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Dṛḍhabala 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 Dṛḍhabala[edit]

The seventeen chapters and the sections on pharmaceutics and success in treatment in the treatise composed by Agniveśa and revised by Caraka have not been found. These were completed by Dṛḍhabala. The redactor enlarges what is concise and abbreviates what is very prolix and in this manner brings an ancient work up-to date. Hence this treatise replete with truth and wisdom and which has been redacted by an extremely enlightened scholar Caraka, is now available only in three quarters of the original extent. Accordingly, in order to make the treatise complete, Dṛḍhabala restored the lost portion by penancing and worshipping God Śiva, 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[edit]

There is enough data on Dṛḍhabala but there is a confusion regarding his native place. His native is denoted to be Pancanāda but it is an ancient practice of calling any sacred place where five streams conjoin by the name of Pancanāda. In India, any confluence of streams is considered to be a sacred place of pilgrimage and as a consequence there are several such places which go by the name of Pancanāda.

According to Hoernle, one such place seems to have existed in Kashmir near the confluence of the rivers Jhelum[1] 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, this place was referred by Pandit Jayalalji Vaidya of Kashmir in the reign of King Avantivarman.

Pancanādapura, 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:

  1. The Trigama
  2. The Vitasta[2]
  3. The Sindhu[3]
  4. The Kśirabhavāni
  5. The Ancara

There is also a reference to the Kashmirian Pancanāda in Raajatarangini.[4] He invited the womb-brother of Kankaṇavarśa 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. On one occasion, he was obstructed in the Pancanāda 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 Pancanāda which probably was the home of Dṛḍhabala. This theory is supported by the fact that the early commentators named Cakrapinidatta and Vijayarakshta often referred to the Kashmirian recession[5] when commenting on passages of the earlier portion of the treatise. The probability is that in all these cases, the reference is to Dṛḍhabala's redaction of the Caraka Samhita's concluding portion of the treatise.

According to the rule, Dṛḍhabala 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 Dṛḍhabala had in Caraka's redaction of Agnivesa's original text. The references are clear indications of Kashmir being Dṛḍhabala's home. The Punjab[6] is often erroneously taken to be Pancanāda, but this according to Hoernle is untenable on Dṛḍhabala's authority, as he clearly indicates a town and not a country as his home.

Benares is also sometimes identified with Pancanāda. Gangādhara in his commentary on Caraka says that Dṛḍhabala lived in Kaśi. Pancanādapura Tirtha is often applied to this city, it being the sacred place of pilgrimage where five rivers the Kirana, the Dhutapāpa, 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 Dṛḍhabala 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 might be due to superficial similarity of sounds and the natural inability of some western scholars to distinguish the essential difference. Thus the theory of Kashmirian Pancanāda being the home of Dṛḍhabala is fairly well established.

Period of Dṛḍhabala[edit]

Dṛḍhabala gave the historical data of his lineage and residence, but regarding the period in which he flourished, he leaves no remark in his works. 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 Samhitā and Vāgbhatta's Astāngahṛdaya and Astāngasangraha, we find that Vāgbhatta is indebted to the Caraka Samhitā to an appreciable degree while Dṛḍhabala has not taken any reference from Vāgbhatta. Vāgbhatta had summarized important portions of both Caraka and Śuśruta and the descriptions of Pandu and Udara and other chapters have been largely drawn from Caraka and Śuśruta. In other chapters, the prose portion of Caraka redacted by Dṛḍhabala is versified ad verbatim. These facts delineate that Dṛḍhabala existed before Vāgbhatta. Although the whole commentary on Caraka by Jejjata is not available, some of the available portions definitely relate to Dṛḍhabala's redaction. Jejjata was a pupil and hence a contemporary of Vāgbhatta. This also establishes that Dṛḍhabala was anterior to Vāgbhatta.

Although very little data is available regarding Dṛḍhabala's period we are on surer ground regarding Vāgbhatta's period. It-sing, a Chinese traveler, visited India between 675 and 685 A. D. and in his memoirs, we find references to Vāgbhatta. This places Vāgbhatta somewhere before 7th century and this is supported by the fact that Madhava, the author of Madhavandana quotes Vāgbhatta.

Madhavandana was translated into Arabic by the orders of Haroun-al- Raschid in the 8th century.[7] Hence if we put the period of the composition of Madhavandana in the 7th century, Vāgbhatta's period recedes by about a century i.e to the 6th century. We find quotations from Vāgbhatta in the Kandarpika a chapter of Varahamihira who lived in the 5th century and so Vāgbhatta should be placed before this period.

