We have written before about the role of Dhanvantari in the Ayurvedic medical tradition transmitted in the Suśrutasaṃhitā (; )
Through the kind offices of Punjab University Library (PUL) and Mr Tancredi Padova (Universität Zürich), who was visiting Lahore, I have been able to examine some extracts of Suśrutasaṃhitā manuscripts held in the Woolner Collection at the PUL. These are:
While beginning to examine the images we have received, I noticed the following marginal addition in MS Lahore PUL Woolner 818:
This is the first folio of the śārīrasthāna (cf. edition). The text begins as normal, up to “vyākhyāsyāmaḥ.” The text continues, “atha khalu sarvabhūtānāṃ kāraṇaṃ…” This is the same as the Nepalese version of the text. However, a different scribe has inserted the marginal gloss “athovāca bhagavān dhanvaṃtariḥ suśrutāya“, which is the reading of the vulgate text of the Suśrutasaṃhitā.
MS Woolner 818 was copied in 1825 CE. Here we see the tension that existed still at the start of the nineteenth century between versions of the Suśrutasaṃhitā and the scribal response to this tension. In this manuscript, the scribal emendation is obvious. But if this manuscript had been copied, no doubt the marginal gloss would have been inserted seamlessly into the new copy, cementing the vulgate reading of the work.
Birch, Jason, Dominik Wujastyk, Andrey Klebanov, Madhu Parameswaran, Madhusudan Rimal, Deepro Chakraborty, Harshal Bhatt, Devyani Shenoy, and Vandana Lele. 2021. “Further Insight into the Role of Dhanvantari, the Physician to the Gods, in the Suśrutasaṃhitā.” Academia Letters, August. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL2992.
Meulenbeld, Gerrit Jan. 1999. A History of Indian Medical Literature. 5 vols. Groningen: E. Forsten.