The invention of surgery is another topic in my series “Reasons To Love India”. This blog is about the major achievement of India. The invention of Surgery, (a common practice performed on a diseased person) any Indian can proudly claim it to be first done in India. I truly and very sadly confess that I too came to know this at the age of 49. When I started my research on this topic and talked to many people, I was shocked to know that most Indians are completely unaware of this fact.
The modern generation may be apprehensive that the invention of surgery is an ancient tradition of India, but the fact will remain unchanged that India had been progressive in every field. India has never received much-deserved acknowledgement from our youth and maybe many others. It’s a proven fact that modern discoveries, inventions, theories, concepts are mainly based on Vedic literature. Most scientists have studied Vedic literature to get deep knowledge of science, spiritual psychology and behaviour. How many countries can boast of such a heritage?
Our past shows that the techniques taught by our Rishis and Munnis are working effectively even today. India is called VISHWAGURU and to attain this position and our ancestors had been remarkably committed and persevering. As a nation, we have 5000 years to our credit. India had management scientists before the 20th century. Even ancient Indian scriptures like Ramayana Mahabharata and various Upanishads, one can find brilliant discussion of management strategies. But this blog will talk about the invention of surgery of olden times.
The Invention Of Surgery By Maharshi Sushruta In India
Surgery forms a major role in general medical training. The ancient surgical science was known as Shalya Tantra. It is said that during the 6th century BCE, an Indian scientist and physician named Maharshi Sushruta was born in Varanasi. He is regarded as the “Father of plastic surgery” worldwide. In his book “Sushrut Samhita” an authentic text on the practice of the Indian medicine – Ayurveda. He elaborated on the ancient tradition of surgery and his earliest works on medicine. All the surgical methods are explained in detail in this text.
Written in Sanskrit Sushrut Samhita, this text slowly spread to the west and other parts of the world. Around 360-350, a Buddhist scholar Vasubandhu revised and rewrote the original text in simple language. It is highly regarded as one of the “Great Trilogy Of Ayurvedic Medicine. He developed techniques of reconstructive surgery which are amazing for their age. Sushruta’s Indian rhinoplasty is well-attested in the historical record
The Sushruta Samhita is divided into five principal sections:
- Sutrasthana or primary principles with 46 chapters dealing with basic principles of medical sciences and pharmacology;
- Nidana – 16 chapters dealing with pathological concepts;
- Sarirasthana – 10 chapters on human anatomy;
- Chikitsasthanam – 34 chapters on medical and surgical management
- Kalpasthanam – eight chapters on toxicology
- Details of 1120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, 64 preparations from mineral sources and 57 preparations based on animal sources are also provided
The invention of Plastic Surgery
The majority of modern people consider plastic surgery as a relatively new speciality. But its origin has roots more than 4000 years old in India, right from the advent of the Indus River of In Indian society. The nose has remained a symbol of dignity and respect. In ancient Indian history, nose cutting punishments were famous for criminals, war prisoners and adultery. Maharshi Sushruta developed a groundbreaking technique which includes Rhinoplasty
. To improve the cosmetic look of the nose
. Proper breathing function of the nose.
Remaking and repairing of nose
Also Otoplasty technique for reconstructing an earlobe with skin from the cheek. Undoubtedly plastic surgery in Europe which thrived in medieval Italy is a direct descendant of classical Indian surgery.
Today, surgeons use skin grafts to restore areas whose protective layers of tissue has been damaged due to trauma, infection, burns. It is also done to save the areas where surgical intervention has created a loss of skin. Some grafts include blood vessels and muscle, such as in reconstructive breast surgery. Amazingly, these techniques are all explained in the Sushruta Samhita.
He gave an in-depth account of bone-related surgeries, besides trauma involving general surgeries. This involved his expertise on 12 varieties of fractures and 6 types of dislocation of bones. The principles of traction, stabilization, apposition and manipulations were discovered which continues to spellbind the surgeons even today. He stressed postoperative physiotherapy without which any surgery could be a failure.
Stone Removal Surgery
Sushruta was an expert surgeon to first perform Lithotomy on the diseased. It’s a process of surgical incision into hollow organs such as the urinary bladder to remove stones or calculi.
Maharshi Sushruta is considered the first surgeon and the treatments regarding Cataract, Hair Treatments Animal Bite, various infections and C-Section Surgery is also mentioned in Sushrut Samhita.
As a protocol, before starting formal training, students were expected to study for at least six years. taking a solemn oath was also mandatory. Incisions on watermelon and cucumber and probing worm-eaten woods were the primary ways of his experimental training. Sushruta was the first person to teach his students about the human body and its vital organs by dissecting a dead body.
According to Sushruta, “Anyone, who wishes to acquire a thorough knowledge of anatomy, must prepare a dead body and carefully observe and examine all its parts”. The method of study was to submerge the body in water and allow it to decompose followed by an examination of the decomposing body at intervals to study structures, layer by layer, as they got exposed after decomposition. The most important point to note here is that the dissection was performed without using a knife.
Surgery today is considered the sole preserve of modern medicine. Not many of us know that the invention of surgery and the first successful surgical procedures were practised by ancient Indian doctors more than 2500 years ago. Sushruta had an intimate understanding of the various pressure points vital points of the human body. The pressure points that are so frequently used in the various Asian martial arts are the exact same pressure points identified by Sushruta over 2000 years ago.
For successful surgery, Sushruta induced anaesthesia using intoxicants such as wine and henbane (Cannabis indica). there is a description of a method of stitching the intestines by using ant-heads as stitching material.
If you read Sushrut Samhita, you will find a number of techniques for the removal of foreign bodies like metal pieces, sticks, horns and other items. Bites of various types of snakes, rats, scorpions and the relevant treatment known at that time are mentioned in the text
In the 19th century England surgeon Joseph Carpue, famous for his first plastic surgery in 1815 learned this art from India. If you feel hard to believe this fact, then you must read the book “The Oxford Medical Companion” by Sir John Walter and Stephen Lock. It’s clearly written on page 771 that Joseph Carpue performed this operation after reading and researching the reports of successful nasal reconstruction in India.
The most popular report of these was a 1794 report in the Gentleman’s Magazine, describing the reconstruction of the nose of a man named Cowasjee. Cowasjee’s nose was chopped off by the forces of Tipu Sultan during the Third Anglo-Mysore War for working for the British. A successful rhinoplasty was performed to fix his nose. Joseph Carpue did 20 years of research on plastic surgery after reading this research.
People refuse to adopt Indian Heritage and Culture and give all the credit of the invention of surgery to the west. It is absolutely amazing to see what is written in this book when you consider its age. It includes information about all sorts of diseases and conditions, from violent trauma to various diseases and even information about epilepsy, the nervous system, ulcers, haemorrhoids, and almost any other affliction you could imagine. Surely, this man was just as intelligent as any specialised doctor living today.