Sharira Sthana (section on study of human body) deals with various aspects of human being. The human body as perceived by Charaka is different from modern concept of Anatomy. Review of description of this section clearly explains that the human body includes physical body, mind and consciousness. Subject contents of this section are divided into eight chapters dealing with a range of concepts revolving around a human being- basic composition of self, acquiring physical existence in womb, embryonic and fetal development, descent of psychological components during intra-uterine life, nutritional physiology, anatomical classification of body parts including anthropometry, care of pregnant woman, safe birth and general care of children. This section offers a bird-eye view of very highly evolved philosophical concepts to practical aspect of human body system. The first chapter, Katidhapurusha Sharira, holds several unique concepts, not mentioned in modern medical literature. Our body is a medium to prove our existence in this universe. It is not simply having its structural manifestation but several other components make it complete. Knowledge of evolution of our body from imperceptible entities to association of mind, sense organs, sense objects and consciousness; falls under the preview of this chapter. There is mention of very unique range of features which characterize things as living or non-living. Proper scaling/ranking of every feature may offer the exact nature of physical, physiological and psychological status of life. Reasons for any discomfort in life/for life along with method to get solution to keep the body and mind in healthy state, are described with proper explanation. Atma (consciousness) is the master key to ignite our body system including mind and make it able to connect with environment (internal as well as external) through senses. The whole network system performs its action in dual and opposite ways- happiness and misery. Happiness is life -a healthy life while misery is the root cause of all diseases. Yoga is the ultimate solution to maintain happiness of body and mind.
Micro composition of basic units of reproduction Shukra and Shonita and their role in formation of healthy (physically as well as mentally) child is the basic theme of the second chapter named Atulyagotriya Sharira. However, the third chapter, Khuddika Garbhavakranti Sharira, appears to be the extended part of second chapter, by description. Best part of this chapter is related to the knowledge of factors causing congenital deformities. Taking due consideration of them in our diet and lifestyle reduce their incidences. The same is found applicable for prevention of genetic disorders. Development of various body parts is linked with genetic material of both the parents. Difference between sleep and unconsciousness state is mentioned with explanation. The fourth chapter, Mahatigarbhavakranti Sharira, is dedicated with the description of month wise fetal development. One of the interesting facts about the manifestation of intellect during 6th month of intra-uterine life, may be of great importance to understand development of brain and cognitive functions in fetal stage. Morbidity of fetus can be prevented by avoiding described damaging factors. Three types of psyche and sixteen types of psychological personalities/ constitutions have been described with their characters. It is really very important chapter to understand the Ayurvedic view of psychological development and related classification. Concept of genes and chromosome in Ayurveda can be traced in this chapter.
“Whatever is in universe that is represented in a person” is the essence of fifth chapter, Purusha Vichaya Sharira. Psychologist could get useful tips for better care of mental/psychological health to help people is getting appropriate learning, accomplishment, true thinking, intellect, higher cognitive functions and true knowledge.
The sixth chapter, Sharira Vichaya Sharira (analytical study of the body) deals with detailed knowledge of the human body. An appropriate knowledge of human body is essential for its proper care and maintenance of health.
Definition of body and main factor to maintain good health is ‘state of equilibrium’. To keep this state various do’s and don’ts are enlisted. The lifestyle, diet and conduct which keeps us healthy have been described in detail. Physical properties of body parts and organs give a clear description about the nature of body constituents and their linkage with various food substances. This information may be used to maintain the equilibrium of body and mind even at micro level. There is description of a symposium to have a discussion for deciding the fact that during intra-uterine life, which organ appears first and when? At this point the duration of life span of a healthy person has been considered hundred years.
Anthropometry is the core subject of seventh chapter, Samkhya Sharira. This chapter counts the number of body organs/parts and their measurements. The description gives an idea about the status of development of body of a particular person.
Finally, the eighth chapter, Jatisutriya Sharira, offers an over view of process to get better/desired progeny. At some places minute details have been mentioned for proper growth & development of fetus. The pregnant woman has been advised to follow monthly regimen to ensure optimal growth & development of fetus, complication free pregnancy, properly prepared delivery room, and safe and swift delivery. Various other concepts like, process of delivery and supporting measures, protection methods, postpartum care are also mentioned. Care of the new born including feeding procedure is described in detail.
Physical examination of a neonate on 10th day offers information about the span of his life. Validated features may offer an important clue to physicians/pediatricians for prediction of span of life. This knowledge may be used for Pediatric wellness clinics. This chapter has good description of toys, playground and qualities of wet-nurse. If this information get explored well, it may be very much useful to adopt good child rearing practices. In case of illness, protocol for clinical assessment and treatment principles for managing pediatric cases has been explained elaborately.
In closing, the study of Sharira Sthana is of immense importance for understanding all the dimensions of human body right from conception till birth. Concepts like real meaning of human body, anthropometry, better progeny, congenital deformities, genetic concepts, psychological development, monthly regimen for pregnant woman, assessment of span of life. These concepts help us attain a healthy and happy future life as an adult.