[INDOLOGY] poison

Michaels, Axel michaels at hcts.uni-heidelberg.de
Mon Jun 8 16:04:38 UTC 2020

Dear Jonathan and Charles,

the Nepalese (Mulukī )Ain of 1854 has some mention of poison and their treatment. I especially like this section, which might be also useful for some Western doctors:

“If an experienced doctor gives to someone a poisonous substance such as ajaipāla, yellow orpiment, somala, or saṃkhyā[1] without [previously] purifying and cooking it, or administers any other herb by following the [prescribed] procedure (kṛyā pugnu), [but] without purifying it and without mixing it [with other substances], and if that person dies, that doctor shall be made to consume the same medicine in the same dosage as he had ordered the deceased to consume; if that doctor also dies, it has then been ascertained that the doctor did it out of malice. His life has gone for the life [being taken]. If nothing happens to him, it has then been ascertained that [the patient] died of a natural cause. No accusation shall be made against [the doctor] who has ordered the consumption. If a Brahmin doctor orders the consumption [of the medicine] and [the patient] dies, the same dose shall be prepared and fed to a dog or goat and if it dies, it has then been ascertained that he did it out of malice, and thus the Brahmin doctor shall be branded.” ( Ain of 1854, § 54.2)

  1.  ajaipāla might refer to baliospermum montanum or jatropha glandulifera, saṃkhyā (=saṅkhiyā) to oxidum arsenicum and somala to the soma plant (whatever is meant by this).

All best wishes to both of you,

p.s. Charly, I’m happy to send you the Nepālī text, but you also find it easily in Fezas’ edition.



Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels
Senior Professor | Vice President Heidelberger Academy of Science and Humanities | Founding Director of CATS

Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS)
Südasien-Institut / South Asia Institute
Universität Heidelberg

Vossstr. 2, Geb. 4130
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D-69115 Heidelberg

T: +49-6221-5415209
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Latest book publication:
Kultur und Geschichte Nepals. Stuttgart: Kröner-Verlag, 2018

From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of "indology at list.indology.info" <indology at list.indology.info>
Reply-To: Jonathan Silk <kauzeya at gmail.com>
Date: Friday, 5. June 2020 at 19:42
To: "indology at list.indology.info" <indology at list.indology.info>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] poison

Dear Friends
My friend Charles Ramble is working on a Tibetan text on poison. It mentions for instance 32 types. I am aware that (no doubt among others) Suśrutasaṁhitā in its Kalpasthāna has much to say about poison, but understandably, not how to make it. There seems to exist a term viṣaśāstra, but more I have not been able to discover. I feel I may have overlooked something rather well known.
I would be delighted both to learn more myself (no, I'm not looking to poison anyone!) and to pass along the information to Charles.

Very best,

J. Silk
Leiden University
Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, LIAS
Matthias de Vrieshof 3, Room 0.05b
2311 BZ Leiden
The Netherlands

copies of my publications may be found at


[1] According to Fezas on MA2 § 54.2 (fn.) ajaipāla might refer to baliospermum montanum or jatropha glandulifera, saṃkhyā (=saṅkhiyā) to oxidum arsenicum and somala to the soma plant.

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