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Astanga Sangraha of Vagbhata Sutrasthana (Volume-1)

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Item Code: NAW283
Author: B. Rama Rao
Publisher: Chaukhambha Visvabharati , Varanasi
Edition: 2006
Pages: 544
Other Details 10.00 X 7.00 inch
Weight 1.05 kg
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Book Description
About The Book

Astangasangraha is one of the important authoritative texts of Ayurveda. Among the ancient Ayurvedic classics it is said that Carakasamhita is the best for cikitsa, SuSrutasamhita for S4rira, Madhavanidana for nidana and Vagbhata for sitrasthana. Sitrasthana is the section which deals with the funda- mental principles and philosophical background of all Ayurvedic topics. Carakasamhita and SuSrutasarhhita and other classics are composed long before. Astangasangraha or Astangahrdaya of Vagbhata. Ancient classics laid stress on any one of the eight branches of Ayurveda, whereas Vagbhata's Astangahrdaya and Astangasangraha deal elabroately with all the eight branches as well as the fundamentals. Astangasangraha is the comprehensive composition and the presentation and classification of topics are very system- atic and the information is extensive. The sitrasthana of Astangasangraha deals with the fundamental principles required for all the branches of Ayurveda and its study is necessary for getting deep and profound knowledge of the fundamentals of Ayurveda, related to all the eight branches. Due to this reason only it has been prescribed for the Ayurveda courses. English translation of this valuable treatise with necessary explanations and notes to make it readable and understandable for the students, teachers as well as researchers of Ayurveda is very much necessary. This requirement is now fulfilled by Dr. B. Rama Rao. Important points from the authentic commentary Sasilekha by Indu are added apart from notes and explanations to get a clear understanding of the text. Comparative information on topics from other samhitas is also given wherever necessary. Thus it is a valuable contribution for the students, teachers and scholars of Ayurveda interested in the deep study of Ayurveda.

About the Author

Dr. Bhagavatam Rama Rao, born in Medak (in Andhra Pradesh) in 1937 is a graduate in Ayurveda and Telugu and a post graduate in Sanskrit from Osmania University, Hyderabad. He is a profound scholar in Sanskrit, Telugu and Ayurveda and is also well versed in English and Hindi.

He worked for a long time in Indian Institute of History of Medicine, Hyderabad in different capacities and as in charge for several years. During his tenure in ITHM he contributed immensely for the development of the research activities and also of Museum and others pertaining to the history of medicine in India in general and history of Ayurveda in particular. He collected information relating to health and medicine from non-medical sources like kavyas, puranas, inscriptions, archaeologi- cal sources and traveler’s accounts etc. He also served as the in charge of Dr. A. Lakshmipati Research Centre for Ayurveda and Literary Research Unit in Chennai and retired as the Director of Indian Institute of Panchakarma and thus gained experience in different fields. He later became the principal of Dharma Ayurvedic College, Sriperumbudur, Tamilnadu.

Another important contribution of Dr. Rao is the collection of information and study of manuscripts particularly of Ayurveda in Sanskrit and Telugu available in palmleaf and paper. He brought to light several unknown valuable works on Ayurveda and allied subjects lying as manuscripts. Some of them are Todarananda Ayurvedas- aukhya, Ayurvedabdhisara, Rasapradipika of Bharadvaja, Dravyaratnavali, Madana- nanda, Parahitasamhita, VaidyaSastraSiv- anubhava, Madanagama, Siddhasara and many others. He compiled a list of Sanskrit Medical manuscripts in India in 1972 and it is revised, enlarged and is being published by the Central council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS).


Vagbhata is the third member of the Brhattrayi after Caraka and SuSruta. Other Samhitas having been lost in oblivion, the texts of these authors were popularly read and commented upon. Caraka and SuSruta were popular in North India while Vagbhata was accepted as authority in South. In tradition there are two Vagbhatas - Vagbhata and Vrddhavagbhata, who composed Astangahrdaya and Astangasangraha respectively.

Astangasangraha was not so popular as Astangahrdaya. Surprisingly Cakrapani has quoted in the commentary on Carakasarhhita all through the Astangahrdaya except at one place in the end where Vrddhavagbhata is quoted. Siitrasthana of Vagbhata is regarded as the most important portion of the text- ‘gaat «gq arse:’. Now some attempts were made to popularize the Astangasangraha. Sometime back, Atridev published the text with Hindi translation. An edition of the text with Indu’s commentary was published from Poona.

The present edition of the Sitrasthana with English translation by Dr. B. Rama Rao, an eminent scholar of Ayurveda and Sanskrit is coming out. I hope this will satisfy the curiosities of teachers and students alike and will be accepted by them warmly all over the country. I presume that the other parts of the text would also follow soon.


