The influence of Ancient drug related text (Nighantus)
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In Ayurveda one sholaka (Sanskrit annotation) states that people use to laugh at a medico who doesn’t have the knowledge of Nighantus (drugs based text). The word nighantu stands for the drug book or the materia medica in Ayurveda. Charaka, Sushruta, Vagabhatta, Bhav Mishra, Shaligram and others have written about the properties and pharmacological charecteristics of the herbs, mineral, metals, chemicals, animal parts, cooked food articles, natural foods, fruits etc.Nighantus are text containing all these descriptions.

There were several nighantus as Kaikye dev nighantu, Dhanvantri nighantu, Madan pal nighantu, Shaligram nighantu, Nighantu samgraha, Bhavaprakash nighantu and now days it is the Dravya Guna Vigyan. Basically it is the complete reference book for the Indian medicines of all categories including herbs, minerals and, animal products.

The nighantus are supposed to contain all the descriptions regarding the flora and fauna of Indian subcontinent as till date the drugs described in the Bhavaprakash, which are known to be find in India. Nighantus are basically the specific text dedicated for the study of all aspects of drugs from their place of origin, their pharmacological actions, useful parts up to preparations and dosage.

The study of nighantu is correlated with bhaishajya kalpana as the later one depends upon the nighantus for the knowledge of drugs and their pharmacological properties.

The nighantus have detailed studies about drugs on following parameters-

  • Identification of the drug,
  • Place of origin,
  • Nomenclature,
  • Collection, preservation, detoxification and useful parts,
  • Pharmacological actions,
  • Preparations, and
  • Dosage.

All the action of drugs used in bhaishajya kalpana are taken as it is from the various nighantus .The charka samhita as it self contained specific section related with the drugs their action and dosage (kalpa sthan). Alike that Sushrut samhita also classified its own drug section as Gana and used the single drug use tradition for preparation of different kalpanas. These two along with Ashtaang Samgraha and Ashtaang Hridya contained in them all the necessary drugs listed and their classifications as per their usages in bhaishajya kalpana.

The nighantus which are found to be developed later on; are based upon the Brihattryi (Charka Sushrut and Vagbhatta). The later Bhavaprakash Nighantu is deemed to be developed from these all samhita text and scientifically used the various classifications of the drugs found in ancient drug related text by ayurveda.

The most appreciated text on nighantu is bhavaprakash written in 14 th century. It contains 426 drugs and substances in it. This is the basic of modern dravya guna sashtara as all the definitions related with the action of drugs started from charka than vagabhatt up to bavaprakash are the same, which are used in modern ayurvedic pharmacy. There are about 1750 action words used to describe the actions of all the drugs. Sharangdhar though do not directly cite the text but used bhavaprakash as a reference at many places. The aspect of nighantus that affect bhaishajya kalpana will be discussed from time to time in bhaishajya kalpana description at their relevant reference and context.

Presently the identification aspects are changed into the botanical classifications as per family. Than the Latin nomenclature system is most appropriate system. Thus for completely understanding the bhaishajya kalpana the knowledge of drugs their nature, effect, classification, ecology, nomenclature, actions and dosage must be acquired from the nighantus.

The major ayurvedic pharmacy cites the bhavaprakash nighantu, dravya guna vigyan and Indian materia medica by Naadkarni as reference to the pharmacological properties of the herbs and drugs used in bhaishajya kalpana


Ayurveda ka itihaas –by Prof. Ramharsha Singh published by Chaukhambha Surbahrti publication Varanasi India.

Charka Samhita voll-1-&-2 classical text published by Chaukhambha Surbahrti publication Varanasi India.

Kalyan arogya anka (Hindi monthly magazine) January feb-issue 2001 published by Gita press Gorkhpur