Another medical author Bhattāra Haricandra was a contemporary of Vāgbhatta. As Bhattāra Haricandra lived during the reign of king Sahaśānka,[8] Vāgbhatta cannot be later than the 4th century. The negative evidence of any reference to Dṛḍhabala or his work in Navanitaka which was composed in the first part of the 4th century, provides the upper limit to Dṛḍhabala's period and hence we can put Dṛḍhabala fairly somewhere between the end of the 3rd century and beginning of the 4th century.

Confusion Regarding Redactions[edit]

Now the question is regarding what part Dṛḍhabala 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 Kalpasthāna, 12 chapters of Siddhisthāna and 17 Chapters of Cikitsāsthāna of the Agniveśa-tantra were not available at Dṛḍhabala'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 Agniveśa and revised by Caraka have not been found. These chapters have been reconstructed by Dṛḍhabala, thus faithfully bringing it to completion.

As there are 30 chapters in Cikitsāsthāna, it would be interesting to find out which are the 17 chapters that were missing and then reconstructed by Dṛḍhabala. There are two orders of the Chapters of Cikitsāsthāna 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 the order sequence given to the Nidāna sthāna. Similarly, the last five chapters are same in both the traditional orders.

Vijayarakśita, the commentator on Madhava-nidāna quotes verses Nos 26, 27, 28 in the name of Dṛḍhabala and hence they are definitely of Dṛḍhabala'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 Dṛḍhabala as they are cited by later medical authors to be penned by Dṛḍhabala.

Aruṇadatta, the commentator on Astāngahṛdaya, quotes Dṛḍhabala ascribing the 15th chapter[9] to Dṛḍhabala. The other four viz, 16th, 17th, 22nd and 23rd of the A order[10] are quoted by the commentator Vijayaraksita and have been ascribed to Dṛḍhabala.

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 Dṛḍhabala 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 Nirantarapādavyākhyā. 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.

Contribution of Dṛḍhabala in Caraka Samhitā[edit]

Apart from the Kalpasthānas, Siddhisthānas and the 17 chapters of Cikitsāsthāna which are from the pen of Dṛḍhabala, it is very difficult to say whether Dṛḍhabala touched upon any other portion of the Caraka Samhitā. It is a subject for present research scholars. It is possible to distinguish and differentiate the styles of Agniveśa, Caraka and Dṛḍhabala.

In addition to this, the new concepts including medical as well as general topics might have gradually crept in. If it could be differentiated, it would be an eminent knowledge on the development and history of medical science and its concept. It also can give a detailed information about the interpolations, additions and redactions, which can be marked out and assigned to different persons or periods. Some scholars are of the opinion that even small surgical references given in various chapters in Caraka Samhitā were taken by Dṛḍhabala. This debate on minute scrutiny will not hold good as the detailed descriptions of surgical operations are confined to the chapters which were restored and redacted by Dṛḍhabala.

In some chapters, we find that there are some verses which though running concurrently with the subject of the chapter are not quite in tune with the matter taken as a whole, e. g. description of children and patients in Sutra XI[11] and some verses in Vimāna III,[12] with the exception of the first instance, the matter contained in these verses is not found in the summary. Even the re-capitulatory verses given at the end of the chapters do not match with them. Hence one can safely conclude of them being from Dṛḍhabala or even later interpolations though nothing conclusive can be said about it. It is very difficult to mark out such verses, for we do not get any clue from the index of chapters.

Although the numbers and headings of the chapters have been given, there is no mention of the number of verses in each chapter. The absence of this enumeration of verses in each chapter might encourage interpolators to introduce their own verses and pass them on as the original ones. This subject is a matter for deep and interesting research for future scholars.


It seems the order was preserved upto Cakrapāṇi'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 Dṛḍhabala. Caraka must have redacted all the 30 chapters of Cikitsāsthāna and the last 17 chapters must have been lost and thus Dṛḍhabala must have supplied the redaction.


  1. It is also called as Vilasta.
  2. It is presently called as the Jhelum.
  3. It is presently called as the Indus.
  4. Raajatarangini 4th canto 246-250 .
  5. It is called as Kashmira Pnatha.
  6. The splitting of word Punjab literally means Panca Ap or land of five waters.
  7. It denotes the period from 750-850 A. D .
  8. He lived in 375-413 A D.
  9. It refers to 19th chapter of B order.
  10. It means 20, 21, 24, 25th of the B order.
  11. It refers to sutra number 56, 63
  12. It refers to sutras number 40-44, 46-48
  • The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India