ArticlePDF Available

VRIKSHAYURVEDA (Arboreal Medicine in Ancient India)



This paper discusses the special branch of the Ancient Indian science on plant life as depicted by Vrikshayurveda, and the obvious relevance of the insights these provide to enrich our knowledge and practice in this field.
Ancient Science of Life, Vol. IV, No.2 October 1984, Page110-111
(Arboreal Medicine in Ancient India)
Chinganezhath House, Mavoor Road, Calicut 673001
Received: November 30, 1983 Accepted: July 15, 1984
ABSTRACT: This paper discusses the special branch of the Ancient Indian science on plant life
as depicted by Vrikshayurveda, and the obvious relevance of the insights these provide to enrich
our knowledge and practice in this field,
The treasure of our knowledge once
belonged to the woods. Our spiritual teacher
and sages also belonged to the woods. Why
did they make the jungle their home? The
psychological explanation given for their
passion for forests is the traditional Indian
predilection for meditation. It was the forest
alone that offered the peaceful atmosphere
so essential for deep contemplation, Russell,
the Philosopher, says that he perceived
philosophy in the dense forests. There exists
in them an atmosphere conducive to
realization of the soul and generation of new
ideas. The grandeur of our forests has been
extolled in one sangha Kavya between the
first and fifty century. Thereafter we find an
absence of such pieces of literature in south
India. Going further north and examining
great literary works such as Ramayana,
Kadambari and Sakuntalam we encounter an
overwhelming and ardent love of wild life
and forests. Valmiki refers to Rama in the
Ramayana as “the lover of forests”. Rama is
said to have lit up the Dandaka forest by His
own radiance. There is a reference to
Aranyani, the Goddess of forests in the Rg
The Rg Veda in its first chapter tells us that
the secred of the tree-trunk’s growing
upwards is the powers vested in Puta
daksan- the Varuna God. As well-to-do
people, now go on foreign tours, rich people
of those times sought the forests. The forest
offered them the right atmosphere-be it to
hunt or think or write. As man’s
associations with forests deepened, his
concern for the health of the forests also
grew. He started thinking about the ailments
of trees, and their causes and cures.
Though “Vrksa Cikitsa” had not become a
separate branch of study even when
Ayurveda flourished during the 6th Century
B.C., references to it can be seen in many
samhitas. Around 400 B.C. Salihotra wrote
Vrksayurveda must have been a different
person living in the times before Christ.
Apart from Vrksayurveda the diseases of
trees and their treatment are dealt with in
‘Brhad samhita’ and ‘Agnipurana’.
Vrksayurveda is a giant work consisting of
twelve chapters namely Bhumi nirupana,
Bijoptivithi, Padapavivaksa, Ropana
vidhana, Nise canavidhi, Posana vidhi,
Drumaraksa, Taru Cikitsa, Upavanakriya,
Nivasa sanna taru Subhasubha Laksana,
Taru Mahima and Citrikarana.
The first chapter mainly deals with the
classification of the soil. It is divided into
classes according to fertility and the
accessibility of water. The first class bears
the name ‘Jangalam; which represents the
places where there is very little water and
less vegetation. The next class is names
‘Anupam’, and comprises rich and fertile
lands with irrigation facilities surrounded by
thick towering trees. The third name
‘Sadharana’ is assigned to ordinary lands,
that are neither very fertile nor infertile.
These three classes are broken up further
into six sub-divisions on the basis of the
colour and flavor of mud. The earth is said
to have acquired different colours and
flavours owing to the irruption and
disruption of age-old rocks whose clay and
sand contain an enormous amount of
chemicals and minerals.
Present day agricultural conceptions of the
selection of soil and cultivation of trees and
lesser plants appear to be based on
agricultural principles not different form
those followed by our ancient agriculturists.
If we go through Varahamihiras
‘Udakargala’ and its annex Kupasastra’. We
find very modern scientific techniques
involved in the investigation of underground
water supplies moderately illustrated.
