Sushruta Samhita, Volume 6: Uttara-tantra

by Kaviraj Kunja Lal Bhishagratna | 1916 | 113,078 words

This current book, the Uttara-tantra (english translation) is the supplementary part of the Sushrutasamhita and deals various subjects such as diseases of the eye, treatment of fever, diarrhea, diseases resulting from superhuman influences, insanity, rules of health etc. The Sushruta Samhita is the most representative work of the Hindu system of m...

Chapter LX - Symptoms and Treatment of demonology (Amanusha)

Now we shall discourse on the chapter which deals with the (symptoms and) medical treatment of the disease brought on through super-human[1] influences (Amanusha-Pratishedha). 1.

Now we dilate upon the dictum which has been put forward in the first portion of the present work, and which is to the effect that a patient suffering from ulcers should always be protected from the evil influences cast by night-rangers (i.e. ghost, monsters, and malignant spirits, etc.). Whoever produces superhuman character in a man by making him exhibit uncommon fortitude and marked irrelevancy in his dealings and the power to know the private and future events is called a Graha. 2–3.

Causes of influence by a Graha:—

Innumerable are the Grahas and their tutelary divinities who roam about in the world in quest of offerings or out of their innate tendency for mischief and cruelty and choose their victims from among persons who are impure in body, mind and acts—be they ulcerated or otherwise. These Grahas though possessed of various shapes and figures are mainly classified under eight groups or families. The Devas (deities) and their enemies (viz. the Asuras), Gandharvas, Yakshas, Pitris (manes), Bhujangas, (Serpent-dieties), Rakshasas (monsters) and Pishachas (filthy goblins) are the eight classes of Grahas. 4–3.

Indications of attack by Grahas:—

A person possessed by a Deva (divine) Graha is cleanly, contented, vigorous and with little sleep. He speaks in good and pure Sanskrit, betrays a strong and decided liking for flowers and perfumes, grants boons (after the fashion of a divine being) to all and is devoted to Brahmanas, and stares with a fixed gaze (in his eyes). A person labouring under the malignant influence of an Asura Graha (devil) perspires copiously, speaks ill of the gods, Brahmanas and preceptors, knits his brow with arched eyes, has no fear, becomes satisfied with all kinds of food or drink and exhibits vicious propensities. A person under the influence of a Gandharva Graha moves about happily along lovely river-banks, or in lovely forest. Always cleanly in body and acts, he shows fondness for songs, flowers and sweet scents, laughs merrily and croons sweet songs and dances. Copper-coloured eyes, partiality for wearing thin red garments, vigour and fortitude, repeated offers for granting boons or gifts to persons, taciternity, restiveness (D. R.—fastness in walking) and gravity of the mind are the symptoms which are manifested in a person coming under the influence of a Yaksha Graha. 6–9.

A person similarly affected by a Pitri Graha becomes calm and quiet as well as reverent towards the manes. He offers oblations on Kusha -grass and libations of water for their satisfaction, with the upper garment worn in a fashion so as to fall under his left arm and exhibits a liking for cooked meat as well as sesamum, treacle and Payasa. A person struck by the malignant influence of a Bhujanga Graha, sometimes moves on his breast along the ground like a serpent, always licks the corners of his lips with the tip of his tongue, becomes drowsy (D. R. irritable) and shows a marked predilection for treacle, honey, milk and Payasa. 10–11.

A fondness for flesh, blood and various kinds of ardent spirit, blank shamelessness, extreme cruelty, courageousness, irritability, extraordinary strength, stirring out in the night and an entire disregard of cleanliness are the traits which mark a person attacked by a Rakshasa Graha. Haughtiness, emaciation of the frame, roughness of behaviour, garrulousness, fetid smell from the body, extreme uncleanliness and restiveness, voracious eating, fondness for cold water and lonely places, stirring abroad in the night (D. R. fondness for walking about the out-skirts of forest) and roaming about weeping and engaged in vicious pursuits (D. R. anxious looks) are the features which show that a person has been possessed by a Pishacha Graha. 12-13.


