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Palakapya – Author of Hastyayurveda – The Text Deals with Health of Elephants

Palakapya is the author of well known Ayurveda text which deals with the health of elephants. Legend has it that Sage Palakapya was the son of Sage Samagayana and a female elephant, which had accidently drunk the sage’s urine containing his semen. He is believed to be an incarnation of Dhanvantari and lived on the banks of Brahmaputra River.

Hastyayurveda Text is a comprehensive work on elephant medicine. The text is partly in prose and partly in verse. It is in the form of a dialogue between the Asga King Romapada and Palakapya. This text extensively deals with the characteristics of elephants, their life span, diseases and their management. The diseases are classified and their management described in a similar order as that of humans, as described in classics such as Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. Panchakarma procedures (five purificatory methods) as well as rasayana (rejuvenative) techniques for elephants are described in detail in this text. The text also describes the technique of capturing wild elephants and procedures to train them.

The text is divided into four sections
  • Major ailments
  • Minor ailments
  • Surgical treatment 
  • Detailed treatment of some topics like anatomy, physiology, seasonal changes and the frenzied behavior of elephants.
The text is also known as Gajayurveda. The date of this work is not known exactly, but historians believe that it would have been written during the Samhita period, which is around 500 BC.