Metrical Texts

The favourable or unfavourable termination of a disease may be predicted from the appearance, speech, dress and demeanour of the messenger sent to call in a physician, or from the nature of the asterism and the lunar phase marking the time of his arrival, or from the direction of the wind (Anila) blowing at the time, or from the nature of omens (Shakuna) seen by him on the road, or from the posture, temperament or speech of the physician himself.

A messenger belonging to the same caste as the patient * should be regarded as an auspicious omen, whereas one from a different caste would indicate a fatal or an unfavourable termination of the disease.

A eunuch, a husband of many wives, a messenger sent on a different errand and incidentally calling at a physician's house, or one who has quarrelled on the road, or messengers who come riding on camels, donkeys or in carts, or on foot in one unbroken line, should be looked upon as inauspicious messengers.

* A Pashanda messenger should be despatched to call in a physician where a member of the same community would fall ill; a householder, in the case of a patient of the same social order; a Brahmana, in the case of a Brahmana patient, and so on; while an infringement of the rule would be looked upon as an evil omen.

Similarly, messengers, who call at the house of a physician, holding in their hands a rope, club, or any other weapon, or who come dressed in black, red, yellow, wet, dirty or torn garments, or with the upper sheets placed or arranged on their right shoulders (Apasavya), or clad in single cloths without such upper sheets on, as well as those, who are possessed of additional or smaller number of limbs, or look disturbed and agitated, or whose bodies are in any way mutilated or such, as look fierce and haughty, or speak in a rough and harsh tone, or utter any term implying death, should be regarded as augurs of evil.

Likewise, a messenger, tearing off a blade of grass or a chip of wood with his fingers, or handling the tip of his nose or the nipples of his breast, or pulling the ends of his cloth or hair, or the ring-finger of his hand, or brushing his nails and hair, or standing with his fingers in his ears or nostrils, or waiting with his hands placed on his cheeks, chest or head, or about the regions of the arm-pits, as well as one, who has arrived at the house of the physician with bits of human skull or stone, or with ashes, bones, paddy husks or charcoal in the palms of his hands, or one, who digs into the earth with his toe-nails, or wantonly breaks stones or brickbats, while waiting at the physician's house, should be regarded as a messenger of evil augury.


A messenger, who at the time of visiting a physician for his professional help comes smeared with oil, or with red sandal paste or mud, and carries a red garland or a ripe but sapless fruit, or any other thing of like nature in his hand, or brushes together the nails of his fingers or touches his legs with the hand, or carries a shoe in his hand, or who appears to have been suffering from a foul or loathsome disease, further one, who breathes heavily, or weeps or behaves contrarily, or stands with the palms of his hands united and his face turned to-wards the south, or waits on one leg on an uneven ground with the other raised and placed on a higher support, should be looked upon as the precursor of evil.

A messenger, reporting his errand to the physician while he is facing the south, or who is in an unclean state of the body, or engaged in kindling a fire or in killing an animal, or is remaining in a nude state, or is found to be lying on the bare floor of his chamber, or performing an afiection after attending to a call of nature, or anointing himself with oil, or perspiring, or sitting with his hair dishevelled, or in a state of mental perturbation, is to be looked upon as a messenger foreboding evil.

A messenger, seeking the interview of a physician while he is engaged in offering oblations to his departed manes, or to the gods, or one who calls on him at noon or at midnight, at morning or at evening, or during the happening of any abnormal physical phenomenon, or at an hour under the influence of any of the following asterisms (lunar mansions), viz. the Ardra, the Ashlesa, the Magha, the Mula, the two Purvas, and the Bharani, or on the day of the fourth, ninth, or the sixth phase of the moon (whether on the wane or on the increase), as well as on the last days of months and fortnights, should be considered as a messenger of evil augury.

A messenger, hot and perspiring from being seated near a blazing fire, and calling upon a physician in the midday, should be deemed as an inauspicious one in the case of a Pittaja distemper; whereas a messenger of similar description should be looked upon as foreboding the favourable termination of a disease, if due to the action of the deranged Kapham. The favourable character of a messenger should be likewise determined in diseases originated through the action of the deranged Vayu, * etc.; and an intelligent physician is at liberty to exercise his own discretion in determining the omen. Similarly in a case of haemoptysis, dysentery or any morbid discharge from the urethra (Prameha), the first interview between a messenger and a physician near a reservoir of water is an omen of happy augury. A learned physician shall thus determine the ominous character of a messenger in connection with other diseases as well.

* A messenger, visiting a physician in the afternoon or during a heavy rain or storm, or at a time when the vital wind is naturally disturbed and agitated, indicates an unfavourable prognosis.