Sushruta Samhita, volume 1: Sutrasthana

by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna | 1907 | 148,756 words

This current book, the Sutra-sthana (english translation), is the first part of this voluminous medical work. It contains a large summary of the knowledge envelopig the medical aspects of Ayurveda. Descriptions of diseases, various diets and drugs, the duties of a surgeon, surgical procedures, medical training; these are only some of the numerous s...


Sushruta:—His age and personality:—

A few preliminary observations regarding the technique of the Ayurvedic system of medicine are necessary at the outset to correctly understand thp aim and scope of the Sushruta Samhita. Who was Sushruta? When and where did he live and flourish? These are questions that would naturally suggest themselves to the readers of the following pages; but they can only be imperfectly answered like all similar questions respecting the lives of our ancient worthies. In a country like India where life itself was simply regarded as an illusion, the lives of kings or commoners were deemed matters of little moment to the vital economy of the race; and all histories and biographies were looked upon as the embodiment of the flimsy vanities of life. Lives of saints and canonised kings had been made use of in certain instances as themes of national epics. But they were intended more to elucidate or enunciate the doctrines of certain schools of Ethics or Metaphysics than to record any historical fact or event. Authentic history we have none beyond chronicles of state events and royal names in some instances; and those which are usually found in the Sanskrit Puranas are strange combinations of myths and legends, which often contradict each other. Hence the utter futility of attempts to explain a historical fact by the light of a votive medal or tablet unearthed perhaps from the ruins of one of Bur ancient cities. Such an endeavour serves, in most cases, only to make the “darkness visible,” and the confusion more confounded.

Identity of Sushruta and Divodasa:—

It is only safe to assert that Sushruta was of the race of Vishvamitra. The Mahabharata[1] represents him as a son of that royal sage. This coincides with the description given of him in the present recension of the Samhita. The Garuda Purana[2] places Divodasa as fourth in descent from Dhanvantari, the first propounder of medical science on earth, whereas the Sushruta Samhita describes the two as identical persons. But this apparent anomaly in the Samhita can be accounted for, if we consider that in some parts of India the custom still prevails of appending, for the purposes of better identification, the name of one’s father, or of a glorious ancestor to one’s name, and it is therefore not surprising that Divodasa (the preceptor of Sushruta), who was a firm believer in the doctrine of psychic transmigration, should represent himself as an incarnation of Dhanvantari, and assume his name and style in the usual way. Beyond this meagre genealogy we possess no trustworthy information regarding the life and personality of Sushruta, the father of Indian Surgery.

Age of the Sushruta Samhita:—

We have no means of ascertaining what the Samhita was like as originally written by Sushruta, the present being only a recension,or rather a recension of recensions, made by Nagarjuna[3]. All opinions concur in identifying him with the celebrated founder of the Madhyamika school of Buddhistic philosophy—a fact which materially assists us in fixing the age of the present Samhita. A few quotations from the Vriddha (old) Sushruta are all that are preserved of the original Samhita. But their genuineness is of a problematic character, and we are not sure whether they are the productions of lesser lights, or of ancient though less renowned commentators, attributed to the master to invest them with a greater sanctity and authority—a practice which was quite common amongst the bibliographers of Ancient India.

Date of Nagarjuna:—

At all events Nagarjuna who redacted the Sushruta Samhita lived about the latter part of the fourth century before the Christian era;[4] and the original or Vriddha Sushruta must have been written at least two centuries earlier in order to acquire that hoary authority and prescription of age, which alone could have given its right to a recension at the time. Several scholars on the authority of a very vague and general statement concerning the recension of the Samhita in Dallana’s commentary, ascribe the authorship of the Uttaratantra (latter portion of the Sushruta Samhita) to Nagarjuna. We, on the other hand, hold the Uttaratantra to be neither an interpolation, nor a subsequent addition, but that it forms an integral portion of the book as it was originally written, though not planned by the Rishi. In the first Chapter of Sutrasthana Divodasa formally divides the Science of Ayurveda into eight subdivisions, such as, the Shalya (surgery), Shalakya (portion treating of diseases restricted to super-clavicular regions such as the eyes, etc.), Kaya-Chikitsa (general diseases such as, fever, etc.), but does not speak anything about them in the first five Sthanas or subdivisions of the book. It is only once in the 25th chapter of the Sutrasthana that he mentions the name of Netravartma (diseases of the eyelids) in connection with the classification of surgical operations. It is impossible that Divodasa would fall short of his duties by omitting to give instructions on all the subdivisions of the Ayurveda as he promises at the outset, or that Sushruta would leave his Samhita, which is pre-eminently a work on surgery, incomplete by banishing ophthalmic surgery, laryngotomy or fever-therapeutics from his work. From the general plan of the book we can safely assert that Sushruta dealt with easier or more elementary topics in the first five subdivisions of his Samhita in the manner of our modern progressive readers, reserving the discussion of those requiring a more advanced knowledge and skill for the Uttaratantra. The Uttaratantra has not been included within the five original subdivisions of the Samhita inasmuch as it embraces and more elaborately discusses topics which legitimately belong to, or are but incidentally mentioned in those subdivisions. Hence it is more of the nature of an appendix or supplement, arising out of the exigencies of the original subdivisions. It is probable that Nagarjuna might have redacted this part of the Samhita in common with its other portions. [5]

Western opinions on the subject:—

The consensus of western opinions is to place Nagarjuna in the first quarter of the third Century B.C.[6]. and for fixing Sushruta as a contemporary of Sakya Sinha Buddha. It is contended that the age immediately preceding Sakya Muni was a period of decadence in Hindu thought; and the Sushruta Samhita must have been the fruit of a revived intellectual activity which usually follows the advent of a new creed—an assumption which is in favour of the hypothesis of Greek influence on the Hindu system of medicine. But great men there had been in India before Buddha. The age which immediately preceded the age of Buddha was by no means an age of decadence properly speaking, the age which followed the downfall of Buddhism shows, on the contrary, signs of true decadence. India had had eminent philosophers and scientists almost contemporaneously with the great Buddha. The chronological facts collected above from the Mahabharata, and the Garuda Purana could have been construed to prove that the age of Sushruta was prior to that of the Mahabharata but for the internal evidence furnished by the Samhita itself as to the probable date of its composition which we shall have occasion to deal with later on.

Extraneous Evidence:—

Sushruta is mentioned in the Vartikas of[7] Katyayana (4 Century B. C.) and we have no hesitation in saying tha the original Samhita was written at least two centuries before the birth of Buddha. We are equally ready to admit, on the other hand, that the final recension of the Samhita by Nagarjuna, at least the form in which we have it, was made about the second Century B.C.

Two Nagarjunas:—

Several scholars, on the authority of Dallana (the celebrated commentator of the Sushruta Samhita) endeavour to establish the identity of Nagarjuna (the redactor of this Samhita) with his namesake, the celebrated alchemist of the tenth Century[8]. But their contentions fall to the ground when we know that many verses of the Sushruta Samhita occur in the works of Bagbhat (Ashtangahridayam) and Madhava (Nidana), which are two of the works which were translated by the order of the Kaliph[9] in the eighth century. The internal evidences of the book do not supply us with any authentic material to compose anything like a biography of this father of Hindu Surgery.

Internal Evidence:—

The line in the Samhita, which has formed the veritable bone of contention amongst scholars of all shades of opinion as throwing a light upon the probable date of its composition, occurs in the Sharira—Sthana, in connection with the development of the foetal body and reads as “Subhuti Gautama said that it is the trunk that first developed.”

Conflicting testimonies and the uncertain indication of materials at our disposal:—

It is a matter of historic certainty that Subhuti was one of the personal disciples of Sakya Sinha Buddha, and that it was customary amongst the contemporary Buddhists to append the appelation of their[10] lord (Gautama or Bodhisattva) to the name of a proselyte to accentuate his wisdom and sanctity in the world. A certain section of scholars is never tired of setting up this line as a conclusive evidence of the fact that the Samhita was, at best, a contemporary production of early Buddhism. But they shut their eyes to opinions of Shaunaka and others on the subject quoted exactly in the same portion of the book, which places the date of its composition at least several centuries earlier. Shaunaka, who was the sixth in remove from the immortal Vyasa in direct line of discipleship, was the author of the renowned Shaunaka Samhita of the Atharvan. These facts lend a very plausible colour to our hypothesis that the original Sushruta Samhita which, was first composed perhaps contemporaneously with the latter portions of the Atharvan, naturally discussed the opinions of Shaunaka and other Vedic embryologists, while Nagarjuna, at the time of redacting that book, quoted the opinion of his contemporary Subhuti for the purpose of giving him an equal status with the Vedic Rishis, if for nothing else.

Greek Influence:—

As regards Hellenic influence on the Hindu system of medicine and on the Sushruta Samhita in special, we must disabuse our mind of all sentiments of racial vanity and proceed to investigate the case in a scientific and unprejudiced spirit before giving a more detailed account of the contents of the Sushruta Samhita.

Sushruta and Hippocrates:—

From the very apparent similarity which exists between the contents of this Samhita and the aphorisms of Hippocrates, many western scholars are apt to conclude too hastily that the ancient Indians drew their inspiration in the healing art from the medical works of the Greeks. But the reverse may be said of the Greeks as well with the greater confidence because such an assertion is supported by historic facts, and confirmed by the researches of the scholars of the west[11]. According to all accounts Pythagoras was the founder of the healing art amongst the Greeks and the Hellenic peoples in general[12]. This great philosopher imbibed his mysteries and metaphysics from the Brahmanas of India. Mr. Pocock in his India in Greece identifies him with Buddhagurus or Buddha, and it is but an easy inference to suppose that he carried many recipes and aphorisms of his master’s ayurveda with him. The sacred bean of Pythagoras is thought to have been the[13] Indian Nelumbium (Utpala). We know that simultaneously with the birth of Buddhism, Buddhist Sramanas were sent out to Greece, Asia minor, Egypt and other distant countries to preach their new religion. They were known to the Greeks and there is good reason to believe that the Greek Simnoi (venerable) were no other than the Buddhist Sramanas[14]. Now a missionary usually teaches the sciences of his country in addition to the preaching of his gospel. The distant mission stations or monasteries of Buddhism were the principal centres for disseminating Brahmanic culture in distant lands, and Hippocrates, though he did his utmost to liberate medical science from the thraldom of speculative philosophy, yet might have thought it necessary to retain only those truths of the ayurveda which Pythagoras and the Buddhistic brotherhood might have imported into his country, and which do not exactly appertain to the domain of pure metaphysics. Of course, it is quite possible for men of different nationalities to arrive at the same truth or conclusion independently. There are coincidences in science as in art and philosophy,[15] Gravitation and circulation of blood[16] were known to the Indians long before the births of Newton and Harvey in Europe. The celebrated atomic theory was preached in the Gangetic valley some five hundred years before the birth of Christ[17]. But well may we ask those, who still adhere to this Hellenic hobby, to look at the reverse side of the picture as well. It may be stated without the least fear of contradiction that the Charaka and Sushruta, through the Channel of Arabic, Persian and Latin translations still form the basis of all systems of scientific medicines in the world[18]. Of these, the Sushruta Samhita is the most representative work of the Hindu system of medicine. It embraces all that can possibly appertain to the science of medicine[19].

Sushruta prior to Charaka:—

The general consensus of expert opinion is to place Charaka prior to Sushruta in respect of time. But the Puranas unanimously describe Sushruta as a disciple of Dhanvantari, the first-propounder of medical science. The long compounds (samasas) used by him, the prose and metrical portions of the Sushruta after the models of Jaimini, Patanjali, and other philosophical writers who had adopted prose or metre according to the exegetic or rationalistic tenor of the subjects in their works, have all been cited to prove Sushruta a contemporary of the Darshanas, or of Buddha. But these may serve, at least, to fix the date of the recension by Nagarjuna, i.e., the Sushruta Samhita as we have it, but can never help to determine the chronology of Sushruta, the disciple of Dhanvantari “who was churned out of the primordial ocean in the golden age (Satya Yuga)”[20]. On the other hand, if the testimonies of the Puranas have any historical worth, we can safely place him somewhere in the Satya Yuga, (age) at least in those dim centuries which immediately succeeded the composition of the Atharvan. Charaka, too. in connection with his discourse on the development of the fetal body has cited the opinion of Dhanvantari[21] on the subject (the same as promulgated in the Sushruta Samhita) & referred his disciples to the Dhanvantari school of surgeons (meaning Sushruta and his school) in cases where surgical aid and knowledge are necessary; this proves that Sushruta was before Charaka.

Sushruta as a Surgeon:—

Sushruta was emphatically a surgeon, and the Sushruta Samhita is the only complete ok (work?) we have which deals with the problems of practical surgery and midwifery. Almost all the other Samhitas written by Sushruta’s fellow students are either lost to us, or are but imperfectly preserved. To Sushruta may be attributed the glory of elevating the art of handling a lancet or forceps to the status of a practical science, and it may not be out of place here to give a short history of the Ayurveda as it was practised and understood in Pre-Shushrutic times if only to accentuate the improvements which he introduced in every branch of medical science.

Commentators of the Sushruta Samhita:—

We would be guilty of ingratitude if we closed this portion of our dissertation without expressing a deep sense of our obligation to Jejjada Acarya, Gayadasa, Bhaskara, Madhava, Brahmadeva, Dallana and Chakrapani Datta, the celebrated commentators and scholiasts of the Samhita, who have laboured much to make the book a repository of priceless wisdom and experience. Dallana has made use of all the commentaries in revising and collating the texts of Sushruta Samhita.

Origin and History of the Ayurveda:—

In the science of medicine, as in all other branches of study, the ancient Aryans claim to have derived their knowledge from the gods through direct revelation. Sushruta in his Samhita has described the Ayurveda as a subdivision (Upanga) of the Atharvan[22], while according to others the science of the Ayurveda has its origin in the verses of the Rik Samhita[23]. Indeed the origin of the science is lost in dim antiquity. Death and disease there had been in the world since the advent of man; it was by following the examples of lower animals in disease, that our primitive ancestors acquired by chance the knowledge about the properties of many valuable medicinal drugs. There is a verse in the Rigveda which shows that the lower animals were the preceptors of man in matters of selecting food stuffs and medicinal simples[24]. Individual experiences in the realms of cure and hygiene were collected, and codified, and thus formed the bases of the present Ayurveda. The verses in the Vedas clearly mark each step in the progress of medical knowledge. The properties of a new drug were always hymned in a Vedic verse with a regularity which enables us to put our finger upon the very time when a particular drug of our Materia Medica first came to be of service of man[25].