Astangasangraha compiled by Vagbhata is a popular authoritative work of Ayurveda of early period. As the name suggests it deals with all the eight branches of Ayurveda. During ancient period classics were compiled by sages giving importance to any one branch as known from the statements in the classics. Unfortunately all such classics of all branches are not available now. Different Vagbhatas :

Aufrecht’s Catalogus Catalogorum mentions ten Vagbhatas.

1. Author of Vahatanighantu 2. Author of Vagbhatasmrtisangraha. 3. Son of Sirnhagupta, grandson of Vagbhata and author of Astangahrdaya, Vamanakalpa and Vagbhatiya. 4. Father of Tisata, author of Cikitsakalika. 5. Minister of Malavendra and father of Deveévara. 6. Son of Nemikumara, a jain author of Alankaratilaka, ChandonuSasana, and Srngaratilaka. 7. Author of Padarthacandrika, Bhavaprakasa and Ratnasamuccaya. 8. Author of VagbhatakoSa. 9. Vrddhavagbhata quoted in Tédarananda and Bhavaprakaéa and 10. Author of Vagbhatalankara.


Vagbhata, author of Astangasangraha states that he compiled the work as an essence of all earlier classics which were written by sages and which were not complete in all aspects and that studying all the classics would require full life time. Thus Vagbhata tried to deal with all the important and essential topics of the whole science so that its study makes the person a good physician.

Vagbhata was the son of Sirhhagupta and grandson of Vagbhata. He belonged to Sindhu region. His father and grandfather were also great scholars of Ayurveda. Vagbhata is believed to be a follower of Buddhism (mahayana) as he mentions Avalokita as his preceptor. This information 1s available from Astangasangraha. After the compilation of Astangasangraha another smaller work known as Astangahrdaya was compiled by Vagbhata. It is clearly stated by the author of Astangahrdaya that it was compiled after churning the great ocean Astangasangraha. Many verses and passages are identical but there are some differences as well in views, doctrines etc. in these two treatises. These evidences led to controversial opinions about the identity of the authors of Astangasangraha and Astangahrdaya. For detailed information on all these aspects the following may be consulted.

  1. Sarma, P.V.: Vagbhatavivecana - a comprehensive work on Vagbhata by the doyen of Ayurveda dealing with all aspects of Astangasangraha, Astangahrdaya and Vagbhata based on internal and external evidences. 1968, Varanasi.

  2. Sarma, P.V. (ed): History of Medicine in India; article on Vagbhata by B.Rama Rao, pp. 205-221, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, 1992.

  3. Astangasangraha-sitrasthana : English tr. by K.R. Srikanthamurthy, introduction. It briefly covers all views on different Vagbhatas, identity and assessment.

  4. Vagbhata’s, Astangahrdaya : English tr. of Tibetan version by Claus Vogel. Wiesbaden, 1965. Introduction.

  5. Ayurved ka Vaijfianik Itihas by P.V. Sarma in Hindi, Varanasi, 1975.

It is already stated that Astangasangraha mentions the name of the author as Vagbhata and father’s name as Simhagupta and place of birth as Sindhu region. Astangahrdaya states that it is a condensed form of Astangasangraha. A vast heap of nectar has been obtained in the form of Astangasangraha after churning the big ocean of the eight branched medical science; from this has been evolved a separate treatise in the present form which is for the pleasure of those who are capable of making limited efforts but which gives great result. (AH.U.40-79-80.). The views of scholars arguing that the authors of Astangasangraha and Astangahrdaya are same are based on the following and many other evidences. The language and style are similar. Both are sons of Sirhhagupta. Subject matter is similar. Author of Astangahrdaya mentions that it is a summarized version of Astangasangraha. Many verses of Astangasangraha are found in Astangahrdaya. Commentators Arunadatta, Bhattanarahari, Candranandana, Niscalakara and Indu accept both as one. Name of the author of Astangahrdaya is not mentioned in Astangahrdaya because he stated that it was a summarized version of Astangasangraha by him. This view of one Vagbhata of Astangasangraha and Astangahrdaya is supported by Gannathsen, Haridattasastry, N.S. Moos, Yadavji, Paradkar, D.C. Bhattacharya, Atridev Gupta, Vogel, Nand Kishore Sarma, Meulenbeld and others. Jejjata in the colophon of his commentary Nirantarapadavyakhya mentioned himself as the disciple of Bahata, the South Indian form for Vagbhata. P.V. Sarma places Jejjata in 9th C.AD while Meulenbeld places him in 6th C.AD. indicating that he was the direct disciple of Vagbhata. It is reasonable to accept the views of the contemporary disciple of Vagbhata.

The view that both Vagbhatas of Astangasangraha and Astangahrdaya are different is based on the following points. Language and style differ. Astangahrdaya appears as a later work. Information about author is not found in Astangahrdaya. Astangahrdaya has less influence of Buddhism than Astangasangraha. There are some dissimilarities in views and doctrines etc. Commentators Dalhana, Vijayaraksita, Srikanthadatta, Hemadri, Sivaddsasena and others quoted verses from Astangasangraha as from Vrddhavagbhata.

