Our search begins with the history of nature and period of sage Bhārdwāja. The prime source of all the knowledge rooting to the ancient times is the Veda. Ayurveda, also referred to as "Science of Life", is mentioned in the Vedas. Ayurveda is believed to be a branch of the Ṛgveda and the Atharvaveda. It is thus called an 'Upaveda' of the Atharvaveda by most and Ṛgveda by some. According to the Caraka Samhitā, Bhāradwāja is considered as the father of medicine of Ayurveda. He is believed to have brought the sun-fire to the earth which bestows health and happiness to man.
Birth & Existence of Bhārdwāja in other Scriptures
Bhāradwāja is a name held in great veneration in the Ṛgveda. He is the composer of the Bṛhat which is the best of the Sāma melodies. It is mentioned that while Vaśiśṭha composed the Rathantara melody, Bhāradwāja was the author of the Bṛhat. These two sages were the foundation of sacrifice. It is also said that Bhāradwāja was among the first to discover the way to appease Devas. The same hymn concludes indicating these sages having brought Gharma the heat, from sun.
Rāmāyana & Bhāgawata
Rāmāyana describes him to have a hermitage at Prayāg where he receives Rama and Sita and according to both the Harivanśa and the Bhāgawata, Bhāradwāja became the adopted son of Paurva, son of Bharata. In the story it is said that as the king was not satisfied with the qualities of the children his wife bore him, he was very much grieved and the Māruts commended to him this son of Bṛhaspati as most worthy of being adopted by him for a successor.
In the Mahābhārata, Bhāradwāja is said to be a sage settled near Haradwār on the banks of the Ganges. The story of his birth in this connection is worth narrating. According to the Viśṇu Purāṇa and the Mahābhārata, he is the son of Mamata by Bṛhaspati. When Ucathya's wife Mamata was bearing child, Brhaspati the husband's younger brother kidnapped and cohabited with Mamata. The fetus, who later was the great sage Dirghatamas objected to the uncle's attempt at further impregnation and kicked out the new fetus with his feet. In consequence, Bṛhaspati caused the original fetus Drghatamas to become blind. Though thrown out, Brhaspatis off-spring grew into the child that was Bhāradwāja. "Rear this child of double parentage" with these words Bṛhaspati offered the child to the mother. Thus the strange tale of his existence is available about Bhāradwāja.
Qualities of Bhārdwāja
Qualities ascribed to him can be denoted as below:
- Prometheus-like in stature and benevolence
- Teacher of the Devas
- Provider of fire from the sun
- Donor of healing wisdom from the king of the immortals
- Contributor of method of sacrifices showing pathway leading to heaven
- Prophet, sage and prince
- Contemporary of three generations of humanity, counselor and teacher
- One of the seven original sages that exist from the beginning of each cycle.
Descent of Vedas
Though the Vedas are an eternal source of knowledge, they are introduced at the beginning of each cycle of creation by the creator Brahmā and promulgated by his best creature for the guidance of the world. Thus Brahmā, according to the Mundakopaniṣad, narrates the descent of the Brahma-vidyā from Brahma to his eldest son Atharva who gave it to Angir and he to Satyavāha, a descendant of Bhāradwāja. Hence it can be concluded that Vedas have been passed down to the world from Bhāradwāja's generations.
Succession of Ayurveda
The following table gives the manner of descent of Ayurveda and the succession of teachers and disciples according to each one. These three important treatises predominantly represents branch of medicine. It is believed that the Atreya school was primary one for medicine, the Śuśruta school for Surgery and the Kaśyapa school for Pediatrics and obstetrics.
|Version in Śuśruta Samhitā||Dhanvantari or Divodasa||Śuśruta, Aupadhenva, Vaitraṇa, Aurabhra, Paushalavata, Karavirya, Gopurarakśita, Bhoja and others|
|Version in Kaśyapa Samhitā||Kaśyapa, Vaśiśṭha, Ātri and Bhṛigu||Their sons and Disciples|
|Version in Caraka Samhitā||Bhārdwāja or Atreya Punarvasu||Agniveṣa, Bhela, Jātukarṇa, Parāśara, Hārita, Kśurāpaṇi and others|
Atharvaveda is both religious and secular in its range of subjects and scope of practice. Not only was it sung and represented at the performance of yagnas, but were also performed at the ceremonies to promote happiness and health among the people. Mantras from Atharvaveda were chanted during the coronation of kings.
