Dhanvantari
Overview
 
Dhanvantari is an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 from the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 tradition. He appears in the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and Puranas
Puranas
The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

 as the physician of the gods (devas
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

), and the god of Ayurvedic
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 medicine. It is common practice in Hinduism for worshipers to pray to Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for sound health for themselves and/or others.
Sri Dhanvantari is the primordial God (Avatar) of health care. As such, persons have taken the name "Dhanvantari" in connection with their attempts at medical interventions.
Encyclopedia
Dhanvantari is an Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 from the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 tradition. He appears in the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and Puranas
Puranas
The Puranas are a genre of important Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religious texts, notably consisting of narratives of the history of the universe from creation to destruction, genealogies of kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, and descriptions of Hindu cosmology, philosophy, and geography.Puranas...

 as the physician of the gods (devas
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

), and the god of Ayurvedic
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 medicine. It is common practice in Hinduism for worshipers to pray to Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for sound health for themselves and/or others.

The earliest practitioner

Sri Dhanvantari is the primordial God (Avatar) of health care. As such, persons have taken the name "Dhanvantari" in connection with their attempts at medical interventions. One such Dhanvantari was an early Indian medical practitioner and one of the world’s first surgeons
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

. Based on Vedic traditions, he is regarded as the source of Ayurveda
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

. He perfected many herbal based cures and natural remedies and was credited with the discovery of the antiseptic
Antiseptic
Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction...

 properties of turmeric
Turmeric
Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical South Asia and needs temperatures between 20 °C and 30 °C and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive...

 and the preservative properties of salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 which he incorporated in his cures.

Being a very skilled surgeon according to the standards of his time, he is widely believed to be the pioneer of modern medical practices like plastic surgery
Plastic surgery
Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function. Though cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is the best-known kind of plastic surgery, most plastic surgery is not cosmetic: plastic surgery includes many types of reconstructive surgery, hand...

.Albeit his methods were a lot cruder and more painful and were used only in emergencies, such as on the injuries of war victims.

All his surgeries were performed without anesthetic
Anesthesia
Anesthesia, or anaesthesia , traditionally meant the condition of having sensation blocked or temporarily taken away...

, however in spite of his crude methods he was reported to have had a very high success rate. As a result of the brilliance and achievements he displayed in the field of medicine he was chosen as one of the Nine Gems in early Indian ruler Vikramaditya
Vikramaditya
Vikramaditya was a legendary emperor of Ujjain, India, famed for his wisdom, valour and magnanimity. The title "Vikramaditya" was later assumed by many other kings in Indian history, notably the Gupta King Chandragupta II and Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya .The name King Vikramaditya is a...

’s court.

According to traditions, he taught surgery methods and procedures to Susrutha, the Father of Ayurvedic Surgery.

The legend

Dhanvantari is depicted as Vishnu with four hands, holding medical herbs in one hand and a pot containing rejuvenating nectar called amrita
Amrita
Amrit is a Sanskrit word that literally means "immortality", and is often referred to in texts as nectar. The word's earliest occurrence is in the Rigveda where it is one of several synonyms of soma, the drink which confers immortality upon the gods. It is related etymologically to the Greek...

in another. The Puranas state that Dhanavantari emerged from the 'Ocean of Milk' and appeared with the pot of nectar during the story of the Samudra or Sagar manthan
Samudra manthan
In Hinduism, Samudra manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas...

whilst the ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 was being churned by the devas and asuras, using the Mandara
Mount Mandara
Mandara is the name of a mountain which appears in the Samudra manthan episode in the Hindu Puranas, where it was used as a churning rod to churn the ocean of milk. The serpent, Vasuki offered to serve as the rope...

 mountain and the serpent Vasuki
Vasuki
Vasuki is a Sanskrit name for a naga, one of the serpents of Buddhist and Hindu mythology. He is a great King of the nagas and has a gem on his head. Manasa, another naga, is his sister...

. The pot of Amrita was snatched by the Asuras or Demons, and after this event another avatar, Mohini
Mohini
Mohini , in Hindu mythology, is the name of the only female Avatar of the god Vishnu. She is portrayed as a femme fatale, an enchantress, who maddens lovers, sometimes leading them to their doom. Mohini is introduced into the Hindu mythos in the narrative epic of the Mahabharata...

, appears and takes the nectar back from the Asuras.

Birthday celebration

His birthday is celebrated by the practitioners of Ayurveda
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 every year, on Dhanteras
Dhanteras
Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival as celebrated in parts of north India. The festival, also known as "Dhantrayodashi" or "Dhanvantari Triodasi", falls on the auspicious thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik .The Dhan in Dhanteras means...

, two days before Deepwali, the Hindu festival of Lights. In the Samudra manthan
Samudra manthan
In Hinduism, Samudra manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas...

