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Vedotpati Adhyaya - 1st Chapter of Sushruta Samhita


Acharya Sushruta is the author of Sushruta Samhita. He is called "The Father of Surgery". Sushruta Samhita is a classical Ayurvedic text on medicine and surgery. It is one among the Brihat trayees (three great treatises in Ayurveda). It is referred to as the best text for learning Shalya Chikitsa (Surgery). Sushruta Samhita contains 186 adhyaya (chapters) and has described 1,120 types of diseases. This Samhita is divided into two parts namely Purva tantra and Uttara tantra. The Purva tantra contains 5 Sthana. Sutra sthana, Nidana sthana, Sharira sthana, Chikitsa sthana and Kalpa sthana. The Purva Tantra is the oldest part of the Sushruta Samhita whereas Uttar Tantra was made later. In this article, we will discuss Vedotpati Adhayaya which is the first chapter of Sushruta Samhita (Sutra sthana).

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Vedotpati is a Sanskrit word. It comprises two words Veda and Utapapti. Veda means knowledge and Utapati means Origin. Origin of knowledge (the science of life) as said by Lord Dhanvantri. In this chapter, Acharya Sushruta has mentioned the definition of Ayurveda, the various branches of Ayurveda, the purpose of Ayurveda, and the importance and features of Shalya tantra (Surgery). He has also described how Ayurveda was propagated, the importance of Purusha (human), vyadhi and its adhisthana (disease and its sites), vyadhi nigraha (ways to control diseases), ahara (diet), aushada (medicine) and sites of diseases caused by external causes.

Ayurvedotpatti (Origin of Ayurveda)

Ayurveda is a part of the Atharva Veda. It comprises 8 branches. In Ancient times, even before the creation of the universe Lord Brahma propounded Ayurveda. It consists of one lakh shlokas (verses) mentioned in one thousand chapters. By looking at lesser life span and poor intelligence Lord Brahma divided Ayurveda into eight branches.

Branches of Ayurveda

The eight branches of Ayurveda are given below:

  1. Shalya Tantra (Surgery): Shalya Tantra is the branch of Ayurveda that mentions the ways of removing foreign objects like grass, wood, stone, sand, metal, mud, bone, hair, nails, pus, exudates, contaminated wounds and dead fetus through the use of sharp and blunt instruments, alkali and cautery. Shalya Tantra has also mentioned different stages of wounds/ulcers like ama vrana (unripped), pachyamana vrana (in the stage of ripening) and pakva (ripened) vrana.
  2. Shalakya Tantra (ENT): Shalakya Tantra is the branch of Ayurveda that describes the use of Shalaka (tubular hollow instruments used for diagnosis and treating diseases) to treat diseases of organs present above the clavicle like ears, eyes, mouth and nose, etc.
  3. Kaya Chikitsa (Medicine): Kaya Chikitsa is the branch of Ayurveda that mentions the treatment of all types of diseases like fever, bleeding disorders, emaciation, psychosis, epilepsy, skin disorders, diabetes and diarrhoea etc.
  4. Bhuta Vidya (Psychiatry): Bhuta Vidya is the branch of Ayurveda that mentions the people affected by demigods, demons (asura, yaksha, rakshasa) spirits, vampires and snakes. It describes various ways to balance graha dosha (planetary alignment) with the help of shantipatha (serenity prayer), bali (sacrifices) and havan (praying to god in front of the fire), etc.
  5. Kaumara Bhritya (Pediatrics): Kaumara Bhritya is the branch of Ayurveda that has mentioned ways to nourish the child, methods of purification of breast milk and diseases arising from the consumption of vitiated milk and vitiated grahas (mal-alignment of planets in horoscope).
  6. Agada Tantra (Toxicology): Agada Tantra is the branch of Ayurveda that describes various symptoms after getting bitten by various poisonous animals like snakes, insects, spiders and rats, etc. It has mentioned the various methods to treat illness caused by natural, artificial and combinations of poisons.
  7. Rasayana Tantra (Gerontology): Rasayana Tantra is the branch of Ayurveda that describes the methods of withholding youth ness, age, intelligence, strength, endurance and immunity of the body for longer periods of time.
  8. Vajikarana Tantra (Reproductive medicine): Vajikarana Tantra is the branch of Ayurveda that mentions the methods of nourishing, purifying, and increasing the production of reduced, vitiated, dried-up semen/sperm. It also mentions ways to increase sexual pleasure during intercourse.

