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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 461-465  

A critical review of antiquity, authorship and contents of Haramekhala: A medieval work on humanities

1 PhD Scholar, Deparment of Ayurveda Siddhanta, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurveda University, Jamnagar, India
2 Professor, Department of Ayurveda Siddhanta, Alva's Ayurvedic Medical College, Moodbidri, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication14-May-2012

Correspondence Address:
I Archana
D/O I, Raghupathi Bhat, Shri Vishnu Sadana, Innanje, Udupi Tq and Dist, Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-8520.96116

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Ayurvedic science of life is one of the great contributions of India to the systems of health science. Apart from classical medical works, much information related to this Indian system is found elsewhere in other branches of science, such as Philosophy, Joutishya, Natya, Kavya, etc. Still much Ayurvedic information is clubbed in other compilations meant for general purpose. However, it is unfortunate that not all such works came into lime light; and still remain in the dark for many reasons. Haramekhala written by Mahuka is one such work, which contains Ayurvedic information along with various other themes, such as cosmetics. The author Mahuka lived in Dharanivaraha rajya of central India during Chapa Dynasty in 9 th -10 th century A.D. Haramekhala also known as Prayogamala comprises of five Paricchedas written in Prakrita language, later added by translations in Sanskrit called Chaya and foot notes in Sanskrit called Tika. The detail about this book is described in this article.

Keywords: Cosmetics, Dharanivaraha, Haramekhala, Mahuka, Prakrita, Prayogamala

How to cite this article:
Archana I, Bhat JG. A critical review of antiquity, authorship and contents of Haramekhala: A medieval work on humanities. AYU 2011;32:461-5

How to cite this URL:
Archana I, Bhat JG. A critical review of antiquity, authorship and contents of Haramekhala: A medieval work on humanities. AYU [serial online] 2011 [cited 2023 Mar 31];32:461-5. Available from: https://www.ayujournal.org/text.asp?2011/32/4/461/96116

   Introduction Top

Haramekhala is a special work having the purpose to cover day-to-day activities of a person. Subject matter of Haramekhala also covers human health and disease, controlling a person or enemies, treatment for animal disorder, various cosmetics and perfumeries and so on. Thus it is a masterpiece on different aspects of human requirements of the ancient times-a book on "Humanistic." Name of this book includes two words, HARA+MEKHALA, where Mekhala means Mala-the garland and Hara denote to Lord Siva. Thus Haramekhala refers to a special garland to Lord Shiva. [1] The persons who aim at achieving Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Yasha in their life are called as "Vidagdha." For them the knowledge of Haramekhala is very necessary, as it contains every matter in it. The work Haramekhala cannot be called a treatise on Tantra/incantations or Medicine or Worldly experiences rather it gives in a nutshell all essential sciences of such kind. Thus it is also called as "Prayogamala." [2]

It is stated in the book that "To enlighten the knowledge of people this Mekhala is comprised". A garland which is made up of Suvarna, Hema, Ratna, Padmaraga, and other precious materials is attracted by all equally. Haramekhala was written with precious subjects and liked by all scholarly people. So it is also called as "Vidagdhanuragakriti." [3]

   Antiquity Top

This book comprises original Slokas in Prakrita language, Chayas-the renderings which are mere shadows or translations of original and the Tika-the notes in Sanskrit. Antiquity of any work can be accessed through the language used. The language in this work it is Prakrita.

Prakrita is a group of middle Indo-Aryan languages. These are the spoken languages of local people in different periods of time starting from 6 th century B.C. till 11 th century A.D. During this period it underwent three stages of evolution. In its final stage, (from 6 th century A.D. to 11 th century A.D.) it attained fullest form of evolution. The languages like Apabhramsa/Abahatta, Brij Bhasha, and a variety of dialects were originated in this period, which eventually blossomed as Modern languages such as Marathi, Gujarati, Hindustani, and so on. In Haramekhala the Prakrita language used is similar to that of Ardhamagadhi and/or of Apabhramsa/Abahatta. These two languages were chiefly used by Jains of Central India during the period of 9 th century A.D. [4]

In one place author Mahuka mentions his dwelling as Dharanivaraha Rajya (H.M.5/280). It is discussed that [5] Dharanivaraha belongs to Chapa dynasty started from Vikramarka (820 A.D.) ruling in and around Vardhamana or modern day Vadhvan. They were the feudatory of Palas of Konowch ruled during 9 th -10 th century A.D. Avani Varman II-a ruler of Calukya dynasty belong to Khatyavar in Gujarat said to have defeated Dharanivaraha around 916 A.D. From this we can assume that the author Mahuka belongs to the same period (9 th -10 th century A.D.) during which Dharanivaraha was a separate territory. Reference of Haramekhala Nighantu quoted by Kshiraswami in Amarakosa Vyakhya (11 th A.D.), Niscalakara (13 th A.D.) in Cakradatta commentary, Cakrapani (11 th A.D.), and Srikantadatta (12 th A.D.) in his Vyakyakusumavali has been provided. [6] A manuscript of Haramekhala in Nepali language has been recorded to the period 1374 A.D. [7] By all these external evidences we can assume that the period of Haramekhala written by Mahuka is around 9 th -10 th century A.D.

