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...

Chapter 7 - Ayurvedic treatments of Elephants in Kerala style

Summary: Method of keeping elephants in daily and seasonal regimen and Ayurvedic treatments of elephants in Kerala style.

A newly caught elephant will go through a rather miserable condition in which it exhibits a tendency to die. So he must be treated with great care, especially in the early days of captivity. He is very fond of water; he should be washed frequently and given opportunity to plunge in streams. Inspection of bed and water, exercise, suitable medicine, rubbing down with powder returning to the stall post, food accompanied by ghee and jaggery, giving of pastry, bathing in drinking water, and in the afternoon, food accompanied by a quarter of sesame oil and medicine, and then sleep, there are inevitable in the daily routine of elephants.

Scrupulously the elephant should be provided with desirable food and water. So that it could be pleased. The elephant inner body is having heat and it needs water. The bedew is a natural treatment for them. The washing helps to make them tender hearted benhomies. Bathing helps them to cure the wounds from their body.

Some important food items are always be given to the elephants. For eg. stalks and bulbs of lotus, water, lillies, plantains, edible lotus, roots, trapa bispinosa, durvagras, udumbara thurifera, sugar cane, spikenard, banyan, bamboos, sportus and fruits of figs, wood-apples and other sweet delicacies. Rice grits mixed with grass is to be given to elephants, which increase this measure one ‘kuduba’ each day shall be given.

The quantity of food is to be supplied to elephant is about '160-180 kg' green grass and leaves and had 6.8 kg groceries and '80 kg' other foods, besides this '56 gram' salt and '28 gram' oil '90 kg' (straw) are considered (to given). It drinks about '190 litres' water each and everyday.[1]

Elephant's nails do not split, the sole of its foot doesn't waste away, its feet do not burn on the road, the hairs grow and the food aspect is not destroyed, if his feet are constantly bathed. By the way of bathing his body overcome skin diseases, wounds due to binding. It destroys disorders due to cold wind, makes the thighs and the body bending, strengthens, quickly and produces gentleness good character, strength, and comfort.

Elephants eyes are anointed with ghee all time, diseases of the eye do not arise and the sight remains strong. By anointing the tusks constantly, their tusks are made stout with firm sockets, smooth immune to perforation and capable of tusk fight.

na bhedamayanti nakhastalom ca
na kshiyate nadvani padadahah
bhavanti kesh ashca na casyadrishtir-
ni hanyate santat padasekat
stambhadijit kshapitashitasamirakopah
sandhyanga marddavakaro
laghu brimhanashsca
snigdatvasatva balasaukhyakridangsekah

abhikshnam sadu pashayanti
ghritabhyamgena nityashah
akshiroga jayante
sthira drishtishca dantinam
sthiraveshastau dridau dantau
snigdau vyathavivarjitau
dantaghata samarthaua ca
dantabhyamgena nityashah

Salt is considered as to elixir to elephants. Eating salt caused bladder purification to displace the worms, cure the air in motion, to annihilate the diseases, quickly improve want of craving and create dampness in elephants. It helps them the state of better digestion beneficial in this world Ghee with sugar and milk smeared on the foot. Dainty rice and best wheat grains are given to them in the early morning.

One shall give meal to put together of the three spices, the two curcumas, costus, caraway, achgranthes, aspera, the two karnjas, garlic vaca, clypeahernandifolia, ramatha, white mustard, soapberry seeds, the root of plumba gozeylania; pungent, vara, ironflings, vermifuge and nyagrodhi mixed with the sesame oil - are given at dawn. For curing the cough problem and wind, an elephant shall be given to the Kabala accompanied by cardamoms, vaca, garlic, rock-salt, dry ginger, white mustard, asafoetida, pepper and vermifuge stirred in oil.[3]

Sesame and rice gruel compounded with sour milk and oil-cake, together with jiggery with drinking water shall be given to an elephant to make him stout.

Signs and Symptoms of the Diseases

The common signs seen in elephant are as follows:—

  1. Sleepy eyes with weak eyelids and increased tears.
  2. Bright red or pale upper palate, trunk, and anus.
  3. The presence of scar on head, trunk, neck, back of ears, etc.
  4. Decreased movement of legs, weak swinging of ears and tail.
  5. Dry, pale, hard fissuring of skin.
  6. Mild or no sweating around nails.
  7. Decreased amount of urine which is dark coloured and foul smell.
  8. Hard stool indicating indigestion.
  9. Decreased appetite and apethatic look.
  10. Body temperature is very high which is near to 1000 Fahrenheit=32oC.


  1. Give plenty of water. Provide adequate rest and sleep.
  2. Provide nutritious diet.
  3. Provide medicines that improve appetite and general health.
  4. Administer antihelminthies.

Major Diseases

Imperfection of wind-bile and phelm, orgiastism, tormenented thirst, arthritis, haemorrage septicemia, rabbis, stroke, muscle pain, meastes, cataract, jaundice, fever, pediculosis (worm) wound, injury, contusion, dislocation, sprain, fracture, deep wounds, bite of other animals like tiger, diseases of the elephant tusk, infections helmithic infestation, diseases of foot and mouth, trypanosomiarisis (elephant surea) etc. are the certain common diseases seen in elephants.

The Common Diseases of Elephants (Diseases and Affliction)

It is says that prevention is always better than cure. The improper hygienic condition of the tamed elephant is a major cause for many diseases. So it should be brought up in proper hygienic condition. So that it does not suffer from any diseases. Camping site (elephant stables) should always be selected on high, well drained and level ground and close to a flowing stream where plenty of clean water and food fodder are available. Regular feeding, watering, bathing and supervision by a mahout, preferably a veterinary surgeon is necessary for the maintenance of good health of a domesticated elephant.[4]

It wants more attention for daily caring. Their improper eating, drinking and sleeping caused for indigestion and provoke the three bodily humors (wind-bile and phlem), causing diseases of body and mind. Gajashastras mention shaking of three bodily humours are causes of diseases.[5]

Barley and sugarcane increase the strength of the elephants. Dried barley would derange the humours the elephants.

