Sushruta Samhita, volume 3: Sharirasthana

by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna | 1911 | 36,821 words

This current book, the Sharira-sthana (english translation), deals with anatomy, the human body, cosmology, embryology and various other subjects. 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. Susruta-samhita is recognized as the first a...

Chapter II - The purification of semen and cataminal fluid

Now we shall discourse on the Sharira which treats of the purification of semen and cataminal fluid etc. (Shukra-Shonita-Shuddhirnama Sharira). 1.

A man is incapable of begetting children, whose seminal fluid, affected by the aggravated Vayu, Pitta or Kapha, emits a cadaverous smell, or has acquired a clotted or shreddy character or which looks like putrid pus, or has become thin, or smells like urine or stool. 2.

Deranged Semen:

Semen vitiated by the deranged Vayu acquires a (reddish-black) colour and gives rise to a pain (piercing and cutting etc.) which characterises the Vayu (at the time of being emitted). Similarly semen deranged by the Pitta gets a (yellowish or bluish etc.) colour and produces the specific pain (burning and sucking etc.) of the deranged Pitta (at the time of emission). Semen vitiated by the action of the deranged Kapha has a (white) colour and produces the pain (itching sensation etc.) peculiar to the deranged Kapha (at the time of its outflow). The semen vitiated by blood is tinged with a bloody hue, produces all kinds of pain peculiar to the deranged Sonita (Pitta). The semen smells like a putrid corpse and is emitted in large quantities. The shreddy or clotted character of the fluid (Granthila) should be ascribed to the action of the deranged Vayu and Kapha. If vitiated by the action of the deranged Pitta and Kapha it looks like putrid pus (Putipuya). Thin semen is caused by the deranged Vayu and Pitta as described before. A concerted action of the deranged Vayu, Pitta, and Kapha causes the semen to smell like urine or fecal matter. Of these, the cadaverously smelling, shreddy and clotted, putrid puslike and thinned semen can be remedied and corrected only with the greatest difficulty; while the one, having the smell of stool or urine, should be regarded as beyond cure. The remaining kinds arc curable. 3.

Deranged Artava:—

The catamenial fluid (Artavam) of a woman vitiated by the deranged Vayu, Pitta, Kapha, or blood, either severally or in combination of two or more Doshas should be likewise considered as unfit for the purpose of fecundation. Vitiated catamenial fluid exhibits the characteristic colour and pain of the deranged Doshas or blood (underlying at its roots). Of the several kinds (of vitiated catamenial fluids) those which smell like a putrid corpse or fetid pus, or which is clotted, or is thin, or emits the smell of urine or fecal matter, should be deemed as being beyond remedy, the rest being amenable. 4.

Memorable Verses:—

The first three types of seminal derangements or defects should be corrected by an intelligent physican with an application of medicated oil etc. (Sneha-karma), diaphoric measures etc[1] or uretheral injections (Uttara-vasti). A medicated Ghrita prepared with a (decoction and Kalka of) Dhataki flowers, Khadira, Dadima and Arjuna barks should be given to drink to a man whose semen emits a cadaverous smell (Kunapa). As an alternative, a medicated Ghrita prepared with (a decoction and levigated paste or Kalka of) the drugs forming the Shalasaradi group should be given to him. In a case of clotted and shreddy semen (Granthi), the patient should be made to drink a medicated Ghrita prepared with a (decoction and Kalka of) Shathi, or with an alcaline solution prepared from the ashes of the burnt Palasha wood. In the case of a pus-like appearance of the fluid the patient should be treated with the medicated Ghrita prepared with (a decoction and Kalka of) the drugs included within the groups of Parushakadi and Vatadi (Nyagrodhadi) Ganas. In a case of thin semen, measures laid down under the same head before, as well as those to be hereafter described should be resorted to. Similarly a medicated Ghrita, prepared with (a decoction and Kalka of) Citrakk roots, Ushira roots and Hingu, should be drunk in a case of the semen smelling like urine or fecal matter. In all cases of seminal disorders as well as in menstrual anomalies, Uttara- Vssti(Vasti?) (uretheral or vaginal injection) should be made after having recourse to the application of medicated oil etc. (Sneha-karma), purgatives, emetics, Asthapana and Anuvasana measures. 5–12

