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Surgery in Ancient India

The Ṛgveda, the earliest account of ancient Indian civilization, makes mention of the Ashwini Kumaras, known as dev vaidya (doctors of the gods). They were the chief surgeons of the Vedic period who had performed rare legendary surgical operations. Without entering into the complicated references of ancient texts on this, the latest simpler version is provided by Ahuja and Mishra (2014) in a brief overview mentioning the legendary surgeons and ancient Indian Ayurvedic surgical practices.

The Ṛgvedasays that the Ashwini Kumaras performed the first plastic surgery to rejoin the head and trunk of saint Chyavana when Dakshya cut his head. Their other classic works include: an eye operation of Reejashva, the implantation of the teeth of Phushna in his toothless mouth, the transplant of the head of a baby elephant on Ganesha whose head was cut by Lord Shiva in a rage of disobedience, rejoining the head of Lord Brahma and saint Dadhichi severed by demon Bhairava, and transplant of the head...


  • Surgical Skill
  • Cranial Vault
  • Evil Spirit
  • Human Skull
  • Cranial Trauma

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Correspondence to Anek R. Sankhyan .

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Sankhyan, A.R. (2015). Surgery in Ancient India. In: Selin, H. (eds) Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer, Dordrecht.

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