Ashtanga Ayurveda (अष्टांग आयुर्वेद) literally means eight parts or division of Ayurveda.
Ashta= eight + anga= parts
It is mentioned in Ayurvedic scriptures that Lord Brahma divided Ayurveda into eight parts to make it easy to learn, understand and remind. We can also say the Astanga Ayurveda as 8 super speciality branches of Ayurveda practised since the classical era.
Ashtanga Ayurveda (eight parts) are as follows :
- Kaya Chikitsa (Internal Medicine) : kaya= body, chikitsa= treatment
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals with the treatment of the body with the help of administration of various Ayurvedic medicines internally or externally.
- Shalya Tantra (Ayu. Surgery) : shalya= harmful foreign particle, tantra= science
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals with the management of diseases caused by shalya.
- Shalakya Tantra (Ophthalmology & ENT) : shalaka= a rod-like instrument, shalakya= related to shalaka
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals the treatment and management of diseases of supraclavicular (urdhva jatrugat) organs. Shalaka is used in the treatment of most of the diseases of eye, ear, nose and throat in Ayurveda.
- Koumarabhritya/ bala roga (Paediatrics) : Koumara= children, bhritya= nutrition, parental care
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to preconception, pregnancy, childbirth (delivery) and diseases of children. It also deals with the care of a child from before its birth up to 16 years.
- Bhoot Vidya (Ayu. psychiatry) : Bhoota= invisible presence, Vidya= knowledge
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals with diseases acquired or inherited from apparently unknown causes. We can compare it with modern terminology as treatment of idiopathic diseases in which the exact cause of the disease is unknown.
- Agad Tantra/ Danshtra (Ayu. toxicology) : Agada= toxin, danshtra= poisonous bite
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals with knowledge of toxins, poisonous animals and management of toxicological problems.
- Rasayana Tantra (Geriatrics) : Rasayan= any medicine, material or behaviour which enhance longevity and slows down the process of ageing.
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals with various aspects of preventive health care.
- Vajikaran Tantra (Science of fertility & virility) : Vaji= horse, a symbol of vital power or sexual power.
It is the branch of Ayurveda which deals with sexual problems. It covers the management and treatment of sexual disorders.
Read: Introduction to Ayurveda