Another sound illustration compares Mother
Earth to the human body. Jut as the blood
vessels carry the blood through the surface
and internal parts of the body, so also there
are various fountains of water in the upper
and lower layers of the earth. It also
cautions against leaving as inch of territory
barren and uncultivated, and says that all
land can be made fertile and cultivable by
dexterous human labour, official grants, and
above all, by the blessings of God Almighty.
Israel appears to be the only country which
has put into practice the advice of
sarngadhara in full. She is engaged in
waging a real war with Sinai, and ahs
succeeded to a certain extent, in utilizing a
small portion of a great, grand desert sea.
The Chapter “Bijoptivithi’ is a significant
for its explanation of the grading and
preservation of seeds. Before planting, the
seeds should be mixed with ashes and
exposed to treatment by medicated smoke.
This procedure ensures full growth and
health of the plants.
The rules of cultivation laid down in the
book go very well with the latest methods
adopted by our present-day specialists for
growing more food. The roots of sesame
plants and others of the bean family carry
root modules containing bacteria. These
bacteria imbibe nitrogen and produce
nitrogen salt which are rich and very
nutritious food for plants. Should not be
removed from the fields after the harvest,
but ploughed along with the stubble when
the field is being made ready for the next
The biology of trees is very lucidly and
scientifically set forth in the Chapter
‘Padpavivaksa’. The question whether
plants have life and senses, is one of the
subjects of a heated argument between
Bharadvaja Bhrgu in Santiparva, in the
Mahabharata. Finally, it is concluded that
plants have life and senses. The only
difference between man and tree is that
while the tree has its head rooted deep in the
earth, and the branches spread in the air,
man keeps his head high up and walks on
his branches, his legs. Plants and trees can
suffer from hunger and thirst. They need
sleep too. The names and types of creepers
and trees that go to sleep soon after sunset
are very carefully noted. TTN Singh has
carried out extensive researches into how
music helps plants to grow with added
health and vigour. The scientist JC Bose
made ‘the weeping of trees’ one of the main
subjects of study. Saplings dug out of their
original infertile habitat, it is shown, and
replanted in grounds rich in resources grow
robustly. The book even gives notes upon
the length and depth of the pits for
replanting, and also on the different types of
fertilizers to be used for different kinds of
The chapter ‘Niscana Vidhi’ deals with
methods of irrigation and fertilization and
directions for them. The amount of water to
be given to each plant at every stage is very
accurately calculated. There is also
information on the problems that might arise
out of the danger and disease that plants are
liable to, if water is allowed to stagnate
around them. Fertilizers are prescribed for
undeveloped and underdeveloped trees and
plants. Not only in Vrksayurveda but in
‘Brhat Samhita’ also do we come across a
special type of fertilizer named
Kunapajala’. This is made mainly out of
the carcases of such animals as deer, pigs
and goats. All kinds of dad animals,
cowdung, urine and even fish are
emphasized as the most suitable manures.
The Chapter Drumaraksa is full of advice as
to how plants and trees could be saved from
the torments of adverse weather conditions,
strong destructive winds and ’Fibre’ storms,
Certain herbs are used as medicines, which
when rubbed on the broken branch from
where a dry twig is removed, saves the rest
of the whole tree from drying up. If a
healthy tree or plant did not flower the
practice of exposing it to smoke was very
successfully tried.
The next Chapter ‘Nivasasanna taru
‘Subhasubha laksana’ is full of many
fascinating proposals. A perfect dwelling
must have ‘Peral’ in the east, ‘Athi’ in the
South, ‘Arayal’ in the West and ‘Eithi’ in
the North. But they should never be planted
too near to the house; their branches and
leaves should not reach the roof and
windows. Vagbhatacharya very strongly
advised people against spending the night in
the shade of trees.
The chapter ‘Tharumahima’ has a different
story to relate. It declares that ten wells are
equivalent to one pond, ten ponds to one
lake, ten lakes to one son and ten sons to one
tree. A more convincing inference could
never have been arrive at to emphasize the
importance of trees and to show the amount
of love, honour and attention wit which they
were treated. ‘Tarumahima’ announces that
a man attains the highest conceivable
perfection by planting trees. It was believed
that the Almighty lives with those who plant
trees that yield edible fruits. And, if a man
has an ancestors suffering in hell, fourteen
out of them are sure to be redeemed if this
person plants five mango trees wither in the
garden or on the road side.
