“Dvijeshu Vaidya shreyangsha ” – Mahabharata, Udyagparba.
1) Vaidya is a title conferred to the Brahmin who has completed the four Vedas including the Ayurveda and he is considered academically superior to other Brahmins (dvija) and is called “trija”(thrice born). It’s not a title one can get by birth, but one has to attain it by studying.- Charaka samhita.
2) A Vaidya (after he becomes one) can deal with any other study like Nyay,tarka, kavya,vyakaran,mimansa, jyotisha etc and need not practice medicine only. But none other than the Vaidya-brahmin is allowed to practice medicine. Vashistha was a Vaidya, he was chiefly a priest.
3) Vaidya community of Bengal, a unique close-knit and aristocratic community, is a branch of this Saraswat Brahmin community with predominatly Shukla-Yajurvedi Kanva-shakha heritage .(It should be noted that Vaidya surname and some exclusive gotras like Dhanvantari are only found among Saraswats of other places, also many Saraswats claim descent from a Rajarshi Raja Rattan Sen) They were traditional teachers and practitioners of Ayurveda and it had become a family-tradition. The first flow of Vaidyas into Bengal came from South-western India via Orissa in early 11th century. They were called “Ambastha-Brahmin” because Ambastha was a place in Punjab where many Saraswat Brahmins including vaidyas resided . They named themselves after the name of their ancestral place. Ashwapati Sen, Adishur, Samanta Sen, the kings of the Sena dynasties were all Vaidyas coming from southern India. Later , king Adishur invited four more Vaidya pandits(of Dhanvantari, Shaktri, Moudgalya and Kashyapa gotra) from Kannauj (UP).
4) So Vaidyas share common ancestry with Saraswat Brahmins of Punjab,Kashmir,Rajasthan, Maharashtra,Karnataka, Kerala(There are traditional ayurvedic “Ashta-vaidya” Brahmin families in Kerala) and related clans like Bhumihars,Tyagis etc. Vaidyas had marital alliances with Maharashtriya and Odiya saraswats even upto 14 th century(Bopdeva, the famous vaidya scholar, author of “Mugdhabodha” is one such example) and Saraswats are aware of that. Vaidyas have maintained the “Rajarshi” or “Brahma-kshatra” tradition started by Parshurama of doubling up as both scholars and rulers. Vaidyas have not only given birth to a galaxy of scholars(including famous Ayurvedic kavirajs, poets like Dhoyee, Vijay gupta, krishnananda Kaviraj, kavi karnapur and Lochandas, Astrologers like Prajapati dash, Mathematicians like Acharya Shubhankar, saints like Ramprasad sen and Krishnanda Swamy, Scientists like Amal Kumar Roychaudhuri and Philosophers like Surendranath dasgupta, Kshitimohan Sen and Amartya Sen) but also many kings like Sen dynasty, Adishur, Shriharsha Sen, Rajballabh Sen, Rambhadra Ray etc. – Dr. Raibatak Sengupta