Acharya Dridhabala – Time Period, Works, Contribution To Ayurveda

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Master Dridhabala was the redactor of Charaka Samhita. His contribution towards redacting, editing and completing the lost and damaged portions of Charaka Samhita is praise worthy.
Read – Acharya Charaka – Work, Samhita, Legacy, Chapters, Description

Acharya Dridabal

Time period and place of living
Dridhabal was the son of Kapilabala. He was a native of Panchananda pura belonging to the region of Kashmir. The term ‘Panchananda pura’ means the place of meeting of ‘five streams’. Today it is known by the name Panjnor, situated near Srinagar, the capital town of Kashmir.

Dridhabala has been quoted by Master Vagbhata in his treatise ‘Ashtanga Sangraha’, one among the elite 3 treatises of Ayurveda. It suggests that Drid bal probably lived one or two centuries earlier to the time period of Vagbhata. The cultural data, the style and content of Charaka Samhita which has been redacted by Drid bal points towards the redactor belonging to the time period of Gupta dynasty.
Read – Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutra Sthana Chapter 1: Basic Principles of Ayurveda

Gupta dynasty was one of the popular dynasties which ruled major territories of India during 4th and 5th century AD. The Indian culture, tradition, arts, eloquence and literature flourished during this period. Therefore it can be inferred that Dridhabala might have lived in between 4th and 5th century AD. During this time period, many Ayurvedic works and scriptures were edited, polished and redacted. Dridhabala too redacted and re-edited Charaka Samhita during this period. Therefore one can find the influence of Gupta Period in the literature of Charaka Samhita.
Read – Acharya Sushruta: Work, Samhita, Legacy, Amazing Facts

Contributions and works

Contribution and works of Dridhabala towards Ayurveda, Redaction and Addition to Charaka Samhita
Master Dridbal gives his brief introduction in the 30th chapter of Chikitsa Sthana and 12th chapter of Siddhi Sthana. He tells that he is an ardent follower of Lord Shiva, son of Kapilabali and a resident of Panchanada.

The currently available Charaka Samhita was originally written by master Agnivesha. Agnivesha was the first among the disciples of master Atreya to document Ayurveda in a written form, in the form of treatise. The original text should be called as ‘Agnivesha tantra’ or ‘Agnivesha Samhita’. Due credits to master Agnivesha are given everywhere, throughout the length of Charaka Samhita. In the later period, Master Charaka revised the Agnivesha tantra and henceforth it came to be known by his name, i.e. Charaka Samhita.

Master Dridhabala once again revised, re-edited, completed and redacted Charaka Samhita. He open heartedly praises and credits master Agnivesha and Charaka for their initial efforts. Acknowledgement to Agnivesha and Charaka can be found to be given at the end of each chapter of Charaka Samhita.
Read – Acharya Madhavakara: His Work ‘Madhava Nidana’, Legacy, Amazing Facts

After Charaka’s time, most of the parts of Charaka Samhita were damaged and many chapters went missing. Dridhabala took the responsibility of completing the missing chapters, revising, editing and redacting the portions of Charaka Samhita. He referred many treatises and contemporary works on Ayurveda and perfectly planned to finish off the incompletely available treatise into single complete and comprehensive piece so that it would benefit the successive generations.

Master Dridhabala took caution not to hurt the originality of the treatise, including the style of chapters, language, intent and contents of the treatise.
Read – An Insight On The Book Yogaratna Samuchayam

He also specifies about the chapters and portions of the main Charaka Samhita which were missing when he got his hands over them and all those chapters and portions added by him to the main treatise in the process of redaction and completion.

Here it is quoted as – ‘In the treatise written by master Agnivesha and revised by master Charaka, 17 chapters of Chikitsa Sthana i.e. section dealing with treatment of diseases (therapeutics), 12 chapters of Kalpasthana i.e. section dealing with pharmaceutics and 12 chapters of Siddhi Sthana i.e. section dealing with success in treatment were not available. These unavailable chapters of this treatise were promptly and selflessly completed by Dridhabala, son of Kapilabala’

This quote gives us a clear idea of the chapters completed and reconstructed by master Dridhabala. Taking a precise count, below mentioned 41 chapters are said to be reconstructed and redacted by Dridhabala.
Read – An Insight On The Ayurvedic Book Vaidyasara Sangraha Of Karnataka

