Some notes on the kAshyapa tradition

There is much reason to believe that the kAshyapa tradition is a real coherent tradition of magico-medical practices in post-Vedic India that survived in some form or the other in the midst of other traditions until recently. At some point, after we discovered the coherence of this tradition, we had thought of a 3-way collaboration with shAradA and R to produce a more scholarly piece on the various aspects of this tradition — both in terms of the printed texts and what ever little information we could gather about unpublished manuscripts of this tradition. However, the travails from saMsAra-bandha-s have prevented us from doing this. In any case here are some notes on the topic.

Many tangled lines of our investigations over the years led to this body of unique sanskR^it literature that we came to term the kAshyapa tradition.
1) The tracing the post-atharvaNic development of medicinal practices has lead most students to the obvious successors in the form of the great saMhitA-s of charaka and sushruta, which represent early high points in the development of Hindu medicine. However, more careful investigation also leads to the now incompletely preserved but fairly extensive text of early Hindu medicine the kAshyapa tantraM (also called saMhitA, hence forth KT) that covers a wide range of topics especially pediatrics.
2) The investigation of the early kaumAra mythology and liturgy leads to the same KT that has extensive chapters on kumara and his graha-s, revatI, mukhamaNDikA and ShaShThi, and their pacification in the context of application of pediatric drugs. It provides the complete narrative of kAshyapa on how devI revatI dispatched by skanda destroyed the asura kanyA dIrghajihvI and others.
3) The investigation of the early history of Hindu zoology — the study of snakes, insects, arachnids and rodents leads to another kAshyapa saMhitA or the kAshyapa garuDa saMhitA (henceforth KS-G).
4) The study of the successors of the atharvaN tradition on toxicology and the link to the treatment of snake bites obviously leads to the same KS-G.
5) The search of remnants of the once extensive shaiva garuDa tantra-s also points to the KS-G which is the source book of several garuDa prayogas.
6) The common section on magico-medicinal practices presented in the tantric treatises of the ishAnashiva mishra and the Chera magician chenas nArAyaNan nambuthiripAD also suggest that their source was the same KS-G.

As we can currently identify it this kAshyapa tradition covers the following texts: 1) The kAshyapa saMhitA, KS-G 2) The kAshyapa tantra/saMhitA- KT 3) The manuscript termed kaShyapa saMhitA of shiva-pArvati saMvAda, which covers several diseases like tuberculosis, leprosy, tumors and the like. 4) The kAshyapIya roganidAnaM also on diverse diseases. The paippalAdas in their assorted late productions preserve a text termed garuDopaniShat. While not mentioning kAshyapa its contents suggest a close relationship with KS-G. The viSha sections of ishAnashiva paddhati and tantra-sAra-saMgraha also are derivatives of the kAshyapa works.

The KT is wider in its scope and its surviving portion covers a variety of medical topics under the following headings:

sUtra sthAnaM: 1) lehAdhyAya- covers pediatric drugs which are administered by licking. 2) kShirotpatti- covers suckling children, problems relating to milk-borne infection, like those attributed to skanda grahas. 3) danta janmika- the treatment of conditions of children growing teeth and defects of milk teeth 4) chUDakarNIya- the issue relating to piercing of ear-lobes. 5) snehAdhyAya- on lipids and oils. The identification and treatment of lipid metabolism related conditions. 6) sveda- sweat and techniques to induce sweating to remove toxins from the body. 7) upakalpanIya-mainly dealing with digestive problems. 8) vedana- a large section describing various types of morbidity and painful symptoms associated with all parts of the body. 9) chikitsAsaMpAdanIya- mainly physicians qualities and qualifications 10) roga- detailed description of diseases and their causes. Notes the connection between blood physiology and bile production in liver. 11) lakShaNa- physical examination of children for bodily defects and signs of disease. It also mentions 22 physio-personalities types.

vimAna-sthAna: 1) shiShyopakrama- qualifications of medical students and the aspect of medical education

shArIra sthAna: sense organs and saMkhya thought. 1) asmAngotrIya- sex and uterus 2) garbhAvakrAnti- a description of fetal development. 3) sharIra viShaya- anatomy. Discusses amongst other things the arteries and veins and the sweat glands. 4) jAtisUtrIya- discusses reproduction and child birth related issues.

