Lord Dhanvantari is believed to be the Vedic God of medicine. He is the family doctor to all Vedic deities. If you search on the web, you will find many legends and myths woven around his powers, influence and existence. He is credited for having laid the foundation of Ayurveda.
Like many other lesser-known gods, most Hindus know very little of him, besides his link to the ancient system of medicine in India. Here, we list out some rare facts about Dhanvantari.
1. Physician Dhanvantari was one of the 14 great jewels that emerged upon churning of the primeval cosmic life substance of the ocean.
He emerged with a pot of ambrosia during the saagar-manthan.
2. Physician Dhanvantari was the one who trained the Sushruta sages, the very first surgeons in the world.
He taught them the science of Ayurveda and thus began the practice of surgeries in the Vedic age.
Sushruta, known as the father of Indian surgery, was the foremost disciple of Dhanvantari. He wrote the famous ‘Sushruta Samhita’.
3. He is believed to have the power to prevent diseases that could be deadly and offer relief from ailments that have been classified as incurable.
4. He is the one who saves heavenly beings from death, disease and old age.
He has also been called Divodasa and Kasiraja in the ‘Mahabharata’.
5. Among other things, he holds a leech in one of his four hands.
According to an old Sanskrit work called ‘Vishnudharmottara’, he is believed to be a handsome man and in most of his depictions, he has four hands. One of them carries a pot of amrit. The other three hold the shankha, jalauka, and chakra; jalauka is a leech.
6. Many Hindus celebrate his birthday every year on Dhanteras, which falls two days before Diwali.
Ayurveda practitioners celebrate his birthday with vigor and joy.
7. There are no temples of Dhanvantari in North India.
There is a single statue in the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda in New Delhi and another one in an ashram in Haridwar.
8. However, there are temples dedicated to him in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where Ayurveda is still patronized and preached.
9. The oldest shrine dedicated to Dhanvantari dates back to the 12th century; it is in the courtyard of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.
Visitors here are offered a herbal concoction as prasaad.
10. Most of his followers believe, and it is also mentioned in old scriptures, that he can negate the effect of all kinds of poison and snakebites.
11. Dhanvantari incarnated as Prince of Kashi (Banaras) to set masses free from their physical sufferings.
Besides being an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the patron of all branches of medical science, he is also revered as the Prince of Kashi.
12. Search for the oldest books written on Ayurveda and you will come across ‘Dhanvantari Nighantu’ – a book written by the physician of gods himself.
This book is one of the oldest medical glossaries in the world. It was believed to have three sections originally. The present day section is based on one of them and has details on about 373 medicines and herbs.
Dhanvantari Medical Foundation (DMF) gives away Dhanvantari Award every year to one person for significant contributions in the field of medical science.
In 2014, the award was given to one Dr Rustom P Soonawala for his work in obstetrics and gynaecology.