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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 51-53

“Studies on medicinal plants and drugs in Bhavaprakasa Nighantuh” – Book review

1 Research Officer (Ayurveda), National Institute of Indian Medical Heritage (NIIMH), Hyderabad, Telangana, India
2 Senior Research Fellow (SRFAyu.), NIIMH, NIIMH, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
3 Research Officer(Ayurveda), Central Ayurveda Research Institute (CARI), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
4 Assistant Director, In Charge, NIIMH, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Submission15-Jul-2021
Date of Decision12-Apr-2022
Date of Acceptance12-Apr-2022
Date of Web Publication15-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Shruthi Gangapuram
NCIMH, CCRAS, Hyderabad, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijaim.ijaim_20_21

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How to cite this article:
Thrigulla SR, Gangapuram S, Rudrama K, Gundeti MS, Prasad G P. “Studies on medicinal plants and drugs in Bhavaprakasa Nighantuh” – Book review. Indian J Ayurveda lntegr Med 2022;3:51-3

How to cite this URL:
Thrigulla SR, Gangapuram S, Rudrama K, Gundeti MS, Prasad G P. “Studies on medicinal plants and drugs in Bhavaprakasa Nighantuh” – Book review. Indian J Ayurveda lntegr Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 May 29];3:51-3. Available from: http://www.ijaim.in/text.asp?2022/3/1/51/347497

  Introduction Top

Nighantus are the traditional sources of Ayurvedic Materia Medica to enrich the knowledge on medicinal plants in view of their properties and pharmacological actions. Among them, “Bhavaprakasa nighantuh” is considered as an important lexicon of Indian medical science. Late Dr. Chunekar,[1] a stalwart of Ayurvedic pharmacognosy and pharmacology (Dravyaguna) in his forward to English translation of the work “Bhavaprakasa” of Sitaram,[2] explicitly states that “Nighantus were written to describe the plants morphologically and pharmacologically” and quoted their properties and uses. It is stated that nearly 500 lexicons were written and out of which 100 are available now in print or some other form. In the course of time, many new plant species are included and identity of some became controversial due to varied reasons. It is at this juncture, in the latter half of 15th century, A.D. the great scholar Bhavamishra illuminated the Ayurvedic world with his clarity of expression and thoughts and paved way to the golden era. He could successfully remove many controversies on medicinal plants.” Meulenbeld et al. in the magnum opus work entitled “A History of Indian Medical Literature, Volume IIA”[3] describe “Bhavaprakasa” as a voluminous compilation of an encyclopedic character that belongs to the three minor authoritative triad (Laghutrayi).

  About the Author Top

In tune with the similar spirit, the two-volume book named “Studies on Medicinal Plants and Drugs in Bhavaprakasa nighantuh,”[4],[5] a translation and commentary on “Misraka Prakarana of Purvakanda of Bhavaprakasa Nighantuh,” has been attempted by Dr. Sadanand Digambar Kamat, M.F.A.M. (Mah.) [Figure 1], Ayurvedacharya, Gold medalist in D.S.A.C. He worked as a registrar (1957–1959) at R. V. Ayurvedic Hospital and as a research worker in Literary Research in the Board of Research in Ayurveda, Bombay State, in 1960–1961. He was an elected member of the “Maharashtra Council of Indian Medicine” (1974–1982), founder member of “Ayurveda Praveen Snatak Mandal,” Bombay, and a member of Board of studies in Dravyaguna, Nidanpanchak, at University of Bombay. Dr. Kamat was a recipient of “Vanaushadhi Puraskar” from Khadiwale vaidyak Sanshodhan Sanstha, Pune (1988), and “Ayurvedaratna” from Rashtriya Ayurveda Vidyapeeth, Delhi.
Figure 1: Author: Dr. Sadanand Digambar Kamat

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His published works include:

  • Medicinal plants and drugs in Dhanvantari Nighantuh[6]
  • Medicinal plants and drugs in Sarasvati Nighantuh[7]
  • Dravya Namakara Nighantuh, Homonymous lexicon of medicinal plants: An appendix to Dhanvantari Nighantuh by Bheesma Vaidya
  • Dravyaratnakara Nighantuh: An unpublished nighantuh of Mudgal Ramachandra.

