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 VIII - The medical treatment of insect bites

Now we shall discourse on insects, i.e. the measures, etc. to be adopted in cases of insect-bite, etc. (Kita-Kalpa). 1.

Various kinds of worms and insects (Kita) germinate from the semen, fecal matter, urine, putrid eggs and putrid carcases of serpents which are marked by Vataja, Pittaja (agneya) and Kaphaja (Ambuja) temperaments. The poisons of these vermin which are nothing but insects (Kita), are apt to be most dangerous in the long run on account of their being acted upon by the Doshas and may be divided into four[1] groups. 2.

Insects of Vataja Temperament:—

The eighteen classes of insects known as the Kumbhi- nasa, Tundikeri, Shringi, Shata-Kuliraka, Uccitinga, Agninama, Chiccitinga, Mayurika, Avartaka, Urabhra, Sarika-mukha, Vaidala, Sharava-kurda, Abhiraji, Parusha, Citra-shirshaka, Shata bahu and the Rakta-raji are possessed of a Vataja temperament and their poison tends to aggravate and derange the bodily Vayu and produce the specific diseases due thereto. 3.

Insects of Pittaja Temperament:—

The twenty-four families of insects known as the Kaundilyaka, Kanabhaka, Varati (asp), Patra-vrishchika, Vinasika, Brahmanika, Vindula (D.R.-Viluta), Bhramara, Vahyaki, Piccita, Kumbhi, Varchah-kita, Arimedaka, Padma-kita, Dundubhika, Makara, Shata-padaka (centipede), Pancalaka, Paka-matsya, Krishna-tunda, Gardabhi, Klita, Krimi-Sarai and the Utkleshaka are of a fiery i.e. Pittaja temperament and their poison tends to derange and aggravate the bodily Pitta and produce the specific diseases due to the derangement of that Dosha. 4.

Insects of Kaphaja Temperament:—

The thirteen families of insects known as the Vishvambhara, Panca-shukla, Panca-krishna, Kokila, Saireyaka Prachalaka, Valabha, Kitima, Suchi-mukha, Krishna- Godha, Kashaya-Vasika, Kita-gardabhaka and the Trotaka are possessed of Saumya i.e., Kaphaja temperament, and their poison aggravates and deranges the Kapha and produces the specific diseases which owe their origin to the deranged condition of that Dosha. 5.

Insects of Sannipatika Temperament:—

The twelve kinds of insects known as the Tungi-nasa, Vichilaka, Talaka, Vahaka, Koshthagari, Krimikara, Mandala-Pucchaka, Tunga-nabha, Sarsha- pika, Avalguli, Shambuka and the Angi-kita are dangerously fatal in their bite. A person or an animal bitten by any of these dangerous insects exhibits stages and symptoms similar to those of a case of a snake-bite and their poison tends to derange and aggravate the three Doshas (Sannipatika) of the body and produce the specific symptoms thereof. 6–A.

Symptoms of their bite:—

The seat of the bite seems as if on fire or being burnt with strong alkali and is characterised by a red, yellow, white or vermillion colour. The symptoms which are developed in the entire course of the poisoning (or are found to supervene) in cases of their bites are fever, breaking and aching pain (in the limbs), horripilation, vomiting, thirst, a burning sensation in the body, loss of consciousness, yawning, shaking of the limbs, difficult breathing, hic-cough, (sometimes) a burning and (at others) a cold sensation (in the seat of the bite), eruption of pustules, swelling (in the affected locality), appearance of nodular glands (Granthi), circular erythematous patches (Mandala) on the skin, ring-worm, Erysipelas, Kitima (Keloid Tumour) and Karnika (round about the seat of the bite) as well as any other symptoms peculiar to the Dosha aggravated by the poison of each species. 6.

The other characteristic features of the poison of these (fatal and strong-poisoned) insects should be speedily ascertained by comparing the symptoms of aggravation of the Dushi-Visha (consequent thereon) and by examining the effets (effects?) of the application of different anti-poisonous plasters as well. 7.