Discrepancies accounted for:—

Verses on medicine, hygiene, and surgery, etc. lie scattered throughout the four Vedas. Those having bearing on Medicine proper occur most in the Rigveda, and perhaps it was for this reason that Agnivesha, who was a physician, has ascribed the origin of the Ayurveda to revelations in the Rik Samhita. Precepts relating to the art and practice of surgery are found most in the Atharvan[26], which amply accounts for the fact of Sushruta’s opinion of holding the Ayurveda as a subdivision of the Atharvan, as he was pre-eminently a surgeon himself.

Different kinds of physicians:—

Vedic India, like Ancient Egypt, recognised the principle of the division of labour among the followers of the healing art. There were Shalya Vaidyas (surgeons), Bhisaks (physicians) and Bhisag-atharvans (magic doctors), and we find that at the time of the Mahabharata, which nearly approaches the age of our author, the number of the sects had increased to five which were named as Rogaharas (physicians), Shalyaharas (surgeons), Vishaharas (poison curers), Krityaharas (demon-doctors) and Bhisag-Atharvans[27].

In the Vedic age (before the age of Sushruta) physicians had to go out into the open streets, calling out for patients[28]. They lived in houses surrounded by gardens of medicinal herbs. The Rigveda mentions the names of a thousand and one medicinal drugs[29]. Verses eulogising the virtues of water as an all-healer, and of certain trees and herbs as purifiers of the atmosphere are not uncommon in the Vedas. Indeed the rudiments of Embryology, Midwifery, child management (pediatrics) and sanitation were formulated in the age of the Vedas and Brahmanas, and we shall presently see how from these scanty and confused materials Sushruta created a science and a Samhita which invite the admiration of the world even after thousands of years of human progress.

Origin of Ayurvedic Surgery:—

In India, as in all other countries, curative spells and healing mantras preceded medicine[30]; and the first man of medicine in India was a priest, a Bhisag Atharvan, who held a superior position to a surgeon in society. The first Aryan settlements in the Punjab were often assailed by the dark aborigines of the country, and in the wars that ensued surgeons had frequently to attend to the Aryan chiefs and soldiery. So in the Rigveda[31] we find that legs were amputated and replaced by iron substitutes, injured eyes were plucked out, and arrow shafts were extracted from the limbs of the Aryan warriors. Nay we have reasons to believe that many difficult surgical operations were successfully performed, though some of them sound almost incredible. But although the aid of surgery was constantly sought for, surgeons were not often allowed to mix in the Brahmanic society of Vedic India. This is hinted at by our author when he says that it was during the wars between the gods and demons that the Ashvins, the surgeons of heaven, did not become entitled to any sacrificial oblation till they had made themselves eligible for it by uniting the head of the god of sacrifice to his decapitated body. The story of the progress of Ayurvedic surgery is long and interesting, but it must suffice here to mention that with the return of peace, the small Aryan settlements grew in number and prosperity. And the rich Aryan nobles now travelled in stately carriages, and as there were constant accidents there arose a class of surgeons who exclusively devoted themselves to the treatment of injured animals. The surgeons, now no longer required in camps and on battle fields, had to attend on the rich ladies at baronial castles during parturition, the magic doctor (Bhisag Atharvan) who could assuage fever and concoct love potions (1) being held as the greatest of them all. But the Vedic Aryans had a regular armoury against pain and suffering, which is in no way inferior to our present day Materia Medica. But of that we shall speak later on in connection with the therapeutics of Sushruta.

The scope and nature of Sushruta’s Surgery:—

So much for the history of Vedic Surgery. It is in the Sushruta Samhita that we first come across a systematic method of arranging the surgical experiences of the older surgeons, and of collecting the scattered facts of the science from the vast range of Vedic literature. Sushruta had no desire of abandoning the Vedas in the darkness and pushing on an independent voyage of discovery. The crude methods and the still cruder implements of incision such as, bits of glass, bamboo skins etc., laid down and described in the Samhita, may be the relics of a primitive instrumentalogy which found favour with our ancestors long before the hymnisation of any Rik verse. Practical surgery requires a good knowledge of practical anatomy. The quartered animals at the Vedic sacrifices afforded excellent materials for the framing of a comparative anatomy (2). Sushruta devoted his whole life to the pursuit of surgery proper, to which he brought a mind stored with luminous analogies from the lower animals. It was he who first classified all surgical operations into five different kinds, and grouped them under heads such as Aharya (extractions of solid bodies), Bhedya (excising), Chedya (incising), Eshya (probing), Lekhya (scarifying), Sivya (suturing), Vedhya (puncturing) and Visravaniya (evacuating fluids). The surgery of Sushruta recognises a hundred and twenty-five different instruments, constructed after the shape of beasts and birds, and authorises the surgeon to devise new instruments according to the exigencies of each case. The qualifications and equipments of a surgeon are practically the same as are recommended at the present time. A light refreshment is enjoined to be given to the patient before a surgical operation, while abdominal operations, and operations in the mouth are advised to be performed while the patient is fasting. Sushruta enjoins the sick room to be fumigated with the vapours of white mustard, bdellium, Nimva leaves, and resinous gums of Shala trees, etc., which foreshadows the antiseptic (bacilli) theory of modern times. The number of surgical implements described in the Samhita is decidedly small in comparison with the almost inexhaustible resources of western surgery, and one may be naturally led to suspect the authenticity of the glorious achievements claimed to have been performed by the surgeons of yore; but then their knowledge of the properties and virtues of drugs were so great that cases, which are reckoned as surgical nowadays, were cured with the help of medicines internally applied. “Surgery,” says Tantra, is mutilation not doctoring[32]. It should only be employed when the affected vital energy is not strong enough to alone effect the cure that the surgeon is justified to handle his knife. We find in the Samhita that ophthalmic, obstetric and other operations were performed with the utmost skill and caution.

Plastic and Rhinoplastic Operations:—

Doctor Hirschberg of Berlin says—

“the whole plastic surgery in Europe took a new flight when these cunning devices of Indian workmen became known to us.”

The transplanting of sensible skin-flaps is also an entirely. Indian method (Sushruta, Sutrasthana, Ch. XVI). It is Sushruta who first successfully demonstrated the feasibility of mending a dipt earlobe with a patch of sensible skin-flap scraped from the neck or the adjoining part.

To Sushruta is attributed the glory of discovering the art of cataract-crouching which was unknown to the surgeons of ancient Greece and Egypt. Limbs were amputated, abdominal sections were performed, fractures were set, dislocations, hernia and ruptures were reduced, hemorrhoids and fistula were removed, and we take pride in saying that the methods recommended in the Sushruta Samhita sometimes prove more successful than those adopted by the surgeons of modern Europe, as we shall have occasion to observe later on. In the case where the intestines are injured, Sushruta advises that “the protruded part should be gently replaced by following with the finger.” A surgeon should enlarge the wound in it, if necessary, by means of a knife.

In the case where the intestine is severed, the severed parts should be held together by applying living black ants to their ends. Then their bodies should be cut off leaving only the heads to serve the same purpose which in modern improved European surgery an animal tissue like catgut is expected to fulfill. After this the intestine should be fairly replaced in the abdominal cavity and the external opening stitched and properly dressed. We abstain here from a lengthy description of the different methods recommended by the Sushruta in cases of abdominal and peritoneal wounds. We only ask our readers to compare this Chapter (II Chikitsasthana) of the Sushruta Samhita with the Chapter in any work on European chirurgery which deals with the same subject. Certain medicinal plasters were used to be applied to localise the shafts of arrows embedded in the limbs of wounded soldiers and their exact locations were ascertained from the inflammation caused by the application of such a plaster with a precision which would be sometimes welcome even in these days of Rontgen rays.

Lithotomic Operations:—

In these cases, elaborate instructions have been given for making the perineal incision, as well as about the care and general management of the patient after the operation. In a case of Shukrashmari (seminal or spermatic concretion) the formation and existence of which have been very recently discovered by English pathologists, Sushruta enjoins that the stone, if in the urethra, should be removed with the help of Anuvasana and urethral enematas, failing which the penis should be cut open and the concretion extracted with the help of a hook. Kaviraj Umesh Candra Gupta in the introduction to his Vaidyaka Shavda-Sindhu remarks, that he and Dr. Durgadasa Gupta M. B. translated the Chapters on lithotomic operations and instrumental parturition of the Sushruta Samhita for the perusal of Dr Charles, the then Principal of the Medical College, Calcutta.

“Dr. Charles highly praised the process of delivery in difficult cases and even confessed that with all his great experience in midwifery and surgery he never had any idea of the like being found in all the medical works that came under his observation.”


Amputations were freely made and medicated wines, were given to the patients as anaesthetics[33]. These conclusively show that the surgery of Sushruta does not rest content with the mere bursting or opening of an abscess, and the healing of the incidental wound, but lays down processes for major operations as well. The removal of the cicatrix until it becomes of the same colour with the surrounding skin and the growth of hair thereon are suggestions which we find nowhere else.

Ophthalmic Surgery:—

Of the seventy six varieties of ophthalmic diseases, Sushruta holds that fifty-one are surgical (????ra Tantra Ch. VIII). The mode of operation which is to be performed in each case has been elaborately described in the Samhita, and does not unfavourably compare in most instances with modern methods of ophthalmic surgery. Sushruta was aware of the fact that the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence, and that the same ray which impinges upon the retina serves the double purpose of illumining the eye and the external world, and is in itself converted into the sensation of light.


It is in the region of practical midwifery that one becomes so much impressed with the greatness of Sushruta. The different turning, flexing, gliding movements, the application of the forceps in cases of difficult labour and other obstetric operations involving the destruction and mutilation of the child, such as craniotomy, were first systematically described in the Sushruta Samhita long before fillets and forceps were dreamt of in Europe, and thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Sushruta, who advocates Cesarean section in hopeless cases of obstruction, lays down that the instrument should be employed only in those cases where the proportion between the child and the maternal passage is so defective that medicated plasters, fumigations, etc., are not sufficient to effect a natural delivery. His directions regarding the management of the puerperal state, lactation and management of the child and the choice of a wet-nurse are substantially the same as are found in modern scientific works of European authors. A feeling of pride and joy moves our heart when we contrast these glorious achievements of our ancestors with the meanness of results which modern Europe has gained in this department of midwifery. In those old days perhaps there were no hospitals to huddle patients together in the same room and thereby to create artificially septicemic poisons which are now so common and so fatal in lying-in rooms. A newly built lying-in room in an open space abunduntly sun???ed?? with the rays of the sun and heat of the burning f???e for each individual case, the recommendation of a fresh bamboo-chip for the section of the cord are suggestions the value of which the west has yet to learn from the east.


Sushruta, himself a practical surgeon, was the first to advocate dissection of dead bodies as indispensable for a successful student of Surgery. The Paruschittas of ancient Egypt perhaps learnt their art from the Purusacettas (Dissector) of ancient India. With a candour less common among western scholars Dr. Wise observes that, “the Hindu philosophers undoubtedly deserve the credit of having, though opposed by strong prejudice, entertained sound and philosophical views respecting the uses of the dead to the living, and were the first scientific and successful cultivators of the most important and essential of all the departments of medical knowledge, practical anatomy”. A bungling surgeon is a public danger and Sushruta says that, “theory without practice is like a one-winged bird that is incapable of flight”.

Study of Practical Surgery:—

To give efficiency in surgical operations, the pupils of Dhanvantari (Sushruta etc.) were asked to try their knifes repeatedly first on natural and artificial objects resembling the diseased parts of the body before undertaking an actual operation. Incision, for example, was practised on Pushpafala j(cucerbeta maxima), Alavu (Longenaris Vulgaris) or Trapusha (cucmis pubescuas), evacuating on leather bags full of water and on the urinary bladders of dead animals, scarification on the hides of animals on which the hair was allowed to remain. Venesection was practised on the vessels of dead animals and on the stalks of the water-lily: the art of stuffing and probing on bamboo reeds etc.: extraction of solid bodies on Panasa (Artocarpus Integrifolia) and such like fruit, scraping on wax spread on a Shalmali (Bombox Malabaricum) plank, and suturing on pieces of cloth, skin or hide. Ligaturing and bandaging were practised on dummies, cauterisation (both actual and potential) on pieces of flesh, and catheterisation on unbaked earthen vessels filled with water.

It is almost with a feeling of wonder we hear him talk of extirpation of uterine excrescences and discourse on the necessity of observing caution in surgically operating upon uterine tumours (Raktarvuda). These facts should be borne in mind as they would help us a good deal in accounting for the numerous anomalies that are to be found in the anatomical portions of the Samhita.

Study of Practical Anatomy:—

We have stated before that the quartered sacrificial animals afforded excellent materials for the framing of comparative anatomy. The Aitareya Brahmana contains special injunction for the quartering of such animals[34] and we are told that the preceptors availed themselves of the religious meetings to demonstrate the lessons on, practical anatomy. We come across such terms as the heart, stomach, brain, intestines, anus, liver, spleen, uterus etc, in the Rigveda, and the Aitareya Brahmana[35]. There is an entire hymn (Rik) devoted, to the subject and treatment of Phthisis (Raja Yakshma) which becomes utterly unintelligible in the absence of an accurate knowledge about the structure of lungs, and mechanism of the human heart. The Vedic Arya fully understood the resultant nature of the human organism. The Rik Mantra, which to this day is recited on the occasion of a funeral ceremony, amply testifies to the fact that he used to look upon bis mortal frame as the product of the combination of the five physical elements[36].

He understood the effects of different drugs upon digestion and the office which the tendons, muscles, flesh and nerves, etc. respectively serve in the economy. It is in the Sushruta Samhita that we find a systematic attempt at arranging together the facts of anatomical observation. The age of Sushruta, the Acaryic age of the ayurveda, was a period of scientific investigation. The sturdy Aryan colonists exchanged their simple mode of living for luxury and ease. The number of general diseases was great. In vain did the holy Narada[37] preach the gospel of plain living and high thinking, and exhort them, like Cato, to return to their simple mode of life. The long peace brought opulence in its train and wealth begot indolence and disease. Men like Bharadvaja, Angira, Yamadagni, Atreya, Gautama, Agastya, Vamadeva, Kapisthala, Asamarthya, Bhargava, Kushika, Kapya, Kashyapa, Sharkaraksha, Shaunaka, Manmathayani, Agnivesha, Charaka, Sushruta, Narada, Pulastya, Asita, Cyavana, Paingi and Dhaumya etc. began to write Samhitas. Each hermitage was a College of Ayurveda, and the empirical method of investigation was introduced into each department of the science of cure.

