Bhela's name is often referred as Bheda by Vāgbhatta and Dālhana. Interchange of 'd' and 'l' was authorized by ancient usage. Agniveśa and Bhela had the same Guru hence there is a great similarity in their work. But Bhela Samhitā is more concise due to extra prose content than compared to Agnivesa's treatise.
Native of Bhela
Bhela Samhitā, though available in incomplete form, has many concepts of medical history in details regarding care, new terminologies and similes. Frequent references regarding Gāndhāra in his work, lead us to infer that he was a resident of that country.
Bhela was a fellow student of Agnivesa, his Samhita was composed at the same time. Thus the Bhela Samhitā is of great help to us in differentiating Agnivesa's original work from the later redactions of Caraka and Dṛdhabala. The Bhela Samhitā, being an old composition, has been recovered in the incomplete mode. Many portions are missing from between. Vāgbhatta refers to Bhela's classic compilation with lot of reverence. In the Janapada-vibhaktiya chapter of Bhela Samhitā, new terminologies have been used for fevers in animals. There is an interesting description of the countries and their peculiar diseases in the same chapter.
Redactions of Bhela Samhita
It seems that no redaction was done on Bhela's original treatise. But some of the quotations of Bhela given by later authors are not found in the treatise available now. This lead us to the conclusion that either the portion quoted by later authors was not found in the treatise, or has been lost, or even some earlier redaction might have also been done.
Manuscript of Bhela Samhita
It is believed that only one manuscript of Bhela Samhita existed. It is in the Tanjore Library No. 10773. It is authored in Telugu and Devanagari manuscripts. The Tanjore library manuscript was written in about 1650 A. D. which is presumed to have been copied from the damaged old manuscript.
Bhela described eight varieties of sedation. But Caraka gives 13 varieties. So it seems Agnivesa must have described only 8 kinds and five more were added during the redaction by Caraka. The Bhela Samhita was considered to be a book of great merit for long as proved by numerous quotations and references to him in medical works separated by centuries.
- Ancient Gāndhāra is modern Kandhar.
- It is referred as Burnell's catalogue.
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India