From the Jacket
The work presents earliest and most important compendium on the section of Indian medicine that is traditionally called nidana, the Rogaviniscaya by Madhava, usually referred to as Madhavanidana. Though the first work of this type to appear in the field of Sanskrit medical literature, it has remained a classic up to modern times.
Madhava set the standard as to the order in which the diseases should be described. In this he definitely improved upon the earlier samhitas, in which a restricted number of diseases is dealth with in the section. Collecting his material from the samhitas, for the greater part at least, and selecting what was appropriate to the nature of his work and its scope, he organized the whole in a new way. Madhava clearly met with success as reflected in the compendia written by subsequent authors.
The text of a Sanskrit medical treatise is not clear in many instances and may be interpreted in a number of ways. The commentaries are indispensable for a correct understanding of the way in which difficult passages were explained according to tradition. The text of the most important commentary on the Madhavanidana, the Madhukosa, is presented here in English translation.
About the Author
Gerrit Jan Meulenbeld was born on May 28th, 1928, in Borne (Netherlands). After studying medicine and Sanskrit at the State University of Utrecht (1946-1954) he specialized in psychiatry (1956-1961) and psychotherapy. He was a member of the psychiatric staff of the Deltaziekenhuis (Poortugaal) during the years 1961-1978. On November 1st, 1978 he joined the psychiatric staff of the Dr. S. van Mesdag-kliniek (Groningen); at the same time he gegan teaching Sanskrit and Ayurveda at the Institute of Indian Studies of the State University of Groningen. He abandoned his position at the University on April 1st, 1986. he has published widely on Ayurveda and the history of medicine in India, including the monumental multi-volumed study entitled A History of Indian Medial Literature (1999-2002).
The presentation of a translation of the Madhavanidana and its chief commentary needs some words of introduction in order to explain why this particular treatise was selected.
Firstly I have to bring to the reader’s notice that the three classical samhitas of Sanskrit medical literature are available in translations. The Carakasamhita was twice translated into English (by Kaviraj Avinash Chandra Kaviratna and by a group of scholars of the Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society); a third translation (by Ramkaran Sarma and Bhagavan Das), with extracts from Cakrapanidatta’s commentary, is an course of preparation. The Susrutasamhita was translated into Latin (by F. Hessler) and into English (by Kaviraj Kunjalal Bhishagratna); there are also incomplete translations of this text (Su. 1-14 by Hoernle; Su. 1-42, 10 by Udoy Chand Dutt; Su. 42, 10-46, 176 by Aughorechunder Chattopadhyaya). The Astangahrdayasamhita was translated into German (by L. Hilgenberg and W. Kirfel); the first five chapters of both the Sanskrit original and the Tibetan version were translated into English (by C. Vogel). Among the vast mass of medical Sanskrit literature, apart from the mentioned samhitas, a restricted number of texts has been partially translated: Astangasamgraha (BDHM Hyderabad, 1964), Bhedasamhita (Su. 16, by Filliozat and by R.F.G. Muller), Haritasamhita (section 2, chapter 1, by Filliozat), Bhavaprakasa (the ophthal-mological parts, by Esser), Cikitsakalika with Candrata’s commentary (by Jolly), Todara’s Ayurvedasaukhya (BDHM Hyderabad, 1965) and Kalya-nakaraka (BDHM Hyderabad, 1965), not to mention translations found in books on Indian medicine in general and articles on special subjects.
The First five chapters of the Madhavanidana were already translated into Italian by Vallauri (gsai 26, 1913-14, p. 253-290).
The systematic study of the medical compendia and compilations, which were composed in increasing numbers after the age of the samhitas had passed, has scarcely begun; translations and attempts to analyze their contents are scarce. So it appeared desirable to work at a translation of the earliest and most important compendium on the section of Indian medicine that is traditionally called nidana, the Rogaviniscaya by Madhava, usually referred to as the Madhavanidana. Though the first work of this type to appear in the field of Sanskrit medical literature, it has remained a classic up to modern times.
Madhava set the standard as to the order in which the diseases should be described. In this he definitely improved upon the earlier samhitas, in which a restricted number of diseases is dealt with in the section on nidana, while the remaining ones are found in various other sections. Collecting his material from the samhitas, for the greater part at least, and selecting what was appropriate to the nature of his work and its scope, he organized the whole in a new way. Madhava clearly met with success. The compendia written by subsequent authors (Vrndakunda’s Siddhayoga, Cakrapanidatta’s Cikitsasamgraha, Vangasena’s Cikitsasa-rasamgraha, Bhavamisra’s Bhavaprakasa, etc.) faithfully reflect the scheme of the Madhavanidana.
The almost complete translation of a commentary on a Sanskrit medical text hardly needs justification, because the only specimen available so far is the abbreviated rendering of the first part of Candrata’s commentary on Tisata’s Cikitsakalika (Jolly, ZDMG 60, 1906, p. 413-468). The commentaries on Sanskrit medical texts are of great importance for a number of reasons.
