Laghu Trayi – The lesser trio of Ayurvedic Treatises

Article by Dr Manasa
Laghu Trayi means ‘Lesser Trio’ or ‘Lesser Triad’ (Lesser Trilogy) of Ayurveda.
It comprises of 3 treatises covering Ayurvedic Basics and description of diseases, formulations and treatments in a simplified way.  They are basically the compilations taken from the ancient treatises especially the Greater Trio or Brihat Trayees namely Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Vagbhata Samhita (Ashtanga Sangraha / Ashtanga Hridaya). Materials related to Ayurveda from the ancient treatises have been simplified and presented in a different way and chronology in Laghu Trayees but care has been taken not to compromise on the quality of content or meddle with core basics.

Laghu trayees, importance

Laghu Trayees – comprise of:
(click on them below, to read more about them)

  1. Madhava Nidana – written and compiled by Acharya Madhavakara
  2. Sharangadhara Samhita – written and compiled by Acharya Sharangadhara
  3. Bhavaprakasha – written and compiled by Acharya Bhavamishra

Laghu Trayees are said to be the next best to the Brihat Trayis among the elite references to study and practice Ayurveda in a comprehensive way.

What was the need of Laghu Trayees?
This looks like a genuine question to all of us. When already there existed Brihat Trayees which had already occupied the elite places as standard references and worshiped by Ayurvedic teachers, preachers and students as encyclopaedias of Ayurveda, there seemed to be little room for anyone to prefer, read or follow another set of references against the standard ones. So why did the authors take the risk of writing these treatises? The answer is:

Too much elaboration of material in ancient treatises Brihat Trayees are the golden references as far as the details of Ayurvedic basics related to the disease and treatment details, be it preventive or curative aspect are concerned. But the elaboration of the material is too much in these mentioned treatises that it becomes difficult for easy understanding and adapting them in clinical practice.

Need of shortening or simplifying the ancient treatises This elaboration of ancient treatises made the authors and scholars of Ayurvedic science who came in a later period to realize the necessity of keeping the science simple yet comprehensive. This need of shortening the main treatises into simpler versions led to the simplification process from 10th century onwards. From this time many authors started compiling the materials and verses related to Ayurvedic medical science from the ancient treatises like Charaka, Sushruta etc and make ‘easy to read, understand and practice’ books. Among the treatises born out of such necessity, the ‘Laghu Trayi’ or the lesser triad are the main.

The ‘Laghu Trayis

Madhava Nidana

Understanding a disease process in depth is essential for a comprehensive treatment to be planned. A disease process could be understood only by properly understanding the Nidana Panchaka or 5 tools of examination.

Madhava Nidana, one among the Laghu Trayees is unique in terms of not having touched the treatment aspect of the disease but only elaborated the diseases and their classification and symptomatology in detail. Thus Madhava Nidana is the standard reference of ‘Ayurveda Pathology or Aetiopathogenesis’.

Madhava Nidana is the best treatise when it comes to easy understanding of the Nidana Panchakas. Madhava Nidana has not touched upon the Upashaya-Anupashaya, one among the 5 tools of examination which is basically treating a disease on the basis of trial and error method. This aspect is a part of Chikitsa or treatment. The other 4 tools namely Nidana (causative factors of a disease), Purvarupa (premonitory symptoms of a disease), Rupa (signs and symptoms of a disease) and Samprapthi (pathogenesis of a disease) are comprehensively dealt in Madhava Nidana.

Madhava Nidana is a compilation of verses and references related to Nidana Panchaka of a disease. The whole material is extracted from the best essence of Brihat Trayi or greater triad of Ayurveda.

Madhava Nidana excludes the treatment aspect and gives us a compilation of Nidanas for easy understanding of diseases. At the same time, Madhavakara has excluded Chikitsa (treatment) part from his treatise and made it unique. Brihat Trayi not only deals with Nidana Panchaka as related to understanding a disease but also covers treatment aspect in detail.

Madhava Nidana is an intelligent compilation of the parts of Brihat Trayi for easy understanding of a disease. Thus, in a single chapter say for example Pandu Nidana (causes and pathology of anaemia and liver disorders), some verses may be from Charaka, some from Sushruta and some from Vagbhata.

Ultimately Madhava Nidana specializes in giving a gist of Nidanas of a disease and is the best complied encyclopaedia of diseases in Ayurveda.

Sharangadhara Samhita

Sharangadhara Samhita – specialties:
The whole treatise consists of 3 divisions, 32 chapters and 2,600 verses.

  • The seasons are classified according to constellations
  • Examination of pulse or Nadi Pariksha has been detailed
  • Definitions of various terminologies like Deepana, Pachana etc have been detailed
  • Detailed classification of the diseases has been given
  • The methods of Shodana (purification), Marana (preparing the ash) procedures of minerals has been explained in detail
  • Panchakarma techniques and their importance in treatment has been explained
  • Single herb formulations have been given

Bhavaprakasha

Bhavaprakasha – Specialities
Bhavamishra was the first person who had given the details about ‘Phiranga Roga’, Gonorrhoea of modern day. He has also detailed its pathology, signs and symptoms along with treatment. Rasa Karpura and other formulations were indicated as best remedies for combating Phiranga Roga.

Bhavamishra incorporated one new herb namely Madhusnuhi (Chopchini, Dweepantara Vacha) in his treatise. He also explained its properties including its Rasa (taste), Guna (qualities), Virya (potency), Vipaka (post digestion effect) and Prabhava (effect)

Summing up –
Laghu Trayee translates into ‘Lesser Trio’ but they are no less than any other treatise in terms of quality of the material covered. Their simplicity makes them sweet and catchy. Many times we need to concentrate an average student and average reader who can understand things only when conveyed in a simple way. When it matters keeping things simple yet comprehensive to understand and easy to practice, Laghu Trayis take the ultimate privilege of providing that comfort.

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