Treatment of deranged artava:—

In all the four cases when the catamenial blood would be found to be vitiated (by the deranged Vayu, Pitta, Kaphah or Shonita), the preliminary remedial measures of the application of oil etc. purgatives etc. (Panca-karma) should be first employed and then the following measures should be undertaken viz. application of Kalka, (levigated paste of drugs), Pichu (medicated plugs—pecharies etc.), Pathya (diet) and Achamana (washes with decoctions) as described under the treatment of Gyonecological cases etc. Appearance of clots of blood (Granthi) in place of the healthy menstrual fluid would indicate, decoction or a pulverised compound of Patha, Trushuna and Vrikshaka (Kutaja). A decoction of Bhadrashriyam[2] and Chandana is indicated in the case when the menstrual fluid would smell like fetid pus, or contain marrow. The remedies described under the head of seminal disorders, should be likewise prescribed in cases of menstrual anomalies caused by the action of the deranged Vayu, Pitta and Kaphah according to the requirements of each individual case under treatment. Shali-rice, barley, wine and meat with cholagogue properties should be deemed as a wholesome diet in these cases. 15—16.

Traits of pure and healthy semen and menstrual blood:—

Semen which is transparent like crystal, fluid, glossy, sweet and emits the smell of honey; or like oil or honey in appearance according to others, should be considered as healthy. The catamenial blood (artava) which is red like the blood of a hare, or the washings of shellac and leaves no stains on cloths (which may be washed off by simply soaking them in water) should be considered as healthy. 17–18.

Asrigdara (Menorrhagia):—

An abnormal or excessive discharge of the menstrual blood (artava), or its long persistence even after the wonted time, or its appearance at a premature or unnatural period (as well as contrarity in its colour or properties) is called Asrigdara. All types of the disease (Asrigdara) are attended with an aching in the limbs and a painful flow (of the catamenial fluid). In case of excessive hemorrhage (from the uterus), symptoms such as weakness, vertigo, loss of consciousness, darkness of vision, or difficult breathing, thirst, burning (sensation of the body), delirium, palour, somnolence and other Vataja troubles (convulsion, hysteria etc.) may set in. A physician should treat a case of Asrigdara with measures and remedies as laid down under the head of Rakta-pitta (hemorrhage) in a case when the patient is young (of sixteen years), careful in her diet, and the disease unattended with severe complications. 19-21.


In a case of suppression of menstruation (Amenorrhe) caused by the obstruction of the deranged Doshas (Vayu and Kapha) in the passage, the patient should be advised to take fish, Kulattha pulse, Masha pulse, Kanjika fermented sour gruel etc.), Tila, wine (Sura), cows urine, whey, half diluted Takra, curd and Shukta for her diet. The symptoms and treatment of thin and scanty menstruation have been described before. Still in such a case measures laid down for the treatment of Nashta-Rakta (amenorrhe) may be adopted. Under a course of treatment described as before, the semen or the catamenial blood of a person would be resorted to their healthy and normal condition. 22—23.

A woman with (healthy) catamenial flow should forego the bed of her husband during the first three days of her uncleanness, as well as day sleep and collyrium. She shall not shed tears nor bathe, nor smear her person (with sandal paste etc.), nor anoint her body, nor pare her nail, nor run, nor indulge in loud and excessive laughter and talk, nor should she hear loud noise, nor comb her hair, nor expose herself to droughts, nor do any fatiguing work at all; because if a woman sleeps in the day time (during the first three days of her period) her child of subsequent conception becomes sleepy or somnolent. The woman who applies collyrium along her eyelids (during those days), gives birth to a blind child; by shedding tears (during her period) a woman gives birth to a child of defective eyesight; by bathing or smearing her body (with sandal paste etc.) a miserable one; by anointing her body a leper (Kushthi); by paring her nails a child with bad nails; by running a restless one; by indulging in excessive laughter, a child with brown (Syava) teeth or palate or tongue; by excessive talking a garrulous child or one of incoherent speech; by hearing loud sounds, a deaf child; by combing her hair, a bald one; whereas by exposure to the wind or by doing fatiguing work (during the first three days of her period) she gives birth to an insane child (conceived immediately after it). Hence these acts (daysleep etc) are to be avoided. 24

Regimen to be observed in her menses:—

A woman in her menses should lie down on a matress made of Kusha blades (during the first three days of her uncleanness), should take her food from her own blended palms or from earthen sauces, or from trays made of leaves. She should live on a course of Habishya diet and forswear during the time, even the sight of her husband. After this period, on the fourth day she should take a ceremonial ablution, put on a new (untorn) garment and ornaments and then visit her husband after having uttered the words of necessary benediction 25.

Metrical Text:—

A child conceived after the period resembles the man whom she first sees after ablution on the fourth day of her menses; hence she should see none but her husband[3] at that time (so that the child may resemble his father). After that the priest shall perform the rites (Garbhadhana ceremony), GL_PAGE:128:}to help the conception of a male child and after the ceremony a wise husband should observe the following rules of conduct. 26—27.

