Elephantology and its Ancient Sanskrit Sources

by Geetha N. | 2012 | 36,369 words

Elephant is considered as an inevitable part of Indian community. So they developed the study of Elephant which is based on Hastyayurveda and Matangalila. Even from the ancient time Indians were awareness about their hygiene and health. They were protected against diseases. They protected not just their own race but also plants and animals. Therefo...

India is wealthy by its own culture. Each nation is varied from its own language, investiture, religion and mores etc. Kerala is the centre of festivals and other cultural events. There are many festivals celebrated in the temple, church and mosque in Kerala. We can see the elephants are the main components for the most part of festivals because elephant is considered as divine.

Elephants can be found in the earliest examples of Indian art, long before the sculptures and frescoes at Ajanta and Ellora were created. Terracotta seals from the Indus valley civilization at Harappa and Mohenjodaro display the easily recognizable profiles of tuskers. The seals, stamps, emblems of newspaper some Universities, Eblems of some national flags, Emblems of some Rupees were also reveal hints of animistic traditions in which the elephants were probably revered as icons of nature. Elephants are the part of culture and tradition, there was not any distinction between Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim or Christian. Tuskers are found not only Indian iconography but also in folk, art, etc.

Elephant is considered as an inevitable part of Indian community. So they developed the study of Elephant which is based on Hastyayurveda and Matangalila. Even from the ancient time Indians were awareness about their hygiene and health. They were protected against diseases. They protected not just their own race but also plants and animals. Therefore Hastyayurveda and Vrikshayurveda had got equal status in Ayurveda.

The thesis is divided into two parts (A and B). The first part contains four chapters and the second part includes five chapters. The first chapter introduces the topic and gives the survey of elephants.

The second chapter devoted to the books on elephants in detail i.e primary and secondary sources. Arthashastra, Ashtangahridaya, Carakasamhita, Sushratasamhita, Brihatsamhita; Hastyayurveda, Matangalila etc. are given a detailed description on this study.

The third chapter gives glimpses of description about primary source Hastyayurveda, which describes about the author, origin of elephants, treatments in ancient style etc. are in detail content analysis of Matangalila is narrated in the fourth chapter. Author, date, other works of the author, mythic origin of elephants, various castes names and their classification etc. are elaborately discussed in this chapter.

The fifth chapter begins from B part;discussing the life-cycle of elephants; which is divided into three viz. Baby, Adolescent and Adult, the stages of development and various names of them such as Bala, Pashuka etc. This chapter explains how the adult's nourish their young ones, how much food they want and various names in their each phases etc.

Capturing of elephant is the sixth chapter. The catching method is describes according to the Gajagrahanaprakara, and the methods are such as Varibhandha, Vashavilobhana, Anugata, Apata and Avapata and the essential qualities of mahouts, elephants training etc. are describing here. The last two bandhas were considered to be inferior because in these, the animals sustained injuries which many times crippled them or were fatal at times.

Seventh chapter deals with the method of keeping elephants in daily and seasonal regimen and Ayurvedic treatments of elephants in Kerala style. This chapter narrates the signs and symptoms of elephant diseases and its management and an ayurvedic treatment. This chapter briefly describes the major and minor diseases of elephants etc, the seasonal variations, Main Doctors on elephants recuperative treatments etc. are the subject matter. In the Ayurvedic treatment meat soup, rasayanas etc should be provided to them which will increase blood, pep, thrive, sperm etc.

The eighth chapter explains the use and values of elephants. In past, they were mainly used as beasts of burden and for military purposes; and are considered indispensable part in the timber industry and an inevitable part of the army. Today the use of elephants has been reduced to carry loads and in festive occasions decorated elephants got more place. Apart from this, they have considered as medicinal value. It's must fluid is considered as hair primitive, beneficial in disorders of bile, phlegm, wind and an antidote to poison and an effective healing agent. It describes that the elephant body partially or fully is considered as medicinal or economical use. Caraka, Vaghbhata and Sushruta are describes medicinal importance of elephants.

Nineth chapter explains elephants in Kavyas, Natakas, Pancamahakavyas, Itihasas Vedas, Puranas etc. are chosen for writing. Bhasa’s 13 plays, 3 Natakas of Kalidasa and Bhavabuti’s Natakas, Ramayana and some Vedas and Puranas are selected for writing. Love, anger, valiance, beauty, manea (must), natural beauty, decoration etc. are explained here.

