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Sushruta Samhita

T his treatise is the main source of knowledge about surgery in ancient India. Susruta Samhita, as we know it now, is not in the original...

Sushruta Samhita
This treatise is the main source of knowledge about surgery in ancient India. Susruta Samhita, as we know it now, is not in the original form which Susruta gave it and which he called. It was first called Shalya Tantra consisted of only five divisions, viz., sutra, nidana, sharira, chikitsa, and kalpa. Shalya Tantra was later revised and supplemented. Later addition of uttara-tantra' consisting of three divisions called shalakya, bhuta-vidya and kalamara-bhrtya, makes eight divisions in the present Susruta Samhita.

Of the commentaries on Susruta Samhita, the most renowned is that of Dalhana called Nibandha Samgraha written in the twelfth century AD. Another commentary is by Chakrapanidatta written in the eleventh century. It is called Bhanumati and only a portion of it is available now.

Susruta Samhita was translated into Arabic before the end of the eighth century A.D. It was called Kitabshaw-shoon-a Hindi or Kitabi-i-Susrud. Rhazes, the famous Arab physician, often quoted from it and mentioned Sarad as an authority on surgery. It was translated in Latin by Hassler and in German by Ullers. 

It was translated into English, in part only, by U.C. Datta (1883), A. Chattopadhyaya (1891) and Hoernle (1897). K.L. Bhisagaratna translated it in full between the years 1908 and 1917 and it is this translation which is available now.

Who was Susruta, the composer of Shalya Tantra and when did he live, is not known with any certainty, but for a hint here and there. In connection with the bones of the human body, Susruta in Susruta Samhita introduces his own exposition with a remark pointing to the difference between the Atreya system and his own in respect of the total number of bones. This proves that Susruta could not have lived before Atreya. Another hint is provided by Shatapatha Brahmana, which seems to be acquainted with Susruta's enumeration of bones. The exact data of Shatapatha Brahmana is not known, but it is said to belong to the sixth century B.C. If that is so, Susruta may have lived around the time when Agnivesha composed his tantra under the direction of Atreya.

Susruta of Shalaya Tantra was a great surgeon, teacher of repute and an admirable author. He made great improvements in the general techniques of surgery and performed many new and major operations. He also described a variety of surgical instruments.

He taught his students the surgical techniques first on the dummies and later on the dead bodies. His techniques of dissection of the human body are unique, practical and revealing of the structure of the body. His operations of making a new nose or ear-lobe, of lithotomy, of taking out the dead foetus, and abdominal operations, are classical marvels.

Before Susruta's time, knowledge and practice of surgery in India was more or less of the same standard as in other contemporary civilizations like Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. In India, the profession of healing was practiced by surgeons (ahalya vaidas), physicians (bhesajas) priest doctors (bhisaj atharvana], poison-curers (vishaharas) and demon doctors (krtyaharas). To practise their art, these professionals had to go out into the open streets, calling out for patients. They lived in houses surrounded by gardens of medicinal herbs. Surgery was not considered a respectable profession before Susruta's time.

Read & Download Charaka Samhita Original Sanskrit Texts:

Nidanasthanam (Original Sanskrit Text) 179 kb Pdf

Sutrasthanam (Original Sanskrit Text) 616 kb Pdf 

Sharirasthanam (Original Sanskrit Text) 204 kb Pdf 

Chikitsasthanam (Original Sanskrit Text) 614 kb Pdf 

Kalpasthanam (Original Sanskrit Text) 172 kb Pdf 

Uttarasthanam (Original Sanskrit Text) 638 kb Pdf