Vrikshayurveda: Definition, Principles and Need in 21st Century

Definition of Vrikshayurveda

Information available about Botany in Vrikshayurveda; Medical Science in Vrikshayurveda; Agricultural Science in Vrikshayurveda; and Undocumented knowledge about Vrikshayurveda utilized by tribal and farmers when applied to plant life for medicine, food, especially, agriculture and utilization for mans’ various other needs reveals that the knowledge reported in ancient Indian literature about plants, Vrikshayurveda, may be in bits and pieces or in the form of treatises, is unbiased, systematic and organized scientific attempt for sustainable utility plants for human beings, animals and plants themselves.

Hence, Vrikshayurveda can be defined as "The science of growing plants for food and medicine for humans and animals by providing happy, healthy and peaceful life to them by understanding all aspects of plant life and adopting principles of botany, Ayurveda and using eco-friendly techniques for long-lasting survival of plants for betterment of plants, animals and humans."

Principles of Vrikshayurveda

Applying this definition to spatio-temporally spread Vrikshayurvedic literature following can be derived as the principles of Vrikshayurveda:
  1. Eco friendliness.
  2. Maintenance of biodiversity.
  3. Optimum use of nature.
  4. No unnecessary cutting of trees.
  5. No unnecessary killing of animals.
  6. Use whatever is available.
  7. Use preventive measures rather than curative.
  8. Healthy plant can fight any problems or calamity.
  9. Cultivation with caring and protecting plants because they have consciousness.
  10. Provide happy, healthy and peaceful life to plants.

Vrikshayurveda for 21st Century

In last two centuries population explosion and socio-economic factors have led to loss of attention towards providing happy, healthy and peaceful life to plants essential for maintaining nature’s harmony. History of the world reveals that evolutionary processes always have minimum side effects because they are based on analysis, while revolutionary processes have possibility of more side effects as they are based on synthesis. The best example can be sited in evolution of traditional agriculture and green revolution in agriculture.

In 1840 German chemist Justus von Liebig’s publication ‘Organic Chemistry in its Relation to Agriculture and Physiology’ (Die organische Chemie in ihrer Anwendung auf Agricultur und Physiologie) refused the humus theory of plant nutrients and proposed mineral theory. Demonstration of power and value of his approach led to development of specialized agriculture research laboratories. As an outcome, first 40 years of last century science developed rapidly, this led to availability of agricultural inputs like hybrid seeds, affordable and abundant nitrogen fertilizers, tractors, etc.

After the Second World War two chemicals produced for warfare were introduced in agricultural use viz. Ammonium Nitrate used for ammunitions became cheap source of nitrogen and DDT used in controlling disease causing insects around troops became cheap and general insecticide giving rise to new era of pesticide use. About same time sophisticated farm implements were introduced.

In 1944 with private funding from US, campaign of Green Revolution was launched in Mexico. This encouraged hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, large scale irrigation, heavy mechanization of agriculture, worldwide. Ultimately, it was resulting in reducing man’s direct involvement with soil.

During Green Revolution agricultural production increased but as time elapsed yield per hectare reduced. The indiscriminate use of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, over irrigation led to serious environmental and health hazards. Overuse of inorganic material in agriculture has led to problems like soil erosion, salination, desertification, increase in pest and insect attack of new generation which are not responding to old inorganic chemicals, loss of crop rotation and bio-diversity, deterioration of food quality resulting in malnutrition causing serious health hazards. Moreover, increased cost of fuel has increased cost of agro inputs. Thus, greed and need has led to tremendous socio-economic and environmental problems.

British botanist Sir Albert Howard, Japanese lady Rebeca Kidd, Rudolf Steiner of Germany, American agronomist F.H. King, Japanese Botanist Masnobu Fukuoka from first half of last century started thinking and working on evils of new agricultural trend of chemical cultivation. In 1940 J.I Rodale first time used the term ‘Organic’ in context of gardening or farming. In the article of a magazine he says chemical fertilizers and pesticides have destructive effects on environment and solution to this problem is in use of natural material like composts and manures, crop rotation to control and prevent pests.In 1962 Rachel Carson published ‘Silent Spring’, which enlisted the damages caused by chemical pesticide like DDT and others to environment. This helped to draw attention of people to organic farming or gardening as necessity for healthy life.

Organic farming excludes off farm synthetic products like chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Organic farming is based on the principle of use of natural organic inputs and biological plant protection measures. If commitment to nature is followed, organic farming helps to conserve water and soil of the farm and help to increase agro- biodiversity.

Modern times organic farming emphasizes on soil enrichment by using organic matters, mulching, crop rotation, companion planting, pest control barriers, regulated watering, use of plant material for pest control, etc. Along with these if techniques suggested in Vrikshayurveda are introduced to it, organic farming will provide superior quality produce, which is, good in taste, flavour with more nutrient value and most importantly free from harmful chemicals to keep human body healthy. As well as human beings can get unadulterated Ayurvedic medicines with more efficacy. At the same time framers can fetch extra penny by selling their produce cultivated by using Vrikshayurvedic principles and techniques to the fellow citizens, conscious about their health.

Thus, key to happy, healthy and peaceful life of human beings and plants of 21st century lies in farming based on Vrikshayurvedic principles because future of mankind is organic.

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