Drdhabala was the redactor of the Caraka Samhita. He, as he himself informs in a passage at the end of the last section of the treatise, was a native of Pancanadapura. His father was Kapilaba. Verses in the Samhita furnish historical data regarding his father's name, his residence and the supplemental redaction he did. He also explains the significance of the term redaction.
Significance of Drdhabala
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. These were completed by Drdhabala.
The redactor enlarges what is concise and abbreviates what is very prolix and in this manner brings an ancient work up-to date. Thus, this best of all treatises, which is replete with truth and wisdom and which has been redacted by the extremely enlightened scholar Caraka is now available only in three quarters of the original extent. Accordingly, in order to make the treatise complete, Drdhabala restored the lost portion, having propitiated God Siva, the Lord of creatures. He added seventeen chapters in the section on Therapeutics and two sections on Pharmaceutics and Success in Treatment in entirety, by culling his data from various treatises on the science. Thus, this treatise is competent enough in respect of diction and content. It has flawless thirty-six canons of exposition.
Perplexity for the Place of Origin
There is enough data on Drdhabala but there is a confusion regarding his native place. His native is denoted to be Pancanada but it is an ancient practice of calling any sacred place where five streams conjoin by the name of Pancanada. In India any confluence of streams is as a sacred place of pilgrimage and as a consequence we find several such places which go by the name of Pancanada.
According to Hoernle one such place seems to have existed in Kashmir near the confluence of the rivers Jhelum and Sindhu. This place Is now indicated by the modern village of Pantzinor or five channels, which lies close to the original site of that confluence. Before its change to the present site, in the latter half of the 9th century, in the reign of King Avantivarman, Pandit Jayalalji Vaidya of Kashmir says
Pancanadapura, now known as Panjnor is situated about 7 miles to the north of Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir is quite near to the confluence of the five streams, known as:
There is also a reference to the Kashmirian Pancanada in Raajatarangini. He invited the womb-brother of Kankanavarsa named Cankuna who was skilled in alchemy. Cankuna belonged to the Bhuhkhara country and was exalted by virtues. He, by his alchemy, brought much gold into the treasury and proved to be a benefactor of the king like the lotus-pool of the lotus. On one occasion, he was obstructed in the Pancanada by the confluence of rivers which was very difficult to cross. The king, whose army was held up on the bank, fell into anxiety for a while.
It is this Kashmirian Pancanada which probably was the home of Drdhabala. This theory is supported by the fact that the early commentators named Cakrapinidatta and Vijayarakshta often refer to the Kashmirian recession when commenting on passages of the earlier portion of the treatise. The probability is that in all these cases, the reference is to Drdhabala's redaction of the Caraka Samhita's concluding portion of the treatise.
According to the rule, Drdhabala is quoted by name as its author. It seems clear from their method of quotation that the medical writers of that period were fully aware of the exact share which Drdhabala had in Caraka's redaction of Agnivesa's original text. The references are clear indications of Kashmir being Drdbabala's home. The Punjab is often erroneously taken to be Pancanada, but this according to Hoernle is untenable on Drdhabala's own authority, as he clearly indicates a town and not a country as his home.
Benares is also sometimes identified with Pancanada. Gangadhara in his commentary on Caraka says that Drdhabala lived in Kasi. Pancanadapura Tirtha is often applied to this city, it being the sacred place of pilgrimage where five rivers the Kirana, the Dhutapaapa, the Saraswati, the Ganges and the Jumna meet. But as we have seen, the references to the Kashmirian recensions by earlier commentators reduce the claims of Benares as the home of Drdhabala to nullity.
We need not consider the claims of Pajoir or hill of five Pits an isolated ridge in the Yusufzai plains of Attock. The claim can be summarily dismissed as it is a mohammedan place of pilgrimage and it is even the result of a superficial similarity of sounds and the natural inability of some western scholars to distinguish the essential difference. Thus the theory of Kashmirian Pancanada being the home of Drdhabala is fairly well established.
Period of Drdhabala
We are thankful to Drdhabala for giving us the historical data of his lineage and residence, but regarding the period in which he flourished, he leaves no remark. In order to arrive at a definite conclusion regarding his period, we have to rely on external evidence, such as reference to him in works of the authors of known date and thus establish his priority to those.
In this way, on scrutinizing the text of the Carak Samhita and Vagbhata's Astangahrdaya and Astangasangraha, we find that Vagbhata is indebted to the Caraka Samhita to an appreciable degree while Drdhabala has not taken anything from Vagbhata. Vagbhata has summarized important portions of both Caraka and Susruta and the descriptions of Pandu and Udara and other chapters have been largely drawn from Caraka and Susruta. In other chapters, the prose portion of Caraka redacted by Drdhabala is versified ad verbatim. These facts delineate that Drdhabala existed before Vagbhata.
Although the whole commentary on Caraka by Jejjata is not available, some of the available portions definitely relate to Drdhabala's redaction. Jejjata was a pupil and hence a contemporary of Vagbhata. This establishes that Drdhabala was anterior to Vagbhata.
