kalaaya (was: question)

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at ucl.ac.uk
Fri Mar 14 11:27:52 UTC 1997

Not an answer, Madhav, but rather a jumble of notes which might spark some
relevant idea. 

A verse saying that tripu.ta (Lathyrus sativa) produces lameness occurs in
the main text of the Bhaavaprakaa"sa, and is an important piece of medical

The edition of BP which I have is:

Brahma"sa"nkara Mi"sra and Ruupalaalajii Vai"sya, 2 vols.
(Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan, 7th edition 1990).
[Kashi Sanskrit Series vol. 130.]

The verse occurs in vol.1, on p.650, as verse 59 in the
Dhaanyavarga section of the Bhaavapraka"sanigha.n.tu (the BP's
appendix on materia medica).

Tripu.ta is sometimes also thought to be the same legume as kalaaya. 
Nadkarni, however, says that kalaaya is Pisum Arvense, the field pea.  I
think this is not correct, at least in pre-modern texts, because of the
etiology of diseases associated with kalaaya/tripu.ta. Kalaaya is
mentioned in even earlier texts than the BP as a legume that aggravates
'wind', which often involves symptoms of paralysis (e.g.., ardita, and
other palsies, cramps, and convulsions), and is grouped with or even
equated with tripu.ta.  It is mentioned in Caraka and Su"sruta.  However I
cannot yet see an *early* passage actually saying that kalaaya causes

However, the pattern of etiology and identification with tripu.ta seems to
point conclusively to kalaaya being Lathyrus sativa, which is well known
(now) for its implication in the crippling disease of Lathyrism, so well
described by Sleeman in his _Rambles and Recollections_, and more recently
(and entertainingly) by Harold Klawans in his collection of neurological
case studies entitled _Newton's Madness: further tales of clinical
madness_ (London, 1990). 

All the best,

Dominik Wujastyk               Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine
email: d.wujastyk at ucl.ac.uk          183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, England
<URL: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgadkw/>                    FAX: 44 171 611 8545

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