eternal religion




      Philosopher Chanakya in his book 'Chanakya Neeti' writes "Giving advice to a fool makes the wise man sad". Many wise people might be repenting in heaven watching our condition. We are standing over the gold mine still we are poor, we sell cereals to buy noodles, we keep our land barren and die of hunger. This is our present condition. In this article, I am going to write about the idea of dietetics as written in the ancient Hindu book 'Sushruta Samhita'. Originally written by 'Susruta' the first copy of this book is believed to be written in 1st millennium BCE. Originally this book consisted of 5 parts and 120 chapters. It is believed that later a part was added. Sushruta Samhita is one of the major books for modern Ayurveda. Buddhist Jatakas mentions Susruta as a physician who taught in the gurukul of Kashi. The book consists of 6 parts namely:
   - The section on the description of surgery, surgical instruments, a method of preparation of alkalis and other associative needed for curing diseases.
2.Nidana-sthana (Section on Pathology)
     - Describes disease associated with the nervous system, haemorrhoids, urinary calculi, fistula, mammary gland diseases, a disease associated with mouth and around this region etc.
3.Sarira-sthana (Section on anatomy)
     - Describes the theory of being in general, reproductive health, pregnancy, womb development, human anatomy, marmas(points), vascular system, nursing and management of pregnant women and child etc.
4.Chikitsa-sthana (Section on therapeutics)
      - Describes procedures and ways of treating conditions and diseases like ulcers, wounds, fractures, fistula, vata dosas, a procedure for treatment of urinary tract diseases, treatment of diabetes, tumours etc. and contains description about different therapeutic drugs and procedures of different therapies …
5.Kalpa-sthana (Section on toxicology) - Contains descriptions about plant and animal poisons; snake poison and way of treating it; rat poisoning; treatment of venom using sounds of medicated drums etc.
6.Uttar-tantra- Describes classification, symptoms and treatment of eye, nose and head diseases; treatment for insanity, worm problems etc.

Entering the main topic; Susruta Samhita emphasizes preventing the disease rather that curing it. So, it gives importance to food and nutrition. It didn’t have the idea of 6 basic components of food. Although the approach was different; the destination was the same that is wellbeing of people. In Part 1 chapter 19-20, part 3 chapter 10, part 6 chapter 39-53, part 6 chapter 64 the book gives special attention for a proper diet that would eventually lead to improved health.
As per the text, 'Susruta Samhita' food is medicine. As per Ayurveda " Every plant has some medicinal properties". Under the above-mentioned topic, Susruta Samhita describes some useful, not recommended and harmful combination
of food that may be either useful for one’s health or be harmful to patient's recovery.
Some of which are:
1. The book states pigeon fried in mustard oil should never be taken.
2. The meat of peacock, kapinjala (Jacobin Cuckoo) and titra should not be cooked in Castor oil.
3. Honey should never be heated and not to be eaten in the season of spring and autumn.
4. Heron cooked with hog's lard should not be eaten with coconut's pulp.
5.Suraa(liquor), Krishara (Ginger and turmeric) and Payasa (Milk pudding) should never be eaten together. Moreover, the book discusses that intake of a mixture of two types of oils in equal proportion might be objectionable to health.

Susruta Samhita teaches about the complete all-round care for pregnant woman for all-round development of her and child's health and personality. It is suggested to be calm during those 9 months and after delivery. It is suggested to eat easily digestible food and not to eat food with a strong flavour and not to eat stale foods. It is suggested to take care of clothing and to wear proper garments. The book suggests not to walk a long distance or not to perform heavy work that might affect the baby and eventually mother's health too.
And special attention should be given in cleanliness too. For the first three months, the person is recommended to have cool food with abundant fluid. It is suggested to have the dish made of 'Shashtika rice’ with milk mainly in the third month, with curd in the fourth month, milk in fifth and ghee in the sixth month. It is suggested to have the soup of flesh of a wild animal (example: deer) in the fourth month. Ghee prepared with 'Prithakparnyadi' group is suggested to be taken in the 7th month. It is said that this aids in fetal development.

After delivery considering the milk that 'comes in' only after 3-4 days after parturition, the child should be fed with the handful of (child’s own hand) ghee and honey pulverized with 'Ananta roots' sanctified with mantras on the first day. Meanwhile next day two days he/she should be fed with ghee prepared with 'Lakshana'roots. This feeding should be done thrice a day that is morning, noon and evening. And finally, on the fourth-day child should be fed with butter and honey in the morning and noon and from that evening mother should start breast feeding.