This view is supported by Cordier, Hoernle, Keith, P.K. Gode, Hariprapanna Sastry, P.V. Sarma, Jyotishchandra Saraswati and others.

Important treatises of Ayurveda attributed to Vagbhata are three. They are Astangasangraha, Astangahrdaya and Rasaratnasamuccaya. Author of Rasaratnasamuccaya is definitely different and later. Apart from the two Vagbhatas of Astangasangraha and Astangahrdaya another Madhyavagbhata is also mentioned in Ratnaprabha commentary of Niscalakara on Cakradatta. Niscalakara mentions Madhyavagbhata but there is no other support to confirm this. A comprehensive work having two recensions-middle and smaller - is not uncommon. Siddhantakaumudi of Bhattdjidiksita has Madhya and Laghu recensions- Madhyasiddhantakaumudi and Laghusiddhantakaumudi.


There are different views about the date also. The important points for fixing the date are given briefly.

(1) I-tsing, the Chinese traveler was in India in 7th C. and he referred to Astangasangraha. (2) Madhavanidana quotes from Astangahrdaya and it fixes the later limit of 7th C.AD for Astangahrdaya. (3) Kapilabala, father of Drdhabala is quoted in Astangasangraha and Astangasangraha is quoted by Varahamihira. This fixes anterior and posterior limits. (4) Astangasangraha mentions Sakas.

Madhavanidana quotes verses from Astangahrdaya and both Astangahrdaya and Madhavanidana were translated into Arabic in 8th C.AD. Varahamihira and Nityanatha, author of Rasaratnakara quote Astangahrdaya. Some opine that Astangasangraha mentions mercury for internal use and hence it is later than 8th C., when rasavada started. But mention of Astangahrdaya by Nityanatha refutes this opinion. Astangasangraha mentions Sakas at several places and Sakas ruled up to the end of 4th C.AD.

There is a very popular verse describing Vagbhata and mentioning Indu and Jejjata as his disciples but it is not accepted now based on other evidences. Jejjata was the first to quote Vagbhata. The attacks of Muslims started in 7th C. and after this the possibility of appearing such comprehensive and authoritative works in Sindhu region is remote. There are many internal evidences to show some similarities in views, social life and others mentioned in Kamasitra (400 AD.) and works of Varahamihira (6th C.AD) and Arthasastra of Kautilya. All these support to conclude that the date of Vagbhata is between 500-600 AD. The social, religious, political literary and other aspects as known from Astangasangraha also suggest that it might belong to later Gupta period.

Astangahrdaya was translated into Tibetan in 8th C.AD. Firdausul-Hikmat compiled by Ali bin Rabban al Tabari in 9th C.AD refers to Astangahrdaya. Considerable time is required for a book to become popular and get translated into Arabic and Persian. Present Edition:

The idea of translating the Sitrasthana of Astangasangraha came to me when I was working as the principal of Dharma Ayurvedic College. Incidentally Sri Ashok and Sri Sunil of Chaukhambha Visvabharati asked me to undertake this work and offered to publish it. I used the following editions for the original and also for the translation.

  1. Astangasangraha induvyakhyasahita : Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, Delhi,1991.

  2. Astangasangraha, siitrasthana with Hindi tr. by Atridev Gupta.Chaukhambha Orientalia, Varanasi, 1997.

  3. Astangasangraha sttrasthana with Sasilékha of Indu and Telugu tr. In four volumes. Telugu Academy, Hyderabad,

  4. Astangasangraha sttrasthana : English tr. by K. R. Srikanthamurthy, Chaukhambha Orientalia, Varanasi, 6th ed. 2002.

I kept before my view the students of BAMS course, to which it is prescribed as a text book. Hence detailed discussions and elaborations not required and difficult to be followed are avoided. There are very few instances where there are differences among the above and where I had to differ. My intention to have all Sanskrit words in italics could not be followed due to some difficulties. Since it is intended for students I tried to be as much nearer as possible to the original without creating confusion, though some words may be found superfluous in English. I apologize for the lacunae, if any, and any suggestions by scholars will be gratefully incorporated in the next edition.

I hope this will be helpful to the students and scholars of Ayurveda who are not conversant with Sanskrit. My sincere thanks are due to Sri Sunil and Sri Ashok for undertaking this work. I also owe my gratitude to revered Prof. P.V. Sarma, who is internationally known and highly respected for his valuable contributions to Ayurveda and his scholarship in Ayurveda, Sanskrit and History. He is always affectionate to me and sends all his publications and encouraged me to take up this and other works, which are to be published shortly and who is always a source of inspiration to me. I am also grateful to Prof. K.R. Srikanthamurthy, who is a great scholar of Ayurveda. Though I met him only two times, he is very kind to me and passes on promptly any information asked by me.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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