I. Imperfection of Wind

The imperfection of wind shows some special symptoms in elephants. It is identified by unstabled mind, nimbleness sensation, reverse, perceive, sorrow, marness, lack of forbearance, weariness, broken nail, trempless legs and foot, rough skin, marcescence of hair, risen nervecells, blood vessals, rugged tusks, messy eyes, etc. are the symptoms of the wind diseased elephants.

II. Imperfection of Bile

Cando nirmanditakshastanukararadanatvagnakhashrotrarma
grivagatrafparamghrirbahubhugarunadringdurbalo bahvalikah
chayecchurdveshti gharmam visyajati naciraddanamuttanavedi
hiyetoccaih prahi nam shrayatipunaribhah paittiko natishobhah

The cause for bile is irritable in nature. Reddish eye, thin trunk, emancipate bodies, tendency to remain in to shade, dislike heat, immediate animosity in things, slow flow of must fluid, etc. are the symptoms of blemish of the bile.

III Phlem

Unusual swinging of nails, trunks, head and the yellowish nob, tint of eyes, and they are mope and imperturbable, resolute, deep correctner, aplomb, and fond of instrumental music, lustful. These are speciality of diseases of the phlem.

haryakshah sumahangulikarashirah kumbhadirishatpriyo
natikrudhyati, mandarahni, rabhayo gambhiravedi stirah
akshhobhyah sumukho vilinataralo vinadigtapriyah
pina snigdara doftimandagamanah kamigajah shleshmalah

Daily bathing decreases the bodily sickness like skin diseases, wounds due to binding, weapons, and cuts, dryness, stiffness of the limbs, etc. It also helps to destroy wind diseases, give strengthness, gentleness and comfort. If their tusks are anoint constantly it made stout, with firm sockets, smooth, immune to perforation and capable of tusks fights.

It says that salt is like elixir to elephant.

jayanti ca bahu bhuktam shodhanam mutravasteh
krimihridanilahari vyadividvamsanam ca
arucishamanamashu kledanam varananam
lavanamamritatulyam vakti dharmavatare

The kabala accompanied by cardamoms, vaca, garlic, salt, dry ginger, white mustard, asafoetida, pepper, and vermifuge, stirred in oiled to be given to an elephant for stabilized his phlem and wind.

IV Orgiastism

At the time of must, frequent flow of urine is caused to increase the temperature of the penis. Constant bathing is the treatment for this and give a pala of chalk (naigarika) mixed with ghee.

V Tormented Thirst

Shutting the eyes, breathing with tribulate sniffing here and there dryness of mouth, sluggishness, shivering the eartips, frequent yawning, tumbling in the dust, redness of the urine, and reddish eye, are the signs of the thirsty elephant.

Showing this symptom the elephant should be given much water for drink and allow to bath.

VI Anthrax

Anthrax is a major contaminative disease affecting elephants during the rainy season. This disease has vigorous effect. It suddenly increases the body temperature causing bleeding from phlem layers. The preventive measures consist of immediate segregation of sick animals and thorough disinfection of the contaminated place. Cleanliness is very essential thing for preventing the disease from other animals. The infected litter calf should be disposed of by burying. The carcass of the animal should be cut open and should be buried deep.

VII Haemorrage Septicamia

It is a highly infectious disease. The disease effects either in the initial or the latter stages of rainy season. The major symptoms of the diseases are swelling in the head, neck, shoulders and between the jaws;lack of thirst, complete loss of appetite, mouth being usually kept open, the trunk contracted, high fever, diarrhea, and scanty and turbid urine.

There is no treatment prescribed for the disease except precautions.

VIII Trypanosomiarisis (Elephant Surra)

Continuous or frequent fever is the major symptom of the disease. Fever effected elephant will be in active with pale phlem layers. Elephants become dull and are disciplined to move about. The quantity of urine will be decreased and it comes out in green colour. Gradually the elephant losses limbs health. Major precautions against the disease are prevention from the bite of poisons creatures and marsh flies.

This disease is effected by 'Trippinosomiya' of blood. Dropsy, anaemia, and tiredness are the symptoms of this disease, and is affected their body parts such as ear back, trunk and throat. Disease is confirmed by testing the blood.

IX Foot and Mouth Diseases

Bitter taste in mouth, increased temperature, hesitation in taking food, scar in tongue check and tip of trunk, etc. are the major symptoms of the diseases. When the diseases effect, then the lungs swells. Loss of condition takes place due to inability of the animal to eat. When feet are affected, they become swollen and tender and cause the animal to limp. It is an infectious disease. Attention to hygienic and sanitary conditions is essential. Mouth and feet of the effected elephant should be washed three or four times daily with some mild astringent lotion. Though not a serious disease in absence of adequate attention it will affect the routine of elephants.

X Small Pox (Elephant Pox)

Small pox is a specific fever characterised by eruptions, it is similar to small pox in human beings. Buhils will be formed in the body which will burst to leave back the sear. This is a serious contaminative disease. Sick animals should be isolated and the premises should be thoroughly disinfected. It is an acute and highly infectious disease. The animal becomes weak and listless.

XI Rabies

Rabies is caused by the bite of the diseased dog. It is communicated by jackals and wolfs. The major symptoms are restlessness, trembling, convulsion and tendency to become to loneliness. The animal shows lack of hunger, and desire to drink water. Sometimes it makes abuses and sometimes roars and sometimes seems violent. The animals' shows lack of appetite and desire and sometimes roars and may become violent. Its nature undergoes severe changes. In this situation it should be kept under frequent observation and if necessary be destroyed without delay.

XII Elephantiasis

It is a dangerous disease. It destroys the elephant's health in fully. Two to six years old elephant kids affect this disease. A worm known as 'phileriyar' causes this diseases. This worm reaches the inner ship, blood vessels, lasika vessels and mixed tissues. The larva is known as phaileriya; who modulate in the body and are very dangerous. It caused to stopping the blood circulation lumbness, and thus causes for heart failure. The major symptom is to contract swelling in the fleet of the Elephant in rest time; after the rest or working time, its neck and forelegs were building. Diseased skin seems to be dry; the elephant seems to be lean and tired. There is no effective treatment for this disease. The only way is to use worm controlling medicine and to prevent the mosquitoes from the earth.

XIII Fever

The normal body temperature of an elephant varies from 35.5 to 36.6 degree celsius Elephants temperature of 37.8 degree centigrade indicates considerable fever. Arise in temperature of two to three degree centigrade is considered grave. Wounds or injuries caused for its fever. It is prevented by only the help of a veterinary surgeon.

Hastyayurveda's first chapter describes it as:—

rite manushyadrajendra nanyo vishahate jvaram
tejotika manushyastu sahante tenate jvaram
esha ghoro mahavyadhir jvarah pakalasamjnitah

Its symptoms and treatments are same as human being's fever.

XIV Arthritis

This disease regularly affects the working elephants. The symptoms are lump in the joints, wear ness of the joints, wounds of the body parts, etc. The distress of the joints walking with legs limp dragging, lying and rising onerously, etc. are primary symptoms. The simultaneous application of Ayurvedic and allopathic treatment prevents this disease.

XV Tuberculosis

This disease is transcripted from human beings. Extremely leanness panting, severe tribulation, etc. are the symptoms. Working elephants are affected by this disease. For strengthening the body, best food are given to them. More attention is given to the animal.[10]

XVI Indigestion (Dyspepsia)

Some elephants are attacked by this disease. Epsom salt is given plenty to eat for them (elephant). The solution of such salt curing indigestion. And the green grass or green leaves, etc. are forbidden. At this time elephant seems to be tired. Malnutrition causes in growing parasites in the belly. Then elephant shows hesitation to eat and drink. It's egests seemed scable coloured, in hard green colour. It had in elemency smell, in hard green colour. It had in clemency smell; some times it is in solidify and otherwise seems as lubricious. At this time elephant had given complete rest; and have given nutritioned and variety of good food items. In this time sometimes it causes worms. Then the elephant should be provided with worm invading medicines. It (elephant) had given rest and more attention in the time of diseases.[11]

XVII Stoppage of Bowel (Anaha)

Stoppage of bowel is most commonly seen in elephants because of peristalsis. It is mainly due to improper diet pattern. It is mainly seen in winter season. This is mainly due to two reason (1) improper diet, sudden change in body temperature and suddenly shifting from hot climate to cold water or drinking water after coming from hot climate.

Symptoms are negligence to eat and drink constipation, protruded abdomen, severe abdominal pain, restlessness, rathing on ground, etc. Sometimes vomiting may occur. Sometimes it may last for 40 days. So that it is a dangerous disease.

Because of impurition of gas sometimes the bowel may get inflamed and get burst and the elephant may die. Diet should be maintained at this time. It is not good to give any analgesics (sedatives) to relieve pain. Manual evacuation is done. Then soap and water enema/castrol oil/liquid paraffin is given. I-V glucose is also given to relieve from tiredness. When stoppage is relieved nutritious diet is given.

Gazing in fields with bamboo cultivated (pasturage) is good.

XVIII Spasmodic Colic (Antrashula)

Sudden cold climate and indigestion may lead to spasmodic colic. Symptoms are severe and intermittent stomach pain, loss of satisfaction after food intake, restlessness, etc. Urinary retention may be present. It is not associated with fever.

Treatment includes enema (i.e., soap and water). To relieve pain analgesics are given. If the elephant is having spasmodic colic, then isolation is recommended and variety of food is included in diet pattern.

XIX Constipation

In constipation, the feel matter will be very hard. This mainly caused due to faulty diet pattern. If constipation is not severe, administration of Epsom salt daily one/two times is enough. If still not relieved soap and water enema is given.

XX Cardiac Disorders/Diseases of the Heart

The major caused for cardiac disease in elephants are physical pain. One of the common ways of death due to cardiac arrest in elephant is prolonged walking in the hot sun leading to unbearable hotness there by resulting in cardiac arrest.


Elephant walking in hot sun long should be given plenty of cool drinks to drink. Remove all chains and pour cold water over the body. Make the elephant stay in shade under sheds. Pour pure water into mouth. Spread salt in the mouth. To relive from weakness inject stricknie dissolved in ice water.

Disease of the legs/feet

Dirty stables are the causes of feet diseases. Hastyayurveda describes 30 kinds of padarogas (feet diseases) and its treatments. For recovering the disease, Ayurveda mixed with Allopatic treatments are the best one. Reducing scable abating the feet disease, gypsum salt package stirred with coconut oil and this pack pricking elephants diseased feet; for this its feet should be cleanliness. Dried ginger mixed with butter and apply it into the affected area is another treatment, by this feet disease may abated.

Cow's butter mixed with salt or Python's butter rubbing is a best remedy for this disease. Otherwise, purified gulgulus, neem-leaf, dried ginger, pepper, long pepper and sesame are mixed and it will rub to the affected area is a best treatment for feet diseases.

The commonly seen disorders of foot in elephants are deep wounds, itching, fungal infections found in between and around nails, edges and undernealth foot etc. At this time not wash the foot; and keep it cleanly, use antiseptic lotion daily at once. Now it is washed in formalin liquid and used antibiotics and inject antibiotic medicine.

The third chapter of Hastyayurveda describes it clearly:—

Ayojanashatam sardam vicaranto'pi kunjarah
niravahanti na sidanti salilenaiva kevalam
yada na parishicyanta karmdakasikaraih
bhavanti kushtinosntashca hastinastena hetuma

Decamali oil is massaging elephant's body for insisting the bascillus and for not affecting the leg or feet diseases.


