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 VI - Description of rat-poisoning

Now we shall discourse on cases of rat-poisoning (Mushika-kalpa) 1.

Different varieties of rats (M. Text):—

Now hear me enumerate the names of the different families of Mushika (rats) briefly referred to before as having their poison in their semen, classified according to their different names, features and the medical treatment to be employed for the neutralisation of the effects of their poison. They are eighteen in number and are named as follows:—Lalana, Putraka, Krishna, Hamsira, Chikkira, Chuchundara, Alasa, Kashaya-dashana, Kulinga, Ajita, Chapala, Kapila, Kokila, Aruna, Maha- Krishna, Shveta, Maha-Kapila and Kapotabha. 2 A

General symptoms of rat-poisoning:—

The blood of any part of a human body coming in contact with the semen of any of these different classes of rats or scratched with their nails, teeth, etc., previously besmeared with their semen (Shukra) is vitiated and gives rise to the appearance of Granthi (nodes), swelling, Mandala, eruptions of circular erythematous patches on the skin, Karnika (eruptions of patches resembling the calycle of a lotus flower), pimples (pustules) violent and acute erysipelas, Kitima (keloid tumours), breaking pain in the joints, extreme pain (in the body), fever, violent epileptic fits, anemia, aversion to food, difficult breathing, shivering and horripilation. 2.

Specific symptoms and treatment of rat-poisoning:—

The general symptoms of rat-poisoning have been briefly described above. Now hear me specially describe the symptoms of the bites by the different families of rats (Mushika). A bite by a rat of the Lalana class is marked by a copious flow of saliva, hic-cough and vomiting. The patient in such a case should be made to use a lambative made of the roots of Tanduliyaka mixed with honey. A bite by a rat of the Putraka family is marked by a sense of physical langour, yellowness of the complexion and the appearance of nodular glands (Granthi) resembling young rats. A compound of Shirisha and Ingudi pasted together and mixed with honey should be given to the patient as a lambative in this case. A bite by a rat of the Krishna (black) class in foul weather and more especially on a cloudy day is characterised by the vomiting of blood. A pasted compound of Shirisha fruit and Kushtha with the washings of the ashes of Kimshuka (flower) should be given to the patient in such a case. 3–A.

A bite by a rat of the Hansira species brings on an aversion to food, yawning and horripilation. In such a case emetics should be first given to the patient who should be then made to drink a decoction of the drugs of the Aragvadhadi group. A bite by a rat of the Chikkira class is accompanied by headache, swelling, hic-cough and vomiting. In such a case an emetic consisting of the decoction of Jalini, Madana fruit and Amkotha should be prescribed. A bite by a venomous Mushika of the Chucchundara (mole) species gives rise to diarrhea (watery stool), numbness of the muscles of the neck and yawning. In this case an alkaline compound prepared of the ashes of the dry plants of barley (Yava-nala), Rishahhi (atma-gupta) and Vrihati should be prescribed[1]. 3–B.

A bite by a rat of the Alasa species is characterised by a numbness of the neck, an upward coursing of the Vayu, fever and pain at the seat of the bite. In this case the patient should be made to take the Mahagada with honey and clarified butter as a lambative. A bite by a rat of the Kashaya-dashana species is marked by somnolence or excessive sleep, atrophy (Sosha) of the heart and a general emaciation of the body. In such a case a lambative made of the bark, pith and fruit (seeds) of Shirisha mixed with honey should be given to the patient to lick. A bite by a rat of the Kulinga species is marked by pain, swelling and stripe-like marks about the seat of the bite, the remedy consisting in a lambative made of the two kinds of Saha (Mudga-parni and Masha- parni) and Sindhuvara pasted together and mixed with honey. 3-C.

A bite by a rat of the Ajita species is characterised by vomiting, epileptic fits (fainting), a catching pain at the heart (Hrid-graha) and blackness of the eyes. The patient in such a case should be made to lick a compound made of (the roots of) Palindi (Trivrit) pasted with the milky juice of Snuhi and mixed with honey. A bite by a rat of the Chapala species is marked by vomiting, epileptic fits and thirst, and the remedy in this case should consist of a lambative made of Tri-phala, Bhadra-kashtha (Deva-daru) and Jata-mansi (D.R.—Yava) pasted together and mixed with honey. A bite by a rat of the Kapila species is followed by Kotha (putrefaction) of the bite, appearance

of nodular glands (Granthi) and fever. The remedy consists in the use of a lambative made of Tri-phala, Shveta[2] (white Aparajita) and Punarnava pasted together and licked with honey. A bite by a rat of the Kokila species is attended with high fever, an intolerable burning sensation in the body and the appearance of nodular glands (Granthi). Clarified butter duly cooked with the decoction of Varshabhu and Nilini (Indigo plants) should be administered in such a case. 3–D.

