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.
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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