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Dhanvantari, one of Vishnu's avataras, appears when the churning of the ocean is complete and the amrta surfaces. he is the one who brings forth the amrta for the devas and asuras/ He is also celebrated as the god of medicine.

But what is strange is, in Srimad Bhagavatam, 9th Canto, 17th Chapter, there is a mention of Dhanvantari, the avatara of Vasudeva, as one of the descendants of King Pururavas.

The son of Kāśya was Kāśi, and his son was Rāṣṭra, the father of Dīrghatama. Dīrghatama had a son named Dhanvantari, who was the inaugurator of the medical science and an incarnation of Lord Vāsudeva, the enjoyer of the results of sacrifices. One who remembers the name of Dhanvantari can be released from all disease. (You can read it here)

So, who is this Dhanvantari and how does he differ from the previous one?

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Quoting from my article on Dhanvantari- http://www.newsgram.com/dhanvantari-the-father-of-ayurveda/

Dhanvantari: The incarnation of Lord Vishnu

According to Puranas, when Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) churned the ocean for Amrita (nectar of immortality), it was Lord Dhanvantari who came out of the ocean with a pot of Amrita. Thus, Dhanvantari is clearly a lord who grants long life and immortality. Bhagavata Purana (2.7.21) calls Dhanvantari as God himself, who is a curer of diseases, who has imparted to the world the knowledge of long life i.e. Ayurveda.

He is often represented as a God with four hands (similar to Vishnu) carrying Shankha (conch), Chakra (disc), leech, and a pot containing Amrita. Leeches play an important role in Ayurvedic treatment.

Therefore, in Hindu tradition Lord Dhanvantari represents twin aspects of curer of diseases and a granter of long life and immortality. Thus, he is clearly identified with all aspects of health, medicine, and holistic living.

Dhanvantari: The teacher of Ayurveda

Apart from Lord Dhanvantari who is the personification of health itself, the Bhagavata Purana and Ayurvedic tradition speak about at least two other Dhanvantari who lived and practiced Ayurveda at different periods. Bhagavata Purana (9.17.4) speaks about a Dhanvantari (also Adi-Dhanvantari) who was the son of Dhirgatama in the Pururava dynasty. It describes this person as an incarnation of Vishnu and as the inaugurator of the knowledge of Ayurveda.

This Adi Dhanvantari is believed to have divided Ayurveda into eight divisions: Kayacikitsa (Internal Medicine), Kaumarabhrtya (Pediatrics), Bhutavidya (Psychiatry), Salakyatantra (Otto-Rhino-Laryngology & Ophthalmology), Salyatantra (Surgery), (vi) Visatantra (Toxicology), (vii) Rasayanatantra (Geriatrics), (viii) Vajikaranatantra (The therapy for male sterility)

Another person who is identified as Dhanvantari is Divodasa, the great-grand son of Adi-Dhanvantari (the son of Dhirgatama). He is believed to have been living around 3000 BC, according to some scholars. Divodasa Dhanvantari was the teacher of Susruta, the famous Ayurvedic physician and is prominently mentioned in the Susruta-Samhita.

Divodasa Dhanvantari has made enormous contributions to Ayurveda. Though, he has not written any Ayurvedic treatise, his teachings could be seen through Susruta-Samhita. He was responsible for the division of Ayurvedic surgery into two main branches: Salyatantra and Salakyatantra. He has given extensive lectures on methodology and intricacies of surgery, which has been recorded by Susruta.

Regarding surgery, Divodasa Dhanvantari instructed Susruta thus: “Hear me discourse on the science of surgery (Salyatantra) which is the oldest of all the branches of Ayurveda… All hold this tantra to be the most important of all the branches of Ayurveda inasmuch as instantaneous effects can be produced with the help of such measures as surgical operations, external application of Ksaras (alkalies/caustics), cauterisation, etc., and inasmuch as it contains all that can be found in other branches of Ayurveda as well.” Agnivesasamhita also makes several references to the views of Divodasa Dhanvantari.

Apart from this, Brahmavaivarta Purana also mentions one Dhanvantari who was among the 16 students who learned Ayurveda from Lord Bhaskara (Surya). And there was one Dhanvantari among the 9 gems of Vikramaditya.

The Human teacher, Adi Dhanvantari is an incarnation of Lord Dhanvantari, the God. That is how, this must be understood.

  • Are there any scriptures that connect the Dhanvantari that emerged from the churning of the ocean to the one who was the son of Dirghatamas? And where does the Brahma Vaivarta Purana discuss Dhanvantari being taught by Surya? – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 9 '15 at 16:45
  • Bhagavata Purana speaks about Son of Dhirgatamas as being incarnation of Vishnu and as giver of Ayurveda. The description is same for Lord Dhanvantari as well. I dont know the exact verse of Brahma Vaivarta Purana. I took the reference from here- infinityfoundation.com/mandala/t_es/… – Nithin Sridhar Nov 10 '15 at 0:18
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He was same as Dhanvantari, avatar of Lord Vishnu, who was born to Dīrghatama, as Dīrghatama did penance to Him for son. This is explained in Chapter 67 Section 3 Upodhghaatapaada of Brahmanda Purana (Pg 851- 852).

The sages said :

9.Who is Dhanvantari, the lord who was born among human beings ? We wish to know this. Recount that unto us, O scorcher of enemies( ? )

Süta replied :

10-13a. Let the origin of Dhanvantari be heard, O Brähmanas. He was born formerly when the ocean was being churned, for the sake of nectar. At the outset, he was born before the Kalasa (pot) . He was encircled by a halo of glory all round. On seeing him having accomplished his task suddenly, Vishnu who was standing by are born of water". Hence, he is remembered as Abja (water-born). Abja said to lord, I am your son. Allot me my share and place in the world, O excellent god."

13b-19. On being told thus, the lord said after review in the factual position, ' 'The division of the Yajna has already been made by the sons of Diti as well as the Suras. The due performance of Homas etc. has been laid down in the Vedas by the great sages. It is not possible to get Homa performed unto you at any time. As you are born subsequent to Vedas O god, you have no Mantra (assignable to you). O lord, in your second incarnation you will earn reputation in the world. Then you will attain the super-natural powers like Anima (minuteness) and others. O lord, you will attain Devahood with this selfsame body. Brähmanas (and other twice-born ones) shall worship you with Caturmantras (i.e. Mantras from the four Vedas) , ghee offerings and Gavyas (materials of worship obtained from milk, milk products). You will once again reproduce the Äyurveda (the Science Of Medicine) . These incidents and events are inevitable and have already been visualized by the lotus-born lord (Brahmä) earlier. Undoubtedly you will be born in the second Dväpara Yuga". Therefore, after granting the boon, disappeared.

  1. When the second Dväpara arrived, king Dirgha arrived, the ruler of Kåsi, a descendant of Sunahotra being desirous of a son, performed a penance.

  2. The king desired to propitiate lord Dhanvantari for the sake of a son. Thereupon, Dhanvantari urged the king to choose a boon as he pleased.

The king said :

  1. 'O lord, if you are pleased with. me, be my son,bestower of my goal". After saying "So be it", the lord vanished there itself.

23-24. Lord Dhanvantari was then born in his abode. He was a great king, the ruler of Käsi, the dispeller of all ailments. He learned the science of Medicine—Äyurveda along with its therapeutics from Bharadväja. He classified it into eight sections and taught them to different disciples.

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