Anjana – Collyrium Types, Method, Uses, Side Effects, Contra Indications

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Anjana is thick eyeliner made with herbs. It is also called collyrium.
Eye is most beautiful organ of our body. It not only contributes to our beauty but also helps us to enjoy and admire beauty of everything around us. We are mainly visual learners. We learn what we see. All our activities are dependent on our vision. For good vision eye health should be maintained at optimum level.

Eye is called nayana, netra or chakshu in Ayurveda. This is structural eye.
Vision and perception of knowledge through vision are maintained by its functional component. This is called chakshurindriya. Thus eye is an abode of chakshurindriya. |
Many times the eye is also called as chakshurindriya (chakshu + indriya) and this term is used interchangeably.

‘Sarva indriyaanaam nayanam pradhanam’ – according to this quote, eye is said to be the most important sense organ.
Women and girls have been using collyrium or anjana for eye beautification, facial lift and maintenance of eye health since ages. Men are no exception.
It is popularly called as Kajal in Hindi. In fact application of collyrium is a traditional practice and mandatory in many orthodox families.
Read – Computer Vision Syndrome: causes, Ayurvedic Remedies, Tips


Ayurveda has used and advocated use of herbal collyrium not only for eye beautification and maintenance of eye health, but also to prevent and treat many disorders of eye. Thus, anjana has a therapeutic importance and has been an integral part and prescription in Ayurvedic ophthalmology.

It has been comprehensively used for preventive and curative eye care with immense success.
Herbal collyrium is one among the effective eye remedies as explained in Ayurvedic treatises. Many formulations of herbal collyrium lay scattered in various Ayurvedic texts which have been written over a period of time.
Read: Eye Diseases Causes, Pathogenesis, Symptoms, Treatment, Herbs

Anjana – Ayurvedic herbal collyrium
Anjana is a paste applied to the inner part of eyelids.
It is used to protect eye and maintain good eye health and vision.
It is also an effective remedy for many eye disorders and also prevents many diseases related to eye.
It is used in the form of tablet, juice, powder, wick and many other forms.
It serves one or more of the benefits including  scraping, healing and soothing, or comforting.

Sanskrit verse

Classification based on action, medicine, intensity, taste

1. On basis of its properties and therapeutic actions, collyrium is classified as –
Lekhana Anjana – scraping
Ropana – healing
Prasadhana – cosmetic

Lekhana anjanas – these are basically scraping collyriums.
They are also called as shodhana anjanas because they are cleansing in nature.
They scrap morbid doshas from eyes and head and expel them through eyes, mouth or nose.
Scraping collyriums are made up of herbs of all tastes except sweet taste.
They are made up of herbs having sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.
Herbs of different tastes are mixed and made into formulations as suitable to act upon different morbid doshas and cure many diseases.

Lekhana means scraping. Medicines which would scrap out unwanted tissues, wastes and doshas would be given in high kapha and excess accumulation of fat conditions.
In this type, collyrium is prepared using herbs which basically have scraping property.
Since scraping collyriums are also cleansing in nature they are considered as shodhana anjanas i.e. cleansing collyriums.

These medicines when applied to eyes will forcibly pull out morbid doshas and unwanted materials located in eyes, eyelids, veins and channels of head and eyes, brain tissues and shrungataka.
After detaching and pulling doshas from above said locations, collyriums would expel them from one or more of eyes, mouth and nasal routes.
Read – Ayurvedic Hair Care – Principles, Herbs, Oils And Medicines

Leaving apart  sweet taste, lekhana anjanas are prepared with help of herbs having all other 5 tastes. This includes herbs of sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.

Since combinations of herbs of 5 tastes are used in preparing these collyriums, Lekhana anjanas are of 5 types. Herbs of different tastes are combined to prepare these 5 types of collyrium.
– Collyrium prepared with herba of sour and salt tastes are used to control vitiated vata and treat vata disorders
– Collyrium prepared with herbs of bitter and astringent tastes are used to control vitiated pitta and treat pitta disorders
– Collyrium prepared with herbs of  pungent, bitter and astringent tastes are used to control vitiated kapha and treat kapha disorders
– Collyrium prepared with herbs of bitter and astringent tastes are used to control vitiated rakta and treat blood disorders
– Collyriums prepared with herbs of 2-3 tastes mixed together are used to combat vitiation of three dosha disorders

Ropana anjana – these are basically healing in nature.
They also strengthen eyes.
They are prepared from herbs having astringent and bitter tastes, unctuous materials and medicines having cold quality.

