Matangalila and Hastyayurveda (study)

by Chandrima Das | 2021 | 98,676 words

This page relates ‘Apatabandha: The fourth technique’ of the study on the Matangalina and Hastyayurveda in the light of available epigraphic data on elephants in ancient India. Both the Matanga-Lila (by Nilakantha) and and the Hasti-Ayurveda (by Palakapya) represent technical Sanskrit works deal with the treatment of elephants. This thesis deals with their natural abode, capturing techniques, myths and metaphors, and other text related to elephants reflected from a historical and chronological cultural framework.

Āpātabandha: The fourth technique

Mātaṅgalīlā (v. 12) describes this fourth technique as follows: ….separate ropes with multiple ends, the end of which are tied into nooses, are covered with kerī–bark and twigs, etc., (the ropes) as large as the girth of a betel nut tree, and approximately sixty karas (30 yards) long, and are well buried and covered on all sides with dust in a very broad hole in the ground sunk to the depth of a kara (a foot and a half).[1]

Placing thereon stalks of lotuses, bamboo, plantain trees, white sugar cane, etc., and tying those ropes also to tree, then clever herdsmen lying in wait in concealment shall quickly catch the elephants while they are engrossed in eating, throwing them down by drawing the ropes taut. This is the kind of catching known as ‘assault’[2] or Āpāta (v. 13).[3]

Mānasollāsa calls this fourth method as Āpātabandha (v. 213-226) , during this procedure a rope made from the barks of coconut and añjana (Hardwickiabinata Roxb.) trees should be used to prepare a snare sixty forearms (18in x 60=1080in=90ft=27m) in length and one forearm(45cm) in width. The half of that should be thrown over the body (of the elephant) and must be interred firmly in mud. The remaining half should be used to ensnare the elephant at neck and feet.

The elephant tied with this snare is severely afflicted. He may even die in rare cases. He may also survive. The elephant-catchers call this procedure Āpātabandha (catching suddenly). It is always condemned and is siṃhasaṃśayita (carries the risk of encountering a lion).Unlike other bandhas this procedure is not clear at all.[4]

According to Gajaśāstra (v.33)[5] the experts in capturing elephants mention this technique as Āpāta as the elephants fall a little way into a hole where there are sallakīs and bananas.

Footnotes and references:


bahvagrāstvatha varttuḷīkṛtanibaddhāgrāḥ pṛthag rajjaḥ kerīvalkaśalākikādiracitāḥ pūgadrunāhonmitāḥ /
prāyaḥ ṣaṣṭikarāyatāḥ sunihitāścetastataḥ pāṃsubhiḥ saṃcchannāḥ karamātranimnadharaṇīgarteâtivistārite //
T. Ganapati Śāstri. ed. The Mātaṅgalīlā of Nīlakaṇṭha, p. 27. Franklin Edgerton. tr. The Elephant-Lore of the Hindus, p. 90.


Franklin Edgerton. tr. The Elephant-Lore of the Hindus, pp. 90-91.


nikṣitapyātra mṛṇāḷaveṇukadalīpuṇḍrekṣukāṇḍādikaṃ tān pāśānapi sannibadhya suiḍhe vṛkṣeâtra dakṣā bhaṭāḥ /
saṃchannāḥ pratipālya bhakṣaṇaparān badhnīyurāśu dvipān pāśākarṣaṇato nipātya iḍhamityāpātasaṃjño grahaḥ //
T. Ganapati Śāstri. ed. The Mātaṅgalīlā of Nīlakaṇṭha, pp. 27-28.


Nalini Sadhale & Y.L. Nene.‘On Elephants in Manasollasa-1.Characteristics, Habitat, Methods of Capturing and Training’, Reproduction from Asian Agri-History, Vol.8, No.1, 2004, pp.5-25.


Shri Mantramurti K.S. Subrahmanyaśāstri. ed. &tr. (in Tamil), Gaja-śāstram of Pālakāpya muni with extracts from other works and Coloured Illustrations, (Chapter 6), p.62.

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