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TIL

Vṛkṣāyurveda of Parāśra
A Treatise on Plant Science

FPIntro.htm

by N.N. Sircar and Roma Sarka , Indian Books Centre, Delhi, India, 1996, pp166
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Contents of this page

Foreword
Preface
Introduction

 

Para-notes
Footnotes in the ink-on-paper book are continuously numbered without any reference to pages. However for this TIL edition, I have given the page numbers as well. Thus fn001-02 means, it is footnote #02 found on p001, and fn003-07 is footnote #07 found on p003.

UKT notes :
Coochbehar
 - an area in West Bengal with which Myanmarpré
 had historical linkages

 

Contents of this page

Foreword

(Rom01begin)
The text of the Vṛkṣāyurveda of Parāśara edited by N.N. Sircar and Roma Sarkar is a remarkable contribution in the field of Botany in ancient India. [UKT ¶]

UKT 141102: The Skt-Dev word Vṛkṣāyurveda is a compound of two words: vṛkṣa and ayurveda . Ayurveda is the 'Knowledge of Life' , and the compound word means the Science of Life of Plants which to us Botany.

Now who was Parāśara ? It can be the name of one person or of more than one. Who was then the first Parāśara ? Though this work is in Skt-Dev, the first author might not have been a Sanskrit speaker for the first peoples of India and Myanmarpré had been the Tib-Bur speakers with very simple grammar, and if I may take Bur-Myan to be a defining dialect, there would have been no gender, no tense and no extremely hissing and no highly rhotic sounds. Sanskrit speakers were newcomers primarily those who had come in from the north-west. These newcomers were IE (Indo-European) speakers. In my interpretation of this work I will presume that the first Parāśara had spoken a Tib-Bur dialect with very simple grammar.

The work consists of the text of the Vṛkṣāyurveda in Skt-Dev (Sankrit in Devanagari), an English translation and critical notes. A dissertation under the heading "An Introduction to the Vṛkṣāyurveda of Parāśara" by the late N.N. Sircar appeared in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol. XVI. No. 1, 1950. [UKT ¶]

In this article a preliminary account of the text-critical apparatus and of the contents of the Manuscript (Ms) were furnished. It was stated therein that the original Ms was discovered by the late Vaidyaśāstri Jogendranath Sircar Viṣagratna, father of the late N.N. Sircar. The handwritten Devanagari copy of the Ms as now in possession of Roma Sarkar, contains five parts i.e.
- Bījotpattikāṇḍa,
- Vānaspatikāṇḍa,
- Vānaspatyakāṇḍa,
- Gulmakṣupakāṇḍa and
- Virudhavallīkāṇḍa.
[UKT ¶]

The text contains 65 folios in Devanagari script. The sixth and last part, the Cikitsitakāṇḍa as mentioned in the content (vs. 15 Ch. 1, Bījotpattikāṇḍa) is not available in the present Ms. The text ends abruptly with the Vīrudhavallīkāṇḍa. [UKT ¶]

Examination shows that the present Ms unlike majority of the Mss does not contain an introduction regarding the author and of his lineage; a colophon at the end containing the date of composition is found missing too, But by paying homage to Brahmā, the Creator of the Universe, and by referring to the work as a subsidiary branch of the Atharva Veda it has in a way fulfilled the object of introduction. [UKT ¶]

Each chapter of the Ms begins with the caption "ityāha Parāśara" and the concluding lines every-(Roman01end-Roman02begin) where contain the statement "iti Parāśarakṛte Vṛkṣāyurvede".. This Ms therefore, establishes Parāśara's authorship of the Vṛkṣāyurveda.. In determining the authenticity of the text we have first of all to examine the validity of the tradition fathering the authorship of the Vṛkṣāyurvede..., to Parāśara, and secondly to examine to contents of the Ms to ascertain the nature of the data furnished by it.