Various articles written by Dr. S. D. Kamat were published in Ayurveda Patrika, Nashik, Maharashtra.

  About the Book Top

The work under review is a two-volume book published by “Chaukhamba Sanskrit pratishthan, Delhi”. Volume-I (Number of pages: 658) describes three vargas, namely,”Haritakyadi vargah,” “Karpuradi vargah,” and “Guducyadi vargah,” whereas the remaining vargas starting from “Puspa vargah” to “Nanartha vargah” are dealt in Volume II (Number of pages: 1278).

In the detailed introduction, author attempted to decipher the time period of Bhavamishra and concludes it around the first half of 16th century. A miscellaneous section “Nanartha vargah” is attributed to Dravyanamakara Nighantu (an unpublished lexicon), which is said to be composed by Bhisma Vaidya. This commentary presents with short introduction of each vargah, substance (dravya) wise shloka (verse) in Devanagari with English translation and additional notes.

A new section (vargah) named “Anya nighantugata Dravya sangrahaniyoVargah,” describing the details of medicinal plants which are not mentioned in Bhavaprakasa nighantuh sourced from other lexicons, such as Sodhala nighantuh, Raja nighantuh, and Siddhabheshaja manimala is added at the end of this commentary. Some of the herbs mentioned in this chapter are as follows:

  • Agnidamani (Solanum trilobatum Linn.)
  • Andhaka/Andhahuli (Trichodesma indicum R. Br.)
  • Isvarabolah (Plantago ovata Forsk.)
  • Katuvira (Capsicum annum Linn.)
  • Makandi (Coleus forskohli Briq)
  • Soli (Zingiber cassumunar Roxb.)
  • Sabbudanam (Metroxylon sagu Rottb.), etc.[5]

  Salient Features of Vaishali English Commentary Top

The details which are added apart from the translation of the verse are contribution from the author and labeled as “Vaishali” English commentary. The commentary is hallmark synthesis of vast theoretical and practical personal experience of the commentator.

  • The plan of Vaishali commentary:

    1. Short introduction of the vargah in Sanskrit with its English summary.
    2. Sanskrit text of the plant with its introductory heading and translation of the text into English.
    3. Synonyms of the plants with their etymological derivations are provided from Amarakosa, Nighantusesa, etc.
    4. A short botanical description.
    5. Discussion on controversial drugs by highlighting the opinions of various experts, e.g., Controversy in the botanical source of lāmajjakam, where it has been identified as Andropogon jvarankusa by Dr. V. G. Desai.[8] Its Arabian name is mentioned as Ijkhira. Ach. Yadavji has objected it and mentioned it as Cymbopogon jvarankusa, i.e., Bhūtṛṇa. Dr. George Watt[9] has mentioned Andropogon laniger Desf. as lāmajjaka.[10]
    6. Utilization and important modern investigations are also included for the sake of enthusiastic students.
    7. While mentioning the properties of the drug, uses enlisted in the ganas of classical texts were mentioned first and then followed by the current therapeutic uses. For example, Kirātatiktah[11] mentioned to have properties; stanya ŚŌdhana and tr̊ṣṇṇā nigrahaṇa as it is a member of these particular mahākaṣāya of Charaka. It helps in treating malarial fevers, liver disorders, and helminthic infestations.
    8. Highlighting the drugs mentioned in other lexicons apart from Bhavaprakasa, in a miscellaneous chapter named “Anya nighantugata Dravya sangrahaniyoVargah”.