, Dhanvantari appears with Amrita
Amrita
Amrit is a Sanskrit word that literally means "immortality", and is often referred to in texts as nectar. The word's earliest occurrence is in the Rigveda where it is one of several synonyms of soma, the drink which confers immortality upon the gods. It is related etymologically to the Greek...

, Shankha
Shankha
Shankha bhasam , also spelled and pronounced as Shankh and Sankha, is a conch shell of ritual and religious importance in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is the shell of a large predatory sea snail,Turbinella pyrum found in the Indian Ocean....

, Chakra
Chakra
Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

 and Jalauka, in each of his four hands.
In Northern India no permanent temple is established for Dhanvantari. The reason is not yet known, but in Varanaseya Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Varanasi
Varanasi
-Etymology:The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganga bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Asi, with the Ganges being to its south...

, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

 state, one statue of Dhanvantari is present in the University museum. Two statues are at the headquarters of the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha at New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

. There is another statue inside the Ayurveda
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 Maha Sammelan office, Dhanawantari Bhawan at New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

. However there are few dedicated temples to Dhanwantri in South India especially in Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

 and Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, where Ayurvedic medicine is highly practised and patronised.

Temples in India

In Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, in the courtyard of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Srirangam), is the Dhanvantari Temple where daily worshipping of the deity is performed. In the front of this temple there is an engraved stone believed to date around the 12th Century. The writing on the stone contains the details that Garud Vahan Bhattar, who was a great ayurvedic physician , established the statue inside the temple. As a 'Prasad
Prasad
Prasād is a mental condition of generosity, as well as a material substance that is first offered to a deity and then consumed...

' or 'Teerth
Teerth
Teerth is a village in Belgaum district in the southwestern state of Karnataka, India....

', a decoction
Decoction
Decoction is a method of extraction, by boiling, of dissolved chemicals, or herbal or plant material, which may include stems, roots, bark and rhizomes. Decoction involves first mashing, and then boiling in water to extract oils, volatile organic compounds, and other chemical substances...

 of the herbs is given to the visitors.

In India ayurvedic practitioners worship Lord Dhanvantari.

Ashta Vaidya of Kerala

In Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

, the family of "Ashta Vaidya" is famous and traditionally provide Ayurvedic and Siddha treatment to the sick. The forefathers of these Asta vaidyas are still today serving in the same manner as centuries ago. This family worships Lord Dhanvantari. Some family members have built temples inside their houses while others have built proper temples in his honour. Near Kotakkalat Pulamantol village, here is a family of Ashta Vaidya. This family has a temple of Lord Dhanvantari. Vaidya Madam is near Vadakkancheri. Here the Ashta Vaidya Matra dattan have a statue of Dhanvantri, made of a mixture of five metals. In trishura's Perungva, a big temple is here built by Ashta vaidya. The Ashta Vaidya families are in the following places:
  • Aalyittur
  • Cannanore (kannur)
  • Kuttancheri
  • Taikkad
  • Vayaskara
  • Vellod
  • Chirattaman
  • Pulamanthole
  • Olassa
  • Walajapet (near Vellore-Tamil Nadu)


It seems that tradition of Lord Dhanwantri worshipping is regularly persisting in the families to families in Kerala.
  • Though not known to many, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Dhanvantari in Kerala. It is in a village called Nelluvaya, 20 kilometers from Guruvayur and Thrissur, located exactly midway between the two towns. The temple is believed to be as old as the temple of Guruvayur. Many ayurvedic doctors from kerala visit this temple before they start practicing medicine.

  • About 10 km from the railway station is the ages old, very powerful Dhanvantari Temple, kannur
    Kannur
    Kannur , also known as Cannanore, is a city in Kannur district in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the administrative headquarters of the District of Kannur and 518km north of state capital Trivandrum. During British rule in India, Kannur was known by its old name Cannanore, which is still in...

    (Cannanore), Kerala. A not so well known temple in its humble environs has a serene atmosphere. Dhanvantari pooja is performed here for the good health of anyone, of any faith, from any corner of the world. Added attraction is the Huge Temple pond with water lilies!

  • Similarly, there's a Dhanvantri Kshetram (i.e.temple) in the outskirts of Calicut, in Kerala. This temple is gaining prominence, as people come from far off places to offer their prayers to the Lord, to cure them of their ailing diseases, or to be blessed with a healthy life ahead.

  • There is also a Dhanvantari Kshetram in Peroorkkada, Trivandrum which is under the ancient Nair Family of Mazhavanchery Vadakkedom.

  • Another famous Dhanvanthari Temple is near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam District of Kerala namely Thottuva Dhanvanthari Temple on the opposite side of Malayattoor on the banks of Periyar (Poorna). Calm and cool atmosphere.A tiny river nearby flowing towards the east is said to have medcinal properties.Now the temple is administered by a Trust.

External links

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