The text of a Sanskrit medical treatise is not clear in many instances and may be interpreted in a number of ways. The commentaries are indispensable for a correct understanding of the way in which difficult passages were explained according to tradition. Conflicting views are often discussed by commentators and variants of the text are recorded. Quotations from and references to works which have not been preserved and works which are still extant are frequently found in commentaries. For this reason they are essential tools in establishing a relative chronology of medical authors and works. Apart from all this, the way of reasoning about medical concepts and the tendency to reconcile disagreeing traditions are interesting in themselves.
The test of the most important commentary on the Madhavanidana, the Madhukosa, is presented here in an almost complete translation. Only those parts of it dealing with subjects not connected with medicine, particularly discussions on grammar, have been left out. The task of rendering the commentary into English presented many problems. I have kept rather close to the peculiar style of a Sanskrit commentary, which has the disadvantage of making difficult reading, but retains the flavour of the original. On the other hand it does not obscure that it proved impossible sometimes to arrive at a full understanding of the allusions to various theories, opinions, conflicting views etc., which may have been clear in the age in which the commentary was composed, but are confusing when the sources are not referred to by name or lost to us. Seeing that many translations of medical Sanskrit texts are unsatisfactory in certain respects, I tried to elaborate a translating technique which would render the original as consistently as possible. First of all it should make clear what is in the text and what is added by the translator. In this respect Bhishagratna’s translation of the Susrutasamhita is a bad example of what a translation should be; elements from Dalhana’s commentary are incorporated in the translation without indication, a practice that results in confusing all those who cannot consult the Sanskrit text for comparison at every page. Words necessary to complete a sentence or make clear its meaning have been put between brackets in the translation here presented. Especially by the use of technical terms borrowed from contemporary medical science (e.g. the Gulabkunverba translation of the Carakasamhita and Bhishagratna’s translation of the Susrutasamhita).
Finally, it is my conviction that names of medicinal plants should remain untranslated whenever their botanical identification is doubtful, i.e. in the greater number of cases (in this respect Hilgenberg and Kirfel’s translation of the Astangahrdayasamhita shows much more confidence than is warranted; the Gulabkunverba translation of the Carakasamhita is a particularly bad example, because it forces the reader to learn by heart the equivalents used or to consult the list of Sanskrit names with their equivalents again and again).
The most difficult problem encountered in preparing the translation of the Madhavanidana and the Madhukosa consisted in finding suitable English equivalents for the great number of technical Sanskrit terms. Firstly, I generally avoided the use of modern medical terms except in a few cases where they appeared adequate. Secondly, striving for a translation that would be as consistent as possible, I decided to render technical terms by a fixed equivalent whenever the range of meaning of the Sanskrit word allowed this. As a matter of fact the work went through a series of stages in order to accomplish this aim, but it proved to be a method that could be worked out. In this way it becomes easier to find out which terms are synonymous or convey a related meaning and which terms have different connotation. A better understanding of the Sanskrit technical terms used in medical texts in moreover acquired by comparing parallel passages from several texts. Those who are not versed in Sanskrit are unable to do so and will be at a loss when comparing the existing translations, which are so different from one author to another that a comparison is not possible at all. That is why I have added translations of the parallel passages in notes on the respective chapters, which has the attendant advantage that much material from hitherto untranslated texts can be presented.
The volume is provided with a series of Appendices which may increase its usefulness to those who have not made a special study of Sanskrit medical texts.
The work would have been incomplete without a concordance of the Nidana and lists of the quotations and their sources, found in the commentary (App. 1). The printed editions are not always reliable in this respect and certainly not complete. The errors of the printed editions have been corrected; a number of hitherto unidentified passages and quotations has been traced to their sources, though gaps remain, some of which may be filled in later.
An no reliable survey of our present knowledge on the chronology of Sanskrit medical authors and works is available, I have summarized what is known to me about the authors and works referred to (App. 2). Some information on technical terms was thought to be useful, both to medical historians and Sanskritists (App. 3). The material has been largely collected from Sanskrit medical treatises and nighantus; the latter have so far not been much studied.
The botanical identifications of plants mentioned in Sanskrit texts is a field in which almost complete confusion reigns, a fact of which every Sanskritist is constantly aware. A preliminary survey of the identifications as found in the literature pertaining to this field seems highly desirable. The material collected only applies to plant names found in this volume (App. 4). Decisions regarding the adequacy of the identifications could not be reached in this way and require much separate study.
Identification of the syndromes described, or the clusters of symptoms enumerated, has been attempted, but proved an exceedingly difficult task (App. 5). A thorough acquaintance with the diseases prevalent in India at the present time and with the history of those diseases is absolutely required to solve the problems, and this is lacking in the present author. I have tried, however, to arrive at a first approximative evaluation of the data presented and can only hope that a great number of medical colleagues, specialized in the several branches of medicine, will endeavour to improve on these first attempts.
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend