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Now, the Sushruta Samhita says that, the number of bones in the human body is three hundred . The Vishnu Smriti (institutes of Vishnu ) following the orthodox ( Vedic ) non -medical opinion on the subject gives it as three hundred and sixty six We know that Nagarjuna the Buddhist redacter of the Sushruta Samhita, mentioned in his recension of the work that there are “three hundred bones in the human organism, but the followers of the Vedas say that their number is three hundred and sixty” which tallies with the number given in the Yajnavalkya Samhita. The Garuda Puranam gives the number as the three hundred and sixty two

This was given in the preface of Garuda Puranam, Now my questions are

  1. Why does the number of bones vary in each text, Was it because of the time gap between their composition and evolution?

  2. Presently the number of bones in an adult Human organism is 206, But the Vedas give the number to be 360, Was it because at the time of the composition of the Vedas Humans had 360 bones and because of evolution the number got reduced?

1 Answer 1

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Answer to question 1:

Most of these ancient texts have been revised many times by different authors at different times. I have given below scholarly writing on the rewriting of Srimad Bhagavata Purana as an example.

From the familiarity that the Text shows with that renaissance of Vaishnavism in the South under the Alwars, it will be safe to infer that much of the original text of the Bhagavata [Purana] was rewritten into its present form by an unknown Vaishnava scholar-devotee of the South. The time of the Alwar movement is between the 5th and the 8th century A.D., and so it will be safe to say that it was produced somewhere during or shortly after this period. Prof Hazra assigns it to the early part of the 6th century.

General Introduction to Srimad Bhagavata by Swami Tapasyananda

Another example is the Linga Purana which says that it was abridged by Vyasa.

Formerly the excellent Linga Purana was composed by Brahma, the great soul. It was based on the events that happened in the Isana kalpa, and originally it contained a crore of verses among a hundred crore that comprised all the Puranas. The Puranas were abridged into four hundred thousand verses by Vyasas in the different manvantaras. Later in the beginning of Dvapara, they were classified into eighteen parts, beginning with Brahmanda among which this Linga-purana ranks as the eleventh. Thus have I heard from Vyasa.

Linga Purana I.2.1-3

The abridgement was a natural course, for the old contents ceased to appeal to the later generations. At the same, fresh material was available which the new compilers inserted in the old corpus. The process continued till the beginning of the fifth century A.D., when the bulk of this Purana was settled in its present form.

Introduction to Linga Purana translated by A Board of Scholars ad edited by J.L. Shastri

These different authors who rewrote the ancient texts had access to different knowledge about human anatomy and that is the reason for the difference.

It is not possible to answer question 2.

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  • Is it not possible because of absence of resources?
    – Shashaank
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 16:40
  • No, the reason for not answering is that it is a scientific question on evolution. While I think that no substantial change in human anatomy occurred during the time duration between the different ancient texts, I will not be able to provide any supporting quote. Moreover I am not sure if you can ask such scientific question in this web site. Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 3:52
  • That ain't scientific I think...
    – Shashaank
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 3:54

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