Bull. Ind. Inst. Hist. Med. Vol. XXXVI - 2006.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCES ON MEDICO LEGAL
AUTOPSY AND TOXICOLOGICAL DESCRIPTIONS IN
Goli Penchala Prasad*, G. Babu*
Kau(i/ya's Arrhssiistrs deals mainly the an of government, duties
of Kings, ministers, officials and methods of diplomacy. It also deals with
branches of internal and foreign policies, civil, military, commercial, fiscal,
judicial etc. By name and popularity of the book, scholars believe this as
seed of political science and Economics. Surprisingly, it also has the
descriptions of many
herbs, metals, herbomineral preparations
and poisonous substances. This book also deals with medico legal autopsy
and Toxicology. The main aim of this article is to highlight the descriptions
of forensic medicines and toxicology.
About the text
It is believed that
whose name was
and popular as
(the son of
This article is mainly based on the
translated by R Shamasastry. In the prefaces of
st to 5th edition of this text,
the translator Dr. R Shamasastry tried to clarify the uncertainty regarding the name of
the author and the time of the text. Kamandaka and Dandi quotations support the time of
this treatise some where between 321 and 300 B.C. These quotations also support the
the author of
and according to
Manu Dhsrmsssstrs, Csnskys
had written this
Though there are some controversies regarding the name of the author and time of
this text, translator R Samsastry tried his level best in providing proper support for
naming this text as
as the original available manuscript
Research officers (Ay).
Asst. Director-in-charge. Regional Research Institute.
Ist Floor. Indira Gandhi Municipal Statium Complex. Bandar Road. Labbipet,
Vijayawada - 520 010
Bull. Ind. Inst. Hist. Med. Vol. XXXVI - 2006
contains the name of Ksutilye at the end of each of the hundred and fifty chapters of the
work. Still there is controversy regarding the exact time of this text. If views of many
scholars are concluded, it can be kept some where in between 3
century B.C. to 3
century A.D. This translated original text contains 15 books (Basic discussions of the
text), 150 chapters, 180 sections and 6000 SI6kas (Thirty two syllables are considered
as one SI6ka).
Medico Legal Descriptions
In modern Forensic medicines much importance has been given to medico legal
autopsy and causes of Death. In modern system of medicine it is called as Thanatology
(which deals with death and its causes). In the same way in
division of the text) under the heading of removal of thorns, in chapter no
VII "Examinations of sudden death" was described in detail. In this chapter it is mentioned
that in cases of sudden death, the corpse shall be smeared over with oil and later examined.
As it is mentioned in Thanatology of modern forensic medicine many medico legal
aspects of causes of death were dealt in this text. Some of those are:-
Any person whose corpse is tainted with mucus and urine, with organs inflated
with wind, with hands and legs swollen, with eyes open, and with neck marked with
ligatures, may be regarded as having been killed by suffocation and suppression of
Any person with contracted arms and thighs may be regarded as having been
killed by hanging.
Dead person with swollen hands, legs and belly, with sunken eyes and inflated
navel, may be regarded as having been killed by hanging.
Dead person with stiffened rectum and eyes, with tongue bitten between the
teeth, and with belly swollen may be considered as having been killed by drowning.
Dead person, wetted with blood and with limbs wounded and broken, may be
regarded as having been killed with sticks or ropes.
Dead person with fractures and broken limbs may be regarded as having been
Medico Legal Autopsy in Kau!i/ya's Arthasastra - Prasad et al
Dead person with dark coloured hands, legs teeth and nails with loose skin, hairs
fallen, flesh reduced and with face bedaubed with foam and saliva, may be regarded as
having been poisoned.
Dead person of similar description with marks of a bleeding bite may be considered
as having been bitten by serpents and other poisonous creatures.
Dead person with body spread and dress thrown out after excessive vomiting
and purging may be considered as having been killed by the administration of the juice
of the Madana (Randia spinosa) plant.
It is also mentioned death due to anyone of the above causes is, sometimes
under the fear of punishment, made to appear as having been brought about by voluntary
hanging, by causing marks of ligature round the neck.
