Astra was called Brahmasirah.

Thus we find that Agnivesa was equally adept in the science of war as with that of medicine.

One Agnivesa, the son of Satyaka is mentioned in Majjham Nikaaya.to have taken part in the philosophical debate with Gautama Buddha.

There is no need to go into elaborate argument over the question of period in which he flourished. He was the pupil of Atreya and hence he

flourished during the period of Atreya i.e during the Satapatha (stupor) period. We may briefly enumerate the point that support our placing him in the Satapatha period, apart from the argument of his contemporaneity with Aterya.

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(1)          �He must have flourished before Pimm as we find refer�ences to Taxilla in P______ while Taxilla is ____________ by its absence in Agvicesa Samhita. No au'bor of the versatility of Agnivesa could afford to neglect mentioning Taxilla if it were a flourishing centre of medical learning in his time.

(2)          �In the Paanini Sutra, Jatkarna, Parasara and Agnivesa all names of physicians occur together and this indicates that Agnivesa lived before Panini's period. We know that Jataakarna aud Parisara were co- students of Agnivesa.

(3) Hemaadulaksana_______ quotes from S______ a last of Ayurveda authors. In it Agnivesa, Hirita, K-____pani and Jataak are mentioned We know all the�e were co-students.

(-0 In Satapatha Brlhmana we find the ___________. Here a descendant of Agnivesa is referred to.

 

To Bharadwaja we pay our homage as the first mortal who undertook the hardous taks of travelling to the abode of Indra and bringing to the mortal world the science of Ayurveda. We regard Atreya with reverence as the first systematic propounder of the science of healing Caraka is illustrations as the redator of the orighnal tantra of Agnivesa. But amidst these wc must not forget the one who gave the science it's permanent impress, by reducing It to the system from which it possess to have and when was heartily applauded as the best by his contemporary sages and scholars. For this Agvicesa, the most ______ pupil of Atreya who took down the truths of the _____ from the sacred lips of this master_______________, but it was Agnivesa who like Bhagiratha, brought the heavenly Ganges of the healing art with the reach of suffering mankind. He is the golden book between the preachings of Atreya, and the expositions of later medicines.

and the permanent fountain source of medical science from which all the later scholars have drawn nourishment and support.