Ayurveda To Improve Health of Herbs: Vriksha Ayurveda

Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
Ayurveda, the science of life, has served the humanity since thousands of years. Preserving the health of a healthy individual and treating the diseased has been the aim of Ayurveda.

Vriksha Ayurveda

Equally important is the preservation and growth of the plant kingdom for the benefit of the mankind.
India is a nation having rich knowledge regarding its ethnic methods of farming, agriculture, horticulture. It still continues to be dependent on natural rains for its agricultural needs. The country has been blessed with a vast forest area which is fast dwindling. The importance of preservation of plant life and their proper growth is a science which the ancient sages knew. The  knowledge regarding plants include deep understanding of the relationship of plants with other plants and animals, soil moisture ,temperature and other geological phenomenon. Approximately about ten thousand different plant species are found in India out of which about 5000 are having medicinal properties and about 2500 different plants have been used as food.

The proper documentation for the plant based pharmacopoeia was started around 3000 B.C -2000B.C in the Atharva Veda with information about 300 plants.

Vriksha Ayurveda, a component of Agnipurana, an ancient Indian scripture, is a dedicated text signifying the importance of agricultural science. Vrikshayurveda means the science of plant life, mainly dealing with various species of trees and their healthy growth and productivity. It suggests that planting of trees is a mean to attain the four components of life i.e. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. This holistic approach of the science enabled the proper cultivation and care needed for the growth of plant kingdom. In Vriksha Ayurveda, the cultivation of about 170 plant species are described including water management, soil conservation, fertilizers used to cultivate the plants, the various diseases affecting the plants and their treatment.

Texts

The various texts describing about Vriksha Ayurveda are-

  • Upavana vinoda- A chapter in the text Sarangadhara Paddhati. It deals with glory of tree, selection of soils, classification of plants, rules for the nourishment of plants.
  • Brihat samhita- Book compiled by Varahamihira in 500 A.D. It discusses the topics like clouds, indication of yield of crop from the blooming of flowers, ascertaining of water in dry region.
  • Vrikshayurveda of Surapala- It is a manuscript on horticulture and botany, preparation of different kinds of manures, explains the plant disease and treatment.
  • Krishi sukthi- It is a text on agriculture narrated by sage Kashyapa. It contains the description of eatable and uneatable substances, methodology of paddy cultivation. Period of the work is considered to be 8- 9 century A.D.
  • Amarakosha- It is a sanskrit lexicon of 6th century A.D, compiled by Pandit Amarasimha. Chapters like Bhoomi Varga, Vanoushadi varga give a comprehensive glimpse of the art of classification of soil, land, implements used etc.
  • Krishi Parasara- This book explains about agriculture depending on rainfall, seed collection, preservation and sowing.
  • Kautilya’s Arthashastra- It enlists the functions of the officer in charge of agriculture and his assistants, tax collection from the people based upon the agricultural output.
  • Various texts like Dhanwanthri Nighantu, Raja Nighantu, Bhavaprakasha Nighantu also describe some aspects of Vrikshayurveda.

Two books are completely dedicated to Vriksha Ayurveda-

Vriksha Ayurveda by Salihotra

Vriksha Ayurveda written by Salihotra (around 400 B.C)
This book is divided into 12 chapters.

In the 1st chapter of the book, various types of land and soil are described.

  • ‘Anupa desha’- The land is fertile in nature with abundant water, green trees, climate suitable for the growth of plants and soil rich in natural nutrients.
  • ‘Jangala desha’- The land is dry and barren. Water content in the soil is less.
  • ‘Sadharana desha’- The land has moderate water, greenery and soil is having natural nutrients in moderate quantity.

Later in the book the preservation, care of seeds and its germination is mentioned. The methods used for the irrigation of the plants, amount of water needed for the proper growth of plant is explained. The fertilizer called as ‘kunapa jala’ was used for the cultivation of the plants. The methods used to protect the plants and trees from extreme weather conditions, treatment of branches and roots if effected by diseases, growing different plants around dwelling place are written in this text. This book also describes about the techniques used to help plants and trees bloom flowers and bear fruits throughout the year irrespective of the season, climatic conditions etc.

Vriksha Ayurveda by Surapala

Vriksha Ayurveda written by Surapala (1000. A.D)
This book regains its importance till date as the book describes in detail about the cultivation and preservation of the plant from its seed till its maturity. This exclusive book dedicated to the science of plants is divided into 13 chapters.

Some of the important and interesting points written in the book will be told further in this article-

  • The plant kingdom is classified into 4 types based upon their morphology
  • Vanaspathi- Plants which bear fruits but flowers cannot be seen
  • Druma- Plants in which both fruit and flowers can be seen
  • Lata- Creepers
  • Gulma- Shrubs and Herbs
  • Kunapa Jala- The manure prepared from the combination of the fat, flesh of boar mixed with water, milk and stored underground is called Kunapa. This water was used for irrigation of newly germinated seeds and helped in quicker growth of plants.

