The author of the book “Rãj Nighantu” is Sh. Narhari Pandit of Kashmir, a scion of the Kashmir dynasty. He was the king of Kashmir, a great devotee to Lord Siva, great scholar, writer, physician, administrator, poet, warrior, and had command over eighteen languages. The name of his father was Iswar Suri. All these qualities of Narhari Pandit and his introduction, have been narrated by Narhari himself through different slokas at different places. Some scholars, however opine that he belonged to South (Andhra Pradesh), on the plea that the local names of the plants described in the book are in the languages mainly from Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh where-as at a few places, in footnotes, the names of the plants have been mentioned in eighteen languages, which clearly shows that he was well versed with the culture and languages of these areas. No-where the names of the plants have been mentioned in Dogri or Kashmiri, and further in his 14th chapter (Paniyãdi varga), where he has described the properties of the waters of different rivers of whole of the country, surprisingly there is no mention of any river or lake of Jammu and Kashmir though at many places in the treatise he quotes himself as a resident of Jammu and Kashmir. This controversial aspect is open for the stalwarts of Ayurveda to debate and conclude.
Specialities Of Raj Nighantu
A. The importance of Narhari’s work lies in his straight-forward approach to the subject of Dravyaguna that is the drugs/minerals/or animal origin substances used as medicine, and their actions. He is the first writer of a Nighantu (Glossary), who dared to declare the subject of Dravyaguna as one of the main eight branches (Astanga) of Ayurveda (Ref.R.N.21/58). By attaching such an important place to/the subject, he successfully assimilated almost all the drugs of classical literature, as well as some of those from the Materia Medica of Greek, Arabian and Chinese, which were in use during his period.
B. Further his synonyms include the names prevalent in the languages: Kannada, Marathi. Telegu, Sanskrt, Prãkrt, Apbhrañsa and other local tribal dialects. This practice was’ hitherto unknown in the previous Nighantus and thus it has provided a bigger canvas for the identification of plants/drugs.
C. The period of Narhari’s existence too has placed him in a beneficial quadrant He includes the yellow flowered variety of Kaner (Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) Merrill, and Jhandu or Gendã (Tagetes erecta Linu.). These two plants were not known to the medical profession in India till the times of Aien-e-Akbari and were included in Indian Materia Medica after that. Jahangir has mentioned both these plants, which were probably brought to India by the Hakims from Arabia. Thus, Narhari Pandit had an opportunity to include all the important plants and animal origin substances from Dhanwantari (10th century A.D.) to Bhãv Prakãsa (16th century A.D.), alongwith the medieval plants brought to India by Unãni Hakims during the Mughal period.
D. Narhari Pandit is again probably first to postulate the existence of life in plant king-dome a fact which was scientifically proved correct later on by Sir, J.C. Bose, after nearly three centuries.
E. He also proposes a hypothesis to divide the land on the basis of four Varnas (Castes) as the plants grown on such a land are beneficial to their corresponding castes. The hypothesis, however, requires thorough verification.
The book known as ‘Rãj Nighantu’, written by Sh. Narhari Pandit of Kashmir, was originally named as “Abhidhãn Cudãmani” or Dravy abhidhan-gana-Sangraha”. The book as written after studying and considering all the Nighantus (Glossaries), available at that time, and mainly follows the pattern of Dhanvantari Nighantu. Thus, the author has tried to ensure that some short-comings, which were present in the earlier Nighantus, do not find place in Rãj Nighantu. Further, it has many special features like being better arranged and having notable additional chapters and material. When it was nearing completion, the writer felt that of all the Nighantus, available at that time, his work was :- best, so he changed its name to “Raj Nighantu”.
With a view to make this Nighantu (glossary) more popular, for better identification of drugs, to give it a scientific basis and make the knowledge more useful for the Ayurvedic professionals, the INSA (Indian National Science Academy) decided to undertake this project, “English Translation of Rãj Nighantu with critcal commentary”, which was alloted my father, late Dr. Satish Chandra Sankhyadhar.
Brief Introduction Of The Investigator
Investigator of this project, late Dr. Satish Chandra Sankhyadhar, S/o Late Pt. Narayan Shastri (Rãj Vaidya of erstwhile Bharatpur State), was born on 1st November 1929, at Mãdho Tãndã (bordering Nepal), District Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh. He Passed his matriculation from Hindu College Shahjahanpur and Intermediate from S.M. College chandausi (U.P.) He passed his professional degree (A.B.M.S.) from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, and P.G.R.C. from Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research, Jamanagar (Gujrat). He was a renowned writer, poet and satarist.
