CARAKA : The Master of Rejuvenation Therapy

Posted on January 31, 2013 · Posted in From the Horse's Mouth

Caraka, one of the greatest exponents of Ayurveda, was a master physician who made profound contribution towards India’s cultural inheritance.

Caraka is one of India’s immortals in the galaxy of the grammarian Panini and medieval poet Kalidasa. Caraka believed that medical knowledge always existed in folklore, local health traditions, verbal testimony and several other sources. It was their periodic systemisation which led towards progress. Caraka compiled and disseminatded all these knowledge to write the classic Caraka Samhita, the first Ayurvedic treatise. However, he was not a passive borrower of ideas. Whatever was borrowed, underwent a transformation in an intellectual fermenter and what emerged was a classic. Thus what Caraka wrote continues to be of immense interest to a wide and varied scholars. His constituency include students and teachers of Ayurveda, practising physicians, pharmacologists, philosophers, historian of science and even patent lawyers. A wide variety of intellectual scholars have read and discussed the treatise of Caraka across the world. Caraka Samhita has been translated into Tibetan and later into Arabic under the Caliphate. A Caraka club was conceived by an Irishman, gestated by a Puritan, delivered by a Yankee and baptised by a Jew in New York in 1898. As late as 21st Century, learned treatises on Carak have appeared in several European languages and a digitised version in Japan.

Rejuvenation Therapy Image Credit Vigyan Prasar

As an expert physician who had observed human conduct, the ever-changing phases of life – the peaks and troughs of human psyche – exhilaration and depression, wholesome and unwholesome, happiness and sadness – impressed him deeply. His approach to medicals and spiritual happiness was not only humane and ethical but also lively and compassionate. The two chapters on rejuvenation (rasayana) and virility therapy (vajikarana) are original and distinguishing concepts in the medical sciences. Haritaki (curcumin), amalaki (Indian gooseberry) and brahmi (bacopa) dominated the herbal preparations expounded by Caraka to lead a life of good health for hundred years.

Virility therapy (vajikarana) was designed to raise and sustain the potency and sexual prowess of a man to the level of a horse. Caraka recommended the use of aphrodisiacs to all men who sought offspring and sexual pleasure. A large number of formulations were recommended, which included brahmi (bacopa) to enhance mental prowess vital for sex.

Caraka’s description of rejuvenant and virile therapies also tells a story of sensuality and zest for life in India since ancient time.

The accomplishment of Caraka vastly contributed towards the high respect accorded to physicians in the society. The rules of professional behavior laid down by Caraka are worthy of emulation by all conscientious medical practioners of any place or time. Following is a quote of part of sermon which Carak instructs a physician to preach to his pupils at a solemn religious ceremony to be performed on the completion of their education :

“If you want success in your practice, wealth and fame, and heaven after your death, you must pray every day on rising and going to bed for the welfare of all beings…., and you must strive with all your soul for the health of the sick. You must not betray your patients, even at the cost of your own life… You must be pleasant of speech… and thoughtful, always striving to improve your knowledge.

“When you go to the home of a patient you should direct your words, mind, intellect and senses nowhere but to your patient and his treatment… Nothing that happens in the house of the sick man must be told outside, nor must the patient’s condition be told to anyone who might do harm by that knowledge to the patient or to another.”

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 Dr.Hemant SinghDr Hemant Singh was superannuated as Deputy Director of the Central Drug Research Institute   (CDRI), Lucknow. His main original work in the CDRI was the evaluation of memory enhancing effects of selected plants of Ayurveda, which led to the development of Memo Plus Gold. In the following series of articles, Dr Singh will tell anecdotal and factual events related to his research.

Natural memory enhancer