Visha, Upavisha: Types, Qualities, Shodhana, Sevana vidhi, Matra

In Ayurveda and Rasashastra, there are many substances which are used in the therapeutics are basically poisons. They are used in the therapeutics after proper purification procedures according to the classical texts. Such substances, either herbs or minerals, are classified under Visha and Upavisha.
Visha produces Vishadata or dejection, sadness, disappointment, dispair etc. in the body. According to the text rasatarangini –

Definition of poison

दृष्ट्वैतद् यद्विषीदन्ति जनास्तस्माद्विषं मतम् ।
नरं वा विषिणीत्येतन्मृत्युपाशैस्ततो विषम् ॥ (र.त.)
dṛṣṭvaitad yadviṣīdanti janāstasmādviṣaṃ matam |
naraṃ vā viṣiṇītyetanmṛtyupāśaistato viṣam || (ra.ta.)

By seeing which, one becomes horrified, consumption of which causes death of living beings, is called as Visha.

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रसकर्माणि शस्तोऽयं तद्बन्धनविधावपि ।
अयुक्त्या सेविताश्चयं मारयत्येव निश्चितम् ॥ (र.र.स. १०/८३)
rasakarmāṇi śasto’yaṃ tadbandhanavidhāvapi |
ayuktyā sevitāścayaṃ mārayatyeva niścitam || (ra.ra.sa. 10/83)

The Visha is highly useful in Rasa formulations. It helps in Parada Bandhana. If used improperly, it will definitely lead to death.
So, it should be used wisely.

Synonyms of Visha

Kshveda, Amruta, Kalakuta, Garala, Kakola, Gara, Raktashrungeeka, Haaridra, halahala, Bhungara. – Ref: Vaidhyaka Shabda Sindhu.

Types of Visha

स्थावरं जांगमश्चैव गरं च त्रिविधं विषम् ।
खन्त्र्यौषधाश्रयं यत्तु विषं तत् स्थावराह्वयम् ॥
सर्पादी जन्तु प्रभेदं विषं जांगम संज्ञकम् । (र.त.२४/२-३)
sthāvaraṃ jāṃgamaścaiva garaṃ ca trividhaṃ viṣam |
khantryauṣadhāśrayaṃ yattu viṣaṃ tat sthāvarāhvayam ||
sarpādī jantu prabhedaṃ viṣaṃ jāṃgama saṃjñakam | (ra.ta.24/2-3)

  1. Sthavara Visha – Poisons of herbal and mineral origin.
  2. Jangama Visha – Poisons of animals like Snake, Scorpion, etc.
  3. Krutrima Visha (Gara Visha) – Poison effect due to combination of certain substances.

विषं च उपविषं चेति द्विविधं स्थावरं विषम् ।
प्रथमं वत्सनाभादि द्वितियं तिन्दुकादिकम् ॥ (र.त.२४/६)
viṣaṃ ca upaviṣaṃ ceti dvividhaṃ sthāvaraṃ viṣam |
prathamaṃ vatsanābhādi dvitiyaṃ tindukādikam || (ra.ta.24/6)

Based on the intensity of the poison, in Rasashastra, the Sthavara Visha is classified into
1. Visha
2. Upavisha

Sites of existence of Sthavara Visha

कन्द सारोऽथ निर्यास पुष्पं मूलं फलं दलम् ।
त्वक् क्षीरं खनिरित्यस्य ह्यधिष्ठानानि वै दशः॥ (र.त.२४/५)
kanda sāro’tha niryāsa puṣpaṃ mūlaṃ phalaṃ dalam |
tvak kṣīraṃ khanirityasya hyadhiṣṭhānāni vai daśaḥ|| (ra.ta.24/5)

The Sthavara visha exists in the following 10 places –

  1. Kanda (tuber) 2. Sara (extract) 3. Niryasa (Exudate) 4. Pushpa  (flower),              5. Moola (root) 6. Phala (fruit) 7. Patra (leaves) 8. Twacha (bark) 9. Ksheera (latex) 10. mines.