These are the characteristic features of sharp-poisoned insects; now hear me describe those of the mild- poisoned ones. The symptoms which are manifest in the case of a bite by such an insect are salivation (Praseka), an aversion to food, vomiting, heaviness in the head, a slight sensation of cold and the appearance of pustules and urticaria according to the deranged Dosha aggravated by the species of the biting insect. 8

The pulverised bodies of these insects possessing, as they do, the characteristic features of Dushi-Visha or enfeebled poison (lying inherent in a human system) is turned into a Gara or chemical (combinative or resultant) poison, if administered (internally) with any medicine or externally with any plaster. 9.

We shall henceforth describe the distinctive traits of one insect from another of the same species according to the classification and general characteristics and incurability of their bites. 9.

The Kanabha class of Insects:—

The Trikantaka, Kuni, Hasti-kaksha and the Aparajita are the four kinds of insects that belong to the Kanabha group and are extremely painful in their bites giving rise to swelling, aching in the limbs, heaviness of the body and a black aspect at the seat of the bite. 10.

The Gaudheyaka class of Insects:—

The five kinds of insects known as the Prati-surya, Pinga-bhasa, Bahu-varna, Maha-shiras and the Nirupama belong to the Gaudheyaka class. The stages and the symptoms of a bite by an insect of this group are often identical with (or mistaken for) a snake bite and are marked by all its characteristic pain and the appearance of dreadful Granthis (nodular glands) of varied colours and shapes. 11.

The six kinds of insects known as the Gala-goli, Shveta-krishna, Rakta-raji, Rakta-mandala, Sarva-shveta, and the Sarshapika belong to one and the same species. A bite by any of these insects excepting by a Sarshapika is attended with a burning sensation and slimy exudation from and swelling in the seat of the bite, that of the Sarshapika being accompanied by an attack of dysentery (Atisara) and pain at the heart. 12.

Shata-padi (centipede):—

The Shata-padi (centipede) species is divided into eight kinds, viz., the Parusha (rough), Krishna (black), Citra (of variegated colours), Kapilika (tawny brown), Pitaka (yellow), Rakta (red), Shveta (white) and the Agni-prabha (resembling, fire in virtue). A bite by any of these insects is attended with swelling, pain and a burning sensation in the heart. A bite by one of the Sveta or the Agni-prabha species is marked by all the aforesaid symptoms as well as by violent epileptic fits, an intolerable burning sensation and eruptions of white pustules (Pidaka). 13.

Manduka (frogs):—

The Mandukas (frogs) are divided in eight different species viz., the Krishna, Sara, Kuhaka, Harita, Rakta, Yava-varnabha, Bhrikuti and the Kotika A bite by any of these is accompanied by an itching sensation in the seat of the bite and a flow of yellow-coloured foam from the mouth. A bite by one of the Bhrikuti or Kotika species gives rise to the aforesaid symptoms as well as a burning sensation, vomiting and a severe attack of epileptic fits in addition thereto. 14.

A bite by one of the Vishvambhara species of insects is followed by Sita-jvara (catarrhal fever) and an eruption of white pimples (Pidaka) in the shape of mustard seeds round about the seat of the bite. A bite by one of the Ahinduka species is marked by piercing pain, a burning sensation, itching and swelling (in the affected locality), as well as by delirium. A bite (contact) by one of the Kandumaka species is followed by a yellowness of the complexion, vomiting, dysentery and fever, etc. A bite by one of the Sh uka-vrinta or such like species is attended with itching and Kotha (urticaria) and the bristles of the insects are found to be adhering to the affected locality. 15.

Pipilika (Ants):—

There are six kinds of Pipilika (ants) viz., the Sthula-shirsha, Samvahika, Brahmanika, Kapilika and the Citra-varna. A bite by any of these is attended with inflammatory swelling and a burning sensation (in the seat of the bite) resembling those produced by contact with fire. 16.

Makshika (stinging flies):—

Flies (Makshika) may be divided into six species viz., the Kantarika, Krishna, Pingalika, Madhulika, Kashayi and the Sthalika. A bite by any of these is accompanied by swelling and a burning sensation. A bite by one of the Sthalika or the Kashayi species, however, is marked by the preceding symptoms as well as by the eruption of pustules (Pidaka), with supervening symptoms in addition thereto. 17.

