Medicinal plants, their healing properties and the methods to obtain plant drugs constitute the major content of the pharmacological and therapeutic descriptions of Âyurvedic medical literature. Unfortunately, the traditional texts give only the Saskrit names (including Deåî or Sanskritized vernacular names) of the plants, and provide no direct information on active ingredients. The plant parts to be used are rarely indicated. All these variables make a precise interpretation in specific cases difficult and the reliability on the product (medicine) raises several questions.
It is important to be well aware of that homogeneity cannot always be expected in the interpretation of the Âyurvedic materia medica and therapy all over the Indian subcontinent and throughout its long history. In the first place, the great variations in the climatic conditions and variations in flora and fauna geographically and also over time, are factors that must have promoted diversification. . In the second place, orality and the transmission of texts through manuscripts have dominated in the history of Âyurveda up to the colonial period, and this must have continued or promoted a certain provincialization of Âyurveda whatever its original area of development may have been. The differentiation in the name of the same plant according to region results in doubts for the interpretation of the treatment or therapeutic practices. Hence correct taxonomic identification or latin diagnosis of each sanskritized medicinal plant is necessary for its universal understanding and effective use.
Mâdhava Cikitsâ Text and the current study
Mâdhava Cikitsâ, a Sanskrit âyurvedic text of ca. 7- 9th AD so far has been edited by Vaidya Sohanlal Dâdhica only on the basis of very limited manuscript material although the text is very significant. Enlisting and correct identification of the medicinal plants described in various chapters of this Cikitsâ text based on supporting reference works and the pharmacognostical properties of the plants is the main objective of the present study. An attempt will also be taken to make a comparative study of other manuscripts (or photocopies) of the said text available at other parts of India with the edited text for an overview by taking the help of researchers in the interdisciplinary subjects.