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...

Chapter III - Classification of Ayurveda

Now we shall discuss the chapter which deals with the classification of the Ayurveda and the order [in which the venerable Dhanvantari discoursed on them to his pupils]. Adhyayana-Sampradaniya.

It has been stated before, that a hundred and twenty chapters have been distributed among the five parts or subdivisions (of the present work, in the following order Forty six in the part of Definitive Aphorisms ( Sutra-Sthana); sixteen in the part dealing with the Etiology of diseases (Nidana); ten in the part explaining the Anatomy and physiology of the human body (Sharira Sthana); forty in the part of Therapeutics Chikitsita; and eight in the part dealing with poisons and their antidotes (Kalpa-Sthana). In addition to these the Uttara-Tantra consists of sixty-six chapters.

Metrical texts:—Sutra-Sthana:—

The Sutra-Sthana which contains forty-six chapters, is so called because it discusses in the form of hints, arranges in the form of aphorisms and connects by links topics relating to longevity.

  • Chapter 1: Describes the origin of the science of the Ayurveda.
  • Chapter 2: Relates to the formal initiation of a pupil into the science of medicine.
  • Chapter 3: Deals with the classification and order of the study of the ayurveda.
  • Chapter 4: Dwells on general interpretations and explanations of subjects studied, 5 Treats of preliminary preparations for surgical operations.
  • Chapter 6: Deals with seasons and their influence on health and drugs.
  • Chapter 7: Treats of surgical appliances.
  • Chapter 8: Describes surgical instruments.
  • Chapter 9: Gives practical instructions for surgical operations.
  • Chapter 10: Dwells on the duties of medical men preliminary to their commencing practice.
  • Chapter 11: Pharmacy of alkalies (potential cauteries).
  • Chapter 12: Cauteries and the rules to be observed in their use.
  • Chapter 13: Leeches how and which to use).
  • Chapter 14: Blood.
  • Chapter 15: Dwells on the study of development and non-development of the humorous constituents of the body and excrements.
  • Chapter 16: The ceremony of piercing the lobules of the ears.
  • Chapter 17: How to distinguish between suppurating and non suppurating swellings.
  • Chapter 18: Dressings and bandages of ulcers.
  • Chapter 19: The management of patients with ulcers, etc.
  • Chapter 20: The salutary and non-salutary effects of regimen, etc.
  • Chapter 21: The decisive modes in the treatment of sores, etc.
  • Chapter 22: The opening of abscesses, etc.
  • Chapter 23: General rules to be observed in the treatment of curable and incurable (surgical diseases.
  • Chapter 24: The nature of diseases in general.
  • Chapter 25: The (eight different) ways of using surgical instruments.
  • Chapter 26: The exploration of splinters lost (deep seated) in the body.
  • Chapter 27: The extraction of splinters.
  • Chapter 28: How to know favourable and unfavourable terminations in surgical diseases.
  • Chapter 29: The favourable or unfavourable prognosis in diseases as known from messengers, omens and dreams.
  • Chapter 30: Prognosis from the perversion of sense perception.
  • Chapter 31: Prognosis based on the altered condition of features, etc.
  • Chapter 32: Prognosis based on the perversion in the external appearances of the body.
  • Chapter 33: Palliative treatment of incurable diseases.
  • Chapter 34: The precautions to be taken (against dangers, such as poisoning of water, etc. by a medical man for the safety of a king whose army is on the march.
  • Chapter 35: Clinical observations made by physicians.
  • Chapter 36: Miscellaneous subjects connected with the treatment of injuries and surgical diseases.
  • Chapter 37: The examination of the soil for the selection of vegetable products growing on it to be used as medicines.
  • Chapter 38: Classification of drugs according to their therapeutical uses., 39 The two classes of drugs which cleanse the system [by evacuating bad humours] and drugs which pacify the irritated humours.
  • Chapter 40: Drugs, their flavours, properties and maturity.
  • Chapter 41: The properties of drugs specially considered.
  • Chapter 42: Flavours.
  • Chapter 43: The choice of emetics.
  • Chapter 44: The choice of purgatives.
  • Chapter 45: Liquids.
  • Chapter 46: Food and drink.


From their investigating the (pathological) causes and symptoms of diseases, they are called Nidana, (etiology) and are sixteen in number.