Mashakas (Mosquitoes):—

Mosquitoes (Mashakas) are divided into five species, viz., the Samudra, Pari- mandala, Hasti-mashaka, Krishna and the Parvatiya. A mosquito (Mashaka)-bite is characterised by a severe itching and swelling of the affected locality; while the symptoms which mark a bite by a Parvatiya one are similar to those of a bite by fatally venomous insects, and a sting of the points of their antenne is followed by the appearance of pustules (Pidaka) attended with a burning sensation and suppuration therein, when scratched by the finger-nails. The characteristic features of a bite by Jalaukas (leeches) with the mode of treatment thereof have already been described. 18.

Memorable Verses:—

The poisons of the Gaudheyaka, Sthalika, Shveta, Agni-samprabha, Bhrikuti and the Kotika belonging to their respective classes are incurable. 19.

Contact with the dead body, stool or urine of a venomous animal is accompanied by itching and a burning sensation, pricking pain, eruption of Pidaka (pustules), ulcers and Kotha as well as by a slimy and painful exudation. The local skin is found to suppurate and the treatment would be the same as in the case of a wound by an envenomed arrow. 20.

A bite which is neither depressed nor raised, but very much swollen with pain (round about), but unattended with any pain in the seat itself just after the bite, should be regarded as not easily amenable to any medical remedy. 21.

A bite by an insect of strong and acute poison should be treated as a snake-bite and the three-fold remedies to be employed in snake-bites according to the three fold divisions of snakes should also be employed in these cases. The measures of fomenting, plastering and hot washing would prove efficacious in these cases, except in the event of an insect-bitten patient having been found to have been fainting away on account of suppuration and sloughing in the seat of the bite, in which case all kinds of cleansing (emetic, purgative, etc.) and anti-poisonous measures should be adopted. 22–23.

Plasters of Shirisha, Katuka, Kushtha, Vaca, Rajani, Saindhava, milk, marrow, lard (Vasa), clarified butter, Shunthi, Pippali and Deva-daru in the form of Utkarika (poultice-like preparation) should be used in fomenting (the seat of the bite). As an alternative, the fomentation with the drugs of the Shala-parnyadi Gana in the same (Utkarika) form should be considered equally efficacious in the case. 24.

In the case of a Scorpion bite, the affected part should not be fomented. It might, however, be fumigated with vapours of the drugs to be dealt with later on. The medicinal remedies (Agadas) applicable in the several cases are here separately described. 25–26.

Recipes of remedies in different cases:—

An anti-venomous compound (Agada) consisting of Kushtha, Chakra (Tagara), Vaca, Vilva -roots, Patha, Suvarchika, house-soot and the two kinds of Haridra is efficacious in the case of a bite by a Trikantaka insect. An Agada consisting of house-soot, Rajani, Chakra, Kushtha and the seeds of Palasha destroys the poison of a Gala-goli insect. An Agada composed of Kumkuma, Tagara, Shigru, Padmaka and the two kinds of Rajani, pasted with water, proves curative in the case of a bite by a Shata-padi (centipede). An Agada consisting of Mesha-shringi, Vaca, Patha, Nichula, Rohini, and Balaka is efficacious in all kinds of Manduka - poisoning. An Agada consisting of Vaca, Ashva-gandha, Ati-bala, Bala, Atiguha (Sala-parni) and Aguha (Prishni- parni) nullifies the poison of a Vishvambhara insect. An Agada consisting of Shirisha, Tagara, Kushtha, the two kinds of Haridra, Amshu-mati and the two kinds of Saha destroys the poison of an Ahinduka insect. Cooling measures should be adopted in the night time in the case of a Kandumaka-bite, since the poison which is aggravated by the sun’s rays in the day does not prove amenable to any remedy, if applied at that time. An Agada consisting of Chakra, Kushtha and Apa- marga is efficacious in a case of Sh uka-vrinta -bite. As an alternative, the earth of a black ant-hill pasted with the expressed juice of Bhringa would prove efficacious in such cases. A plaster prepared with the earth of a black ant-hill and the urine of a cow proves curative in cases of bites of flies, ants and mosquitoes. The treatment of a case of a bite by a Prati-suryaka is the same as that of a snake-bite. 27-36.