Anatomical Anomalies in the Samhita:—

Having got so far in our analysis, before passing on to the study of the Anatomical portion of the Sushruta Samhita, we must try to account for the many anomalies and discrepancies that have crept into or have been suffered to remain in the present recension of the book. Take, for example, the line in which Dhanvantari is made to speak of three hundred bones in the human organism. It is impossible that the human frame, in so short a time, has got rid of so many of of its skeletal accessories simply through disuse, or because of their becoming superfluous in the altered condition of its environments. More absurd is it to think that Sushruta, who discards all authority except the testimony of positive knowledge, would write a thing which none but the blind would believe in a dissecting room. The spirit of the age in which he flourished precluded the possibility of such an error.

Anomalies accounted for:—

In ancient India, subjects chosen for the demonstration of practical anatomy were always children[38], and naturally those bones, which are fused or anastomised into one whole during adult life, have been separately enumerated—a circumstance which may, to some extent, account for the excess in the number of bones described in this Samhita[39]. Likewise the theory that Sushruta might have included the teeth and the cartilages within the list of skeletal bones comes very near the truth, but it does not reflect the whole truth either. The fact is that the original Sushruta Samhita has passed through several recensions; and we have reasons to believe that the present one by Nagarjuna is neither the only nor the last one made. The redactors, according to their own light, have made many interpolations in the text, and when Brahmanas, they have tried to come to a sort of compromise at points of disagreement with the teachings of the Vedas[40]. Therefore it is that we come across such statements in the Samhita as “there are 360 bones in the human body, 3?0 it is in the Vedas, but the science of surgery recognises three hundred skeletal bones.” What lends a greater colour to the hypothesis is that Sushruta, who, in the Chapter on Marma Sharira, has so accurately described the unions of bones and ligaments, anastomoses of nerves, veins and arteries etc., must have described their courses and locations, as otherwise it would have been quite impossible for practical surgeons, for whom it was intended, to conform to the directions of the Samhita in surgically operating on their patients’ limbs, and to avoid those vulnerable unions or anastomoses as enjoined therein. These Marmas have been divided into three classes such as, the Sadya-prana-hara; Kala-prana-hara, and Vaikalya-kara, according as an injury to any of them proves instantaneously fatal, or fatal in course of time, or is followed by a maimed condition of the limb concerned. The fact is that the study of practical Anatomy was in a manner forbidden in the reign of Ashoka Piyadarshi inasmuch as all religious sacrifices were prohibited by a royal edict[41], and the subsequent commentators (who were also redactors on a small scale) of the Sushruta Samhita, in the absence of any positive knowledge on the subject, had to grope their way out in darkness as best they could; hence, this wanton mutilation of texts and hopeless confusion of verses in the Sharira Sthana of the present day Sushruta Samhita, which should be re-arranged and restored to their proper chapters before any definite opinion can be pronounced on the anatomical knowledge of the holy Sushruta.

Sushruta as a Biologist:—

In the first chapter of his Sharira Sthana, Sushruta discusses the question, what is man, wherein lies his individuality, why does he come into being, why does he die at all? Like all Indian philosophers, Sushruta argues the question down from the universe to man. The factors or laws, that govern the evolution of the universe in its physical aspect, are extended to cover the evolution of the physical aspect of man (organic evolution). There is but one law and one force which run through the three plains of mind, matter and spirit. Physiology, that fails to look into the nature of life and its background and tries to explain away this intelligent, living force as the product of chemical action of the organic cells, is no Physiology at all. Cell is not life, but there is life in a cell. Cells may be called tire true bearers of life. Dr. Weismann insists that it is more correct to speak of the continuity of the general protoplasm than of “the germ cells.” Professors Geddes and Thomson observe that, “the bodies are but the torches which burn out, while the living flame has passed throughout the organic series unextinguished. The bodies are the leaves which fall in dying from the continuously growing branch. Thus although death take inexorable grasp of tire individual, the continuance of the life is still in a deep sense unaffected; the reproductive elements (cells) have already claimed their protozoan immortality, are already recreating a new body.” But to invest these reproductive cells with immortality, and to deny the same to the individual self, which directs and controls these protoplasms, and is before and behind them, is like the statement of Prof. Huxley when he admits the chance of the physical transmigration of the organic constituents of the human body, and yet denies the possibility of an individual self continuing in any other form. “It is sensibility,” observes Sushruta, “that precedes the senses; and self, the sensibility proceeds from the self to which all such conditions are referred as mine."

Sushruta’s Theory of Cosmogony:—

Is based on the old Sankhya Duality of Prakriti (Objective) and Purusha (Subjective). The two are coeval and co-extensive realities. Out of the Avyakta (unmanifest) or Prakriti has evolved the Mahat, the animated cosmic matter. Out of this cosmic matter has evolved Ahamkara (the sense of individuality or more correctly egoism) which is divided into three kinds such as the Vaikarika (phenomenal, thought-form), Taijasa (kinetic), and Bhutadi (pertaining to the first form of matter). This Vaikarika Ahamkara in combination with the Taijasa Ahamkara has fathered

the eleven sense organs, which, in combination with the Bnutadi(?), have produced the five Tanmatras or proper sensibles of touch, sight, hearing, etc. The material principles of sound, light, taste, smell, etc., are bin the modifications of these five Tanmatras, of which A kasha (ethereon), Vayu (ether), light, and sound, etc. are the grosser forms. In other wordiī, these Tanmatras may be defined as the atomic essences of the material principles of sound, light, ether, etc. In addition to these, Sushruta, like Kapila, admits the existence of a kind of atom-like units of consciousness, which he calls Purusha. The combination of’ the sixteen aforesaid categories and the Purusha is for the expansion and liberation of the latter. A human being (individual), who is the fit subject for medical treatment, is the product of the combination of Purusha with the five primordial material principles (Mahabhutas). The Purushas, real selves of beings, the sources of their vital energy, and the controllers and directors of all organic or mental actions, are extremely subtile in their essence, and manifest themselves only through the combination of the seed (paternal element) or ovum (maternal element). It is the Karma (dynamics of acts done by a person in a prior existence) which determines the nature of the body it will be clothed with, as well as the nature of the womb it shall be conceived in, in its next incarnation.

Nature of Self:—

Self is a simple substance, and, as such, is immaterial. Force is substance and substance, is force. It is endued with constructive intelligence, and, like gravitation or cohesion, can permeate a material body, without, in any way, disturbing it. It is adaptative or elective, or, in other words, elects that kind of selves for its parents as are best suited to the purposes of its being. Man is the outcome of an influx of a self, a force, a dynamis with its path determined by the dynamics of the deeds of its prior existence. To think that vitality starts from

protoplastic is insanity. Chemically examined protoplasm is but, C, O, H, N and S. But no amount of C, O, H, N and S put together will constitute life. The idea that life has nothing prior to it, that the force which controls the co-ordination of man’s economy perished with the death of his organism, is quite puerile. Life is expansion and not creation, and, as such, is linked to those unseen realities which constitute its prior and future selves. We see only the middle link in the chain of existence which we call life, but take no notice of the preceding or succeeding ones which are invisible[42]. The grosser material body is linked to a finer, immaterial one, in as much as nothing can exist without being attached to its antecedent. So at each conception there is the influx of a new self, for the lifeless constituents of a human body can not create a man, no matter how many chemical or physiological actions may be postulated to run to their rescue.

Ayurvedic Embryology:—

Before entering into the discussion of Sushruta’s theory of conception, we shall take a little more trouble to enunciate fully the Vedic theories on the subject. “The child is the fruit of the combination of sperm and ovum”[43]. It lies with its head downward inside the uterus, a fact which facilitates its passage out of, and protects its form from the effects of any injury done to that viscus.[44] The eyes of the child are originated, as the cephalic portion of the feial body is first developed. The factors, which are essential to the development of the fetal body, from the time of fecundation to the appearance of the characteristic sense-organs, have been described in a verse of the Rig Veda[45]. In thb Vedic mythology each organic function is consecrated to the tutelage of a presiding) deity, and a Vedic Aryan loves to call a thing oftener by the name of its divine custodian than by that of its own.

Rightly translated, the verse would read as follows:—

“May Vishnu (the presiding deity of ether and nerve force) expand thy uterus, may Tvashta (the presiding deity of heat and metabolism) bring about the full differentiation of the limbs and the sex of the fetus, may Prajapati (the presiding deity of the ovum) sprinkle thy uterus, and mayst thou conceive through the blessing of the lord of human destiny. May Sarasvati (goddess of intellect) and the Ashvins, the surgeons of the gods (the presiding deity of fission, etc.) help thee in taking the seed.”

Now, the development of the fetal body takes place after the pattern of its father’s species, and this conformity to the pattern of its species represents an act of intellection. Hence, the aid of the goddess of intellect has been invoked with that of the celestial surgeons, who preside over the process of cell-division, so essential to the formation of the fetal limbs. Divested of its allegory, the verse would mean that the sperm led into a healthy and well-developed uterus through the agency of the Vayu (increased activity of the local nerves) meets the maternal element (ovum) in that viscus. Then the impregnated matter undergoes a process of fission, and takes shape after the pattern of its father’s species. When we think of so many idle speculations as regards the process of fertilisation, which obtained credence so late as the begiuning of the 18th century in Europe, and the controversies that arose between the Ovists, Performists and Animalculists[46], we cannot help regretting that the Ayurvedic Embryology, which started under such happy auspices, could not fully solve the problem of fertilisation even before the advent of the Tantrik age. The fundamental principles with which the Embryology of the Acaryayas (Sushruta, Dhanvantari, etc.) was started are substantially the same as have now been discovered by the researches of the Western workers. Sushruta in his dissertation on the subject showed the illegitimacy which lay at the root of his predecessor’s theory (Sharirasthana Chap. II.) and took up research exactly where the Vedic Rishis had left off. He clearly demonstrated the fact that

“by a physiological process known as Rasapaka (metabolism) the lymph chyle is metamorphosed into sperm in men, or into ovum in women, in the course of a month. The catamenial fluid is carried down into the uterus through its proper ducts. The sperm or ovum is thus the quintessence of a man’s or a woman’s body. The sperm meets the ovum (Artava) in the uterus, which resembles a lotus-bud in shape, and whose aperture is shut up with a mucous deposit as soon as fecundation takes place. The most favourable time for fecundation is between the fourth and twelfth day after the appearance of the flow (Garbhakala)”

as has been lately demonstrated by Uhe researches of Prof. Von Ott.[47]

Sexual Diamorphism:—

Some light is thrown on the relative preponderance of the sperm and ovum in the Birth of a female child.

“When the maternal element prepon-derates the child is female; when the paternal element is stronger the child is male. When both the elements are equal, the child is of no sex.”

In theory at least Sushruta admits the possibility of the birth of many children at a single conception. “When the seed is divided into two by its inherent force (Vayu), twins are born in the womb”—a statement which points to the irresistible conclusion that multiplicity of birth is the outcome of the multifarious fission of the seed in the womb under certain abnormal conditions. Sushruta gives a reason for believing that, in exceptional circumstances, and without sexual union, the unfertilised ovum may give rise to perfect offspring, thus giving a prevision of the modern theory of parthenogenesis. Pathological parthenogenesis has occasionally been noticed in higher animals. Oellacher has noted this in respect of hen’s eggs, and Janosik has observed it in the ovarian ova of many mammals such as the guinea-pig, etc.[48] Sushruta extends the probability to the human ova under certain conditions. He admits the possibility of conception without the admixture of the male germinal element, though he observes that like all asexual genesis” the development does not proceed far in the case.” From such a hypothesis it is but one step to the theory which enunciates the possibility of conception without proper sexual union.

But to understand his theory of sexual diamorphism, it is necessary that on should fully comprehend the meaning of such Ayuryedic terms on the subject as Iccha Shakti (will-force), Shukra-Vahulyam[49] (preponderance of the male reproductive element) and Shonita-Vahulyam (preponderance of the female reproductive element) etc. Sushruta, in common with the Brahmanic philosophers of Ind, believed that distinction of sex has evolved from a primordial hermaphroditism. Manu in his Institutes has emphasised the fact[50], though in a highly poetic style. He observes that “the Purusha (Logos), by a stroke of Will, divided its body (animated cosmic matter) into two, one of which was male, and the other female.” The Tantra says that, “the male part was endued with an energy (force) of its own, which is called Pitrika Shakti; and the corresponding female part, with the one, which is called Matrika Shakti. Pitrika Shakti is a disruptive force; Matrika Shakti is a constructive energy. Though the conception of force in Sanskrit sciences is but partially physical, the nearest approach to the connotations of the Pitrika and Matrika Shakti is made by the terms Anabolism and Katabolism of the Western physiologists. Sanskrit physiology recognises the two opposite poles of vital force in a living organism, and has not taken inconsiderate pains to determine their exact locations in man and woman. Matrika Shakti, it observes, predominates in the left half of a woman’s organism, which is negative as regards vital magnetism.[51] Now, Sushruta says that, in cases where female offspring is desired, the enceinte should snuff through her left nostril (the expressed juice of certain herbals), while the same should be administered through her right nostril where male issue would be the object. In other words, the anabolic (Matrika) or katabolic (Pitrika) forces of a mother’s organism can be so adjusted with the help of drug-dynamics, as to determine,the sex of the child in the womb. The birth of a male child is usually presaged by the appearance of the milk (which according to Sushruta is metamorphised menstrual blood) in the right breast of the enceinte; and where that has been effected with the help of suitable medicines, it must be presumed thàt the Katabolic pole of her life-force has been acted upon, as desired.

The original hermaphroditism, which forms the anterior condition of all subsequent sex distinctions, and the character of the two opposite poles of vital energy, have been very clearly set forth in the Pauranik allegory of Ardha-Narishvara[52]. The figure, observes the Pauranik rhapsodist, is half male, half female; half life, half death (since, death, in fact, is the father of life)[53]; half anabolism, half katabolism; with the crescent moon, the premise, the symbol of progressive evolution on its brow, is made to sit on the eternal bull, the representative of the immutable law of the universe (lit:—the four-footed order). The Rishis and Rasasiddhas of ancient India were fully aware of the fact that, conception is effected only at an enormous sacrifice on the part of the mother; that the Matrika Shakti is the real manufacturer of life, and that the Pitrika Shakti (paternal element) evokes, or calls it into play only through its disintegrating or disruptive effect by separating the two opposite life-poles, that lie neutralised through contact. It is love that governs these two complementary forces of life and death[54] (though in fact they represent the two different aspects of the same energy) and controls its evolutionary rhythms through the desire of seeing itself many though one in reality. Does not modern biology endorse the same view when it says that the reproductive cells, as protozoons are immortal, and that bodies are the natural appendages which blossom forth and fall off round these cells for the fructification of their innate purposes of being[55]?