A reference given by Mahuka himself in his work can be considered as an internal evidence for the period of the book. [8] That is,

From the passages of the originals, renderings and the commentary it is assumed that the date of Mahuka is 9 th century A.D., corresponding to 887 of Vikrama Era, in which the Mekhala was completed. [9]

   Author Top

The author of this Mekhala is Mahuka, son of Madhava, grandson of Kavimandana lived at Citrakuta [10] (At present located in Satna District of Madhya Pradesh). It is clear in the verse,

Apart from the above no other information about his parents, teacher, position, and so forth, are available. From the name Harmekhala (garland for Shiva) we can assume that the author was a worshipper of Shiva; quoting Vasikarana yogas, Vighatana yogas, and other Tantric procedures may be a Tantric. A passing reference in fifth Pariccheda indicates that Mahuka had a disciple and probably he wrote commentary-Chaya on Haramekhala. [11] In Siddhayogeswara Tantra-commentary on Dakarnava Tantra it is mentioned that Mahuka was the disciple of Durgaya. [12] Unfortunately no other details about his disciple and his teacher are found.

By studying Haramekhala it is known that some other works are also attributed to Mahuka. At the end of fifth Pariccheda after 274 shloka, there is a list of variety of drugs, synonyms, etc, calling the work as Haramekhala Nighantu. Thus probably Haramekhala Nighantu is the appendix added to Haramekhala itself. A splendor collection of Mantras and religious procedures entitled as "Puttalikapanchavimshatika" is added after 181 st Shlokas of 4 th Pariccheda. In this there is the discussion of various rites for killing the enemies, hymns which cause Vasikarana, various hymns related to Tantric procedures, and so on, with the necessary incantation and medicines. The author indicates that these Mantras and procedures have been collected from various sources and it is an abstract pertaining to various Siddhis. It is hoped that Mahuka himself had such an idea of compiling it along with Haramekhala. Another reference of existence of a work called Haramekhala Tantra is quoted. [13]

In the manuscript of Haramekhala original Shlokas are in Prakrita language followed by same translation into Sanskrit in the form of Shlokas known as Chayas. Later these Chayas are given an explanatory note in Sanskrit referred as Tika. It is not clear either from external or internal evidences that who wrote these Shlokas in Sanskrit after the original compilation in Prakrita. It is assumed that Mahuka himself may have written these Shlokas or his disciple or both to make it understandable to all scholarly community. However, the Tika (explanations/footnote) in Sanskrit is definitely a later addition.

Manuscript and publication

The only original manuscript that forms the basis of the publication of Haramekhala was obtained from Brahmashree C. Narayanan Bhattatiri Avarugal of Paramburillom of Tiruvella near Kottayam. Later this Manuscript was published by the Department of Publications, Oriental Manuscripts Library, Trivandrum, by the authority of his Highness Maharaja of Travancore in the year 1938. The manuscript was very old written about 800-900 years before and was deplorably worn and unreadable. Sri K. Sambasiva Sastri edited this book in two parts. The first part contains 2 nd , 3 rd , 4 th chapters and the second part contains 5 th chapter. The 1 st chapter of the text was not obtained by him.

Topics covered

The second Pariccheda contains 103 Shlokas along with its Chayas and Tika. This chapter mainly includes preparations for artificial inducement of diseases, such as Chardi, Atisara, and Kusta, along with their treatments.

The third Pariccheda contains 71 Shlokas with its Chayas and Tika. Here mainly various Vasikarana yogas are mentioned.

The fourth Pariccheda contains 389 Shlokas. We can consider this chapter as completely related to medical field where the author mentions various diseases and the treatments pertaining to both human and animals.

The fifth Pariccheda contains 281 Shlokas most of them related to cosmetology. Here Mahuka declares that these informations were collected from various sources which were dealt by enlightened persons and he only arranged them systematically. Interestingly, none of these preparations are found in Brihatrayi.

Unfortunately, in all the Pariccheda many of the Shlokas in Prakrita/Sanskrit and notes are either missing or incomplete. It is enlisted in [Table 1]. Contents of each chapter with its reference are given in [Table 2].
Table 1: List of missing/incomplete Shlokas and notes in Haramekhala

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Table 2: Subject matter of individual Pariccheda of Haramekhala

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   References Top

1.Mahuka-Haramekhala, K. Sambashiva Shastry, editor. 1 st part printed by the superintendent, Government Press, Trivandrum, 1938.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Haramekhala by Mahuka, edited by K. Sambashiva Shatry, printed by the Superintendent, Government press, Trivandrum, 1938, 5/275. pg. 86..  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Haramekhala by Mahuka, edited by K. Sambashiva Shatry, printed by the Superintendent, Government press, Trivandrum, 1938, 5/278. pg. 87.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Available from: http://www.lonweb.org/links/hindi/lang/024.htm [Last accessed on 2010 Dec 20].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Lionel D. Barnett in his work "Antiquities of India-An Account of the History and Culture of Ancient Hindustan. Available from: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/5645403 [Last accessed on 2010 Dec 20].  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Prof. Acharya P. V. Sharma, Ayurveda Ka Vaijyanika Itihasa. Varanasi: Choukamba Sanskrit Series; 1981.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Available from: http://bhintuna.com/newanepal/language.html [Last accessed on 2010 Dec 20].  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Haramekhala by Mahuka, edited by K. Sambashiva Shatry, printed by the Superintendent, Government press, Trivandrum, 1938, 5/281. pg. 87.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Haramekhala, K. Sambashiva Shatry, editor. 2 nd part printed by the superintendent, Government press, Trivandrum, 1938.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Haramekhala by Mahuka, edited by K. Sambashiva Shatry, printed by the Superintendent, Government press, Trivandrum, 1938, 5/280. p. 87.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Haramekhala by Mahuka, edited by K. Sambashiva Shatry, printed by the Superintendent, Government press, Trivandrum, 1938, p. 88.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Available from: http://www.jstor.org/pss/25208195 [Last accessed on 2010 Dec 20].  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Collections of Ayurvedic P.G. Institute of B.H.U. mentioned by P.V. Sharma in Ayurveda Vaijnanik Itihasa. Varanasi: Choukamba Sanskrit Series; 1981.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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