Recommended Books on Ayurveda

Matthew Capowski

Staff member
The best English introduction is:


Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life (By Todd Caldecott)

The following review by Paul Bergner, the Director of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism, provides a good summary of this book:

Ayurveda and its principles have been gradually becoming more accessible to Westerners over the last thirty years. During this time, a few books have appeared by Westerners on the topic offering an overview of the field, a few have described materia medica in Ayurvedic terms, and a few texts from India may be available. To date, however, there has not been a single comprehensive textbook on the topic written for the Westerner, by a Western clinical practitioner. Todd Caldecott's book now fills that gap, and also corrects some common misconceptions about Ayurveda. Ayurveda was a dying medical system in India by the turn of the twentieth century, preserved in a few family lineages in South Asia, but largely supplanted by British colonial medicine and, in parts of India, by Unani Tibb. After Indian independence in 1948, there was a resurgence of interest in this traditional national system. The resurgence unfortunately was not based on the extant thin lineages of clinical practice, but on books, and filtered through the lens of a sometimes-fundamentalist approach of twentieth-century Hinduism. Two aspects of the resurrected Ayurveda as taught in North America are at odds with the authentic tradition. First, original Ayurveda was not a vegetarian system, contrary to common contemporary practice in North America. Second, the pulse diagnosis system in Ayurveda does not differ essentially from the Chinese system. Caldecott, who practices in Canada, and supervised a teaching clinic there for some years at the Wild Rose College in Calgary, has corrected these distortions. This is not just a philosophical consideration. Fewer than 3% of the North American population adhere to a strict vegetarian diet, and insisting on this as the ideal diet, besides contradicting core Ayurvedic literature, essentially rules out any benefit to much of the other 97%. Caldecott's text shows how the broad principles of Ayurveda can be applied in the social and dietary realities of 21st century North America. The book has everything you would expect in a textbook of humoral medicine: theory, constitutional considerations, dietary and lifestyle considerations, pharmacology and pharmacy, pathology and disease, clinical methodology for assessment, therapeutic methods, a materia medica of the fifty most important Ayurvedic herbs, and a formulary.
Prior to Todd Caldecott's text book, there were earlier authors such as Vasant Lad, David Frawley, and Robert Svoboda who wrote Western introductions to Ayurveda.​

For those wanting to learn about the surviving classic Ayurvedic texts, the English translations by Prof. Priya Vrat Sharma are recommended. For example:


Caraka Samhita

From the Amazon page about this book:

The Caraka Samhita stands at the top of the ancient texts representing the School of Medicine in Ayurveda founded by the great Scholar-Sage Punarvasu Atreya. Its value is further enhanced by the fact that it is the only text available in complete form where as other contemporary Samhitas such as of Jatukarna, parasara etc. perished, that of Bhela is incomplete and that of Harita is dragged into controversy. Thus any scholar desirous to know about the fundamentals of Ayurveda and its approach to life, health and disease has essentially to take resort to the study of this text unique in depth and divergence.

Other classic texts include: Bhavamishra, Chakrapani, Sushruta, and Vagbhata.​

Also highly recommended are books by Vaidya Mana Bajra Bajracharya which can be found here:



As well as Ayurveda in Nepal:

The Teachings of Vaidya Mana Bajra Bajracharya (Dr. Mana) of Kathmandu: Edited by Vaidya Madhu Bajra Bajracharya, Alan Tillotson L.Ac. Ph.D. and Todd Caldecott Cl.H.