Pratyangas: The minor organs, Definition, Number

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Ayurveda has presented human body as an inverted tree. This tree has roots at the top (i.e. the head) and the branches pointing downwards (i.e. limbs) connected by the stem (trunk of the body). 

For the benefit of study and better understanding, Ayurveda has broadly classified the human body into 6 major parts (shad angas) and many minor parts (pratyangas). Pratyangas are minor parts of the body which remain connected to the pradhana angas or the major parts enumerated in shadanga.

In this article I would like to throw some light on the term pratyanga, its definition and number as given in Ayurvedic treatises. Before touching on the term Pratyanga let us know in brief of the related term Anga and Shad anga.


Shad=6, Anga=parts, major parts, organs, Shadanga=6 major parts, sections, segments, organs
According to Ayurveda the human body is mainly made up of Shad Angas or 6 Major parts or organs.

Shadanga forms the major classification of body parts, in fact a gross demarcation or surface marking of the body into 6 large units.

tatra ayaM zarIrasya aGga vibhAgaH, tad yathA –
dvau bAhU dve sakthinI zirogrIvaM antarAdhiH iti SaD aGgaM|(ca.zA.7/1)

According to Charaka, the body is divided into 6 major parts (Shadanga) namely –
– Bahu – upper limbs, 2 in number
– Sakthi – lower limbs, 2 in number
– Shirogreeva – Head and Neck, 1 in number
– Antaradhi – Middle part of the body or trunk (comprising of thorax and abdomen), 1 in number

Sushruta has named bahu and sakthi as Shakas and numbered them 4 (2 upper limbs + 2 lower limbs), the number anyhow would not change. Instead of antaradhi, Sushruta has used the term Madhyam (Madhya shareera or middle part of the body, the trunk comprising of upper thorax and lower abdomen + pelvic cavity).
Read related: Anga, Shadanga: 6 Divisions Of The Body As per Charaka, Sushruta


avayavaM avayavaM prati yo avayavaH tat pratyaGgaM ucyate|(aruNadatta)
Arunadatta, the commentator of Ashtanga Sangraha defined Pratyanga as ‘the structure or organ located in relation to the main part or organ of the human body’.

Pratyangas are thus the sub-structures, sub-organs or secondary and attached minor organs (parts) located in relation to the major organs (parts).
According to Charaka, Pratyangas are 56 in number. Below mentioned are the Pratyangas mentioned by Charaka.

Number of Pratyanga

Pratyanga (sub-organ, minor body part) Number
01 Jangha Pindika (calf muscles) 02
02 Uru Pindika (Thigh muscles, Hamstrings) 02
03 Sphik (butts, buttock) 02
04 Anda Kosha (scrotum) 02
05 Mutrendriya (Penis, urethra) 01
06 Kaksha (axilla) 02
07 Vankshana (groins) 02
08 Kukundara (ischium) 02
09 Vasti shira (base or upper surface of the urinary bladder) 01
10 Udara (abdomen) 01
11 Stana (breasts) 02
12 Kapha Sthana, Kantha parshwa (sides of the neck) 02
13 Bahu Pindika (deltoid, shoulder tips) 02
14 Chibuka (chin) 01
15 Oshta (lips) 02
16 Srukkani 02
17 Danta veshta (gum lining) 02
18 Talu (palate, roof of the mouth) 01
19 Gala Shundi (thyroid bulge) 01
20 Upa jihwika (tonsils?) 02
21 Go jihwa (epiglottis) 01
22 Ganda sthana (maxillary projections, upper jaw) 02
23 Karna Shashkuli (pinna, external cartilaginous plates of the ear) 02
24 Karna Putrika (ear lobules) 02
25 Akshi Kuta (orbits, eye sockets) 02
26 Akshi Vartma (eye lids) 04
27 Netra kaneenika (inner angles of the eye) 02
28 Bhru (eye brows) 02
29 Avatu 01
30 Hasta (hands) 02
31 Pada (foot) 02

