Ayurveda is a science of life which deals with its all the four facets i.e. Hita (useful or advantageous), Ahita (harmful or disadvantageous), Sukha (happy) and Duhkha (unhappy or miserable) along with what is good and bad (wholesome and un-wholesome habits) for life its measurement i.e. short and long span of life. Beholding the generosity of Ayurveda towards the humanity, the former two facets can be advocated and categorised for social welfare while the latter two for personal care or well-being. The 'Life' as such has been further defined as an agglomeration of Sarira (body), Indriyas (sensory and motor organs), Sattva (mind) and Atman (Soul or conciousness), where each stands with its indispensable contribution in entire life process. Recognising the Indriyas as a part and partial constituents of the Sarira, the remaining three have been stated to be Tridanda (tripod) which by their combination sustains the Loka-purusa (sentient beings) - said to be substratum of every thing. The Sarira (body) of every creatures behabes as an abode of Atman (Soul) said to be Vibhu (all pervasive), may be visualised and experienced by yogic practices and cannot be displayed on the palms of the hands and remaining always tagged with Manas (mind) attains the state of Jivatma (embodied consciousness). Atman getting freed from Manas attains the state of Moksa (salvation). Sarira is only the last entity, which can be touched, demonstrated and analysed in terms of its components and constituting structures on the table.
According to Ayurveda, the Sad-dhatu-Purusa or Cikitsya-purusa (alive human body) is said to be composed of or a combination of derivatives of Pancamahabhutas i.e. Prthvi (solid), Jala (liquid), Tejas (firy), Vayu (gaseous), Akasa (ethereal) components and Jivatma (embodied consciousness). Devoid of components, though Jivatma is said to be Niskriya (inactive) but it the only factor responsible for Cetana (consciousness). Similarly, to have a perceptible knowledge and other various types of activities, it is dependent on its instrument like Manas mind), Buddhi (discriminating power), Ahankara (ego) and Indriyas (sensory and motor organs) though found to be always Sakriya (active) but are Acetana (unconscious). The body of the Sad-dhatu-purusa has been conventionally divided into its six broad components i.e. Hastau (two upper extremities), Padau (two lower extremities), Madhya-kaya (thorax an abdomen) and Urdhvanga or Siro-griva (head-neck). The structural aspect of this Sadanga-Serira is the subject matter of Racana Sarira, while the functional aspect comes under the heading of Kriya-sarira, respectively.
In Ayurveda, we come across with the terms Sarira (pertaining to the knowledge of the body), Sarira (body as such) and Saririn (Soul). Very often a proverb is quoted that the Madhava-nidana, Vagbhata, Susruta and Caraka-Samhitas are recognised for their excellency in Nidana (aeteopathogenesis), Sutra-sthana. Sarira and therapeutic approaches, respectively. This statement may stand true for those old days but in the light of modem advances of today, it has to suffer certain limitations. However, perfection in knowledge pertaining to human body is a sine quanon for the medical practitioners belonging to the disciplines of surgery and medicine, both. The medical course which deals with the structural or componental aspects of the body is recognised a Racana-Sarira and the other functional aspects of the body is designated as Kriya-Sarira, concerned with the Dosa-Dhatu and Malas of the body.
Although, Ayurveda generally treats Racana-Sarira (Anatomy) and Kriya-Sarira (Physiology) under the heading of Sarira, their relationship is very intimate, they being the two limbs of Biology. But it is for the convenience of description as well as the demand of the time and the rulling of C.C.I.M. for all the national undergraduate and post-graduate Ayurvedic medical colleges, the study of body-constituting components are dealt separately from that of their functions. It is impossible to comprehend even a bit of this very complex science of healing without these very basic knowledges. Due to this fact, the subject of Anatomy formed part of a basic course of study in Medicine and Surgery, in ancient India. The significance of subject was well recognised by Ayurveda itself is very evident from the statements “that detailed knowledge of human body is conducive to the well-being of the individual. An understanding of the constituting body-components, initiates the very desire of help which are responsible for its welfare. Because of this fact, the experts extol the detailed knowledge of the body. Emphasising upon the significance of the body-knowledge, Caraka has further stated that the physician who is always conversant with the various aspects of the entire body, is verily proficient in the Ayurveda and can bring about the happiness to the universe. In view of surgical stand point, Susruta has also stated that the surgeon who desires to obtain thorough knowledge of the body, must dissect a dead-body properly and see its each and every organs and structures with certainty.