Although very little data is available regarding Drdhabala's period we are on surer ground regarding Vagbhata's period. It-sing, the Chinese traveler, visited India between 675 and 685 A. D. and in his memoirs, we find references to Vagbhata. This places Vagbbhata somewhere before 7th century and this is supported by the fact that Madhava, the author of Madhavandana quotes Vagbhata.
Madhavandana was translated into Arabic by the orders of Haroun-al- Raschid in the 8th century. Hence if we put the period of the composition of Madhavandana in the 7th century, Vagbhata's period recedes by about a century i.e to the 6th century. We find quotations from Vagbhata in the Kandarpika a chapter of Varahamihira who lived in the 5th century and so Vagbhata will have to be placed before this period.
Another medical author Bhattara Haricandra was a contemporary of Vagbhata. As Bhattara Haricandra lived during the reign of king Sahasanka, Vagbhata cannot be later than the 4th century. The negative evidence of any reference to Drdhabala or his work in Navanitaka which was composed in the first part of the 4th century, provides the upper limit to Drdhabala's period and hence we can put Drdbabala fairly somewhere between the end of the 3rd century and beginning of the 4th century.
Confusion Regarding Redactions
Now the question is regarding what part Drdhabala played in the redaction whether he redacted the whole work or only 41 chapters. We conclude from the texts that all the 12 chapters of Kalpasthana, 12 chapters of Siddhisthana and 17 Chapters of Cikitsa-sthana of the Agnivesa-tantra were not available at Drdhabala's time in the redacted form by Caraka. The seventeen chapters and the Sections on pharmaceutics and Success in Treatment in the treatise compiled by Agnivesa and revised by Caraka have not been found. These chapters have been reconstructed by Drdhbala, thus faithfully bringing it to completion.
As there are 30 chapters in Cikitsasthana, it would be interesting to find out which are the 17 chapters that were missing and then reconstructed by Drdhabala. There are two orders of the Chapters of Cikitsa-sthana available. A) One is the order which is given in this text. B) In the other order, chapters nos 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 are substituted by nos. 14, 19, 21, 24 and 25 respectively while the Chapters 9 to 30 are re-numbered as 14 to 39. In this the chapters 14, 19, 21, 24 and 25 being promoted.
The first 8 chapters preserve their order in both the traditional arrangements and hence their order or authorship is not under dispute or doubt. They also confirm to the order given in the Nidana sthana. Similarly, the last five chapters are same in both the traditional orders.
Vijayaraksita, the commentator on Madhava-nidana quotes verses Nos 26, 27, 28 in the name of Drdhabala and hence they are definitely of Drdhabala's authorship. So it is the intermediate chapters that require careful scrutiny and investigation. Out of these 17 chapters under investigation, we can definitely ascribe five chapters viz. 10th, 11th, 17th, 22nd and 23rd of the A order and 19th, 20th, 21st, 24th and 25th of the B order to Drdhabala as they are cited by later medical authors to be penned by Drdhabala.
Arunadatta, the commentator on Astangahrdaya, quotes Drdhabala ascribing the 15th chapter to Drdhabala. The other four viz, 16th, 17th, 22nd and 23rd of the A order are quoted by the commentator Vijayaraksita and have been ascribed to Drdhabala.
Now only 12 chapters are left who needs to be assigned to the author. Out of these 12, three chapters viz. 14th, 19th and 21st respectively of the A order are quoted in Navanitaka whose date has been established as being anterior in time to Drdhabala and hence these three can be ascribed to Caraka. The chapters 24th, 25th of the A order are ascribed to Caraka by the commentator Jejjata in his commentary Nirantarapadavyakhyaa.
The only plausible reason for making the above statements by the commentator seems to be to distinguishing factor amongst these chapters, marking them to be the redactions of the venerable Caraka.
So these five chapters belong to Caraka. A glance at the B order will show that Someone has taken out these five chapters scattered at random in the A order and has promoted them to the top of these 17 chapters in order to re-align them with the first 8 chapters, thus bringing together the work of Caraka in '13' consecutive chapters. This leaves us with bare 7 chapters of which the authorship is doubtful and which still remains as a subject of research.
It seems the order was preserved upto Cakrapani's time, and later on someone changed the order, probably to group together the 13 chapters redacted by Caraka and separate them from the 17 chapters redacted by Drdhabala. Caraka must have redacted all the 30 chapters of Cikitsa-sthana and the last 17 chapters must have been lost and thus Drdhabala must have supplied the redaction.
- It is also called as Vilasta.
- It is presently called as the Jhelum.
- It is presently called as the Indus.
- Raajatarangini 4th canto 246-250 .
- It is called as Kashmira Pnatha.
- The splitting of word Punjab literally means Panca Ap or land of five waters.
- It denotes the period from 750-850 A. D .
- He lived in 375-413 A D.
- It refers to 19th chapter of B order.
- It means 20, 21, 24, 25th of the B order.
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India