The name of Parāśara has come down to us from the hoary past ages as an authority on politics, smṛti, astrology, astronomy, agriculture, meteorology, and the science of prognostications. [UKT ¶]

Parāśara is also credited with works on medicine and on the science of the use of whey (takrakalpa)
(rom02-01b). Parāśara has been referred to with reverence in the Ṛgveda (rom02-02b), the Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (rom02-03b), the Bṛhadāraṇyakopanisad (rom02-04b), Mahābhārata (rom02-05b),  Yājñavalkyasaṁhitā (rom02-06b), Carakasamhitā (rom02-07b) and Bṛhatsāmhitā (rom02-08b). [UKT ¶]

Bhaṭṭotpala in his commentery on the Bṛhatsamhitā Ch. 29 cites a verse from Parāśara dwelling on the features of plants (vs 14). Bhaṭṭotpala can be placed in 976 A.D. from his own account. (rom02-09b)

Thus we find that there is a great tradition associated with the name of Parāśara who might be a progenitor of a school and it can at best be inferred that the author of the present text may belong to that school. The provenance of the Ms was probably Coochbehar (rom02-10b) in North Bengal where Vaidyaśāstri Jogendranath Sircar spent (Roman02end-Roman03begin) long span of his life. [UKT ¶]

UKT 141102: See my note on Coochbehar
in the 13th century.

Coochbehar under of rule of the Maharjas from the late 13 th cent onwards grew up as a centre of study where scholars from distant parts of India converged. As a repository of the various texts on:

Nyāya - {nya-ya.} -- UHS-PMD0553
Vyākaraṇa - {bya-ka.ra.Na.} -- UTM-PMD302 
Kāvya - {ka.bya} -- MLC MED2006-004
Alamkāra,
Jyotiṣa - {zau:ti.þût~hta.} -- UHS-MPD0419
Mimāmsā,
Tantra,
Purāṇa,
Mathematic,
Alchemy (Rasasātra) etc.
[UKT ¶]

It rose into eminence, and the spread of the text of the Vṛkṣāyurveda and its survival in this process of cultural contact with the rest of India is a near possibility. [UKT ¶]

Dependence on a single Ms can not be taken as a sign of weakness the Bhelasamhitā has survived till now through a single Ms.

The present Ms is written in the Sῡtra style with prose and verse elaborating the text. In the Puṣpāngasῡtrīyādhyayah the Ms has been written in the manner of Kulaka (five verses making one group) from verse 63 onwards. The compilatory fashion of collecting verse at the end of almost all the chapters has been noticed with the headings "tatra slokāh" and "bhavanti cātra slokah" et seqq. This is reminiscent of the style found in the texts of the Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata and in the Arthaśāstra, the Caraka Samhiā and the Suśrutasamhitā. [UKT ¶]

The definitions of the chapters have been given with the suffix ja=iya, a style which also marks the texts of both Caraka and suśruta. [UKT ¶]

The language used is classical Sanskrit, and is not very different from the language used in the Upaniṣads and in the Māhabhāṣya,- except the technical aspect of a treatise on Botany. [UKT ¶]

The highly developed philosophical texts are all written in the most simple languages. The language of the Māhabhāṣya is marked by lucidity and clarity of expression and this feature also marks the present text. But even with its simple linguistic structure the Ms contains words and expressions which suggest its basic antique character. [UKT ¶]

The Ms is marked by lacuna, misplacement of some portions of the text and the absorption of portions of other well known texts like that of Caraka which come up in the normal course of dialogue. To wit, the opening verse of the Ms echoes the text of Manu 1.8 "sisṛkṣur vividhāh prajāh" in a faulty manner and (Roman03end-Roman04begin) also the verse 9 (Bījotpattikāṇa, Ch. 1) echoes the text of Manu 1.49 "antaḥsaṃjnāḥ bhavantyete sukhaduhkhasamanvitāḥ". Archaic expressions like "yadi cet" can be seen in Dwigaṇīyādhyāya Bījotpattikāṇḍa, verse 25; and "apicet" in Astāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, Bījotpattikāṇḍa, verse 6 which finds paralled in the Gītā IX. 40.