A little more investigation into the biological thesis of the Rishis would be necessary for the clear comprehension of “Shukra-Vahulyam” and “Shonita-Vahulyam” of Sushruta and other Tantras[56]. Man is both animal and spirit; and the Ayurvedic physiology recognises two distinct sets of apparatus in his organism answering to the different phases of his existence. The one helps him in performing the organic functions, which are so essential to his animal existence, and keeps intact the co-ordination of those internal functions with the incidents of his environments. The other is attuned to the finer forces of nature, and responds to the call of his higher or psychic self. The one is organic, the other is psychic. The one chains him down to the phenomenal, and is governed by the laws of growth and decay; the other opens on the region of absolute realities where growth and decay have no room to be. Growth is not the only condition of life. Man may exist without food[57] or respiration, only if he can manage to dive deep into the realities within himself. Between these two sets of apparatus there is the Jivatma, which, by its own peculiar energy (the will-force), can operate in phenomenal or organic plain, or recede from thence into the psychic one, thus being in contact with the world of the senses, and the one that is beyond the darkness of death. Death, in fact, is the grand usherer to life, which is only the rise of the curtain over the life’s drama, all equipments for which are made in the green room of death.

A man can not propagate at will. No amount of willing on the part of the parent-animal can help him in creating progeny. The self of the child, who is about to come into life, chooses its own parents, according to the dynamics of its own acts or Karma, from the region of the lunar Pitris or quiescent life, if it be warrantable to use such an expression[58]. The self of the would-be child mixes with the self of its human father, and hovers over the reproductive cells of the latter’s organism, and regulates the intensity of its father’s sexual desire, according to the nature of the sex, determined necessary for the fruition of the purposes of its advent into the world. A greater intensity of its father’s desires ensures the preponderance of the Pitrika Shakti (katabolism) in the impregnated ovum, which determines the male sex of the child, while such a thing, on the part of the mother at the time, is followed by the relative preponderance of the Matrika Shakti (anabolism) which accounts for the femininity of the issue. Equal intensity of sexual desires in both the parents, creating an absence of the relative preponderance of the Pitrika and Matrika Shaktis in the impregnated ovum, leaves the sex of the child practically undetermined. The relative preponderance of the Pitrika or Matrika Shakti, as evidenced by the greater or less intensity of the sexual desire of either of the parents, which results in the speedier emission of the paternal or maternal element (sperm or ovum) during an act of successful fecundation, is contemplated by the term “Shukra-Vahulyam,” or “Shonita-Vahulyam,” by the framer of the Samhita, as may be fully substantiated by a couplet by the venerable Daruvahi[59].

So far Sushruta is at one with the modern Western theory of preponderant katabolism or anabolism in the ovum as the determining factor of the sexual diamorphism to the extent that seeds or reproductive cells are the bearers and not the manufacturers of life, only containing those categories which foster life, and help its evolution into an organic being. To deny this would be to admit the chemical, or physiological basis of life, which, as a theory, was never acceptable to the biologists of ancient India. The number of reproductive cells may be increased by suitable dietary, and to say that the immortal reproductive cells, as the creators of life, come out of the mortal, organic food stuff; is to say that darkness is the father of light. The question of the immortality of the seed (germ plasm) has been elaborately discussed in the commentaries on the Sankhya Darshana[60]. The Ojah Vindus (germ cells) pulsate with the vibrations (rhythmic movements), which are the relics of the primordial ethereal vibrations, which ushered in the birth-throes of the universe. As such, they are essential to the evolution of life; and man, as an offspring of the universe, still retains them in his reproductive cells as the best condition for calling out the life in his offspring, when its self enters into the impregnated ovum in the mother’s womb. Life is the essence of self, and not the product of any chemical or physiological process. It is an influx; and microscopes and spectroscopes may not expose to view the hinterlands of birth and genesis. Perhaps it was this theory of will-force and intensity of parental desire as determining the sex in the child, together with the facts of parthenogenesis observed in lower animals, from which Sushruta was disposed to extend the analogy to the human species, and believed that conception without sexual union is possible in women.

The conception of the nature of these Matrika and Pitrika Shaktis is more clearly set forth in the Pauranika n??th regarding the origin (etiology) of fever; Sushruta relates the story as follows:—Daksha, the father of the universal mother, (or constructive metabolism in man) insulted the divine father, her consort (destructive metabolism), by witholding his quota of sacrificial oblations. The wrath of the insulted deity broke out in the shape of a morbific heat (hyperpyrexia) which is fever. The process of digestion in man has been often compared to an act of Homa sacrifice[61] in the Ayurveda. Stripped of its allegory the myth may be explained quite in a pathological line. It means that when the Pitrika Shakti, the process of destructive metabolism (Pita, father or Shiva in Hindu mythology being the god of destruction or disintegration) of the body is not properly served by the factors, which nourish its constructive metabolism (Father of the Matrika Shakti), the excrements and excretory process of the body are arrested (by the wrathful deity), and the heat generated in consequence is fever. Fever, then, is a disease of defective digestion and excretion. Whenever this Pitrika Shakti is disturbed or not properly served there is fever, and heat is one of its essential effects.

With a precision and love of details, which mark the best days of Brahmanic literature, Sushruta lays down rules of diet and conduct to be observed by the enceinte, from month to month, during the whole period of gestation, and gives medicinal recipes for the development of a partially atrophied child in the womb.

A perusal of the Chapter on Marma Sharira would leave no doubt for the conclusion that anatomical kn(ow)?ledge was cultivated by surgeons and soldiers alike.??? knowledge about the locations of the vulnerable joints, or nerves, or vein anastomoses where a blow or a little pressure may enable him to make short work of his man could not but be dearly prized by the soldiery at a time when the fate of a war was often decided by the success of a single champion, and we have reasons to believe that a scientific system of wrestling was formulated in the light of the Sushruta Samhita, and practised by the gentry of ancient India much like the Jiujitsu (Skr. Yuyutsu, the intending fighter) of modern Japan[62].

Sushruta’s Physiology:—

But if Sushruta is admired so much for his practical and scientific e?ast of mind, it is his writings on Physiology, (which is practically the same as the one adopted by all schools of the Ayurveda) which have appeared as a stumbling block to the intelligence of many a Western and and Eastern scholar. European Sanskritists have thought fit to translate “Vayu,” “Pitta” and “Kapha” (the three main physiological functions) as air, bile and phlegm. But nothing could be more misleading, or erroneous than that. A right understanding of the science of the Ayurved ic medicine, in all its branches, hinges on a right conception of the Vayu, Pitta and Kapha, so we should like to clear up the nature of these three physiological factors before proceeding farther in our enquiry.

Antiquity of the division:—

A reference to these three physiological factors of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha, under the name of Tridhatu, is first met with in the Rikveda[63]. Sayana explains the term as a synonym for Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. The Vedic physicians possessed at least a considerable knowledge of the process of digestion[64], the circulation of gas in the human organism, and of the properties and functions of flesh, fat, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilages. But to the Acaryas of the Ayurveda belongs the glory of first formulating a systematic physiological science, to which end Sushruta as a surgeon did contribute no mean a quota.

In the light of Western science the actionsr of living matter, varied as they are, may be reduced to three categories viz.

  1. Sustentative,
  2. Generative,
  3. and Correlative functions.

The second is not co-extensive with the entire existence of a living organism, Sushruta observes some such distinction among the functions of a living organism when he denominates the living body as the “three supported one” (Tristhuna), and describes the normal Vayu, Pitta and Kapha as its three supports. We wonder how the term Vayu, meaning nerve force, can be confounded with the same term meaning air, since Sushruta derives the former from the root “Va,” to move, to spread. Vayu, according to Sushruta, is so called from the fact of its sensory and motor functions such as, smelling, etc. But the Vayu in the Ayurveda is not wholly a physical or organic force, it has its spiritual aspect as well which does not legitimately fall within the scope of our enquiry. It is safe to aver however, that the Ayurvedic physiology, like its sister science in modern Europe, is concerned more with the invisible molecular components of the human organism, than with the workings of its gross members. The holy Agnivesha warns the students of physiology against the danger of regarding the human system as something other than the aggregate of molecules[65].

The three fundamental principles of Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah:—

The actions of living matter vary and so may be reduced to three categories. They are either—

  1. functions which affect the material composition of the body and determine its mass, which is the balance of the processes of waste on one hand and those of assimilation on the other.
  2. Or, they are functions which subserve the process of reproduction which is essentially the detachment of a part endowed with the powers of developing into an independent whole,
  3. or, they are functions in virtues of which one part of the body is able to exert a direct influence on another, and the body, by its parts as a whole, becomes a source of molar motion.

The first may be termed Sustentative, the second Generative, and the third Correlative functions. The above is the sum and substance of the works which a living matter has to perform. But setting apart the processes of reproduction as a subject for future discussion, we shall now try to examine what the other two functions are as understood by Oriental thinkers. In the Mahabharata the Prana-vayu is described as a force, akin to electricity. It is somewhat like a flash of lightning[66]. This fact at once shows the errors of confounding Prana-vayu with an effete material—with gases generated during the processes of digestion. Shushruta describes it as a force,[67] which sets the whole organism into motion. Self-evolved, it acts as the principal factor that determines the genesis, continuance and disintegration of the living body. It is the primary cause—an all-in-all that governs our organic as well as our cognitive faculties. Its special feature is that the vibration, that is produced in it, instead of travelling like light in a transverse direction, takes a course as the controller of the correlative functions of the system. It maintains an equilibrium between the Pitta and Shleshma which are said to be inert,[68] But for this adjustment the living body would stand in imminent danger of being consumed like fuel by its internal heat or fire. Taking into consideration the various functions the living body has to perform, Sushruta attempts a classification of Vayu into Prana, Udana, Samana, Vyana and Apana, which, in detail, correspond to the divisions of functions performed by the Cerebro-spinal and Sympathetic nerves of the Western physiology. Tantric literature abounds in the descriptions of the Nadichakras (nerve plexuses) and contains a more detailed account of the motor, sensory, and mixed nerves according to their differences in their functions and relations. In short, the term Vayu may not only be rightly interpreted to mean the nerve force, but is often extended to include any kind of electro-motor or molecular force (as when we speak of the Vayu of the soil), though the term is loosely applied now to signify gas or air. The Rishis of yore gave the name of Vayu to the bodily force in the absence of any suitable nomenclature, little suspecting that it might be confounded with the atmospheric air by the foreign translators of their works.


The function of the Pitta consists in metamorphosing the chyle, through a graduated series of organic principles, to a protoplasmic substance like sperm in men, and the ovum in women. Thus we see that the Pitta of the Ayurveda corresponds to metabolism of Western physiology. But by a confounding carelessness of terms the excreted portion of Rasa and blood though ultimately connected with those normal physiological processes has been respectively styled as the Doshas or defiling principles of Kaphah and Pitta. Again, as in the case, of soil, the terms Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah are extended to denote magnetism, kinetic energy and humidity of its molecules. The circulation of blood is connected with the Pitta, while the circulation of lymph chyle (Rasa) is related to Shleshma the two combinedly forming what is called the sustentative function of the Western Physiology.

The term Pitta, which, by its etymology, signifies the agent of metabolism, has been loosely used by our Ayurvedic physiolgists to denote two different organic principles from an observed similarity in their nature and functions. Pitta in Sanskrit means both bile and metabolism of tissues as well as the bodily heat which is the product of the latter.

Hence a few commentators lean towards the view that Pitta is the heat incarcerated in the bile, and the principal agent in performing digestion[69]. The real import of the term may be gathered from the five sub divisions of the Pitta, made by our Rishis according to their functions and locations, and which are called the Pachaka, Ranjaka, Sadhaka, Alochaka and Bhrajaka. All metabolic processes in the organism, whether constructive or destructive, are called Pitta, which is said to be in the products of those processes whether serum, bile, blood, albumen, etc., which are either essential to the substance of the body, or to the proper performance of any organic function. Hence we learn that Pitta is latent in Lasika (Serum), blood, lymph chyle, albumen etc., and in the organs of touch and sight. In other words, metabolism goes on in those principles and regions of the human organism[70] either as a sustentative or as a cognetic physiological process. First, we have the Pachakagni or the heat of digestion, which is situated in the region between the stomach and the intestines;[71] and being a liquid fire or fluid heat incarcerated in the secretions of the liver (bile), it is primarily concerned in digesting the four kinds of food (as they meet it in the abdomen). Thus we see that the Pachakagni of our Ayurveda is the same as the bile of Western physiology, its other function being to differentiate (precipitate) the nutritive essence of the food from its unutilisable portion, and to act as an excrementitious matter. It is this Pitta, which makes metabolism in other parts of the bodj- possible,[72] by helping the organism in acquiring fresh energy.

The second kind of Pitta is called Ranjaka or pigment Pitta from the circumstance of its imparting the characteristic colour to the lymph chyle as it is transformed into blood by coursing through the liver and spleen, where it is located[73].

The third kind of Pitta (Sadhaka) is situated in the heart, and indirectly assists in the performance of cognitive functions in man by keeping up the rhythmic cardiac contractions[74]. Perhaps it is this view of the heart’s contraction that predisposed many of our ancient physiologists to hold it as the seat of cognition. (Vuddhi Sthana)[75]

The fourth, which is the Alochaka or the Pitta of sight indicates the metabolic process in the substance of the retina (Drishti) which gives rise to visual sensation.[76]

The fifth is the Bhrajakagni or the Pitta in the skin which produces perspiration or helps exudations from the skin by evaporation. In short it is the Pitta which keeps active, under certain circumstances, the secretions from the sweat and sebaceous glands of the human skin.


Sushruta is one in holding with Foster that “the animal body dies daily, in the sense that at every moment some part of its substance is suffering decay, is undergoing combustion.” The etymological significance of the term Shariam (Skr. Shri, to wither up) testifies to his knowledge of the combustion that goes on within the human system. Three kinds of fire are detected in the body, which are sure to feed upon its constituent principles in the absence of proper fuel in the shape of food and air. It is food and the fundamental bodily principle of Shleshma, which is cooling or watery in its essence, that fly to the rescue of the organism, the latter (Sleshma) surcharging it with its own essential humidity and keeping intact the integration of its component molecules.