Ayurveda Prayojan (Purpose of Ayurveda)

The purpose of Ayurveda is written below:

"Curing the diseased person and protecting the health of a healthy person." .

Nirukti (Definition of Ayurveda)

Ayurveda is the knowledge that mentions the beneficial and harmful things (hita-ahita) for life (ayu) and also provides longevity.

Shalya Tantra Pradhanta (Importance of Surgery)

Given below are six ritus:

  • Shalya Tantra is the first and main branch among the eight branches of Ayurveda because in ancient times, wounds after the wars and heads of warriors and demons were healed and joined through Shalya Tantra.
  • It is heard that due to the wrath of Lord Shiva, the head of Daksha (King of Kashi) was cut by Lord Shiva. All the demigods pleased Ashwanikumara’s to join his head. As a result, Asvini Kumara re-joined the head of Daksha.
  • Shalya Tantra cures diseases very quickly, extensive use of various instruments (sharp or blunt), alkali, and cauterization and its similarity to other branches of Ayurveda makes it the most important branch among other branches of Ayurveda.

Features Of Shalya Tantra

Given below are the various feature of Shalya Tantra:

  • Shashvata/Nitya - Eternal
  • Punyadayak - Virtuous
  • Svargadayak - Provides a place in heaven
  • Yashasya - Provides fame
  • Ayushyam - Provides longevity
  • Vritikar - Provides a successful career

Ayurveda avataran (Propagation of Ayurveda)

Lord Brahma revealed Ayurveda very first. Then it was propagated to Daksha Prajapati. Daksha Prajapati gave this knowledge to Aswani Kumara. Aswani Kumara thought Ayurveda to Lord Indra. Lord Indra gave this knowledge to Lord Dahanvantri.

This way Lord Dhanvantri propagated this knowledge to his disciples.

A verse in Shushruta Samhita where Lord Dhanvantari speaks about his association with Ayurveda:

In order to destroy the old age of demigods, diseases and death. Dhanvantri has taken reincarnation on earth in order to give instructions to the people about the eight branches of Ayurveda including Shalya Tantra.

Purushan Pradhanam (Importance of Man)

In Ayurveda, the combination of panchamahabhuta (earth, water, fire, air and ether) and shariri (soul) is called Purusha. It is the Purush who is treated. Purusha is the adhisthana (abode) of diseases, treatment and the results of treatment. World is divided into two parts Sthavar (immobile) and Jangham (mobile). On the basis of the measure of water, the world is divided into agneya (hot) and saumya (cold). All the lives are Panchamahabhautik therefore this universe is also Panchamahabhautik. All living beings are classified into Svedaja, Jarayuja, Andaja and Udbhija.

Among all these Purusha (man) is the most important, others are the resources for him and Purusha is the cause and abode.

Vyadhi (Definition Of Disease)

The amalgamation of dukha (pain, misery, suffering) with purusha (man) is called Vyadhi.

Types of Vyadhi (Diseases)

The Vyadhis are of four types:

  • Agantuk: Diseases caused by injury due to external factors like weapons, sticks and stones.
  • Sharirik: Diseases caused by improper diet and vitiation of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
  • Mansik: Diseases caused by mental imbalances as a result of Anger, grief, fear, extreme joy, desire, hatred, envy and greed, etc.
  • Swabhavik: Disease that occurs as a result of age, hunger, thirst and sleep, etc.

Vyadhi Adhisthana (Sites Of Diseases)

There are 2 sites of Diseases:

  1. Mana (Mind)
  2. Sharira (Body)

Vyadhi Nigraha (Ways To Control Diseases)

All the diseases are controlled and prevented with the help of sanshodhan (purification therapy), shaman (dosha pacification), ahar and vihar (proper diet and lifestyle) with respect to desha (place), kala (time), vaya (age), matra (dose) etc.

Ahara and Aushadha (Food & Medicine)

Ahar (Food) is the main cause of life in all living beings. Along with it, ahar is the only reason for the strength, complexion and vitality of a body. The ahar is considered as Shadarasatmak. Ras (taste) is present inside the dravya (matter). Aushadis are called Dravya. There are two types of Aushadis (medicines) that are Sthavar and Jangham.