List of Charaka Chapters

41 chapters added to Charaka Samhita by Master Dridhabala

Chikitsa Sthana (therapeutics) 17 chapters Kalpa Sthana (pharmaceutics) 12 chapters Siddhi Sthana (success in treatment) 12 chapters
1. Unmada Chikitsa 1. Madana Kalpa 1. Kalpana Siddhi
2. Apasmara Chikitsa 2. Jimutaka Kalpa 2. Panchakarma Siddhi
3. Kshata Chikitsa 3. Ikshwaku Kalpa 3. Vastisutriya Siddhi
4. Shotha Chikitsa4. Dhamargava Kalpa4. Snehavyapadiki Siddhi
5. Udara Chikitsa 5. Vatsaka Kalpa5. Netravastivyapadiki Siddhi
6. Grahani Chikitsa 6. Krutavedhana Kalpa 6. Vamanavirechanavyapad Siddhi
7. Pandu Chikitsa 7. Shyama Trivrit Kalp 7. Vastivyapad Siddhi
8. Shwasa Chikitsa8. ChaturangulaKalpa 8. Prasrutayogika Siddhi
9. Kasa Chikitsa 9. Tilvaka Kalpa 9. Trimarmiya Siddhi
10. Chardi Chikitsa 10. Sudha Kalpa 10. Vasti Siddhi
11. Trishna Chikitsa 11. SaptalaShankini Kalpa 11. Phalamatra Siddhi
12. Visha Chikitsa 12. Danti Dravanti Kalpa 12. Uttaravasti Siddhi
13. Trimarmiya Chikitsa    
14. Urustambha Chikitsa    
15. Vatavyadhi Chikitsa    
16. Vatashonita Chikitsa    
17. Yonivyapat Chikitsa    


Controversial opinions surrounding the chapters added by Dridhabala
When we look at the chapters added by Dridhabala to Charaka Samhita, there would be no doubt about the sections of pharmaceutics and success of treatment because all 12+12 = 24 chapters have been added by Dridhabala, because all these chapters were damaged and missing from the main treatise. But the controversial opinions are regarding the chapters added by Dridhabala to the Chikitsa Sthana i.e. therapeutics.
Read – An Insight On The Book Arogya Chandrika Athava Kudumba Vaidhyan Of Shri Swami Sachidhanandhan

Chikitsa Sthana i.e. section of therapeutics has 30 chapters. The below mentioned opinions are available about the chapters added by Dridhabala to this section.

1. It is clear that Dridhabala has added 17 chapters to the section of therapeutics. Many experts have kept it simple by telling that the first 13 chapters of this section were available as such and Dridhabala added the later 17 chapters making it a total of 30.
Read – Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 30th Chapter – Yoni Vyapat

2. Master Chakrapani, the commentator of Charaka Samhita clarifies that master Dridhabala has added 17 chapters to the original treatise of Charaka Samhita excluding the 13 chapters written by Agnivesha and revised by Charaka in the original scripture. The chapters which were available in Charaka Samhita before Dridhabala’s addition were –

  • Rasayana Adhyaya (Chapter 1)
  • Vajikarana Adhyaya (Chapter 2)
  • Jwara Chikitsa (Chapter 3)
  • Raktapitta Chikitsa (Chapter 4)
  • Gulma Chikitsa(Chapter 5)
  • Prameha Chikitsa (Chapter 6)
  • Kushta Chikitsa (Chapter 7)
  • Rajayakshma Chikitsa (Chapter 8)
  • Arsha Chikitsa (Chapter 14)
  • Atisara Chikitsa (Chapter 19)
  • Visarpa Chikitsa (Chapter 21)
  • Dwi Vraniya Chikitsa (Chapter 24)
  • Madatyaya Chikitsa (Chapter 25)
    Read – Rajayakshma – Charaka Chikitsa 8

The above said are the 13 chapters available intact in the Charaka Samhita before Dridhabala’s addition. This also clarifies that the 17 chapters added by master Dridhabala were not sequential. He just added the chapters in the missing places and not from 14-30. The chapters added by Dridhabala are chapters 9-13, 15-18, 20, 22, 23, 26-30.
Read – Charaka Kshatasheena Chikitsa 11th chapter

3. Some experts opine that the sequence of original Charaka Samhita was intact until the time period of Chakrapani. Later on someone changed the order in order to group 13 chapters redacted by Charaka at one place and separate them from 17 chapters redacted by Dridhabala thus leading to confusions related to the chronology of chapters. But Chakrapani has clarified which chapter belonged to whom following Dridhabala’s additions.

4. We can also infer from the above said information that the chapters of therapeutic section need not be the exact chronology of the original treatise but might have undergone position shifts due to recurrent redactions by Charaka and Dridhabala. The chapters of Chikitsa Sthana are thus a compilation of chapters written originally by Charaka and chapters added by Dridhabala in the later time period, the chapters not necessarily indicating the proper sequence or chronology that was meant to be when the treatise was originally documented by Agnivesha and later by Charaka.
Read – Ayurvedic Treatment For Heart Diseases – Hridroga Chikitsa

5. Many experts opine that, though Dridhabala has refurnished and redacted 41 chapters to Charaka Samhita, his influence has been found to grace the entire treatise, all 120 chapters. Thus, there is a possibility that he might not just have added the missing chapters, but could have also trimmed the existing chapters and given the treatise an overall new look so that it suits to the readers and students of his era and the generations to come.
Read – Charaka Prameha Chikitsa – 6th chapter

Master Dridhabala’s contribution to Ayurveda is huge. If it weren’t for him, we would never have got to read and understand the entire Charaka Samhita. In fact Charaka Samhita, having been available only to its two third quantum barring the addition of one third part by Dridhabala, it would never had got its status as one among the three great treatises i.e. ‘Brihat Trayees’.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email / Skype

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