Acharya Bhavamishra: His Work Bhavaprakasha, Legacy, Amazing Facts

Article by Dr Manasa
Brihat Trayees or the ‘Greater Trio’ of Ayurveda namely Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Samhita (Hridaya and Sangraha) are the golden references and standard treatises for obtaining all the details of Ayurvedic basics related to the disease and treatment details, be it preventive or curative aspect. But the elaboration of the material is so voluminous that many times it becomes difficult for easy understanding and adapting them in clinical practice. 

This made Ayurvedic scholars realize the necessity of keeping the science simple yet comprehensive. This acute need of short formatting the main treatises into simpler versions led to the simplification process from 10th century onward. From this time many authors started compiling the materials and verses related to Ayurvedic medical science from the ancient treatises and make ‘easy to read, understand and practice’ books. Among the treatises born out of such necessity, the ‘Laghu Trayi’ or the lesser triad are the main.

Laghu Trayi or lesser triad of Ayurveda comprises of Madhava Nidana, Sharangadhara Samhita and Bhavaprakasha. They are given the ‘next best’ status after the Brihat Trayis and are the most reliable and comprehensive ‘easy reads’ for understanding Ayurveda in all perspectives.
Read related: Acharya Madhavakara: His Work ‘Madhava Nidana’, Legacy, Amazing Facts

Acharya Bhavamishra –
He was the son of Latakamishra. He belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family as evidenced by the surname ‘Mishra’ which is generally used by Brahmins.

He is believed to belong to Magadha (lower and middle parts of Bihar state in India) since he has given the names of various kinds of food substances known to the people of this region in his treatise.
Bhavamishra’s period is said to be 16th century AD.

Works of Bhavamishra
The below mentioned works belong to Bhavamishra:
Bhavaprakasha – it is the only book or work of Bhavamishra available in full along with Sanskrit commentary Guna Ratnamala
Madhava Nidana Tippani
Vaidya Nighantu – not yet traced so far

Bhavaprakasha
Bhavamishra himself has stated in his treatise that he had collected all the available information and efficacious medical recipes from various ancient Ayurvedic texts, compiled them at one place in a systematic way and has composed the treatise.

Bhavaprakash consists in total of 10268 verses, distributed and allocated in 3 sections (Khanda), 7 parts (Bhaga) and 80 chapters (Prakarana) as under.

Poorva Khanda (Section 1) –
This section comprises of:
Prathama Bhaga (part 1) – having 6 chapters
Dwitiya Bhaga (part 2) – having only 1 chapter
Thus Poorva Khanda has 7 chapters in total and comprises of 4307 verses

This section deals with origin of Ayurveda and the basic principles of Ayurveda, Shareera Vignana (body basics like anatomy, physiology etc), Dina charya (daily rituals, day-to-day life activities and diet), Ritu charya (seasonal rituals, activities and diet related to seasons and adaptation to seasons), Oushadha Dravyas (medicinal herbs), Ahara Dravyas (food substances) etc.

Madhyama Khanda (Middle Section) –
This section comprises of:
Prathama Bhaga (part 1) – having 4 chapters
Dwitiya Bhaga (part 2) – having 25 chapter
Tritiya Bhaga (part 3) – having 19 chapters
Chaturdha Bhaga (part 4) – having 23 chapters
Thus Poorva Khanda has 71 chapters in total and comprises of 5886 verses

Madhyama Khanda comprises of 71 chapters and deals with nidana (aetiology), lakshanas (signs and symptoms of diseases), samprapthi (pathogenesis), prognosis (curable and incurable stages of diseases) and chikitsa (treatment of various diseases). The author has mentioned both herbal and mineral formulations as remedies for various diseases.

Uttara Khanda (Last Section) –
This section comprises of:
Only 2 prakaranas (chapters) having 96 verses
The 2 chapters in this section deals with Rasayana (rejuvenators, anti-ageing medicines and formulations) and Vajikarana (aphrodisiacs)

Commentaries on Bhavaprakasha
Two Sanskrit commentaries on Bhavprakas are available.

  1. The first commentary doesn’t have a name. It is available in its full form, printed along with its text. It is thought that Bhavamishra himself is the author of this commentary.
  2. The second commentary is called ‘Sadvaidhya Siddhanta Ratnakara’. It is written by Jayadeva, son of Jaya Krishna. It was believed to be written on the orders of Maharaja Ranavira Simha, the King of Kashmir. This is not available in its complete form. It is found to be placed in the library of Jammu.

The first edition of Bhavaprakasha, full text together with its commentary was edited and published by Sri Jivananda Vidyasagar Bhattacharya, Calcutta. It was published in the year 1857.

Specialities of Bhavaprakasha
Bhavmisra was the first person who had given the details about ‘Phiranga Roga’, Gonorrhoea of modern day. He has also detailed its pathology, signs and symptoms along with treatment. Rasa Karpura and other formulations were indicated as best remedies for combating Phiranga Roga.

Bhavamisra incorporated one new herb namely Madhusnuhi (Chopchini, Dweepantara Vacha) in his treatise. He also explained its properties including its Rasa (taste), Guna (qualities), Virya (potency), Vipaka (post digestion effect) and Prabhava (effect)

Summing up –
Bhavaprakasha being one among the Laghu Trayi, is an easy and comprehensive read for budding Ayurveda doctors who are aspiring to have a good practice in this medical science. It has many formulations and tips for prevention of diseases and also to cure many of them. It is also a useful read for the experienced Ayurvedic doctors who want to have innovation into their practice and also beneficial for those who are willing to bring up their own pharmacy and bring in light many new formulations from the depth of this treatise which are not in use. Many students who are pursuing their higher studies in Ayurveda like Post Graduation and PhD are picking the formulations from this treatise for experimental works and scientific studies.

Apart from making the Ayurveda basics easy to learn, Acharya Bhavamishra has given us many simple yet highly effective formulations to get rid of wide array of diseases.

 


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