indrIya sthAna: 1) oSHadha beShaja covers a melange of topics including dreams caused by the seizure by agents of kArttikeya, and some properties of drugs.

chikitsA sthAnaM: 1) jvara chikitsA- diagnosis of fevers. 2) garbhiNIchiktisA- attendance to diseases of pregnant women. 3) duShprajAtAchikitsA- dealing with birth defects. 4) bAlagraha- deals with the stories of the emergence of the retinue of kumAra and various magico-medical means of dealing with seizure by the agents of kArttikeya, like revatI, pUtanA, mukhamaNDikA and ShaShThi. 5) plIharoga- spleen disease. Correctly identifies that blood flows through the spleen sinuses. 6) udAvarta- colon diseases. 7) rAjayakShma- tuberculosis and its treatment. Mentions a secret drug involving frog skin secretions in treating the condition. 8) gulma- classification and treatment of tumors. 9) kuShTha- diagnosis and treament of leprosy. 10) mUtra-kR^ichChra- urinary tract infections, complications of diabetes and their treatment. 11) dvivraNa- classification, identification and treatment of boils and sores. 12) pratishyAya 13) uroghAta- cardiac problems 14) shotha- inflammations and their treatment 15) kR^imi- helminth infestations, especially of the alimentary tract. 16) madAtyAya- alcoholism. 17) phakka- polio diagnosis and management. 18) dhAtrI- nursing diseases

siddhi-sthAnaM: 1) rAja putrIyA 2) tri-lakShaNA 3) vamana virechanIyA 4) nastaH karmIyA 5) kriyA 6) basti-karmIyA 7)pa~nchakarmIyA 9) ma~Ngala

kalpasthAna: 1) dhUpa- fumigation and use of smokes in various procedures like disinfection and sedation. 2) lashuna-preparation of garlic for medical purposes. 3) kaTu-taila- making of medicinal oils in connection to spleen disease. 4) ShaT- mainly concentrates on eye infections. 5) shatapuShpA-shatAvarI- describes preparations from fennel and aloe plants for different purposes. 6) revatI- this kalpa contains an account from the kaumara lore relating to how kumAra and his agents destroyed the asuras. It the goes on to describe the magico-medical treatment for pediatric diseases attributed to agents of kumAra headed by revatI. 7) bhojana kalpa- summary of basic nutritional and dietary issues. 8) visheSha- deals with sannipAta jvara. 9) saMhitA- a summary kalpa on the kAshyapa tantra. It gives the following origin mythology for the tantra: Diseases first emerged from the wrath of rudra that destroyed the sacrifice of prajApati dakSha. Then kashyapa produced this great saMhitA of the medical lore counter the ravages of disease. jIvaka, the son of the bhArgava R^ishi R^ichika mastered this medical lore of kAshyapa and systematized and summarized it as the kAshyapa tantra even as a young boy. But when he went to teach medicine the other vipra-s refused to take him seriously as he was just a boy. He then he took a bath in a lake formed by the ga~NgA and emerged as a serious elderly man. The R^iShis now learned from him calling him vR^iddha-jIvaka. Subsequently the tantra was lost, but the yakSha anAyAsa recovered the text and restored it. Then a descendant of jIvaka of the vAtysa clan of bhArgava-s pleased the yakSha with rites and re-obtained the tantra and propounded it in the kali yuga.

khila: This is a large appendix that follows the main saMhitA and provides further technical details on many of the topics in the saMhitA as well as other topics like dermatology.

Thus, the KT resembles the more famous early medical saMhitA-s like those of charaka or sushruta. However, it is distinct in having a major body of kaumara material and several prayoga ritual practices that accompany the conventional medical practices typical of Hindu medicine. It provides one of the most detailed early accounts of pediatric practices and in this connection deploys several kaumAra prayoga-s to the kaumAra deities.

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on December 16, 2006.

 
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