The Legacy of Susruta
M S Valiathan
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Universities Press

Susruta’s name is synonymous with India’s surgical inheritance. A legendary figure, he is believed to have lived and taught in Varanasi several centuries before the Buddha, and composed the Susruta Tantra which became a timeless medical classic. Though the original text was lost long ago a redaction by Nagarjuna survived as Susruta Samhita and won universal acclaim. The Samhita is a study of the human condition in health and disease with undisguised emphasis on surgery, and rivals Caraka’s classic in authority. In The Legacy of Susruta, the text of Susruta Samhita has been recast in a thematic fashion without sacrificing any of the content of the original chapters. Furthermore, it presents much of the data in tabular form, and features many tables and illustrations in an effort to reach out to readers who may include not only students of ayurveda but also of modern medicine, biological and social sciences and the history of science. The present volume is a companion to the commercially successful The Legacy of Caraka which was published by Orient Blackswan in 2003.

Special Features:

  1. Thematic paraphrase of Susruta Samhita. No other book on Susruta does this.
  2. The introduction views Susruta’s world from the point of view of modern medicine.
Dr MS Valiathan is primarily a cardiac surgeon who received his surgical qualifications in the UK and cardiac surgery training at the Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Hospital in the US. His main interests span pediatric cardiac surgery, endomyocardial fibrosis and the development of cardiovascular devices including the Chitra tilting disc valve (which is now commercially available). His contributions are embodied in a monograph, many scientific papers and a family of medical devices including a tilting disc heart valve, all of which are used widely in India. His parallel interest is the history of medicine, particularly ayurveda. Dr Valiathan is a National Research Professor of the Government of India.

Section I
Chapter 1: At thy feet, Divodasa, Dhanvantari
Kasiraja Divodasa Dhanvantari begins instruction in ayurveda; emphasis on surgery as preferred by pupils; Susruta as the representative of pupils

Section II
Chapter 2: Initiation and training of physicians       
Initiation for the study of ayurveda; exhortation by the preceptor; equal importance of theory and practice; method of study and importance of understanding; royal permission to practise medicine
Section III: Surgical Profile
of Clinical Practice
Chapter 3:
Surgical procedures; pre- and postoperative care (pradhana, pilrva and paScat karma)              
Eight surgical procedures; accessories for surgery; incision and drainage of abscess; chanting a protective hymn; detailed classification and indication for surgical procedures; bandaging; complications
Chapter 4: Surgical instruments (yantras and Sastras)  
Blunt and sharp instruments; classification; use and functions; supportive instruments
Chapter 5: Use of alkalis (Ksara)
Two varieties; indications; methods of preparation; technique of application "
Chapter 6: Cauterisation (agnikarma); burns and treatment
Caurerisation ranks above caustic alkali; procedure; indications; burns, classifications and treatment; inhalation injury
Chapter 7: Blood-letting (raktavisravana): methods and  management
Benefits; indications; two methods, scarification and venesection, indications of each; venesection at different locations and for varied clinical conditions; use of leeches
Chapter 8: Assorted surgical techniques
Piercing the ear; reconstruction of the ear lobe; pre- and postoperative measures; reconstruction of the nose and lip; foreign bodies and their removal
Chapter 9: Fractures and dislocations (Kandabhagna: Sandhimukta))
Classification; treatment; management of regional injuries; oils for promotion of bone healing ..

Section IV: Introduction to Clinical Practice

Chapter 10: Diseases and their classification         
Surgical/Medical and other types of classifications; detailed classification under seven types on the basis of causation; dosas targeting dhatus to produce diseases
Chapter 11: Time, seasons and the human body  
Units of time; classification of seasons; effects of seasons on life; deranged seasons turning habitat into wasteland
Chapter 12: Dosas            
Three dosas as three pillars of support for the body; functions of dosas derived from etymology; perturbation of dosas; stages suitable for medical intervention during perturbation
Chapter 13: Fall and rise of dosas, dhatus and malas; Observations on blood
Dosas, dhatus and malas as the basic components of the body; effects of the increase and decrease of each component; effects of derangement of ojas; disturbance in the equilibrium of dosas, dhatus and malas; observations on blood
Chapter 14: Rasas
Six primary and sixty-three secondary tastes; dosas and rasas; characteristics of each rasa; classification of substances according to primary tastes
Chapter 15: Wholesomeness: food incompatibilities  
Wholesome articles of diet; unwholesome combination of articles and incompatibilities in diet; unwholesomeness from cooking; combination of tastes causing incompatibility in potency and post-digestive taste
Chapter 16: Geographical influences in pharmacy
The influence of locale on plants and human beings; criteria for the selection ofland for harvesting plants; classification ofland into six types; effects of wind

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