The Rasa, or lymph chyle which is formed out of the ingested food, prevents the internal bodily fires from preying upon the vitals by coursing freely through the whole organism. The Rasa, thus generated, undergoes a sort of purification, the purified portion being called Prasadabhuta, and the excreted portion Malabhuta, such as are found as effete products deposited in certain pores of the body. Kaphah or Sleshma is that portion of Rasa which fills all the intercellular spaces of the body, thus holding them together in a kind of cooling embrace (Skr. Slish to embrace) and prevents[77] the dreadful combustion which would otherwise have been caused by organic heat. Our Acarjas have classified the Kaphah into five different kinds such as the Kledaka, Avalamvaka, Vodhaka and Shlesmaka according to their different functions and locations in the economy.


The lymph chyle, born of the digested food, and which courses through the body, potentially contains the elements which build the different tissues of the human organism. Under the influence of metabolic heat it is progressively transformed into blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, semen and Ojah. In other words, under the process of physiological metamorphosis, the lymph chyle sets free that part of its constituents[78] which possess blood-making properties, and are ultimately transformed into blood—(its unutilised or excreted portion being eliminated through the natural apertures of the body), and so on, thrqugh the progressive series of metabolism to Ojah Dhatu. Thus with the derangement of the bodily Vayu which causes the free coursing of the lymph chyle through its vessels, the Pitta (metabolism of tissues), in any particular part of the body, is also affected by reason of its incarceration, and thus causes an increase or diminution in the excreted portion of the Rasa, which is another name for Kapha during the progressive metabolism. Thus we see that Vayu, Pittaça, and Kaphah, which, in their normal state, are the three supporting principles of the body are transformed into morbific diathesis by increasing or diminishing the bodily heat, secretions, or excretions.[79]

Thus congestion and inanition (atony) are the two main forms of disease recognised by the Ayurvedic Pathologists, the former being held amenable to resolution or elimination, and the latter to local feeding or nourishment.

Agni and Dhatvagnis:—

We can not better conclude this portion of our dissertation than by speaking a word or two about Agni. Sushruta raises the question whether there is any kind of fire in the human organism other than the Pitta: or are they identical? Sushruta holds that the Pitta is the only fire present in the system, in as much as all acts from the digestion of food to the disintegration of tissues are performed with the help of the Pitta, which includes within its signification what is connoted by Anabolism and Katabolism of Western Physiologists. But Agnivesha and certain sections of the Ayurvedic Acaryayas hold that there are five Anjali-fuls of Agni[80] in the human organism. This discrepancy is best explained away by including one Yava measure of Agni (enzymes, ferment) in the five Anjali-measures of Pitta.

The Ayurvedic Physiology recognises the existence of another kind of Agni, which is called Dhatvagni (protoplasm) and which it classifies into seven different kinds. Arunadatta, the celebrated commentator of the Ashtanga-hridayam, holds that there are as many Dhatvagnis as the constituents of the body.[81]

The Commentator of the Chandagya Bhasyam has emphasised the identity of the Pitta and the solar heat. In fact it was a doctrine of faith among the Rishis that the solar heat pent up in the solids is transformed into organic heat (Bhutagni) which, becoming liberated in the stomach, produces the heat of digestion,[82] All these are but different forms of solar heat. The Dhatvagni and Udaragni lie inert in the organism. It is the Vayu that sets them free and makes them operative.

The Dhatvagnis (protoplasm) of the muscle are not of the same kind as that of the arteries. We cannot resist the temptation of quoting a few lines from Foster’s physiology on the subject.[83]

From what, has now been stated regarding the functions and significations of the Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah, it will appear that the Acaryayas of the Ayurveda contemplated three different sets of principles in the domains of Biology and Pathology. Vayu, Pitta. and Kaphah are called Dhatus or fundamental principles of the economy, when in virtue of their correlative and sustentative functions, or with the help of their subservient processes of metabolism and lymphatic circulation, they ensure an equipoise among the different vital and physiological processes in the whole economy which is essential to its perfect health. Biologically considered they are but the primarv subtle dynamics of organic life, or as Sayana expresses it, the three fundamental principles of the body.[84] But when this healthy equilibrium is disturbed either through the agency of any extrinsic or idiopathic factor, when any one of them is abnormally augmented or dominates the other two, thus altering their mutual relation in the economy, naturally certain pathological conditions arise which form the esse of a disease;[85] or in the parlance of the Ayurveda they are said to have been transformed into Doshas or morbific diathesis. Even blood, which, according to our Acaryayas, forms one of the fundamental principles (Dhatu) of the organism, may be designated as a Dosha (morbific diathesis), when owing to its congestion in any particular organ or member of the body, it brings about a disturbance in its general vascular system and produces pathological conditions which are offshoots of its own deficient or disturbed circulation. They are denominated as Malas,[86] when observed still in grosser or superficial principles of the organism producing those excretions, or organic lesions which appertain to the sphere of morbid Anatomy. Thus we see that the Ayurvedic principles of Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah embrace both the biological and pathological principles of the organism; or in other words, the Ayurvedic physiology elucidates and investigates the causes through which the same principles, which sustain life and the organism, are transformed into the dynamics of disease, lastly pointing out the grosser excretory changes and organic lesions in the external or Superficial plane of existence, which form the subject of morbid anatomy and are sometimes confounded with the disease itself. In the Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah of the Acaryayas we have at once a complete picture of the finer sustentative forces of the human economy as well as their antithesis, the constructive as well as the expulsive forces’ of the inner man, together with an exhaustive analysis of their grosser products which legitimately fall within the sphere of morbid anatomy. A real knowledge of the nature and functions of the Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah may be useful in giving a deeper and clearer insight into the principles of true biology or pathology. It is incorrect to translate Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah as air, bile and phlegm, except under certain circumstances. Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah are air, bile and phlegm only when they are transformed into Malas or grosser organic excretions which are supposed to be so very intimately connected with factors, pathogenetic or pathological, but they are not air, bile and phlegm in those planes of their functions which determine the genesis, growth and continuance of the organism, as well as its death, decay and disintegation. The knowledge of a region without that of its antipodes is but a half knowledge, and the principle of Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah is the only one of its kind that tries to embrace the whole sphere of organic existence.


From what has been stated before it will appear that during the process of tissue-formation, the lymph or chyle, under the influence of Pitta, or metabolic heat, is transformed into the same, the refuse or un-utilisable portion of it being passed off through the

apertures of the body, as excretions. The Ojah-Dhatu is present in the reproductive energy that lies latent in every organic principle, viz. lymph, blood, muscles, bone (synovia), marrow, and in the male & female reproductive elements. Hence it is not a matter of surprise when we find in Ayurvedic works this Soma, or Ojah-Dhatu mentioned as lying diffused in the human organism and described as the essence of the lymph chyle, blood, etc.[87]. The terms Rasagata Ojah, Raktagata Ojah are therefore used perhaps in the sense of modern serum-albumen, blood-albumen, etc. The male & female reproductive elements, according to this view, form the essence of the body as a whole, and the Ojah, which is abundantly found in these protoplasmic cells, is the quintessence of a quintessence. The muscle of the heart alone, according to Charaka, is chiefly associated with this energetic substance, which is of a bloody yellowish colour &. possesses both cooling & heat-making virtues.[88] In diseases caused by defective assimilation it is said to be ejected through the kidneys and to pass off with the urine (as in certain types of Prameha)[89], whereby the patient gradually loses strength, flesh, and healthy glow of complexion inasmuch as these are but the accompaniments of its healthy continuance in the human organism. “Health and strength,” observes our Rishi, reside latent in the Ojah-dhatu, as butter (Ghrita) lies latent in milk.[90]

Dallana Mishra, the celebrated commentator of the Sushruta Samhita, has defined Ojah as a fatty substance completely combustible in its character. Thus in the course of tissue combustion its excess quantity is deposited especially in the female body as fat which produces that peculiar softness and elegance.[91] The presence of Ojah in urine is said to induce Madhumeha[92]. Taking this fact alone into consideration one is inclined to the belief that Ojah must be something of the nature of sugar. As a consequence of these different interpretations of Ojah the question arises whether there is present in the human organism any such common element that produces either of these two important oxidising materials, viz. fat and sugar.

It is a demonstrated fact in modern Physiology that glycogen is found in other tissues and organs besides in the liver. Tissues of embryos and of young animals as well as newly formed pathological growths may be said to contain glycogen. The activity of the heart, as well as the development of the fetal body[93] is largely dependent upon this Ojah-dhatu which may be best translated as glycogen in the parlance of Western physiology. In fact, our Acaryayas have used the term “ojah” to denote that vital principle in the organism which is essential to the maintenance of a healthy combustion in its tissues and to the due performance of their normal functions and activities, no matter whether that principle is patent in the form of protoplasm, protoplasmic albumen, glycogen or mucosin (Prakrita shleshma)[94] in accordance with the difference of their functions, geneses, and conditions of protoplasmic metabolism. In short, they were cognisant of the fact that fat and sugar are evolved out of a common basic principle in the organism as has been very eruditely demonstrated by Dr. S. N. Goswami, B. A., L. M. S. in his treatise on Pumsavana[95] It is far from our intention to thrust this opinion on any one; we have simply stated our conclusion in the matter and will welcome the result of fresh enquiries on this subject.

Space does not permit us to give here even something like a satisfactory synopsis of the physiology of Sushruta. It is enough for our purpose if we can create for our readers an interest in the various physiological problems discussed by our author in this part of his work, or in his description of the various physiological processes, which are essential to the healthy continuance of human economy. But if Hindu physiology is startling in its demonstration of the fact that growth is not the only condition of life, that vitality is somewhat independent of the physiological processes, that the inner man, with the help of Yoga, can long survive even without food and respiration,[96] and that death and decay may be arrested to a considerable degree by completely stopping many of those physiological processes in the body,[97] which are considered very essential to living by the savants of the West, then Hindu pathology is unique in its conception of the nature of disease.

Sushruta’s Pathology:—

What is it in a man, asks Sushruta, that falls sick? What is that that we treat medicinally? The body or the mind? Sushruta says that, “anything that afflicts the inner man (self or Purusha) is disease[98] and that disease has its primary seat in the inner spring of vitality from which it flows out to the surface, the external body”. In man, as in everything else in the universe, the direction of the inherent force is from the centre to the circumference. The shock is felt first at the centre of vitality, whence it is transmitted outwards and thus affects the energy which holds the molecules together, Dvyanuks and Tryanuks (Binary and tertiary atoms) of which the gross body is composed, and further opposes the dissolution of those molecules into their elemental constituents in the living organism. Even in cases of external injuries such as snakebite, etc. the potency of the virus is carried at once to that centre from whence it is almost instantaneously transmitted through the external channels of the body to its surface, otherwise what purpose does the yayu (nerve force) serve in the human economy? What do those myriads of Caitanya-vahini Nadis (sensory nerves) exist for in the human system? In all diseases the subjective sensations are the first to be experienced. “I am ill,” “I feel hot,” etc. are the voices of sensations, which form the “esse” of the disease. Disease then is a force and not matter.[99]

Pathology Of Tridosha:—

Sushruta, though adopting the Vedic pathological dictum of Tridhatu, has expressed a very clear opinion on the subject. He observes that the relation between a disease and the deranged Vayu (nerve force), Pitta (metabolism) and Kapha (unutilised product of the system), and the pathogenic factors which lie at the root of that disease, is not real but contingent. These morbific principles may permeate the whole organism without creating any discomfort, and it is only when they find a distinct lodgment, and are centred in some distinct part or tissue of the body, that they become the exciting factors of disease.

Drug Potency:—

The next question which naturally arises in connection with such a theory of pathogeny, is what is medicine, or in other words, what is it in the drug that cures! Sushruta, after closely investigating all the theories on the subject, inclines towards the opinion that it is the potency of the drug that is curative, though he observes that inasmuch as potency cannot exist independently of a drug, a drug is of primary interest for all practical purposes in therapy.


“It is the potency of a drug that cures a disease”. The potency is administered best when the physical or chejmical properties of a drug are annihilated. This is best performed by subjecting it to heat or pressure. In the dedicated Ghritas or oils of ouv.pharmacopea, which are prepared by successively boiling or cocking them with drug-decoctions, we cannot even detect the trace of

Principles of Ayurvedic Treatment:—

Ayurvedic physicians practically recognise two different sets of principles in the domain of practical therapeutics, which may be stated in the terms of their western colleagues as Laws of Similars and Contraries.[100] This apparent contradiction has been fully accounted for and explained in the writings of the latter day commentators, but it does not fall within our province to enter into these disquisitions. In addition to those, Sushruta, in common with the Acaryayas of his time, never fails to emphasise the value of psycopathy in those forms of mental or neryous distempers for which Mesmer rightly now receives so rìuch honor. Since the creation of man, the touch of the “Saintly” has been credited with the virtue of curing the sick; and Avefeha (auto-hypnotism) and Samadhi (higher phases of clairvoyance) have achieved many miracles in the art of healing in India, which was the, first country where it was first successfully practised for the welfare of man.

Samshodhana and Samshamana:—

All kinds of treatment may be grouped under two heads such as Samshodhana and Samshamana, i.e. either the body should be cleansed (Samshodhita) of the morbific diathesis with the help of emetics or purgatives, or steps should be taken to restore the deranged Vayu, Pitta and Kapha to their normal condition with the help of proper medicinal drugs without resorting to any eliminating process. But in cases of inflammation, Sushruta enjoins that, instead of any Samshamana remedies, diaphoresis should be first resorted to. In cases where counter-irritants are indicated and in parts which are directly accessible, leeching and cauterisation should be practised with a due regard to the season of the year and the requirements of the case. We find in his Samhita a detailed account of the several species of leeches with their habits and habitats.

Forms of medicine:—

Powders, lambatives, decoctions as well as medicated oils, Ghritas, confection and wines are the forms in which, according to Sushruta, medicines should be given. The different drugs such as roots, leaves, etc. should be culled in the seasons proper to each. He classified the soil into five different kinds for the purpose of growing drugs of different therapeutic properties. Even the virtues of different flavours and colours were ascertained with regard to their respective actions on the deranged morbific principles of the body.