Ropana means healing. These collyriums help in healing eye ailments. Apart from this,it is used to strengthen eyes.

Ropana collyriums are made up of herbs having astringent and bitter tastes and their combinations. They are mixed with unctuous materials like oil, ghee etc and applied to eyes.
These combinations or formulations prepared for strengthening eyes are comprised of unctuous and cold qualities.
The healing and strengthening properties of these formulations depend on these tastes and qualities of the herbs used in preparing them.

Prasadana anjana – these collyriums are basically soothing and calming in nature.
They are prepared from herbs having sweet tastes and unctuous materials.
Read – Nayanamrita Anjana – Benefits, Dosage, Ingredients, Side Effects

Soothing, calming and comforting Collyriums
Prasadana has various meanings. It means soothing, calming or comforting. This type of collyrium calms eye and makes vision pleasant and clear.

Prasadana collyriums are made up of herbs having sweet tastes.
They are mixed with unctuous materials like oil, ghee etc and applied to eyes.
Soothing collyriums pacify morbid doshas in eye and bring about pleasantness and calmness in  eye and vision. They improve the glow, color and glitter in eyes and make them attractive.
They also strengthen eyes and vision.
Read – Ayurvedic Healthy Daily Routine Charak Samhita Sutrasthana – Chapter 5

2. On the basis of type of formulation used or form of medicines used
Gutika Anjana – is in form of tablets or wicks prepared from medicinal pastes and made dry
Rasa or Rasakriya Anjana – prepared after condensation of herbal decoctions
Churna Anjana – prepared and used in the form of powders of medicinal herbs
Note: Each of above mentioned types of collyriums again fit into all therapeutic types.
Each can serve the purpose of scraping, healing or soothing.

Gutika Anjana – Collyriums used in form of tablets
Gutika means tablets.
It also means wicks in this case because collyriums are also prepared in shape and form of wicks. Therefore Gutika Anjana can also be called as Varti Anjana.
In this form, medicinal pastes are made into tablets or wicks.
They are used for all therapeutic actions as mentioned above.

Gutika or Varti Anjana is of 3 types.
– Gutika / Varti lekhana anjana – used for scraping purposes, used in 1 harenu dose i.e. size of one small pea
– Gutika / Varti Ropana anjana – used for healing and strengthening  eyes, used in 1 size of big pea dose
– Gutika / Varti Prasadana anjana – used for comforting or soothing eyes, used in 2 big pea size dose

Tablet or wick collyriums are used to treat strong diseases and doshas.
Read – Chandrodaya Varti – Benefits, Dosage, Ingredients, Side Effects

Rasa Anjana / Rasakriya Anjana / Rasanjana – Collyriums in form of condensed semisolid decoctions
Rasa or rasakriya means condensed form of herbal decoctions.
Collyrium is made in semisolid form and stored in same form.
When it is to be used, it is rubbed, made into paste and applied to eyes.

Rasakriya anjana and rasanjana are other names of condensed collyriums.
In this procedure,  decoction of herbs used for healing and soothing the eyes are condensed in  method of preparing confections or herbal jams and is stored in same form.
This method is called inspissation or process of thickening something by dehydration method.
Like Gutika Anjana, the Rasa anjana is also used for all therapeutic actions. Thus, rasa anjanas are of same types i.e.
– Rasa lekhana anjana
– Rasa ropana anjana
– Rasa prasadana anjana

Dose and method of use of these forms of condensed collyriums are same as tablet or wick collyriums.

Condensed decoction collyriums are used to treat diseases and doshas of moderate strength.

