Ayurveda Mahodadhi Dhanya Varga – Types Of Rice

By Prof. Vd Rangaprasad Bhat.
This is the first part of a chapter about grains and varieties of rice as explained in Ayurveda Mahodadhi, written by Sushena in 14th Century.  

Shashtika Shali – Rice harvested in 60 days
Snigdha – unctuous, oily
Vatahara – useful in treating disorders of Vata Dosha imbalance  such as neuralgia, paralysis, constipation, bloating, etc
Balances all the three Doshas
Pathya – condusive.
Shramahara – Relieves tiredness, fatigue
Improves Shukra Dhatu
Useful in
Shwasa – asthma and chronic respiratory disorders
Kshatakshaya – chest injury, pththis
Kasa – cough, cold
Krichra – dysuria

Varieties: white and black.
The white is most beneficial.
Of all the varieties of types of rices, Shashtika is superior. 1

महा शालि व्रीहि: –mahā śāli vrīhi:
Swadu – sweet taste, sweet taste conversion after digestion
Balances all the three Doshas
Useful in
Jeerna Jwara – end stage of fever
Jathara Kshobha- all diseases related to stomach
Ideal staple food for children, elders, women.
Improves blood. |2|
Read related: Poha – Flattened Rice: Qualities, Medicinal Uses, Recipes

Qualities of rice, based on the method of sowing and harvesting – indicating its usage for edibility :-
The grains which have been sown, grown and harvested are of first class quality.
The grains which are Chinnodbhava in nature (able to grow even if cut or harvested) are madhyamam (mediocre quality).
The grains that were avāpitaṃ (the sprouts of rice, planted as such as against the usual process of swing of seeds), when grown and harvested is adhama (with bad or degraded quality).

The extracted grains aggravate Doshas. So is the case with the dagdhā (scorched), peṣyaṃ(grounded), vipine(obtained from forest regions) grains.

Rice obtained by seed sowing definitely results in cinnabhavā dhānyam and when such grains are consumed they cause obstruction to the production and passage of faeces and urine.  |3|

Region based names of rice varieties :-
The colour of the grain differs from region to region based on the nature of soil and water irrigation methods).
Of those, the white variety of rice is supreme since it balances all the three Doshas. |4|

The other good varieties of rice are –
Rakto bhīruka,
puṇḍarīka (white variety of rice),
kalama (thick stemmed rice – sown in May and June and ripening in December or January),
tūrṇo (quickly maturing variety of rice),
mahāpuṣpako (with large flowers ?),
dīrghaḥ (long awned),),
kāñcana(golden husked),
hāyano (golden coloured),
asitasitaḥ (refers to the lemma and palea of the spikelet where in the at the stage of anthesis they are black in colour and at the time of maturity become white in colour),
puṣpāṇḍakaḥ (resembling ovary of flower),
pāṇḍukaḥ (yellowish),
puṇḍrākhya (whitish),
stapanīyakaḥ (?),
śakunako (curved),
lodhrastu (?),
saugandhikaḥ (fragrant)
pataṅga (resembling grasshopper or locust),
dūṣakyutā  (?) |5|

Uses of ṣaṣṭika śāli, kalamaka śāli, rakta śāli  & mahaśāli vrīhis:-
svaryā (beneficial to voice),
bṛṃhaṇa jīvanā (nourishing and enlivening),
balakarā (promotes strength),
snigdhāḥ (unctuous),
tridoṣāpahāḥ (negates tridoṣās),
śukraśleṣma-vivardhanā (increases śukra and śleṣma ),
sandīpanāḥ (augments jāṭharāgni),
tarpaṇāḥ (satiation)
pathyaḥ (wholesome),
sarvagade hitāh (wholesome in all diseases),
śramaharāḥ (removes exhaustion),
kśut-tṛṭ-śrama -dhvaṃsikāḥ (appeases hunger,thirst and tiredness) |6|

General qualities of śāli species:-
rocanā: (stomachic),
tarpanā (satiates),
hṛdyā (pleasant),
śleśmalā pittapācanāḥ (digests kapha & pitta dosās),
guravo (heavy for digestion),
bṛṃhaṇāḥ (bulk promoting) and
pathyāḥ (wholesome). |7|

pataṅga śāli guṇās :- Resembling grasshopper or locust)
Rasa:  sweetish (svAdu)
Guṇa:  light for digesting (laghuḥ), hṛdyo
Vīrya:  Sweet (madhura)
Vipāka:  not mentioned
Karma:  sañjīvano (enlivening/ life giver); vṛṣyo (promotes virility); balaprado(promotes strength).
Action on Doshās: When taken along with ghee control the tridosas (hanyāt saghṛto’sau malatrayam). |8|

śālyannaṃ qualities:
The śālyannaṃ (cooked śāli rice) appeases the kapha and vAta. Being sweetish in taste it reduces the pitta too. It bestows  beauty (rūpa); śukra;  (bright glow of aura) mahātejaḥ; mental strength(satva); intellect (buddhi). |9|

kṛṣṇa śāli qualities:- Black variety:
Rasa:  madhura,
Guṇa:  picchilaḥ,
Vīrya:  not mentioned,
Vipāka:  madhura,
Karma: It bestows shukra, beauty, skin colour and physical strength (śukra-rūpa-varṇa-bala pradaḥ),
Action on Doshās: It alleviates tridoṣās, more so the pitta. (tridoṣaghno;  pittaghnaḥ) |10|

Thus ends the guṇas of śāli as said in the śāstrās.
Of all the cereals and grasses, Rice – shali is wholesome and useful in skin disorders. They are beneficial in almost all diseases and are quicker in clearing the obstruction inside the channels of the body.

Amongst the dhānyas – ṣaṣṭikaṃ is superior food( rājabhojyaṃ);
Among meat, goat meat is best
Amoung liquids, milk and ghee stored in mud pot made up of black mud is best.  |11-12|

॥ Thus ends the (explanation) śāli vargāḥ ॥ 

śūka dhānyam

śyāmāka etc kudhānya (millets etc minor cereals) are lesser beneficial to the human system and are very rarely used as staple food.
Their qualities are –
Rasa:  astringent and sweetish (kaṣāyamadhurā),
Guṇa:  hot and dry (uṣṇāḥ rūkṣatarāḥ),
Vīrya:  hot (uShNa),
Vipāka: astringent and sweetish( kaṣāyamadhurā),
Karma:  Causes obstruction in the channels (viṣṭambhinah sarvadā)
Action on Doshās: (śleṣmaghnāḥ) (pavana alpapitta janakā).
Click to consult Vd. Rangaprasad Bhat

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  1. Sridhar says:

    Namaste. Very informative article with detailed explanation.

    In the article, I see that millets is mentioned as less beneficial and not used as staple food. However, millets such as Ragi and Jowar is staple in many parts of India. So, this seems to be opposite of reality. Please give your inputs in this.

    Thank you

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, only the regular millets such as Ragi and Jowar are of good value. The minor millets, which have recently hit the market are mostly made of fiber and do not possess much nutrients.

  2. rupeshc says:

    Can we eat fruit and vegetables together
    Most ayurvedic masters says do not eat fruit with other foods eat it separately .in ayurveda it is given anywhere that not eat fruit with other foods

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