Next comes chapter ‘Upavanakriya. It is
dense with instructions an detaching upon
the organisation, cultivation and
preservation of gardens. After the most
suited ground has been selected for the
purpose, the first endeavour must be to build
a ‘Latagrha’. For this house one must select
a special type of creeping plant that yields in
great profusion, sweet-scented blossoms and
flowers. Similar creepers should also go to
erecting a sing in the garden. The next step
is the construction of an artificial hillock
‘Kridaparvata’ along with a grotto a valley,
and a large body of crystal-clear water with
a fountain in the centre. Swans should
render added charm by swimming along to
pool. Next would come the building of a
‘Kadaligrha’. It is a kind of rest house
erected in the middle of he miniature lake.
The chapter ‘Citrikarana’ depicts some
astounding techniques and feats which leave
the modern scientist stunned. The ancient
scholars possessed systematized knowledge
of unparalleled performances and
manipulations, conducted to afford
fragrance to nonfragrant flower and colour
to a colourless one, to make a plant bloom
throughout the year irrespective of the
seasons, bring forth premature maturity to
plants and fruits, and change the shape and
form of trees.
Sarngadhara is so modest as to confess that
this wisdom rarned and stored up on his
book Vrksayurveda should not be
considered an achievement exclusively his
own. What he says here is the result o
probing a wealth of knowledge hidden in
the dexterous and dedicated works of
enlightened and accomplished saints and
sages of ancient times, striving towards
attainment of the real essence and truth of
1. Vrksayurveda
2. Ramayana
3. Sarngadhara Samhita
... The second class "Anupam" represents the land which is fertile in nature and found rich in vegetation and towering thick trees surrounded such places. [12] The third class is "Sadharana" which is neither more fertile nor infertile the word Sadharana means ordinary in Hindi ( Figure 1). The second chapter "Bijoptivithi" illustrated about the process of seed germination and explains about grading and preservation of seeds. ...
... It was also believed that plants and trees also suffer from hunger and pain. [12] The life in plants was later scientifically certified by J C Bose. The "Niscana Vidhi" ...
Full-text available
The science of farming and harvesting is not the bequest of modern science at least in India. Ancient educational system or ashrama traditions carving out of wild and natural forests with preservation of trees and herbs of diverse values indicates the rearing of plant sciences. Survival of living beings depends on the harmonious functioning of bio-ecological factors where in the role of „producers‟ is pivotal being the sustainable source of supply of nutrients (ahara) and medicines (oushadhi). Plants form the major source of medicines meeting most of health needs of humanity since ages. Ancient India recognized the importance of conservation, developed cultivation, collection methods of plant bio-resources and their rational use for health promotion and of therapeutic purpose. Furthermore the primeval classics of India laid emphasis on comprehension of plant taxonomy, classification of soil, relevant practices of cultivation viz. selection of soil, plant propagation techniques (through seeds, roots, cuttings, apical portions etc.), plant nourishment, plant diseases and their management. Owing to generation of greater interest and increased demand towards the „natural and traditional holistic systems of healing‟ in recent times, it is the juncture to develop appropriate methodology of cultivation and harvesting of medicinal plants by integrating the knowledge of traditional and contemporary sciences which consecutively aid in sustainable deliverance of quality assured plant drugs, moreover their conservation. KEYWORDS: Agriculture, Vrikshayurveda, Aboriginal Science.
... Elle est née du besoin de limiter les impacts des maladies affectant les plantes cultivées. Ecrit il y a environ 3 000 ans en Inde, l'ouvrage Vrikshayurveda (science de la vie végétale) fait figure de véritable précurseur dans l'étude des maladies de plantes (Ramachanran, 1984). Cet ouvrage propose une classification des maladies de plantes en deux catégories : les maladies internes (dues aux causes environnementales) et les maladies externes (dues aux insectes et aux vers). ...