In classical texts, the description on Racana Sarira, though are limited, in comparison to modern, but in nutshell the matter stands substantial, elucidatory and thought-provoking in practice. A detailed interpretation could perhaps not been undertaken due to lack of printing and other required facilities. To achieve a detailed knowledge, necessary for all practical purposes, the only source was the dissection of the dead-bodies and the traditional method of teaching. It is apparent that formerly Ayurveda must have had a rich anatomical knowledge of its own. In the ancient medical works of Susruta and Vagbhata, both major and minor surgical operations such as Laprotomy, amputation of limbs, Embryotomy, intestinal operations, Lithotomy and various types of plastic operations have been described with surprising accuracy. This knowledge of Anatomy when we allow for its early age, certainly meets the highest standards of precession and consquently, one can only view this as a part of fully developed tradition.
During hard times of foreigner’s invasion and ravages, the original works lost and in course of time, dissection on dead-bodies fell into disfavour. This understandably resulted into a total loss of practical and applied knowledge of Anatomy, as well as its tradition. No doubt this was the haviest blow to the past glory of Ayurvedic Anatomy. The separate anatomical sections under the heading of Sarira-Sthana, together with numerous anatomical terms and references accidentally occuring in various portions of the available Ayurvedic texts now constitute the scattered relics what once was an elaborate system of Anatomy (Racana- Sarira).
The best way of bringing Ayurvedic Anatomy to date is to re-edit and re-write the concerned portion of Sarira in the light of modem Anatomy. The descriptive modem Anatomy may well be treated as suppliment or a commentary on the brief or summerised texts of concerned existing Ayurvedic materials.
The difficulty in teaching Ayurveda is insurmountable. Having been taught so long without any reference to Anatomy, physiology and pathology of human body, thousands of years old technical terms have not only lost their original meaning but have also received fantastic interpretations. Besides these, the anatomical portions of the extant Ayurvedic texts are found to be meagre, distorted and utterly insufficient to meet the surgical purposes. Therefore, it is suggested by many that the modem Anatomy must be substituted in toto for the Ayurvedic Anatomy in the curriculum of the Ayurvedic students. This is, prima-facie, a worthy suggestion, no doubt. But it does not take into consideration some basic contributions of the Ayurvedic Anatomy. Hence, it should be always kept in mind that while the study of modern Anatomy is absolutely necessary for Ayurvedic students, it is of utmost importance that it should be done with a view to making good the loss sustained by the Ayurvedic Anatomy.
In order to impart a comprehensive knowledge to both the teachers and taughts at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, it is essential first to collect and collate all the Ayurvedic (Racana-Sarira) materials and finally to elaborate them systematically in the light of latest medical advance. This will make convenient to interpret the concerned Ayurvedic terminologies in proper perspective. Moreover, it will also fascilitate the identifications of those terms which, in return, will yeild a clear concept of anatomical statements found in Ayurveda. Thus, it will pave a way to have a standard text-books on Racana-Sarira and other different subjects, dealing with the necessary fundamentals of both the Ayurvedic and modern system of medicine. Failure in upgrading the standard of Ayurvedic education and maintaining an uniform standard at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, all over India, are due to want of such books.
