Sushruta Samhita, volume 2: Nidanasthana

by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna | 1911 | 37,609 words

This current book, the Nidana-sthana (english translation), is the second part of this voluminous medical work. It deals with diseases: their prognosis, their cause, their symptoms and their pathogenesis (development of the disease). The Sushruta Samhita is the most representative work of the Hindu system of medicine. It embraces all that can poss...

It is with mingled feelings of pain and pleasure that we now place before the public the Second Volume of our English Translation of the Susruta Samhita. The arduous task of compiling a connected and succint history of any part whatever, of the ancient Hindu System of Medicine—requires greater leisure and more extensive reading than we can lay any pretension to. Years of patient study and constant discourse with our sainted preceptor the late lamented Mahamahopadhyaya Kaviraj Dwaraka Nath Sen, Kaviratna, that refulgent link of the golden chain of the Dhanvantaric succession, have enabled us, however, to grasp the leading facts, and during the last few years we have worked continuously, in moments snatched from the practice of an anxious profession that knows no respite, to arrange these facts in their present form. It breaks our heart to record the sad departure of our venerable Acaryya from this sublunary sphere to a land “from whose bourne no traveller e’er returns.”

It is hardly necessary for us to reply to those critics who, through their ignorance of the original Sanskrit works, persist in describing Ayurveda as an empirical system destitute of Anatomy, Physiology or Pathology in any scientific sense.

It behoves us, however, in this preface to meet some of the charges which have been brought against us.

Exception has been taken to our not including in the opening stanza the usual invocation to the Supreme Self (for a successful completion of the work) although it has found its way into almost all the printed editions of the work extant.

Now the stanza referred to finds no place in the various manuscript copies of the original work which are in our possession, or on which we have been able to lay our hands. The work was first put into print by the late Dr. Madhusudan Gupta and we believe that it was only in this printed edition that the benedictory address in question appeared for the first time, and that it has since crept, by the process of circulation, into subsequent printed editions.

In this opinion we are supported by the fact, that in none of the various commentaries and annotations on the Susruta Samhita is any mention made of the line in question, whereas, had it been the opening stanza of the original work, it would certainly have received at least a passing notice at the hands of the commentators, however easy or simple it might have been. Further, were it composed by Susruta himself, it would not have been in the form in which we find it in the printed editions. The ancient sages used invariably the auspicious expression “athataḥ” or “om” and the like, when commencing a work and never invoked any particular deity for a happy termination of their undertaking.[1] These are the reasons which have led us to omit the passage in our present translation.

Another objection raised by a certain section of the community is that we should not have at all undertaken to translate the work into the English language. Their contention is that the Ayurveda, being an integral portion of the Eternal Vedas, should, on no account, be rendered into a Mleccha Bhasha and thus made accessible to the public at large, irrespective of caste or creed.

Such an objection, at this time of the day, is, to say the least, most puerile! Truth is truth, and latitudes and longitudes are not its boundary lines. The Vedas themselves have been translated into many European languages. To keep the truths promulgated by our ancient sages confined within the coterie of the privileged classes and thus to deprive the educated public of the benefit of such truths would certainly be a sacrilege. In giving preference to English as the medium of translation we have been actuated by more reasons than one.

It cannot be gainsaid that English has now become almost the lingua franca of the world, and to disseminate the ancient wisdom of India throughout the world, we could not have selected a medium better than the English language.

Besides this, we have been actuated by the hope of drawing the direct attention of our benign Government to the scientific value of our system of Medicine by the adoption of such a procedure.

Here we must not stop without expressing our sincere and hearty thanks to our learned and valued friends Kaviraj Jogindranath Sen, M.A., Vidyabhusana, Kaviraj Jnanendranath Sen, B.A., Kaviratna and Professor Satyendranath Sen, M. A., Vidyavagisa, who have rendered us material help in the publication of this volume. We must freely admit that but for the active and continued co-operation of the above-named gentlemen we could not have brought out this volume so promptly and successfully. Our thanks are also due to Dr. S. Sanyal, B.Sc., L.M.S. for his kind help, to Dr. S. N. Goswami, B.A., L.M.S. for his kindly supplying us with materials for writing the Introduction, and to our readers for their kind encouragement.

In conclusion, we implore our readers to excuse the errors of omission and commission which are inevitable in the execution of such a huge work, more especially when the author is encumbered with the responsible duties of his profession involving, as they do, the life and death of persons entrusted to his care.

10, Kashi Ghoshe’s Lane,
November , 1911.

Kunja Lal Bhishagratna.

Footnotes and references:



(a) “athato dirdhañjivitiyamadhyayaṃ”—Charaka Samhita.

(b) “athato dharmaṃ vyakhyasyamaḥ”—Kanada Vaiseshika Sutra

(c) “athato brahmajijñasa Vedanta Sutra.

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