Wounds are mainly of four types, they are

  1. punctuated wounds
  2. incised wound
  3. lacerated wound and
  4. contused wound


  1. First of all control bleeding
  2. Remove any dirt, accumulated substances or any other objects from the wound.
  3. Then waste or rubout the wound neatly.
  4. Provide appropriate medicine to prevent infections flies and other dirt's.
  5. Provide adequate rest and sleep.

Milk boiled with dried ginger, long pepper, grapes and sugar is given for curing wounds.

Points to be remembered

a. In the beginning dressing should be done twice daily aseptically.

b. The antiseptic lotion used for washing out the wound is 1 (one) ounce phenyl added to 18 lt. of hot water (105oC)

c. Dry the wound after washing and apply medicines.

d. For easy healing of the wound two or three pinch of CUSO4

(thurisu) is added to one ounce of water for washing.

e. It is better to apply the above mentioned lotion of the cleaned wound once daily for two or three days.

f. To prevent the flies either vegetable oil/or carbolic oil can be applied around the wound.

Deep Wounds

If minor wounds are left uncared, microbes may enter the wounds and it gets inflected leading to deep wounds. If the wounds site is less, it can be increased using groups and the germs can be taken out from the wound one by one using the forceps. While washing using antiseptic lotions more or less gems can be washed out. After manipulation cover the wound site using cloth piece dipped in oil. Repeat it for two-three days.

This helps to remove all germs.

In the event of severe injury in the war, balls of (flesh of) crows, hens, cuckoos and owls must be given mixed with honey.

The 3rd chapter of Hastyayurveda deals with the treatment of wounds and their characteristics:—

vrinasyopakaramo tneyamstirvidhatmanah
sodhanam ropananam caiva savarnakarannam tatha

When a pustule is noticed, apply steam for 1 (One) litre daily in the morning and evening. Mustard powder, CaCO3 (Quick line/caustic lime Cao/Ca(OH)2 is taken in equal quantity and mix in kerosene and make it in paste form. Apply this paste on the pustule. If the tip of pustule is soft enough then incisions and drainage is done.

After care of incised pustule

1. Clean the wound antiseptic lotion

2. Plug the wound using cloth sated in antiseptic lotion, like saline, yusolete.

3. Repeat the above, 2 procedure until all the dead tissues get removed.

4. If the wound base is clean, then plug the wound with cloth piece soaked in gypsum: casoy salt 20% solution after cleaning the wound.

5. As the healing progress, reduce the size of plug used.

6. After each dressing its better to apply carbolic oil on the skin around the wound.


Most commonly seen in middle aged elephant cheeks abdomen, legs are the common sites. Its not necessary to incise/ operate such lumps.


Scabies will decay epidermal cells. Morbid ness may also be felt. This is usually seen in old age elephants scabies are of three types.

  1. Seen on forehead and joints as grains
  2. On ears and tail in spreading manner.
  3. Permanently around nails.


Wash the affected area ealum solution.


The area which is contused get easily swelled up. This leads to impaired physical mobility. Applying oil and steam is indicated in such cases. If pus is present on the contused part incision and drainage is to be done. If contusion is severe Rx should be a long term one say for months. Medicines that improve the general health are to be administered.


Among the change in the location of joints due to fall is known as dislocation. It is commonly seen on tips and legs. The common external symptoms are swelling and severe pain. To relieve from pain hot application can be done daily morning and evening. Topical applications are found useful. To prevent further injury to legs and hips, a support is provided on the abdomen.


It may be caused due to fall or fall of legs. Rib is cause while fights elephants compounded may cause injury to different organs and is found most dangerous. Its leg symptoms include change in body image change in length, swelling, severe pain, and unbearable body weight. Usually treatment modality adopted is to correct the elephant after reading the elephant.


Even though elephant legs are strong, sprain is seen in them due to several reasons. The common clinical features are lane, joint pain etc. Ist aid measure include pour cold water soon after sprain occur. Dip the affected part in water and under running water. Pour cold water every day morning and evening until swelling subside. The subside swelling apply the following on affected part that is 10 parts camphor mixed in oil and Ist part mustard powder and make a paste and apply it.

Disorders of the tusk

Broken or weak tusk are usually cut and made appropriate usually. This can be cut using ordinary sword. Water can be dripped on the induced area.

Snake venom poisoning

The death due to snake bite is mainly due to cardiac arrest because of the effect of poison. The commonly adopted treatment methodology for snake bite is injection of anti venom immediately to save life.

In the 2nd chapter of Hastyayurveda describes it elaborately:—

Visham pradadusyate papa gajanam dehanashanam
bhaksha bhojyannapaneshu dupane vtancaneshu ca

Disorders of the eyes

Cataract, Keralite and phihalmia are the common eye disorders seem in elephants. It may affect the vision of the elephant. If vision is partially impaired ointment is applied. If visual impairment is complete say blind due to cataract surgery ie. Keratoplasty is indicated. If there is any swelling of eyes, then massage the eye lids and lashes using castrol oil.

apasmritam apakrishtam gunam pashcat svabavavenuto?piva
tavisham vishatatatvatnjai dushi vishamiti smritam
dushitam deshakalanna divavaprati bhojanaih
Yosmat duayet dhshtumtasmat dushatvisham smritam

A liniment consisting of long pepper, oil, honey of different kinds applied along the eyelids is commended as sharpening the eye sight. Feces of a sparrow and a pigeon, the resin of the kshiratree and liquor prasanna are the excellent collyrium. Such a collyrium applied on the eye would make the elephant destructive in the battle. Blue lotuses mustard and takara made into paste with water in which rice has been washed in an excellent cooling agent for the eyes.

Disorders of Stomach

It is mainly of 7 types as follows:

Helminthes, cobaldia elephentis worms, liver fluke, round worms, diarrhoea and grip disease.

(i) Helminthes

This is most dangerous microbes. This is most commonly seen in young elephants. Round worm, tap worm, thread worm etc. are common ones. Hook worm is most dangerous one because it invades the intestinal wall and suck out blood. Some hook worm take up almost1/2 of the diet taken by the elephant.

