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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sages have paid much attention to the life here and after death. That is why many great sages developed secular sciences too, in the various fields of mundane life. Since our body is the most wonderful gift of God and since we can achieve whatever we want in life only through it, to keep it in a fit condition is the primary duty of every human being. The science of Ayurveda[1] aims exactly at this.

Out of the several standard treatises on this subject, the Carakasamhitā of Caraka and the Suśrutasamhitā of Suśruta have carved for themselves a unique place in the field of health science in ancient India. Whereas the former is a work on medicine, the latter is predominantly on surgery. Tradition considers Suśruta as one of the sons of the sage Viśvāmitra and a disciple of Divodāsa.[2] He might have lived anywhere between 1000 B. C. and 600 B. C. The work is in the form of sutras, anuṣṭubh ślokas and also the prose.

Commentaries on Suśrutasamhitā[edit]

Two commentaries are available on this treatise:

  1. Bhānumatī by Cakrapāṇi[3]
  2. Nibandhasañgraha by Dalhaṇa[4]

Sections of Suśrutasamhitā[edit]

The Book, as available now, is in six sthānas or sections. Each sthāna is divided into adhyāyas or chapters containing ślokas, verses and sutras. The following table gives an idea of the work:

Sr. No. Section Adhyāyas Ślokas
1. Sutrasthāna 46 1409
2. Nidānasthāna 16 520
3. Sārirasthāna 10 440
4. Cikitsāsthāna 40 1886
5. Kalpasthāna 8 560
6. Uttaratantra 66 2317
- Total 186 7132

Content of Suśrutasamhitā[edit]

The contents summarized briefly are:


It is a kind of introduction. It deals with the following topics:

  • Origin of Āyurveda
  • Instruments and implements to be got ready before surgery
  • Operation procedures and post-operative care
  • Uses of machines and surgical instruments
  • Ointments and medicinal drinks
  • Cauterization
  • Taking out bad blood using leeches
  • Bandaging


It explains more about diagnosis. The topics dealt with in it are:

  • Sixteen serious diseases like imbalance of vāta or wind, fistula, leprosy, diabetes and so on
  • Their causes
  • Their cure


It deals with the physiology and anatomy of the body. The main topics dealt with are:

  • Embryology
  • Sensitive places in the body
  • Blood-vessels and nervous system
  • Child-birth
  • Other allied topics


It deals with diagnosis and treatment. This section has many more details than are found in other similar works like the Carakasamhitā or the Astāñgahrdaya. It explains about the various topics such as:

  • Diseases like fistula, leprosy, fractures, kindney-stones etc.
  • The methods of their operation


It deals with toxicology. The main points covered are:

  • How to remedy the poisons that might have been consumed through food materials
  • Offsetting the evil effects of the poisons by snake bite or bites by insects
  • Other related topics


It is also called as Uttarasthāna which is a fairly voluminous work. It contains the descriptions and remedies of several diseases like those of the eyes, the ears, the nose, the head and the mouth, which is perhaps a later addition.


It is remarkable that this work prescribes in the very beginning[5] the necessary qualifications of a disciple to become a good vaidya[6] and also the obligations of the teacher. Suśruta permits even a śudra of good physique and conduct to be trained in this science.


  1. Ayurveda is the ‘Science of Health and Longevity’.
  2. He was the king of Kāśī and reincarnation of Dhanvantari, the physician of gods.
  3. He lived in A. D. 1060.
  4. He lived in 12th century A. D.
  5. Suśrutasamhitā 1.2.3-10
  6. Vaidya means doctor/surgeon.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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