"Digestion and Metabolism in Ayurveda" is one of the scholarly works written by Prof. C.Dwarkanath. The textual matter presented in this book is of high standard and thus written to meet the needs of Ayurvedic teachers and research workers involved in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The knowledge of the fundamentals of Ayurveda is a prerequisite to understand the concepts explained in this book.
This work is critical scientific apprisal of the classical Ayurvedic concepts of Physiology and Biochemistry of digestion and metabolism. Ayurvedic concepts of Jatharagni, Dhatwagni and Bhutagni pakas involved in digestion and metabolism in the body are explained in the light of the contemporary modern medical and allied sciences. Whever possible and without alterning the original meaning as envisaged in ayurveidc classical texts.
Ayurveda described thirteen types of Agni viz Jatharagni(one). Dhatwagni and Bhutagni which carry out the function of digestion and metabolism at different levels in the body. Prof. Dwarakanath has dealt the entire subject matter in six sections and vividly described the concepts of anatomical and physiological components involved in digestion and metabolism, Dhatwanipaka, Dravya Nistapaka, the role of Kayagnipaka, Rasa-Guna Virya-vipaka in metabolism, srotas and metabolism and the interrelationship of Anataragni and Kayacikitsa.
The striking feature in this bool is that the author has exensively quoted authentic Ayurvedic references from Caraka Samhita, Susruta Samhita, Astanga Sangraha. Astanga Hyrdaya and commentaries on these classical Ayurvedic texts. Also we find references from other ancient books whose concepts are useful to understand the Ayurvedic system of medicine. This reveals the versatility of the author and the depth in which he dealt the subject matter.
The book is an authentic references text book on Ayurvedic concepts of digestion and metabolism and is useful to Ayurvedic teachers, physicians, postgraduates students of Ayurveda and research scholars interested in Ayurvedic system of medicine. As this book is in English language. It is immensely useful to international readership. The book is an asset to one's personal library too.
The physician who has acquired the six attainments viz., the knowledge of the science of medicine, critical scientific reasoning, deep insight in allied sciences, memory, promptness in action and perseverance seldom fails to achieve his objective (viz., the protection, promotion and preservation of the health in the healthy and the alleviation of disease in the afflicted).
He is entitled to the title 'Vaidya' who has any one or the other of the following: knowledge (of the science of medicine), intellect, keen interest in his work, success in practice (of medicine) and the guidance of a senior (an experienced physician). One who possess (all) the aforesaid attainment deserves to be called the best Vaidya. He becomes the benefactor of humanity.
Science is light and it illuminates. One's own intellect is vision. One who applies both (science and intellect) seldom errs.
The redactor enlarges (expands) the aphoristic and condenses the prolix. In doing so he renews the (old) knowledge and brings it up-to-date.
This work, which is devoted to a critical scientific appraisal of the classical Ayurvedic concepts of physiology (including biochemistry) of digestion and metabolism, envisaged I jatharagni, dhatvagni and bhutagni pakas, is the fifth in the series of the books I have written so far. An attempt was made in the first two of the three books, entitled The Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda, to present the Pure or Fundamental concept viz., physical-including chemical-and mental, basic to the study of the physiological, pathological, pharmacological and therapeutical concepts/principles of Ayurveda The former dealt with some of the darshanic material relevant to Ayurveda, known popularly as Padarthavignana derived, for the most part, from the Nyayavaiseshika as well as Samkhya Patanjala schools of Natural philosophy and some of the authoritative commentaries on them. The first section of the third book was devoted to a faithful and critical rendering and explanation of the first chapter of the Sutrasthana of Vagbhata's Ahstangahridaya viz., Ayuhkamiya which has furnished a synoptic view of the entire range of Ashtanga-Ayurveda, dealt with in the different sthanas or sections of this monumental work. The second section of the book, under reference, was devoted to a critical appraisal of the scientific implications-both theoretical and practical-of the concepts of dravya (substance), bhutasanghatana (formation of molecules), rasa, guna, virya, vipaka and prabhava (taste, physico-chemical qualities/properties, energy-modalities, metabolic transformations, specific actions and actions determined by isomeric peculiarities respectively). The concepts/principles, referred to above are fundamental in their scope and outlook. The fourth book, the Introduction to Kayachikitsa, was devoted to a critical scientific appraisal of the physiological concepts of Ayurveda viz., the dosha-dhatu-mala siddhanta. The appraisal included, among others, the concepts of agni, kala and srotamsi also. All these concepts were examined I detail in the light of the outcome of scientific researches and developing trends in related fields of modern physiology and biochemistry.