Origin and Classification of Scorpions:—

Scorpions are divided into three classe, viz., the mild-poisoned ones (Manda-visha), those whose poison is neither mild nor strong (Madhya-visha), and the strong-poisoned ones (Maha-visha). Scorpions germinating from cow-dung[2] or from any other rotten substances are Manda-visha. Those which germinate from (decomposed) wood or (decayed) bricks are Madhya-visha (with poison neither mild nor strong); while those which originate from the decomposed carcase of a snake or from any other poisonous putrid organic matter are Tikshna-visha (strong-poisoned). The first group of scorpions includes twelve different species, the second three and the third and last fifteen, thus making thirty[3] species in all. 37-38.

Specific traits and Characteristics of mild-poisoned Scorpions:—

Scorpions which are black (Krishna) or dark-brown (Shyava) or of variegated colours (Karbura) or yellow (Pandu) or coloured like the urine of a cow or rough or dark blue (Mechaka) or white or red or greenish (Shadvala) or red mixed with white (Rakta-shveta)[4] or provided with hair on their bodies (Romasha) should be regarded as Manda-visha (mild poisoned ones). A bite by a scorpion of this species is accompained by pain (in the seat of the bite), shivering, numbness of the limbs and a flow of blackish blood (from the punctures of the bite). In the case of a bite at any of the extremities, the pain courses upward, accompained by a burning sensation, perspiration, swelling of the bitten part and fever. 39

Madhya-visha Scorpions:—

Scorpions of the Madhya-visha (mild-poisoned) class are red (Rakta) or yellow (Pita), or tawny (Kapila). All of them are ash-coloured in their belly and provided with three joints or links. They germinate from the stool, excreta, eggs and putrid carcases of the three (aforesaid) groups of snakes and respectively partake of the nature of the serpent whose fecal matter, etc. they originate from. A bite by a scorpion of this species is accompanied by a swelling of the tongue, an incapacity of deglutition and violent epileptic fits. 40.

Tikshna-visha Scorpions:—

The keen-poisoned (Tikshna-visha) scorpions are either white or parti-coloured (Citra) or blackish (Shyamala) or reddish white (Rakta-shveta) or red-bellied or blue-bellied or reddish or bluish yellow or reddish blue or bluish white; others are reddish brown and are (further divided into four classes), viz., three-jointed (like those of the previous class) or one-jointed or two-jointed or jointless. The poison of this group of scorpions, varying in colour and shape, is extremely dreadful and should be regarded as the veritable robber of vitality. They germinate from the putrified dead body of a snake or any poisoned animal. A bite by a member of any of these families produces those physiological transformations in the body of its victims which mark the different stages of a snake-bite, and gives rise to pustular eruptions (Sphota) on the skin accompanied by vertigo, a burning sensation (in the body), fever and excessive discharge of black- coloured blood from the channels (mouth and nostrils, etc.). And hence their bite proves so rapidly fatal. 41.

Treatment of Scorpion-bites:—

A bite by a scorpion of the middie-venomed or strong- venomed class should be treated as a case of snakebite to all intents and purposes. In a case of a bite by a mild-venomed one, the affected seat should be sprinkled over with the Chakra-Taila or with a tepid oil duly cooked with the drugs of the Vidaryadi group. The affected locality should be (repeatedly) fomented with the application of poultices in the Utkarika form prepared with anti-venomous drugs (Shirisha, etc.). The seat of the bite should then be marked with superficial incisions (scratches) and should be gently rubbed (Prati-sarana) with powders of Haridra, Saindhava, Trikatu and the fruit and flower of Shirisha. The tender leaves of Surasa pasted with the juice of Matu- lunga and the urine of a cow in a lukewarm state, or lukewarm (i.e., fresh) cow-dung should be employed in plastering and fomenting the affected part. Potions of clarified butter mixed with honey, milk mixed with a profuse quantity of sugar and honey, treacle mixed with cold water and perfumed with Catur-jataka, or cold milk mixed with treacle should be recommended as drinks. Fumigation (Dhupana) with the compound made of the feathers of the tail of a cock or a peacock, Saindhava, oil and clarified butter pasted together and burnt is a speedy destroyer of scorpion-poison. As an alternative, the fumes (Dhuma) of a compound made up of Kusumbha flower, the two kinds of Rajani and Kodrava straw mixed with clarified butter applied to the region of the arms speedily destroys the poison of a venomous insect in general and of a scorpion in particular. 42.