Kunapa Jala preparation

Preparation method of Kunapa Jala – Manure:
Ingredients-
Meat- 1 Kg
Sesame- 250 g
Black gram- 250g
Cow milk- 1000 ml.

Procedure:
Cook the meat with 5 liters of water till the water is reduced to half. Remove the cooked meat and filter the water. Add powdered sesame and black gram with the filtered water and boil. Cool the mixture and add milk. Transfer the mixture into a mud pot and it is buried in the ground. After 10 days the filtrate is transferred into another pot. Close the vessel. Fermentation takes place during this period. After complete fermentation, the filtrate can be applied near the roots or used as spray.

(50 ml of the filtrate can be mixed with 10 litres of water and can be used effectively. Scientific studies have proved the efficacy of the above said preparation.)

Rules for sowing seeds

Seeds should be smeared with cow dung and sprinkled with milk. Dry them again and later it is smeared repeatedly with powder of Vidanga (Embilai ribes Burn.) mixed with honey and then sown for germination. 

Process of planting
Pits of about 1 ‘hasta’ (about 18 inches) or 2 ‘hasta’ (about 36 inches) in depth and width should be prepared. Pit should be properly dried, filled with cow bones, cow dung and burnt. Then the ash is removed after it is cooled. ‘Kunapa’ water should be sprinkled and fill the pit with good mud before transferring the sapling to the pit.


Pits of about 1 ‘hasta’ (about 18 inches) or 2 ‘hasta’ (about 36 inches) in depth and width should be prepared. Pit should be properly dried, filled with cow bones, cow dung and burnt. Then the ash is removed after it is cooled. ‘Kunapa’ water should be sprinkled and fill the pit with good mud before transferring the sapling to the pit.

Bulbs should be planted in pits measuring one Hastha length, breadth and depth and filled with mud mixed with thick sand.

Kadali (Banana plant) should be planted after smearing the root with cow dung and should be watered well.
Small trees should be transplanted by day time after smearing the root with honey, lotus fibre, and ghee. Big trees should be transplanted during the evening with their roots covered.

The fruits yielding trees should be planted with a gap of 6-9 meters for better yield.
The earth containing the black colored soil is the most fertile land for cultivation.

Watering the plants

The book mentions about the time for watering the plants according to the season.
Newly planted trees- Both in the morning and evening.
Hemantha, Sisira ( Winter)- On alternate days
Vasantha (Spring)- Daily
Grishma(Summer)- Once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
Sharat (Autum) – When there is no rain fall; fill the circular ditch under the tree with water. 

Different seasons were explained for the cultivation of different fruits and vegetables.
Increase in size and yield- To increase the size of vegetables, fruits like orange, mango, pomegranate etc. milk mixed with fertilizer of sesame, remnants of meat and fish should be poured around the plant after the flowering is seen.

Increase the fragrance- The book explains about the method to be adopted for increasing the fragrance of flowers. Different manures are used for different flowering plants.

Diseases effecting the plants- The diseases effecting the plants can be grouped into-
Exogenous- Disease caused due to worm infestation, insect attack, trees affected by fire, cold winds, trees struck by lightning.

Endogenous- Similar to human beings, plants are also affected by vitiation of Vata, Pitta or Kapha doshas.
Treatment for the diseases- For exogenous causes, the treatment is given according to the affected part and the causative factor.

In worm infestation-Irrigate the plant with cold water for seven days and apply cow dung mixed with water, milk and kunapa jala. Alternately, apply mixture of white mustard, vacha (Acorus calamus), kusta (Saussurea luppa) to the affected part of the plant.
Suffered by heat- Sprinkling the plant with kunapa jala and milk.
If branch fall –Apply paste prepared with mixture of honey and ghee (clarified butter) and sprinkle with milk and water.

If plant dries due to bad soil– Remove the soil and replace healthy soil and sprinkle with milk and water.
Drying due to lack of water-Irrigate the plant with milk mixed with water and properly fomented crab shells.
Wounds to the trees – Apply the paste of bark of Nygrodha (Ficus bengalensis), Udumbara (Ficus glomerata), cow dung, honey and ghee.

Burn treatment– If a plant is burnt, it can be treated with application of mud and paste of lotus. The irrigation should be done with water mixed with sugar, sesame and milk.

Water used for cleaning fish, rice can be used for irrigation of plants. This cures many diseases of the plants and keeps them healthy.

Plant diseases treatment

For endogenous cause, the treatment to the plant is given according to the vitiation of the dosha.