The mother should be given to drink a luke-warm solution of treacle mixed with powders of Pippali, Pippali roots, Hasti-pippali, Chitraka and Sringavera, and the medicine should be continued for two or three days or longer. When the discharge gets normal, the mother should be made to take for three days a gruel prepared with the decoction of the drugs constituting the Viddri-GandhddiGana and mixed with (a good quantity of; clarified butter or a gruel prepared in milk. After that a meal of boiled Sali-rice and a broth made from the meats of wild animals boiled with barley, and pulse, should be prescribed for her, taking into consideration the strength and the condition of her appetite (digesting power). This diet should be continued for 1 and half months. After this period, she may take normal foods.

"A strong but newly delivered woman, born and bred up in a forest area should be given to drink, for three or five nights, either oil or clarified butter in an adequate quantity with an after-potion consisting of the decoction of drugs constituting the group known as the PippalyddiGana. She should be daily anointed with oil, etc. If, however, of delicate health, she should be made to take, for three or five nights in succession, a medicated gruel should be given. Thenceforth a diet of relieving properties should be prescribed for her and her body should be regularly washed with a copious quantity of tepid water. A mother, after parturition, should not perform sexual intercourse, physical labour and indulgence in irascible emotions" says English translation of Susruta Samhita.

Susruta Samhita regarding the inadequate production of milk by a lactating woman states the loss or suppression of the milk in the breasts of a woman is usually due to fear, anxiety and the absence of natural affection for her child, etc. For the purpose of establishing a flow in her breast, her equanimity should be first restored, and diets consisting of Sali-rice, barley, wheat, Shashtika rice, meat-soup, wine, sesamum-paste, garlic, fish, Kaseruka, Sringdtaka, lotus- stalk, etc... should be prescribed.

The growth, memory, strength and intellect of a child are improved by the use of the four following medicinal compounds, viz., (i) well-powdered gold, Kushtha, honey, clarified butter and Vacha ; (2)Matsyakshaka* (Brahmi), Sankha-puspi, powdered gold, clarified butter and honey ; (3) Arkapuspi, honey, clarified butter powdered gold and Vacha ; and (4) powdered gold, Kaitaryyah (Maha-Nimba), white Dubo, ghee and honey.


The main emphasis to change the diet is given for the diseases like fever, jaundice, diarrhoea, vomiting heart disease, asthma etc.
For fever, it is suggested barley gruel should be given to a patient constantly feeling thirsty and with impaired digestion. Mashed rice mixed with honey and water should be given in good quantity to a patient suffering from the after-effect of liquor, and affected with vomiting, thirst, burning or perspiration and after its proper digestion meals of rice-soup and meat, soup should be used. A diet consisting of boiled rice mixed with meat-soup should be given to a patient suffering from an attack of fever marked, as well as in a mild type of fever due to fasting or high labour work.
For Jaundice it is suggested the intake of ayurvedic recommendation prepared with sugar or with cow's urine or with alkali with little meat from any wild animal with clarified butter and mixed in the juice of Amalashould be prescribed and meals of cooked barley grains or of Sali rice.
Similarly, for other different diseases, different diets are recommended. The recommendation is different for the difference in the cause of the disease i.e. due to problems of Vata, Kapha and Pitta.


Susruta Samhita describes separately about type and quantity of food that should be taken in 6 different seasons.

The ‘Kapha’ (one of the three dosas) aggravates in spring by the due to increment the heat of the sun and hence gives rise to many diseases. Acid, sweet and saline articles of food and drink as well as those that are heavy to digest is suggested to be avoided. Shashtika-rice, barley, cooling foods (example: watermelon) Nivara rice, and Kodrava-rice, should be prescribed in the spring with the soup of the meat of the animals, as well as with the soup of brinjal, bitter-gourd and other bitter vegetables.

For summer it is suggested to avoid pungent, acid and saline foods. Sweet food, cool food with ghee or milk is suggested for night time.

For rainy season the herbs and vegetables being newly grown in this are over juicy. So, this may lead to indigestion. So, safety from dampness is necessary and a person shouldn’t consume before the previous meal is digested says Susruta in his book.
For autumn there is a recommendation of consumption of purified wine for those who will or allowed to use.
 For Hemanta and winter, it is suggested that use of saline, alkaline, bitter, acid and pungentdiet(prepared) with the addition of clarified butter or oil are beneficial. Sweet, bitter, pungent, acid and saline food and drink, as well as Tila (sesamum-seeds), Mashur-pulse, pot-herbs, curd, different modifications of sugar-cane-juice, scented and newly husked Sati-rice are suggested.

Every living being in this world has the limitation of their intellect and senses. Can an animal understand human languages?? No!! This is the limitation of their intellect...However mindful and clever a human might think of himself human also has a limitation of intellect and senses. A human perceives about a phenomenon using his senses. So, the knowledge that human gains are a perception within their senses. ‘Susruta’ didn’t know about the modern terminologies of nutrition and dietetics. But his approach was not incorrect within the criteria of modern science too. Perception and approach were different, but the destination was the same that is “IMPROVEMENT OF HUMAN HEALTH.”

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