I have, in the present work, ventured to develop, reconstruct, spreadout and furnish a consistant account of the physiology (including the biochemistry) of digestion and metabolism, based almost exclusively on the material gathered from the three extant Ayurvedic classics, described generally as the vriddhatrayi, which comprise the samhitas of Charaka and Sushruta and, the twin works of Vagbhata viz., Ashtanga-samgraha and Hridaya, as well as authoritative commentaries on these classics, such as the Ayurvedadipika on Charaka, Bhanumati on Sushruta by Chakrapani Datta; Sarvanga-sundara and Ayurveda Rasayana on Ashtanga Hridaya, by Aruna Datta and Hemadri respectively, and Shashilekha on Ashtanghasamgraha by Indu. I have also freely drawn material relating to the chemical (or better still physico-chemical) concepts that have a bearing on the subjects dealt with in this work derived, among others, from Tarakasamgraha, Muktavali, Kiranavali, Kanadarahasya, Padartha-dharmasamgraha, Nyayabodhini, Jayantamanjari, Nyayakandali, Dipika, Siddhantasiromani, Gaudapada on Karika, Vyasabhashya, Tatvavaisharadhi and Pravachanabhashya.
The concept of Digestion and Metabolism in Ayurveda, reflected in the jatharagni, dhatvagni and bhutagnipakas, forms a significant and important aspect of the much larger concept-dosha-dhatu-mala vignana. The latter, as is well known, supplies the physiological and pathological basis of Ayurveda and its refers, in main, to the three broadbased functional systems of the living human (also animal) body. The systems, referred to here are, the vata (vayu) system, the pitta system and kapha (shleshma) system and the processes, structures and biological substances concerned with them.
The term 'system' is used here in a conventional sense and for convenience of study, specially at the bed-side and clinical level. The living human organism, according to Ayurveda, is very much closely knit and it functions as a single integrated whole-its three broadbased functional components, the vata, pitta and kapha, acting together, mutually determine and condition each other, just as a "dwelling house is supported by stays-(Sushruta). It is just for this reason that the living body has sometimes been described as or "three supported one" (Ibid).
It may however be noted here that vata, pitta and kapha, both at the cellular and multicellular levels, stand for well defined grouping of functions. Thus, the outlook of vata has been stated to be predominantly rajasic (activating or dynamic) It is concerned with the production of those somatic and psychic processes that are predominantly rajasic or dynamic in nature. Its presence is to be inferred in such mental phenomena as the exhibition of enthusiasm, concentration etc., ; it upholds all the supporting constituents and ensures their proper circulation throughout the body. Its functional divisions are five viz., prana, udana, samana, vyana and apana. The general functions of vata have been described by Charaka thus: it is the urger of all senses and carrier to the mind of all sensory impressions; it holds together the various elements of the body in their proper form and maintains the cohesive unity of the body as a whole. It brings about speech; it is the basis of sound and touch as well as the root-matter of the organs of hearing and touch; it is the origin of joy and enthusiasm and the stimulator of agni; it is the cause of doshas getting dried up and the expulsion of malas (waste products) out of the body; it is the cause of division in all vessels of the body-both sukshma (subtle or microscopic) and sthula (gross or macroscopic); it is the cause which makes the embryo, in the womb, take particular forms. It stands as an evidence of life.
As regards pitta, Charaka has described its general functions thus: it is concerned with the production of those physical and mental processes that are predominantly satvic i.e., balancing and transformative in nature; it is responsible for vision (as opposed to perception which is due to vata), digestion, heat-production, hunger, thirst, softness and suppleness of the body, lusture, cheerfulness and intelligence. Its presence is to be inferred in such mental phenomena as intellection and clear conception, as also such physical phenomena as digestion, assimilation, heat-production, healthy appearance; courage, fear, anger, delight, confusion, lucidity. Etc.
The general outlook and functions of kapha, according to Charaka, can be described thus: being tamasic in outlook, it is concerned with the production of those physical and mental processes that are predominantly tamasic i.e., conserving and stabilising in nature. Its presence is to be inferred in such phenomena as the exhibition of courage, forbearance, zest, phenomena as the production of bodily strength and build, integration of structural elements of the body into stable structures, the maintenance of the smooth working of joints etc.
It will now be seen that between them, the three broadbased functions of the living human body, referred to above, envisage most, if not all the mental and physical processes and activities which, as stated earlier, represent, three interdependent, mutually determining and integrated movements. As noted by my revered preceptor, the late Vaidyaratna Captain G. Srinivasamurti, B.A.B.L., & MB & CM., an out-standing and brilliant student of modern sciences and medicine, who made a deep and critical study of Ayurveda, in his memorandum on the "Science and Art of Indian Medicine" in his memorandum on the "Science and Art of Indian Medicine" contributed, to the Usman Committee on Indian Systems of Medicine of Madras (1922-24) and later, to the Chopra Committee on Indigenous Systems of Medicine of Government of India (1946-48), "Many of the physical and mental phenomena ascribed by modern physiologists, primarily to the activities of the nervous system, in all its aspects (both cerebro-spinal and autonomic) can be identified with the concept of vata; similarly, many of the physical phenomena attributed to pitta are, among those which modern physiologists include under the activities of the thermogenic and nutritional systems (including the thermogenetic and the activities of glandular structures) whose functions are of vital importance in digestion, assimilation, assimilation, tissue building and metabolism generally. Likewise, many of the functions of kapha are, among those, which the modern physiologists include under the activities of the skeletal and anabolic systems".
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