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Chapter 1. Fundamental principles of Longevity - Deerghanjiviteeya Adhyaya
The title of Charak Samhita’s very first chapter, Deerghanjiviteeya Adhyaya, literally means the chapter on longevity. This is symbolic, because it implies that Ayurveda is not merely the science of life, but also a science of longevity. This chapter deliberates on the purpose of long life and health as the means of achieving purushartha chatustaya, or the four primary instincts of human beings (virtue, wealth, gratification and emancipation) – by way of explaining some of the basic tenets of Ayurveda and defining the scope of Ayurveda. The chapter introduces fundamental principles of Ayurveda, including its definition, objective, concept of three sharira (bodily) doshas and their qualities, and two manasa (mental) dosha and their treatment. The samanya(similarity) and vishesha(dissimilarity) theory, pharmaco-therapeutic aspects, classification of drugs, list of herbs and other animal products useful in purification and pacification therapies are highlighted. Through these deliberations, this chapter essentially lays the foundation for building the body of knowledge on life sciences and healthcare that Charak Samhita is known for.
Chapter 2. Dehusked Seeds of Apamarga and other medicines - Apamarga Tanduliya Adhyaya
Apamarga tanduliya or the “dehusked seeds of Apamarga”, is the second chapter within Bheshaja (medicinal treatment) Chatushka (tetrad constituting four chapters) of Sutra Sthana. After reading this chapter, the student of Ayurveda would understand the practical application of bio-purificatory drugs and dietary preparations for purificatory measures suggested for the preservation of health and treatment of diseases.
Sutra Sthana Chapter 3. Aragvadha(purging cassia) and other medicines - Aragvadhiya Adhyaya
While the preceding chapter (Apamarga Tanduliya) dealt with internal application of therapies in the form of Panchakarma, yavagu etc, this chapter deals with the external application of medications. Skin diseases such as kushtha are systemic disorders and considered a maharoga (major disease). They require internal cleansing and detoxification treatments prior to external treatments – and hence, the sequence of the chapters. Without prior internal treatment, local treatments have limited efficacy.
Chapter 4. The Classification of Six Hundred Types of Evacuatives - Shadvirechanashatashritiya Adhyaya
The fourth chapter, titled Shadavirechana Shatashritiyam, provides comprehensive information about herbs and their classification by their specific activity and utility, medicinal preparations for evacuation (or evacuatives), and specific therapeutic regimen such as samshodhana (cleansing regimen) and samashamana (pacification regimen). Ayurveda emphasizes upon removing body impurities, like metabolic waste products, toxins, and undigested foods from various tissues and organs before treating any disease or applying measures for preservation, protection, and rejuvenation of health. There are six hundred preparations used for cleansing the body by vamana (therapeutic emesis) and virechana (therapeutic purgation), five hundred herbs, and (fifty) mahakashayas (classes with similar activity profile) of herbs used in their preparations. An Ayurvedic physician should have complete knowledge of special/selective actions of various preparations meant for removal of impurities from the body. The fifty mahakashayas comprise of ten herbs in each of five classes of drugs. It also includes six virechana ashraya (types of plant-based evacuatives), five kashaya yoni (original sources as per tastes), and five kashaya kalpana (forms of medicine preparations).
Chapter 5. The proper quantity of food and daily regimen for preserving health -Matrashiteeya Adhyaya
Swastha chatushka , the health tetrad, deals with the preservation of health and prevention of diseases. The first chapter of this tetrad, entitled Matrashiteeya Adhyaya, covers two topics viz. various aspects of the proper quantity and quality of diet and various daily regimens that should be followed by a person for healthy living. The tenets of personal hygiene, oral hygiene and hygiene of sense organs are described in this chapter. The routine procedures to preserve health like abhyanga (massage), nasya (nasal errhines), kavala (mouth wash), gandusha (gargling), karnapurana (applying oil in ears), anjana (collyrium) etc. are described in this chapter with their methods of administration and positive health benefits.
Chapter 6. Seasonal Regimen or Qualitative Dietetics - Tasyashiteeya Adhyaya
Chapter Six of the Sutra Sthana, titled Tasyashiteeya Adhyaya, describes the time of the year (in solistices, or kala, and seasons, or ritu and the specific regimen to be followed in these ritus. Seasonal changes influence changes in the dosha, physical strength, as well as our digestive power and this influences every living creature, not just human beings. This chapter continues the study of dietary regimen from the preceding chapters by adding the dimension of time and seasonal variations to it.
This chapter describes preventive measures for endogenous and exogenous diseases. Emphasis is given to natural urges aimed at cleansing body channels. The text also emphasizes upon following a proper dietary regimen and exercising per the individual’s unique body constitution. Means for maintaining psychological and social well-being for prevention of psycho-spiritual disorders are described in detail. The methods of prevention of diseases by improving strength, by knowing one’s own body constitution, maintaining psycho-spiritual balance and following an ideal dietary and lifestyle regimen suited to one’s unique constitution have been provided here.
Chapter 8.The Disciplinary Protocol for Sense and Motor Organs - Indriyopakramaniya Adhyaya
This chapter describes how humans perceive the world surroundings by means of five senses (Hear, see, smell, taste, and touch), how a system of five senses called Indriya Pancha-Panchaka works and communicates with mind to perceive the surroundings and how a person can maintain health by using his/her senses properly (and therefore leading a tempered, ethical life) or suffer from disease by not using their senses properly. It also explains the role of mind, intellect and soul in the entire process of perception. This chapter describes the qualities of the mind based on the predominance of the three fundamental qualities, the triguna (sattva, rajas and tamas), including the illusions created by the mind that makes a common observer perceive through his/her senses, say, multiple minds instead of one. It further describes the spiritual elements (Adhyatma dravya guna sangraha) & their action. The principles of psycho-pathogenesis based on the excessive, deficient and perverted association of five senses with their objects along with the principles of preventing psychic disturbances and preserving the physical, mental and socio-spiritual health in the form of the principles of sadvritta has been elaborately described. This involves a broad range of ethical observances & moral practices for preventing psychosomatic disturbances. Broadly, the practices regarding code of general ethics, diet, natural urges, relationship with women, study, regarding self-control & related to worship have been elaborately described. General ethical practices related to individual, inter- personal & about maintenance of social relations have been included, which are extremely valuable for personal & social health.