From the Jacket:
Susruta samhita is the first authoritative book on Ayurveda. It has the distinction of being the only authentic text on ancient Indian surgery and contains the description of many wonderful surgical feats conducted by ancient Indian surgeons.
Susruta, the author of the book is the pioneer in performing repair and reconstruction of mutilated organs of the human body, known now a days as "plastic surgery". His method of repairing the multilated nose-Rhinoplasty has been adopted by European surgeons under the name "The Indian Method". He was the first medical man to have conducted dissection of the human dead body and described the anatomy of the human being. He was the first surgeon in the world to insist on training the students in surgical techniques using fruits, vegetables and artificially prepared parts of the human body. He describes all aspects of surgery-pre- operative measures, methods of operation in detail and post-operative care. His methods of "battle field surgery" were the most scientific methods appropriated to those days. He has described many surgical instruments which had been fabricated ideally.
His surgical operation included removal of foreign bodies, treatment of bones, and joints (orthopedics) wounds, obstructed labour (obstretrics) abdominal surgery, diseases of the eyes (ophthalmology) ear, nose, throat and head, urinary calculus and many more. With all these merits Susruta samhita is considered a book "par excellence on ancient Indian surgery".
In addition to surgery, it also deals with all other branches of Ayurveda such as Kaya cikitsa (inner medicine) Agada Tantra (toxicology), Balaroga (paediatrics) and doctrines of physiology, physiology, pharmacology, hygiene, maintainance of health, foods and drugs etc. Thus Susruta samhita is a classical text of Ayurveda, studied assiduously since very early times to the present day not merely by Indians but even by medical men of many western countries.
The present translation is by Prof. K.R. Srikantha Murthy who has rich experience of teaching and writing spread over a span of fifty years. It is mainly aimed to help the graduate and post-graduate students of Ayurveda. It covers the entire treatise, in three volumes of translation. Each volume contains the original text in Sanskrit, translation in English, explanatory notes and pictures at many places, appendices and index. It will thus be of great help not only to students of Ayurveda but also to all those interested in knowing ancient Indian wisdom and achievements.
About the Author:
Prof. K.R. Srikantha Murthy (b.1929) is an alumnus of Govt. Ayurveda college, Mysore (1948) and Post-graduate centre in Ayurveda, Jamnagar (1958) now known as Gujrat Ayurveda University. He has served as professor and principal of all the three Govt. Ayurveda colleges of Karnataka state and Govt. Unani Medical college, Bangalore and retired from service in 1984. Recently he served as National professor of Vagbhata (1977-1999).
He has been continuously engaged in teaching and literary pursuits over the last fifty years. He is the author of many independent books, scores of scientific monographs on Ayurveda. He has translated into English almost all ancient texts of Ayurveda such as Astanga hrdaya, Astanga Samgraha, Madhava nidana and Sharngadhara Samhita. This book-translation of Susruta samhita is the latest in the series.
He is the reciepient of many titles and awards from many prestigious organizations.
Susruta samhita is the earliest known authoritive treatise on Ayurveda. Its importance is all the more great, since it is the only text now available on Salya tanra (surgery)-an important branch of Ayurveda. It is the most ancient document on this branch of medical science not merely of India but also of the whole world. Its author Susruta is acknowledged as the “Father of Surgery”. It is being studied since long by all Ayurvedists. Scholars of medicine of western countries also have undertaken its study in the last two centuries and have admired the achievements of surgeons of ancient India. It has maintained its popularity as an indisputable testimony of ancient Indian scientific achivements.
Susruta, son of sage Visvamitra, is said to be the author of this treatise. It embodies the teaching of his preceptor, Divodasa Dhanvantari, the king of Kasi. At the commencement of the text, there is an interesting narration on this subject which runs as follows :
“Once Aupadhenava, Vaitarana, Aurabhra, Pauskalavata, Karaviry a Gopuraraksita, Susruta and others, all sons of sages, approached Divodasa, who was residing in his hermitage and requested him to teach Ayurveda to them with special emphasis on Salya tafitra (surgery).
Divodasa cosented to this and revealed that “he is Dhanvantari-the first god of medicine, that he learnt Ayurveda from Indra, and has come again now to this world of men to propogate Salyatantra branch of Ayurveda” Susruta and other pupils learnt Salyatantra from Divodasa Dhanvantari and each of them wrote treatises containing the teachings of their master, which formed the basis of future texts on this subject.
Identity of these persons-
There is considerable difficulty regarding the correct identification of Divodasa, Susruta and Visvamitra, since we come across many persons of these names in ancient times. A brief enquiry about them is relevant here-
I. Divodasa - Rigveda mentions a king Divodasa, as the father of Sudasa. But it doesnot refer either to his scholarship of Ayurveda or to his connection with kingdom of Kasi, This person, considered as belonging to great antiquity can be excluded from this enquiry.