The Atharvaveda is also known as the Brahmaveda owing to the fact that Brahma vidyā applies to Atharvaveda. At the time of the sacrifice:
- The Rgveda is represented and sung by the Hota
- The Yajurveda by the Adhvaryu
- The Samaveda by the Udgata
- The Atharvaveda by Brahmā
On that account, one can conclude that Atharvaveda is accorded the utmost importance among all the Vedas. The Gopatha Brāhmana says that while all the three Vedas together form one wing of the sacrifice; Atharvaveda forms the another wing.
Proponents of Atharvaveda were looked up as the leaders of the society and originators of the great science and arts that Atharvaveda contained. Sage Bhārdwāja occurs in the Atharvāngirasa lineage where his name and stature stand out conspicuously. According to the Caraka Samhitā, he brought the medical science from Indra and became the first teacher of Ayurveda on earth. Just as the Agni, Vāyu and Surya are the recipients of the Ṛk, Yaju and Sāman respectively, similarly Atharva is the recipient of the Atharaveda. Bhāradwāja, belonging to this lineage, is accorded the greatest place of importance due to its important branches of medicine and archery.
Evolution of Samhitās
With regards to the evidence from the three foremost Samhitās of Ayurveda about its origin and earthly descent, there is a unanimity upto a certain extent with the reference to its celestial devolution. Dakśa Prajāpati, the progenitor, first obtained the science of life in its entirety as promoted by Brahmā. Dakśa Prajāpati passed on this science to Aświns from whom lord Indra learnt it. A congress of Ṛṣis appealed to Indra to impart the science of medicine to prevent the sufferings of mankind. The first person to have acquired this science from Indra, according to the Caraka Samhitā, was Bhārdwāja.
The prime object of the science of life is to lengthen the span of earthly existence and Bhārdwāja, the first mortal apprehender of this science, is credited to have achieved the whole of this science. Thence he acquired a life endowed with happiness and longevity; because he is known to have lived through three lives i.e., three generations of contemporary humanity. This is the version of Caraka Samhitā regarding the inception of Ayurveda on earth. But according to the Śuśruta and Kaṣyapa Samhitās, which are contemporaneous with Caraka Samhitā and Agniveṣa-tantra, the original teachers of the science of medicine are namely Dhanvantari and Kaṣyapa.
Disagreements Regarding Connection Between Origin of Ayurveda and Bhārdwāja
According to Rasāyaṇa Vidyā
It is necessary to refer to another part of the Caraka Samhitā where the descent of different branch of Ayurveda, particularly of Rasāyaṇa, is given. In the section on Rasāyaṇa, the following narrative occurs. Sage Bhṛgu, Angira and other sages approached Indra desiring to find a remedy for the birth defects and received it. There is no mention of Bhāradwāja in this context; but the name of Atri is among the galaxy of sages.
According to Cakrapāṇi
The learned commentator Cakrapāṇi denotes that above mentioned incident occurs on a later occasion when science of healing was deserted for some time and these sages approached Indra for instructions. This explanation sounds quite plausible considering the fact that no two conflicting versions could have been compiled in the same text by its compilers and subsequent redactors. The latter reference is evidently limited only to the science of Rasāyaṇa.
According to Śuśruta Samhitā
In reference to the other two Samhitās, we shall first examine the Śuśruta Samhitā. There is no mention of Bhāradwāja having received the science from Indra or having imparted it to Dhanvantari, the king of Kāsi Dhanvantari claims to have received it from Indra directly, as per the table above.
According to Taittiriya Brāhmana and the Mahābhārata
Contradictory to what we see in the 'Śuśruta Samhitā, we find from the Taittiriya Brāhmana and the Mahābhārata that Bhāradwāja was the priest of three generations of the Kings of Kāsi i.e. Dhanvantari, Sudasa and Pratardāna. He is thus said to have lived through three lives. Divodasa must have owed his knowledge to his preceptor and priest Bhāradwāja. Harivansa describes Bhāradwāja as the teacher of the medical science to Dhanvantari. Evidently, as Divodasa was regarded as the earthly incarnation of God Dhanvantari, he claims to have received the science directly from Indra. This explains the absence of Bhārdwāj in Śuśruta samhitā. This tendency is evident in other treatises too.