Besides his professional qualifications, he did his B.A. from Banaras Hindu University ,. Varanasi, M.A. from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Madhyama (Vyãkaran) and Shãstri (Sahitya) from Govt. Queen’s College Varanasi, Darsanãchãrya from Lucknow University. and Ph.D. (Hindi) from Jammu University.
During his distinguished service tenure, he occupied the high offices of Professor/Principal M.N Ayurvedic College Rohtak,Principal and Medical Superintendent Govt. Ayurvedic College/Hospital Jammu, Principal Govt Ayurvedic College Bareilly (U.P.), Principal Ayurvedic College Sardãr Shahar (Rajasthan) and Medical Superintendent K.N.M Hospital, Chandigarh. He was also the Project Officer of the “Survey of Medicinal plants” unit (CCRIMH) at Jammu, and also the Project Officer of many other such projects.
He presented a large number of Research papers in the National and International seminars and workshops. His notable achievements, in this regard, are as follows— 1. Recepient of Sh. Shiv Näth Sharma Research award (A citation and Rs. 10,000/ cash award) for outstanding work in the field of Ayurveda, in 1992. 2. Awarded Fellowship of Rashtriya Ayurveda Vidyãpeetha. 3. Awarded honorary degree of “Prãncãrya” by Indraprastha Vaidya Sabhã, New Delhi, in 1993.
Main Contribution Of The Investigator In The Book
The investigator has made a lot of effort to present the true translation Rãj Nighantu and the Dipikã (critical commentary) on scientific lines. In this regard, he has been able to about eight zerox copies of the manuscripts of Rãj Nighantu from different parts of the country as well as from abroad for comparison and proper evaluation of drugs/items mentioned in Rãj Nighantu by Ashubodh and Nityabodh Bhattãchãrya, the manuscript on which the said translation and critical commentary is mainly based.
Accordingly, a great effort has been made to provide the appropriate translation of the terms used with reference to diseases, gunas, signs and symptons etcetra, which have hairline differences in the meanings throughout the project. Similarly, special attention has been given to the botanical names to remove the controversies usually coming in the way of identification of drugs, along with their uses, parts used, poperties, comparative charts, glossary of words and critical evaluation of the work of Narhari. The critical commentary presented in the project is definitely going to benefit the Ayurvedic professionals with its scientific basis and logical informative material.
Completion of Book
On the death of my father, late Dr. Satish Chandra Sankhyadhar, on 28th March 1997, the work was almost complete, though in rough shape. As a tribute to my beloved father, I took up the challenging responsibility of finalising, completing and arranging the book in its present shape, on my shoulders. It was an up-hill task to complete such a project with a number of handicaps on my side. Firstly, I had no experience of working on such projects. Secondly, for certain concepts pertaining to the subject matter, I was required to trace, contact & discuss the project with the professionals & scientists from R.R.L. (Regional Research Laboratory) Jammu, Shri Ranvir Kendriya Sanskrt Vidyãpitha Jammu and Govt. Ayurvedic Hospital Jammu. Thirdly when I took-up the project in 1997, bilingual typing was a great problem because those engaged in such typing work were not experts and one had to sit by their side and dictate and check the entire typing work.
In order to complete this project and give it the present shape, I had to go through the whole project thoroughly. The following work was undertaken mainly by me:
1. Rechecking of variations, translation and Rãj Dipika (critical commentary) by consulting all the concerned books.
2. Proper quoting of all the references with sloka number and chapter of the concerned books.
3. Completion of the incomplete work at some places.
4. Completion of 1st index of Sanskrt names, preparation of 2nd index of botanical names and the preparation of supplementary 3rd index of Hindi and Sanskrt names, appearing in the critical commentary. The first index has been arranged according to the letters of Devanagari alphabet but due to shortage of time and lack of help, the 3rd index has been arranged in Roman alphabetical order. The 2nd Index of botanical names is arranged according to page number.
5. Diacritical marking throughout the book/project was done manually, after getting the final print.
6. Preparation of bibliography.
In the end, I must say that inspite of putting all the required efforts to the best of my ability to complete this project, alloted to my late father, some lapses must have remained here and there, which I am sure, will be over looked by the elders and scholars of Ayurveda, considering me a very junior and humble student of Ayurveda.
Sri Narhari Pandit, a resident of Kashmir, is the eminent writer of “Raj Nighantu” The glossary is a reflection of almost everything in nature, that is beneficial to mankind / humanity.
Ayurveda the science of life, covers a wide area of exploration and Narhari has put his full competence and knowledge in consolidating and producing this meaningful document.