Cases of Luta (venomous spider)-bite (lit.—poison of a Luta) are the most difficult to diagnose and cure. The diagnosis of such a case puzzles the head of many an experienced physician, while novices in the art of healing find it a very difficult matter. In a case of doubt or of conflicting indications pointing equally both to the venomous and non-venomous character of the bite, a physician should employ anti-poisonous remedies of such a character as would not prove hostile (to the natural temperament and vital principles of the patient’s system nor to the course of food and drink he is enjoined to take or naturally takes), since the Agadas are applicable only in cases of poisoning and, applied otherwise in healthy non-poisoned persons, would produce all kinds of discomfort. Hence it is incumbent on a physician to gather conclusive evidence of the poisonous nature of the bite at the very outset. A physician, failing to ascertion the existence of poison, proves more fatal in many cases than the bite itself. 43.

Development of Luta-poison:—

As the first sprouting of a tree does not enable a man to correctly ascertain the species, so the poison of a venomous spider in its first stage of incubation into the body, does not develop any specific symptoms sufficiently potent to throw any light on its nature, nor does it give any hint as to its correct diagonosis. A spider (Luta)- poison latent in a human organism, is marked by a slight itching sensation in the seat of the bite, as if the poison were shifting from one place to another[5] in that locality, by the presence of Kotha (urticaria), and by an indistinctness of colour on the first day of its incubation. On the second day the seat of the bite becomes swollen at the end and sunk in the middle and the characteristic marks of biting show themselves. On the third day the specific symptoms (fever, shivering, etc.) of the poison of the animal set in. On the fourth day the poison is aggravated. On the fifth day the symptoms and disorders peculiar to its aggravated condition are present. On the sixth day the poison begins to course through the organism and envolopes the Marmas (or the vulnerable parts). On the seventh day the poison is diffused throughout the whole organism, becomes extremely aggravated and proves fatal. 44.


The poison of spiders (Luta) which are acutely and violently venomous proves fatal in the course of a week. That of a middle-poisonous one would take a little more time in order to prove fatal, while a bite by one of the mild-poisonous brings death within a fortnight. Hence a physician should try his best with anti-venomous remedies for the complete nullification of the poison immediately after the bite. 45.


A spider is found to secrete seven kinds of poison through the seven different parts or principles of its body, viz., saliva (Lala), nails (claws), urine, fangs, ovum (Rajas), fecal matter and semen, and such poison is either keen or mild in its potency, or follows a middle path between the two (keen and mild). 46.

Characteristics of poison according to its seat in the body of a spider:—

The poison which is secreted with the saliva (of a spider) gives rise to non-shiftting superficial Kotha (urticaria) attended with itching and slight pain. The poison from a scratch with the tips of its claws, is attended with swelling, itching, horripilation and a sense as if fumes had been escaping from the body. Any part of the body coming in contact with the urine of a spider is marked by a (slight) blackness of skin in the middle of the point of contact and redness at its edge, and the affected part is cracked. In a case of fang -poison (actual bite) the seat of the bite is marked by fixed circular patches and becomes indurated and discoloured. The poison in this case is strong. A part of the body touched with the Rajas, semen, or with fecal matter of a (venomous) spider is marked by eruptions of pustules which assume a yellow colour like that of a ripe amilaka or Pilu. 47.

Thus far we have described the effects of spider- (Luta)-poison according to its seat in the body of the insect and to the period of its aggravation. Now we shall describe the mythological account of the origin of these insects and the curable and incurable natures of their bites together with the course of medical treatment to be followed in each case. 48.

Mythological account of the origin Of Luta:—

Once upon a time, it is said, king Vishvamitra went to the hermitage of the holy Vashishtha and by his actions aroused the wrath of the holy sage. Drops of perspiration were thereupon produced on the forehead of that holy and celestially brilliant sage and trickled down on the stacks of hay culled and gathered (Luna) by the holy sages for the use of the (celestial) cow, and behold! they (the drops of sweat) were transformed into innumerable dreadful and venomous spiders (Luta) which, up to this day, are found to infest the articles of royal use for the iniquity of that royal sage (Vishvamitra). They are called Lutas (spiders) from the fact of their being germinated from the drops of perspiration of the holy sage Vashishtha fallen on the culled (Luna) stacks of hay and they are sixteen in number. 49.

The different names of spiders and the general symptoms of their bites:—

The poison of spiders is divided into two classes—curable with difficulty and incurable. Of the sixteen kinds of spiders, the bites or poisons of eight may be cured with the greatest difficulty, while those of the remaining eight are incurable. The Tri-mandala, Shveta, Kapila, Pitika, ala-visha, Mutra-visha, Rakta and the Kasana are the eight species of spiders which belong to the first group. A bite by any of them is attended with an aching pain in the head, pain and itching about the seat of the bite and the symptoms and disorders peculiar to the aggravated Vayu and Kapha. The Sauvarnika, Laja-varna, Jalini, Eni-padi, Krishna-varna, Agni varna, Kakanda and the Mala-guna belong to the second group and their bites are marked by bleeding, fever, a burning sensation, dysentery and disorders due to the concerted action of all the three deranged Doshas of the body, and the bitten part putrefies. Eruptions of various sorts and pustules and large circular patches as well as large, soft and shifting swellings, red or brown in colour, appear on the skin about the affected part. These are the general features of spider (Luta)-bites. Now we shall describe the characteristic symptoms which are developed by bites of the several classes of spiders and the course of medical treatment to be adopted in each case. 50–51.

Specific symptoms of spider-bites and their treatment:—

A bite by a spider of the Tri-mandala species is marked by a flow of black-coloured blood from the bite which is transformed into an open ulcer. It is also attended with deafness, impaired or cloudy vision and a burning sensation in the eyes. In such cases, a compound consisting of Arka roots, Ra/ani, Nakuli and Prishni-parnika should be employed as snuff as well as in drink (Pana), enemas (Vastis) and ointments etc. A bite by a spider of the Shveta species is followed by the eruption of white-coloured pustules attended with itching, burning sensation, epileptic fits, fever, erysipelas and pain in and secretion from the bite. An Agada consisting of Chandana, Rasna, Ela, Harenu, Nala, Vanjula, Kushtha, Lamajjaka, Chakra and Nalada is efficacious in such a case. A bite by a Kapila spider is characterised by eruptions of copper-coloured pustules of an indurated nature accompanied by a sense of heaviness in the head, a burning sensation, vertigo and darkness of vision (Timira). The remedy in such a case consists of an anti-poisonous Agada composed of Padmaka, Kushtha, Ela, Karanja, Kakubha- bark, Shthira, Arka - parni, Apamarga, Durva and Brahmi. A case of bite by a Pitika spider is marked by an eruption of hard pustules, vomiting, fever, colic (Shula) and redness of the eyes, and the remedy consists in the application of an Agada, composed of Kutaja, Ushira, Kinihi, Shelu, Kadamba and Kakubha -bark. A case of bite by an Ala-visha spider is marked by the bright red colour of the seat of the bite, eruption of pustules like mustard seeds, parchedness of the palate and a burning sensation in the body. The remedy in such a case should consist of an Agada composed of Priyangu, Hrivera, Kushtha, Lamajja, Vanjula, Shata-pushpa and the sprouts of the Pippala and the Vata trees. The case of bite by a spider of the Mutra-visha class is attended with putrefaction (of the affected locality), erysipelas, a flow of blackish blood (from the seat of the bite), cough, difficult breathing, vomiting, epileptic fits, fever and a burning sensation. The remedy in such a case consists in Manah-shila, ala, Yashti-madhu, Kushtha, Chandana, Padmaka and Lamajja pasted together and mixed with honey. The case of bite by a spider of the Rakta species is marked by eruptions of yellow-coloured pustules full of blood and coloured red in the extremities (round the seat of the bite), with a burning sensation and slimy secretion. The Agada in such a case should be prepared with Toya (Balaka) Chandana, Ushira, Padmaka and the bark of Arjuna, Shelu and Amrataka. A bite by a spider of the Kasana class is attended with a flow of slimy cold blood (from the bite), and with cough and difficult breathing, the treatment being the same as in the case of a bite by a spider of the Ratka class. 52–59.