In death due to poison, the undigested portion of meal may be examined in milk.
or the same extracted from the belly and thrown on fire may, if it makes "Citcita" sound
and assumes the rainbow colour, be declared as poisoned.
Many other autopsy descriptions were mentioned in this text.
Toxicology is the science dealing with properties, actions, toxicity, fatal dose,
detection, estimation and treatment of poisons. Forensic toxicology deals with medical
and legal aspect of harmful effects of these poisonous substances on Human beings.
Poison is a substance (solid, liquid or gas), which if introduced in the living body, or
brought into contact with any part there off will produce ill health or death by its
constitutional or local effects or both. In this text in Book XIV chapter
heading of means to injury an enemy, many poisonous substances formulations and
their actions were mentioned. Some of those are
Smoke made by burning the powder (prepared from the carcass) of animals like
Satapadi (Centipede) causes instantaneous death.
Bull. Ind. Inst. Hist. Med. Vol.XXXVI -
Smoke made by burning the powder of animals like Uccidinga (crab), Kambali,
(lizard) with the powder of the bark of Ssteksnd« (Phyalis fiexuosa) or animals
like Grhagaulika (small lizard), Andhahika (blind snake), Krkanthaka (a kind of
partridge), Piitikit» ( a stinking insect) and Gomsrik« (") combined with the juice of
Bhsllstsks (Semecarpus anacardium) and Valgaka
causes instantaneous death.
Any of the above insects may be heated with a black snake and Priysngu
macrophylla) and reduced to powder. This mixture, when burnt, causes instantaneous
The powder prepared from the roots of
(Luffa cylindrica) and
mixed with the powder of the flower of Bhallataka (Semecarpus anacardium)
causes, when administered, death in the course of half a month. The root of Vyaghara
(Cassiafistula) reduced to powder with the flower of Bhsllstsk« (Semecarpus anacardium)
mixed with the essence of an insect (Kita) causes, when administered, death in the
course of a month.
The smoke caused by burning the powder of Setskerdams
(Largenaria sicerariai and fish, together with
chaff of the grains of Madana (Randia spinosa) and
or with the chaff of the seeds of
(Leea macrophylla) and Paliisa (Butea
monosperma) destroys animal life as far as it is carried off by the wind.
The smoke caused by burning the powder of Piitikit« (a stinging insect), fish,
Katutumbi, the bark of Satakardama
and Indrsgop« (the insect cochineal), or the
powder of Putikits,
(the resin of the plant, Shorea robusta) and Hemsvidsrs'T),
mixed with the powder of the hoof and horn of a goat, causes blindness.
The smoke caused by burning the leaves of Putfkaranja (Caesalpenia crista) yellow
arsenic, realgar, the seed of Guii]« (Abrus precatorius), the chaff of the seeds of red
cotton, Asphote (Careya
and the dung and urine of a cow, causes
Medico Legal Autopsy in Kauttlya's Arthasastra - Prasad et al 171
The smoke caused by burning the powder made of the mixture of the dung and
urine of pigeons, frogs, tlesh-eating animals, elephants, men and boars, the chaff and
powder of barley mixed with Kiisis« (green sulphate of iron), rice, the seeds of cotton.
Kutaja iHolarrhena antidvsentericai and
(Luffa pentandra), cow's urine, the
root of Bhandi tClerodendrum infrotunatumi the powder of Nimba
ptervgosperma), Phanirjaka ( a kind of Tulasi plant), Ksibs Pilu ( ripe
Salvadora persicas and Bhanga (Cannabis sativa), the skin of a snake and fish, and the
powder of the nails and tusk of an elephant, all mixed with the chaff of Mudana and
Kodrava tPaspalam scrobiculatumv or with the chaff of the seed of Hsstiksrns and
causes instantaneous death wherever the smoke is carried off by the wind.
The ointment prepared by mixing the excretion of
(rnaina}, Kupots (pigeon).
Baku (crane), and
(a kind of small crane) with the milk of
(Euphorbia) causes blindness and poisons the water.