The Ayurveda being the science of life and health, the holy Agnivesha, at the very commencement of the therapeutical portion of his work,[101] has described several medicinal compounds, which improve general health and arrest the ravages of time. Theoretically speaking the science of the Ayurveda recognises no preordained limit to human existence. Life can be prolonged with the help of suitable medicines. By dint of observation and patient researches our Rishis devised many such adjuncts which can rejuvenate an old man, and supply those vital elements to an old and exhausted human body, which ebb away with the progress of years. Hence, we find many rejuvenating medicines to have been prescribed for men in health which would arrest decay and guard against the approach of senility by increasing the fundamental vital principles of the body and preventing Vayu, Pitta and Kapha from being transformed into morbific diatheses.


“A good and proper diet in disease is worth a hundred medicines and no amount of medication can do good to a patient who does not observe a strict regimen of diet.”

Our Ayurveda, instead of being content with specifying the nature of diet in diseases in general, mentions the names of articles, which should, or should not be taken in any specific malady, judged by the light of their properties of aggravating Vayu, Pitta or Kapha. The dietic or therapeutic properties of a large number of articles of human consumption, as well as the chemical changes they undergo in the digestive apparatus of different mammals, have been studied and analysed, and so we find in our physique, medical Samhitas, such injunctions that barleycorns passed undigested with the feces of a cow or horse, should form the diet of a Prameha patient[102] that the milk of a she-camel should be given to a patient suffering from a cutaneous affection, and that the flesh of any carnivorous beast or bird should be given to one suffering from pulmonary consumption and so on. It was a cardinal doctrine with Ayurvedic dietists that the longing of a patient for any particular kind of food in a certain disease, emphatically shows that his organism is in want of those elements which enter into the composition of the article offered. Hence elaborate dietetics were formulated, which cannot but be acceptable to the most fastidious patient.


The exclusion[103] of salt and water from the food of an ascites or anasarca patient as laid down in our Samhitas shows that our Rishi possessed a higher chemical knowledge regarding the effects of organic matter on the human system than many of us are ready to accord to these pioneers in medical science.

Medical Botany:—

After therapeutics comes the subject of Medical Botany. Sushruta divides the whole vegetable kingdom into Vriksha, Gulma, Vanaspati and Virudha. This classification has been minutely worked out in works on Hindu Botany where we find such nice subdivisions as Agravija (whose toplings are only planted), Mulaja (whose roots only are planted), Parnayoni, Skandaja, Vijaruha (germinated from seeds) and Sannurudhaja. But the botany of Sushruta is more of the nature of a Materia Medica than a work on Botany proper, though sometimes he mentions the habitat and describes the foliage of certain plants so that they may be distinguished from others of a cognate species.

The uses of metals and minerals for therapeutical purposes in India are as old as the Rigveda[104] itself. Sushruta describes the methods of preparing oxides, sulphates or chlorides of the six metals as the case may be. Mercury has been only once mentioned in the Samhita and then very vaguely too. Processes for the preparation of alkalis and the lixiviation of ashes are very elaborately described. Beyond these the chemical knowledge of Sushruta scarcely extends.

Hygiene and Public Health:—

As a writer of Hygiene and public health, Sushruta emphasises the importance of cleanliness of both spirit and body. Water whose disinfecting virtues have so often been hymnised in the Vedas[105] forms the subject of discussion of an entire chapter of the Samhita. Outbreaks of epidemic have been attributed to contrary seasons, to the floating of minute particles of poisonous flower pollen in the air, and to the sin or unrighteous conduct of the community. Earthquakes, famines, and physical phenomena, which are at present attributed to magnetic disturbances of the earth, have been described by Sushruta as the usual precursors of devastating epidemics such as plague etc. Mortality among birds and an unusual death among rats an’d other burrowing rodents have been included among other presaging indications of a visitation by Providence. Interrogated as to the cause of such outbreaks, Dhanvantari observes that, the Vayu (molecular energy) of the soil is disturbed or affected by earthquakes, and seasons of unnatural drought or deluge, deranging their Pitta (kinetic energy) and Shleshma (humidity) which produce morbific factors that affect a whole community. Sushruta, as a true physician, has elaborately dealt with the regimen of diet and conduct during the different seasons of the year (Ch. 24–U. T. 64) which, strictly followed, should act as a good prophylaxis against attacks of many epidemic diseases, being framed with a most careful regard to the conditions of life which obtain in it, and ward off those sad breakdowns in health, which are, in many instances, the result of an unsuitable mode of living in this country.

Twofold division of Time etc.

It is a fundamental dictum of Sushruta that in a case of medical treatment the then prevailing season of the year should be taken into account. In his Samhita we find two distinct classifications of seasons, one based on the peculiar physical phenomena which distinguish the different seasons of the year, a fact which emphatically proves that Sushruta was an inhabitant of the sub-Himalayan Gangetic Doab, the other is for the purpose of showing the respective accumulation, aggravation and subsidence of morbific diatheses (Doshas). In the same manner the different quarters of the day and night have been minutely charted or set down to show the spontaneous aggravation and subsidence of the deranged Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah during the 24 hours. The influence of planets as to the production of certain diseases such as small-pox, measles, scarlet fever, etc. is almost a proved fact. As it governs the prevalence and nonprevalence of certain maladies, the aggravation and non-aggravation of certain existing disorders as well owe much of their origin to this potent factor. The vegetable kingdom from which we glean our daily food is also subject to this influence, and hence the discrimination we exercise in selecting our food on certain days of the lunar month.

Countries have been divided into Jangala or Anapa according as their physical features partake of the character of a dry plateau or of a swamp or marsh, a Sadharana one possessing features, which are common to both. Diseases, which are natural or are spontaneously relieved in each of these kinds of country have been treated with that scientific insight which marks modern medical works on sea-side or spring sanitariums. The virtues of the waters of different rivers of India were ascertained for the purposes of practical therapeutics. The therapeutic properties of the milk of a she-goat, she-buffalo, mare, cow-elephant, or woman, as well as of any of their modifications such as curd, whey etc. together with the properties of the flesh and urine of the several groups of she-animals, which are indigenous to the land, were studied and analysed, thus placing at the disposal of a practical physician a list of dietary in different diseases to soothe the taste of the most fastidious patient, and which is at the same time potent enough to cure the distemper he is suffering from without the help of any special medicine. Thus it is that we find our Vaidyas prescribing the flesh of many carnivorous animals as a diet in consumption, goat’s meat in phthisis, goat’s milk in colitis and Tittira’s flesh in fever etc.

Diseases of the Kidneys and Bladder:—

In treating of the diseases of the kidneys, bladder and the urethra, Sushruta has described the symptoms and the colour of the urine in each specific variety without laying down any mode of testing the urine. But we know that Sushruta has enjoined his readers at the very outset of his work to refer to other allied branches of the science for information which is not contained in his book. In the same manner

we can account for the absence of any instructions as regards the feeling of the pulse as an important auxiliary in making a correct diagnosis. We need but repeat the statement that the readers of this Samhita must look for this information in the Kanada’s Nadi Vijnana, which has made our Vaidyas such expert sphygmologists.


In the Kalpasthana of his Samhita, Sushruta has described the symptoms of hydrophobia and snake bites, etc. as well as those developed in cases of vegetable poisoning, together with their therapeutical treatment and remedies, which, if rightly studied and investigated, may yet throw a new light upon the subject.

Sushruta as an Observer It has been lately discovered by a German physiologist that tubercular bacilli do not thrive in goat’s blood. The importance of goat’s milk in colitis as an efficient agent in checking ferment in the intestines, or of the close contact of a goat as a powerful auxiliary in curingtuberculous phthisis was first demonstrated by Sushruta. Not only this—but the inhalation of the air of a cattle-shed and especially? the fact that exhalations of goats, bodies tend to destroy the phthisis germs did not fail to attract the attention of the Indian Rishis; the fumigation of the sick-room with antiseptic preparations such as aṣṭhaṅgadhūpa (Asthanga dhupas) is purely Indian

in its origin and in no way inferior to the modern introduction of Cogghill’s respirators. The microscopic germs that are said to propagate septic fever otherwise called bhūtabhi ṣaṅgottha (saṅgottha?) viṣasajvara are found very often to disappear under this Indian device where no medicines produce any impression. Thus many a wonderful discovery like the above hails from the dimness of a bygone age. Many truths lie embedded in the vast medical literature of the Brahmanas which claimed close attention and devout study, even by the western savants. We have not laboured in vain if these pages can help a little to revive the old genius of the Ayurveda, or help the progress of human Science one step onward towards the attainment of its goal.

Footnotes and references:


śyāmāyano'tha gārgyaśca jābāliḥ suśrutastathā |
viśvāmitrātmajāḥ sabbeṃ (sarve?) munayo brahmavādinaḥ ||
      Mahābhāratam—Anushasan Parva, Ch. IV


viśvāmitrāddevarāta maducchandādayaḥ sutāḥ |
āyuṣo nahuṣastasmādanenā rajirambhakau || 
kṣattravṛddhaḥ kṣattravṛddhāt suhotraścābhavannṛpaḥ |
kāśyakāśaugṛtsamadaḥ suhotrādabhavaṃstrayaḥ ||
gṛtsamadācchaunako'bhūt kāśyāddīrghatamāstathā |
vaidyo dhanvantaristasmāt ketumāṃścatadātmajaḥ |
bhīmarathaḥ ketumato divodāsastadātmajaḥ ||
      Garuda Puranām, Chap. 139, Vs. 8-11,


yatra yatra parokṣe niyogastatra tatraiva pratisaṃskarttṛsutraṃ kṣātavyaṃ | pratisaṃskarttāpīhanāgājuna eva |”
      Dallana’s Commentary, Sutrasthānam, Ch. I. 1.

Dallana mentions the names of Jejjada, Gayadasa etc., as the redactors of the original Samhita, and rejects as spurious or of questionable authority the texts which cannot be found in their editions of the work. Most probably the authoritative verses are quotations from the Vriddha Sushruta.

Recension or Pratisamskara consists in curtailing statements that have been made inordinately elaborate, and in dilating upon truths that have been very succinctly dealt with in the original book. A Redactor or Pratisamaskarta makes an old book new again.

saṃkṣipatyativistīrṇaṃ leśoktaṃ vistṛṇāti ca |
saṃskarttā kurute tantraṃ purāṇañca punarnavaṃ ||

A Samhitā, on the other hand, deals with aphorisms contained in the Vedas.


vedavākyanibaddhatvāt saṃhitāstāḥ prakīrttitāḥ |
tadā bhagavataḥ śākyasiṃhasya paranirvvateḥ
asminmahīlokadhātau sārddhaṃ varṣaśataṃ hyagā??
vodhisattvaśca deśesminneko bhumīścarobhavat
sa ca nāgārjanaḥ śrīmān * * *
      Rājatarangini I. Taranga. Vs. 172-173.


Mahamahopadhyaya Kaviraj Dvaraka Nath Sen Kaviratna of Calcutta subscribes to this opinion. —Tr.


Bael’s Buddhistic Records of the Western World. Vol. II. P. 212. Stein’s Rajatarangini.

(???) Lalita-Vistara—Raja R. L. Milter’s Edition, Chapter I.


suśrutena proktaṃ sauśrutaṃ
      Kālyāyana’s Vārtikas to Pānini’s Grammar.


nagarjjuno sunīndraḥ shashasa yallohashastramatigahanaṃ |
tasyarthasya smṛtayevayabhetahishadakṣaraibrumaḥ |
      Chakra Dutta—Rashayandhikara.


P. C. Roy—Hindu Chemistry p. XVIII. (1902).


Nagarjuna Bodhisattva was well practised in the art of compounding medicine. Nagarjuna Bodhisattva by moistening all the great stones with a divine and superior decoction changed them into gold.—Bael’s Buddhistic Records of the western world Vol. II.

prajapatiṣṭavadhrat prathamamastṛtat vīryyaya kaṃ | taṃ te vadhramyayuṣe
      Anuvak 19. 45. 46. 5.


There s no ground whatever to suppose that Sushruta borrowed his system of medicine from the Greeks. On the contrary, there is much to tell against such an idea—Weber’s History of Indian Literature.


The Origin and Growth of the Healing Art—Bedroe P. 162.


Pratt’s Flowering Plants. Vol. I P. 57.


These Simoi (venerable) whom Clement of Alexandria has narrated to have rendered worship to a pyramid originally dedicated to the relics of a god, were the Buddhist Arhats (venerables) Sramanas.
      Lalita-Vistara—Raja Rajendra Lala Miner’s Edition, Ch. I


ākṛṣṭaśaktiśca mahī tayā yat khasthaṃ gurusvābhimukhaḥ svaśaktyā |
ākṛṣyate tatpatatīva bhāti same samantāt kuriyaṃ yataḥ khe
      Siddhanta Shiromani (Bhaskardcharyaya) Golodhyaya.


dhātūnām pūraṇaṃ samyak sparśajñanamasaṃśayam |
svasirāmcaradraktaṃ kuryyāccānyān guṇān api ||
yadātu kupitaṃ raktaṃ sevate svavahā sirāḥ,
tadāsya vividhā rogā jāyante raktasambhavā | bhāvaprakāśam | (Bhāvaprakāsha)

The Harita Samhita, which according to certain scholars, is older than the Sushruta Samhita, refers to the circulation of blood in describing Panduroga (Anemia). The disease, he observes, is caused by eating clay which thus blocks the lumen of veins and obstructs the circulation of blood. Bhavamisra, the celebrated author of Bhavaprakasha, and who is a century older than Harvey, has the above couplets bearing on the subject.


(A). “The great works of Charaka and Sushruta were translated into Arabic, under the patronage of Kaliph Almansur, in the seventh century. The Arabic version of Sushruta is known by the name of “Kelale-Shawshoore-al-Hindi.” These translations in their turn were rendered into Latin. The Latin versions formed the basis of European medicine, which remained indebted to the Eastern science of medicine down to the seventeenth century.”—History of the Aryan Medical science (Thakore Saheb of Gondal) P. 196.

(B). For the indebtedness of Arabic school of Medicine to the works of Indian masters, see Puschmann P. 162.

(C). Bedro’e. Book IV. Ch. II. 286—299.



Dr. Wise (Hindu system of medicine).


kṣīrodamathane vaidyo devo dhanvantarirhyabhūt |
vibhrat kamuṇḍaluṃ pūrṇamamṛtena samutthitaḥ ||
āyurvedamathāṣṭāṅgaṃ suśrutāya sa uktavān |
      Garuda Purana. Chap. 142. Vs. 5-6.


sarvāṅganivṛttiryugapaditi dhanvantariḥ |
      Charaka, Sharirasthana. Chap. V.

tatra dhānvantarīyānāmadhikāraḥ kriyāvidhau |
vaidyānām kṛtayogānām vyadhaśodhanaropaṇe ||
      Charaka, Chikitshasthana. Chap. V.