Churna Anjana – Collyriums in the form of powders
Churna means powder. Herbal medicines are powdered and used in same form. This means to tell that powders of the medicines used for healing, scraping and soothing eyes are applied in the eyes.

Powder collyriums are used for all therapeutic actions as mentioned above. In this, powders are applied into eyes using shalakas i.e. collyrium rods.

Thus, Churna Anjana is of three types i.e.
– Churna lekhana anjana – used for scraping purposes, in dose of 2 shalakas
– Churna ropana anjana – used for healing, in dose of 3 shalakas
– Churna prasadana anjana – used for soothing and calming purposes, used in dose of 4 shalakas

Powder collyriums are used to treat diseases and doshas of mild strength.
Read – Classification of Eye Diseases As Per Ayurveda

3. On the basis of therapeutic action of collyrium
Mrudu Anjana – are mild acting in nature.
Ropana, Snehana and Prasadana anjanas fall into this category.
Teekshna Anjana – are strong acting collyriums.
Lekhana collyrium is included in this category.

4. On the basis of the taste of herbs chosen to prepare the collyrium
Madhura anjana – sweet tasting herbs are used
Amla anjana – sour taste herbs are used
Lavana anjana – salt tasting herbs are used
Katu anjana – pungent tasting herbs are used
Tikta anjana – bitter tasting herbs are used
Kashaya anjana – astringent tasting herbs are used
Read Ayurveda Eye Treatment Types, Methods – Astanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 23

Application Time

Lekhana Anjanas should be applied during morning time
Ropana at evening
Prasadana at night time.

Likewise, anjana should be applied during day time in kapha disorders, during evening in vata disorders and at night in pitta disorders.
Read – Watery Eyes: Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Remedies

Conditions in which collyrium should be applied
Collyrium should be applied after Aschottana i.e. eye drops.
Collyrium should be applied after  body has been cleansed properly following administration of purification treatments i.e. Panchakarma treatments like purgation, herbal enemas, nasal medications and venesection.

Care should be taken to observe that ama has been expelled and controlled properly before administering collyriums. After these measures when eye diseases present clearly with their signs and symptoms according to involved dosha or doshas, when only one dosha is predominant and is not associated with other doshas, collyrium should be applied carefully into the eye or eyes.
Read: Ayurvedic Way Of Teeth Brushing And Tongue Scraping

Anjana equipment

– Anjana shalaka – collyrium  applicator
– Anjana patra – vessel for collyrium

Anjana Shalaka –
Features :
– Mukulakara vaktra –  tip of rod is in shape of jasmine flower bud
– Kalaaya parimandala – circumference of size of peanut
– Ashtangula – 8 angula in length, 1 angula = 1.76 cm approximately
– Tanu madhya – thin in middle part
– Sukruta – properly shaped, devoid of roughness, ragged edges, crookedness, sharpness etc
– Saadhu nigraha – should be easy and convenient to hold and operate
The applicators may be made of gold, silver, horns, copper, brass, iron, cat’s eye gemstone etc materials

Different materials may be used for preparing applicators to be used in different therapeutic purposes –
– For ropana purposes, applicator made of iron should be used.
– For lekhana, applicator made up of copper should be used.
– For prasadana purposes, applicator made up of gold should be used.
Read Classification of Eye Diseases As Per Ayurveda

Anjana patra –
Vessels used to store collyriums are prepared with various materials. They should carry same property as that of anjana stored in them. Example –
– Madhura anjana i.e. collyriums made up of sweet tasting herbs should be stored in vessels made up of gold.
– Amla anjana i.e. collyriums made up of sour tasting herbs should be stored in silver vessels.
– Lavana anjana i.e. collyriums made up of salt tasting herbs should be stored in vessels made up of horns of sheep.
– Kashaya anjana i.e. collyriums made up of astringent tasting herbs should be stored in copper or iron vessels.
– Katu anjana i.e. collyriums made up of pungent tasting herbs should be stored in vessels made up of cats eye gemstone.
– Tikta anjana i.e. collyriums made up of bitter tasting herbs should be stored in vessels made up of brass.

