Sushruta samhita written some 3000 years ago by an ancient acharya of Ayurveda, Sushruta is regarded as the basic knowledge of surgery. Sushrutha was a great surgeon of ancient times. It is also regarded as one of the four principal books on surgery. In his book, sushrutha samhitha, he also describes the methods of Panchakarma.
Surgery is an anga (branch) of Ashtanga (eight-branched) Ayurveda and is named Shalya Tantra or Shalakya Tantra.
Dhanvatary, who is considered the god of medicine and surgery is believed to hand over the knowledge of surgery to Sushruta. In the ancient times, physicians practicing surgery were known as Dhanwantareyans, because of their perceived connection with Lord Dhanwantary.
Sushrutas main forte is plastic surgery. His description of procedures of plastic surgery in this ancient book closely follows suite with modern plastic surgery procedures.
Sushruta says there are 76 conditions that affect eyes. He prescribes accurate surgical methods for 51 of them.
Sushruta also describes the sastras (weapons) to use for surgery. The weapons are sharp, with long handles and have striking similarities with modern surgical equipments. He lists weapons to make deep but sharply targeted cuts, remove or replace tiny parts, needles to sew severed flesh and muscles together, etc. He also suggests hygienically cleansing the room, weapons, hands of the surgeons, etc by smoking appropriate herbs, washing the weapons in boiled water and with appropriate herbal additions.
The Indian names of surgery is sastrakriya or sastra karma. Both means an action with a weapon.
Sushruta recommends surgery only for situations where medicines are incapable of curing the condition.
In addition to details of surgery, Sushruta Samhita also describes more than a thousand diseases and conditions, problems associated with aging and mental illnesses.
He also tells in detail about prasoothi tantra or Ayurvedic midwifery.
Sushruta Samhita lists 700 medicinal herbs. He also tells the methods of preparation of medicines.
Sushruta Samhita is spelt in many different forms. A few among them are susrutha samhitha, sushrutha samhitha, susruta samhita, sushruda samhida, susruda samhida, susrudha samhidha, etc.