(ii) Coboldia elephentis

These organisms lay eggs on mouth and tail. They hatch on the internal wall and complete their life cycle within the elephant body. The matured ones are exiroated through feaces and to them within weeks. These organisms decay the intestinal and stomach wall. This causes weakness of the body. May be treated using ‘Arsanic Tonic’ or ‘Sodium by carbonate’ (NaHCO3) solution.[16]

To prevent further multiplication organisms elephant tusk has to be checked frequently and if eggs are present it must be rubbed off.

(iii) Worms

This parasite worms of almost length 0.62 cm and is seen in large intestine. The infestations are managed using salt, arsenic and other appropriate medicines. If dysentery is present it is to treated first.

(iv) Liver fluke

This is mainly seen in bile duct of an elephant. If the number of this organism is increased, it may cause fall on (lean) in elephants. If once the organism is entered in the body, it will remain in the body for life long.

(v) Round worms

These are seen on the intestine of the elephant. If infestation is present then, given increased amount of salt along the diet. Mebendazole, thiabendazole leveamizole, thiophenate, tetramizole etc. are the common medicines used by veterinary surgeon. Environmental hygiene is to be maintained. Dysentery and indigestion are the other affected diseases of elephant. If not care them it may be die. So an exceptional case is given to them. It is common disease affected elephants.

(vi) Diarrhoea

It's mainly a seasonal disease. The main cause is eating tender grass and leaves. To relieve, give rice daily morning and evening.

(vii) Gripe Diseases

Cancer is severe helmithic infestations, constipation, etc. This is due to their intestinal wall. Symptoms are constipation in the early stage and late symptoms are lower abdominal pain, fever, etc. Ist aid measure is given enema to the elephant. Administer Kanja or other sedatives seven (7) gram every three (3 hours). For pain relief ground nut oil 8 once (1/8) is given. Liquid paraffin can be used to give enema. If disease is almost relieved, grains can be included in diet.

Treatment in various seasons

According to Gajashastra there are special treatment conducted to the elephants in various seasons. The six seasons are equally divided into two months beginning in the month of meta. In various season, the elephants are protecting with verity of food items.

The 4th chapter of Hastyayurveda mentions the daily life of elephants, various season; charities like antimony, milk-application of rasayana, construction of elephants abode etc.

paccanyadapi naganam kartavyam hitarniccate
tadasheshena bhagavatsarvam vyakhyatumarhasi

1) Autumn season

In this season they had given rice with abundant blossoms and plentiful sap up to the neck in a cool place, beans to be administered with their flowers along with masha and makushta and wheat jaggery with butter. Bathing in cool water daily, day and evening, food with boiled water, milk, enriched with ghee and broath are given.

2) Summer Season

A rice porridge, in evening the same with salt is given. In this time they have not taking to the road, activate pouring on the head of bags full of water and anointing the head, morning, noon and night with the butter called hundred fold purified, contract with the rays of the moon, ten ding with grits mixed with jaggery and butter, a cool stall, play in water and mud. These are prevention of the summer season.

3) Cold Season

In cold season elephants’ regimen is thus:—

shala channa savahnistrikatupatuyuta varuni vaprasanna
mandoshna sayamannam diadhirasasahita kambalai ravritishca
ikosseva somatra kabalakavalayoh shilanam nityacarah
pathah kridavimuktiryavasaparihriti shshaishro yam vidhisyat

It is described thus. The abode of elephant is covered and provide with a fire tepid brandy and rice liquor specified with the three spices and pungent substances, in the evening food mixed with sour milk and broth, measured included in sugarcane, covering with blankets, regular exercise and regimen for the cold season.

4) Spring season

Daily walking in fragrant parks, rice gruel with wheat, food mixed with sour milk and oil; little burden bearing and road work salutary dipping of the elephant at will in to rivers are regimen for the spring.

5) Rainy Season

In this seasonal treatment water from a well, grass growing on the dry land, a place tree from mud, protection of smoke in the stall to rid it of flies and gnats, means of strengthening the bladder, great, mixed with jungle deer soup and oil, and broath that increase the belly fire etc, are included.

6) Winter Season

Fearful with broken nails of unstable mind, of contrary sensitivity whose great foot trembles of rough skin, not enduring, stiff with little hair, and plaintive, with visible sinews and veins with rough tusks, quick with ugly eyes, stupid and undependable in work, such an elephant is declared to be of the wind. Exposure to the morning sun, fierce water and marsh animals and strong spicy condiment and exports approve also a single plunge of elephants in deep water and anointing with oil one the head is to be performed constantly. It is the regimen for winter.

The wild elephant became unpleasant while catching. They may hesitate to eat and drink the available food unsuitable to them or sleeping in improper place on account of journey etc. Disturbance of the wind and other bodily humours are provoked and are quickly cause diseases to them.

From constant flow of urine the penis of the elephant in must is irritated. Then they are constantly bathed and proved with a pala of red chalk mixed with butter.

Elephant's thirst is a sign of its sickness. It sucking shutting the eyes sniffing of the ground and of trees of the sky and the wind, sluggishness, dryness, of the inside of the mouth quivering of the ear tips, listlessness, frequent yawning, moodiness, retarding in the dust. In that time its urine and eyes became reddish colour.

Water is libido according to elephants, it is general notable fact with the watering and the drinking his hunger, thirst and natural troubles are removed. It occurs the boon (favour) of lotus-born (Brahma). Most commonly they had caused disease by worms. So anthelmintics are used given to them.

It is noticeable that the seasonal variations are observed in cure of elephants and in each seasons they are given treatments.

Manasollasa deals the elephant treatment in detail. Some medicines are indicating.

tia nimbasya partani rajaniceti peshitam matuyuktam
vrananam syatccotanam ropanampuram

Hastyayurveda mentions a detailed description of the elephant management. The 1st Chapter furnishes the fever known as pakala and then pan·u and shotha.

Pandu (white leprosy)is thewhite disease; the shotha is swelling disease, which is a type of fever.

The 2nd Chapter describes poison test and such things.