तेषु श्रेष्ठं कन्द विषं त्रयोदश विधं स्मृतम् ।
कर्कट कालकूटञ्च वत्सनाभं हलाहलम् ॥
बालुकं कर्दमञ्चैव सक्तुकं मूलकं तथा ।
सर्षपं शृङ्गिकं देवि मुस्तकञ्च महाविषम् ॥
हारिद्रकमिति प्रोक्तं त्रयोदशविधं विषम् । (र.र.स. २९/१२-१३)
teṣu śreṣṭhaṃ kanda viṣaṃ trayodaśa vidhaṃ smṛtam |
karkaṭa kālakūṭañca vatsanābhaṃ halāhalam ||
bālukaṃ kardamañcaiva saktukaṃ mūlakaṃ tathā |
sarṣapaṃ śṛṅgikaṃ devi mustakañca mahāviṣam ||
hāridrakamiti proktaṃ trayodaśavidhaṃ viṣam | (ra.ra.sa. 29/12-13)

Of all the Vishas, the Kanda Visha (poisonous tubers) are the greatest. They are 13 in number.

  1. Karkata 2. Kalakoota 3. Vatsanabha 4. Halahala 5. Baluka 6. Kardama
    7.Saktuka 8. Moolaka 9. Sarshapa 10. Shrungika 11. Mustaka 12. Mahavisha
    13. Haaridra.

Types of Sthavara Visha

विषं च उपविषं चेति द्विविधं स्थावरं विषम् ।
प्रथमं वत्सनाभादि द्वितीयं तिन्दुकादिकम् ॥ (र.त २४/६)
viṣaṃ ca upaviṣaṃ ceti dvividhaṃ sthāvaraṃ viṣam |
prathamaṃ vatsanābhādi dvitīyaṃ tindukādikam || (ra.ta 24/6)

  1. Visha – Important Vishas
  2.  Upa Visha – Poisons that are less toxic

Different scholars have mentioned different types of Visha.

RasarnavaRasaratnakaraRasendra ChudamaniRasa Ratna SamucchayaRasa Tarangini
KalakutaKalakutaKalakutaKalakutaHalahala, Kalakuta, Shrungika
ShrungikaRaktashrungikaShrungikaShrungikaPradeepana, Saurashtrika
SaktukaSaktukaSaktukaSaktukaBrahmaputra, Haridra, Saktuka
Krushna VishaMustakaVatsanabhaVatsanabhaVatsanabha
SheetamustaHaaridraPeetaPeeta

Collection of Visha

उद्धरेत्फलपाके तु नवं स्निग्धं घनं गुरू ।
अव्यावृतं विषघ्नैस्तु वातादिभिरशोषितम् ॥ (आ.प्र.६/४८)
uddharetphalapāke tu navaṃ snigdhaṃ ghanaṃ gurū |
avyāvṛtaṃ viṣaghnaistu vātādibhiraśoṣitam || (ā.pra.6/48)

  • The fruits should be collected after full ripening.
  • Fresh, heavy, unctuous, thick, parts should be collected. There should not be any antidote near to the plant. 
  • The part should be collected after cleaning the part with water and in a cloth, dipped in mustard oil.

Qualities of Visha

लघु रूक्षं आशु विशदं व्यवायि तीक्ष्णं विकासि सुक्ष्मं च ।
उष्णमनिर्देश्यरसं दशगुणयुक्तं विषं तज्ज्ञैः ॥ (च.चि.२३/२४)
laghu rūkṣaṃ āśu viśadaṃ vyavāyi tīkṣṇaṃ vikāsi sukṣmaṃ ca |
uṣṇamanirdeśyarasaṃ daśaguṇayuktaṃ viṣaṃ tajjñaiḥ ||” (ca.ci.23/24)

Laghu, Rooksha, Ashu, Vishada, Vyavayi, Teekshna, Vikasi, Sookshma, Ushna and indefinite taste (Anirdishta rasa) are the 10 qualities of Visha.

