Agricultural Science in Vrikshayurveda

Vrikshayurvedic Information about Agriculture

Botany and medical science in Vrikshayurveda were and can be practiced today and even tomorrow because they were visualized and studied for that reason. The literature review reveals that information about not only growing medicinal plants but diet related plants like cereals, pulses, oil crops or fruit trees etc. associated with agriculture forms the another aspect of Vrikshayurveda. The agricultural aspect of Vrikshayurveda begins with the division of land for five purposes, namely,

  1. Habitation
  2. Wasteland for activities such as brick kilns,
  3. Pasture or grazing land,
  4. Forest
  5. Actual cultivable land or agricultural land.

Among these, the five last two are taken care of by Vrikshayurveda in detail and out of them agriculture has got more prominence which is exhibited in Vedic, Later Vedic, Post Vedic and medieval literature pertaining to agriculture and even non agricultural literature with information about agriculture. For instance, Panini’s Astadhyayi, Patanjali’s Mahdbhdsya, (both dedicated to grammar), Arthashtra, etc.

The main points as summarized below are from the information available in ancient Indian literature on, Vrikshayurveda, encompasses almost all practical aspects of growing any type of plant.

1) Astronomy, Astrology and Meteorology

Rig Veda is associated with Vedanga Jotisha of Lagadha and its date assigned to the winter solstice as described in the text (on the new moon of Magha) which is likely to be between 1370 BC and 1150 BC. This type of information was essential to develop a calendar to perform religious rituals as well as agricultural planning by determining seasons and dates of various operations. In case of agriculture the information is used for functional utility in various spheres of agriculture. For example,

  1. Description of seasons for sowing and harvesting as Panchang (calendar). Rainy (monsoon - Kharif) and winter (Rabi) seasons.
  2. Planetary movement and nakshatra (constellation) to predict rain fall, finish agricultural operations.
  3. Prediction of rainfall from type of clouds, planetary movements as well as indicators of rainfall in different months.
  4. Measure of rain fall in different regions

Most of these are in practice even today in almost all parts of the country.

2) Soil

  1. Fertility based classification - taste of soil, colour, vegetation, medicinal, number of ploughing times, etc.
  2. Association with water, fertility for crops
  3. Purpose e.g. soil for medicinal plant collection and cultivation of variety of crops.
  4. For the purpose of revenue depending on soil productivity.

3) Land selection

  1. Method - By physical survey and tests such as digging, smelling, tasting, weighing the soil, pouring water in a pit and judging colour, duration for percolation of it.
  2. Excellent land for agriculture, horticulture, tree plantation
  3. Division according to location- on river bank, in village, in forest, on mountain slopes, on high or low grounds
  4. Sequence of importance – Sali bhumi (paddy field), Adhakabhumi – mediocre but yield good crop.

4) Implements

  1. Ploughs – various aspects of plough and ploughing.
  2. Other - srni<,i> (sickle), khanitra (hoe), musala (pestle), udukhala (motar), supa (winnowing basket), dhanyakrt (winnowing fan), chalani (sieve), sethii (granary), medhi (the post of the threshing floor round which cattle turn).

5) Irrigation

The importance of periodic watering of the fields. Canal, well, lake and river as source of irrigation, Width of the canal. Timing of watering during the day and different seasons.

6) Locating water sources

  1. Use of various biotic and abiotic indicators such as plants, ant hills, location frog, fish, snake clay, colour of soil, rock, etc. for locating water source and its approximate level below the surface in deserts and other parts.
  2. Techniques to break rock or stone to get water available under it.

7) Propagation

  1. Seeds - Soaking before sowing, quantity, duration and material for soaking.
  2. Others - plastering at the cut end for instance, sugarcane, grafting, cutting, etc.
  3. Agravija (tip propagation)
  4. Methods of propagation e.g. nursery, grafting, etc..

8) Plantation

  1. Based on astrological considerations such as the moon and nakshatra (constellation).
  2. Distance between two trees with its reasoning.
  3. Methods and techniques of plantation and transplantation.
  4. Proper time of sowing.
  5. Preparation of land for sowing.
  6. Proper directions for trees plantation.