  • Chapter 1: Causes and symptoms of diseases caused by wind.
  • Chapter 2: Hemorrhoids.
  • Chapter 3: Urinary calculi
  • Chapter 4: Fistule.
  • Chapter 5: Skin diseases (Kushtha).
  • Chapter 6: Urethral discharges.
  • Chapter 7: Abdominal tumours and dropsy.
  • Chapter 8: Abortion and unnatural labours.
  • Chapter 9: Abscesses.
  • Chapter 10: Erysipelas and Carbuncles.
  • Chapter 11: Tumours
  • Chapter 12: Scrotal tumours.
  • Chapter 13: Fractures (and dislocations)
  • Chapter 14: Diseases of the male organ of generation caused by Shuka.
  • Chapter 15: Minor (and miscellaneous) diseases.
  • Chapter 16: Diseases of the mouth.


The great sage has devoted ten chapters to the subject of Anatomy and Physiology (Sharira-Sthana) for medical men and contemplative saints to learn the component parts of the human body. They are:—

  • Chapter 1: Cosmology.
  • Chapter 2: Healthy (and unhealthy) condition of male and female germs.
  • Chapter 3: Development of the fetus.
  • Chapter 4: Analytical description of the fetus.
  • Chapter 5: Component parts of the body.
  • Chapter 6: Investigation of each vital part.
  • Chapter 7: Description of the veins.
  • Chapter 8: Venesection.
  • Chapter 9: Arteries.
  • Chapter 10: Pregnancy (child-birth and management of women in child-birth and of children).


The division of Therapeutics, (Chikitsita) includes (amongst others) the modes of treating diseases by medicines, expiatory ceremonies, propitiatory rites, and tranquillizing efforts. Forty chapters have been devoted to this division.

  • Chapter 1: Treatment of two varieties of ulcers.
  • Chapter 2: Treatment of instant wounds and‘ulcers resulting therefrom.
  • Chapter 3: Fractures and dislocations.
  • Chapter 4: Diseases of wind.
  • Chapter 5: Grievous maladies caused by wind.
  • Chapter 6: Hemorrhoids.
  • Chapter 7: Urinary calculi.
  • Chapter 8: Fistule.
  • Chapter 9: Skin diseases.
  • Chapter 10: Grievous skin diseases.
  • Chapter 11: Urethral discharges.
  • Chapter 12: Warts, pustules and sores caused by urethral discharges.
  • Chapter 13: Diabetes.
  • Chapter 14: Abdominal Dropsy.
  • Chapter 15: Abortions and unnatural labours.
  • Chapter 16: Abscesses.
  • Chapter 17: Erysipelas and Carbuncles.
  • Chapter 18: Tumours.
  • Chapter 19: Scrotal tumours and Syphilis.
  • Chapter 20: Minor diseases.
  • Chapter 21: Diseases of the male genital organ caused by Shuka.
  • Chapter 22: Diseases of the mouth.
  • Chapter 23: Swellings.
  • Chapter 24: Prophylactic treatment against diseases in general.
  • Chapter 25: Miscellaneous diseases.
  • Chapter 26: Tonics for virile debility.
  • Chapter 27: Tonics for general debility.
  • Chapter 28: Remedies for increasing mental powers and duration of life.
  • Chapter 29: Remedies for innate maladies.
  • Chapter 30: Means for removing wordly distresses.
  • Chapter 31: Treatment of diseases where oleaginous substances are useful.
  • Chapter 32: Treatment by diaphoretics.
  • Chapter 33: Emetics and Purgatives.
  • Chapter 34: Treatment for mishaps from the injudicious use of emetics and purgatives.
  • Chapter 35: Nozzles and pipes, and enema apparatus.
  • Chapter 36: Mishaps from injudicious use of enemas.
  • Chapter 37: Enemas and injections.
  • Chapter 38: Clysters.
  • Chapter 39: Treatment of complications in general.
  • Chapter 40: Inhalation, fumigations, gargarismata, etc.


From their proposing remedies against poisons, they are called Kalpas, and are eight in number.

  • Chapter Chapter 1: Preservation of food.
  • Chapter 2: Vegetable and inorganic poisons.
  • Chapter 3: Poisons from organic creation.
  • Chapter 4: Snake poison.
  • Chapter 5: Treatment of snake-bites.
  • Chapter 6: Rat-bite and its treatment.
  • Chapter 7: Emitting the sound of kettle-drums (for the elimination of poison).
  • Chapter 8: Antidotes for and treatment of venomous insect-stings.