If a person possessed by a Graha, has swollen eyes, quick pace, foam at the mouth which he licks himself, drowsiness, staggering gait which sometimes compels him to fall down on the ground or if he is possessed by a Graha after his fall from a hill, an elephant, a tree or such other high place, or if he be old,[2] he should be regarded as incurable. 14.

Times of possession:—

A Deva Graha strikes i.e. possesses a man at full moon; an Asura Graha at the meeting of day and night i.e. in the morning and evening twilights; a Gandharva generally on the eighth and a Yaksha on the first day of the fortnights. A Pitri Graha possesses a man on the new moon day; and a Sarpa Graha (serpent-devil) enters on the fifth day of the new or full moon. A Rakshasa Graha possesses a man at night and a Pishacha Graha on the fourteenth day of the fortnights. A Graha imperceptibly enters into the body of the patient in the same way as an image imperceptibly enters into (the surface of) a mirror, as heat or cold penetrates into the body of an organic being and as the rays of the sun are collected in the crystal lens known as the Surja-kanta gem and as soul enters the body unseen. 15–16.

Austere penances and vows, self-control, truthfulness, charities and religious practices as well as the eight qualities[3] are either wholly or partially present in the Grahas according to the degree of their respective power. These spiritual bodies never come in contact with, nor do they themselves strike human beings. Those who hold contrary opinion, must be ignorant of the mysteries of demonology. It is the thousands and hundreds of thousands and hundreds of millions of the followers of the Grahas, who are fierce-looking and fond of flesh and blood, and who stir abroad in the night and possess the men on earth. 17.

Of these malignant spirits (Grahas) those who are associated with the gods should be regarded as of celestial essence in virtue of their partaking of a tinge of divine virtues. Those who are known as Deva Grahas and are cleanly should be worshipped and homaged and prayed like the other gods of our Pantheon. The Grahas should be credited with those powers, virtues and characteristics which are the attributes of their respective masters. They are the issues of Nairiti’s daughters and their living has been fixed as such by the various Ganas (or groups of gods and demi-gods) as they are always adverse to truthfulness, i.e. the true performance of the dictates of the Sashtra. Those that roam about in quest of evil and mischief in spite of the celestial nature of their own divine essence and temperament have been termed Bhutas (spirits). Hence that branch of medical science which treats of the therapeutics of diseases which originate from the influences of Bhutas (or Grahas) is called the Bhuta- Vidya. 18–20.

General Religious Treatment:—

Japas (mental repetition of a Mantra sacred to any deity), Homas (offering of oblations to the gods) and other religious rites in accordance with the proper rules should be undertaken by a careful physician for their propitiation. Offerings of garlands of red flowers with red scents (such as red Sandal paste, Kumkuma, etc.), seeds (such as mustard, barley, etc.), honey, clarified butter and all sorts of victuals are the articles required generally for (propitiation of) all classes (of Grahas). 21.

Specific Religious Treatment:—

Clothes, wine, blood, flesh or milk should be offered to them according to their respective likings[4]. Offerings to the respective Grahas should be made on the day corresponding to that in which they generally strike their victims. Homas in the fire with the offerings of Kusha, Svastika, cakes (Pupa), clarified butter, umbrella and Payasa (porridge) should be made to the Deva (celestial) Grahas in divine temples. To the Asura Grahas the offering should the made in the yard (Chatwara), etc. of a house at the proper time {viz. at evening); offerings to the Gandharva Grahas should be made with wine and the soup of Jangala animals in the midst of a gathering; while those to the Yaksha Grahas should be made inside a house with the cakes of boiled Masha pulse (Kulmasha), blood, wine, etc. The Pitri Grahas should be propitiated with the offerings made on Kusha grass together with Madhavi and and Kunda flowers on the banks of a river; offerings to the Rakshasas should be dedicated in dreadful lonely forests or at the crossing of two roads, while to the Pishachas cooked or uncooked flesh should be offered in a lonely chamber. 22.

