Biological Sciences In Ancient India

Health science (Health science is a part of ayurveda which is an upaveda of Atharva veda. It is also discussed in yoga sastra which is one among the six darsanas of the Hindus. The subject has also been dealt with in puranas and itihasas): The Indian vision on health as given by Maharshi Susrutha, Charaka and Vagbhatachaarya and many others. The approach taken by Patanjali in Yoga saastra, the spiritual approach of body and mind, etc will be the part of the Indian health science. Aswini devatha concept of hitha aayaasa and mitha aahaara (food & exercise), need of appropriate exercise based of the age‐sex‐physiological conditions, etc.

Yogaasanas, sooryanamaskaara, effect of medicines, identification of diseases through saastram pramaanam/ aaptavaakyam pramaanam/prthyksham pramaanam/ anumaanam pramanam / methods. Use of drugs, fastings and pathyas and fasting as a part of customs/rituals. Selection of food based on climatic variation/age/health conditions/etc of the person/patient, physical and mental rest, upaasana and worship as a part of day to day life, ethics and morality in the common man’s life and also for doctors, … causes of illness, pathogenic organisms, precautions to be taken for good health, solar therapy, music therapy, Yoga therapy, Reiki, energy healing, water therapy, as described in the Indian system. The knowledge on surgery and plastic surgery and surgical equipments known sastras and yanthras as described in Susrutha smhitha, practicing surgery as given by Maharshi Susrutha. Variety of acharas/customs and rituals influencing the health. Importance of vegetarian foods. Indian traditional foods and their merits. Taking oil bath during selected days, hot/cold water bath. Allowing children to play in the soils after smearing the oil. ‘Grandmaa’s technological foods’ for babies and baby health care system existed in ancient India.
Mental Health / Psychology (this again is a subject of ayurveda and yoga/ poorva meemamsa/uttarameemamsa/vaiseshika/ darsanas and Upanishads. It has been discussed in detail in Yogavasishta, Bhagavath geetha, dharma saastra  and so on): Description of mind given in Upanishads, mental influence on health, the influence of yamaas and niyamaas: ahimsa‐ satyam‐ astheyam‐brahmacharya‐ aparigraham‐ oucham‐ snthosha‐ thapa‐ swadhyayam‐ eeswara pranidhaanam –etc. Effect of stabilised vision on life, controlling the angr,fear,and attachment, mental preparations to face ups and downs/loss and profit/ success and failures/ animosity and friendship/ appreciations and criticisms …as described in Indian philosophical books. Influence of puranic / epic related stories in mind to face the realities of the life. Influence of pranayam/ dhyaana/dharana etc on the mental development. Impact of food on  mind as proved by the modern science, effect of saatwic food, dreams, effect of manthras on mind, customs influencing the mental health and family relations. Analyses of the purpose of living, family‐social‐and national goals to be put forth  for a purposeful life and its impact on mind. Spirituality and faith in healing. Effect of curative chemical on mind and body. Bhajans /keerthans/ prayer/ manthras etc on mind. The positive songs and images influencing the mind. Psychologically influencing acharas.

Food science (very specific explanations are givenin ayurveda‐ as told –it is a part of atharvaveda. It has been given in dharma saastra and gruhyasootra part of kalpasastra and to some extent in puraanaas): Variety of Indian foods, balanced nutritious foods, natural traditional baby foods, the medicinal components usually added in Indian foods (like asafoetida, turmeric, spices, mustard, etc), pathya based food during illness, specialized cooking, roasting, fermenting, processing, preserving, etc. done for variety of foods and their science. Generation of specific flavors in foods by suitably modifying spices. The science of altering the foods during fasting on specific days like ekaadasi/ somavaar vratha/ karthika month/ vaisaakha month/ etc. Opting for integrated balanced foods through fasting and vrathaas, importance of selecting cooking vessels like ceramics / iron/copper/ brass vessels ( for getting micro nutrients like, iron, zinc, copper, silica, magnesium, sodium, potassium etc), variety of vegetables and their significance in balanced healthy foods. Many more significant scientific observations can be made if a student carefully examines the Indian foods, naturopathy, and vegetarian food.

