Sushruta Samhita, Volume 5: Kalpasthana

by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna | 1911 | 24,963 words

This current book, the Kalpa-sthana (english translation), deals with the nature of poisons, the management of poisons, toxicology 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 as...

Chapter II - Description of Sthavara (vegetable and mineral) poisons

Now we shall discourse on the chapter which treats of the indications (effects, nature and operations) of Sthavara (vegetable and mineral) poisons (Sthavara- Visha-Vijnaniyam). 1.

Sthavara-poison: its Source (M. T .):—

There are two kinds of poison viz., that obtained from immobile things (Sthavara) and that obtained from mobile creatures (Jangama). The sources of the Sthavara (vegetable and mineral) poison are ten, while those of the Jangama (animal) poison are sixteen in number.

The ten sources from which a Sthavara poison may be obtained are roots, leaves, fruits, flowers, bark, milky exudations, pith (Sara), gum (Niryasa), bulb and a mineral or metal (Dhatu). 2–3.

Names of the different Vegetable and Mineral poisons:—

Klitaka, Ashva-mara, Gunja, Subandha[1], Gargaraka, Karaghata, Vidyuch-chikha and Vijaya are the eight root-poisons. Visha-Patrika, Lamba, Avaradaruka, Karambha and Maha-Karambha are the five leaf-poisons The fruits of Kumudvati, Renuka, Karambha, Maha-Karambha, Karkotaka, Venuka, Khadyotaka, Carmari, Ibha-gandha, Sarpa-ghati, Nandana and Sara-paka, numbering twelve in all, are the twelve fruit-poisons. The flowers of Vetra, Kadamba, Vallija (NarachaD. R), Karambha and Maha-Karambha are the five flower-poisons. The bark, pith and gum of Antra-pachaka, Kartariya, Sauriyaka, Karaghata, Karambha, Nandana and Varataka are the seven bark-poisons, pith-poisons and gum-poisons.

The milky exudations of Kumudaghni, Snuhi and Jala-Kshiri are poisons and are known as the three Kshira-Vishas, Phenashma-bhasma (white arsenic) and Haritala (yellew orpiment) are the two mineral poisons. Kala-kuta, Vatsa-nabha, Sarshapaka, Palaka, Kardamaka, Vairataka, Must aka, Shringi-visha, Prapaundarika, Mulaka, Halahala, Maha-visha and Karkataka, numbering thirteen in all, are the bulb-poisons. Thus the number of poisons obtained from the vegetable and mineral world (Sthavara) amount to fifty-five in all. 4–11.

Metrical Text:—

There are four kinds of Vatsa-nabha poisons, two kinds of Mustaka and six kinds of Sarshapaka. The remaining ones have no different species. 12.

Effects of poison on the human organism:—

Root-poisons or poisonous roots produce a twisting pain in the limbs, delirium and loss of consciousness. A leaf-poison or poisonous leaf gives rise to yawning, difficult breathing and a twisting pain in the limbs. A fruit poison is attended with a swelling of the scrotum, a burning sensation in the body and an aversion to food. A flower-poison gives rise to vomiting, distensions of the abdomen and loss of consciousness. A bark-poison, or pith-poison, or gum-poison is marked by a fetour in the mouth, roughness of the body, headache and a secretion of Kapha (mucus from the mouth). The effects of the poisonous milky exudations (of a tree, plant or creeper) are foaming from the mouth, loose stools (diarrhea) and a curvature (drawing back) of the tongue, whereas a mineral poison gives rise to pain in the heart, fainting and a burning sensation in the region of the palate. All these are slow poisons proving fatal only after a considerable length of time. 13.

Effects of BuIb-poisons:—

Now we shall describe in full the respective effects of the bulb-poisons which are very strong (Tikshna) in their actions The bulb-poison known as the Kalakuta produces complete anesthesia, shivering and numbness. Paralysis of the neck and yellowness of the stool, urine and of the eye-balls are the symptoms produced in a case of Vatsanabha-poisoning. Retention of stool and urine (Anaha), disorders of the palate and the appearance of glands are the effects of a case of Sarshapa-poisoning. Loss of speech and weakness of the neck are the symptoms in a case of Palaka-poisoning. Water-brash loose stools (diarrhea) and a yellowness of the eyes mark a case of Kardamaka-poisoning. Pain in the limbs and diseases of the head are produced in a case of Vairataka -poisoning. Shivering and a numbness of the limbs are the effects of a case of Mustaka-poisoning. Lassitude, a burning sensation in the body and an enlargement of the abdomen mark a case of Shringi-visha-poisoning. An enlargement of the abdomen and redness of the eyes are the symptoms of Pundarika-poisoning. A discolouring of the complexion, vomiting hic-cough, swelling and a loss of cousciousness are the effects of the Mulaka-poison. Difficult breathing and a tawny brown colour of the skin mark a case of Halahala-poisoning. Aneurysm (Granthi) on the region of the heart and a piercing pain in the same are the symptoms in a case of Maha-visha -poisoning; while a case of Karkataka-poisoning is marked by laughing, gushing of the teeth and jumping up (without any cause). 14

Specific properties of the above- named Bulb-poisons:—

These thirteen kinds of bulbous poisons should be deemed as very strong292 in their potency and they possess the following ten properties in common. They are parching (Ruksha) and heat-making (Ushna in their potency. They are sharp (Tikshna) and subtle (Sukshma) i,e., have the power of penetrating into the minutest capillaries of the body and are instantaneous (Ashu) in their effects. They first permeate the whole organism and become subsequently digested (Vyavayi) and disintegrate the root- principles of the body (Vikashi). They are non-viscid (Vishada), light in potency (Laghu) and indigestible (Apaki). 15.

