A statue dedicated to Sushruta at Haridwar
|Known for||author of Sushruta Samhita|
Sushruta, or Su?ruta (Sanskrit, lit. "well heard") was an ancient Indian physician, known as the main author of the treatise The Compendium of Su?ruta (Sanskrit: Su?ruta-sa?hit?). The Su?rutasa?hit? was composed over a period of several centuries, beginning in the last centuries BCE and reaching us today through manuscript transmission from perhaps 400 CE. The Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic text, represents him as a son of Rishi Vishvamitra, which coincides with the present recension of Sushruta Samhita. Kunjalal Bhisagratna opined that it is safe to assume that Sushruta was of the clan of Vishvamitra.
The Su?ruta-sa?hit? is one of the most important surviving ancient treatises on medicine and is considered a foundational text of Ayurveda. The treatise addresses all aspects of general medicine, but the translator G. D. Singhal dubbed Su?ruta "the father of surgery" on account of the extraordinarily accurate and detailed accounts of surgery to be found in the work.
The Compendium of Su?ruta locates its author in Varanasi.
The early scholar Rudolf Hoernle proposed that some concepts from the Su?ruta-sa?hit? could be found in the ?atapatha-Br?hma?a, that he dated to the sixth century BCE, and this dating is still often repeated. However, during the last century, scholarship on the history of Indian medical literature has advanced substantially, and firm evidence has accumulated that the Su?ruta-sa?hit? is a work of several historical layers. Its composition may have begun in the last centuries BCE and it was completed in its present form by another author who redacted its first five chapters and added the long, final chapter, the "Uttaratantra." It is likely that the Su?ruta-sa?hit? was known to the scholar Dhabala (fl. 300-500 CE), which gives the latest date for the version of the work that has come down to us today. It has also become clear through historical research that there are several ancient authors called "Su?ruta" and that they should not be conflated.
The Mah?bh?rata lists Su?ruta amongst the sons of Vi?v?mitra, the legendary sage and progenitor of all Br?hma?as. The same connection with Vi?v?mitra is also made in the Su?ruta-sa?hit? itself. The name Su?ruta appears in later literature in the Bower Manuscript (sixth century CE), where Su?ruta is listed as one of the ten sages residing in the Himalayas.
The Su?ruta-sa?hit?, in its extant form, in 184 chapters contains descriptions of 1,120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, 64 preparations from mineral sources and 57 preparations based on animal sources. The text discusses surgical techniques of making incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, alkali and thermal cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, and trocars for draining abscess, draining hydrocele and ascitic fluid, removal of the prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation, vesicolithotomy, hernia surgery, caesarian section, management of haemorrhoids, fistulae, laparotomy and management of intestinal obstruction, perforated intestines and accidental perforation of the abdomen with protrusion of omentum and the principles of fracture management, viz., traction, manipulation, apposition and stabilization including some measures of rehabilitation and fitting of prosthetic. It enumerates six types of dislocations, twelve varieties of fractures, and classification of the bones and their reaction to the injuries, and gives a classification of eye diseases including cataract surgery.