Medical Treatment:—

In case the prevalent Mantras enjoined to be recited on such occasions (in works on Demonology) are found to be ineffective the following medical measures, should be employed. Skin and hairs of a goat, a bear, a Shalyaka (porcupine), or of an owl pasted togother with Hingu and goat’s urine and made into incense sticks, should be burnt before the patient, who would be fumigated with the fumes emitted therefrom. The attack even of a violent Graha would readily yield to it. The drugs known as Gaja-pippali, Pippali- roots, Tri-katu, Amalaka and Sarshapa, duly soaked in the biles of a lizard, mungoose, cat and bear should be employed as unguents, snuffs and wash by an experienced physician. Dungs of an ass, horse, mule, owl, camel[5], dog, jackal, vulture, crow and boar pasted together with the urine of a she-goat should be duly cooked with an adequate quantity of oil. The oil thus prepared would be beneficial if used (as snuff, etc.) in the preceding manner. 23–25.

Shirisha-seed, Lashuna, Shunthi, Siddharthaka, Vaca, Manjishtha, Rajani and Krishna should be pasted together with goat’s urine and dried in the shade. Vartis (stick;) prepared with this should be applied with the bile (of a cow) along the eye-lids as an Anjana. Vartis prepared with Naktamala- fruit, Tri-katu, roots of Shyonaka and of Vilva as well as the two kinds of Haridra should be used as an Anjana in a similar way. Saindhava, Katuka, Hingu, Vayastha (Guduci) and Vaca, pasted together with goat’s urine and with the bile of a fish, should be similarly used as an Anjana in cases of attacks by the Grahas which would not otherwise yield. 26-28.

Matured clarified butter, Lashuna, Hingu, Siddharthaka, Vaca, Golomi, Ajalomi, Bhutakeshi (Jatamamsi), Jata (Gandha-mamsi), Kukkuti (a kind of bulb), Sarpa-gandha, Kana, (Kshira-kakoli), Vishanika (Madhurika), Riskya-prokta, Vayastha, Shringi, Mohana-Valli, (Vata-patrika), Arka-roots, Tri-katu, Lata (Priyangu), Anjana (Rasanjana), Srotonjana, Naipali, Haritala and other articles which have the efficacy of exorcising evil spirits, as well as the dungs, hairs, skin, Vasa, urine, blood, bile nails, etc. of lions, tigers, bears, cats, elephants, horses cows, dogs, Salyakas, lizards, camels, mongooses, etc., should be used in the preparation of oil and clarified butter which should be used internally as well as in snuffing and as unguents. Pills made of the above drugs should be used in sprinkling (wash) and their powdered compound in dusting (the body of the patient). A paste prepared with the above drugs should be used as plasters. The due and proper application of the oil, Ghrita, etc. thus prepared would, in a very short time, surely cures all sorts of mental disorders. 29.

Unholy and improper articles should not be employed in a case due to the influence of any Deva Graha (divine spirit). No hostile measure should be adopted in a case of possession by a Graha other than that due to the influence of a Pishacha Graha in as much as the mighty Grahas, if offended, might kill both the patient and the physician for the act. A physician, treating such a case with discretion according to the rules laid dawn in the chapter known as the Hitahita (Ch. XX, Sutra-Sthana) may acquire both fame and wealth. 30–31.


Thus ends the sixtieth chapter of the Uttara-Tantra in the Sushruta-Samhita which deals with the (symptoms and) treatment of the disease brought on through super human influences.

Footnotes and references:


Amānusha—lit. non-mānusha, i.e., other than human. It includes the deities, demons, ghosts, monsters and the manes and even the serpent-deities.


In place of “vārddhakena juṣṭaḥ” Mādhava reads “trayodaśābde”(?) i.e., (it is also incurable) when it has continued for thirteen years.


The eight qualities referred to are:—

  1. Animan or the superhuman power of becoming as small as an atom at will.
  2. Laghiman—power of becoming excessively light at will.
  3. Vyāpti—expansiveness.
  4. Prākāmya—irrisestible will.
  5. Mahiman—power of increasing the size at will.
  6. Iśitva—greatness.
  7. Vaśilva—self-control
  8. and Kāmāva-sāyitā—suppression of passion.


This Śloka corresponding to “cloth... likings” is only a variant according to Dallana. He does not seem to read this Śloka.


The word in the text is ‘Karabha’ which many mean a camel or an elephant. Dallana explicitly explains the word as a camel.

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