A bite by a spider (Luta) of the Krishna class smells of fecal matter and is attended with a scanty flow of blood, as well as with fever, epileptic fits, vomiting, burning sensation, cough and difficult breathing. The treatment of such a patient should be taken in hand without holding out any definite hope of recovery and the remedy in this case should consist of an Agada composed of Ela, Chakra, sarpakshi, Gandha-nakuli, Chandana and the drugs known as the Maha-sugandhi (as described in the Dundubhi-svaniya chapter). The case of bite by an Agni-varna spider is marked by a burning sensation in the seat of the bite, excessive secretion (of blood), fever, a sort of sucking pain, itching, horripilation, a burning sensation in the body and eruptions of pustules. In a case of this type, the patient may be treated with the Agada prescribed for the treatment of a bite by a spider of the Krishna class but no hopes should be held out. 60–61.

General Remedies:—

An Agada made of Sariva, Ushira, Yashti-madhu, Chandana, Utpala and Padmaka may be used with advantage in cases of spider-bites of all types. The bark of Shleshmataka and Kshira-pippala should be deemed equally efficacious in all cases of spider-bites, and these may be employed in any shape, viz., as snuff, potion, unguent, etc. 62.

We have described (the symptoms and the treatment of the bites of) the eight classes of spiders which can be cured with difficulty. Those of the two classes (of the other group whose bites are generally incurable) have also been described above, as being sometimes found amenable to medicine (with the greatest difficulty). Now hear me describe (the symptoms and the treatment of the bites of) the remaining six species which are incurable. 63–A.

Specific Symptoms of the incurable cases of Spider-bites:—

A bite by a spider of the Sauvarnika species is marked by swelling and a frothy secretion and a fishy smell from the scat of the bite, and is followed by cough, difficult breathing, fever, thirst and violent fainting fits. A bite by a Laja-varna spider is marked by a flow of flesh-smelling and fetid blood from its seat as well as by a burning sensation, dysentery, fainting fits and pain in the head. A case of bite by a spider of the Jalini species is very severe and is marked by a cracking of the scat of the bite which is striped with lines as well as by numbness, difficult breathing, parchedness of the palate and continued dizziness of the head. The bite by an Eni-padi spider resembles the seeds of black sesamum in shape and is marked by thirst, fever, fainting fits, vomiting, cough and difficult breathing. A bite by a Kakandaka spider is marked by an excruciating pain and a reddish-yellow colour at its scat. A bite by a Malaguna spider is characterised by a cracking of the seat of the bite in several parts and is marked by a red colour, smoky smell, extreme pain, fever and epileptic fits. 63.

Treatment of the incurable cases of spider-bites should, however, be taken in hand by a wise physician with a due consideration of the aggravated Dosha or Doshas in each case with the exception of making incisions (cheda-karma). 64-A.

