Talk:Identity of Atreya with Punarvasu

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Identity of Atreya with Punarvasu

(1)          �The words Atreya and Punarvasu are used together in the Caraka Samhita.����

(2)          �'Atreya' and 'Punarvasu� words are used as synonyms at the end of the-chapters thus:��

In Caraka Samhita�

There occur also in the Astanga Sangraha of Vagbhata�


(3)          ��Punarvasu' is used as a substitute of Atreya at the beginning of a chapter�


Punarvasu is also mentioned as the preceptor of Agnivesa. Besides, even the epithet of bhagvaan is given to Punarvasu.


Kisna Atreya seems to be his most popular appellation. As we have seen, the Mahabharata refers to Kisna Atreya as the famous teacher of medicine. In the Caraka Samhita itself Atreya is often called Kisna Atreya.Also many of the tested recipes are named after him as commended of having been greatly favored by Krsna Atreya.


There can, thus, be no confusion as regards the identity of the person known as Atreya with Krsna Atreya in the Caraka Samhita. For in The chapter XI of Sutra sthana, we find the usual �worshipful Atreya� in the initial lines and at the end in the resume he is referred to as Kisna Atreya. Thus Bhagawan Atreya, Punarvasu, Atreya and Kisna Atreya are the names of one single individual sage who is the teacher of the science of medicine in the Caraka Samhita.

To leave no scope for doubt on this point the following will be useful.

Bhela, being a disciple of Atreya along with Agnivesa and others, refers to Atreya as Kisna Atreya in the Bhela Samhita.


There is a tantra or a treatise on Salakya or 'Surgery of the supra-clavicular parts of the body� ascribed to Kisna Atreya. On this ground some are led to believe that there existed two persons of this name.


Srikantha Datta in his commentary on Vrinda's Siddhayoga states:


Similarly, Sivadasa (Riqxra)in his commentary 'Tattva-Candrika' while describing Dasamulasatapalaghita quotes from Jwaradhikara of Cakradatta and cites the names of Gopura Raksita, Jatukarna, Caraka, Susruta and Kisna Atreya. But both the above authors Srikantha Datta and Sivadasa, have raised the question of two personalities, Kisna Atreya the surgeon and Atreya the physician, but, while commenting on the line............. they distinctly state ...........


The commentator Sivadasa holds the view that Kisna Atreya and Punarvasu are one.


Even if Kisna Atreya appears to have given instruction on surgical matters it does not follow that he could not have been identical with Atreya Punarvasu, the teacher in the Caraka Samhita. He must have been acquainted with the whole of the Science of Life in all its eightfold ramifications, though he confined himself to Kayacikitsa or medicine, in his exposition before Agnivesa and other disciples. There is thus nothing to contradict the conclusion that there existed but one teacher known variously as Punarvasu, Atreya and Krsna Atreya.


He was also known as Candrabhagi or Candra- bhagin. The 13th chapter of Sutra-sthana in Caraka refers to the teacher by this name. Punarvasu is mentioned as seated amidst the Sankhya philosophers whom Agnivesa approaches for instructions and in the resume at the end of the chapter, the teacher is referred to as Candrabhagi. The commentator Cakrapani contents himself by saying that Candrabhagi is Punarvasu.


We are left to conjecture the derivations of this name forhim. It may be, he is the son of Candrabhaga or a resident of the region named Candrabhaga. A tributary of the Indus was also known by that name Being resident on its banks, he might have been known as Candrabhaga. The sister compilation to that of Agnivesa (Caraka Samhita), namely the Bhela Samhita, supports this view that Atreya Punarvasu and Candrabhagi are one and the same person.

Thus we have the great sage Atreya, the teacher of medicine and preceptor to Agnivesa, Bhela and other disciples, bearing other names of Krsna Atreya, Punarvasu and Candrabhagi as all these names are applied to him in the Caraka Samhita as well as in the Bhela and Kasyapa Samhita and are supported by references to him. In other books like the Mahabharata in similar contexts.


The verse in the Bhela Samhita is very significant as it combines the names of Candrabhaga and Punarvasu while referring to the teacher of medicine.


�Nagnajit, the saintly king of Gandhara, giver of the path to gold, grasped the feet of Candrabhagi Punarvasu in obeisance and inquired.�

Thus the verse provides us with a confirmation of the iden�tity of Candrabhaga with Punarvasu and also offers a clue as to the period of his existence by mentioning the name of his disciple the king of Gandhara named Nagnajit.


In the Caraka Samhita there are mentioned as his contemp�oraries who participated in the discussions on various medical topics, the king of Kasi named Vaamaka and Nimi, the king of Videha. Thus this leads us to the question of the period of Atreya in the chronicles of ancient Indian history.