8 stages of Visha manifestation

Ashta Visha Vegas – If you use more than the prescribed amount of poison, the following eight symptoms arise –

1st Vega – Shithilata (brittleness, weakness)
2nd Vega – Kampa (tremors)
3rd Vega – Daha (burning sensation)
4th Vega – Murcha (unconsciousness)
5th Vega – Mukha phenodgama (froathing)
6th Vega – Skandhabeda (dislocation)
7th Vega – Jadyata (stiffness)
8th Vega – Mrutyu (death)

Grahya Visha

Visha suitable for therapeutic purposes:
सक्तुको मुस्तकः कौर्मो दार्वीकः सार्षपस्तथा ।
सकतो वत्सनाभश्च श्वेतश्रृङ्गीं तथैव च ॥
भैषज्यार्थं तु चैतानि विषाण्यष्टौ समाहरेत् ।
जरा व्याधिहराणि स्युर्विधिनाशीलितानि हि । आ.प्र.६/१२
saktuko mustakaḥ kaurmo dārvīkaḥ sārṣapastathā |
sakato vatsanābhaśca śvetaśrṛṅgīṃ tathaiva ca ||
bhaiṣajyārthaṃ tu caitāni viṣāṇyaṣṭau samāharet |
jarā vyādhiharāṇi syurvidhināśīlitāni hi | ā.pra.6/12

Grahya Visha are 8 in number. They are –

Saktuka           Mustaka         Kaurma           Darvika
Sarshapa         Saukata          Vatsanabha     Shwetashrungi

Agrahya Visha

Visha unsuitable for therapeutic purposes:
कालकूटस्तथा मेषशृंगी दर्दूरकस्तथा ।
हालाहलश्च कर्कोटि ग्रन्थिहारिद्रकस्तथा ॥
रक्तश्रृङ्गीं केशरश्च यमदंष्ट्राश्च पण्डितैः ।
kālakūṭastathā meṣaśṛṃgī dardūrakastathā |
hālāhalaśca karkoṭi granthihāridrakastathā ||
raktaśrṛṅgīṃ keśaraśca yamadaṃṣṭrāśca paṇḍitaiḥ |

They are 10 in number.

Kalakuta         Granthi
Meshashrungi             Haridraka                   
Darduraka       Raktashrungi  
Halahala            Keshara           
Karkoti                        Yamadamshtra

           

Classification of Visha based on Jati

According to Rasa Jala Nidhi, VIsha are of 4 types – Shweta, Rakta, Peeta and Krishna.

And the same are also known as Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.

Necessity for purification of Visha

ये दुर्गुणा विषेऽशुद्धे ते स्युर्हीना विशोधिते ।
तस्मात् विषं प्रयोगेषु शोधितं योजयेत् भिषक् ॥ आ.प्र.६/४६-४८
ye durguṇā viṣe’śuddhe te syurhīnā viśodhite |
tasmāt viṣaṃ prayogeṣu śodhitaṃ yojayet bhiṣak || ā.pra.6/46-48

By Visha Shodhana, Visha gets rid of all the toxic qualities. Hence all the Visha should only be used after Shodhana.

Visha Samanya Shodhana

General method of purification of Visha:
कृत्वा चणकवत्स्थूलान् विष भागास्तु भाजने ।
तत्र गोमूत्रकं क्षिप्त्वा प्रत्येकं नित्य नूतनम् ॥
शोधयेत्त्रिदिनादूर्ध्वं धृत्वा तीव्रातपे ततः ।
प्रयोगेषु प्रयुञ्जीत मात्र मानेन तद्विषम् ॥
गोदुग्धे घटिकाः पञ्च शुद्धिमायाति तद्विषम् । आ.प्र.५/४९-५२
kṛtvā caṇakavatsthūlān viṣa bhāgāstu bhājane |
tatra gomūtrakaṃ kṣiptvā pratyekaṃ nitya nūtanam ||
śodhayettridinādūrdhvaṃ dhṛtvā tīvrātape tataḥ |
prayogeṣu prayuñjīta mātra mānena tadviṣam ||
godugdhe ghaṭikāḥ pañca śuddhimāyāti tadviṣam | ā.pra.5/49-52