Sushruta Samhita, Sutrasthana. Ch. I. 3.


ṛgvedasyāyurveda upavedaḥ
      Charana Vyuha by Vyasa.


gobhiryavaṃ cakṛṣat | ṛgveda ma | २३ | १५


śaraḥ śaṇaḥ adhahiṣṭādevajātā vīrucchapatharopanī |
vabhrorarjunakāṇḍasya yavasyate palānyātilasya tilopiñja(ā/pā?) ||
      Atharvan Samhita

B. See also Ibid I. 2 II. 4. 7. 9. 25, 27 and 36.


tasmādakṣīnāsatyāvicakṣa ādhattama dasābhiṣajātharvvān |
      Rik Samhita I M. 116-16.


Mahabharata. Shantiparva. Rajadharmanushashan Parvadhyaya.


rutaṃ bhiṣak |
      Rigveda. IX M. 112.


śataṃ te rājāna bhiṣaka sahasamurvvīgabhīrā. Rik.


Bedroe’s Origin of the Healing Art, and Sir John Lubbock's Prehistoric times.


sadyo jaṃdhāmāyasīm viśpalāyai dhane hitāsartave pratyadhattaṃ ||
* * * * *
tasmā akṣīnāsatyāvicakṣa ādhattṃ dasābhiṣajātharvvān ||
      Rik Samhita I A. 8 Ad. 186 S. 116. 5.


(A) divyauṣadhiṃ vinā devi śastravidyā suniṣphalā |
vairūpyaṃ kurute yā ca duścikitsye vyadhāntare ||
jāyantaṃ hi yathārśāṃsi pāṭitāni punaḥ punaḥ |
kiṃ tatra (?)strasādhyaṃ syāt susiddhairbheṣajairvinā ||
dhātūnām vyāpadi yacca bhiṣajāṃ naiva siddhāti |
hyāmaye dustare tasmin śastrameva vidhīyate ||
punaḥ saṃśamanaṃ tatra dhātūnām hi praśāntaye |
pradātavyaṃ mahādevi śastrādarvvāk bravīmi te ||
      Mahanilatantra, Patola X. Vs. 72-74.

B) See the Article on “Heredity and some of its Surgical Aspects.” By F. C. Titzell, m. n. The medie?al Advance Vol. LXIV. June 1906. Page 357.


For the use of Sanmohinis (anesthetics) for surgical purposes, see Bhoja Prabandha by Ballala Pandit.


The Aitareya Brahnaana describes a particular way of dividing the organs and viscera of the sacrificial animals which was kept secret among the priests. Aitareya Brahmana VIII. 1.


(A). tayā samasya hṛdayamārisva kikirākṛṇu
      Rik Samhita V. NII, 1, 23, 538.

hṛdā iva kukṣaya somadhānāḥ

B. Vide also Aitareya Brahmana I 2. II 12. III 37.


The nature of the human hody as the resulting effect of the combination of the five elementals have been clearly described in the verse.

mūryya cakṣurgaccatu vātamātmādyāṃ cagaccha pṛthivīṃ ca dharmmaṇā
āponāgaccha yadi tatra te hitamoṣadhīṣu pratitiṣṭhāśarīraiḥ |
      Rik Samhita X M. 16 S. 3.

Which being translated reads:—

“Let his eye go to the sun, let his breath-wind mix with the wind of the atmosphere, and to the sky, earth and the cereals the parts which have sprung out of them, &c.”


Vide Aitareya Brahmana VII. 13.


The injunction of the Hindu Shastras is that “corpse of persons more than 2 years old should be burned.” Cremation of dead bodies being obligatory on Government, as well as on private individuals, it was almost impossible to secure a full-grown anatomical subject in Pauranic India, the more so when we consider that the Hindus look upon the non-cremation and mutilation of a corpse with a peculiar horror as it prevents the spirit from purging off its uncleanness in the funeral fire, and bars its access to a higher spiritual life. Naturally in later and more ceremonial times the interred corpses of infants, less than 2 years old, had to be unearthed and dissected for anatomical purposes; and these portions of the Sushruta Samhita might have been modified by the subsequent commentators in order to conform them to occular proofs.—T. R.


See Gray’s Anatomy (1897) p. 288 and 301 Figs. 248 and 262.


asthāṃ tribhiḥ ṣaṣṭhādhikaiḥ dhāryyamānaṃ |”
      Vishnu Smriti. Ch. 96. 55.

triṇi ṣaṣṭhādhikāni śata?nyasthām saha dant(tt?)olūmalanakhaiḥ |”
      Charaka, Sharirasthana.


Journal of the Asiatic Society Calcutta Vol. VII. P. 261.


avyaktādīni bhutāni vyaktamadhyāni bh??ta |
avyaktanidhanānyeva tatra kā pa?i?edanā || 
      Bhagavat Gita II. 28.


śuddhe śukrārttave sattvaḥ ma?karmmakleśvoditaḥ |
garbhaḥ sampadyate yukti?vaśādagnirivāraṇau ||
      Astanga Hridayam (Vagbhat)
      Sharira Sthana. Ch. I. I.


tasmāt parāṃ? cogarbhādhīyante, parāṃ ca sambhavanti | *
* * * tasmāt madhyegarbhaḥ |
      Aiteriya Brahmana VI. 10?ed


viṣṇuryoniṃ kalpayatu, tvaṣṭā rūpāṇi piṃśatu |
āsiñcatu prajāpatirdhātā gharbhaṃ dadhātu te ||
gharbhaṃ dhehi sinīvālī, gharbhaṃ dhehi sarasvati |
gharbhaṃ teaśvinau devāvā dhattāṃ puṣkarasrajā ||
hiraṇyayī araṇī yaṃ nirmanthato aśvinā |
taṃ tegharbhaṃ havāmahe daśame māsi sūtave ||
      Rik Samhita X. M. 184, S.


For a short history of the Theories of Fertilisation, Vide Evolution of Sex (Prof. P. Geddes and J. A. Thompson) Chap. XII. pp. 169—171.


Vide the charl of menstrual wave prepared by Von Ott given in Man and Woman (Havelock and Ellis) Chap. XI.


The Evolution of Sex Ch. XIII. P. 185. (Prof. P. Geddes? and J. A. hompson.)


Sharirasthana Ch. II.


hidhākṛtvātmano dihamarddhena puruṣo'bhavat
arddhena nārīṃ tasyāṃ sa virājamasṛjat prabhuḥ ||
      Manu Samhita Ch. I. 32.


dakṣiṇāṃśaḥ smṛtaḥ saryyo? bāmabhāgoniśākar?aḥ |
      Sarada Tilak Tantra.


Vishnu Purana Ch. 7. Vs. 10–11.


kālaḥ saṃharate jantūn kālo janayati prajāḥ |
kalanāt sarvvabhūtānāṃ kāla ityabhidhīyate ||


The Evolution of Sex. Ch. XVIII. (Prof. P. Geddes and J. A. Thomson.)


“The body or soma”, Weismann says,

“thus appears to a certain extent as a subsidiary appendage of the true bearers of the life,—the reproductive cells”.

Ray Lankester has again well expressed this:—

“Among the multicellular animals, certain cells are separated from the rest of the constituent units of the body, as egg-cells and sperm-cells; these conjugate and continue to live, whilst the remaining cells, the mere carriers as it were of the immortal reproductive cells, die and disintegrate. The bodies of the higher animals which die, may from this point of view be regarded as something temporary and non-essential, destined merely to carry for a time, to nurse, and to nourish the more important and deathless fission-products of the unicellular egg.”

—Quoted in the Evolution of Sex (P. Geddes and J. A. Thompson) 1901. Chap. XVIII.


(A) raktādhikā bhavennārau(ī?) bhavedretodhikaḥ pumān |
ubhayoḥ samatāyāntu napuṃsakamiti sthitiḥ ||
      Sarada Tilak Tantra.

(B) Sushruta Samhita (Sharira Sthana Ch. III)


rasollāsākhyā sā siddhiḥ tayā hanti kṣudhaṃ naraḥ |
kriyādi nirapekṣeṇa sadā tṛptāḥ prajāstadā ||
      Skanda Purana quoted by Shridhara Svami in his commentaries on the Vishnu Purana. Ch. VI. V. 16.


karmmaṇā pitṛlokāt |


strīpuṃsayoḥ susuṃyoge yadyādau visṛjet pumān |
śukra tataḥ pumānvīro jāyate valavān dṛṭḥ ||
athacedanitā pūrvvaṃ visṛjedraktasaṃyutam |
tatorūpānvitā kanyā jāyate dṛḍhasaṃhatā ||
      Darubahi (Quoted by Arunadatta in his commentaries on Vagbhat).


(A) pāramparyyato'nveṣaṇā vījāṅkuravat |
      Sankhya Sutra Ch. I. 122.

(B) tadījāt saṃsṛti
      Ibid. Ch. III. 3.
(C) sarvvatta hi khakhakāryyajananaśaktiryāvaddavyavasthāyinīti pātañcale siddhaṃ
*      *      *      vījākhyānāṃ dāho videha kaivalye tu      * |
      Sankhya Prabacana Vashya (Vijnan Bhikshu) Ch. I. S. I.


āhitāgne sadā pathyānyantarāgnaujuhoti yaḥ |
ṣaṭatriṃśacca sahasāni rātrināṃ hitabhojanaḥ ||
      Charaka Samhita.


It is curious that the phonetic and etymological resemblance between Sanskrit “Juyutsu” and Japanese “Jiujitsu” (would be fighter) should be so close. Perhaps it was the Buddhist missionaries (and they were not always peaceful hermits) who had carried with them a system of scientific wrestling from India, which was subsequently developed in Japan. Compare with the complete Kano, Jiu-Jitsu (Jeudo) by H. Irving Hancock and Katsukuma Higashi. Chart I and III.


* * * tridhātu śarmma vahataṃ śubhaspatī ||
      Rik. Samhita. I. 3, 6.

Sayana explains it as: vātapittaśleṣma dhātutrayopa śamanaviṣayaṃ sukhyaṃ vahataṃ |


āpaḥ pītāstredhā vidhīyante | tāsāṃ yaḥ sthaviṣṭho??tutanmūtraṃ bhavati, yomadhyama stallohitaṃ, yo'miṣṭhaḥ saḥ prāṇaḥ | dadhaḥ saumya ! sathyamānasya yo'nimā sa ūrddhaḥ samudīṣati tat sarpirbhavati, evameva khalu saumya ! annasyāśyam?nasya yo'ṇimā sa ūrddhaḥ samudīṣati |
      Chandagya Brahmana.


śarīrāvayavāstu paramāṇubhedenāparisaṃkhyeyā bhavanti(?), ativahutvādati saumyādatīndriyatvācca |
      Charaka Samhita Sharirasthana, Chap. VII.


prāṇanāccaiva bhūtānāṃ prāṇa ityabhidhīyate |
prerayatyabhre saṃkhātān dhumajāñcoṣmajāṃścaya ||
prathamaḥ prathame mārge pravāho nāma yo'nilaḥ |
ambare snehamabhetya taḍidbhyāścottamadyutiḥ ||
      Mahabharata. Shanti Pay?a S. 39.


Force may be defined as that which tends to produce motion in a body at rest, or to produce change of motion in a body which is moving.—Daschanel.


(A) vāyustantrayantradharaḥ pracarttakaśceṣtānām |
      Charaka, Sutrasthana. Chap. XII.

(B) pittaṃ paṅgaḥ kaphaḥ paṅgaḥ paṅgavao bhaladhātavaḥ (maladhātavaḥ?) |
vāyunā yatra nīyante tatra gacchanti medhavat ||

Inert is Pitta, inert is Kaphah, inert are the Malas & Dhatus Like clouds, they go wherever they are carried by the Vayu.


dravatejaḥ samudāyātmakasyāpi pittasya tejobhāgo'gniriti |
tena pittamapyagnivaṇmanyate | atitāpitāyo golakavat |
paramārthatastu agniḥ pittādbhinna eveti siddhāntaḥ ||


nābhirāśayaḥ svedolasīkārudhiraṃ rasaḥ |
dṛkasparśanaṃ ca pittasya nābhiratra viśeṣata ||
      Bagbhat (Sutra Sthana ch. XII.)


The bile assists in emulsifying the fats of the foods, and thus rendering them capable of passing into the lacteals by absorption. The bile has beeen considered as a natural purgative * * * The bile appears to have the power of precipitating the gastric proteoses and peptones, together with the pepsin, which is mixed up with them. * * * As an excrementitious substance, the bile may serve as a medicine for the separation of certain highly carbonaceous substances from the blood.
      Kirk’s Physiology Ch. XIII. pp 377-378.


tatrasthamevapittānāṃ śeṣānāmapyanugraham |
karoti valadānena pācakaṃ nāma tatsma tam ||
      Bagbhat Sutra ch. XII.


A. The colouring matter of the bile is derived from and is closely related to that of blood, since the qualities of the bile pigment secreted are markedly increased by the injection of substances into the veins which are capable of setting free hemoglobin
      Kirk's Physiology—(Metabolism in the liver.) Ch. XII. p. 505.

B. There seems to be a close relationship between the colouring matters of the blood and of the bile, and * * between these and that of urine (urobilin) and of the feces—
      Ibid Ch. VIII. p. 376.

C. It seems probable that the spleen, like the lymphatic glands, is engaged in the formation of blood corpuscles. For it is quite certain, that the blood of the splenic vein contains an unusually large number of white corpuscles. † † † In Kottiker’s opinion, the development of colourless and also coloured corpuscles of the blood, is one of the essential functions of the spleen, into the veins of which the new formed corpuscles pass, and are conveyed into the general current of the circulations.
      Ibid. Ch. XII.


A. The contraction (of the heart) can not be long maintained without a due supply of blood or of a similar nutritive fluid. * * * The view that is at present taken of the action of the heart is * * that in heart muscle, as in protoplasm generally, the metabolic processes are those of anabolism or building up. which takes place during diastole of the heart * * * and the katabolism or discharge which is manifested in the contraction of the heart.
      Kirk’s Physiology (metabolism of the heart). Ch. VI.

B vuddhimedhābhimānādyai?bhipretārtha |
sādhakaṃ hṛdgataṃ pittam ||
      Bagbhat Sutra. Ch. XII. 13.


