Sushruta Samhita, volume 4: Cikitsasthana

by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna | 1911 | 123,229 words

This current book, the Chikitsa-sthana (english translation), deals with therapeutics, surgical emergencies, geriatrics, aphrodisiacs and various other subjects. The Sushruta Samhita is the most representative work of the Hindu system of medicine. It embraces all that can possibly appertain to the science of medicine. Susruta-samhita is recognized...

Chapter XXX - Elixirs (rasayana) to remove mental and physical distress

Now we shall discourse on the tonic remedies which remove mental and physical distress (Nivritta- samtapiya-Rasayana). 1.

Metrical Text:—

Even in this world mortals may live happily, free from disease and care like the gods in heaven if they (mortals) can secure the after- mentioned drugs (of all-healing potency). 2.

Persons unfit for the use of Rasayana:—

The (following) seven classes of persons, viz, the intemperate, the lazy, the indigent, the unwise, the immoral (Vyasani),[1] the sinful and the triflers of medicine, are unfit to take these ambrosial (Rasayana) drugs on account of their respective ignorance, inactivity, poverty, vascillation, intemperance, impiety and inability to secure the genuine medicines. 3.

Names of all-healing drugs:—

Now we shall discourse on these drugs. They are Shveta-kapoti, Krishna-kapoti, Gonasi, Varahi, Kanya, Chatra, Ati-ccatra, Karenu, Aja, Chakraka, Aditya-parnini, Suvarchala, Brahma-suvarchala, Shravani, Maha-shravani, Golomi, Aja-lomi and Maha-Vegavati. These are the names of the eighteen different kinds of drugs of mighty potency. The mode of their use, their therapeutical effects and the religious rites to be observed in their connection, have been described in the Shastras and are identical with those of the Soma plants. In order to use them a man should enter the (prescribed) chamber (Agara) and perform the (prescribed) Homa ceremonies. A Kudava measure of the milky juice of the secreting species of the plants should be taken once for all after entering the chamber. 4.

Three twigs or branches, however, to the length of a span of those of the non-secreting species having roots should be taken for a single dose. The (whole of) Shveta-kapoti with its leaves and roots should be used. A quantity of the severed pieces of either of the Gonasi, Ajagari (Suvarchala) or Krishna-kapoti species including their thorns, and weighing a Musti (Sanakha-mushtika)[2] should be boiled with (an adequate quantity of) milk (and water). The milk thus cooked and prepared should be passed through a piece of cloth and taken only once duly consecrated. The milk cooked and prepared with one of the Chakraka[3] species also should be taken with milk only once, whereas (that of one of) the Brahma-suvarchala species should be taken for seven days in succession. 5.

Five Palas of any of the remaining species should be boiled with an Adhaka measure of milk and taken down with one quarter left. This should then be strained and the milk thus cooked should be taken in a single dose and once only. The regimen of diet and conduct is the same as in the case of Soma, until the patient comes out of his prescribed chamber, with this difference that his body should be anointed with butter (Navanita). 6.

Memorable Verses:—

The use of any of the aforesaid drugs rejuvenates the system, fills it with the strength of a lion, invests it with a beautiful shape, blesses the user with such powerful memory that he can commit to memory anything once heard, and ultimately extends his career to two thousand earthly years. Crowned with diadems of celestial beauty, decorated, as if, with Angadas (bracelets), Kundalas (earrings), crowns and heavenly wreathes (of flowers), Sandal paste and dress, the users are enabled to traverse, like the gods, the cloud-spangled high ways of heaven, unflinchingly in their pursuits. Persons whose systems have been fortified with these medicinal herbs (Oshadhis), like the users of Soma go not by the roads on earth but scale those inaccessible heights of heaven from whence the pendent rain-clouds look down upon the soil below and where the feathered wingers of the ethereal blue frequently soar up to. 7.

Differentiating Traits:—

Now we shall describe the different traits of these (all-healing) Oshadhis. The Ajagari[4] Oshadhi is found to put forth five leaves which have a brown colour and are marked with variegated ring-like patches, It looks like a snake and measures five Aratnis (a cubit of the middle length from the elbow to the tip of the little finger) in length. The Shveta-kapoti is a leafless, gold-coloured, snake-shaped plant with a root two fingers in length and is red at the extremities. The Gonasi is a bulbous plant possessed of two leaflets, red-coloured and is marked with black rings. It measures two Aratnis in height and resembles a Gonasa (boa) snake in shape. The Krishna- kapoti is a soft, hairy, milk-secreting plant and its juice is possessed of a colour and a taste like that of sugar-cane juice. The Varahi is bulbous and puts forth a single leaflet; it is resplendent like broken pieces of black antimony. It resembles a black lance hooded Kobra (Krishna Sarpa) in shape and is possessed of mighty potency. 8.

