Susruta, the Father of Surgery, wrote his samhita (treatise) about 2500 yrears ago in Sanskrit at Varanasi, India and classified it into six cantos. All its 186 chapters are being brought out as "A.I.S." series in 10 Vols. in a very authoritative, scientific, literal, research oriented, syntax interpretation using modern medical terminology along with original Sanskrit Text by a team of dedicated workers from the Institute of Medical Sciences, B.H.U.
The present volume deals with Cikitsasthana, chapters 24-40, of Susruta Samhita. It deals with pancakarma therapies, rejuvenation procedures, aphrodisiacs and prevention of diseases. Some of these are of great practical utility, specially from the research point view.
Dr. G. D. Singhal M.B.B.S., M.S., F.R.C.S., VAIDYA KIRTI (Hon Causa, Sri Lanka), was born at Allahabad in 1932, and had medical education at Lucknow, Edinburgh and Toronto. He was Ex-Professor of Surgery & Head of the Dept. Banaras Hindu University, a Paediatric Surgeon and Historian of Medicine, was a recognised writer of research-oriented authentic books on Ayurveda in English, using modern medical terminology.
When, at the end of his studies, a young M. D.
graduate leaves the Medical School, he knows nearly
nothing about the History of Medicine. This is a
constant phenomenon which, with very few exceptions, arises all over the world. There are of course
Chairs in the History of Medicine but courses are
generally not compulsory, and the student has so
many things to learn and to put in his memory...
This situation is very poor and regrettable, since the
French. philosopher and thinker, Auguste COMTE
(1798-1857) wrote with full reason in my opinion:
‘One knows really a Science only when one knows
its History’. This is quite true, as I can see every
When a young doctor is faced with practice,
either directly or after specialization, he will
have little time to study or to get acquainted. With
the History of his art, So, amongst many other
ancient aspects of Medicine, he is aware of probably
only one fact concerning the Hindu Surgery : the
Hindu flap for rhinoplasty which he will situate near
the Italian procedure developed by Tagliacozzi. But,
his knowledge of Hindu Medicine or Surgery does
not go beyond this fact.
A few years later, he will be vaguely aware that
the contribution of Hindu Medicine and Surgery is
in fact very old and significant. Perhaps he will
have read a few books and/or articles many of which
start fortunately with a more or less developed chapter dedicated to History. In this way, he will eventually become familiar with the words: Veda,
Susruta Samhita, Ayurveda, Rgveda, etc., and partly
Those who go further know the exact place that
must be given to the ancient Hindu Medicine, and
‘then, I am tempted to say as Issac Newton
"If I have seen further, it was because I stood on
the Shoulders of Giants’.
We are fortunate, as we owe to Dr. G.D.
SINGHAL and his co-workers another tool which
made available a new fragment of this vast medical
knowledge to the English speaking medical world.
The fact that he and his co-workers have given similar
and prior books is a guarantee of the prominent value
of this book. Moreover, it is worth mentioning, and
of even underlining, that his exceptional book has an
equally exceptional basis, the Banaras: Hindu University Library. This has India’s richest collections, and
the privileged who have visited it—I am happy to be
one of them -— were dazzled by the extraordinary
intellectual reserves stored in this Library. Finally,
Varanasi is also the place where the highest authorities in the Sanskrit language are gathered.
For myself, I was astounded by this section
dealing with rest and non-operative procedures,
although being a Surgeon myself. One needs but to
think about the iatrogenic diseases that our time has
generated. On the other hand, as an expert of the
Courts? I am often struck by the poor quality gained
by some surgical procedures ( and this can be said in
many countries, alas)! A surgeon is the man-who
operates, this is well known. If the only result of
this book was to convince surgeons to be conservative, it would be an additional merit.
In conclusion, I can say, and I am happy to have
the opportunity to do so. warmly recommend this
book to every doctor, whatever be his practice. He
surely will be a better doctor and a better surgeon.
Ayurveda is the Science of life. Ayurveda considers life as a combination of sativa (mind), aatma
(soul) and sariva (body). Thus life is an integrated
psychosomatic-spiritual entity. Ayurveda has two-
fold objectives, firstly to preserve the health of the
healthy persons and secondly to eradicate the disease
from the ailing. Through these objects Ayurveda
longs for the ideal of arogya, which is considered to
be the basis of the four-fold values of life, i.e. dharma,
artha, kama and moksa.
Thus Ayurveda is not only a system of Medicine,
but is an unique discipline which deals very comprehensively with the human science and philosophy.
Therefore while studying the Ayurvedic texts specially the classics, one must keep in view this basic
approach and should refrain from only gross physical understanding.
Susruta Sarnhita is one of the three major classical texts on Ayurveda, popularly known as Vrihatrayts. Susruta Sarhhita is considered a surgical text
on Indian Medicine, Susruta was a surgeon and he
compiled his Sarmnhita as a text book on Surgery.
Susruta is therefore rightly being called by Dr. G. D.
Singhal and his colleagues from Varanasi as the
Father of Surgery. It is true that to a large extent
Susruta Samhita is a surgically oriented classic;
however, it must be emphasized that Susruta Samhita is not only a text on ancient Indian Surgery but
is a ‘Samhita in the true sense of the word. It
actually deals, in addition, with all other disciplines
of Ayurvedic Science and Philosophy. It provides
equally rich material on Medicine as on Surgery.
Considering it a surgical treatise only will be to
undermine its significance and scope. As a matter of
fact Susruta Samhita is a classical text on Ayurveda
as a whole with additional emphasis on anatomy and
surgical and gynaecological practice.
The present volume would greatly support the
above contention. This volume deals with such
basic non-surgical problems which are very fundamental to the practice of Ayurveda, i.e. the disciplines
of Svasthavrita, Rasiyana, Bajtkarana, Paticas
Karma and allied Samsodhana measures, These
considerations are of equal significance to a surgeon
as well as to a physician.
Thus this volume deals with the Ayurvedic concepts of social and preventive medicine, personal
hygiene, restorative and rejuvenative measures and
purificatory therapy. In general this volume describes the fundamentals of preventive medicine, In this
context a number of such unique ideals are presented
which may prove entirely new in today's perspective,
Susruta’s ideas of internal purification of the body as
a preventive measure and as a preparatory procedure
before specific medical or surgical intervention, the
extent of complete mental and physical transformation through rvasdyana therapy, etc. are some unique
ideas which need scientific enquiry. The authors of
this book suggest numerous problems on such ideas
on which research should be carried out in the
modern medical institutions for the benefit of the
It is a pleasure to note that Dr. Singhal and his
colleagues are working on Susruta Samhita and are
trying to bring out the entire text in English in 12
volumes. An authentic English presentation of
Susruta Samhita has been a real need. The earlier
English translation presented by Shri Kunja Lal has
many falacies and it has been really criticised by
many scholars. At this juncture this new series will
be most welcome. The authors have done a very
good job in presenting an authentic, easy reading,
English translation, comments, summaries for each
chapter and a list of probable research problems
along with cross references.
This volume in particular is a highlight of the
entire series, due to the fact that it deals with subjects of some interesting specialities of Ayurveda
which are original to Ayurveda and whose significance and scope is increased in present times, namely
Svasthavrita, Rasayana, Bajtkarana and PancaKarma. These subjects are prescribed in under-
graduate and postgraduate curricula of all Ayurvedic
faculties and as such this particular volume should
find a place as a text book for this purpose.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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