Our Body: A Holistic Perspective

Words: Dr Shravanti S TONDCHIRKAR & Dr Amit K BAIRAGI

Our body’s structural framework is the outcome of an extremely intricate assembly of several parts. Due to such structural differences among components, they all work well together. They are all connected in such a way too that they can provide the bodily parts a clear shape and allow for easy mobility. Injury in them could cause a structural deformity and a partial, or total loss of function.

Ayurveda describes many important parts of body; snayu is one of them. The ancient Ayurveda pioneer Suśruta outlined snayu’s anatomical make-up and functional significance. He stated that it is quite similar to shan, kshaum, and other materials, like fibre and horse tail hair. There are approximately 900 snayus in the human body, which are all closely related to sandhi.

The word root [dhatu] sna is used to create the term, snayu. The term, snayu, is formed by pratyaya; pratanvati, prathul, vritta and sushira are different types of snayu that are based on their structural characteristics.

It is stated that snayu holds the anga-pratyanga sandhi together. Amarkosh claims that maha snayu is referred to as a kandara. Acharya Dalhana gave a detailed structural explanation of how snayu is shanakar. Acharya Sharngadhara mentioned snayu as a structure that holds mamsa, asthi, and medas together to support the body.

Snayu and sira are structures in the body made from food’s essential components. Since mamsa, asthi, and meda are more powerful than sira, snayu may bind to them powerfully, just as much as the joints. Snayu is created from the unctuous part of medas; sira comes from mrudu paaka and snayu from khara paaka.

Asthi, snayu, and sandhi make up the essence of meda, whereas sveda makes up its trash. As Mastulunga, Snayu Kashyapa Samhita suggests moola snayu is mastulunga’s moolasthana. Suśruta Samhita describes mastulunga as a kind of medas.

Sankhya

There are nine hundred snayus, according to Suśruta; of these, six hundred are shakhas, two hundred and thirty koshths, and seventy grivas and above. Six of these are present in each of the foot’s fingers, making a total of thirty; the same number is present in pada tala, pada kurca, and gulpha. The same number is also present in jangha; ten in janu, forty in uru, and ten in vankshana, making a total of one hundred and fifty in one leg.

Nine hundred snayus are characterised in this way: sixty are present in kati, eighty in prustha, sixty in the two parshvas, thirty in ura, thirty-six in griva, and thirty-four in murdha. Some are present in urdhavajatrugata bhaga; 230 are located in madhyasharir, and 600 are present in shakha.     

Distribution

Shakha and sarva sandhi have pratanvati [stretched out/broad]. Ayurveda scholars and specialists refer to vrutta as kandara. parshva, uras, prustha and shir as prathu. The terminal portions of the amashaya, pakvashaya and basti all include hollow, ring-like structures called sushira. Snayuarma refers to the rough, increasingly thick and extremely white muscles found on the sclera [in the eye].    

Functions Of Snayu

The human body will be able to support weight as long as the joints are secured tightly by snayu in numerous ways, much as a boat made of wooden planks set side-by-side becomes capable of bearing weight on water while being guided by man. Suśruta observed that snayu is like rope, in our body, while discussing snayu prayojan. Snayu holds the body together, so it can support weight, just as the rope holds the wooden boards together.

Snayu secures the joints firmly using a variety of techniques.

  • It is linked to the ligament; the ligament is, likewise, firmly fixed to the joints
  • It supports the joint, and transforms the joint into a weight-bearing component of the body. 

Snayu supports movement and flexibility.

Pratanvati is the Sanskrit word for tendril, sprout, low-growing, creeping plant, that is branching out. It is claimed that shakha and all of sandhi contain them. Therefore, snayus of the pratanavati have branching patterns and resemble creepers. They should be present in all joints of the body and the extremities. Ligaments, which are present in all joints, are structures that mimic pratanavati snayu.

Vrutta means round, or circular; these bodily structures resemble cords. Kandara is Suśruta’s reference point to Vrutta Snayu. Maha snayu, or mahanadi, is the name for kandara. It is a large structure that resembles a cord and is comparable to snayu. A large, circular, or cord-like structure should represent a kandara. Tendons and large nerve cords which are both cord-like and resemble tendons are human analogues of vrutta snayu.

The meaning of pruthula in snayu is broad, huge, or great. Therefore, they should be large, flat, and resemble pruthula snayu structures in our body.

Sushira snayu is located in the outlying areas like amashaya, pakvashaya, basti, etc. In other words, these structures resemble porous material; they are present in the apertures of hollow organs as well as for holding hollow organs [viscera]. Sphincters and visceral ligaments are structures that resemble sushira snayu.

Snayu Marma

Aani, vitap, kakshadhar, kurcha, kurchashir, basti, kshipra, amsa, vidhur and utkshepa. 

Snayu Vikara

Charaka articulated that snayu may get affected by stambha, samkocha, khalli, granthi, sphurana and supti. Aggravated vata in snayu produces bahyayama, antarayama, khalli and kubjata. Aggravated vata also leads to many disturbances in snayu, including stambha, kampa, shula and akshepana.   

Treatment Of Snayu Vikara

  • Sneha
  • Upanaha
  • Agnikarma
  • Bandhan
  • Mardan.

Conclusion

The ligaments, according to Ayurveda, are snayu. They are fundamentally modified forms of fibrous structures. They are similar to shan, or hemp fibres; they are organised in bundles. Snayu serves the purpose of binding and provides support to the joints. This is quite similar as to how ligaments support internal organs and hold the bones together during joint articulation; they also support body weight and ensure good posture. Snayu is crucial in the development of the body’s framework since it connects different structural elements. Pratanvati, prathul, vritta and sushira are different types of snayu. Impairment of snayu may lead to symptoms of pain, stiffness, swelling, etc.

Ayurveda describes various therapies for treating snayu vikara. These therapies include sneha, upanaha, agnikarma, bandhan, mardan, etc. From the functional perspective, or physiological standpoint, snayu supports the joints and provides the weight-bearing capacity to our body.

Dr SHRAVANTI S TONDCHIRKAR, BAMS, MD [Ayurveda], is Assistant Professor, Rachana Sharir, Bhimashankar Ayurveda College, Hospital & Research Centre, Pune, India. Dr AMIT K BAIRAGI is a PhD Scholar [Rachana Sharir], Sumatibhai Shah Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya, Pune, India. This article was first published [Anatomical Aspect of Snayu: Ayurveda and Modern Perspectives], in Himalayan Journal of Health Sciences, 7[4]:47-49; Dec 15, 2022, under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0.

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