Let us learn about different types of instruments that are used in Ayurveda. This is the 25th chapter of Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana, written by Acharya Vagbhata, son of Vaidyapathi Simhagupta. The chapter name Yantra Vidhi Adhyaya. Yantra means instrument.
Definition of Yantra – Yantra Nirvachana –
Equipment which are useful to
extract the different types of foreign bodies causing pain in different parts of the body,
to look into hemorrhoids, rectal fistula etc.
to apply sharp instruments, Alkalies (Kshara) and fire (Agni Karma);
to protect the remaining parts other than the diseased in therapies like enema etc,
and the pot (Ghatika), ground horn (Alabu) of animal, Jambavaustha- cylindrical smooth stone etc. are all known as yantra (medical instruments). 1-2 ½
Yantras (instruments) are of many shapes, functions, types, hence they are to be fabricated and to be prepared with intelligence. 3
Yantras are described in brief, as follows;
Those which have their mouth resembling the mouth of
Kanka (heron), Simha (lion), Ruksha (bear), Kaka (crow) and other animals and birds should be prepared under the respective names of animals and birds;
Swastika Yantra – Cruciform instruments –
Swsatika Yantras should be generally 18 Angula- fingers breadth –in length,
They are made chiefly from iron;
They are shaped like a Masura dala (cotyledon of a lentil) at its edges, held by a rivet bolt at their neck, slightly bent like an Ankusha (goad of the elephant) at its handle are known as Swastika yantra- Cruci from instruments.
These are useful to pull out foreign bodies stuck hard in the bones. 4-6
Samdamsha yantra – forceps are of two types –
one with a catch at its tip and the other without a catch.
The one with a catch is 16 Angula length, used for extracting foreign bodies stuck up in the skin, veins, tendons and muscles.;
The one without a catch is 6 Angula in length and useful for extracting small foreign bodies and eye lashes. 7-8
Muchundi Yantra – forceps with teeth has small teeth, straight, with tooth catch , hook at its root; useful for pulling out the fleshy parts from deep wounds and remnants of flesh from the Arma (pterygium), which has been cut. 9
Talayantra– instruments with flat arms are of two types- 12 Angula length, resembling the palate (fin) of the fish in shape,
– with one flat disc at its mouth;
– with two flat disc;
Both are useful for removing foreign bodies from the orifice of the ear. 10
Nadiyantra – Tubular instruments (probe) are hollow, with one or more opening, useful for looking into body parts, recognizing foreign bodies and diseases localized in the channels of the tissues, for facilitating treatments and for sucking out. Their width, perimeter vary as per size, shape etc. of the channels. 11-12
Nadi Yantra for seeing inside throat shall be 10 Angula in length and ½ Angula in thickness diameter.
Nadi Yantra comes with many openings (4 – 5) with different size, length, thickness etc.
Many other tubular instruments may be prepared to observe the foreign bodies, depending on the shape, thickness and length of the part to be observed.14
The tubular instrument having the shape of Padma Karnika – the round, flat central part of the lotus studded with small holes- at its top, twelve Angula – finger breath in length , with a hollow area of one fourth – it length is useful for catching and removing the foreign body.15
The Arsho Yantra– the instrument to view the hemorrhoid inside the rectum. It has cylindrical shape.
Its circumference is 5 Angula in men and 6 Angula for women;
with two orifices- one at each end, useful for seeing the pile masses and
with one slit shall be at its centre three Angula in length and of the size of the middle portion of the thumb in widths, about half Angula above the slit three shall be a karnuka – edge, (rim) 16-18
The instrument known as Samiyantra is similar- to the above but without the offices and useful for squeezing the pile masses. 19
The Nadiyantra to see the malignant tumor and piles, polyp of the nose shall be with one orifice, two Angula in length , of the size of the index finger in thickness and resembling the instrument meant for rectal fistula. 20
Anguli Tranaka- finger protector – is made from ivory / wood, 4 Angula in length, with 2 orifices- one at each end; shaped like the nipple of the cow and suitable to extend the finger (when in use). 21
The instrument to look into the vagina and wounds shall be hollow in the middle, 16 Angula in length, with four flaps held tight by a ring, resembling the bud of a lotus in shape, fixed with four rods at its root – handling place and its mouth- opening like of the bud,. 22
Two instrument- one for oiling the sinus ulcer and the other for washing it shall be 6 Angula in length, having the shape of a Bastiyantra (enema nozzle) with an orifice at its root allowing the entry of the thumb and the orifice at its tip allowing round pea; without any edge, Rim at its tip and fixed with soft leather bag at its root. 23-24 ½
Nadiyantra for use in Udakodara- ascites shall have two orifices- one at each end or it can be even the tube of a peacocks feather. 25
The Shringa- animal horn useful to suck shall have the orifice of three Angula at its root and that of mustard seed at the tip, eighteen Angula in length. The tip resembles the shape of nipple. 26
Alabu- the hollowed gourd will be twelve Angula in length and eighteen Angula in diameter with a round orifice of four Angula – in which, with a burning wick placed in its interior, useful for extracting Kapha and Raktha- blood. 27
Note – The procedure explained in Alabu yantra is called as cupping. Whenever vitiated blood or pus is to be extracted from a wound / ulcer, Alabu yantra is placed over the affected area and heated from outside. It expands, causing vacuum inside. This causes sucking action and the pus / vitiated blood gets sucked out.