The concluding remark is given at last an Appendix and Bibliography are added in this work. Today elephants are facing decay of its race. So that now-a-days the study of Elephantology is a very helpful to comprehend the pecularities of elephant.


Some remedies for the elephant protection from the decay of the elephant race. This study is an effort to understand the Elephantology and its ancient Sanskrit sources. For elephant's welfare or protecting elephants, the following matters are done.

1. To convince the laity (common people) for protecting elephants race decay. Lack of food is one important thing. So that to increase or develop the food system.

2. Spread the grass cultivation, provided essential food and water to the animal.

3. To convince the mahouts and to teach and trained them is essential thing, they should provided best salary and accident insurance Trained and experienced persons only appointed as mahout.

4. The study of wild beast is an essential matter, so it must implement in Kerala.

5. More veterinary surgeons for elephants are essential in Kerala and other states.

6 Permission given to nourish male and female elephant for fertility. Other wise the race may be disappear from the world.

7. More Elephant Rehabilitation centres will be open in all district with the help of elephant owners. Here is essential a Doctor on elephants, whose service must provide at any time. Here must avail/apply the Ayurvedic treatment also. There must be essential of the council including Doctors for elephants, Environmentalists, Elephant protectors, mahouts, wild animal protecting officers and S.P.C.A (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal).

8. Wild animals learning are opening in master of veterinary science.

9. Elephant's working time reducing and torturing is an essential thing. They should be given rest once in a week

10. Common people's awareness is essential, so that it must be penchanted with animal welfare board and wild animal protection centre.

11. Immunity of elephant's health and status is the motto of this work. Neither adoration nor neutralization, but a sincere attempt for revelation of the truth is the expected result.


Due to spiritual importance elephants, are occupying an important position in Indian society. To a state like Kerala, where temples and rituals exercise an everlasting impact on day to day life of ordinary people, this enhances its scope. Guruvayur temple is one of the largest elephant protecting centres in Kerala. This shrine is famous in Kerala Anakotta at Punnathurkotta.

All renowned temples like Shrikrshna temple at Guruvayur, Vatakkumnnatha temple at Thrissur, the Devi temple at Thiruvmanthakunna, Thiruvithamkoor Devaswam Board etc. have their own stables for protecting elephants. Certain families also keep elephants are considered as a symbol of their status. So the awareness of elephant science is inevitable.

It is my most pleasant duty to express my sincere and respectful thanks to my supervising teacher Dr. P. Narayanan Namboodiri, Professor, Department of Sanskrit, whose valuable suggestions and inspiration molded the work. My feeling of gratitude also goes to Dr. N.K. Sundareswaran, Head of the Department of Sanskrit. My sincere thanks are due to other faculty members, the teachers, non-teaching staff and friends for their encouragement and help in the preparation of this thesis. I would like to thank to the librarian of the Department of Sanskrit and C.H. Muhamed Koya Librarians. My special thanks to Librarians of Thunjanparambu, Kerala Sahitya Academy, Guruvayur Devasvam

Library, Malappuram Govt. College Library, Kottakkal Ayurveda College, Adayar Library, History Department Library, Manuscript Library of Malayalam Department, Calicut University, Elephant Welfare Association Library-Thrissur, for helping me in the preparation of the thesis. I extend my sincere thanks to Dr. K.C. Panicker, who helped me by giving the most valuable instructions and gave some books for the preparation of this thesis. I express my gratitude to Dr. Vivek, Dr. T.C.R. Nambiar, who helped me to clear my doubts. It is my great pleasure to express thanks to Ceruvalli Narayanan Namboodiri helped me to write the thesis. I extend my sincere thanks to Maheswaran Namboodiri at Poomullimana, Mangalamkannu Parameswaran and sons. My thanks to the mahouts Mr.

Satheesan, Harippad Vijayan, Nandakumar and others at Punnathurkotta, Guruvayur who helped me to take photos of elephants and giving me some valuable instructions. My thanks are due to Dr. E. Jayan, Dr. T. Mini, Mrs. E. Mallika, Dr. T.S. Ajitha and my family members, especially my uncle Mr. E. Narayanan, whose valuable inspiration and encouragement is very helpful for prepare this thesis. It may be a great fault if I have not expressed my thanks to Mr. Sajeesh, Research Scholar, Department of Sanskrit. I thank to the members of Bina Photostat and Computer Centre.

I express my sincere gratitude to them in this occasion.

C.U. Campus
Date: 31-12-2012


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