Mahabharata, Harivamsa, Agnipurana and some other scriptures make mention of Divodasa as one of the kings of Kasi.
According to Harivamsa, the kingdom of Kasi was founded by Kasa; other kings of this dynasty were Dhana, Dhanvantari, Ketuman, Bhimaratha, Divodasa, Pratardana, Vatsa and Alarka. Divodasa while he was ruling was defeated in battle by a king of Haihaya dynasty and took refuge in the hermitage of sage Bharadvaja, where his son Pratardana was born. After some time, Divodasa regained his kingdom and built the city of Varanasi. He, in his later life, relinquished his royal duties, lead the life of Vanaprasrha, residing in a hermitage near Kasi (Varanasi/Banaras) imparting knowledge of surgical science. His hermitage soon become a great centre of learning, attracting students even from other countries.
About his surname Dhanvantari, we may assume it in two ways viz. as the geniological name since one of his predessor (great grand father) was a Dhanvantari and as a honorific name since he was considered as an incarnation of Dhanvantari, the first god of medical science, because of his proficiency.
Salyatantra (surgery) became the foremost among the branches of Ayurveda, under the leadership of Divodasa Dhanvantari. The precepts and practices formulated by Divodasa Dhanvafitari came to be known as Dhanvantari sampradaya- tradition of Dhanvantari (school of surgery) and followers of this tradition were called as Dhanvantariyah and considered as authorities in surgical methods of treatment of diseases.
It is this Divodasa Dhanvantari that is relevant for our enquiry regarding Susruta samhita.
The name Susruta was popular in ancient India and we come across many persons of that name. Out of them, the following only are relevant for us.
1. Susruta, son of sage Visvamitra- the author of Susruta samhita.
2. Mahabharata and Garuda Purana also mention Susruta as one of the sons of sage Visvamitra but do not say that he learnt Ayurveda (salya tantra) from Divodasa- king of Kasi.
3. Salihotra samhita - a treatise on Asvayurveda (medicine of horses) mentions a Susruta, the son of Salihotra, that he learnt that science from his father, that his classmates were Mitrajita, Gandhara, Garga etc.'. The text mentions the names of Atreya, Agnivesa, Bhela, Parasara etc as authorities of Ayurveda but does not mention Divodasa, Vaitarana, Gopuraraksita etc.
4. Panini - the great grammarian who lived during 7th cent, B.C. was in know of a certain Susruta and furnishes the derivatives of the term Susruta. He indicates a distinct tradition set up by Susruta and calls the followers of it as “Sausruta Parthivah”.
Taking the above informations for enquiry, present day scholars of Ayurveda have not been able to arrive at any decision. Hemaraja sharma argues that Susruta the author of Susruta samhita and Susruta, known to Panini are one the same person, since we do not find any other person of that name during the early period, and that Susruta the medical man must have been proficient in grammer also. This view has not received much support.
Internal and external evidences of Salihotra samhita do not suggest great antiquity for it and Susruta mentioned in it, is definitely a person different from Susruta of Susruta samhita.
Hence it will be prudent on our part to consider Susruta, the author of Susruta samhita as a person different from others mentioned above. 3. Visvamitra- Identification of Visvamitra is also problematic, since we meet the following persons of that name.
1. Rigveda mentions a Visvamitra as a 'seer' of many hymns and who was the priest of king Sudasa. No allusion is made to his knowledge of Ayurveda.
2. Ramayana describes Visvamitra as the son of Gadhi, king of Kanyakubja who became a sage later and was the teacher of Rama and Laksmana, sons of king Dasaratha, teaching Dhanurveda (archery) to them.
3. Visvamitra- author of Visvamitra samhita- a treatise on Kaya cikitsa (inner medicine) branch of Ayurveda. This book is not available now. Dalhana and other commentators have quoted from it proving its existence.
4. Visvamitra-author of a text on Dhanurveda (archery). The original text is not available now. A small book by name Dhanurveda containing only about 265 verses has been published which is in the form of a conversation between sage Vasistha as the teacher and sage Visvamitra-son of Gadhi, as the student. This being an unbelievable event, the authenticity of this book is doubtful.
Reviewing the above information, we may delete Visvamitra of Rigveda on the basis of great antiquity. Visvamitra the author of the treatise on kaya cikitsa can also be deleted since nothing is known about him and his works. Finally we are left with only one, that is visvamitra of Ramayana fame.
Modern scholars of Ayurveda are not unanimous in accepting this Visvamitra as the father of Susruta-the author of Susruta samhita. Both Hemaraj sharma and Priyavrat sharma opine that Visvamitra of Ramayana is an ancient personality and different from the father of Susruta our present author.
VOLUME I - Sutrasthana, Nidana Sthana and Sarira Sthana
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