Kashyapa Rishi of the Mahabharata becomes Dhanvantari Ojha of the Manasamangal Kavya: Transmission and Diffusion of an Ancient Snakebite-Curer’s Story

Rahul Bhaumik

Department of History, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. Email: rahul_joy1981@yahoo.com

 Volume VII, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.25274/bcjms.v7n2.v7n2eng03

Abstract

This paper focuses on the particular Mahabharata story of great snakebite-curer Kashyapa Rishi, whose resemblance we find in the character of Dhanvantari Ojha of the mediaeval Bengali narrative poetry Manasamangal Kavya or Padma Purana. Similarities between these two narratives prove that ancient epical story largely influenced the making of mangal-kavya, though the story of Dhanvantari is not a blind imitation of the epical story. However, a close reading of these stories also indicates towards the very existence of a well-established medical discipline concerning snakebite envenomation and its treatment in ancient and mediaeval India. Thus, by using specific literary evidences this paper actually tries to trace the socio-cultural journey of Indian toxicology.

Keywords: Snake, Snakebite-Curer, Takshaka, Kashyapa Rishi, Dhanvantari Ojha, the Mahabharata, the Manasamangal Kavya.

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