As per Bhavamiśra
Bhavamiśra, has three differing versions on the story of Ayurveda. Evidently he then pacifies by stating the actual versions then current in books and among other scholars. His three versions are as below:
- He firstly narrates the story as denoted by Vāgbhatta wherein Ātreya, as the leader of a group of sages, receives the instructions from Indra.
- In the second version, he depicts Ātreya to be approaching Indra, out of compassion for suffering humanity. Having learnt the science from Indra, Atreya writes a treatise on Ayurveda and instructs his disciples Agnivesa, Bhela and others in it.
- According to the third story, once many sages met together on the slopes of the Himalayas. Bhāradwāja was the first to arrive. Then all the sages that congregated, unanimously chose and besought Bhāradwāja to bring down the Ayurveda from Indra. He did so and the other sages studied the treatise written by him and acquired long life and health.
The third version is more in accordance with the one given in the Caraka Samhitā except for the fact that Bhāradwāja offers himself voluntarily to be their deputy before Indra in the latter work. Other sages learnt the science from him is common in both the versions. His teachings were imparted systematically lading out the foundations of logical concepts of Sāmānya, Viśeśa and Samavāya, from which the theory of drug and action has evolved leading to the general principles of the science of medicine.
Few Other Accounts
- In the Kaśyapa Samhitā, Kaśyapa is the recipient of the Science from Indra.
- Harita Samhitā claims Harita to be a disciple of Atreya along with Agniveśa, Bhela and others.
- Vāgbhatta, who refers from all the Samhitās, mentions that Punarvasu Ātreya approached Indra. Ātreya lends it to other sages among whom Bhārdwāja is also the one. He is not indebted to Bhāradwāja for his acquisition of the science.
- Such other conflicting narratives that have made some scholars believe Atreya to be identical with Bhāradwāja. But Cakrapāni still emphasizes on them being different individuals and furthermore Bhāradwāja being the teacher of Ātreya.
- Bhāradwāj taught the basic knowledge for learning the science of medicine to the other sages. It is therefore natural to surmise that Bhāradwāja should have been famous as a teacher of logic.
- Udyota-karta, the author of Nyāyavarttikā, referred to Bhāradwāja as the author of Nyāya.
From the foregoing it must be evident that despite the conflicting narratives, Ayurveda owes it's inception to Bhāradwāja. The strongest point in favor of such a view is his line of descent from Atharva and Angiras, the receivers and seers of the Atharvaveda and Ayurveda as a part of the Atharvaveda accords leadership in the science to Bhāradwāja, sage of the Atharvavedic line of descent.
The Various Bhāradwājas
The first and the foremost famous vedic poet of that period was Bhāradwāja Vajineya. He was a contemporary of Divodasa, Prastoka, Abhyāvartin, Cayamana and Daśaratha. His sons were Garga and Payu. Rama and Sita are believed to have stayed in his hermitage on his way back from Lanka. He was the Purohita of Divodasa. He was one of the Rsis of the Vedic age, who prohibited the slaughter of cows in sacrifices simply out of gratitude to the bovine race which showers on mankind kindness in the form of milk. Bhāradwāja loved the cows so very deeply that he did not hesitate to identify them with Indra, his deity. Gau means cow. Gau is primarily light or knowledge and the Veda which is the embodiment of it Bhāradwāja was a great Gausevaka which means not just the promoter of the well being of the cow, but a seeker of light and knowledge. He identified knowledge with Indra and hence he received the Ayurveda from Indra.
Bhārdwāja, Father of Droṇa
During the time of Mahābhārata, Bhāradwāja was the father of Droṇa, the famous teacher of the pandavās and Kauravās in archery.
Bhārdwāja in Caraka Samhitā
There are various persons in Caraka Samhitā with the name Bhārdwāja.
- According to Caraka samhitā, there was one Bhārdwāja who was the first propagator of the Science of Life on earth and the great seer that was among the sages who brought solar fire and that approached Indra for the Ayurveda, as the messenger of the sages.
- In the Caraka Samhitā, we have another Bhāradwāja, known as the Kumaraśira who takes part in the learned discussion with Atreya. The context in which the names of these two persons appear leaves no doubt regarding their different identity from the great Bhāradwāja.