The 3rd chapter mentions the treatment of wounds and their characteristics.

The 4th chapter deals with the daily life of elephants in various seasons.

Generally all Gajashastras mentions the same matters. Referring to other texts Matangalila is varied from them because its style of purity and simplicity. The author begins and ends his work with innovation. Simplicity and brevity are the hall-marks of Matangalila. That is why the work obtained great popularity.

Diseases and ailments

It is a general statement that “prevention is always better than cure”. Tamed elephants should be maintained proper hygienic condition, if so it does not suffer any disease. At first the stable should be tidy and airy one. Feeding regularly, watering, bating, and supervision by a mahout (supervisor), preferably a veterinarian is essential for good health of the domesticated elephant. So this type of Dinacarya and seasonal based daily routine are necessary for a tamed elephant.

Ancient physicians in India think about the Ayurvedic treatments of elephants and practiced. Elephant recuperative treatments are applying in Kotaku, Sathyamangalam, Mangalamkunnu, Punnathurkotta and Avanapparambumana.

Ayurvedic treatments of elephants in Kerala style

“Observing 'Dinacarya' and ‘Ritucarya’ and firmly accurate the body health; is called recuperative, treatment”[20]. According to

Nilakantha dinacarya is:—

Shayya toyavagahashcatmamaiyumam bheshajam, dhutivrishtih
Shalastambharpravesh a, ghritagulasahitam bhojanam puladanam
nirvanam toya pomam tilsahitamidam bhojanam, caparahne
bhaishajyam cadasamveshmamithi dinacarya gajanam kramam

In Kerala, the main recuperative treatment centre for elephants are in Punnathurkotta; and the main veterinary Doctors in this field is

  1. Dr. K.C. Panicker
  2. Dr. T.C.R Nambiar
  3. Dr.Vivek
  4. Dr. Muraleedharan Nair
  5. Dr. Giridas
  6. Dr. T.S. Rajiv
  7. Dr. Easwer
  8. Dr. Radhakrishnakaimal
  9. Dr. P.S. Eesa
  10. Dr. Jacob V. Cheeran
  11. Dr. Girinadhan Nair and
  12. 12. Dr. Krishnamoorthy etc.

Some elephant lovers such as Poomulli Neelakanthan Namboodirippad, known as Aaram Thampuran, Avanaparambu Maheswaran Namboodiriuppad, Nibha Namboodiri - the lady mahout, Matambu Kunhikuttan, Paravoor Ramesh, Cheruvalli Narayanan Namboodiri etc.

Addresses are given below

1. Dr.K.C.Panicker
Retd. Elephant practitioner
Sarada Nivas,
Near Mathrubhumi office
Veliyanur, Thirissur

2. Dr.T.C.R Nambiar

3. Dr. Muraleedharan Nair

4. Dr. Vivek
Animal Assitant
Veterinary Department

5. Dr. Giridas
Pandarakkal House

6. Dr. T.S.Rajiv
Associate Professor
Mannuthy Veterinary Colege

7. Dr. Easwar
Senior Surgeon

8. Dr. Jacob V. Cheeran
Elephant Practitioner

And some elephant lovers such as:

(Late) Poomulli Neelakantham Namboodirippad (Aaram Thampuran), Avanaparambu Maheswaram Namboodiri, Avanaparambu Mana, Kunnamkulam, Vadakkancherty, ThrissurIn Kerala recuperative treatment apply most in July and August.

In Ayurveda; mental; and physical stability is called health. For physical health, the elephant must given pure and nutritious food. This kind of foods produces pep, thrive, blood, sperm, and water etc. For mental and health, it must given proper bath in pure and flow water, and loving (management etc.,) this type of treatment gives a better elephant for our nation.

Matangalila suggests the treatment of elephant is below:—

Ye ye bheda manushyebhyo gajanam
te te prokta doshadushyadhikeshu
tasmad ttanjair vyadhibhedam vivitva
martyanamevatra karya cikitsa

Elephants tired by continuous procession or hard work. So the elephant had given exceptional care, food and medicines to recovering their health. At this time they must given special attention, food, bathing and best management, which is known as recuperative treatment. At this time the elephant must give complete rest.

According to K.C. Panicker, in Kerala August to October (August, September, October) are selected for recuperative treatment. According to their age, each elephant’s treatment is varies. At the time of recuperative treatment, the elephant given to be rub bathing where, coconut scrub and stone are used. By rub bathing the blood circulation increases. In addition to palmyra leaf and water, they are given special food items. In the evening, after the bath the recuperative treatment is given.

At first the worm spear medicines are given to elephants. Then giving fried paddy dust and toddy. An adult elephant must be given 5 or 6 liter fried paddy rice powder given 5 or 6 coconut toddy are mixed with 2 to 3kg. Coconut and jaggery mixture are given 10 or 14 days continuously. Then sea same mixed with Jaggery 4 to 5 kg given daily and continuing 10 or 14 days. Then 4kg boiled rice, 4kg, lentil, 3kg boiled raggi 250 t0 500 gram ghee mixed with 200 gram salt are given 14 days, and given 500 to 1000 gram Sharko ferolo or Chyavanaprasham. Vizhal rice, Kottambalayari (Coriander seed rive), Karkolari, Cerupunnayari, Kodakappalayari, Cardamom powder, Omam, Catakuppa, Ayamodakam, Turmeric powder-300 to 500 gram Sesame, Garlic etc. are mixed with boiled rice are given to elephants for normal digestion.

Elephant is a pure vegetarian, but at the period of recuperative treatment it eats demolishing mutton, chicken, and duck. In two or three weeks, sesame and jaggery are given first to them and those demolishing meat or soup are given. In addition to this, Mahacurna and 5kg. Boiled rice mixed with 5kg, onion, ariyaru, cumin seed, ayamodaka are given in the last 15th day[23].