Collyrium applications

Physician, with help of his left hand should open eye of patient in which collyrium is to be applied.
Collyrium should be taken on the applicator.
Physician should hold applicator with his right hand and apply collyrium into eyes of patient.
Collyrium should be applied gently from inner canthus i.e. inner angle of the eye towards and ending at outer canthus i.e. outer angle of eye.
The applicator having anjana should be slowly moved from the inner cathus to outer canthus and gently removed after applying the collyrium.

Alternatively applicator shall be moved from the outer canthus to inner canthus while applying collyrium and gently removed.
If collyrium is to be applied to the lids or inner part of the eyelids, physician shall apply same with his fingers i.e. collyrium shall be taken on tip of finger and applied gently to inner part of eyelids.
Physician should take care of not applying more quantity of medicine since it may damage the eye and eyesight.


Collyrium should not be applied in the presence of the below mentioned conditions –
– Shrama – fatigue
– Udavarta – abnormal or upward movement of vata
– Rudita – while person is in grief or weeping
– Madhya – after consumption of alcohol
– Krodha – in presence of anger
– Bhaya – in presence of fear
– Jwara – in presence of fever
– Vegavarodha – in those who have forcibly controlled the body urges or is habituated to do so
– Shirodosha – those suffering from diseases of head including headache

If colllyrium is applied in these conditions, redness of the eye, pain, feeling of darkness in front of eyes or blindness or dusky feel, eye discharges, swelling and inflammation would get increased. This would damage eye and vision.


Diseases occurring due to untimely application of collyriums
When collyrium is applied to those who had not slept over night, functions of eye, perception will become less
When applied after exposure to breeze, causes weakness of eye and vision
When eyes afflicted by dust and smoke, collyrium causes eye diseases, eye discharges and glaucoma
After nasal medication, collyrium applied causes swelling in eyes
When applied to a person suffering from headache, makes headache severe
Applied after head bath, have eaten cold foods and before sunrise,  collyrium becomes useless because in these conditions it will not be capable of expelling doshas from eyes, instead it further aggravates doshas and lead to more complications

In conditions of indigestion of food, channels of the body would be obstructed. When collyrium is applied in conditions of indigestion, it further aggravates doshas and worsen eye conditions.
When collyrium is applied in acute conditions when doshas are progressively increasing, it causes many complications in eye.
Read – Eye Diseases Causes, Pathogenesis, Symptoms, Treatment, Herbs

Therefore  collyrium should be applied after taking above mentioned conditions under control through suitable remedies.
Region or place where patient resides, time and seasonal factors and stage of disease should be taken into consideration before applying collyrium

Errors in collyrium administration – anjana doshas
They should be avoided in order to get maximum benefits from collyrium and also not to give scope for aggravation of doshas and development of undesired complications. They are –
– Ati teekshna – application of very strong and intense collyriums
– Ati mrudu anjana – application of very mild collyriums
– Ati alpa / stokam anjana – application of collyrium in less quantity than desired
– Bahu – application of collyrium in excess
– Achcha – application of thin layer of collyrium
– Ghanam – application of thick layer
– Karkasham – application of collyrium roughly
– Atyartha sheetalam – application of too cold collyrium
– Ati tapta anjanam – application of too hot collyrium
All these errors of application of collyrium should be avoided.

Effects of properly applied collyrium

Signs of proper administration of collyrium – Anjana samyak yoga lakshanas
– Vishada – clarity in eyes
– Laghu – feeling of lightness in eyes
– Anasravi – cessation of discharges
– Kriyapatu – eye becomes active, i.e. normal functions and perception are restored
– Sunirmalam – eye looks clean and attractive
– Shanta upadravam – complications get reduced

Excess application effect

Signs of excessive administration of collyrium – Anjana ati yoga lakshanas
– Netra vakrata – obliqueness of  eye
– Kaathinya – feeling of hardness in eyes
– Durvarna – manifestation of abnormal colors in eyes
– Srasta – laxity of eye
– Ati rukshata – excessive dryness in eyes
– Ati srava – excessive eye discharges

Deficit application

Signs of deficit administration of collyrium – Anjana heena yoga lakshanas
When collyrium is applied in deficit proportions than what is indicated, they cause exacerbation of doshas. These doshas get vitiated in a ferocious way and damage eye and vision.

