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Sushruta was an Indian Ayurvedic physician regarded as the “Father of Indian Medicine,” “Father of Surgery,” and “Father of Plastic Surgery.” The treatise ‘The Compendium of Susruta’ (Susruta Samhita) was written by Sushruta. The chapter narrates an incident from his life while also sharing veterinary history.
Shalihotra was a great animal physician who learned all about surgery from Sushruta and applied it to animal health. Shalihotra was called the ‘Father of Veterinary Sciences’. He once inquired of Sushruta as to what he would require to do surgery on a horse. Sushruta swiftly jotted down a list of all the instruments and medicines that would be essential. But Shalihotra was not satisfied, according to him three things were missing.
He gave Sushruta a week to find these things. Sushruta spent the next week intently observing his teacher, trying to determine those three things. Shalihotra examined every portion of the animal before operating it. Then Sushruta discovered the first piece that had gone missing. ‘A good veterinarian should have an eagle’s eye.’
The animal was then treated as if it were his own, with Shalihotra balancing science and compassion equally. Sushruta discovered the second rule too, ‘A good veterinarian should have a lion’s heart.’ After the procedure, Shalihotra assisted the horse’s recovery. ‘A good veterinarian should have a mother’s touch too.’
Indian veterinary medicine is noted for its specialist literature, which provides knowledge on traditional methods of preventing and treating animal ailments. It is based on the Ayurveda. A treatise attributed to Shalihotra called “Asvayurveda Siddhanta” (Complete Ayurvedic system for horses) is the oldest extant veterinary text from India around 2350 BCE. Nakula’s ‘Asva chikitsa’ (Therapeutics of Horses) is one of the most well-known pieces of animal literature.
The world’s first known veterinary hospitals were built by the great Emperor Ashoka. The cleanliness of the animals, the upkeep of the stalls and stables, the quality of the feed, and the dangers of overfeeding were all considered. It was usual practice to turn milk into butter, ghee, curd, khoa, and other products. In order to assure good mental and physical health, the animals were given general tonics and stimulants.
Despite the fact that India has always had a wealth of expertise in the field of veterinary sciences, many do not choose it as a vocation due to a lack of awareness. India, as an agrarian country, requires more veterinarians who empathise with animals and give their cent percent to their job.