The mixture of Yavaka
a kind of rice), the root of
robusta). the fruit of Madana, the leaves of
(nutmeg) and the urine of a man mixed
with the powder of the root of Plsk s« (fig tree), and
as the essence of the decoction of Musto ( a kind of poison), Udumbara (Glomerous fig
tree), and Kodrsvs iPaspalam scrohiculatumy or with decoction of Hsstikums and
is termed as the juice of Madana
The mixture of the powders of
the powder of Gun/a
(Gloriosa superba [.
aegvptiacai and the powder of Kurevtrs (Oleander),
(Calotropis) plant, and
(?') combine with the decoction of Madana and
Kodrava or with that of Hastik
and Pslsss . is the Madana mixture
(Please note that remedies are also given in the following paras.)
These above two mixtures, poison the grass and water when those are applied to
Bull. Ind. Inst.Hist. Med. Vol.XXXVI -
The smoke caused by burning the mixture of the powders of
(lizard), Grbsgsuhk« (a small house-lizard), and Andhahika (a blind
snake), destroys the eyes and causes madness.
The smoke caused by burning the mixture of
and Crhagaulika cuases
The smoke caused by burning the same mixture together with the entrails of
Citrabheka (a kind of frog of variegated colour) and Madhu (Honey), causes gonorrhea.
The same mixture mixed with human blood causes consumption.
The mixture of the powder of Mstrvshek:» (7), Jsluks (Leech), the tail of a peacock,
the eyes of a frog, and Pilu cause the disease known as VisilClka (Cholera").
The powder of Dusiviss (type of poison), Madana and Kodrava tPaspalam
scrobiculatumi, destroys the tongue.
The mixture of Psticskusths
Ksundinysks ("), Rsjsvrks«
Madhu puspa tBassia
and Madhu (honey) causes fever.
The mixture prepared from the powder of the knot of the tongue of Bhasa (a
bird), and Nakula (Mungoose), reduced to a paste with the milk of a she-donkey, causes
both dumbness and deafness.
Remedies for Toxins
In book XIV (secret means) under chapter IV (Remedies against the injuries of
ones own army) some remedies (treatments) for poisonous substances and formulations
were mentioned. Some of those are:-
To remove bad effects or poisonous effect, the things of the army, are washed in
the tepid water prepared from the decoction of Sle,5mtitaka, (Cordia
tLiquidamber orienta/is), Madanti (7), Dania (ivory), Satha (Citron tree), Gojigi (Gojihva
?Lamea asplenifoliai, Vi5a (Aconiturm
rox) , Pstst» tSteriospermum suaviolens), Bala
(Sida cardifoliai, Syonaka tOroxylern indicumv, Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusai, Sveta
(Alhergia lucida) and Tagara (Valeriana
mixedwith Candana (sandal) and
the blood of SiiJavTki (jackal), it removes the bad effects of poison.
Medico Legal Autopsy in Kauti/ya's Arthsssstre - Prasad et al
The mixture prepared from the biles of Prsst» (red spotted deer), Naku!a
(peacock), and C(Jdha (alligator), with charcoal powder
combined with the sprouts
(Vitex trifolia). Tagara,
Tnnduliysk e (Amamthus polvgamusi, and Sstspsrv« (Bambusa
arundinaceaei together with Pindiks (7) removes the effects of the mixture of Madana
(/'vtadanayc)ga named poison).
Among the decoctions of the roots of
Tagara, Vsruns and
creeper"), anyone or all mixed with milk removes. when
drunk, the effects of the mixture of
The striking oil extracted from Ksiderys tMurrava koenigii) removes madness.
The mixture prepared from
(Callicarpa macrophyl/a) and
removes when applied through the nose, leprosy.
The mixture prepared from Kusth« iSaussurea lappa) and Lodhra (Svmplocas
raceniosa) removes consumption.
The mixture prepared from Ketuphsla
cvlindricay, Dravanti (Crown tigliunn
VilailgiJ ( VidiJilga-
Ernblia ribes") removes, when applied through the nose, headache
and other diseases of head.
