Vaidya means literally physicians or healers. A Panini sutra, however, declares Vaidya to be one who studied the Vedas. Another legend identifies them as descendants of Dhanvantari, who was born when devas and asuras churned the ocean. Still another legend says that he was a Vaidya because he owed his birth to Vedic hymns chanted by a muni and he was Amvastha because he had no father and was brought up by his mother. Vaidyas also claim that Amvastha is a place near the Indus from which one branch of Vaidyas came to south India and another to Bengal.

brahmmavaivarta purana describes Amvastha as begotten of a brahman father and vaishya mother and Vaidyas as begotten of a Brahman woman by Aswini Kumar, the god of healing, and also as sat shudra. brihaddharma purana identified the Amvasthas as a mixed Sudra sub-caste who were known as Vaidyas for their professions as physicians. The Vaidyas claimed themselves to be Brahmanas, but the claim seems to be unfounded and remains unproven.

Vaidyas were all along a dominant class in Bengal. During British rule, they became even higher as a caste and developed themselves economically and educationally. However, the Vaidya population in Bangladesh now is very negligible since most of them migrated to India after partition in 1947. The rest are scattered throughout the country. [Hiralal Bala]