Thus a synopsis of one hundred and twenty chapters has been given.



Now here follows the supplementary division called after its own name (Uttara-Tantra).

  • Chapter 1: The Chapter on Sympathetic diseases is placed first, as this division has for its main object the description of such diseases and their treatment.
  • Chapter 2: Diseases of the joinings (margin of the eyelids) of the eyeball.
  • Chapter 3: Diseases of the eyelids.
  • Chapter 4: The Sclerotic of the eye.
  • Chapter 5: The Cornea.
  • Chapter 6: The eyeball, as a whole.
  • Chapter 7: Diseases of the pupil.
  • Chapter 8: Treatment of eye diseases.
  • Chapter 9: Prophylactic and curative treatment of wind affections of the eye and ophthalmia.
  • Chapter 10: Treatment of Bile affections of the eye and ophthalmia.
  • Chapter 11: Treatment of Phlegm affections of the eye and ophthalmia.
  • Chapter 12: Treatment of Blood affections of the eye.
  • Chapter 13: Treatment of affections in which scarification is needed.
  • Chapter 14: Treatment in which paracentesis is needed.
  • Chapter 15: Treatment by incisions.
  • Chapter 16: Entropium and ectropium.
  • Chapter 17: Treatment of the diseases of the pupil and vision.
  • Chapter 18: General rules regarding ophthalmic medicine and surgery.
  • Chapter 19: Treatment of traumatic affections of the eyeballs.
  • Chapter 20: General signs and symptoms of ear diseases.
  • Chapter 21: Treatment of ear diseases.
  • Chapter 22: Signs and symptoms of nose affections.
  • Chapter 23: Treatment of nose affections.
  • Chapter 24: Treatment of nasal catarrh.
  • Chapter 25: Signs and symptoms of cranial diseases.
  • Chapter 26: Treatment of cranial affections.

These (twenty-six chapters) form the end of the eight divisions of the ayurveda, called Shalikyam.

Kaumara Tantra:—

  • Chapter 27: Signs of diseases caused by the Nava-grahas.
  • Chapter 28: Prophylactic treatment of diseases caused by Skandha.
  • Chapter 29: Treatment of convulsions caused by Skandha.
  • Chapter 30: Treatment of Sakuni affections.
  • Chapter 31: Treatment of Revati affections.
  • Chapter 32: Treatment of Putana.
  • Chapter 33: Treatment of Andha Putana.
  • Chapter 34: Treatment of Shīta-Putana.
  • Chapter 35: Treatment of Mukhaandika.
  • Chapter 36: Treatment of Naigamesha.
  • Chapter 37: Origin of the nine Grahas.
  • Chapter 38: Diseases of the Vagina (and internal female genital organs).

These twelve chapters together with what is included in (the last chapter of the division on anatomy, form the fifth division of the Ayurveda) called Kaumara Tantra.


  • Chapter 39: Fevers and their treatment.
  • Chapter 40: Enteric Catarrh and its treatment.
  • Chapter 41: Consumption and its treatment.
  • Chapter 42: Diseases of the abdominal glands and their treatment.
  • Chapter 43: Diseases of the heart Angina Pectoris etc.
  • Chapter 44: Anemia and allied diseases and their treatment.
  • Chapter 45: Hemorrhagic affections and their treatment.
  • Chapter 46: Apoplectic diseases and their treatment.
  • Chapter 47: Diseases from excessive drinking and their treatment.
  • Chapter 48: Symptoms, causes, and treatment of excessive thirst.
  • Chapter 49: Causes, symptoms and treatment of vomiting.
  • Chapter 50: Causes, symptoms and treatment of Hiccough.
  • Chapter 51: Causes, symptoms, and treatment of Dyspnea.
  • Chapter 52: Causes, symptoms and treatment of cough.
  • Chapter 53: Aphonia.
  • Chapter 54: Entozoa.
  • Chapter 55: Causes, symptoms and treatment of retention of excrements.
  • Chapter 56: Causes, symptoms and treatment of Dyspeptic and Choleric diarrhea.
  • Chapter 57: Anorexia and its treatment.
  • Chapter 58: Causes, symptoms and treatment of cystic and urethral affections.
  • Chapter 59: Causes and treatment of urine diseases.