Conduct of Husband:—

A husbaud wishing to beget a son by his wife, should not visit her bed for a month (before the day of the next flow). Then on the fourth day of her uncleanness, he should anoint or lubricate his body with Ghrita, should partake of a food in the afternoon or evening composed of boiled Shali rice, milk and clarified butter, and then visit the bed of his wife The wife also, in her tern, should observe a similar vow of sexual abstinence (Brahma-charini) for a month before that day on which she should anoint or lubricate her body with oil, partake of food largely composed of oil and Masha pulse, and then meet her husband at night. The husband then having uttered the appropriate Veda Mantras and having awakened confidence in the wife, should go unto her on the fourth, sixth, eighth, tenth or on the twelfth night of her menses for the progenation of a male child. 28.

Metrical Text:—

A visit to the wife on any of these nights leads to the continual increase of the wealth, progeny, and the duration of the husband’s life. On the other hand, a visit to one’s wife on the fifth, seventh, ninth, or eleventh day of her flow leads to the conception of a female child The thirteenth and the remaining days (till the next course) are condemned as regards intercourse. 29—30

Prohibited Period etc.:—

A going unto one’s wife on the first day of her monthly course tends to shorten one’s life and a child born of the act dies immediately after its delivery. The same result is produced by a visit on the second day, or the child dies lying-in room i.e. ten days of its birth; A visit on the third day leads to the child’s being deformed and short-lived. A child which is the fruit of a visit on the fourth day liveslong, will be well developed and remain in the full vigour of health. The semen cast in the womb of a woman during the continuance of her monthly flow does not become fruitful because it is carried back and flows out in the same manner as a thing thrown into a stream does not go against but is carried away with the current. Hence a husband should foreswear the company of his wife during the first three days of her uncleanness, when she also should observe a vow of sexual abstinence; the husband should not visit his wife within the month (after the twelfth day of her menses). 31.

After the impregnation on any of these nights, three or four drops (of the expressed juice) of any of the following drugs such as Lakshana, Vata-Shunga, Shahadeva or Vishvadeva, mixed with milk should be poured into the right nostril of the enceinte for the conception of a male child and care should be taken that she does not spit it away. 32.

Metrical Text:—

A co-ordination of the four factors of menstrual period (Ritu), healthy womb (Kshetra), nutrient liquid i.e. chyle of digested food (Ambu), healthy semen (Vija) and the proper observance of the rules is necessary for the conception and development of a healthy child just as the proper season (Ritu), good soil (Kshetra), water (containing nutrient matter) and vigorous seeds (Vija) together with proper care, help the germination of strong and undiseased sprouts. A child which is the fruit of such conception is destined to be beautiful, of vigorous health, generous, long-lived, virtuous, attached to the good of its parents and capable of discharging its parental obligations. 33.

Causes of different colours of the Child:—

The fiery principle (Teja-dhatu) of the organism, which is the originator of all colours of the skin (complexion), happening to mix largely with the watery principle of the body at the time of conception, serves to make the child a fair complexioned one (Gaura-varna); mixed with a large quantity of the earth principle (Kshiti) of the body, it makes the child a dark complexioned one (Krishna-varna). In combination with a large quantity of earth and ethereal principles of the organism, it imparts a dusky (Krishna- shyama) complexion (to the full developed fetus). A similar combination of watery and ethereal principles serves to make the child dusky yellow (Gaura-shyama). Others on the contrary aver that the complexion of the child is determined by the colours of the food taken by its mother during the period of gestation. 34.

A child is born blind in the failure of the fiery principle (Teja-dhatu) of the organism in reaching the region of its still undeveloped eyes (part—where the eyes would be); so also a penetration by the same (Teja-dhatu) into its blood accounts for the blood-shot eyes of the child. Entered into the Pitta it makes the child a yellow-pupiled one (Pingalaksha). Entered into its bodily Kapha it makes it a white-eyed body and mixed with its bodily Vayu, a child of defective eyesight. 35.

Memorable verses:—

As a lump of condensed clarified butter melts and expands if placed by the side of a fire, so the ovum (artava) of a woman is dislodged and glides away in contact with an adult male[4]. A seed divided into two by the deranged Vayu within the (cavity of the) uterus (Kukshi) gives rise to the birth of twins, conditioned by the good or evil deeds of their prior existence[5] A child born of scanty paternal sperm becomes an Asekya and feels no sexual desire (erection) without previously (sucking the genitals and) drinking the semen of another man. A child begotten in a sordid vagina is called a Saugandhika, whose organ does not respond to the sexual desire without smelling the genitals of others. The man who first becomes a passive member of an act of sodomy and then again commits sodomy with the woman (he visits) is called a Kumbhika (or Guda-yoni and is included within the category of a Kliva). 36—40.

