We have a reading (SS.sū.1. 9 … upaśamakaraṇārtham) where the final -m is an anusvāra in the earliest witnesses, K and H (in “Orthographic variants”, switch off “filter final anusvāra variants”). We want our edition to represent the earliest known transmission of the work. Scribal usage of daṇḍas is variable and not a determining editorial factor. And the next akṣara is a ka, so there’s really no grammatical reason to change -ṃ to -m, unless we assume the speaker is pausing between these sections of text (so there’s saṃhitā, P.6.1.72). On the other hand, this is clearly a series of separate statements about the contents of the eight divisions of medicine; today we might represent it as a bulleted list. So perhaps we can assume a pause, and -m is not wrong. In short, the grammatical case doesn’t help us make a decision.
Reading this morning about HyperStack, I noticed the section-heading “2.1 The real Patrick”. In our case, this would be “The Real Suśruta.” The idea of recovering an original authorial voice is a commonplace in textual criticism. Paraphrasing the HyperStack statement, “The Suśruta Project aims to give society as direct access as possible to the historical Suśruta.” We can’t do that, of course, since the Suśrutasaṃhitā has many authorial layers . What we can do, more modestly, is provide direct access to the early version of the Suśrutasaṃhitā preserved by the Nepalese manuscripts.
But the question remains, not just what the earliest manuscripts say, but what do we think their archetype read?