Bhattara Haricandra was a versatile genius who made a name in the literary as well as the medical world. That he was a famous literateur 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 give him a sovereign place among writers of prose�.
Another tribute to his literary genius is paid by Vakpati in his Prakitra work called Gaudavaha.
�Who takes delight in reading Bhasa, Agnimitra, Kuntideva and Kalidasa, as also in diction and style of Subandhu and Haric�andra �
Unfortunately the literary world has become the poorer by the non-availability of his works in this sphere. He was equally adept in the so called prosaic medical compositions. His is the oldest commentary on Caraka Samhita named Caraka-nyasa. 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 an authority like Indu. Tisat and Maheswara.
�The ignorant one who attempts to expound the doctrine of Caraka without consulting the commentary of Haricandra verily attempts to drink up the whole ocean
�As there exist the commentaries of Haricandra and the learned Jejjata, it is sheer presumptuousness for anyone else to attempt to comment on the texts of Ayurveda.��
�Bhattara Haricandra of effulgent character like the moon, that adorned the office of the court-physician in unrivalled splendour of the king Sahasanka has composed this excellent commentary on the treatise of Caraka.� (Maheswara)
The verse just quoted throws an interesting light on the period of Bhattara Haricandra. 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 Aryavarta, 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. That 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. That he flourished before the time of Vagbhata is amply proved by the fact that Tisata, the son of Vagbhata quotes Bhattara Haricandra (Quotation given above) Candrata wrote a commentary after seeing Jejjatas commentary.
Now Candrata was the grandson of Vagbhata and son of Tisata. Jejjata was the pupil of Vagbhata and naturally his contem�porary. We find that Jejjata has quoted Bhattara Haricandra.
�This chapter written by the great preceptor is well expoun�ded by Bhattara Haricandra.� This can lead to but one conclusion that Bhattara Haricandra flourished before the time of Vagbhata. Besides this the commentary of Cakrapani corroborates our statement. Vagbhata follows the opinion of Haric�andra 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�scommentary Caraka-nyasa is only partially available i. e we get only l, 2, 3, and 5 chapters of Sutrasthana A manuscript copy of this commentary is lying in the Madras Government library.