The compendium also focuses on the study of the human anatomy by using dead bodies. Surgeons of that time had plenty of opportunity to construct the nose. Besides those who lost their nose in the battle, cutting the nose by the irritant kings was the common practice. Official punishment for adultery was to cut the nose of the culprits. The early Indians also set fractures, performed amputations, excised tumours, repaired hernia and did couching for cataract.
They used over 121 different steel instruments to drain fluids, to remove kidney stones, to sew up wounds and to perform plastic surgery. Some of the instruments used in those days were very much like those of today such as scissors, saws, needles, forceps etc. In Sushruta Samhita, transmission of malaria was incriminated to a biting insect, probably mosquito. This shows that they were not only well versed in Medicine and surgery but also in the prevention of disease. The dead bodies in cases of homicide, suicide or those who died of accidents, were kept in an examination room, which was set apart for the purpose and the cause of death, which had to be reported after post-mortem examination to higher authorities. To prevent decomposition dead bodies were preserved by immersion in oil.
‘Sushruta Samahita’ also describes over 120 surgical instruments, 300 surgical procedures. The compendium also classiﬁes human surgery in 8 categories. Because of his numerous contributions to the science and art of surgery he is known by the title “Father of Surgery.” Sushruta is also the father of plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery since his technique of forehead ﬂap rhinoplasty (repairing the disﬁgured nose with a ﬂap of skin from the forehead) that he used to reconstruct noses that were amputated as a punishment for crimes, is practiced almost unchanged in technique to this day. Sushruta was the ﬁrst surgeon to advocate the practice of operations on inanimate objects such as watermelons, clay plots and reeds; thus predating the modern practice of the surgical workshop by hundreds of years. Inoculation was practiced in China, India, and Turkey, and was a precursor to vaccination for smallpox.
Among the many who also toiled to make Ayurved a comprehensive discourse on healthy human life are Charaka, and Vagbhata stand tall in terms of their contributions in various aspects of medicine and treatment.
Charaka has written the book ‘Charaka Sanhita’ and he is consider to be the father of medicine that is called ‘kaya chikitsa’.
Vagbhaata authored ‘Ashtang Sangraha’ and ‘Ashtang Hrudayam’ which are the best books to know the fundamentals principles of Ayurved.
These three texts mentioned above are called as BRUAHATRYI meaning, three primary books.
Apart from this, Madhava authored the book’ Madhava Nidana’ , an important book on pathology and clinical observations.
Sharangdhara wrote ‘Sharangdhara Sanhita’, on pharmacology.
Bhavamishra authored the book ‘Bhavaprakasha’, which describes diseases, both native and those that were transmitted to the subcontinent by people travelling for trade with Europe, such as small pox, phirangam(syphilis) and somaraga. He also authored the Materia Medica of Ayurveda and a glossary of the medicinal herbs.
These three texts ‘Madhava Nidana’, ‘Sharangdhara Sanhita’ and ‘Bhavprakasha’ are called LAGHUTRAYI meaning three secondary books.
Kashyapa has written ‘Kashyap Sanhita’ and he has given detailed description of paediatric diseases including rickets.
Ayurved has 8 major branches namely medicine (kaya chikitsa), paediatric (bal chikitsa), toxicology (graha chikitsa), ear,nose and throat (urdhvang), surgery (shalya), danshtra, geriatrics (jara), rejuvenation (rasayan).
I am sure my readers are now well prepared to understand with an open mind as to why life style preached by Ayurved would always be the last answer to a healthy life.
Let me conclude this blog here only to assure you that I shall be discussing ‘What is the right life style that would ensure prevention of diseases that affect the human body to a large extent due to wrong life styles, in my forthcoming blog!
dr. manjiri joshi