According to Palakapya, if the elephant has giving non vegetables it must be thus:—

Shashatittira lavanam mahishasya vrishanayoh,
pippali cairyuktah shundigudasamanvitah,
Khamghavata mayurairvesvaram prakeepayet
vesavarah pradeyah syadrasam tenaiva karayet

According to Avanaparambu Maheswaran Namboodiripad, daily in the morning elephant’s body must scrub in bath; this type of bathing helps to remove stroke (blow) string and swelling. It will gives, amiability smooth, beauty and bodily strength.

Seasonal treatments are essential process in early times. The treatments are given to the elephants in three months with in one year.

Thailand is the important place for treatment centre. Old elephant's treatments and rebirthing project etc. are seen in Thailand. In 1998, there is worked an International Elephant Federation (IEF) protecting elephants.

There is situated a special hospital for free treatment for various diseases of elephant. According to this aim, there is a mobile hospital worked in Thailand. Diseased elephant adoption centres are seen in Thailand.

Reducing distaste, the elephant must given dry ginger, thippali dust; and pepper powder are mix and make like a lemon, strutire and must given with food.

Boiled intuppu, jaggery and assafoiteda are given with food by this medicines the worms, indigestion etc. are curved.

It is said that elephant diseases are seasonal like man. The medicines are similar to human beings. But the measurement is twenty times more than the human beings.[24]

Palakapya is considered as the first Doctor of Elephant. Who is the author of Hastyayurveda. According to tradition Palakapya’s mother was an elephant cow. He grew up among the herds of wild elephants. He ate what the elephants ate; he slept when the elephants slept. By observation and experience, he became an expert in the ailments that afflicted elephants. After sometime he settled on the banks of the river Lohitya, where he compiled treatise and on the breeds of elephants and on the diagnosis and treatment of elephant’s diseases which later come to be known as Hastyayurveda.

The Chola king of Tanjore (Thanjavoor) also took an interest in the study of elephant’s diseases and caused a volume of literature produced on the subject. In North India, peoples turn their attention to elephant’s diseases even before the Ayurvedic system of medicine which the direction for treatment of certain disease of elephants through enema.

It is said that, in Malabar, sick elephants, are sometimes fed on the fed on the flesh of sheep, goat and fowl.

Generally all diseases are affected in various seasons;not in elephant diseases but all creatures. So the treatments are also being seasonal. According to the world all creatures diseases are start in various seasons similar to man. So elephant diseases are also be seasonal.

The elephants tamed by man from the forest bear more from their managers, so they thinking of their past lavish life and became tired.

Anitan vanato gajan himajalaihsinjettadha payaye
tvakarshanam tvavagahaye dushaasi tadgtanya dishantcnjal
evam eada dinavasanasamaye swairam tadatanayet
pashcat seeanalepanado satadhautajyea kuryadapi

At first the samvalsara (year) is divided into three Shita, ushna and varsha and then it divided in to six ritus ie. hemanda shishira, vasanta grishma, varsha and sharatt. That is–

bhavetasanto madhumadhavabhyam
syatam tadha shukrashuci nidhakah
nabho nabhasya jaladagamah sya
dishorja vabhyam sharadam vadanti
hemandamakalstu sahah sahasou
tapastapasaw shisirah kramena
masadviketani vasantakadya
dhimadbhrikta ritavah shadeta

Shravanam, bhadrapadam-sharat
Aswinam, kartika-Hemanda
Marghashirsham, poushyam-shishira

Food Prescribed for various Riitu’s (Seasons):—

pratah sajyagulam saratsu vihitam grishme eashalyodanam
sayam tallavnena tailasahitam caayeshu tadvaityayat
kulmasham gulayuktamodanayutam cadapayeddantinam
tattejobalavarhnikrdgulayutananyam paraganapi

In Sharat season, the elephant must given jaggery mixed with ghee in the morning. Boiled paddy rice must given in the morning at Grishma season and at evening the elephant must given boiled paddy rice mixed with oil and salt. In all ritus the elephant must given patutora, rice and jaggery and it will produce strength and magnificence.

Considering natural variations, Keralas season are varies from other states. According to Kerala the seasonal differences are like:

Beginning the half month of Makara and ends of he Meena half is considered as Vasantaritu up to Kanni half is calculated as ‘Sharat considering up to vriishcika half as shishira, and upto Makara half is considering as Hemanda.

Medam, Idavam-Grishma
Midhunam, karkidakam-sharat
Cinnga, kanni-varsha

Tulam, vrishckam-sharatt
Dhanu, makaram-Vasanta
Kumbha, meena-Hemanda

I. In Vasantaritu, the cough is increased and it must given the proper food items, which will reducing the cough.

II. Grismartu:— In this season heat caused to reduce the body water ad cough, so the elephant must given oily, sweety and cold food for increasing cough.

III & IV In Varsha season (Varisartu and Sharat) the tridoshas (vata, pitta and cough) are became befoul and wind increasing more than other two (bile and cough). So the elephant must given the food like wheat, rice, vetch, sweet, salt and tamarind which will balanced the wind.

V, VI Bile and cough increasing more than the other two season in Hemanda and Shishira. In this season, the elephant must given, milk, sugar, meat, soup, lenthil, wheat, rice, etc., which will provide good health to the elephants.


Elephant must be given enough, food, water and an exceptional management to existing its health. For this, massaging by oil and daily bath are essential and it will provides more blood circulation.


It is said that elephant spend, 22 hours for eating. They are very abstinent in their food. Per day they eat 650 pounds (295kg) food. For recuperative treatment they must given meat and rasayana which will produce blood, pep, thrive, sperm etc. The period of treatment must be less than 21 days. At this duration the elephant must given nine cereals mixed with roasted salt and boiled rice.

The food must given to the elephants according to their age

ushasi yavasatailam matra ardhadakam-syat
pravarasi madya tcchatriturbhaga hinam
adhamavyasi tatvattatribhagona muktam
balamadja vakaari vyadhidhvamsanam ca


For recuperative treatment, elephant's body parts must be purified. For cleanliness, its legs, bowels, stomach, anus etc., are cleaned. For cleaning the legs of the elephant, must be put on Kashaya water and derch in it, then cut and clean the dry scurf on the nail and leg and apply the medicines there, for not affecting leg diseases.