Sushruta’s opinion (Ref – Sushruta Shaareera Ch 5)
Sushruta has sub-classified the angas or shadangas into –
– Bahya Pratyanga (sub-organs or minor parts available and seen from the exterior or outside of the body). They form the external or surface markings of the body.
– Abhyantara Pratyangas (sub-organs or minor parts available inside the body) – he has called them as abhyantara avayavas

Bahya Pratyanga

Bahya Pratyangas (According to Sushruta)
Sl No Bahya Pratyanga (external sub-organ, minor body parts) Number
01 Mastaka (head) 01
02 Udara (abdomen, belly, tummy) 01
03 Prishta (back) 01
04 Nabhi (Navel, umbilicus) 01
05 Lalata (forehead) 01
06 Nasa (nose) 01
07 Chibuka (chin) 01
08 Vasti (urinary bladder) 01
09 Greeva (neck) 01
10 Karna (ear, pinna) 02
11 Netra (eyes) 02
12 Bhru (eye brows) 02
13 Shankha (temples) 02
14 Amsa (scapula) 02
15 Ganda sthana (maxillary projections, upper jaw) 02
16 Kaksha (axilla) 02
17 Stana (breasts) 02
18 Vrushana (testes) 02
19 Parshwa (flanks) 02
20 Sphik (butts, buttocks) 02
21 Janu (knee joints) 02
22 Kurpara (elbow joints) 02
23 Bahu (arms, forearms, upper limbs) 02
24 Uru (thighs, legs, lower limbs) 02
25 Anguli (fingers) Akshi Kuta (orbits, eye sockets) 20

Abhyantara Pratyanga

Abhyantara Pratyangas or Abhyantara Avayavas (According to Sushruta)
Sl No Abhyantara Pratyanga (interior sub-organ, minor body parts) Number
01 Twacha (skin) 07
02 Kala (membranes, layers) 07
03 Dhatus (tissues) 07
04 Mala (excreta) 03
05 Dosha 03
06 Yakrit (Liver) 01
07 Pleeha (Spleen) 01
08 Phuphusa (lungs) 02
09 Unduka (caecum) 01
10 Hridaya (heart) 01
11 Amashaya (stomach) Stana (breasts) 01
12 Antra (intestines) 02
13 Vrikka (kidneys) 02
14 Srotas (external apertures) 09
15 Kandaraa (tendons, fasciae) 16
16 Jala (meshy networks) 16
17 Kurcha (brush like structures) 06
18 Rajju (rope like cords) 04
19 Sevanee (sutures) 07
20 Sanghata (large bony junctions) 14
21 Seemanta (bony ends) 14
22 Asthi (bones) 300
23 Sandhi (joints) 210
24 Snayu (ligaments) 900
25 Peshi (muscles) 500
26 Marma (vital points) 107
27 Sira (veins) 700
28 Dhamanees (arteries) 24
29 Yoga vaha srotas (channels of circulation) 22 (11 pairs)

Need for studying Pratyangas

Though Pratyangas, by explanation are minor-structures or minor-parts or sub-organs of the body, they all are important structures from anatomical and physiological view. They are all connected to the main organs or structures i.e. angas or shadangas. Each one of them serves important functions which are specific to them. They not only hold the body and fill up the body cavities anatomically but also support and finish the flawless construction of the body. Therefore the knowledge of the classification and description of each and every pratyanga is important.

Just Before Finishing –
Pratyangas are important structures of the human body and are part of its greater anatomical construction. Each one forms a small brick in the formation and maintenance of the human body. When they are structurally well built and well blended with the main parts or chief-parts i.e. Shadangas of the body, they help in keeping the body healthy and strong. Likewise any damage in them can cause morbidity and diseases in the body which in turn afflicts the main organs (angas) or visceral organs (koshtangas) or the limbs in which they are located.
Pratyangas are like small rivers which joint to form major angas. Therefore structural or functional impairement of one or more pratyangas might seriously afflict the built and functioning of the angas in which they are located.
This article is to bring ‘the anatomical concepts regarding the pratyangas from the core of Ayurvedic wisdom’ to the knowledge of our readers!!
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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