The text as stated herewith uses a number of obscure, recondite and uncommon words, some of which are not to be seen in the Amarakosá or in any other lexicons. Some are to be found in the texts on medicines only. [UKT ¶]

Thus the word 'puplika' (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Puṣpāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, verse 38) with an uncertain meaning and the word 'kīkhosa' (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Dwigaṇīyādhyāya, verse 4) indicating the outer crust of a seed are absent in all the lexicons. [UKT ¶]

'Vṛjinapatra' (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Vṛkṣāngasutriyādhyāya, verse 50) has been used in a very rare sense meaning 'crooked' which is found only in the Śāśvatakośa, a work of the 8th cent. A.D. (rom04-11b). [UKT ¶]

'Jrmbhita' (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Puṣpāngasῡtrīyāya, verse 34) used in a very special sense to indicate the curvature of lion's jaw comparable to the outer form of certain flowers, is a peculiar use not traceable anywhere else. [UKT ¶]

The word 'kañcuka' (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Dwigaṇīyādhyāya, verse 5 ) has been used in a special Botanical sense in slight modification from its known literary meaning. [UKT ¶]

Moreover, in the nomenclature of leaves (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Vṛkṣāngasutriyādhyāya, verse 38-39) the Vedic words 'Juhu' and 'Sruba' have been applied to indicate the external features of some leaves. The use of these Vedic words as simile is a technique found in the Mahābhārata and in the Śāśupālavadam of Māgha. (rom01-12b). [UKT ¶]

The word 'kārava' (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Puṣpāngasutriyādhyāya, verse 12) which in all probability refers to the spoke of an umbrella can be traced only in the texts of medicine like the Caraka Samhitā and the (Roman04end-Roman05begin) Suśruta Samhitā (rom05-13b) in the particular sense.

The Ms evinces other astounding peculiarities too. In some places (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Puṣpāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, verse 59; phálāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, verse 21; Aṣtāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, verse 29) the text begins with the indeclinable "khalu" which is not permissible in literary use: literature retains a solitary instance of its use to indicate prohibition. [UKT ¶] 

The mixture of prose and verse which has been held by the European scholars as a sign of the anteriority of any work, is found in abundance in the texts of the Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata, in the Arthaśāstra of Kautilya, in the texts of Caraka and of Suśruta, and in the texts on Nyāya of the early days of the Christian era. All these assign an antique flavour to the present Ms. [UKT ¶]

The other antique features exhibited by the Ms include
  (i) reference to other authorities e.g. Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Dwigaṇīyādhyaya, verse 13, "Kaścidāha......
  (ii) the form of addressing the disciples as seen in the Smṛti texts of the earlier ages e.g. Vānaspatyakāṇḍa, Samivargādhyāya, verse 4, "tadeva vargabhedena tvihānuvakṣyate śṛnu".

It is interesting to note that the text makes a unique revalation stating that the plants under references will be referred to both by their local names and their chaste names (Vānaspatyakāṇḍa, Samivargādhyāya, verse 9). This is possible only after systematic study and observation extending over a long period of time. It is to be noted in this context that the use of the word 'vyuhyamānatvāt' (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Aṣṭāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, verse 13) referring to the functional aspect suggests the command of the author of the text over the use of language befitting a technical text on Botany. [UKT ¶]

Similarly the correlated use of the word 'puṣpavant' meaning 'the sun and the moon' after Amara (kālavarga) to indicate a phenomenon of Botanical significance (Vānaspatyakāṇḍa, Vanaspatinirvarṇanādhyāya) shows the high degree of precision attained by the author of the text in expressing scientific (Roman05end-Roman06begin) concepts. [UKT ¶]