Vata Dosha:
Features: The plant become lean, deformed, appearance of knots and globules on trunks or leaves, fruits become hard and less juicy.
Treatment: Irrigation with flesh and fat of animals along with ‘kunapa jala’ followed by fumigation with Neem leaves (Azadirachta indica)

Pitta Dosha:
Features: The plant find difficult to withstand the sun rays, yellowish discoloration of leaves, frequent shedding of branches, bearing of premature fruits.
Treatment: Irrigation with decoction of Yasti madhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Maduka (Madhuca indica) and milk mixed with honey, fumigation with honey and ghee to the affected part of the plant.

Kapha Dosha:
Features: The branches and leaves become glossy, all parts of the plant are surrounded by creepers.
Treatment: Apply decoction prepared from herbs like Apamarga (Achyranthes aspera), Pippali (Piper longum). The roots of affected trees are applied with cake of white mustard and irrigate with Tila kshara (ash of sesame plant) mixed water.

Collection of different parts of plants based upon various seasons has been explained so that maximum potency can be obtained from the part:

  • Flowers and Fruits- During their flowering and fruiting season
  • Leaves and Branches- During rainy season or spring
  • Roots – During summer or late winter
  • Bark, Stem- Early winter

Other interesting points

Some other interesting points told in the text are-

  • For flowering in all season– Mixture of Sesame oil cakes, Vidanga (Embelia ribes), sugar cane juice and cow dung is sprinkled to the root of a plant. This practice enables flowering of the plant in all the seasons.
  • For seedless fruit– Paste of Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), sugar, Kustha (Saussurea luppa), flowers of Madhuka (Madhuca indica) is applied to the  root of a tree to produces seedless fruit.
  • For dwarf variety– A plant grown in a pit supported with four pillars erected close to the roots and irrigated carefully with milk grows into a dwarf variety.
  • To control weed– The cut branches of Arka (Calotropis procera) are kept at the entrance of rain water channel. This method minimizes weed population if repeated for several times during rainy season.
  • Paddy pest control– Cactus milk is poured into the water inlets of the paddy field to control the pests and insects in paddy field.
  • To prevent flower and fruit drop: Asafoetida is applied on the root of the plant and a fine bandage cloth is tied around it. It is used to prevent flower and fruit dropping.
  • Treatment of termites-8-10 Kg of Arka (Calotropis procera) is soaked in water for about 24 hours and filtered. This liquid is poured on termite infested soil to kill the termites.
  • Enable fruit and flower drop: Any plant will drop its flower or fruit if it is irrigated with decoction of kulattha (horse gram) or salt water.
  • To purify water: The powders of gooseberry, kataka (Strychnos potatorum), musta (Cyprus rotundus) is added to the water to purify it.

Ancient India had achieved great advancements in agricultural technology. The seed selection , selection of soil, classification of diseases, management for various  diseases, techniques like bonsai, production of seedless fruits , alteration in fruits and flowers clearly indicate that level of knowledge and scientific use was high.

Vrikshayuveda is of great relevance in agriculture and horticulture. It includes collection, selection and storage of seeds, germination, various techniques of plant propagation grafting etc.

In today’s scenario the importance of understanding Vrikshayurveda has also increased because huge amount of money is being spent every year on pesticides to control pest and to improve food production.

Apart from being costly, the chemical pesticides have proven to be environmentally disastrous. A detailed study of Vrikshayurveda would also provide us with information on pest management based on sound ecological principles.

Indian scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose had discovered the plant physiology using his own invention, the Crescograph, to measure plant response to various stimuli, thereby scientifically proving parallelism between animal and plant tissues. Further scientific validation or researches are needed to promote the knowledge of Vriksha Ayurveda to enable the healthy flourishing of plant kingdom and mankind.

References

  • Vrikshayurveda by Dr. Srikrishna Jugunu, Chaoukambha Sanskrit Series, Varanasi.
  • Upavana vinoda , Published by The Indian Research Institute, Kolkata.
  • Surapala Vrikshayurveda, English translation by Dr.Nalini Sadhale.

Author:
Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
E mail: drprashanthbk@gmail.com

13 thoughts on “Ayurveda To Improve Health of Herbs: Vriksha Ayurveda”

  1. आपामार्ग के छिलका रहित बीज की उपलब्ध्ता के विषया मे जानकारी

    Reply
  2. sir i required some useful books on agriculture.ie formulations for plant grouth,pest control, fungal, etc.pl suggest me the availability price .etc
    regards
    satyanarayana

    Reply
  3. Hi doctor,
    What a fantastic site this is! So informative, thank you.
    In the above article titled Treatment of Termites which part of the plant Calotropis does one use? Flowers or the leaves?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your kind words of appreciation.
      Whole plant – cut into coarse powder is used.

      Reply
  4. Ayurveda To Improve Health of Herbs: Vriksha Ayurveda, excellent useful and informative article, Congratulations.

    Reply

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