Pramana Pariksha Examination Of Measurements Of Body Parts

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Measurement of body parts is an important aspect of clinical examination of the patient. It is one among the tenfold examinations explained by Master Charaka. It is the fifth one in the list of 10 examinations to be conducted on the patient.
Pramana = quantity /measurements
Pariksha = examination
Read – 10 Factors Of Patient Examination – Dasha Vidha Atura Pareeksha

Need of Pramana pareeksha

Every body part has its own measurement and dimension. Measurements of individual parts and also their relative measurements with other parts should be accurate, proportionate and balanced. These measurements and dimensions should be in sync with the overall measurement of the entire body. If these measurements are greater or lesser than what they need to be i.e. more or less than the normal values, they will be considered as disproportionate and pathological. These measurements and dimensions are different for different people.

The person in whom the body parts are proportionate both individually and relatively is said to be healthy and fit. Ayurveda was the first health science to speak about and describe the anatomical balance and proportionality of the body parts.
Read – Roga, Rogi Pareeksha: Examination Of Disease And Patient

Examination

Master Charaka tells that the patient examination shall also be done by measuring his or her body parts.

Unit of measurement – anguli pramana. This means to tell that the body parts shall be measured with one’s own finger measurement. All the measurements i.e. length, breadth, height and circumference of the body parts are measured accurately with the same units.

Anguli Pramana / Swa Anguli Pramana – is the length / measurement equal to the length of transverse measurement of one’s own middle phalanx of the middle finger. It is the unit of measurement of the length of the body parts and structures.
Read – Anguli Pramana: Linear Measurement As Per Ayurveda

The measurement of body parts as mentioned by Master Charaka are as below mentioned (all measured in anguli pramana) –

Sl NoPart of the bodyThickness / HeightWidth / circumference (cir)Length
01Foot040614
02Legs1816 (cir)14 (Sushruta) 
03Knee0416 (cir)14 (Sushruta) 
04Thigh1830 (cir) 
05Testes08 (cir)06 02 (Sushruta) 
06Penis0506 
07Vagina 12 
08Waist 1618 (Sushruta) 
09Base of urinary bladder 10 
10Abdomen / belly1210 
11Flanks / sides of chest and belly1012 
12Distance between breasts 12 
13Breast / areola  02
14Chest / thorax12 24
15Heart  03
16Shoulders  08
17Shoulder blades / scapular region  06
18Brachium / arms  16
19Antebrachium / forearms  15
20Palms / hands  12
21Axillae / armpit  08
22Sacrum  12
23Back / dorsal spine (upper back)  18
24Neck0422 (cir) 
25Face1225 (cir) 
26Mouth / oral cavity05  
27Chin Lips Ears Nose Forehead  04
28In between the eyes04  
29Head1632 (cir) 
30Full body84120  
30Intestines  3 ½ vyama (male), 3 vyama (female)

The measurement of the entire body (height) according to Master Charaka is 84 anguli.
Read – Anjali Pramana: Volume Measurement As Per Ayurveda

Sanskrit verses

Types of body measurements

Depending on the above-mentioned explanation of Master Charaka, the measurements of the body can be of 3 kinds. They are –

1. Sama Sharira / Ayama-vistara samam – Proportional Body Frame / measurements

The body is said to be proportional or of having accurate measurement if the length and breadth of the body is of same measurements.

How to calculate –

a. The distance from crown of the head to the foot is measured and noted down. This will be 84 angula in measurement.

b.   The person is asked to extend his arms such that they are horizontal to the length of the body and parallel to the floor. Now the distance between the tips of middle fingers are calculated and noted down. This should also be 84 angula in measurement.

‘Distance a’ should be equal to ‘distance b’ i.e. the distance between head and foot should be equal to the distance between the tips of the middle fingers when arms are extended. Now the length and breadth of the body are said to be equal and the body is said to be proportional. This proportionality is an indicator of perfect health of the individual.

When the body measurements i.e. length and breadth are equal and proportional the person will be bestowed with longevity, and best of strength, essence of tissues (ojas), happiness / pleasure, wealth, goodness and auspiciousness. Everything they think will happen i.e. the person can achieve anything in life just by thinking of it and with determined approach. These people are immensely blessed with fortune.
Read – Signs Of Person Having Enriched Bones (Asthi Sara Purusha Lakshanas)

2. Madhyama Sharira – Excessive body frame / measurements

The body is said to be having medium measurements if the length and breadth of the body are in excess of what is desired to be considered as proportional i.e. disproportionate body frame wherein length and breadth are more than the normal limits.

Either the length will be more than 84 angula or the breadth will be more than 84 angula or both these dimensions will be more than the mentioned value.

When the body measurements i.e. length and breadth are unequal and disproportional i.e. more than normal dimensions – the person will be bestowed with moderate life span and moderate amounts of features like strength etc as mentioned in sama sharira type.
Read – Bala Samprapti: Understanding pathogenesis Based On Causes And Symptoms

3. Hina Sharira – Lesser body frame / measurements

The length and breadth of the body are less than what is desired to be considered as proportional i.e. disproportionate body frame wherein length and breadth are less than the normal limits.

Either the length will be lesser than 84 angula or the breadth will be lesser than 84 angula or both these dimensions will be lesser than the mentioned value.

Here the person will be bestowed with less life span and less amounts of features like strength etc as mentioned in sama sharira type.

According to Sushrutha

The height of Sarva Shareera (No 29) is given as 120 anguli. Dalhana, commentator of Sushruta Samhita tells that the height of the body with both upper limbs raised is 120 angulis.

Vyama (No 30) – Distance between right and left fingertips when both the arms are completely abducted. Sushruta has mentioned the dimension of Stree vaksha (chest of female) as 18 angulas
Read – Acharya Sushruta: Work, Samhita, Legacy, Amazing Facts

Significance of Anguli Pramana

Anguli pramana gives us an accurate measurement of the body parts. When they are in normal proportions, they indicate good health. Anything less or more than the mentioned norms would suggest abnormality and pathology. It indicates that there is a proportional imbalance in body dimensions. This would indicate that the person whose anguli pramana is being measured is not at the best of his or her health.

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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