It is a matter of historic certainty that Subhuti was one of the personal disciple of Sakya Sinha Buddha, and that it was customary amongst the contemporary Buddhists to append the appela-, tion of their (I) lord (Gautama or Bodhisattva) to the name of a proselyte to accentuate his wisdom and sanctity in the world. A certain section of scholars is never tired of setting up this line as a conclusive evidence of the fact that the Samhita was, at best, a contemporary production of early Buddhism. But they shut their eyes to opinions of Shaunaka and others on the subject quoted exactly in the same portion of the book, which places the date of its composition at least several centuries earlier. Shaunaka, who was the sixth in remove from the immortal Vyasa in direct line of discipleship, was the author of the renowned Shaunaka Samhita of the Atharvan. These facts lend a very plausible colour to our hypothesis that the original Sushruta Samhita which, was first composed perhaps contemporaneously with the latter portions of the Atharvan, naturally discussed the opinions of Shaunaka and other Vedic embryologists, while Nagarjuna, at the time of redacting that book, quoted the opinion of his contemporary Subhuti for the purpose of giving him an equal status with the Vedic Rishis, if for nothing else.
Kilyayana's Vartikas to Panini's Grammar.
Chakra Dutta - Rashayandhikara. (3) P. C. Roy - Hindu Chemistry p. XVIII. (1902).
As regards Hellenic influence on the Hindu system of medicine and on the Sushruta Samhita in special, we must disabuse our mind of all sentiments of racial vanity and proceed to investigate the case in a scientific and unprejudiced spirit before giving a more detailed account of the contents of the Sushruta Samhita.
(I) Nagarjuna Bodhisattva was well practised in the art of compounding medicine. Nagarjuna Bodhisattva by moistening all the great stones with a divine and superior decoction changed them into gold. - Bael's Buddhistic Records of the western world Vol. II.
Anuvak 19. 45. 46. 5.
From the very apparent similarity which exists between the contents of this Samhita and the aphorisms of Hippocrates, many western scholars are apt to conclude too hastily that the ancient Indians drew their inspiration in the healing art from the medical works of the Greeks. But the reverse may be said of the Greeks as well with the greater confidence because such an assertion is supported by historic facts, and confirmed by the researches of the scholars of the west (I). According to all accounts Pythagoras was the founder of the healing art amongst the Greeks and the Hellenic peoples in general (2). This great philosopher imbibed his mysteries and metaphysics from the Brahmanas of India. Mr. Pocock in his India in Greece identifies him with Buddhagurus or Buddha, and it is but an easy inference to suppose that he carried many recipes and aphorisms of his master's Ayurveda with him. The sacred bean of Pythagoras is thought to have been the (5) Indian Nelumbium (Utpalam). We know that simultaneously with the birth of Buddhism, Buddhist Sramanas were sent out to Greece, Asia minor, Egypt and other distant countries to preach their new religion. They were known to the Greeks and there is good reason to believe that the Greek Simnoi (venerable) were no other than the Buddhist Sramanas (4). Now a missionary usually teaches the sciences of his country in addition to the preaching of his gospel. The distant mission stations or monasteries of Buddhism were the principal centres for disseminating Brahmanic culture in distant lands, and Hippocrates, though he did his utmost to liberate medical science from the thraldom of speculative philosophy, yet might have thought it necessary to retain only those truths of the Ayurveda which Pythagoras and the Buddhistic brotherhood might have imported into his country, and which do not exactly appertain to the domain of pure metaphysics. Of course, it is quite possible for men of different nationalities to arrive at the same truth or conclusion independently. There are coincidences in science as in art and philosophy, (I) Gravitation and circulation of blood (2) were known to the Indians long before the births of Newton and Harvey in Europe. The celebrated atomic theory was preached in the Gangetic valley some five hundred years before the birth of Christ (3). But well may we ask those, who still adhere to this Hellenic hobby, to look at the reverse side of the picture as well. It may be stated without the least fear of contradiction that the Charaka and Sushruta, through the Channel of Arabic, Persian and Latin translations still form the
(1) There is no ground whatever to suppose that Sushruta borrowed his system of medicine from the Greeks. On the contrary, there is much to tell against such an idea - Weber's History of Indian Literature.
(2) The Origin and Growth of the Healing Art - Bedroe P. 162.
(3) Pratt's Flowering Plants. Vol. I P. 57.
(4) These Simoi (venerable) whom Clement of Alexandria has narrated to have rendered worship to a pyramid originally dedicated to the relics of a god, were the Buddhist Arhats (venerables) Sramanas.
Lalita-Vistaram - Raja Rajendra I.ala Mitter's Edition. Ch. 1.
Siddhanta Shiromani (Bhaskaracharyaya) Golodhyava.
The Harita Samhita, which according to certain scholars, is older than the Sushruta Samhita, refers to the circulation of blood in describing Panduroga (Anaemia). The disease, he observes, is caused by eating clay which thus blocks the lumen of veins and obstructs the circulation of blood. Bhavamisra, the celebrated author of Bhavaprakasham, and who is a century older than Harvey, has the above couplets bearing on the subject.
(3) Vaiseshika Darshana by Kanada.
basis of all systems of scientific medicines in the world (1).
Of these, the Sushruta Samhita is the most representative work of the Hindu system of medicine. It embraces all that can possibly appertain to the science of medicine (2).