Attempts to write such a book on Racana-Sarira were earlier made by Late. M.M. Kaviraja Gananatha Sena, Late Vaidyaratna P.S. Varier and Prof. Damodara Sarma Gauda, under the titles of Pratyaksa Sariram, Brhat Sariram and Abhinava Sariram, respectively. The former one, though complete in three parts, but lacks in covering the full course of Racana-Sarira dealing with the fundamentals i.e. Atman, Manas, Indriyas, Dhatus, Garbha-vyskarana and Prakrtis (constitutional aspects) of the individuals. The latter one, though of high order in every respect, is incomplete and the available first part comprises only the Srsti-skandha (Embryological portions). The third one, though complete in all fundamental respects of Racana-Sarira, but remained limited only upto Pesi-vyskerstu: (Myology). More over, the subject matter has been dealt in classical Sanskrit language, hence hardly understandable, particularly to Inter-science medical students. Therefore, in order to meet the necessity of present trend of teaching methodology, it was an urge to have a book of this nature, which is not a meer collection of ancient references with translations from modern works on Anatomy but it is well planned venture to bring hamogeneity in both the ancient and modern medical descriptions. Efforts have been made to ensure that the imported teaching mingle freely well with the ancient teachings, so as to make a harmonious, united and integrated whole. It is hoped that the new incorporations will appear more as amplifications and elaborations on the older teachings than a new alien importation.
The present volume through its fourteen chapters covers the portions of Suksmaviksaniya (Microscopic or Histological), Asthi-vyakarana (Osteology), Sandhi- vyakarana (Syndesmology) and Pesi-vyakarana (Myology) in their respective 41h, 91h, 10th and 11thchapters. The first three chapters, i.e. Upakrama (Introductory) Abhinirvrtti (Dhatubheda) and Adrsya-Sarira (Invisible body-components) like Atman, Manas and Indriyas etc., representing some unique features of Ayurvedic Sarira, have been also specified separately. The main items included in these chapters highlight on divisions and sub-divisions of Ayurvedic Sarira parallel to modern anatomical branches, elaboration of concept of Rasipurusa from different angles and some other related philosophical considerations. The concept of Garbha vysksrsna and Deha-prakrti (Embryology and Psychosomatic constitutions) Angavibhaga and Sankhya Sarira i.e. a magnified view of major and minor divisions of the body and body- parts, the enumeration of different body structures and the Angaviniscaya or Mrtasodhana (ancient method of dissection) and its importance, have been also dealt in 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th chapters, respectively. The 12th chapter on Rakta Parivahana Paddhati (blood vascular system) has been extensively elaborated elucidating the various cardiac parts and Rakta Vahini Paddhati, including both the arterial and venous cardiac parts and Rakta Vahini Paddhati, including both the arterial and venous circulations, through out the body, have been too dealt in both the ancient and modern perspectives. The selection of veins for venesection, its indication and contra-indication, with a view to its therapeutiec significances, have been also incorporated to make the subject matter comprehensive. The last two chapters on Srotas-vysksrunu and Marma- Vyakarana Sarira encompasses their utmost available literatures in their full length of ancient and modern views, pointing out the suitable body organs and structures, involved over there. Marmas practiced in the countries, out side India, have been also incorporated and enlightened, in comparison to that of Indian approaches. A large number of illustrations, labelled conjointly, with both the Ayurvedic and modern terms, have been also added to make the text easily intelligible. Efforts have been made to keep the language of the book simple and expressive.
Author is greatly indebted to the seers and sages who with the showers of compassion towards humanity propounded the monumental treatise of Ayurveda and got propogated the same through their earnest pupils for the mankind. I am also thankful to other contemporary writers of Racana-Sarira texts whose works helped me in giving the shape and presenting the text appropriately. I am extremely thankful to Prof. Gajendra Singh, Head of the Deptt. of Anatomy, Ex-Dean, faculty of medicine, Ex-Director, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and Vice-chancellor, (designate), Bilaspur University, Chhattisagarha, who was kind enough to write the foreword on this volume.