A poison aggravates the bodily Vayu in virtue of its parching quality and vitiates the blood and the Pitta through its heat-generating property. It overwhelms the mind (produces unconsciousness) and tends to disintegrate the limbs and muscles in virtue of its sharpness and penetrates into and deranges the minutest capillaries owing to its extreme subtile essence. It proves speedily fatal owing to its speedy activity and spreads through the entire organism (which is the very nature of a drug) on account of its rapid permeating or expansive quality. It annihilates the root-principles (Dhatus) as well as the Doshas and the Malas (excreta) of the body through the power of disintregation, and does not addhere to any spot therein owing to its non-viscidness. It baffles the efficacies of other drugs and thus becomes unremediable on account of the extreme lightness (of its potency), and it cannot be easily assimilated owing to its innate indigestibility. It thus proves troublesome for a long time. 16.

A poison of whatsoever sort, whether animal, vegetable, or chemical, which proves almost instantaneously fatal (within a day) should be regarded as possessed of all the ten aforesaid qualities. 17.

Definition of Dushi-visha (weak and slow poison):—

A poison whether animal, vegetable or chemical, not fully eliminated from the system and partially inherent therein, enfeebled, of course by anti- poisonous remedies, is designated a Dushi-visha (weak and slow poison) which is even extended to those the keenness of potency whereof is enfeebled by the sun, the fire and the wind, as well as to those which are found to be naturally devoid of some of the ten aforesaid natural qualities of a poison. A Dushi visha, owing to its enfeebled or attenuated virtue and as a necessary consequence of its being covered over with the bodily Kapha, ceases to be fatal though retained in the system for a number of years. 18.

Symptoms of weakand slow poisoning:—

A person afflicted with any sort of Dushi- Visha develops such symptoms as, looseness of stool (diarrhea), a discoloured complexion, fetor in the body, bad taste in the mouth, thirst, epileptic fits, vomiting (D. R.—vertigo), lassitude, confused speech and all the symptoms of Dushyodara[2] A Dushi-Visha lodged in the Amashaya (stomach) gives rise to diseases due to the combined action of the Vayu and Kapha; seated in the Pakvashaya (intestines) it brings on diseases due to the deranged condition of the Vayu and Pitta and leads to the falling off of the hair. The patient becomes rapidly atrophied, and looks like a wingless bird. When it attacks the Rasa, etc.[3] of the system it produces the diseases[4] peculiar to the root or vital principles of the body. Its action on the body becomes aggravated on a cloudy day and by exposure to cold and wind. 19-21.

Premonitory Symptoms of Dushi- Visha poisoning:—

Now hear me first describe the premonitory symptoms (of its aggravation). They are as follow:—Sleepiness, heaviness (of the limbs), yawning, a sense of looseness (in the joints), horripilation and aching of the limbs. These are followed by a sense of intoxication after meals, indigestion, disrelish for food, eruptions of circular patches (Mandala) on the skin, urticaria (Kotha), fainting fits, loss of the vital principles of the organism (D. R—loss of flesh), swelling of the face and the extremities (D.R.—Atrophy of the hands and legs), ascites (Dakodara), vomiting, epileptic fits, Vishama-jvara, high-fever and an un- quenchable thirst. Moreover, some of these poisons produce insanity. Some of them are characterised by an obstinate constipation of the bowels (Anaha), others, by an involuntary emission of semen while a few others produce confused speech, Kushtha (leprosy), or some other similar disease. 22.

Derivative Meaning of “Dushi- Visha”:—

A constant use of some particular time,[5] place and diet as well as constant and regular day-sleep tends (slowly) to poison the fundamental root-principles (Dhatus) of the body and this (slow) poison is consequently known as the Dushi-Visha. 23.

Symptoms of the different stages of Sthavara poisoning:—

In the first stage of a case of poisoning by a Sthavara (vegetable or mineral) poison, the tongue becomes dark brown and numbed, and epileptic fits and hard breathing follow in its wake. The second stage is marked by such symptoms as shivering, perspiration, burning sensation, itching and pain in the body; when seated in the amashaya (stomach) it causes pain in the region of the heart. The third stage is marked by a dryness of the palate and severe (colic) pain in the stomach. The eyes become discoloured, yellow-tinted aud swollen. When seated in the Pakvashaya (intestines) it produces hic-cough, cough, and a sort of pricking pain and rumbling sound in the Antra (intestines). The fourth stage is marked by an extreme heaviness of the head. The fifth stage is marked by salivation, discolouring of the body and a breaking pain in the joints. It is marked also by the aggravation of all the Doshas and pain in the Pakvadhana (intestines?). The sixth stage is characterised by loss of consciousness or excessive diarrhea; while the seventh stage is marked by a breaking pain in the back, the shoulders and the waist and a complete stoppage (of respiration)[6]. 24.