The man who cannot copulate with a woman without previously seeing the sexual intercourse of another couple is called Irshaka. A child born of an act of fecundation foolishly or ignorantly effected during the menses of its mother by its progenitor by holding her on his bosom during the act is called a Shanda and invariably exhibits effeminate traits in his character. A daughter born of a woman riding on her husband during the act of sexual intercourse will develop masculine traits in her character. 41—43.

Semen is developed in the four types of Kliva known as Asekya, Saugandhika, Kumbhika and Irshaka, whereas a Shanda is devoid of that fluid (Shukra). The semen carrying ducts of an Asekya etc. are expanded by the drinking of the semen as above described which helps the erection of his reproductive organ. 44-45

The conduct and character of a child and its inclination to particular dietary are determined by those of its parents during the act of fecundation. A boneless (i, e. with cartilaginous bones) monstrosity is the outcome of the sexual act in which both the parties are female and their Shukra (sexual secretion) unite some how or other in the womb of one of them. Fecundation may take place in the womb of a woman, dreaming of sexual intercourse in the night of her menstrual ablution. The local Vayu carries the dislodged ovum into the uterus and exhibits symptoms of pregnancy, which develop month after month till the full period of gestation. The offspring of such a conception is a Kalala (a thin boneless jelly-like mass) on account of the absence of the paternal elements[6] in its development. Such monstrosities as serpents, scorpions, or gourd shaped fetus delivered from the womb of a woman should be ascribed as the effects of deadly sins. 46-49.

The child of a mother whose wishes are not honoured and gratified during pregnancy stands in danger of being born palmless, hunchbacked, lame, dumb or nasal voiced through the deranged condition of the Vayu of its mother’s body. The malformation of a child in the womb should be ascribed to the atheism of its parents, or to the effects of their misdeeds in a prior existence, or to the aggravated condition of the Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. 50—51.

A fetus in uterus does not excrete feces or urine, owing to the scantiness of the fecal matter, etc, in its intestines and also to the obstruction and consequently lessened admission of the Vayu into its lower bowels. A child in the womb does not cry inasmuch as its mouth remains covered with the sheath of the placenta i.e.fetal membranes (Yarau) and its throat is stuffed with Kapha. The processes of respiration, sleeping and movement of the fetus in the womb are effected through those of its mother. 52–53.

The adjustment of the different limbs and organs of the body of a child in the womb at their proper places, the non-development of hair on its palms and soles and the subsequent cutting and falling off of its teeth are spontaneously effected according to the laws of nature after the model of its own species. An honest, pious, erudite man, who has acquired a vast knowledge of the Shastras in his prior existence, becomes largely possessed of mental traits of the Sattvika stamp in this life too and also remembers his prior births (Jatismara). Acts similar to those, which a man performs in a prior existence, overtake him also in the next. Similarly the traits and the temperament which he had developed in a previous existence are likewise sure to be patent in the next. 54–55.


Thus ends the second Chapter of the Sharira Sthana in the Sushruta Samhita which treats of the purification of sperm and ovum.

Footnotes and references:


The word “Adi” in the text includes emetics, purgatives, Anuva- sana and asthapana measures according to their specific Doshas.


Bhadrashriyam is Shricandanain according to Dallana or white Sandal wood according Gayadasa.


In the case of the husband being absent at the time, she should look at the sun.


Sushruta’s theory is that ovulation occurs about the same time as menstruation and rather initiates the latter, and the shed ova are washed out with the menstrual flow, hence there is a possibility of conception on connexion during the period of flow. But when the menstruation stops of itself by the end of the third day, it also indicates that ovulation has ceased and no ovum is left to be fertilized, hence the question arises how can there be conception then on connexion on the fourth day and thereafter? The explanation (as in the following verse) is that the ovulating organ though quiescent at the time is again stimulated to activity by intercourse with a male and new ova are shed which are ready to be fertilized by the semen.—Ed.


Gayi interprets the term “Dharmetara” to mean evil deeds (other than good) and quotes verses from Shrutis, Shmritis and Tantras on expiations of sin in support of his view.


Hair, beard, nails, teeth, arteries, veins, ligaments and semen are called paternal elements inasmuch as these are said to be inherited by the child from its father

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