By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Nakulandhya is one of the ‘vision disorders’ explained by Master Sushruta.
Nakula = mongoose, Andhya = blindness
Nakula = mongoose, Drishti = vision
Combining both these meanings,
– this the patient is said to have eyes / vision like that of a mongoose – nakula drishti
– the patient has mongoose like eyes while he is blind – nakula andhya
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Table of Contents
All three vitiated doshas get lodged and afflict the eyes. When all three doshas spread out all through the eyes, the eyes shine bright like the eyes of a mongoose. In the day time the patient can see many things in many forms, natural and weird. And the same person cannot see anything at night i.e. he or she is blind at night.
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– The eyes shine bright like those of mongoose
– Patient can see many things in many forms during the daytime, the things may be as they are (in their natural form) or weird forms of the same
– The patient suffers from night blindness – cannot see at night time
By explanation of this condition it looks like a variant of Naktandya i.e. night blindness. Since the disease is caused by simultaneous vitiation of all three doshas the vision damage is severe and hence the condition is considered to be incurable.
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Comparison with eyes of mongoose
Mongooses have a bright orange iris. Some species also have reddish brown or reddish eyes that look scary and alarming. This probably matches with the ‘vidhyotate’ word used by Master Sushruta which means ‘shining bright’ or ‘scary shine’.
The eyes of mongoose is said to have zero refractive error (emmetropic). It is a surprise finding seeing the small size of its eyes and also seeing the fact that mammals with small eyes seem to display varying degrees of apparent farsightedness i.e. hyperopia – distant objects are seen clearly but nearby objects are blurry. Blurred vision is a common symptom of hyperopia.
Now coming to the Ayurveda explanation in Nakulandhya – the author probably wants to tell that the patients of this condition have small eyes like mongoose or the patient would voluntarily shrink his eyes making them small in an attempt to look at far off things which are not clearly visible. Modern medicine also mentions that ‘people with hyperopia must squint to see nearby objects’ – this too can be compared with Nakula Drishti mentioned in Ayurveda. Since the person has to squint or strain to see the objects he or she might see them in different forms and shapes than what they really are. This matches with the explanation of Sushruta ‘chitrani rupani diva sa pashyet’ – i.e. the patient sees various kinds of things / weird forms of objects in the daytime.
Night Blindness is not mentioned among the symptoms of hyperopia but Ayurveda has mentioned the same in the description of Nakulandhya. But in hyperopia it is said that the patient can see distant objects clearly and this is possible with minimum effort during daytime. This matches well with the Ayurveda explanation.
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Also in hyperopia it is mentioned that there is blurred vision and the nearby objects get blurry. From Ayurveda perspective we can infer this condition by telling that –
– Like in Hyperopia the person can see clearly in the daytime but has to squint to do the same, but the patient cannot see things clearly when they are nearby, even in the day time – this is also true with Nakulandhya
– At night time the patient cannot even see the nearby objects in a blurry form due to the darkness (good lighting facility was not available in the olden days) – so naturally the person would be considered to be blind to the nearby objects at night in comparison to the daytime. At night anyways he cannot see the far off things too. Thus Sushruta has mentioned that the patient gets blind at night and hence Nakulandhya or Nakula Drishti is considered as a variant of Naktandhya i.e. night blindness
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Probable Modern Correlation
Nakulandhya is compared to night blindness or Hyperopia as explained above.
Nakulandhya is an incurable condition since the vision is destroyed by all three vitiated doshas. Hence no treatment is available.
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Nakulandhya v/s Naktandhya
Both conditions Nakulandhya and Naktandhya are compared with night blindness.
Dosha connection – Nakulandhya is caused by vitiation of all three doshas. Naktandhya is caused by vitiated kapha.
What the patient sees – In Nakulandhya the objects are seen in different and weird forms. In Naktandhya the person perceives / sees everything around him in white color.
Prognosis – Nakulandhya is incurable. Naktandhya is curable.
Treatment – Nakulandhya treatment has not been explained in the Ayurveda texts because it is incurable. Treatment for Naktandhya has been explained elaborately.