- There are three places in the Caraka Samhitā where the Bhāradwāja with the title of Kumarasira is mentioned. This is perhaps a nick-name bestowed on that particular Bhāradwāja for his theory that in the course of the development of the fetus the head is the first part to manifest itself. It is also likely that he had a head bigger in size than is usual and resembling the head in an infant, in whom the head is very large in proportion to the rest of the body, hence known as Kumarasira, one having a boy's head. But we know for certain that he propounded the theory of the emergence of the head first in the fetus before other parts and his theory might have earned him the lasting epithet of Kumaraśira.
- Bhardwaja participates in the discussion on the actions of Vāta and again in the significant discussion on the number of tastes. He propounds 'that tastes are only five in number & hearing this statement, Bhāradwāja, the Kumaraśira said, ' It is even as your honor has said; such are the characteristics of Vāta. It is by the repeated use of such like qualities, such like substances and actions of such like potencies that Vāta becomes shoots up. The increasing factors of the body-elements is the repeated use of homologous things. Thus Bharadwaja Kumarasira was quite distinct from the originator of the Medical Science on earth and described in the beginning of the Caraka Samhitā.
- Another person by the name of Bhāradwāja, who was a great scholar, who took part in the learned discussions of the sages and propounded the theory of Nature or the innate quality of things as the cause of man as well as of his diseases. To this the sage Bhāradwāja said,
No For the doer always precedes the deed. Nor have we any valid knowledge of action that has not been performed, whereof it may be said that an individual is the result. Nature alone is the cause, of both man and his disease just as roughness, fluidity, mobility and heat are respectively the nature of earth, water, air and fire.
Bhārdwāja in Śarira-sthāna
- In the latter part of Śarira-sthāna, a Bhāradwāja asks the teacher Atreya a number of questions. This Bhāradwāja seems to be merely a student who goes on asking questions, and evidently a different person from the learned Bhāradwāja who had authoritative views of his own. How is the embryo integrated? Why does the embryo emerge in the shape of man?
Bhārdwāja in Kashyapa Samhitā
In the Kashyapa Samhitā, there is a reference to a Kṛśṇa Bhāradwāja who may be a son of Bhāradwāja. There are four kinds of diseases as per Kṛśṇa Aitreya:
- Those born of Vāta
- Those born of Pitta
- Those born of Kapha
Works of Bhārdwāja
There are a few works in the name of Bhāradwāja.
- Bhavaprakaśa ascribes to Bhāradwāja a regular treatise on medicine from which the other sages studied and learnt the qualities and actions of substances.
- There is a book entitled 'Bhāradwājiyam' meaning the book on the system of Bhāradwāja.
- 'Bhesaja-kalpa' is another book ascribed to him dealing with the pharmaceutics and treatment of fevers. A commentary of this work is also available.
There are a few recipes too bearing Bhāradwāja's name, being perhaps propounded by him. They are
- Bṛhat Phalaghitā
Due to the above mentioned theories and the variety of evidence review available, it can be concluded that Bhāradwāja was a great sage and father of medicine. Very few people bearing this name have played an inevitable part in the history of the cultural evolution of the Indo-aryan people. By bringing the Medical Science to Earth, Bhāradwāja is from all accounts the originator of Science of Medicine and of life, known as Ayurveda. No account of the evolution of Medicine in India can ignore his contribution to the inscribed chronicles of racial history. Only after he passed on this science It is only after a full cognizance of his greatness and significance that we can pass on to consider the lives and achievements of other teachers and propagators of medicine, in the land of the Aryans.
- Ṛgveda (X. 181)
- It is among whom Bhāradwāja is one.
- Griffiths translation of Rigveda
- Manvantar Cakrapani, the commentator is of the view that he is only a descendant of the original sage of that name.
- This upaniṣad belongs to Atharvaveda.
- Yagnas were considered to be the nucleus of the Vedic worshipping rituals.
- A person narrating Atharvaveda represents the creator.
- He is also called as the Lord of immortals.
- It means Purohita.
- Dhanvantari is believed to be the original God of medicine.
- Bhavamiśra belonged to the sixteenth century.
- Śarira-sthāna Chapter III
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India