Sthavara Dravya (Plants)

Sthavara Dravya also called Planet are of four types namely Vanaspati, Vriksha, Virudha and Audhbhij.

  • Vanaspati: Vasapatis bear flowers but no fruits.
  • Vriksha: Vriksha bears both flowers and fruits.
  • Viruddha: Viruddha are those plants that dwell on the ground or on other plants.
  • Aushadhi: Aushadi are those plants that die after fruits get ripped.

Upyukta Anga (Useful Parts Of Plants)

The Shathvar Dravya has many useful parts which are given below:

  • Tvaka - Bark
  • Patra - Leaves
  • Pushpa - Flowers
  • Phala - Fruits
  • Mula - Roots
  • Kanda - Rhizomes
  • Niryasa - Resin
  • Svarasa - Sap

Janghama Dravya (Animals)

Janghama Dravya also called Animals are of four types. It includes Jarayuja, Andaja, Svedaja and Udbhiija.

  1. Jarayuja - Domestic Animals, Humans, Wild animals
  2. Andaja - Birds, Snakes, Fish, Crab, Lizard
  3. Svedaja - Insects, Ants, Spiders
  4. Udbhija - Fireflies, Frogs

Upayukta Anga (Useful Parts Of Animals)

The Janghama Dravya has many useful parts which are given below:

  • Charma - Skin
  • Nakha - Nails
  • Roma - Body hairs
  • Rudhira - Blood

Parthiva Dravyas (Matter Derived From The Earth)

Parthiva Dravyas are the materials derived from Earth (minerals and ores). Gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, realgar, and broken parts of the earthen pot are some of the Parthiva Dravya.

Kala Krita (Action of time)

The special factors that are beneficial for treatment come under Kala Krita. Heavy breeze, little breeze, sunlight, shade, moonlight, darkness, cold, warm, rains, day and night, fortnight, month, seasons, solstice and year are those factors that are beneficial for treatment. These all factors are responsible for the sanchaya (accumulation of dosha in local sites), prakopa (excessive accumulation of dosha in local sites), prashamana (pacification of dosha) and pratikara (control) of the disease and are also beneficial for treatment.

Sites of Agantuja Disorders

Agantuja disorders have 2 sites. Few disorders occur in the mind and others in the body. Their treatment is done in two different ways. The Agantuja disorders that occur in the body are treated similarly to diseases of the body. The agantuja diseases occurring in the mind are treated by counseling with good words.

In this way, Purusha (Man), Vyadhi (Disease), Aushad (Medicine) and Kriyakala (Appropriate time to plan treatment) are described (given below).

Purusha (Man)

Purush is made up of Panchamahabhuta (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether), the sperm and the ovum. The Purusha has major and minor organs, skin, muscles, bones, veins and ligaments, etc.

Vyadhi (Disease)

The word Vyadhi describes the vitiation of Vata dosha, Pitta dosha, Kapha dosha, rakta (blood) and vitiation of all doshas together which leads to diseases.

Aushadha (Medicine)

The word Aushad includes Dravya (matter), Rasa (taste), Guna (qualties), Virya (potency), Vipaka (final taste after digestion) and Prabhava (effect/action).

Kriya (Action/ Procedure)

Kriya comprises ashthavidha (eight surgical procedures) chaden (excision), bedhan (incision), lekhan (scraping), vedhan (puncture), eshana (probing), aharana (extraction), visravana (draining), snehan (oleation), swedan (herbal steam) and panchakarma.

Kala (Time)

The word Kala stands for the right period for the treatment.


Sushruta "The Father of Surgery" has written medicine and surgery in the most classical Ayurvedic text famously known as Shushruta Samhita. It contains 186 adhyaya (chapters) and has described 1,120 types of diseases. The first chapter of Sushruta Samhita is Vedotpatti Adhaya which we have already discussed in this article. This chapter gave a brief description of Ayurveda, how Ayurveda was propagated, shalya tantra and its importance along with various terminologies like Purusha, Vyadhi, Ahara, Aushad and Kala Krita etc.

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan


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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan


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