Ayurveda, originated in the Indian Peninsula thousands of years ago, is regarded as the oldest health care system in the world. Since it gives advices on the wholesome and unwholesome medicaments along with their properties and pharmacological actions, this science is called as Ayurveda. (pp.234, Sharma PV, editor. Carakasamhita, 1st ed. Delhi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; 1983.) This system has been using around 2000 sources of drug from herbs, minerals and animal products, either as a single drug or in compound form, as medicine for the management of various ailments, since the last five thousand years. A sound understanding of the taxonomy, morphology and pharmacological action of the drug materials was considered essential for becoming a good Ayurvedic practitioner. (pp.11, Sharma PV, editor. Carakasamhita, 1st ed. Delhi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; 1983.)
The Caraka-Samhita, the Susruta-Samhita and the Astangasamgraha/ Astangahrdaya, which are collectively referred as the Greater-Troika of Ayurvedic literature, are the oldest and authentic text books of Ayurveda.
Around 636 sources of drug have been mentioned in Caraka-Samhita, 573 in Susruta-Samhita and 902 in Astangahrdaya Since, this text books deal with all the eight branches of Ayurveda, a detailed account of the sources of drug is not available in them. Later the experts composed exclusive glossaries called Nighantus, for illustrating the sources of medicinal substances. Around 373 sources have been described in Dhanvantari-nighantu 1126 in Rajanighantu, 426 in Bhavaprakasa Nighantu, 494 in Madanapalanighantu and 424 in Kaiyyadevanighantu, Other than the Nighantus, the commentators of the text books of Ayurveda tried give elaborations on the sources of drug. This displays the comprehensive and thorough erudition about the sources of drug substances, acquired by the ancient clinical practitioners of Ayurveda.
It is my great pleasure to write the foreword to the book "Cakrapanidatta's comments on Drugs" authored by Dr. Manoj Sankaranarayana. In this work, the author has meticulously compiled illustrations on 724 drugs, based primarily on the commentaries of Cakrapanidatta. Cakrapanidatta was an 11th century Bengali Ayurvedic scholar who authored illustrious commentaries on Caraka Samhita, and Susruta-Samhita; Ayarvedadfpika tika and Bhanumati tika respectively. Moreover Cakrapanidatta seems to be an expert in the field of pharmacology, especially in the medicinal plants, which is evident from his work Dravyagunasamgraha.
Dr. Sankaranarayana made available the accounts of other commentators of Carakasamhita as well; Sivadasasena, Gangadhara Roy and Yogendranath Sen. Relevant references from the commentaries of Dalhana on Susruta-Samhita Hemadri, Arunadatta and Paramesvara on Astangahrdaya; Indu on Astangahrdaya and Astangasamgraha ; and Niscalakara on Cakradatta were also included in this book. At some places the author has noted the views of contemporary experts like P.V. Sharma and Thakur Balvant Singh. Thus the author assiduously collected 2464 references making the present work a comprehensive one. The description in this work is immensely helpful in the identification of the sources of the drug mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic literature. Moreover, the readings of the commentators, that compiled by the author help in identifying the habitat, varieties, the geographical distribution, synonyms, popular vernacular nomenclature, etc.
All these features make this a unique piece of vade mecum. And I am sure that this manual will be preferred by the students and faculty of Ayurveda as well as research scholars of medicinal plants and botanists to keep on their desk for a quick, authentic and reliable reference.
Dr. Sankaranarayana is a young author teeming with energy and fresh ideas and I have known him for more than a decade now. I am impressed with Dr. Sankaranarayana by his academic brilliance and his dedication to the field of Ayurveda. I congratulate the young author for the present work and my sincere and heartfelt wishes for the success of the book "Cakrapanidatta's comments on Drugs". I wish best wishes for Dr. Manoj Sankaranarayana for achieving great heights.
About the Author :
An alumnus (graduation and post graduation) of Government Ayurveda College, Trivandrum, Kerala, started his Ayurveda learning under his maternal grandfather Late Vaidya vachaspathi. Vaikom.P. Mahadeva Iyer.
He underwent clinical and academic training in the classical Ayurveda under the guidance of Padmasri.Dr.K.Rajagopalan; Padmabhusan.K.Raghavan Thirumoolpad; Dr.C.D.Sahadevan and Dr. Ramankutty Varrier.
He learned the nuances of vibrant Keralan Ayurveda under the tutelage of Shri.Arumanoor Parameshwaran.
Member of Vienna University based Classical Ayurveda Text Study Group CATS, authored one of the most authentic texts on Roga vijfiana and Vikrtivijfiana and shares the authorship of Keraliya cikitsa paddhati, comprehensive study on Special Ayurveda treatment procedures of Kerala based on Dharakalpa with Dr.PavanaJayaram.
His guru Dr.G.Jan Meulenbeld is his inspiration in the field of textual research. The Sanskrit commentarial tradition of Ayurveda and Keralan Ayurveda works are his area of special interest.