These twenty one chapters describe the remaining diseases of Kayachikitsa; (which forms the third division of the ayurveda).


  • Chapter 60: Causes, symptoms and treatment of diseases caused by superhuman powers.
  • Chapter 61: Causes symptoms and treatment of Epilepsy.
  • Chapter 62: Mania.

These three chapters form the Bhuta Vidya (the fourth division of the ayurveda).


  • 63 on the different varieties of flavour.
  • 64 General rules for the preservation of health.
  • 65 Deductions and inductions drawn from the texts and study of the ayurveda.
  • 66 On the varieties of morbid elements (humours).

These four chapters are to be understood as being supplementary, and as ornaments to this division.

This last division from its superiority over the others, the great sages have called the Excellent (Uttara). From the information it gives on varied subjects, it is called the best, the permanent and the last.

In this division which is called the last, there are included four divisions (of the ayurveda) viz, Shalakyam, (treatment of diseases of parts situated above the clavicles), 2 Kaumarabhrityam (management of children), 3 Kayachikitsa (general diseases) and 4 Bhuta-Vidya.

The division (named) Vajīkarana (on the strengthening of virile power, etc.) and Rasayana (remedies preserving vigor, etc.) have been included in the (fourth) division (of this treatise called Chikitsa).

The doctrine of antidotes comes under the head of Kalpa of this treatise and Shalya surgery is incidentally treated throughout the book. Thus these are the eight limbs divisions of the Science of Medicine proclaimed to the world by the original god. Those, who study them with due care and make use of the knowledge with caution, shall preserve the likes of men on this earth. It is imperatively necessary that the book should be read; and after having read it one should attend to the practice (of the science). The physician who has learnt these both, is fit to be honoured by kings.

Authoritative verses on the subject:—

A physician, well versed in the principles of the science of medicine (ayurveda), but unskilful in his art through want of practice, loses his wit at the bedside of his patient, just as, a coward is at his wit’s end to determine what to do when for the first time he finds himself in the ranks of a contending army. On the other hand a physician, experienced in his art but deficient in the knowledge of the ayurveda, is condemned by all good men as a quack, and deserves capital punishment at the hands of the king. Both these classes of physicians are not to be trusted, because thy are inexpert and half educated. Such men are incapable of discharging the duties of their vocation, just as a one-winged bird is incapable of taking flight in the air. Even a panacea or a medicine of ambrosial virtues administered by an unpractised or ignorant physician, will prove positively baneful as a draught of poison, or a blow with a weapon, or a thunderbolt. A physician, ignorant of the science and art of surgery and emollient measures (Sneha-karma), etc. is but a killer of men out of cupidity, and who is allowed to carry on his nefarious trade only through the inadvertence of the king. A physician well versed in the principles of surgery, and experienced in the practice of medicine, is alone capable of curing distempers, just as only a two-wheeled cart can be of service in a field of battle.

Now hear me, O child, describe the mode of staying (the present science of the ayurveda.) The pupil having worshipped and recited his daily prayers should calmly sit near his preceptor, pure in body and mind, who should teach him a full Shloka (or couplet of the ayurveda), or a half or a quarter part thereof, adapted to his intellectual capacity. Then he should make a full and elaborate paraphrase of the recited couplet or any part thereof, and ask his pupils individually to do the same. When the pupils have paraphrased the same to the satisfaction of the preceptor, he should again recite the same stanza or couplet. The passages or shlokas should not be recited too hastily, nor drawled out in a timid or faltering voice, nor with a nasal intonation. The voice should be neither too loud, nor too weak, but each sound should be clearly and distinctly uttered, and the lips, the eyes, the eyebrows, and the hands, etc. should not be lifted or moved to keep time with the recitation. No one should be allowed to pass between the pupil and the preceptor at the time of study.

Authoritative verses on the subject:—

A pupil who is pure, obedient to his preceptor, applies himself steadily to his work, and abandons laziness and excessive sleep, will arrive at the end of the science (he has been studying).

A student or a pupil, having finished the course of his studies, would do well to attend to the cultivation of fine speech and constant practice in the art he has learnt, and make unremitting efforts towards the attainment of perfection (in the art).


Thus ends the third Chapter of the Sutrasthana in the Sushruta Samhita which deals with the Classification of the Ayurveda.

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