Astangahrdaya, the only comprehensive classical text on Ayurvedic
Medicine was composed by Vagbhata who lived between 7'" & 8!" Century A.D.
Astangahrdaya is hailed as his magnum opus. The excellence of this work is
its jaded borderline between the objective science and deftly veiled poetry,
Vagbhata being faithful to both. This text teaches and propagates the principles
of Ayurveda in simple but lucid, vibrant verses so that by tradition, the students
of Kerala State have, for centuries ardently followed this text as a base book
and earned the State the reputed title, "The Cradle of Ayurveda’. This work
gives equal importance to all the eight classical, clinical branches of Ayurveda
viz. Kayacikitsa (General medicine), Kaumarabhrtya (Paediatrics), Bhutavidya
(Grahacikitsa - Psychiatry), Sakyatantra (Urdhvangacikitsa - Ophthalmology
& ENT), Sal/yatantra (Surgey & orthopaedics), Agadatantra (Clinical toxicology),
Rasayanatantra (Regenerative therapy) and Vajikaranatantra (Reproductive
medicine). The full text of Astangahrdaya comprises of 120 chapters spread
over six parts.
Astangahrdaya is a condensed version of Astangasangraha, which is
a compendium of the then available medical literature without bias to either
the Caraka School of Medicine or the Susruta School of Surgery.
This English commentary and translation of Astangahrdaya
Sutrasthana is written by Prof. T. Sreekumar, having 32 years of teaching and
clinical experience, now the Head, Department of Kriyasarira and Vice Principal
of Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College, Ollur, Thrissur Dist., Kerala.
Astangahrdaya, by Vagbhata Il, a work of seventh or eighth century CE, completely com-
posed in verse, but for the opening sentences and colophons, stands out amongst all
the Ayurvedic treatises as a unique, comprehensive, precise and clear text book for
those who are invocated to the realm of Ayurvéda. For centuries, Kerala was depending
mainly on this great work for its Ayurvedic studies and practice. The richness and good-
ness of Keralite Ayurvedic practices are mostly indebted to this book. The Central coun-
cil of Indian Medicine, the statutory controlling body of Ayurvedic education and prac-
tice in India, has recently introduced the first part, the part of aphorisms, of the book in
the syllabus of First Professional Ayurvedacharya (B.A.M.S.) course. It is note worthy
that Vagbhata is considered to be maestro of aphorisms whereas Caraka is noted for his
therapeutic excellence and Susruta for his anatomic and surgical brilliance.
Now that most of the Ayurvedic colleges have changed the medium of instruction
from regional language to English, due to the recent global proliferation of Ayurvéda,
commentaries and translations of classical treatises in English are highly warranted.
Though there are some translations of Astarigahrdaya in English, a good translation and
commentary, tailor cut to satisfy the academic interests and inquisitiveness of the first
year Ayurvedic student was a long felt necessity. The present work serves to appropriately
fit into this slot and I hope that it will be whole-heartedly accepted by the Ayurvedic
elite. It is to be noted that this volume embraces only fifteen chapters of the first part of
Astangahrdaya, the remaining half is already at the desktop. I believe that the translator
cum commentator of this volume will seriously take up the mission to complete the
remaining portion of the part, that the very same batch of students could profit from his
insights and visions.
The work is a multilevel exposition as it provides the prose order of the verses, translation,
explanation, specific unraveling of new terms with appropriate definitions, modern
correlations and even higher-level contemplations wherever needed. It also profusely
quotes from other books and commentaries and thus provides sufficient reference
material in every context. Hence the work is self-containing and student friendly. It
relieves the novices of Ayurvéda from the burden of searching related data in various
books, for which tedious task they are ill-equipped and untrained. Hence the present
work is a real boon to the newcomers to the field of Ayurvéda. Such a work can come
only out of the sincere efforts of a good teacher who understands his students and
appreciates the difficulties confronted by them in studying and apprehending a science,
which ts hitherto unfamiliar to them. At the same time, the work has taken care not to
lose the original flavour, concept and contents of the classical treatise.
The language of Dr. T. Sreekumar, is lucid and poetic, a quality I think he has inherited
from his father Sri. Vailopillil Sreedhara Menon, poet laureate of Kerala, noted for his
concise and condensed poetry with deep scientific and psychological insight. Iam sure
that the beauty of the language of Dr. Sreekumar is quite palpable even to the casual
readers. It is that vibrant and inviting. Along with the scientific thoroughness of the work,
the pulsating language will surely contribute to the perpetuation of this eminent work.
Dr. Sreekumar, presently working as Reader in Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College, is
noted for his surgical handicraft and undoubtedly is a veteran of ano-rectal surgery in
Ayurvedic lines. He has mastered his surgical wisdom from Hyderabad during his post-
graduate studies. I have chanced to teach him during his undergraduate days at Kottakkal.