Prasadana and Ropana collyrium

When soothing and healing collyriums are applied properly and adequately they bring about –
– Sneha varna balopetam –  eye gets lubricated and enriched with good color and becomes strong in terms of perception
– Prasanna – feel of pleasantness in eyes
– Dosha varjitam –  eye gets relieved from morbid doshas i.e. all doshas are expelled properly
– Upadrava shamana – eye gets relieved from complications
– Kriya kshamatvam –  eye becomes compatible in terms of its normal functions

When soothing and healing collyriums are applied in excess or deficit, the diseases of the eyes are not cured properly. Certain morbid doshas and diseases are left over as residues and cause complications in long term.
As a remedy for these disorders medicines which induce dryness should be administered.
Read – Ayurveda Eye Treatment Types, Methods – Astanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 23

Treatment principles

General principles of treating complications of erroneous collyrium application – sneha vyapad saamanya chikitsa
– Seka – streaming  medicinal liquids into eye
– Aschotana – eye drops
– Lepana – application of medicinal pastes,
– Dhuma – medicated smoking
– Kavala – gargling with medicinal decoctions
One or more of these should be judiciously selected and administered according to disease and involved morbid doshas.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email / Skype

Master Vagbhata

As per Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana 2nd chapter,

Sauviramanjanam – Daily collyrium application:

सौवीरमञ्जनं नित्यं हितमक्ष्णोस्ततो भजेत् ।
लोचने तेन भवत: सुस्निग्धघनपक्ष्मणि ।
व्यक्तत्रिवर्णे विमले मनोज्ञे सूक्ष्मदर्शने ।

sauvīramañjanaṃ nityaṃ hitamakṣṇostato bhajet |
locane tena bhavatah susnigdhaghanapakṣmaṇi |
vyaktatrivarṇe vimale manojñe sūkṣmadarśane |

Sauviramanjanam – Antimony sulphide is considered Hita (good) for the eyes and hence can be used daily.
The use of Sauviramanjana makes the Pakshma (eyelashes) snigdha (unctuous) and ghana (thick).
The eyes with well defined tricolours (black, white and red in appropriate areas), becomes Vimala (clean), Manojna (beautiful) and Sookshma darshana (vision becomes sharp).

Rasanjanam – Weekly collyrium application:

चक्षुस्तेजोमयं तस्य विशेषाच्छ्लेष्मतो भयम् ॥ ५ ॥
योजयेत्सप्तरात्रेऽस्मात् स्रावणार्थे रसाञ्जनम् ।
cakṣustejomayaṃ tasya viśeṣācchleṣmato bhayam || 5 ||
yojayetsaptarātre’smāt srāvaṇārthe rasāñjanam | 

Vision is a function of Agni / Tejo Mahabhuta, and hence the eye is especially prone to diseases caused by Kapha dosha. To prevent this, Rasanjana (aqueous extract of Berberis aristata), should be applied once in a week, to drain out Kapha (secretions) from the eyes.

6 comments on “Anjana – Collyrium Types, Method, Uses, Side Effects, Contra Indications

  • Rasamanjari

    19/11/2018 - 6:47 am

    Thank you. Very interesting but kind of complicated. Nothing about contamination by using an unclean applicator or how to clean the applicator or expiration dates. Nothing about the multitude of kajal products currently on the market. No mention of lead in many India products. No recipes how to make at home using ghee and smoke. Nothing about contemporary eye-liners and mascaras. Who is going to require doctor to come at home to put on your kajal? Hope some of these might be addressed in a future article on collyrium.

    Reply to comment
  • Yogesh Deole

    11/02/2021 - 3:57 pm

    Sir, can you guide what is Sauviranjana? What are its properties? How it is prepared? Thank you

    Reply to comment
  • Mara

    10/09/2022 - 12:44 am


    Thank you for the article!

    Is anjana and kajal the same thing? Would it be Prasadana Anjana?

    Thank you!

    Reply to comment

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