Strange LUTA Disease in Kashmir! (Post No.3890)

Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 8 May 2017


Time uploaded in London: 21-41


Post No. 3890


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.





Kalhana, the 12th century chronicler of Kashmir History, gives strange information in his Rajatarangini. He talks about a disease called Luta (meaning Spider). In Tamil also we have a disease called Silanthi (Spider), but it is not a fatal disease.


Here is what Kalhana (Fourth Taranga, slokas 524-529) says,

“At this junction in the principality of Rajah,there arose among the townsmen a calamity caused by the epidemic of Luta.

“The disease is contagious and fatal there owing to a peculiarity of the country and hence the living being who is attacked by Luta is forsaken.

Hearing this King Jayapida planned and brought secretly through his servant the necessary articles to prevent the disease.

By swallowing this, which tended to cause an overflow of bile, his bile was excited and he got fever; by applying the milk of Vajravrksa (tree) he was covered with boils.

His adversary having heard from the mouth of the guards that he was attacked by Luta and thinking that he would no doubt perish expelled him from the country.

In this manner, having crossed with the might of his own intelligence the ocean of calamity he seized the hill fort, which extended up to the sky, as well as the fame of the antagonist”.


Kalhana here explains how the king used the fatal disease Luta and escaped and captured new territory in around 750 CE.

The translator of Rajatarangini M P Pandit says in the footnote,

“ Luutaa= Literally a spider. It is a common belief that a certain kind of spider if it walks over the human body produces skin eruptions, hence a kind of skin trouble – rash and pimples- it is known as Luta.


Vajravrksa = a shrub like Arka, the juice of which if applied to the skin produces eruptions. Kig Jayapida used this to get false eruptions and pretended that he got Luta!

(When he British were looking for freedom fighters in Tamil Nadu, they used to pretend that one of the house holders was afflicted with small pox and hung the margosa leaves (neem eaves) in front of the house. The British were scared of this and never entered the street or the village).


Fatal disease!

And in the Sixth Taranga (chapter) of Rajatarangini, Kalhana says that Kng Kshemagupta died of Luta:

“Thus on the dark fourteenth (Krishnapaksha Chaturdasi) the , while engaged in the case, saw flames emerging from the mouth of a howling she jackal.

“The sight of this produced fear and trembling; he was seized of the Luta disease which fever was the cause of his death.

“With his body covered with eruptions of the shape of the split lentils on the ninth day of bright Pausa (Suklapaksha Navami), in the year 34 (of his rule), he died.

“Ksemagupta’s son, the infant Abhimanyu thereafter became king.”


In the Seventh Taranga

Kalhana says, “Then when Rudrapala died of the Luta disease the other Sahi princes, too, very soon met their end.


In the Eight Taranga

Thus, when some months had passed by, the king as luck would have it, suddenly fell ill suffering from a skin disease.


In another foot note here the translator MP pandit adds, “I am indebted to Vaidyaraj Pandit Ramachandra, my fellow prisoner in the district jail at barely, for the following references to the disease of Luta, Dadakaalasaka (7-1443) and Trsnaa mentioned by Kalahana.

Lutaa- see Astaanga Hrdaya, Sutrasthana chapter 5-verses 6-13.