  1. The Visha substance is coarse powdered, taken in a vessel, and added with Gomutra till the Visha is completely immersed.  Every day, old Gomutra is replaced with fresh Gomutra. This is done for three days. It is taken out, washed with hot water, dried under intense sunlight, and preserved.
  2. Visha can also be purified by Svedana with Goksheera for 5 Prahara

Effect of Shodhana on Visha

विष प्राणहरं प्रोक्तं व्यवायि च विकासि च ।
वात श्लेष्मष्टदाग्नेयं योगवाहि मदावहम् ॥
तदेव युक्तियुक्तं तु प्राणदायि रसायनम् ।
पथ्याशिनां त्रिदोषघ्नं बृंहणं वीर्यवर्धनम् ॥ आ.प्र.५/४५-४६
viṣa prāṇaharaṃ proktaṃ vyavāyi ca vikāsi ca |
vāta śleṣmaṣṭadāgneyaṃ yogavāhi madāvaham ||
tadeva yuktiyuktaṃ tu prāṇadāyi rasāyanam |
pathyāśināṃ tridoṣaghnaṃ bṛṃhaṇaṃ vīryavardhanam || ā.pra.5/45-46

By proper purification, Visha gains Yogavahi, Rasayan, Pranadayi (life saving), Tridoshaghna and Veeryavardhaka properties.

Marana of Visha:

समटङ्कण सम्पिष्टं तद्विषं मृतमुच्यते ।
योजयेत्सर्वरोगेषु न विकारं करोति च ॥ आ.प्र.५/६०
samaṭaṅkaṇa sampiṣṭaṃ tadviṣaṃ mṛtamucyate |
yojayetsarvarogeṣu na vikāraṃ karoti ca || ā.pra.5/60

Visha is added with equal quantities of Tankana and triturated. This nullifies all the toxic qualities of Visha.

तुल्येन टङ्कणेनैव द्विगुणेनोषणेन च ।
विषं संयोजितं शुद्धं मृतं भवति सर्वथा ॥ आ.प्र.५/६९
tulyena ṭaṅkaṇenaiva dviguṇenoṣaṇena ca |
viṣaṃ saṃyojitaṃ śuddhaṃ mṛtaṃ bhavati sarvathā || ā.pra.5/69

Visha is added with 1 part of Shuddha Tankana and 2 parts of Maricha and triturated. This is is the second method of Visha Marana.

Vishagna Gana

Group of herbs which act as antidote for Visha:

जातिनीलीश्वरीसिन्धुकाकमाच्यद्रिकर्णिका ।
त्रिफला करवीरञ्च कुष्ठं मधुक जीरकम् ॥
क्षीरीवृक्षत्वगेलेति विषघ्नोऽयं गणस्मृतः ।
विषघ्नं गोघृतं देवि माङ्गल्यं जीवनं स्मृतम् ॥ (र.र.स.२९/१४३-१४४)
jātinīlīśvarīsindhukākamācyadrikarṇikā |
triphalā karavīrañca kuṣṭhaṃ madhuka jīrakam ||
kṣīrīvṛkṣatvageleti viṣaghno’yaṃ gaṇasmṛtaḥ |
viṣaghnaṃ goghṛtaṃ devi māṅgalyaṃ jīvanaṃ smṛtam || (ra.ra.sa.29/143-144)

Rasaratna Samucchaya: Jatipatra, Nilinimoola, Eshwari moola, Saindhava Lavana, Kakamachi, Aparajita, Triphala, Karaveera, Kushta, Yashtimadhu, Jeeraka, Kshiri vruksha twak, Anu Ela and Goghruta.

