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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The legend, Sushruta

Whenever I get sometime, I like to explore the lives of past surgeons and doctors to know their thought process, their times and their contributions to the society.  I feel, like most of my colleagues, extremely fascinated by the life of Sushruta. Sushruta, the father of surgery, who lived nearly 150 years before Hippocrates, brilliantly described the fundamental principles of surgery in his famous ancient treatise 'Sushruta Samhita' (1,2) in 600 B.C . Sushruta taught the surgical demeanors to his students on various modules, such as, giving incisions on fleshy fruits and vegetables (like watermelon, cucumber, gourd etc.), probing on moth infested and worm eaten wood which acquires soft consistency etc.

Sushruta strongly believed and advocated that knowledge of both surgery and medicine are essential to make a good doctor who otherwise is akin a bird with only one wing. Sushruta had been a staunch believer in importance of knowing anatomy well for anyone who wished to become a doctor, or a healer.  For most of use, it would be hair-raising to know about knowledge base of Sushruta even in those days. Shushruta has astutely described surgery under eight heads C hedya (excision), Lekhya (scarification), Vedhya (puncturing), Esya (exploration), Ahrya (extraction), Vsraya (evacuation) and Sivya (Suturing).

On of the famous sayings of Sushruta that is often quoted in high-profile seminars these days says, ‘Any one, who wishes to acquire a thorough knowledge of anatomy, must prepare a dead body and carefully observe and examine all its parts’. Upon knowing the legends of Sushruta, one automatically tends to think of the role and scope of pre-surgical anesthesia in those days. Sushruta famously writes that wine should be used before operation to produce insensibility to pain. The patient who has been fed, does not faint, and he who is rendered intoxicated, does not feel the pain of the operation. It makes me feel so inspired when I turn around pages of history in want of surgeons who contributed in their own ways. They had eaten more salt than we have eaten rice. Long live Sushruta ! 

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