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Ravana Samhita – Medical Treatise For Treatment Of Female Disorders

Ravana Samhita is a medical treatise for treatment of female disorders. From the name itself it appears that the author of this work is Ravana, the king of Lanka. Several other works are also ascribed to Ravana, namely, Nadi Tantra, Bala Tantra, Arka Prakasha, etc. In the opinion of some scholars, the name of Ravana was used to ensure acceptance. Though Ravana mentioned as the author, Ravana Samhita is not a very old work; it belongs to medieval times.

This work is related to Ayurveda, specifically bhoota vidya or daivavyapasraya cikitsa, i.e., treatment pertaining to the illness caused by inauspicious beings. Many other subjects, like the treatment of threatened abortion, intrauterine growth and retardation, along with insect repellent herbal preparations (which can be used at home as well as in fields), are discussed in it. Ravana Samhita is in the form of teaching of Shiva to Ravana. Hence, it starts with the verse by Shiva stating the importance of this work as follows – by learning this science, by working hard, you will be able to understand the whole science of Indrajala.” Along with mantras, many substances of plant, animal and mineral origins are used to treat different ailments.

In the next two verses, the unguent to invoke ghosts is described, followed by the symptoms of affliction by a ghost. In the next verse, unguents to relieve the affliction of a ghost are mentioned, followed by a mantra to remove the affliction of evil spirits. In the next six verses, two groups of substances which exhale aromatic smoke on combustion, popularly called dhupa, to relieve the affliction of inauspicious beings are described.

Then follows the description of water prepared with the root of gorakhamundi (sphaeranthus indicus), to get rid of the affliction of demigods and goblins or fiends, followed by the description of an errhine (snuff, sunghani) for the same purpose. In the next verse, a mantra of demigods is given and the importance of chanting the Aghora mantra with every breath (ajapa japa) is mentioned.

In the next four verses, some mystic remedies for fever are mentioned. In this a particular mantra is advised to be written on the leaf of bhoja and to be tied to the right hand of the patient. The Samhita then describes some herbal formulation which taken internally may cause insanity. Immediately after this a mantra, which is an antidote for insanity, is mentioned.

The next ten verses are devoted to the descriptions of fumigations for various insect and reptile (flies, mosquito, bugs, rats, snakes and scorpions) repellents.

This is followed by a description of insect repellent formulations and a mantra useful for a good harvest.

The rest of the text is devoted to remedies for different gynecological and obstetric disorders. First, there is a description of a local vaginal application to stop excessive bleeding, which is followed by a simple home remedy for excessive bleeding from any part of the body. Again, a simple remedy is described for the same purpose. But here the maximum dose of the medicine is specifically mentioned. For polymenorrhea, the paste of the root of the sarapukha (Tephrosia purpurea) is advised for internal use. The method of preparing a decoction of six herbs prepared with honey and ghee (butter) is described for the treatment of pain in an abdomen due to scanty menses.

A formulation for the treatment of female infertility is described in the next four verses. The procedure for preparing the drug, the time of taking it, and the dietary regimen is also mentioned in these verses. Further, in a few verses, different formulae for the treatment of infertility are mentioned. Many of them are routine Ayurvedic formulations. But two specific conditions are mentioned. The first one is kakavandhya, i.e., when a woman fails to conceive after the first deliver, and the second one is mritavatsa, i.e., a woman having a history of consecutive stillbirths. In this formula, the exact dose of medication, favorable day and auspicious lunar asterism (nakshatra) to start the medicine have also been specified.

There are descriptions of remedies for threatened and habitual abortions and the problems of fetal development, under the heading Garbha-stambhana. The special feature of this section is the month-wise description of remedies. Several remedies are also mentioned for the problems that occur during different periods of fetal development. Even such conditions as intrauterine growth and retardation have also been briefly discussed.

A remedy is suggested, followed by a mantra, useful for normal and uncomplicated delivery. Three verses describe the remedies for amenorrhea, as well as one remedy useful for uterine contraction.