The seat of the moon is at the root of the palate and that of the sun is at the root of the navel; the place of the air (or breath) is above the sun, and mind dwells above the moon. Chitta (or the passage between the mind and the spiritual soul) dwells above the sun, and life dwells above the moon.
      Jnana Sankalini Tantrani, International Journal of Tantrik order (New York) Vol. V. No. 5 p. 109.


It is supposed that the change effected by the light, which falls upon the retina, is in fact a chemical alteration in the protoplasm, and that this stimulates the optic nerve-endings.
      Kirk’s Physiology Ch. XVII,


(A) śleṣmāgnisādanaḥ—Bagbhat.

(B) tasmāttaṃ vidhitatyukterannapānendhanairhitaiḥ |
pālayet prayanna?stasya sthitauhyāyurvalasthitiḥ ||
      Charaka Chikitshasthana. Chap. 15.


(A). kedāreṣu yathākulyāḥ puṇānti vividhauṣadhīḥ |
tathākalevare dhātun sarbbān varddhayate rasaḥ ||
      Bhava Mishra.

(B). khale kapotanyāyenāhayasannarasaḥ pṛthak pṛthak dhātumārge gataḥ san ramādīn poṣayati | * * evaṃ rasapoṣaṇakālāduttarakālaṃ raktapoṣakamārgacārittvāt raktapoṣako rasabhāgo raktaṃ poṣayati | * * * evaṃ māmsamedaprabhṛti poṣaṇa'pijñeya |
      Chakra Datta’s commentary on the Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana. Ch XXVIII.


(A) dhātavaśca malaścāpi duṣyantyebhiḥ yatastataḥ |
vātapittakaphā?ete trayo diṣā iti smṛtāḥ ||
      Bhavaprakasha Part I.

B vāyapittaṃ kaphaścoktaḥ śārīra doṣasaṃgnaham |
      Charaka Sutrasthana Chap. I.


pañca pittasya —Charaka Samhita.


(A) evaṃ pāñcabhautikā agnayaḥ—eka udarāgniḥ, sapradhātvagnayo vakṣyamānā iti trayodaśā'gnayaḥ | nanupārthivādyuṣmābhiḥ pakkasya punaḥ dhātuṣmābhiḥ pāka dhātunāmapi pāñcabhautikatvāt tatrāpi pārthivādyuṣmābhāvaḥ | taiśca pārthivādyuṣmābhi punaḥ pākaḥ |

B. tathā sapraṣu sirāśate sapro'gniśatāni |
pañcaṣu māṃsapeśī śateṣu ca pañcāgniśatānīti ||

C. tejo rasānāṃ sarbbeṣāṃ manujānāṃ caducyate |
pittoṣmaṇaḥ sa rāgena raso raktatvamṛccati ||
vāyūmbutejasā raktamuṣmaṇā cābhisaṃyutam |
sthiratāṃ prāpya māṃsaṃ syāt svoṣmaṇā pakkamevatat ||
svatejo'mbuguṇasnigdhodriktaṃ medo'bhijāyate |
pṛthivyāgnyānilādīnāṃ saṃghātaḥ svoṣmaṇākṛtaḥ ||
kharatvaṃ prakarotyasya jāyate'sthi tatonṛṇām |
karoti tatra śauṣiryyamasthāṃ madhye samīraṇaḥ ||
medasāsthīni pūryyante snehī majjā tataḥ smṛtaḥ |
tasmāt tajjastu yaḥ sneha śukraṃ saṃjāyate tataḥ ||
vāyvākāśādibhirbhāṣaiḥ śauṣiryyaṃ jāyate'sthiṣu |
      Charaka Samhita, Chikitsasthana, Chapter XV.

D). saptarbhideha dhātāro dhātavo dvividha punaḥ |
yathāsvamagnibhiḥ pākaṃ yānti kiṭṭa prasādataḥ ||
      Vid Ibid Chap. XX.


A. daghnaḥ saumya yathā mathyamānasya yo'nimā sa uddharaṃ samudoryyati eva so khalu saumya annasyāśyamānasya |
      Chandogya Upanishad.

B. annasya odanāderaśyamānasya bhuñjamānasya audargyena agninā vāyu sahitena khajena iva satya(?) prānasya |
      Chandogya Bhasyam.


These facts and other considerations, which might be brought forward, lead to the tentative conception of protoplasm as being a substance (if we may use the word in somewhat loose sense) not only unstable in nature but subject to incessant change, existing indeed as the expression of incessant molecular, i. e. chemical and physical change, very much as a fountain is the expression of incessant replacement of water. We may picture to ourselves the total change, which we denote by the term “metabolism,” as consisting on the one hand, of a downward series of (Katabolic changes) a stair of many steps in which the more complex bodies are broken down with the setting free of energy into simpler waste bodies, and, on the other hand, of an upward series of changes (anabolic changes) also a stair of. many steps, by which the dead food of varying simplicity or complexity is with further assumption of energy built up into more and more complex bodies. The summit of the double stair we call “protoplasm” whether we have right to speak of it as a single body tin the chemical sense of that word or as a mixture in some way of several bodies. Whether we should regard it as the very summit of the double stair, or as embracing as well as the topmost steps in either side, we can not at present tell. Even if this be a simple substance forming the topmost summit, its existence is absolutely temporary, at one instance it is made, at the next it is unmade matter, which is passing through the phase of life, rolls up the ascending step to the top and forthwith rolls down on the other side * * *

Further the dead food itself fairly, but far from being wholly stable in character, becomes more and more complex living material. It becomes more and more explosive and when it reaches the summit its equilibrium is over-thrown and it actually explodes. The whole downward stair of events seems in fact to be a series of explosives by means of which the energy latent in the dead food and augmented by the touches through which the dead food becomes living protoplasm, is set free. Some of those freed energy is used up again by the material itself, in order to carry on tin's same vivification of dead food, the rest leaves the body as heat or motion.

If this be admitted it almost inevitably follows, that what we have called protoplasm, can not be always the same thing: that there must be many varieties of protoplasm with different qualities and with corresponding different molecular structure and composition. Using the word “protoplasm” in this sense, it is obvious that the varieties of protoplasm are numerous indeed, almost innumerable. The molecular protoplasm, which brings forth a contractile kata-state must differ in nature, in composition, that is in construction from glandular protoplasm where kata-state is a mother of ferment. Further the protoplasm of a swiftly contracting striped muscular fibre must differ from that of the torpid, smooth, unstriated fibre, the protoplasm of a human muscle must differ from that of a sheep or a frog, the protoplasm of one muscle must differ from that of another muscle, in the same kind of animal, and the protoplasm of Smith’s biceps must differ from that of Jone’s—Foster.


tridhātu śarmma vahaṃtaṃ | vātapittakapha śamanaviṣayasukhaṃ vahaṃtaṃ |
      Sayana’s Commentary Rig V. I A.


dhatuvaivamyanimittāḥ vyādhayaḥ |


śarīraduṣaṇāddoṣo dhātavo dehadhāraṇāt |
vātapitta kaphājñeyā malinī karaṇānmalāḥ || śāṅgadhara |


ojastu tejodhātūnāṃ śukrāntānāṃ paraṃsmṛtam |
hṛdayasthaptapi vyāpi dehasthitimivandhanam ||


hṛdi tiṣṭhati yacchubhraṃ raktamīṣat sapītakam |
ojaḥ śarīre saṃkhyātaṃ tannāśānnā vinaśyavi ||
      Charaka (Sutra Sthana) Ch. XVII.


A. tairāvṛtagatirvāyuroja ādāya gaccati |
yadā bastiṃ tadā kṛcchro madhumehaḥ pravartate ||
      Charaka (Sutra Sthana) Ch. XVII.

B. ojaḥ punarmadhura-svabhāvaṃ, tadraukṣyād vāyuśca kaṣāyatvena abhisaṃ sṛjya sutrāśaye'bhivahan madhumeha karoti |
      Charaka (Sharira Sthana) Ch. IV.


ojaḥ sarvvaśarīrasthaṃ snigdha śītaṃ sthiraṃ sitam |
somātmakaṃ śarīrasya valapuṣṭikaraṃ satam ||
      Bhavaprakasha. Part I.

B. kṣire ghṛtamiva tadeva valam |


tejo'pyāgne? kramaśaḥ pacyamānānāṃ dhātūnāmabhinivṛttamantarasthaṃ snehajāta vasākhyṃ strīṇāṃ viśeṣato bhavati tena mārdavaṃ saukumāyyaṃ bhavati |
      Dallana Mishra.


See Note 3 (B) Page iiv.


yat sāramādau garbhasya yattadgarbharasādrasaḥ |
mamaṃvarttamānaṃ hṛdayaṃ samāviśati yat purā ||
      Charaka Sutrasthana, Chap. XXX.


A. prākṛtastu valaṃ śleṣmā vikṛto mala ucyate |
sacaivojaḥ smṛtaṃ kāye sa ca pāṣmopadiśyate ||
      Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana, Chap. XVII.

B. dahanasyāpi dhātvagnāvavakalpanaṃ sthānaviśeṣāt kāryyaviśeṣācca |
      Chakradatta’s Commentary S. Samhita, Sutrasthana Chap. XV.


“From these extracts it appears to us still more vividly that our countrymen did also discover, like Dr. Pavy, the importance of fat and sugar in the animal economy, as well as the mode in which they can be elaborated from one common principle. (76-7S). A comparative study of the two systems of medical science, Indian and European, has led us to arrive at this conclusion; if we, therefore are not inclined to identify Ojah with albumen, as it has been done by some modern Indian commentators, we have reasons to believe that the aforesaid extracts have not as yet received sufficient consideration from them, as forming the nutritive? basis of the procreative elements; in short the subject has hitherto been neglected or, at least, been placed in the back-ground, from? want of attention on the part of those whose business it was to investigate into the truths of Science. To hold that Ojah is kept in deposit in the heart, as a reserved food material, for the maintenance of its own work as well as for the production of germinal seed, is to admit that efficiency of reproduction depends entirely upon the efficiency of this important substance in the body.”

(76) gurusnigdhāmlalavaṇānyatimātraṃ samaśnatām
navamannañca pānañca nidrāmāsyāsukhāni ca ||
tyaktavyāyāmacintānāṃ saṃśodhanamakurvvatām |
śleṣmā pittañca medaśca māṃsañcāti pravarttate ||
tairāvṛtagatirvāyuroja ādāya gaccati |
yadāvastiṃ tadākṛccho madhumehaḥ pravarttate ||

76. “Those who partake of heavy and cooling food abounding in acids and salts, of new rice, and beverages, or constantly enjoy sleep and luxuries, or neglect the exercise of body and mind, or who habitually abstain from the use of corrective medicines, help to accumulate in their bodies phlegm, bile, fat and flesh; and these interfere with the functions of the Vayu, which causes the Ojah to be displaced from its proper place down in the bladder and produces glycosuria,”

(77) ghṛtaṃ yathā kṛtsnakṣīrasnehaḥ
tathaiva tejo'pi kṛtsnadhātusnehaḥ |

77. “As Ghee pervades the whole of milk, so Teja (ojah) permeates all the tissues of the body.”

(78) tejo'pyāgneyaṃ kramaśaḥ pacyamānānānaṃ 
dhātunāmabhinivṛttamantarasthaṃ snehajātaṃ vasākhyam

strīṇāṃ viśeṣato bhavati tena mārdavaṃ saukumāryyaṃ bhavati |

78. “Teja (Ojah) too is combustible; in course of tissue-combustion, the excess quantity of it gets deposited especially in the female body as fat which produces softness and elegance.”


kanṭhakūpe kṣutpipāsā nivṛttiḥ |
kūrmanāḍyā sthairyyam |
      Patanjala Darshana Vibhutipada 29—30 A.


sopakramaṃ nirupakramañca karmma tatsaṃyamāda parāntañjānamariṣṭebhyovā |
      Patanjala Darshana. Vibhutipada. A.


tasmāt puruṣo'dhiṣṭānam | taddukha saṃyogāśca vyādhaya ityucyante |
      Sushruta samhita. Sutra. Chap. I.


That Hahnemann's theory of disease was long before foreshadowed by Sushruta, will appear from the above extracts from his works. Hahnemann observes that, when a person falls ill, it is only this spiritual self-acting vital force, everywhere present in the organism, that is primarily deranged by the dynamic influence of a morbific agent inimical to life—Orgenon.


Similar in character to the exciting factors of a disease—Similar in character to the Esse of a disease—Similar in character both to the exciting actors and Esse of a disease.

Contrary in character to the exciting factors of a disease.
Contrary in character to the Esse of a disease.
Contrary in character both to the exciting factors and Esse of a disease.

hetuvyādhi viparyyasta vipuryyastārthakāriṇām |
auṣadhānnavihārāṇāmupayogaṃ sukhāvaham ||
      Madhava Nidana Ch I. V. 8.


dīrghamāyuḥ smṛti medhāmarogaṃ taruṇaṃ vayuḥ |
prabhāvarṇa svaraudāryyaṃ dehendriya balaṃ paraṃ ||
vākasiddhiṃ praṇatiṃ kāntiṃ labhate nā rasāyanāt |
lābhopāyo hi śapranāṃ rasādīnāṃ rasāyanaṃ ||
      Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana Ch I.


kharāśva godhenuka saṃbhṛtānāṃḳ, tathā yavānāṃ vividhāśca bhakṣyāḥ |
deyāstathā veṇuyavā yavānāṃ, kalpena godhūmamayāśca bhakṣyāḥ ||
      Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana. Ch. VI. 23.


The efficacy of such exclusion has been lately demonstrated by the researches of Dr. Benjamin Horniman (Lectures, Sanitarium, Park st. London.)

?†? A. tathoṣṇa lavaṇāmlāni vidāhīni gurūṇica |
nādyādannāni jaṭharī toyapānaṃ ca varjayet ||
      Charaka Chikitsha Sthana Ch. XIII.

B. mūtrāṇyaṣṭāvudariṇāṃ seke pāne ca yojayet
      Ibid Chap. 13.

C. saptāhamauṣṭrantvathavāpi māsaṃ payaḥ pivedbhojanavārivarjjī |
gavyaṃ samūtraṃ mahiṣīpayo ca kṣīrāśanaṃ mūtromatho gavāṃ cā ||
      Charaka Chikitsha Sthana Chap. 12.


Lead crystals (including diamond) gold and mineral poisons are mentioned in the I. 16. I. 29. I 55. and IV 10. of the Atharva Samhita.


apasvaṃtarasṛtamapsu bheṣajamapāmata praśāntaye ||
      Rik Samhita I. 23 s. 19.

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