Let his eye go to the sun, let his breath-wind mix with the wind of the atmosphere, and to the sky. earth and the cereals the parts which have sprung out of them. etc.
Having got so far in our analysis, before passing on to the study of the Anatomical portion of the Sushruta Samhita, we must try to account for the many anomalies and discrepancies that have crept into or have been suffered to remain in the present recension of the book. Take, for example, the line in which Dhanvantari is made to speak of three hundred bones in the human organism. It is impossible that the human frame, in so short a time, has got rid of so many of of its skeletal accessories simply through disuse, or because of their becoming superfluous in the altered condition of its environments. More absurd is it to think that Sushruta, who discards all authority except the testimony of positive knowledge, would write a thing which none but the blind would believe in a dissecting room. The spirit of the age in which he flourished precluded the possibility of such an error.
In ancient India, subjects chosen for the demonstration of practical anatomy were always children (2), and naturally those bones, which are must have described their courses and locations, as otherwise it would have been quite impossible for practical surgeons, for whom it was intended, to conform to the directions of the Samhita in surgically operating on their patients' limbs and to avoid those vulnerable unions or anastomoses as enjoined therein. These Marmas have been divided into three classes such as, the Sadya-prana-hara; Kala-prana-hara, and Vaikalya-kara, according as an injury to any of them proves instantaneously fatal, or fatal in course of time, or is followed by a maimed condition of the limb concerned. The fact is that the study of practical Anatomy was in a manner forbidden in the reign of Ashoka Piyadarshi inasmuch as all religious sacrifices were prohibited by a royal edict (I), and the subsequent commentators (who were also redactors on a small scale) of the Sushruta Samhita, in the absence of any positive knowledge on the subject, had to grope their way out in darkness as best they could; hence, this wanton mutilation of texts and hopeless confusion of verses in the Sharira Sthanam of the present day Sushruta Samhita, which should be re-arranged and restored to their proper chapters before any definite opinion can be pronounced on the anatomical knowledge of the holy Sushruta.
(1) Vide Aitareya Brahmana VII. 13.
(2) The injunction of the Hindu SHastras is that "corpse of persons more than 2 years old should be burned." Cremation of dead bodies being fused or anastomised into one whole during adult life, have been separately enumerated - a circumstance which may, to some extent, account for the excess in the number of bones described in this Samhita (1). Likewise the theory that Sushruta might have included the teeth and the cartilages within the list of skeletal bones comes very near the truth, but it does not reflect the whole truth either. The fact is that the orignial Sushruta Samhita has passed through several recensions; and we have reasons to believe that the present one by Nagarjuna is neither the only nor the last one made. The redactors, according to their own light, have made many interpolations in the text, and when Brahmanas, they have tried to come to a sort of compromise at points of disagreement with the teachings of the Vedas (2). Therefore it is that we come across such statements in the Samhita as "there are 360 bones in the human body, so it is in the Vedas, but the science of surgery recognises three hundred skeletal bones." What lends a greater colour to the hypothesis is that Sushruta, who, in the Chapter on Marma Shariram, has so accurately described the unions of bones and ligaments, anastomoses of nerves, veins and arteries etc., obligatory on Government, as well as on private individuals, it was almost impossible to secure a full-grown anatomical subject in Pauranic India, the more so when we consider that the Hindus look upon the non-cremation and mutilation of a corpse with a peculiar horror as it prevents the spirit from purging off its uncleanness in the funeral fire, and liars its access to a higher spiritual life. Naturally in later and more ceremonial times the interred corpses of infants, less than 2 years old, had to be unearthed and dissected for anatomical purposes ; and these portions of the Sushruta Samhita might have been modified by the subsequent commentators in order to conform them to occular proofs. - T. R.
(1) See Gray's Anatomy (1897) p. 2S8 and 301 Figs. 24S and 262.
Vishnu Smriti. Ch. 96. 55.