A bite by a rat of the Aruna (vermilion coloured) species is marked by an extremely aggravated condition of the bodily Vayu and the symptoms peculiar to it. A bite by a rat of the M aha-krishna (extremely black) species leads to an aggravated condition of the Pitta, while a bite by one of the Maha-shveta class ushers in an aggravation of the bodily Kapha. The blood of a person is vitiated by the bite of a rat of the Maha-kapila family, while the bite by one of the Kapota species leads to the derangement of all the four principles viz., the three Doshas (Vayu, Pitta and Kapha) as well as of the blood. Their bites are accompanied by a violent swelling of the affected locality, the appearance of nodular glands (Granthi) and such other erythematous and eczematous growths as Mandala, Karnika and Pidaka (Pustules). 3–E.

Three Prastha measures[3] each of clarified butter, curd and milk should be duly cooked with the duly prepared decoction of Karanja, Aragvadha, Tri-katu, Vrihati, Amshumati and Sthira (Kakoli), and with Trivrit, Tila, Amrita (Gulanca), Chakra, Sarpa-gandha, (black) earth[4] (of an ant-hill) and the barks of Kapittha and Dadima as Kalka. The whole should be duly cooked over a gentle fire. The Ghrita thus prepared would destroy the poison of the five kinds of rats viz., Aruna, etc. As an alternative, clarified butter duly cooked with the expressed juice of Kakadani and Kaka-machi should be given to the patient in such cases. A wise physician shall have recourse to bleeding or venesection in these cases and the system of the patient should be cleansed by purgatives and emetics. 3.

General Treatment:—

The general measures to be adopted in the case of a bite by a rat of whatsoever class are as follows The seat of the bite should be first cauterized (with boiling clarified butter), and blood-letting should be resorted to (by opening the veins of the patient). The seat of the bite should then be marked with superficial incisions and a plaster of Shirisha, Rajani, Kushtha, Kumkuma and Amrita (Gulanca) should be applied. The patient should be made to vomit with the decoction of Jalini or with that of Shukakhya and Amkotha boiled together. The (powdered) roots of Shukakhya, Koshavati, Madana fruits and Deva- dali fruits should be administered with curd for the elimination by vomiting the (internal) poison (if any). The patient should be made to take (with curd) the compound consisting of Phala (Madana), Vaca, Deva- dali and Kushtha pasted with the urine of a cow (as an emetic). This remedy neutralises the effects of the poison of all species of venomous rats. 4–A

A compound composed of Trivrit, Danti and Triphala should (if necessary) be employed as a purgative (in such a case). A compound prepared with the pith of Shirisha and the pulp of its fruits should be used (if necessary) as an errhine (Shiro-virecana). The watery secretion of fresh cow-dung mixed with a profuse quantity of (powdered) Tri-katu should be used as collyrium. The patient should be made to lick a compound prepared with the expressed juice of the fruits of Kapittha and with honey and the serous secretion of (fresh) cow-dung, or a lambative made of Rasanjana, Haridra, Indra-yava, Katuki and Ati-visha with honey should be given to the patient in the morning. A potion of medicated clarified butter duly cooked with the roots of Tanduliyaka should be given to the patient for drink. As an alternative, clarified butter, duly cooked with the five parts (viz., roots, bark, fruits, leaves and flowers) of a Kapittha tree or with the roots of ashphota, should be prescribed. 4.

The poison of a venomous Mushika (rat or mole) even though (apparently) eliminated from the system may sometimes still be aggravated in cloudy days or in foul weather. In such a case, all the above measures as well as the remedies laid down under the treatment of Dushi-visha should be resorted to. The round protruding edges (Karnika) of an ulcer, incidental to a rat-bite, whether benumbed or painful, should be excised (D.R.—made to suppurate) and should be treated with purifying or cleansing remedies according to the deranged Dosha or Doshas involved in each case. 5–6.

Causes of Rabies:—

The bodily Vayu in conjunction with the (aggravated) Kapha of a jackal, dog, wolf, bear, tiger or of any other such ferocious beast affects the sensory nerves of these animals and overwhelms their instinct and consciousness. The tails, jaw-bones (D. R.—neck) and shoulders of such infurated animals naturally droop down, attended with a copious flow of saliva from their mouths. The beasts in such a state of frenzy, blinded and deafened by rage, roam about and bite each other. 7–A.

Symptoms of Hydrophobia:—

The limb or part of the body of a person bitten by such a rabid and (consequently) poisonous animal loses its sensibility of touch, and a copious flow of dark sooty blood is emitted from the seat of the bite. The patient in such a case generally exhibits all the symptoms which mark a case of poisoning by a venomed arrow. 7–B.


A person bitten by a rabid animal barks and howls like the animal by which he is bitten, imitates it in many other ways and, bereft of the specific functions and faculties of a human subject, ultimately dies. If a person, bitten by a rabid animal, sees its (imaginary) image reflected in water or in a mirror, he should be deemed to have reached an unfavourable stage of the disease. 7-C.