The Chratra and the Ati-cchatra are bulbous in their origin and are found to be attached to a plant of the Sveta-kapoti species. Both of them are possessed of the virtue of arresting death and decay and act as prophylactic against the Rakshas as (malignant spirits). A plant of the Kanya species is found to put forth a dozen leaflets beautifully coloured like the breast-feathers of a peacock. It is bulbous in its origin and exudes a gold-coloured juice. An Oshadhi plant of the Karenu species abounds in milky juice and its bulb resembles an elephant. It puts forth two leaves which look like those of a Hasti-karna-palasa tree. An Oshadhi plant of the Aja species abounds in milky juice, grows like a Kshupa or bushy plant and is white- coloured like the moon, a conch shell, or a Kunda flower; its bulb resembles the udder of a she-goat. An Oshadhi plant of the Chakraka species is white-coloured, puts forth flowers of variegated colours, grows in bushes, resembles a Kakadani plant in shape and size and is possessed of the efficacy in warding off death and decay. An Oshadhi plant of the Aditya-parnini species grows from roots (and has no bulb) and is furnished with five red-coloured leaflets as soft as a piece of linen and which always point towards the sun (change their direction with the progress of that luminary in heavens) An Oshadhi plant of the Brahma-Suvarchala species, is gold-coloured, abounds in milky juice, resembles a lotus plant in appearance, grows by the side of water (i.e., in marshy lands) and spreads in all directions. An Oshadhi plant of the Maha-Shravani species bears flowers like a Nilotpala and collyrium-coloured fruit. The stem of the Kshupa (bushy) plant measures an Aratni and the leaf two fingers in length. It is gold-coloured and abounds in milky juice. An Oshadhi plant of the Shravani species, possesses all the preceding features, (of the Maha-shravani) but is tinged with a yellow colour. The Oshadhi known as the Golomi and the Ajalomi are hairy and bulbous (in their origin). A Vegavati Oshadhi plant puts forth leaves from its roots; its leaves are severed like those of a Hamsapadi creeper, and move about violently (even in the absence of any wind), or it resembles a Samkha-pushpi creeper in all its features, looks like the cast-off skin of a snake and grows at the end of the rainy season (i.e., in autumn). 9.

Mode of culling the above drugs:—

The first seven of the all-healing Oshadi plants enumerated above should be culled by reciting the following Mantra:—

“We appease thee with the holy energy and dignity of Mahendra, Rama, Krishna and of the Brahmanas and of cows. Exert your beneficial virtues for the good of mankind”.

The intelligent one should consecrate all these Oshadhis with this Mantra. The lazy, the impious, the ungrateful and the unbelieving invariably fail to see and secure the Soma plants, or the drugs possessed of similar virtues. The gods after having drunk the celestial ambrosia to their fill cast the residue to the Somas and kindred plants as well as to the moon, the lord of the Oshadhis. 10-A.

Their habitats:—

The Brahma-suvarchala species (of the Oshadhis) is found to grow in and about the waters of the great river Indus and the lake Deva- sunda. The Aditya parnini species may be had in those two regions at the end of winter, and Gonasi and Ajagari at the beginning of the rains The Karenu, the Kanya, the Chatra, the Ati-cchatra, the Golomi, the Aja-lomi, and the Maha-shravani varieties of the Oshadhis are found (in spring) in the lake of Kshudraka- Manasa in Kashmir. The Krishna-sarpakhya and the Gonasi species also are found in that locality during the spring. The Shveta-kapoti species is white coloured and is found to grow on the ant-hills which cover a space of three Yojanas on the other (viz, the western) side of the river Kaushiki and to the east of the Sanjayanti. The Oshadhi of the Vegavati species grows on the Malaya hills and on the Nala-setu. 10-B.

Any one of these Oshadhis should be taken after a fast under the auspices of the full-moon in the month of Kartika. The regimen of diet and conduct is the same as laid down in connection with Soma-Rasayana and the results have been already described to be the same, 10-C.

The common habitats of all the Oshadhis:—

The Soma as well all the other Oshadhi plants may be had on (the summits of) the Arvuda mountains whose cloud-rending summits are the favourite haunts of the gods and which abound in holy pools and fountains frequented by the gods, the Siddhas and the holy Rishis, and whose large hollow caves are reverberated with the thundering roars of lion and which are moated on all sides by swift coursing rivers, whose waters are perpetually tossed by sportive elephants of the forests and whose brows are effulgent with the lustres of various brilliant metals imbedded in their hearts, 10.

These ambrosial plants (as well as other drugs) are to be sought in the rivers, the holy forests and hermitages, as well as in lakes and on hills, since this world is a bed of gems and is known to hold priceless treasures in all places. 11.


Thus ends the Thirtieth Chapter of the Chikitsita Sthana in the Sushruta Samhita which deals with the tonic remedies which have the power of removing the mental and physical distresses.

Footnotes and references:


vyasana is a technical term and is divided into two classes, viz., kamaja (i.e., produced by passion or desire) and krodhaja (i.e., originated from anger). The first group comprises hunting, dice-playing, day-sleep, censuring, addiction to woman, intoxication, singing, dancing, playing on musical instruments and idle wanderings. The second class comprises wickedness, violence, malice, jealousy, envy, extravagance, roughness in language and assault. See Manu, Ch. 7. 47, 48.


Some explain “Sanakha mustika” as wbat would be contained in the hollow of a palm, with the finger nails (i.e., the fingers) extended. But “Nakha” seems to refer to the thorns of the plants and “Mushti” a Pala weight (i.e., eight Tolas).


Gayi reads “kanyakayaḥ” in place of “cakrakayaḥ payaḥ” explains it as a preparation of one part of the powders of the fruit of Kanyaka and two parts of rice cooked with milk.


There is no mention of “Ajagari” in the list (para. 2) and there is no mention of “Suvarchala” in this descriptive list. It seems, therefore, probable that “Ajagari” and “Suvarchala” ape identical.

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