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 IX - The description of the arteries, nerves and ducts

Now we shall discourse on the Sharira which treats of the description of the arteries, nerves and ducts, etc.[1] (Dhamani-Vyakarana-Sharira). 1.

There are twenty-four Dhamanies (ducts) in all, and all of them have their origins in the naval region (which includes the whole abdominal region[2]). Several authorities assert that no arbitrary distinctions should be made among the Shiras (veins), Dhamanis (arteries), and the Srotas, (channels), since Dhamanis and Srotas are but different modifications of one original kind of Sira (vessels). But this opinion is not a sound one inasmuch as they have got different natures, origins and functions and as being described so in the Ayurveda. But owing to their adjacent positions, the existence of several authoritative dicta (Apta-vak) regarding the oneness of their character, similarity of their functions, and the minute nature of their shape, they appear to be homologous in their action, even amidst the real diversities in their work and office. 2.

Of the twenty-four Dhamanis, which (originally) have their roots in the naval region (Nabhi), ten have upward course, ten have downward course, and four flow laterally or transversely. 3.

Functions of the up-coursing Dhamanis:—

The ten up-coursing Dhamanis (nerves) perform such specific functions of the body, as sound, touch, taste, sight, smell, inspiration, sighing, yawning, sneezing, laughter, speech, and weeping, etc., and tend to maintain the integrity of the body. These Dhamanis, reaching the heart, respectively ramify themselves into three branches, thus making thirty (ramifications in all). Ten of these serve the following purposes, viz, two serve as the channels of the bodily Vayu, two of the Pitta, two of the Kapha, two of the blood, and two of the Rasa (lymph chyle). Eight of the remaining ones (twenty), serve the following functions, viz., two of them cany sound, two sight or colour, two smell, and two taste. Moreover a man speaks with the help of another two, makes sound with the help of another couple, sleeps through the instrumentality of another pair (couple), and wakes up with the help of another couple. Two of the Dhamanis (ducts) carry the fluid of lachrymation, two of them (ducts), attached to the breasts of a woman, carry milk of her breasts, which, coursing through the breast of a man, convey his seminal fluid. Thus we have described the thirty Dhamanis with their ramifications. These sustain and maintain the integrity (of the limbs and members of the body) above the (line of) umbilicus, such as the Udara, the sides, the back, the chest, the neck, the shoulders and the arms. 4.

Memorable Verse:—

The up-coursing Dhamanis duly perform the offices stated above. Now I shall describe the specific functions, etc., (i.e., nature, office, and situations, etc.,) of the down-coursing ones. 5.

Functions of the down-coursing Dhamanis:—

The down-coursing Dhamanis respectively form the channels for the downward conveyance of Vayu (flatus), urine, stool, semen, and catamenial fluid, etc. These Dhamanis reaching down into the Pittashaya (receptacle of the Pitta) separate the serum prepared out of the food and drink through the agency of the local heat (and pitta), and carry it to the remotest parts of the organism maintaining their healthy moisture, supplying them with the necessary principles of nutrition and (ultimately) conveying them to the up- coursing and lateral Dhamanis, in order to be conveyed to the parts traversed by them respectively. Thus they indirectly serve to supply the heart with its quota of healthy Rasa (serus fluid), if not in a direct way. Moreover they tend to separate the effetematter (urine, stool and sweat) from the fully transformed lymph-chyle in the abdomen, the stomach and the small intestines (Amashaya and Pakvashaya). Each of the down-coursing Dhamanis is found to ramify into three branches at a place midway between the Amashaya (stomach) and the Pakvashaya (intestines). Thus they number thirty in all. The functions of the ten out of these (thirty vessels) are as follows, viz., two serve to carry Vayu, two Pitta, two Kapha, two blood, and two Rasa (lymph-chyle). Two of these Dhamanis, running into the intestines, carry the food, another two carry the Toya[3] (watery) part, another two, running into the bladder, serve to carry out the urine (from the bladder), another two carry the semen, and another two serve as the channels of transmission and emission of the same fluid and serve to carry the ovarian discharge in women. The two Dhamanis, attached to the large intestine (Sthulantra), serve as the channels of fecal matter, while the remaining eight convey perspiration to the lateral-coursing Dhamanis. Thus we have finished describing these thirty Dhamanis with their ramifications. These sustain and maintain the integrity of the parts of the body below the naval region, such as the Pakvashaya (Intestine), the waist, the organic principles of stool and urine, the organs of generation, the anus, the bladder, and the lower limbs of the body (Sakthi) (according to their utility in the physical economy of the organism). 6.

Memorable Verse:—

These down-coursing Dhamanis perform the afore-said functions. Now I shall describe the specific functions (i.e., nature, office, and situations, etc.,) of the lateral-coursing Dhamanis. 7.

Functions of the lateral-coursing Dhamanis:—

The four lateral-coursing Dhamanis, gradually ramifying themselves into hundreds and thousands of branches, simply baffle counting. The net-work of these Dhamanis spreads over the whole organism and maintain its integrity. Their exterior orifices are attached to the roots of hairs (pores of the skin) through which they convey the perspiration and the Rasa (serum), thus supplying the body, both internally and externally, with the soothing nutritions (moisture of healthy lymph-chyle). The effects and potencies of the articles of anointment, sprinkling, immersion, and plasters, enter through these orifices into the internal organism through the agency of the heat in the skin, and sensations of a pleasant or painful contact are experienced through their instrumentality. Thus we have finished describing the four lateral-coursing Dhamanis with their ramifications throughout the whole organism. 8.