In the first stage the patient should be made to vomit and to drink cold water after that. Then an Agada (Anti-poisonous remedy) mixed with honey and clarified butter should be given him. In the second stage, the patient should be first made to vomit as in the preceding stage and then a purgative should be given him. Anti-poisonous potions, medicated snuffs (Nasya) and Anjanas possessed of similar virtues are beneficial in the third stage. An anti- poisonous potion through the vehicle of a Sneha (clarified butter) is efficacious in the fourth stage. In the fifth stage the patient should be given an antipoisonous medicine with the decoction of Yashti-madhu and honey. In the sixth stage the treatment should be as in a case of diarrhea (Atisara) and the use of a medicated snuff in the form of an Avapida is recommended. The latter remedy (Avapida-Nasya) should be applied in the seventh stage as well and the scalp after being shaved in the shape of a Kaka-pada[7] (crow’s claw) should also[8] be incised with a small incision. The incised flesh and the (vitiated) blood should also be removed. 25.

Koshatakyadi Yavagu:—

After adopting the respective measures enjoined in respect of the several stages of poisoning, the patient should, in the interval of any two stages be made to drink in a cold state a gruel (Yavagu) prepared with the decoctions of Koshataki (Ghosha), Agnika (Ajamoda), Patha, Suryavalli, Amrita, A bhaya, Shirisha, Kinihi, Shelu, Giryahva, (white Aparajita), the two kinds of Rajani, the two kinds of Punarnava, Harenu, Trikatu, Sariva, and Bala (D.R. Sariva and Utpala) mixed with honey and clarified butter. This is beneficial in both the cases of (animal and vegetable) poisoning. 26.


Clarified butter should be duly cooked with an adequate quantity of water and the Kalka of Yashti-madhu, Tagara, Kushtha, Bhadra-daru, Harenu, Punnaga, Ela, Ela-valuka, Naga-keshara, Utpala, sugar, Vidanga, Chandana, Patra, Priyangu, Dhyamaka, the two kinds Haridra, the two kinds of Vrihati, the two kinds of Sariva, Sthira (Shala-parni) and Saha (Prishni-parni). It is called the Ajeya-Ghrita. It speedily destroys all kinds of poison in the system and is infallible in its efficacy. 27.


A patient afflicted with the effects of Dushi-Visha inherent in the system should be first fomented and cleansed by both emetics and purgatives. The following anti-poisonous Agada (medicine) should then be taken daily. The recipe of this Agada is as follows:—Pippali, Dhyamaka, Mamsi, Savara (Lodhra), Paripelava[9], Suvarchika, small Ela, Toya (Balaka) and Suvarna-Gairika should be taken with honey. It destroys, when taken, the Dushi-Visha (slow chemical poisoning) in the system. It is called the Vishari-Agada and its efficacy extends also to cases of all other kinds of poisoning. 28.

Treatment of the Supervening Symptoms of poisoning:—

Cases of fever, burning sensation in the body, hic-cough, constipation of the bowels, loss of semen, swelling, diarrhea, epileptic fits, heart-disease, ascites, insanity, shivering, and such other supervening symptoms (consequent on the effects of a Dushi-Visha inherent in the system) should be treated with remedies laid down under the respective heads of the aforesaid diseases in accompaniment with (suitable) anti-poisonous medicines. 29.


A case of Dushi-Visha poisoning in a prudent and judicious person, and of recent growth is easily cured, while palliation is the only relief that can be offered in a case of more than a year’s standing. In an enfeebled and intemperate patient, it should be considered as incurable. 30.


Thus ends the sceond Chapter of the Kalpa Sthana in the Sushruta Samhita which treats of the Sthavara and jangama poisons.

Footnotes and references:


Lambā, according to Gayi—D. R.


See Chapter VII. para 10, Nidāna-sthāna.


These are the seven fundamental principles of the body.


The text has “Ugra-viryāni’' (strong in potency). Gayi reads “Agra-Viryāni” (of great poteney).


See Chapter xxvii, Sutra Sthāna.


The seven stages of the poisoning are due to the poisoning of the seven fundamental root-principles (Dhātus) of the body in succession.


By “the particular time” is meant a cloudy and windy day as well as the rainy season. By “the particular place” is meant a marshy country, and by “the particular diet” is meant wine, sesamum, Kulaltha-pulse, etc. as well as physical exercise, sexual intercourse, fits of anger, etc.


The particular form of shaving the hair, in which the part of the scalp from and above the forehead only is shaved is technically called a Kāka-pada.


“Paripelava” means either “Dhanyāka” or “Kaivartta-Mustaka”.

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