Genealogy of the Teachers of Medicine

History of Indian Medicine by Girindranath Mukhopadhyaya Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta, 1994, p. 123

Vidyanath, Dr. R, Nishteswar, Dr. K, A Handbook of History of Ayurveda, Chaukhamba, Varanasi, India, 2006, p50





Prajapati Daksha

 Ashvini Kumaras




                        Bharadvaja                                                                 Dhanvantari                                                             Kashyapa                                   


Atreya                                                                 (or Divodasha)                                                            Atri Bhrigu, et al         


Agnivesha   Jatukarna   Bhela   Harita    Ksharapani                 Sushruta Aupadhenava  Aurabhra  Paushkalavata  Karavirya, et al

Caraka & Dridhabala  Vagbhata                                       Nagarjuna (Redactor)         




This genealogy of the mystical origins of Ayurveda is found with similar details in most of the classical samhitas of Ayurveda. Generally, the author/redactor of a work includes this material near the beginning of the treatise. The essential meaning of it, however, is as an affirmation of its origin in Consciousness—a holy or divine “origin.” This conveys the flavor of an eternal knowledge that can be accessed by anyone who turns inward and has the intention to know. This chart will serve also to help establish a timeline for the more mundane appearances of its traditional literary forms—the samhitas. The Agnivesha Samhita, for example predates Caraka’s redaction by possibly as many as 1000 years. The Kashyapa Samhita must predate the Major Three (Caraka, Sushruta, Vagbha»a) as he is named in the lineage even before Agnivesha . According to the Samhitas the first mortals were Bharadvaja, Kashyapa, (and possibly Dhanvantari). But these sort of musings are of interest to the historian primarily and not to the practicing herbalist. This kind of issue is however, the stuff of the study of the history of any subject.



The Pharmacopeia & Compendia

1.      Ayurveda and Its Periods

·        Vedic 1500-800- B.C. ¬g and Atharva Veda (mantras, herbs) healing and preserving life

·        Several hundred mantras on healing in Rigveda

·        100 hymns mention herbal cures for diseases mentioned in the Atharva

·        The eight branches of Ayurveda are mentioned in the Atharva Veda

·        Classical Ayurveda (aka Arsha Period or period of sages / rishis)—6th C. BC to 1000 AD. In the earlier Vedic period doctors had to go thru the streets hawking there services, as it were. It has been said that healing spells and mantras preceded medicines. Priests were the medicine men. This may be supported by the writings in Rig with many mantras for healing.

·        Atreya Samhita accorded distinction of oldest extant with 46,500 verses and predating Caraka 800 years

·        Brihat Trayi: Caraka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita,  Ashtanga Samgraha/Hridayam. 500 BC to 700 AD.

·        Use of plants as medicine predominant with some mention of vegetables. Vagbhata mentions mercury in form of kajjali = Rasa Shastra developed

·        About 12 different pharmacopoeia emerged—called nighantu

·        Jivaka (physician to Buddha) had important herbal treatise—500-250 BC (Ashoka & Buddha)

·        Two great Universities in India known—taught astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, medicine—Benares (Sushruta) & Takshashila (Atreya/Caraka)

·        The Medieval Period 800-1500  AD –India During the 14th century AD. Many scholars from Arabia, Persia, Iran were brought into the country. Translations of ancient Sanskrit texts was undertaken in large way. (The Latin translations became the basis of European medicine until the 17th century--Bhishagratna.)  Hence some drugs and ideas of the Unani system mixed with Ayurvedic literature.

·        Madhava Nidanam 800 AD

·        Dhanvantari Nighantu 10th C. AD

·        Chakrapani Datta commentary on Caraka 1060 AD

·         Sharngadhara Samhita in 14th C. AD appeared, including new facts and perspectives—

·        Use of metals-Au, Ag, Fe, Hg, Cu for preparation of medicines

·        Raj Nighantu 14th C. AD

·        Madanpal Nighantu 14th C. AD

·        Kaiyadeva 15th C. AD

·        Bhava Prakasha 16th C. AD

·        Influence of Arabian medicine Avicenna (980-1037 AD) including quotes of Indian medical writings

·        The Unani and Siddha Systems (under the influence of mogul rulers)—16th C. AD use of metals with Hg most important; lack of royal support of Unani led to its decline in popularity

·        The British Period—1800-1947

·        In onset of rule effort to revive Ayurveda to facilitate the medical efforts but new medical schools were of Allopathic orientation. Seeming incompatibility of their co-existence led to discontinuance of the Ayurvedic training.

·        Shaligram Nighantu 20th C. AD





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  9. Singh, Thakur Balwant, Glossary of Vegetable Drugs in Brihattrayi, Chaukhambha, Varanasi, 1999

  10. Valiathan, M.S., The Legacy of Caraka, Orient Longman Private Ltd., Hyderabad, India, 2003, p. lxxxii

  11. Vidyanath, Dr. R, Nishteswar, Dr. K, A Handbook of History of Ayurveda, Chaukhamba, Varanasi, India, 2006, p50




(C) Copyright 1999 Michael Dick All Rights Reserved Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center / Ayurveda Education Programs