Les espèces exotiques envahissantes et les maladies infectieuses représentent un problème croissant au niveau mondial et constituent l'une des principales menaces pour la biodiversité. La Nouvelle- Calédonie, archipel situé dans le sud-ouest du Pacifique, est reconnue comme l'un des principaux points chauds de la biodiversité. Sa flore vasculaire native illustre cette singularité biologique remarquable, avec 3250 espèces dont plus de 74% sont endémiques. Dans ce contexte, la gestion et la préservation de cette biodiversité est une question prioritaire. Austropuccinia psidii est un champignon, considéré comme l’une des principales menaces environnementales pour les plantes appartenant à la famille des Myrtaceae à l’échelle mondiale. Communément connu sous le nom de "rouille des Myrtaceae", ce pathogène a été observé en Nouvelle-Calédonie en 2013. L’établissement de ce phytopathogène exotique est préoccupant compte tenu de l’importance environnementale occupée par les Myrtaceae dans les écosystèmes de l’archipel. L’objectif appliqué de cette thèse est de mettre en place une stratégie de lutte permettant à la fois de contrôler l’expansion du pathogène en milieu naturel, et dans[ les ]pépinières productrices de Myrtaceae.Dans une première partie, nous allons mettre en évidence l’importance de l’impact d’A. psidii en termes d’étendue géographie, de gamme hôte et de sévérité des symptômes induits. Ces informations sont primordiales pour cibler spécifiquement les priorités de conservations des espèces et préservation des milieux les plus touchés. Les résultats montrent qu’A. psidii impacte un large panel d’espèces de Myrtaceae sur le territoire. Les variations dans la sévérité des symptômes exprimés entre individus d’une même espèce suggèrent la possibilité d’engager une lutte intégrée axée sur la sélection de caractères liés à la résistance à cette maladie.Dans une seconde partie, nous tenterons d’identifier des marqueurs génétiques permettant de discriminer les individus en fonction du phénotype de résistance qu’ils expriment face à l’infection causée par la rouille. C’est ainsi que via une approche RNA-Seq, combinant à la fois une analyse de différentiel d’expression des gènes et la recherche de variants nucléotidiques directement positionnés sur des parties codantes des génomes de plantes concernées, nous sommes parvenus à identifier des gènes candidats discriminants pour les caractères résistants vs sensibles chez des espèces de Myrtaceae locales connues pour leurs caractères patrimonial, économique, ou encore écologique. Parmi ces gènes candidats certains admettent des fonctions connues impliquées dans les mécanismes de résistance aux pathogènes.
... Vrikshayurveda. Also known as "The Science of Plant Life", Vrikshayurveda written by Surapala, a Royal Physician in the court of King Bhimapala during 10th century A.D. was also awarded as Vaidyavidyavarenya [2][3]. Vrikshayurveda has been mentioned by different writers in ancient literature with different names as Vishavavallabha, Upavanavinoda, Lokopakara and Shivatatvaratnakara (Table: 2). ...
India is an agriculture-based country where population mainly depends upon agricultural practices for their survival. The indiscriminate use of chemicals as fertilizers and controlling agents over last few decades has resulted in multifarious ecological and health problems. Vrikshayurveda, the ancient Indian science which advocates use of plants and their extracts for controlling the infection of soil and plants for obtaining better yield has been ignored with our greed in various ways. Surapala’s Vrikshayurveda is the first full-fledged available text for arbori-horticulture which deals with various aspects of plant’s life, including practices like seed selection, sowing, and manuring etc. Kunapjala suggested as manure in Vrikshayurveda is a direction towards the use of organic manure. Results of some organic practices have suggested that traditional and biological methods of farming can be very useful in improving the soil quality and plant yield. Vrikshayurveda can also help to resolve the current problem of malnutrition and deteriorated soil quality by soil remediation and improving nutrient availability to plants. Thus to utilize the traditional knowledge with blend of advanced scientific interventions and present-day practices are the urgent necessities of present time for environment management, increasing crop yield and to lead a health life.
Full-text available
This paper intends to convey about the use of traditional knowledge for biodiversity conservation with special reference to medicinal plants.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.