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Ayurveda > Shalakya Tantra

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

Shalakya tantra is one of the eight branches of the ayurvedic treatment tree. This branch is dedicated to the treatment of diseases located above the neck. In other words, it deals with the causes, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the ear-nose-throat in addition to diseases of the eye. Shalakya tantra actually covers the treatment part of pathologies above the neck. It accounts for all types of problems in and around the head.

The name of this branch ‘shalakya tantra’ has arrived from the word ‘shalaka.Shalaka means probe. Different types of probes are available in with ayurvedic treatment providers. Probe of the eye (netra shalaka), probe of the ear (karna shalaka ), that of the nose (nasa shalaka ), of the throat (mukh shalaka), of the lips (oshta shalaka) are a few examples.

Shalakya tantra includes different techniques available for the treatment of eye problems, ENT problems, etc. This is done by applying medication with the help of probes to the affected part. Shalyakya tantra is described in detail in the books Sushrut Sanhita, Charak Sanhita and Ashtang Hruday (literally meaning the heart of the eight-branched body of ayurved).

Shalakya tantra has listed about 72 diseases of the eye (netra rog) including conjunctivitis (sarvakshi rog), cataract (linganash), pre-glaucomatic condition and glaucoma (timir) and diseases of the iris/pupil (drushti rog). In addition, it has listed 25 diseases of the ear (karna rog), 18 diseases of the nose (nasa rog), 11 diseases of the lips (oshta rog), 1 disease of the lymph glands (gand rog), 23 diseases of the teeth (danta rog), 6 diseases of the tongue (jivha rog), 8 diseases of the palate (talu rog), 18 diseases of the throat-pharynx-larynx (gal rog) and 8 diseases of the oral cavity (sarvagat mukhrog). What is more, follow-up treatment of all the above-mentioned problems, which is a must according to modern medicine too, is also very neatly described in the shalakya tantra.

When ayurved entered the history of mankind, anesthesia was not in the picture. So was also the case of aseptic precautions. But ayurvedic sages have described ashchotananjan-vidhi (putting ayurvedic medicinal drops in the eyes) and putpak-vidhi (covering the eye with a smooth medicated cloth or tree leaf) to avoid spreading infections. The first surgeon in the history of ayurvedic medicine named Sushruta says putpak-vidhi is equally important and covers half of the aspect of ophthalmologic treatment. A stipulated therapy that includes all these procedures step by step is discussed in details in the Sushrut Sanhita.

In addition to this, surgical intervention for tumors, abscesses and cysts (arbuda), attempts to remove foreign bodies in the region above the neck is a procedure enlisted in the shalakya tantra. Migraine (ardha-shishi) is included in shalakya tantra too and a change in lifestyle is recommended for its prevention and cure.

This ayurvedic branch of medicine and surgery related to problems of the region above the neck has also suggested some simple remedies for day-to-day problems like dryness of the eyes, ear-nose-throat and oral cavity. This clearly suggests that ayurved was a science meant not only for advanced diseases but for common health problems as well.

To summarize, shalakya tantra is that branch of ayurved, which deals with pathologies in and around the head. Etiology, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye, ear-nose-throat and oral cavity are covered under shalakya tantra with special attention to migraine.


Ayurvedic Milestones
Ayurvedic Thought
 Vaat, Pitta, Kafa, Dosh
 Dhatu, Mala, Fire
Pathology - Ama
 Ashtang Ayurved
 Agad Tantra
 Kaumar Bhrutya Tantra
 Shalya Tantra
 Shalakya tantra

Actual Case Notes
 Asthmatic Bronchitis
 Bleeding per anum
 Hair Loss
 Pregnancy Care
 Senile Debility
 Solution To Baldness
 Vaat Related Fever

Academic References
Ayurvedic Herbs


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