Symptoms of Jala-trasa:—

If the patient in such a case becomes exceedingly frightened at the sight or mention of the very name of water, he should be understood to have been afflicted with Jala-trasa (Hydrophobia) and be deemed to have been doomed. Such a case of Jala-trasa (water-scare) even in an unbitten person or in a healthy person, if frightened (by such a scare), whether waking or in sleep, should be regarded as a fatal symptom. 7.


In the case of a bite by a rabid animal, the seat of the bite should be profusely bled (by pressing it) so as to let out all the (vitiated) blood. It should then be cauterized with (boiling) clarified butter and pasted with any of the aforesaid Agada, or the patient should be made to drink a potion of matured clarified butter. Clarified butter mixed with the milky exudation of an Arka plant, as well as a compound of white Punarnava[5] and Dhuttura[6] should be prescribed for the patient as an errhine. 8–A.

Treatment of bites by rabid dogs:—

A compound of pasted sesamum mixed with its oil, treacle and the (milky) juice of a Rupika plant eliminates the poison of a rabid dog (Alarka) from the system as a gale of wind drives a pack of clouds before it. A quantity of rice, two Tolas (one Karsha) in weight of the roots of Shara-pumkha and half a Karsha weight of Dhuttura (roots) should be pasted together with the washings of rice. The paste should be covered with (seven) Dhustura leaves and baked (on the fire) in the shape of an Apupaka (cake). The cake thus prepared should be given, at the proper time of taking a medicine, to a person bitten by a rabid dog for a complete nullification of the poison. But the use of these cakes is attended with certain other troubles at the time of their digestion and these troubles become subdued by a retiring to in a dry but cool chamber away from water. The patient (after the subsidence of the troubles) should be bathed the next day and a diet of boiled Shali or Shashtika rice with tepid milk[7] should be prescribed for him. On the third and on the fifth day, the aforesaid anti-venomous compound should again be administered in half doses to the patient for the elimination of the poison. 8-B.

The person in whom the poison (of a rabid dog or jackal, etc.) is spontaneously aggravated has no chance of recovery. Hence the poison should be artificially aggravated (and then remedied) before reaching that stage of aggravation. The patient should be bathed at the crossing of roads or on the bank of a river with pitcherfuls of water containing gems and medicinal drugs and consecrated with the appropriate Mantra. Offerings of cooked and uncooked meat, cakes and levigated pastes of sesamum as well as garlands of flowers of variegated colours should be made to the god (and the following Mantra should be recited). “O thou Yaksha, lord of Alarka, who art also the lord of all dogs, speedily makest me free from the poison of the rabid dog that has bitten me.” Strong purgatives and emetics should be administered to the patient after having bathed him in the above manner, since the poison in a patient with an uncleansed organism may sometimes be aggravated, even after the healing of the incidental ulcer. 8.

The poison of a (rabid) dog, etc., lies in the teeth and tends to aggravate the Pitta and the Vayu and hence the patient bitten by such animals is found to imitate their cries and nature. A patient afflicted with such poison cannot be saved even with the greatest care. The seat of a scratch made by the nails or teeth of any of those animals should be rubbed (and the poisoned blood should be let out). It should then be sprinkled over with tepid oil, since the poison in this case aggravates only the Vayu of the system. 9–10


Thus ends the sixth Chapter of the Kalpa-sthana in the Sushruta Samhita which deals with the symptoms and treatments of rat-poison.

Footnotes and references:


Different reading.—A bite by a Mushika of the Chucchundara class produces thirst, vomiting, fever, weakness, numbness of the muscles of the neck, swelling, abscess on the back, loss of the sense of smell and Visucikā. A compound of Cavya, Haritaki, Śunthi, Vidanga, Pippali, Śvetaka-seeds and the ashes of (the plants of) Vrihati pounded together and mixed with honey should be prescribed in this case,—Gayadāsa.


Some explains “Śvetā Punarnavā” to mean “white Punarnavā.” Gayadāsa reads “Śreshthā” in place of “Śvetā” in which case also the white species of Punarnavā is evidently meant.


According to Dallana, the recipe of this Ghrita is as follows:—One Prastha each of clarified butter, curd and milk, two Palas each of Karanja, etc., and sixteen seers of water to be boiled down to four seers, the drugs of the Kalka weighing one seer in all.


In place of “sapagandhā samṛttikā” some reads “sarpagandhāhimṛttikā”, While Jejjata reads “sarpagandhāgamṛttikā |”


Some explain “Śvetā Punarnavā” to mean “white Punarnavā”, but others explain it to mean “Śvetā (Katabhi) and Punarnavā”.


Some commentators prescribe the roots of Dhustura to be taken, while others hold that its fruits should be used.


Dallana says that in place of “kṣireṇoṣṇena” Gayadāsa reads “gavyenājyena”, that is to say, the diet should be taken with clarified butter. This reading of Gayadāsa seems to be the better one, as the use of clarified butter in such cases is supported by the custom of our country.

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