When I joined as a teacher at Vaidyaratnam V.PS.V. Ayurveda College, he was a student
of the college. From those days we were keeping regular contacts, especially for aca-
demic purposes and his thoughts and inquisitiveness into the depth of the science has
always inspired me in my contemplations. It is true that only good students could inspire
the teachers and a good teacher is the product of studious students. If] have any suc-
cess in teaching Ayurvéaa, I am really indebted to my students like Dr. Sreekumar. Among
the whole array of my students Dr. Sreekumar stands out as an extra-ordinary person
with his relentless inquisitiveness to unravel the secrets of the science and his compul-
sive enthusiasm to impart what he has apprehended to the new generation. Study,
apprehension, practice and propagation are the four methods to revere the science.
Dr. T Sreekumar has travelled equally in all these four tracks. This work is a telltale proof
of his positive efforts as it re-establishes Vagbhata and Ayurveda in the 21st century C.E.
I thank Dr. Sreekumar for entrusting me the duty of introducing this great work to the
humanity and sincerely bless him to achieve still higher altitudes by continuing his liter-
ary ventures in the field of Ayurvéda. | recommend this book to the students and teachers
of Ayurvéda with confidence and pray that the book may be held at heart by all Ayurvedic
Ever since the introduction of the first edition of this book in 2007, it has invited
many acclamations. The reason for such a sincere reception was the scheme and style
of the book, guiding the readers to navigate deeper and deeper into the unfathomable
depths of Ayurveda; layer by layer. It has not only helped acclimatize the neophytes of
Ayurveda by bringing them close to the hearth of this medical science; but much
more, it has in many instances served as the traceable foot prints of time from the
medieval era when this book was commissioned. I feel proud to set the ignition to the
velocity for the students in their voyage and quest for excellence. At the same time I
bow my head with humility before the Great Master of Ayurveda, Professor Agnivesh
who gave me the requisite wings to my wish to provide a trustworthy English translation
and commentary to the all time legendary text in Ayurveda, Astarigahrdaya, crafted to
perfection by the poet-scientist, Vagbhata.
As is the etiquette which I have followed ever since the inception of the first
edition of this work, the work is wholly revisited. Subtle changes are made to suit the
quality of readership. From the last edition, verses are printed in color, for the students
to have an eye friendly relationship with them. The readers can converse with me for
any fertile suggestions they think appropriate, which itself over the years has been the
mantra of success of this commentary.
The script of this work helped me advance a lot. A lot more than I thought. In
understanding Ayurveda, in all its pristine beauty & glory. In trying to assimilate the
profoundness of the Science. In the sheer God-given chance to report the book to
the readers the way I feel it should be.
Thanks a lot to my mentor, Professor Agnivesh. To the academy. To the students.
To those who incessantly corrected me all these years, including the newbie students
whom I have never known other than through the book. And to all those who stood
by me in my efforts and endeavors in light and in shade.
My thanks are due to those here, at home. At Harisree Publications.
And sure, a bouquet of thanks to my critics too. In digesting this book enough to
provide a healthy criticism. In chiseling out this work to flawless perfection.
Astarigahrdaya composed by Vagbhata teaches and propagates the
principles of Ayurveda in simple but lucid, vibrant verse so that by
tradition, the students of Kerala State have for centuries ardently
followed this text as a base book and earned the State the reputed
title, ‘The cradle of Ayurveda’ This text is having six parts, of which
the first one, Sitrasthana is having 30 chapters. The first 15 chapters
of Sutrasthana was published earlier by this author as the first volume
with English translation and commentary.
This second volume of Sitrasthana consists of 16th to 30th chapters,
containing the principles of treatment procedures like Paficakarma
for medical conditions and surgical techniques for surgical diseases,
their preparatory protocol and post operative care. Other ancillary
treatment options like those of the ENT and Ophthalmology are also
addressed in these chapters. This volume is a mine of information
for those who want to have access to accurate scientific data
regarding ancient Indian treatment methods. This is followed by
majority of the UG students for their subjects like Paficakarma,
Salyatantra, Salakyatantra and also by students pursuing PG studies in
The author of this book, Dr T Sreekumar, presently Professor and
Vice Principal at Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College, Ollur,
Thrissur Dist., Kerala 680 306, has 31 years of teaching and clinical
experience. He is the recipient of the Kerala State Best Doctor Atreya
Award of 2011.
When Dr. T. Sreekumar, at the time of releasing the first part of this book promised
to bring out his translation and commentary of the second part of Astangahrdaya
Sutrasthana, comprising of 16th to 30th chapters shortly, I thought that this is a usual
promise. But Dr. Sreekumar repeated his promise and clarified that the second part
will be made available before the culmination of the First professional course of the
students who purchased the first part. Indeed he has kept his promise. This second
part is in your hands now.
I had a bit of doubt in the feasibility of the actualization of his ambition because
myself was unable to keep such promises. Many of my books were published as
first parts and even after decades the promised second parts have been never released.