Chemistry ( Rasachikitsa is a part of atharvaveda based ayurveda prevalent in north India. All the authors of Rasachikitsa were Siddhas or Maharshies. The chemistry descriptions, one can see sytematically in the rasa books) : The ancient Indian chemistry books like rasarnava, rasaratna samucchaya, rasendra choodamany, rasarnavakalpa, rasa chandrika, rasaratnakara, and hundreds of rasa based books . (These books are available in Sanskrit with English or Hindi translations.). The knowledge on chemicals, particularly in inorganic chemicals, like sulphides/ sulphates/oxides/ etc. Sanskrit names of chemicals, detailed description given for setting up a laboratory, scientific temper, qualification of laboratory assistants, research scholars as described in Rasaratna samucchaya. properties of inorganic chemicals and their use described by Vagbhatacharya, centuries ago. Chemicals used for various purposes as described in Bharadhvaja in yantra sarvaswa, Varahamihira in Bruhath samhita and also by others in the above chemistry books .

Bio‐pesticides( biopesticides are part of vrukshayurveda which again is a part of Ayurveda or Bhruhat samhitha): Variety of plant products, Neem, sweet neem, neem cake, mustard cake, tulasi, clove, pepper, turmeric, tobacco, oils from sesame , cotton seed, castor etc., used as bio pesticides and as preservatives, traditional methods of pest control like fumigation with neem/ sulphur/ camphor/ coconut husk(since it contains sulphur /coconut shell (raw‐ for its phenolic content) / cow dung (since it contains ammonia). The use of panchagavya / aqueous cow dung filtrate /extract as pesticide. The traditional knowledge available from farmers. Detailed descriptions for controlling the pests/microorganisms/etc given in Vruksha ayurvedic books.

Plant drugs/pharmacology ( this is a part of the atharvavedic ayurveda): Active plant bio‐chemicals possessing medicinal plants, as described in Charaka samhita, Ashtanga hrudaya, ashtanga sangraha, sahasrayoga, etc. comparative studies on modern and traditional knowledge of medicinal plants. The student can try to understand as many plants as possible which are good sources of the bio‐active principles. Variety of plants ( herbs, shrubs, creepers, grass, trees etc.) used for curing diseases. The plant leaves, buds, flowers, stems, roots, latex, etc used for treating specific diseases. Single drug treatment.
Medicines and medicinal preparations /plant biochemistry ( Charaka samhitha and Susrutha samhitha are written by Rishies of the caliber of those of vedic Rishies, this also include sages like Chyavana/Brugu/ Vagbhata/Agastya and so on): The descriptions of inorganic chemicals used as medicines in ancient Indian  Rasa chikitsa books, their preparations/processing and preservation. The plant products used as drugs, the raw drugs, their harvesting, drying, storage, mixing, drug formulation, decoction preparation, etc. Variety of Ayurvedic drug formulation obtained by mixing many raw drugs. Knowledge on the possible chemical changes taking place in ayurvedic drug preparation while drying, storing, heating, roasting, boiling with water, concentration, etc (all ayurvedic preparations). Here we have to focus only on the knowledge existed and their scientific merits, in the area of plant drugs. The scientific knowledge behind kashaya/decoction preparation, choorna, kwatha, lehya, arishta, ghrutha, thyla. etc reparations and their basic principles of applications.

Basic plant sciences/botany: Detailed description given in Vrukshayurveda by Rishies like Saarngadhara, Katyayana, Varahamihira, Parasara, and others. Plant growth, grafting, irrigation, use of manure, seeds preservation, phototropism, agricultural practices both basic and applied. Seasons of sowing/planting/ biodynamics of agricultural practice, etc., Variety of the traditional knowledge still practiced in villages, in the production of agriculture commodities.

Fermentation technology. The knowledge of microorganisms existed in India as described in ayurvedic books. Fermentation of milk to curd and yoghurt, fruit juice fermentation to vines, medicinal preparation of arishtas, etc. Fermentation procedures followed in four major types liquors mentioned in Chanakya’s Artha saastra ( Arthasastra is an upaveda of Rigveda), the source of microorganisms, cultures, fermentation products mentioned in the ayurvedic and vrukshayurvedic books. Fermented rice based common solid foods like pan cake, fermentation of traditional liquors from coconut and palm products.
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