The application of the mixture prepared from Privangu, ManjI:5tiw(Rubia cordifolla)
s (Madhuka indica), Haridra (turmeric), and Kssudrs (honey) to
persons who have fallen senseless by being beaten by a rope, by falling into water, or by
eating poison, or by being whipped, or by falling, resuscitates them. A round ball
prepared from the above mixture and containing gold (Ruktna) in its centre, removes
the effects due to any kind of poison.
A round ball
prepared form the wood of
(holy fig tree-Ficus
religiosai growing wound round with the plants such as Jivsnti tLeptadenia reticulatai.
SFc/a (Albizzia lucida). the flower of Musksks (Schrebera swieteniods), and Vsndsk«
iLoranthus longiflorusi, removes the effects due to any kind of poison. The sound of
trumpets painted with the above mixture destroys poison; whoever looks at a flag or
banner besmeared with the above mixture will get rid of poison.
Bull. Ind. Inst. Hist.Med. Vol. XXXVI - 2006
Discussion and conclusion
Basic seeds of medicine can be found in Vedas. Later in India the system of
medicine had its individual entity by the name of Ayurveds, the science of life. This
Ayurveda literature can be found in the subsequent Samhita grsnttuis. Cararka Samhita,
A$!ailga Hrdsys, A$!ariga Sailgraha etc ancient Ayurveds Granthas are
the available Ayurveda literature with different branches of medicines including Vl$a
vsrnuns (description of poisons) and Vl$acikitsa (Treatment of poisons). Simultaneously
many other ancient literatures like Parens, Upsnissd and
also has scattered literature
of medicine and its branches. This gives a rough idea about knowledge of those ancient
scholars on Ayurveda medicine. In the same way this ancient Kau!ilya's Arthssiistre also
has many descriptions related to medicine. Important thing is that many ancient Ayurveda
Samhita do not have the descriptions related to Autopsies or forensic medicine. Probably
this is the first text, which has these descriptions. If it is true, this text can be considered
as basic text for forensic medicine and Keutilys, the author of book, can be considered
as Father of Forensic medicine.
Like many Ayurveds granthas, this text also has description of some plants, animals,
metals that can be used as poisons as single drugs or formulations. Many of these
poisonous substances like Pencskustbs, Ksundinysks, Vissrnalik«, Mrgamaririi, Kambali,
etc. are unknown and there is a need of research to identify the
same. This text also has the descriptions of treatments for many poisons. Along with
these forensic and toxicological descriptions this text also contains so many peculiar
yogas (formulations) different types of measurements, descriptions of different type's
herbs, metals and animals. It can be concluded that this is an ancient text with important
medical literature with all scopes for further study and research.
The author is highly thankful to Uttamavaidya Shree Pammi Satyanarayana sastry,
Managing trustee of Dr. Achanta Lakshmipathi Ayurveda library for providing this text
and library facilities. The author is also thankful to K.l.Lavanya Lakshmi, Lecturer
N.R.S. Govt. Ay. College for providing books related to this article.
Medico Legal Autopsy in Kau/!lya's Arthasastra - Prasad et al
I. Bbsvsmisrs 2002
ss« Nigh sntu, commentary by K.C.
Chunekar, edited by G.S. Pandey; Chowkambha
Bharati Academy, Varanasi.
2. Damodar Reddy 1994 Agadaiantramu Visha Vignanamu; Andhra Pradesh
Ayurvedik Literature improvement Trust,
3. Kautilya 1967
s ss strs
translated by Maha
Mahopadyaya R.Shama Sastry, eighth edition;
Mysore printing and publishing house.
4. K.S Narayana Reddy 1995 The essentials of Forensic medicine and toxicology.
editor; K. Suguna devi printed by Omsai
Graphics, Narayanaguda, Hyderabad-27.
5. P.v. Sharma 1969 Drsvyugune Vignan, 2nd Edition; Chowkhamba
Sanskrit Series, Varanasi.
6. P.V.Sharma 1997 Dravyaguna Koss, l " Edition; Chankhambha
orientalia, Delhi- 110007.
Bull. Ind. Inst. Hist.Med. Vol.XXXVI - 2006
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