Books about Ayurveda

Ayurveda is one of the oldest documented sciences, and knowledge of it is contained in books called grants and written in Sanskrit.

They recommend prevention measures and provide medical advice to help people live without physical and mental illness.


Types of Ayurvedic books

If you are a beginner in Ayurveda, you should know that there are two types of books:
Old books written in classical (ancient, Vedic) Sanskrit or some of the Indian languages derived from it.
New books written in local languages or in English, accessible to ordinary people.
Below we talk about the original Ayurvedic texts, which provide the basis and knowledge needed to create all modern versions.

History of Ayurvedic books

The Vedas are the oldest written document known to mankind, and Ayurveda developed significantly during the Vedic period.

There are four Vedas:

  1. Rigveda
  2. Samaveda
  3. Yajurveda
  4. Atharvaveda
Ayurveda is a branch of the Atharvaveda.

Life, or ayu, according to Ayurveda is a combination of samyoga, which means balance of mind, body and soul.

This science is subject to constant rethinking and refinement, which is why it continues to develop and improve today.

Over time, several achars (scholars) such as Charaka, Sushruta and Vagbhata documented the knowledge gained by creating Sanskrit manuscripts.

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From the verse to the manuscript

Indian Ayurvedic texts are written in slokas, or verses in rhymes.

This style helps to preserve the oral Vedic tradition of preserving knowledge.

Over time, there is a growing need for the accumulated vast knowledge to be recorded so that it is not lost.

That is why the ancient sages, or vaidi, began to create grants in the form of manuscripts on palm leaves.

Structure of the Ayurvedic text

Ayurvedic texts have a specific structure, namely:

  • The main book in Ayurveda is called the grant.
  • It includes various stahani (subheadings).
  • Stakhans, in turn, are divided into adhai (heads)
  • Adhais include a number of slokas (verses in rhymes).
The slokas are written in such a way as to present only new knowledge, without repetition. This also helps to keep grants short.
That is why it is important that each book (grant) is considered in its entirety, and not by chapters or stahani.
This is the only way to create a unified idea of the knowledge contained in it.

Ashtanga Hridaya as an example of a classical Ayurvedic text

Ashtānga Hridayam (Ashtānga Hridayam) is one of the main ancient texts of Ayurveda.
His eight states (main topics) include:

Sutra sthana

30 adhais dedicated to health, disease prevention, diets, medicines, physiology and pathology.

Sharira Sthana

6 adhais dedicated to embryology, anatomy, physiology and prognostic methods.

Nidana sthana

16 adhais dedicated to the causes, symptoms, nature, pathogenesis and prognosis of diseases

Chikitsa sthana

22 adhais, developing methods for the treatment of major diseases, medical prescriptions and diets according to the disease

Kalpa and Sidhi sthana

6 adhais related to pharmacy, preparation of recipes, conducting Panchakarma and managing the complications of the procedures.

Utra sthana

40 adhais dedicated to the other seven branches of Ayurveda: psychology, ENT diseases, surgery, toxicology, geriatrics, aphrodisiacs and strengthening the health of offspring.

Medical branches in Ayurvedic texts

Ayurveda describes eight branches of medicine, namely:

  • Kaya – general medicine
  • Bala – pediatrics
  • Graha – psychiatry
  • Shalya – surgery
  • Shalakya – ENT
  • Visa – toxicology
  • Jara / Rasayana – geriatrics and tips for a long and healthy life
  • Vajikarana – aphrodisiacs, strengthening the health of offspring.
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Basic old texts in Ayurveda

The basic grants in Ayurvedic medicine are:

Charak Samhita of Charaka (Agnivesh)

This book is also called Ganesha’s Samhita.

It contains knowledge about leading a healthy and long life and is largely related to medicine.

  • It follows the Aterian Medical School, which deals mainly with external and internal medicine and treatment.
  • Indicates the appropriate time and method for collecting different types of plants.
  • Contains 8 sthanas and 120 adhais (chapters), which mention over 600 medicines of plant, mineral and animal origin.

Sushruta Samhita from Sushruta

This is the first ancient text that mentions surgery, and its author – Sushruta – is called by modern science the father of surgery.

  • Describes how different surgical incisions are made.
  • Indicates 120 types of surgical instruments.
  • Contains explanations for cosmetic and prosthetic surgery, as well as major surgeries, such as the brain.
  • Explains the main points of life, or marmas.

The book also covers the topics of anatomy and embryology.

Ashtanga Hridaya from Vagbhata

The Vagbhata wrote this text based on the Charaka and Sushruta, outlined their main parts and corrected their shortcomings.

  • All 8 branches of Ayurvedic medicine with their specialties are explained.
  • Practices such as yoga, meditation, gemology, astrology and linguistics are described.

The author conveys in an understandable and concise way the overall knowledge contained in older books, avoiding the repetition of the same content.

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Lagurtai (3 short Ayurveda treatises)

  1. Madhava Nidana from Madhava-kara
    • Extensive work examining the pathogenesis of the disease.
    • Contains descriptions of the causes, symptoms and etiology of diseases.
    • Predicts complications and treatment of various diseases.
    • Explains the 8 diagnostic points known as Ashtavidha Pariksha.
  2. Bhavaprakasa from Bhav Mishra
    • Describes the properties and uses of all the herbs mentioned in Ayurveda
    • Divides herbal medicines according to taste, quality, strength, post-digestive effect, specific effects and benefits for disease control.
  3. Sharangdhar samhita from Sharandhara
    • Provides information on various medicinal formulas, including measuring instruments, units of measurement and methods of preparation of medicines.
    • Contains topics related to food preparation, medical uses of various metals and treatment of specific diseases.
    • Includes many terms, heart rate research methods, metalworking techniques and more.
    • Contains 3 sections, 32 chapters and 2,600 verses.

Rasa Shastra (Indian Alchemy)

This is the pharmaceutical branch of Ayurveda, which deals with the description and therapeutic use of metals, minerals, plant and animal products.

  • The texts describe the use of various metals and minerals for the treatment of diseases.
  • Contain details for their processing and purification to digestible substances for the human body.
  • Some texts are: Rasa Ratnasamukchaya, Rasendra Chudamani, Rasa Hydria Tantra, etc.


In later periods, after 500 AD, many texts called nighanti were written.
They are related to the use of herbal products as part of medicinal formulas.

Some famous texts in this group are:

  • Jog ratnakar
  • Bhavishya ratnavali
  • Sahasra yogam
  • Bharat bhagya ratnakar
  • Kashyap samhita
  • Bhel samhita
  • Harita Samhita and etc.

Modern Ayurvedic textbooks

Inspired by the main ancient texts, the new textbooks are thematically specialized according to their main subject:
Types of people
Types of diseases and their treatment
Spices etc. 
They are published in the local language or in English to be understandable to modern man.

Ayurveda in the modern world

Today, Ayurveda continues to develop and expand its circle of followers.

Its ultimate goal is to help people achieve longevity in health and harmony – both internally and with the world around them.

If you are striving to achieve these goals, it is important to know the history of Ayurveda and its basic principles.

Fortunately, there are enough new generation books that present the complex knowledge of Ayurveda in a simple and understandable way.

Thus, they make it accessible to a wider range of people without specialized knowledge and training.

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