9) Growth of crops

  1. Judging prospects of summer crops with planetary movement especially, Sun.
  2. Duration of growing period of crops.
  3. Operations such as raising plants in nursery, transplanting of them, especially, rice, watering, weeding, etc.

10) Crops

  1. Diversity of different varieties of cereals, pulses, oil seeds, cotton, fruit trees, and shrubs, vegetable crops, etc.
  2. Crop rotation for maintaining soil fertility.
  3. Mixed cropping for example, sesame with beans.

11) Manure or nutrients

  1. Material:
    Dung of goats, sheep and cattle, flesh rotten in water, pulses, barley, fish, flesh of cattle and hog, fat, bones, urine of animals, stools, meat, kulattha, masa, mudga (all pulses) yava and tila, ghee and wine white mustard, plantain leaves, ordure of hog and cat, oil cake, milk honey, flesh, lymph, marrow, worms, curd, fats of hog, jackal, mouse, deer and horse, sheep's wool, hair, nails and horns, jaggery, ashes mixed with husk, liquo- rice water, hare's flesh, rock salt, nicula or hijjala leaves, panchmula (five roots), Kunapajala (liquid manure), etc.
  2. Methods:
    Trenching round the tree, burn the inside soil, plastering, digging ring in monsoon. Also describe methods of preparing manure with timing describing months of starting and end of process.
  3. Hint of nutrition:
    Suggestion of specialized manures for various species like mango, coconut, etc.

12) Treatment

  1. Diseases: a) External diseases
    such as the burning of leaves, under growth of leaves, drying up of the branches and excessive exudation of the sap, tree owing to exposure to cold wind and the sun, cessation of bearing fruit. As well as due to pests, frost, fire, wind, etc. and also excessive nourishment of dry, astringent or such other substances, etc.
    b) Internal diseases
    due to disorders of Vata (Wind), Pitta (Bile), Kapha (Phlegm) with details of symptoms.
  2. Material to treat:
    Sugar, water, sesame and milk crab, gravy of flesh. Cow’s urine, ghee, vidanga, mustard and sesame, neem, karanja, aragvadha, soapberry tree, saptaparna, musta. Barks of arka and udumbara, etc.
  3. Methods:
    Plaster, fumigation, smearing, mixing with soil near root, applying paste,pounding of material, pounding in ghee, etc.

13) Harvesting and Storage

  1. Seed store, importance of proper collection, preservation and sowing of seeds.
  2. Size, shape, location of storage, method of storing.
  3. Location of threshing floors.
  4. Post harvest processing like oil extraction.
  5. Prediction of increase or decrease in crop production by observing flowering and fruiting of trees like mango, neem, etc.

14) Animals and animal products

  1. For nutrients and treatment of diseases:
    Boar, small shining fish, hog, python, mice, cock, cow, cat, deer, elephant, fox, earthworms, rabbits, horse, tiger, leopard, buffalos, sheep, goat, etc. and their products such as milk, excreta, urine, cow dung and body parts such as, marrow of bones, flesh, offal, blood, fat, skull, hair, shell of crab etc.
  2. Farm labour:
    Buffalos, bullocks, camel, etc.
  3. Maintenance:
    Cleaning of their sheds, timings of herding, etc.

15) Development of Garden / Arbori horticulture

  1. Garden:
    Location, plants to choose from, features such as pond, swing with location and plants to be associated with them. Purification of muddy or polluted water.
  2. Kitchen garden:
    Kitchen garden well explained with various plants for medical, vegetable and other use.

16) Botanical marvels

Various techniques, procedures with material required for such marvels. For example, for marvels such as red, yellow cotton, out of season flowering, fruits without seeds, controlling fruit ripening period, increasing size of fruits, etc.

17) Advice to kings

The ruler’s support is required in identifying land for agriculture, building water reservoirs, planting trees on the banks of water reservoirs, constructing canals and wells, water harvesting, making seed available, ensuring sustenance to people, giving donation of land and subsidies to weaker people, arranging markets, determining taxes, standardizing weights and measures, afforestation, King should also provide food security, scientific selection of land by experts for agriculture, horticulture and reservoirs, etc

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