The most fascinating aspect of Raj Nighantu is how it projects the various drugs/minerals/animal origin substances, to be used as medicine for preservation of health and ensuring a long, happy and productive life, which is the basic philosophy of Ayurveda. A straight forward approach to the subject of Dravyaguna is an important feature of Narhari’s work. He is the first writer of Nighantu (glossary), who dared to declare Dravyaguna as one of the Astanga Ayurveda. Another contribution which he made was to postulate the existence of life in plant kingdom which was tater on scientifically proved by Sir J.C. Bose, three centuries later.
Many of the statements and hypotheses of Narhari can act as the. basis of research for the scholars of Ayurveda for example— The division of land and plants on the basis of four castes/varnas.
The milk of cows of different colour, being beneficial to the patients with vitiated mours etc.
Narhari incorporated almost all the new plants and animal origin substances in his work, right from Dhanvantari (l0th Century) to Bhav Prakash (16th Century) along with medieval plants brought to India by Unani Hakims during the Mughal period, besides adding those which he himself discovered. He has enumerated more synonyms for correct identification but these may have caused confusion in some plants.
English translation of Raj Nighantu is an important work in the field of Indian Materia Medica, put before the world of Ayurvedic scholars. This scholarly and monumental on Raj Nighantu has been done by my friend late Dr. Satish Chandra Sankhyadhar, an unparalleled physician and scholar in the field of Ayurveda. He is also a great writer,poet and satirist in the world of literature, glimpses of this blend of the physician and the poet can be seen during the course of this book. He was an alumnus of Banaras Hindu university. Being a Kashmirian he has given a better outlook to the drugs.
He has taken considerable pains in preparing the present volume of English translation of Raj Nighantu alongwith Raj Dipika (the critical commentary) on scientific grounds.
The objective of such an extensive work is to enable the physician to make judicious use of herbs/minerals etc. in a more effective way and to render help to the students of Indian Materia Medica to minimize the difficulties in understanding and grasping the subject. It is a valuable contribution to the science of Indian medicine. It is a matter of immense gratification, that it will prove an excellent guiding torch for the research scholar in the field of Ayurveda.
Though the work was done long back but the present form has been presented his able daughter Dr. Deepika Sankhyadhar M.D., who is at present working in Panchakarma unit at Jammu. I expect much more publications from her. I congratulate Sri Atulji of Chaukhambha Orientalia, Varanasi for publishing this important work.
Plants have references in Rgveda but mainly in “Atharva Veda” from which Ayurveda has its origin. All the plants during Vedic period with their names, synonyms, sizes, shapes, properties etcetera, were later compiled in the books called Nighantus (glossaries). After some time, these Nighantus also included other new prevalent plants, minerals and substances of animal origin.
A large number of Nighantus, including Rãj Nighantu, the subject of my work, have come into existence. All these have done their best to provide useful and proper description of the plants in their own manner, yet there are some areas which having remained unattended, so far, are the main handicaps for the progress of Ayurveda. These are
I. Proper identification of drugs is not available due to same synonyms of different plants and controversy about their identification on modern lines, in some of the plants. All this leads to confusion amongst scholars, physicians and students, and also affects the efficacy of various medicinal preparations.
2.All the Nighantus being written in Sanskrt and many professionals not understanding Sanskrt, the books are not being followed and interpreted properly. This is affecting the popularity of Ayurveda, adversely.
3. Commentary on scientific lines and translation in various languages, including English, is not available, leading to a lack of concept of the subject amongst Ayurvedic professionals.
With the view to overcome the above mentioned handicaps for the progress of Ayurveda, the project “English translation of Raj Nighantu with critical commentary” has been alloted to me from Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.
Introduction of Book
The book “Raj Nighantu” appears to be written in the second half of the 15th century A.D. or the first half of the 16th century A.D. Raj Nighantu has been written after studying different Nighantu and Kosas like Dhanwantari Nighantu, Madanpall Nighantu. Halayudha Nighantu, Viswaparakasa Nighantu Amar Kosa, Bhojraj Kosa ecetera., so that the short-comings of these Nighantus do not find place in Raj Nighantu. After completion of the book, the author felt that it was the best of all the Nighantus available at that time, so he changed its original name Abhidhan Cüdamani or Dravyabhidhan-gana-Sangraha to Rãj Nighantu.
Though, there is no reference about the time at which ‘RajNighantu” was written but, obviously, it is after the period pertaining to these books which have been referred to by the author. In this context, out of all the Nighantus referred to above, only Madanpãl, the author of MadanpaI Nighantu, has quoted his period as 1471 Vikrami era. Accordingly, the period of Rãj Nighantu is after the time of Madanpal Nighantu.
The writer has followed the pattern of Dhanwantari Nighantu which has been quoted the writer himself at different places. Besides, some new chapters like Anüpãdi, Dharanyãdi, Manusyadi, Rogãdi, Satvädi etcetera, have also been included in this Nighantu, which do not exist in the other Nighantus.
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