An elephant needs proper bath, at least once and preferably twice daily. While bathing the body of the elephant is required to be scrubbed well with coconut fibre. In the wild, elephant love to rub their back against trees. Elephant always prefer to drink clean water and have a distaste to drink water where they take bath.

Bath is essential one for elephant and this helps to reducing its body heat. For this the water must be flowing and it gives freshness and happiness to the elephant and will increase hungry and get good health. Daily bath with oil massaging brings shines of the skin and body which make strength and will reduce the skin diseases.


Elephant drinks 200-225 liters of water in three or four times daily. They take water in the trunk and pour it into the mouth. A trunkful retains about six to seven liters, at one time.

Nilakantha explains the importance of water:—

pranah sarve jalenaiva
prayo rohanti dantinam
nashyanti kshutpipasadyah

Kaikkulmagra Ramavarier stated the importance of water:—

paniyam praninam pranah
vishweneva ca tanmayam
atotyantha nishedhana
na kvacitvari varyate

Body balance

For equalizing and regulating tridoshas (wind bile and cough), the elephant must given medicines for the particular part of the body like stomach, bowels and anus, if this parts are clean and pure, there is other diseases affect the body. Inorder to remove the worms in stomach, the wormless medicines are given to the elephant.


The medicine is considering eight pala (8 pala = 480 gram) Kayam (asafoetida), seven pala (420 gram) rajacurnam (curnrajam), and twenty pala (1.200 kg) gulgulu are kibble and mixed with oil and ghee and this mixture given to the elephant daily.

According to Nilakantha that treatment explains below:—

Hingvashtakam curnarajam saptavimshati gulgulu
ityadini ca curnani dadyattailaghritani ca

Recuperative treatment of elephants in Tamilnadu

Not only in Kerala but also in Tamilnadu, the recuperative treatment is available for them.


Fifty percentage (50%) of elephants in Tamilnadu, affected diabetics, join pain and wind. After awaring this report, the government of Tamilnadu decided to gave recuperative treatment to elephants. Hindu caste endowment Department undertakes this project.

Their plan is describing below:—

Daily 6km. walking, two times bathing 250 kg grass; 50 kg, mango, 7kg rice, 1.5kg jaggery, 100gram salt, 250 gram turmeric powder, 350 liter water, 12 banana, 3-5 liter coconut oil. 1 kg Ashtacurnam, 50 gram ginger and pepper, 3-5. Cyavanaprasham, 28 vitamin tablets etc., are given to the elephants at the time of their recuperative treatment.[33]

In short, elephant's treatment is thus:


In the case of all the fevers (Pakala) of elephants, they should provide proper bath for decreasing body heat, then after anointing them with ghee or oil, will remove the wind (vata).

Jaundice and Constipation

Cow's urine together with ghee and the two varieties of turmeric are commented for jaundice, with the above remedy soaked in oil is commended for constipation.

Head ache

Varuni (a kind of liquor) mixed with five kinds of salts should be given for drinking. An elephant should fed with balls of vidanga, the three myrobalans, dried ginger, pepper and long pepper and salt is given in the case of fainting. It should be given the drink honey mixed with water. The head should be anointed with oil for head ache. A sternutatory is also commended.

Leg disease

The disease affecting the leg of an elephant should be treated by anointing with oil. Then it is laid down that they should be cleansed with the paste of sediments of oil.


An elephant that is suffering from shivering should be fed with the juice of the flesh of peacock and tittiri (partridge) mixed with long pepper and pepper.


Ghee mixed with common salt should be given as sternutatory in the case of numbness of the trunk. Or long pepper, dried ginger and the cumin seed boiled in the rice or barley gruel together with mustard and grass should be given.

All kinds of pain

The juice of the flesh of a pig should be given for ear ache. Oil boiled with ten kinds of roots, the horse beams, tamarind and kakamaci would remove the pain due to stiffness of the neck caused by the fetters.

Retention of urine

Ghee mixed with the eight kinds of salts made into a paste should be given for drinking in the case of retention of urine. Otherwise a decoction of the seeds of trapusha may be given. An elephant should be made to drink a decoction of the bark of neem.


Vidanga, indrayava, asafoetida, jaggery and the two varieties of turmeric could be given in the form of balls in the forenoon to remedy all kinds of colic.[34]

By applying recuperative treatment, elephant’s diseases are decreasing or may affect disease, the treatment become easier.

In many ways elephant is considered as valuable one. Elephant is a serviceable animal and it provides economical benefits to the country.

Footnotes and references:


Valarthumrigangal. vii.117-178.


Matangalila. 11. 18-21.


Matangalila. 11.25-27.


Asian elephant.VIII.105.


Ana. XI. 125.


Matangalila. XI. 39. 77.


Matangalila. XI. 40. 77.


Ibid. 22. 70.


Hastyayurveda. I 22-23. 55.


Valarttumrigangal. VIII. 182-186.


Ana. XII. 125.


Hastyayurveda. 1.2.271-218.


Hastyayurveda II. Uttarasthana.105.41


Hastyayurveda II. 617. 163-168.


Ibid. Shalyasthana. 100.357.


Ana. XIV. 186.


Hastyayurveda. US.4. 310. 541.


Matangalila. XI. 32. 73.


Matangalila. II. 45.51. 79-81.


Gajaparipalanam. 18,60.


Matangalila. 11.8.111.


Matangalila.11. 51.143.


Ana Kadhyum Karyavum. 5.63.65.


G.P.P. 12.46.




Hastyayurveda 4-5. 2. 4-19


Raja nighandu. Satvadivargam. Sr.74-75


Matangalila.11. 28.125.






Ashtangahridaya (Ashtanga hridaya) Sushrutasamhita dv.5.22




Manorama daily page No.


The Agnipurana, N. Gangadharan. 287. 781-795.

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