Tue Jul 13 10:57:05 EDT 2004

Dominik Wujastyk wrote:

> The Susrutasamhita treats of poisonous snakes in Kalpasthaana IV.  The
> classification is into either five types or three types (oh, well :): the
> 3-fold class is just the first 3 of the 5-fold.
Thank you for taking the time to copy the list of snakes from Susruta --
with your ayurveda interests, I had hoped you might have do this.

> This should add up to 80 snakes, all poisonous.
Which seems to indicate a reasonable degree of knowledge and accuracy since
it would seem that there are over 200 kinds of snakes in India but of which
80 odd are said to be venomous and of those only about ten are potentially
or definitely lethal.

> The symptoms of poisoning by snakes in the groups are described in quite a
> lot of detail, which could be matched with more recent clinical and field
> descriptions.
Yes.  Not having had much contact with venomous snakes, I ws intrigued to
learn that the venon of various snakes kill in quite different ways --- the
viper venon destroys the red blood cells and causes heart failure and
massive destruction of arteries and veins with horrendous swelling and
ulceration in the vicicinty of the bite.  On the other hand, some venons are
neuro-toxic and kill by paralysis.  I note also that quite a number of the
names you have kindly given would seem to be derived from their skin

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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