Ghati- pot is similar and useful for making the tumors of the abdomen soft and raise it above from its low level. 27 ½
Shalaka yantra – set of instruments with rod like shape
Rod like instruments are of many functions and shapes and size suitable to be purpose for which they are used. 28
Of them, two are for probing, both having their mouth resembling that of an earth worm;
two for removing foreign bodies from the channels having their mouths resembling a lentil, one of eight and the other of nine Angula in length. 29
Shanku Yantra – hooks are six, among them two, (16 and 12 Angula in length), their mouth shaped like the hood of a serpent, are meant for joining (the edges of wounds etc);
Two more- one of twelve and the other of ten Angula in length, having the mouth resembling a Sharapunkha (bottom of arrow) meant for loosening the hard objects that are to be extracted. The size resembles a fish hook. 30-31
The hook known as Garbhashanku, is bent in its tip resembling a conch, 18 Angula in length and meant for pulling the impacted foetus in women. 32
Instrument for extracting the stone from the urinary bladder, shall be shaped like the hood of a snake and bent inwards at its tip.
Instrument for extracting the tooth should have the shape of Sharapunkha (base of arrow) and is of four Angula – in length. 33
The rod- like instruments meant for clearing sinuses etc. shall have their tip covered with a cap of cotton wool.
Two others Nadi yantra (rod like instruments)- one of 10 and other of12 Angula- in length meant for drawing the rectum near – by closing the things and extending it farther. 34
Two other instruments, of six and seven Angula respectively for use in the nose; two of eight and nine Angula for use in the ears.
That meant for clearing the ear, with its edge like the leaf of the Ashwattha tree and face resembling a ladle. 35
Jambauvoshta- Cylindrical smooth stones- each three in number, thick, thin and long in shape be used for the application of caustic Alkalies and branding by fire – therapies.
That meant for use in international Hernia- in the scrotum shall have a round rod, bigger at its middle and upper portion and its root shaped like the half moon- 36.
Instrument meant for cauterizing the polypii and tumors of the nose shall have its mouth similar to the cotyledon of the stone of Kola- Jujube fruit. 36
The tree for applying caustic Alkali therapy shall be eight Angula- in length, their mouths –tips resembling the nails of the index, middle and ring finger- in size respectively. 38
Anu yantra- Accessory instruments:-
Accessory instruments are – the magnet, rope/ thread , cloth, stone, hammer, leather strap, intensive- of animals, tongue, hair, branches of trees, nails mouth, teeth, time, digestion hands, feet, fear and pleasure.
They are used judiciously based on the assessment of disease and the patient. 39-40
Different functions of Yantra –
Nirghatana- pulling out after crushing,
unmathana- pulling out after twisting,
Marga shuddhi- clearing the passage,
Vyuhana- bringing together,
Aharana – extracting,
Achushana – sucking,
Unnamana- lifting up,
Namana- pushing down, bending down
Rujukarana- straightening etc. are the functions of the Yantras- blunt instruments. 41
विवर्तते साध्ववगाहते च ग्राह्यं गृहीत्वोद्धरते च यस्मात् ।
यग्त्रेष्वतः कङ्कमुखं प्रधानं स्थानेषु सर्वष्वधिकारि यच्च ॥४२ १/२॥
Among the blunt instruments Kankamukha Yantra, is the best as it can be twisted easily, dipped deep, can be held firmly, catches the objects firmly and is the authority in all places. It is indispensable. 42
Thus ends the chapter Yantravidhi- the 25th in Sutrasthana of Asthangahrdaya Samhita.