Ancient India Medicine and Surgery: Ayurveda, the science of medicine owes its origins in ancient India. Ayurveda consists of two Sanskrit words ‘Ayur’ and ‘Veda.’ While ‘Ayur’ means age or life, ‘Veda’ means knowledge. Thus, the literal meaning of Ayurveda is the science of life or longevity.

Science in Ancient India Medicine and Surgery

Ayurveda constitutes ideas about ailments and diseases, their symptoms, diagnosis, and cure. It relies heavily on herbal medicines. These include extracts of several plants of medicinal values. This Relnce on herbs differentiated Ayurveda from Allopathy and Homeopathy. Ayurveda has also always disassociated itself with witch doctors and voodoo.

Science in Ancient India Medicine and Surgery
Ayurvedic Medicine

Ancient scholars of India like Atreya and Agnivesa have dealt with principles of Ayurveda. This was way long back as 800 BC. Their works and other developments were consolidated by Charaka. Charaka compiled a compendium of Ayurvedic principles and practices in his treatise Charaka-Samahita. This book remained a standard textbook almost for 2000 years. Subsequently, it came to be translated into many languages, including Arabic and Latin.


‘Charaka-Samhita’ deals with a variety of matters. These include physiology, etiology, and embryology, concepts of digestion, metabolism, and immunity. Preliminary concepts of genetics also find a mention. Like for example, Charaka has theorized that blindness from birth is not due to any defect in the mother or the father. Instead, it owes its origin in the ovum and the sperm.

Science in Ancient India Medicine and Surgery
Ashtanga Hridya Samhita

In ancient India, several advances were also made in the field of medical surgery. Specifically, these advances included plastic surgery, extraction of cataracts, and even dental surgery. Roots to the ancient Indian surgery go back to at least circa 800 BC. There is even documentary evidence to prove the existence of these practices.

Ancient India Medicine

The practice of surgery has been recorded in India around 800 B.C. This need not come as a surprise because surgery (Shastrakarma) is one of the eight branches of Ayurveda the ancient Indian system of medicine. The oldest treatise dealing with surgery is the Shushruta Samahita (Sushruta’s compendium).


Sushruta was a medical theoretician and practitioner. He lived 2000 years before, in the ancient Indian city of Kasi, now called Varanasi. Shusruta was one of the many Indian medical practitioners like Atreya and Charaka.


Science in Ancient India Medicine and Surgery
Sushruta Samhita


He was one of the first to study the human anatomy. He wrote a medical compendium called ‘Shushruta-Samahita. In this compendium, Shusruta has described in detail the study of anatomy with the aid of a dead body.

Ancient India Surgery

Shusruta’s forte was rhinoplasty (Plastic surgery) and ophthalmology (ejection of cataracts). This ancient medical compendium describes at least seven branches of surgery. These include Chedya (excision), Lekhya (scarification), Vedhya (puncturing), Esya (exploration), Ahrya (extraction), Vsraya (evacuation) and Sivya (Suturing).

The compendium also deals with matters like rhinoplasty (plastic surgery) and ophthalmology (ejection of cataracts). The compendium also focuses on the study the human anatomy by using a dead body.


Yoga is a system of exercise for physical and mental nourishment. The origins of yoga are shrouded in antiquity and mystery. Since Vedic times, thousands of years before, the principles and practice of yoga have crystallized. But, it was only around 200 BC that all the fundamentals of yoga were collected by Patanjali in his treatise, named Yogasutra, that is, Yoga-Aphorisms

Science in Ancient India Medicine and Surgery

Patanjali, very briefly, surmised that through the practice of yoga, the energy latent within the human body may be made life and released. This energy has a salubrious effect on the body and the mind. In modern times, however, clinical practices have established yoga as a remedy for several ailments, including hypertension, clinical depression, amnesia, acidity. The application of yoga in physiotherapy is also gaining recognition.