Bhattara Haricandra was a versatile genius who was famous in the literary as well as the medical world. He was a famous litterateur is proved by a reference to him in the beginning of Harsa-Carita by the great poet Bana.
The charming diction and style and the beauty of assonance of Bhattara Haricandra gives him a sovereign place among writers of prose. Another tribute to his literary genius is paid by Vakpati in his Prakitra work called Gaudavaha. He takes delight in reading Bhasa, Agnimitra, Kuntideva and Kalidasa, and also in diction and style of Subandhu and Haricandra. Unfortunately there are limited works of his available now. He was equally adept in the prosaic medical compositions.
Commentary by Bhattara Haricandra
His is the oldest commentary on Caraka Samhita named Caraka-nyāsa. This statement is supported by the fact that he is quoted by all other known commentators of the Caraka Samhita. But mere antiquity is not the only merit of his commentary, it is considered to be the best by many authorities like Indu. Tisat and Maheswara. It is almost impossible to expound the doctrine of Caraka without consulting the commentary of Haricandra. Bhattara Haricandra, who was the court-physician in the unrivaled splendor of the king Sahasanka, has composed this excellent commentary on the treatise of Caraka.
Period Of Origin
He is the contemporary of king Sahasanka whose date has been fairly well established as 375-413 A. D. The king Sahasanka is very often identified with Vikrama or Candragupta II. But the identification is not justified. The traditional hero of Āryavarta, Vikrama, was a predecessor of Sahasanka. There is no mention of Bhattara among the Nine Gems of the court of Vikrama. 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 A D. i.e. after Vikrama is 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 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 we get only 1, 2, 3 and 5 chapters of Sutrasthāna. A manuscript copy of this commentary is lying in the Madras Government library.
- He is also referred as Maheswara.
- It refers to the Quotation given above.
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India