    • The key information covered under the Vaishali commentary is as follows:

      1. English name, trade name, types or varieties of substance, availability, best variety/quality, rasa panchaka (rasa - taste, guna - qualities, virya - potency, vipaka - biotransformed rasa, and prabhava - unique pharmacological action), actions of the drug, indications in specific diseases, useful part of the plant, description of the useful part, any adulterants, any other drugs used under same name, commercial preparations, special preparations, botanical descriptions, chemical constituents and utilization, properties, therapeutic uses, domestic uses, some of the research papers available on the drug and dose of the drug.
      2. Regional names of the herbs collated from several sources are published with diacritical marks to ensure correct pronunciation and understand the term correctly.
      3. The commentator has followed the botanical nomenclature from the “Wealth of India” and “Useful plants of India” (Government Publications) while describing the botanical sources of the plant.
      4. The commentator at places has provided an idea of correcting some portions of old Ayurvedic books by comparing or scrutinizing with original manuscripts to solve misunderstandings among various topics and correction of name expected from readers. For example, while mentioning the drug named “Jivanti,” the nighantu part quotes that “sā śarkarāvanmadhurapuṣpā vratatirbhavati” but on scrutiny of the manuscript it was found that the correct version is “Sāarka- vanmadhurapuṣpā vratatirbhavati”. Such rigorous scrutiny is the stepping stone for the preparation of critical edition.
      5. Further, explanation of synonyms for each substance (dravya) with their etymological derivations in Sanskrit is a valuable addition and very useful to learn and interpret Dravyaguna vignana in a very lucid way.
      6. In indices, the author gives the list of:

    • Sanskrit names of drugs with their synonyms
    • Names of the plants and drugs
    • Regional names of the plants and drugs
    • Botanical names and drugs.

    Overall, the work serves as an authentic reference source in the specializations, namely, Dravyaguna, pharmacognosy, chemistry, and pharmacology along with an additional anecdotal information and personal experiences of the author for the drugs described in Bhavaprakasa in a lucid manner. The book is a unique contribution to the specialization of Dravyaguna and an asset to Ayurveda literature (Ayurvedic Nighantuh) and a must read for all concerned with these fields.

      References Top

    Chunekar KC, Ganga Sahay Pandey. Bhavaprakasa Nighantu. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Bharati Academy; 2010.  Back to cited text no. 1
    Sitaram B. Bhavaprakasha of Bhavamishra (Original Text with Commentary and Translation, Including Nighantu Portion). 1st ed. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 2
    Meulenbeld GJ, Bakker HT, Bodewitz HW, Goodall DD, Isaacson H. A History of Indian Medical Literature. 1st ed., Vol. IIA. Groningen, Netherlands: Groningen Oriental Studies; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 3
    Kamat SD. Studies on Medicinal Plants and Drugs in Bhavaprakasha Nighantu. 1st ed., Vol. 1. Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 4
    Kamat SD. Studies on Medicinal Plants and Drugs in Bhavaprakasha Nighantu. 1st ed., Vol. 2. Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 5
    Kamat SD. Studies on Medicinal Plants and Drugs in Dhanvantari Nighantu. 1st ed. Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 6
    Kamat SD. Studies on Medicinal Plants & Drugs in Saraswati Nighantu. 1st ed. Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 7
    Desai DV. Ausadhi sangraha (Marathi). published by Yadavaji Trikamji Acharya; 1927. p. 780.  Back to cited text no. 8
    Watt G. Dictionary of the economic products of India. vol 1. Dehradun: Bishen singh mahendra pal singh; 2006. p. 244.  Back to cited text no. 9
    Kamat SD. Studies on Medicinal Plants & Drugs in Bhavaprakasa Nighantuh. Vol. 1. Delhi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Pratishthan; 2018. p. 340-1.  Back to cited text no. 10
    Kamat SD. Studies on Medicinal Plants & Drugs in Bhavaprakasa Nighantuh. Vol. 1. Delhi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Pratishthan; 2018. p. 105.  Back to cited text no. 11


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