Surgical Treatments:—

In all cases of the curable types of spider-bites, the affected part should at once be cut open and removed with a Vriddhi- patra instrument and the incisioned part should then be cauterised with a red-hot Jambvoshtha instrument in the absence of any fever or such like distressing symptoms and in the event of its not occurring in any of the vulnable parts of the body (Marmas). The act of cauterisation should be continued until the patient himself (through pain) prohibits the continuation of the same. If the affected part is found to be attended with a slight swelling, it should be cut open and removed. It should then be plastered with a paste of the (Maha- sugandhi and such other) Agada mixed with Saindhava and honey or with the paste of Priyangu, Haridra, Kushtha, Samanga and Yashti-madhu. A potion composed of the decoction of Sariva, the two kinds of Yashti-madhu,[6] Draksha, Payasya, Kshira-morata, Vidari and Gokshura mixed with honey should be administered to the patient. The affected part should be washed with a cold decoction of the bark of the Kshiri-vrikshas. Any other distressing symptoms should be remedied with anti-poisonous measures with an eye to the deranged Doshas involved in the case. 64.

Any of the (ten-fold) remedial measures of Nasya (snuff), medicated collyrium, unguents (Abhyanjana), potions (Pana) Dhuma (fumigation), Avapida form of snuff, gargling, emesis, purging and blood-letting by the application of leeches should be adopted in a case of spider bite according to its requirements. 65.

All cases of bites by any insect or by any snake, and ulcers incidental to those bites should be carefully treated with measures and remedies laid down in connection with snake-bites as long as the stage of inflammation and suppuration would last. The growths (if any) of pappille (Karnika) around the seat of the bite should be removed after the subsidence of the swelling by the application of a plaster consisting of Nimba leaves,[7] Trivrit, Danti, Kusumbha flower, Rajani, honey, Guggulu, Saindhava salt, Kinva and the dung of a pigeon pasted together, and such diet as would not aggravate the effects of poison should be carefully prescribed. The papillatous growths (Karnika) due to the poison of any kind should be scratched with a proper surgical instrument in the event of their being hard and painless and should then be plastered with a paste of purifying (Sodhaniya) drugs (such as Nimba leaves, etc.) mixed with honey. 66.

The specific features and treatment of the bites by the one hundred and sixty-seven types of insect are now described. The subjects mentioned but not included within these one hundred and twenty chapters (from the commencement of the book) would be dealt with in detail in the latter part of the present treatise (Uttara-Tantara). 67-68.

We have not heard of a holier discourse than the medical science on account of the eternal and imperishable character of the Ayurveda (the science of life) from its tested merit and its beneficial effects upon the created beings and since it is always worshipped by the whole human race for the fact of its fully explaining the import of words (i.e. delineation of its specific subjects). Who ever stores up in his memory and acts up to these sacred and worshipful injunctions on the science of life propounded, as it is, by the nectar-origined sage (Dhanvantari), the preceptor of all physicians and equal to the celestial Indra in respect of majesty, enjoys happiness both in this world and in the next. 69.


Thus ends the eighth Chapter of the Kalpasthana in the Sushruta Samhita which treats of the measures to be adopted in the case of an insect-bite.

Here ends the Kalpa Sthana.

Footnotes and references:


Dallana says that the four groups are to be determined according to the origin of the insects from the semen, etc. of a Darvi-kara, Mandali, Rājila, or a Vaikaranja serpent. To us it seems, however, that the groups should be Vātaja, Pittaja, Kaphaja and Sannipātaja.


Dallana says that by cow-dung (Gomaya) is meant the dung, the urine etc. of not only a cow, but of a buffalo, etc. as well


According to Gayadāsa the total number of the three classes of scorpions would be twenty-seven, of which the first (mild-poisoned) class consists of eleven, the second consists of three and the third of thirteen.


In place of “white, red and whitish red” some read “white, red and little red” (Arakta), while others make it “white in the abdomen (Śvetodara), red and white.”


In place of “Prachala” Gayadāsa reads “Prabala,” i.e., strong and says that the poison becomes stronger and stronger with the lapse of time.


Mention of Madhuka twice in the list shows that one part each of both the kinds Yashti-madhu (liquorice)—grown on lands and in water—should be taken.


Gayadāsa reads “Śikhi” (Lāngalaki) and “Vamśa” (scrapings of bamboo) in place of “Nimba-patra”. He also reads “Danta” (tooth of a cow) in place of “Kinva.”

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