Visha Sevana Vidhi

Method of administration of Visha:

नानारसौषधैर्ये तु दुष्टा यान्तीह नो गदाः ।
ते नश्यन्ति विषे दत्ते शीघ्रं वातकफोद्भवः ॥ (आ.प्र. ५/६२)
nānārasauṣadhairye tu duṣṭā yāntīha no gadāḥ |
te naśyanti viṣe datte śīghraṃ vātakaphodbhavaḥ || (ā.pra. 5/62)

When the disease is not cured even after administration of Rasaushadhis, then Visha should be administered. Visha is especially useful in diseases of Vata and Kapha origin.

Visha Matra

Dose of Visha:

यवाष्टकं भवेद्यावदभ्यस्तं तिलमात्रया ।
सर्वरोगहरं नृणां जायते शोधितं विषम् ॥” ९आ.प्र ५/७१)
yavāṣṭakaṃ bhavedyāvadabhyastaṃ tilamātrayā |
sarvarogaharaṃ nṛṇāṃ jāyate śodhitaṃ viṣam ||” 9ā.pra 5/71)

Shuddha VIsha – 1 Tila – 8 Yava.

According to Rasaratna Samucchaya, The Visha administration should begin with 1 Sarshapa quantity, and can be gradually increased upto 1 Ratti.

Diet during Visha administration

घृतं क्षीरं सितां क्षौद्रं गोधूमांस्तण्डुलान्यवान् ।
मरीचं सैन्धवं द्राक्षां मधुरं पानकं हिमम् ॥
ब्रह्मचर्यं हिमं देशं हिमं कालं हिमं जलम् ।
विषस्य सेवको मर्त्यो भजेदतिविचक्षणः ॥ (आ. प्र ५/७८-७९)
ghṛtaṃ kṣīraṃ sitāṃ kṣaudraṃ godhūmāṃstaṇḍulānyavān |
marīcaṃ saindhavaṃ drākṣāṃ madhuraṃ pānakaṃ himam ||
brahmacaryaṃ himaṃ deśaṃ himaṃ kālaṃ himaṃ jalam |
viṣasya sevako martyo bhajedativicakṣaṇaḥ || (ā. pra 5/78-79)

Ghrita, Dugdha, Sharkara, Madhu, Godhuma, Shali, Maricha, Saidnhava, Draksha, Madhura Peya, Sheetala Peya, Brahmacharya, residing in cold places, cold water are Pathyas.

Method of preservation of purified Visha

रक्त सर्षप तैलेन लिप्ते वाससि धारयेत् ।
विषं शुद्धं प्रयत्नेन नान्यत्र गुणहानितः ॥ (आ.प्र.५/५१)
rakta sarṣapa tailena lipte vāsasi dhārayet |
viṣaṃ śuddhaṃ prayatnena nānyatra guṇahānitaḥ || (ā.pra.5/51)

A cloth dipped in mustard oil is taken. Visha is wrapped with this cloth and kept in a clean container.

Contra indications of Visha

न क्रोधिते न पित्तार्ते न क्लीबे राजयक्ष्मिणि ।
क्षुत्तृष्णाश्रमकर्माभ्य सेविनि क्षयरोगिणि ॥
गर्भिण्यां बाल वृद्धेषु न विषं राजमन्दिरे । (आ.प्र.५/६७-६८)
na krodhite na pittārte na klībe rājayakṣmiṇi |
kṣuttṛṣṇāśramakarmābhya sevini kṣayarogiṇi ||
garbhiṇyāṃ bāla vṛddheṣu na viṣaṃ rājamandire | (ā.pra.5/67-68)

Administration of Visha for therapeutic purpose is contra indicated in angry people, patients suffering from suffering from hunger, thirst, Pitta predominance, tiredness, pregnant, children and senile patients.

Note: Among all Vishas, Vatsanabha is widely used for Rasa and Rasayana purposes. Halahala etc. Vishas are usually not seen in therapeutic usage.  Hence, among Visha group of herbs, only Vatsanabha is explained.

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