Here I can palpate the distinction between a lazy haphazard writer like me
and a dedicated author noble enough to keep his words.
Chasing the time might usually corrupt writings with errors of omission and commission.
On a fast reading of the unprinted copy of the book under discussion, I
haven't noticed any grave mistakes in it. Efficiency is the ability to do things perfectly
in time. Dr. T. Sreekumar has proved that he is efficient.
It is my privilege to proclaim that this part of the book is outstanding in its translation
and commentary. All the other translations and commentaries seem insignificant
in comparison with the in-depth study of Dr. T. Sreekumar. Till date we were having
commentaries that comment on the terms occurring in the text and are mostly verbal
exercises with the aid of etymology. But, as a magician is bringing out flowers from
his apparently empty hat, Dr. Sreekumar displays before us the scientific insights
contained in the original text. He is not merely quoting from other Ayurvedic treatises
or their commentaries. With his high level knowledge in modern human physiology
he tries to unravel and update the secrets of our science with lucid explanations.
This observation can be verified even with a casual reading of the comments by
the author and from the introductory pieces of various chapters. As of the first part, the
language of this part also is vibrant and poetic. Poetry usually masks scientific logic.
But in this book aesthetic logic does not interfere and obstruct the revealing of the
scientific knowledge. This is the beauty of the author's language.
The analogy of a bird is usually used to explain the nature of Ayurveda. A bird could
fly only if both the wings are intact. Theory and practice are two wings of Ayurveda. In
the first part of the book we have mostly met with the theoretical contemplations on
Ayurveda. Vagbhata has dedicated chapters 16 to 30 of his part of aphorisms
(Sutrasthana) to explain the practical framework of Ayurveda. Thus we find here detailed
guidelines for medical and surgical procedures. Being a surgeon by profession,
Dr. Sreekumar has employed his profound theoretical insight and practical expertise
related to surgical and parasurgical procedures in commenting this part. This does not
mean that he is anyway handicapped in the arena of medical procedures. He has
proved that he is equally versatile in this field too.
This book was a long cherished need by Ayurvedic students, teachers, physicians
and other members of Ayurvedic fraternity. The publication of the first part made it inevitable
and urgent. | wish that with the same excellence and mastery, Dr. Sreekumar may
venture in translating and commenting the remaining parts of Astangahrdaya and also
treatises placed on a higher pedestal such as Susruta Samhita and Caraka Samhita.
With the paternal affection of a teacher, I proudly present this part of the book by Dr. T.
Sreekumar to the global scientific community.
The unique feature of Ayurvéda in comparison to the rest of the medical sciences is
not its use of herbal and animal products as popularly conceived. It can be the cynosure
of all other medical schools because of the importance it lays upon purification
therapy. Usually, such therapies of other medical systems are now considered as medieval
blues their procedures outdated and antiquated enough to be kept undisturbed
in the annals of some moth-eaten libraries of History of Medicine. But Ayurvedic
purification therapies are live and vibrant tools which are employed in contemporary
practice for a wide range of diseases including auto immune disorders that just refuse
to stay somnolent even by the devastating armory of Modern Medicine. Yes, Ayurveda
has the answer to these issues borne out of polluted body and mind - thanks to the life
style of modern era. Ayurvéda prepares the body; it really cleanses and then pacifies
and reinstates the agitated tissues. Then, the mind is made serene, the senses are
made clear and the total system is sanitized. In a way that Ayurveda alone can per-
form. Diseases for which the cause is unknown, disorders for which there exists no
cure - all these can be effectively subdued by paficakarma therapies. Provided of
course, the procedures are employed rationally.
The entire five purification processes, collectively known as panca-karmas are narrated
in exquisite detail in this book. The pre and post operative procedures are cited
for each. The possible complications are listed and remedial measures are tabled. The
do's and don'ts are contextually referred. Other ancillary procedures for the eyes,
face, head etc. are also described. Surgical procedures, instruments, bandages, what
not! Spectacular indeed! This book is the true spirit of applied Ayurvéda - the practical
module of all what the reader has read in the earlier 15 chapters of Sutrasthana.
For the booklover who has sailed through the earlier chapters of this text, the
oncoming pages are wonderlands of practical wisdom, beckoning him to visit the
seamless perfection of Vagbhata in his narration of most of the prestigious procedures
that Ayurvéda is famous for. With amazing dexterity, Vagbhata bridges the centuries
elapsed between his times and contemporary days. On reading this authentic manual,
one never thinks that he is going through a book of seventh or eighth century C.E. The
ideas are so realistic and original; giving away rewards to all those who use it.
This is the seventh edition of my commentary. Utmost gratitude is extended to my
readers - students and teachers, for supporting this venture and bearing the messages
put forth in this text close to their hearts.
Let me also sincerely appreciate the ground staff at Harisree Hospital for their
tireless efforts in launching this work to its orbit.
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