The terms 'Ayurveda ' consists of two words ,namely , 'Ayus' and 'Veda ' meaning 'the Science of Life '.It is traditionally considered as a supplement to the vedas .According to the Carana-vyuba ,this is an upveda of Rgveda .Both Caraka and Susruta ,however ,consider this as an upveda of the Atharvaveda .
Some of the ancient texts on Ayurveda are not yet available .Among the extant texts ,the Caraka -samhita
by Agnivesa ,the Susruta-samhita by Susruta and the Astanga-hradya by Vagbhata are recognized as
BRHATTRAYI or the 'Great Trio'.Of these three ,Caraka is considered to be the most authoritation inasmuch
as it represents an authentic thesaurus of the various aspects of this science ,with special reference
to the fundamental principles of medicine .
The following sloka furnished towards the end of this work aptly describes the significance of this work :
Chikitssa vahniveshasya swasthathurahitham prathi I
Yathihaasthi thadanyathra yannehaasthi na thatkvachith II
"The methods of treatment prescribed by Agnivasa are meant both for the healthy (for the maintenance of their positive health and prevention of diseases ) and patients (for the cure of their ailments). Whatever is mentioned in this work is available elsewhere and things not mentioned here are not to be found any where else"
AYURVEDA HAS EIGHT SPECIALIZED BRANCEHES .THEY ARE :-
Kayacikitsa or internal medicine
Salakya or treatment of diseases of the organs in the Head and Neck.
Salyapahartrka or extraction of foreign bodies through surgery etc.
Visagara-vairodh ka prasamana or management of conditions caused by natural and artificial poisons
Bhuta-vidya or the treatment of Psychic -diseases caused by the demoniac seizures
Kaumara bhrtya or the management of the child .
Rasayana or the administration of elixirs for the maintenance of youth and prevention of old age .
Vajikarana or the administration of aphrodisiacs .
All these eight branches deal with the prevention and cure of diseases and morbid conditions in their respective specialized fields .
Brahma is considered to be the original propounder of Ayurveda .The order of transmission of the knowledge of Ayurveda ,as set fourth in the Caraka samhita itself , is Brahma -Daksa-Prajapati-the Asvins -Indra -Bharadvaja -Atreya Punarvasu -Agnivasa.
Along with Agnivasa ,Bhela ,Jatukarna,Parasara ,Harita and Ksarapani also studied Ayurveda from Atreya,and they were also the authors of Ayurvedic Treatises in their respective names .In the text ,Atreya is repeatedly quoted as its original author (Iti-ha-smaha Bhagavan -Atreyah).
The term Atreya means the son or the disciple or the descendent of Atri.In the reference available in the Caraka -samhita ,it is clearly indicated that Atreya was the son of the sage Atri.He was also known as Punarvasu Atreya and Krsna Atreya .There were also many other Atreyas who were authros and teachers of medicine .One Atreya was associated with the University of Texila and Jivaka,the physician of Lord Buddha ,was his student .Another person by name Bhiksu Atreya was also a teacher of medicine .The sage Atri is quoted often in the Rgveda and Atharvaveda as the seer of vedic hymns .Thus the Agnivesa Samhita was perhaps written under the guidance of the sage Atreya ,some time around 1000B.C.This is further substantiated by the composition which resembles that of Satapatha -Brahamana written almost at the same time .The description of the vedic gods and rituals , and absence of the name of Lord Buddha or his philosophical doctrine (except some indirect references ),description of places like Kampilya and Pancala ,institutions of the systems of seminar for debates on specific topics and absence of the names of week -days further substantiate this view .