Memorable Verses:—

The Dhamanis have got pores in their sides through which they carry the Rasa (lymph-chyle) throughout the organism, like the filaments and fibres of water-lily and lotus. These Dhamanis furnish the self-conscious Ego, confined in the material body, which is the resultant of the combination of the five material elements, with a distinct sensation[4] peculiar to each of the five sense-organs[5] and break up the combination (of the five material elements) at the time of death. 9–10.

Now we shall describe the symptoms produced by a Srota (duct or channel) pierced at its root or starting point. The ducts or channels respectively conveying the life, the food, the water, (the organic principle of) the Rasa (serum), the blood, the muscles, the fat, the urine, the stool, the semen, and the catamenial blood, naturally fall within the scope of Surgery (Shalya-tantra). Several authorities assert that the Srotas (vessels) are innumerable[6], and perform different functions in their different aspects.

The two Srotas (channels) of Prana (bronchi) have their roots in the heart and the Rasa-carrying Dhamanis (pulmonary arteries). An injury to any of these Srotas (vessels) produces groaning, bending down of the body, loss of consciousness (Moha), illusion, and shivering, or may ultimately prove fatal. The foodcarrying Srotas (Æsophagus) have their roots in the Amashaya (stomach) and in the food-carrying Dhamanis (intestines). An injury to or piercing of such a duct (Srota), gives rise to tympanites, colic pain, aversion to food, vomiting, thirst, blindness or darkness of vision, or may even end in death. There are two water-carrying (Udaka-vaha) ducts or channels which have their roots in the palate and the Kloma, and a pieicing of any of these makes the patient thirsty and ends in his instantaneous death (z. e, within seven days). The serumcarrying (Rasa-vaha) ducts are two in number and have their roots in (the viscus of) the heart and the serum-carrying Dhamanis (vessels). An injury to or piercing of any of these ducts gives rise to Sosha (consumption) and symptoms identical with those developed by a hurt to the Prana-vaha channels of the body, ending in death. The blood-carrying Srotas (channels) are two in number and have their roots in the spleen and the liver, and the blood-carrying Dhamanis (capillaries in general). An injury to any of these channels is attended with pallor, bluishness of complexion, fever, burning sensations, excessive hemorrhage, and redness of the eyes. The two muscle-carrying Srotas (ducts or channels) have their roots in the (Snayu), nerves Tvak (serum), and the blood-carrying Dhamanis (capillaries). An injury to any of these channels is characterised by swelling, loss or atrophy of the muscles, appearance of varicose veins or may (ultimately) result in death. The fat-carrying Srotas (ducts) are two in number and have their roots in the region of the Kati (waist) and the Vrikkas (kidneys). An injury to any of these bring in (a copious flow of) perspiration, oily gloss of the skin, parched condition of the palate, extensive swelling (of the affected locality) and thirst. The two urine carrying Srotas (channels) have their roots in the bladder and the penis (urethra). An injury to any of these is marked by constipation or epistaxis in the bladder, retention of urine, and numbness of the genitals. The two stool-carrying Srotas (ducts) have their roots in the Guda (anus) and the Pakvashaya (intestines); an injury to any of these is characterised by complete retention of stool (in the bowels), accompanied by a distention of the abdomen, foul smell and intussusception of the intestine (as in a case of ententes). The two semen-carrying Srotas (ducts) have their roots in the breasts and the testes. An injury to any of them leads to loss of manhood, delayed emission of semen, or blood-streaked character of that fluid. The two artava-carrying Srotas (ducts) have their roots in the uterus as well as in the Dhamanis which carry the artava (ovarian product). An injury to any of these brings on sterility, suppression of the menses and incapacity for copulation. A cutting to the Sevani (median raphe of the perineum) exhibits symptoms identical with those of a case of injured bladder or anus, described before. A physician may take in hand the medical treatment of a case of a Srota which has been pierced, but he shall not necessarily entertain any hope of ultimate success. (But time works wonders, and such a case may sometimes end in recovery). A case of pierced duct, from which the dart (Salya, or the like piercing matter) has been extricated, may be medically treated (without holding out any prospect of recovery to the friends of the patient), according to the direction laid down under the head of ulcer (Vrana). 11–12.

Metrical Text:—

The ducts emanating from the cavity of the heart, other than the Siras (veins), Dhamanis (arteries), and found to course through the whole body, are called Srotas (lit. channels or currents). 13.


Thus ends the ninth Chapter of the Sharira Sthana in the Sushruta Samhita which treats of the descriptions of the arteries, ducts and nerves.

Footnotes and references:


Sans. Dhama—to be filled with air, so called from the fact of their being distended with air after death.


So far, as in fetariife, allantoic arteries and the unbilical veins subserve the purposes of nutrition, excretion, etc, and reflects the rudimentary vascular system.


Watery part reaching the bladder is transformed into urine.


Hearing, touch, smell, taste, and sight.


Eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.


But this science does not take any cognisance of them, since the pain incidental to a piercing of, or an injury to, any of these extremely attenuated channels, truest be slight in its character.

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