Examination of the Ms shows some corrupt expressions at some places. For example, there is a wrong expression 'divāyām' for simple 'diva' noticed in Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Puṣpāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, verse 52. The arrangement of verses 8-9, Bījotpattisῡtrīyādhyāya (Bījotpattikāṇḍa) is found defective as the word 'puṣpaṁ phalaṁ' in separation gives little sense. The correct word should be 'puṣpaphalasamanvitah'. The subject of the verb 'nayet' is absent. If, however, the two verses are reconstructed as-

"atha kālaprakarṣeṇa puṣpaphalasamanvitah vṛkṣaḥ

sañjno bhavedantaḥ sukhaduhkhasamanvitah

bījam tu kālaparyayād udbhitvā pṛrthivīm nayet"

the text will yield a correct and consistent meaning. The discoverer of the present Ms noted in pages 14, 71, 100, 109 etc. as certain portions indistinct in the original copy suggesting thereby that the original Ms was defective.

These facts taken together lead to the conclusion that the original of this Ms as discovered by the late J.N. Sircar Viṣagratna might be very old, antedating the present one probably by about a century or more. And kernel of the text may go back to the earlier ages of the Christain era.

Lallanji Gopal (rom06-14b) has observed that the references to the names Kālañjara, Drāvida, Utkala, Prayāga etc. in this text (Bījotpattikāṇḍa, Vanavargādhyāya) indicate a late date for the Ms. It may, however, be mentioned that the name of the Kālañjara hill occurs in the Mahābhārata (rom06-15b). The Drāvida country also known as Drāmida has been referred to along with Utkala in the Rāmāyana (rom06-16b)  Drāvida has also been referred to in the Manusamhitā.(rom06-17b). Prayāga has been mentioned both in (Roman06end-Roman07begin) the Rāmayāna (rom07-18b) and the Manusamhitā.(rom07-19b). [UKT ¶]

Lallanji Gopal has further observed that the descriptions of the forests found in the present text are in fair agreement with the descriptions of the forests in the Mānasollāsa.(rom07-20b). [UKT ¶]

A close comparison shows that the description of the forests covers 14 verses in the Vṛkṣāyurveda while in the Mānasollāsa it covers only 8 verses; and the description is palpably abridged in the latter work. Only three verses i.e. 174, 175, 176 of the Mānasollāsa agree verbatim with vss 16, 17, 18 (in parts) of the Vṛkṣāyurveda. The Verse describing the Angireyavana is corrupt in the Vṛkṣāyurveda with lacuna (vs 15). The word 'Vangāla' appears in the Mānasollāsa vs 173 which is clearly of very late origin being as late as the 14th cent A.D. [UKT ¶]

The Vṛkṣāyurveda gives the distribution of the natural forests in ancient India which is fully in keeping with the spirit of the text as a work on Botany but in the Mānasollāsa the whole thrust is on the habitat of the elephants. Thus the basic approach is altogether different in both the texts. The two texts might have drawn upon a common source but there is no reason to assume that the Vṛkṣāyurveda borrowed from the Mānasollāsa.

Examination of the text makes it clear that the author of the text had profound and varied knowledge of the flora of ancient India. the intimacy displayed with the soil characteristics, the atmospheric conditions of the land and its characteristic vegetation is found unique. The text further reveals the author's deep acquaintance with plant taxonomy, the various means of propagation, concepts of pollination and sexuality. The Aṣṭāngasῡtrīyādhyāya, contains the most scientific exposition on some of the physiological processes in plants like transportation of fluid, assimilation of food etc, known so far through ancient texts of India. (Roman07end)

(Roman08begin)
Instances can be cited further to illustrate that some basic concepts of plant science were known to the ancient Indians. Thus the Ṛgveda* (rom08-star-b) says that human habitation should not be allowed to tread on vegetation. And Manu (4.73) has prohibited stay or walk under the trees at night. [UKT ¶]

Furthermore in a long discourse in Ch. 177 of the Śāntiparvan, Mahābhārata questions have been raised about the existence of life in plants which the sage Bhṛgu tries to explain the establish as follows: Like the human body, the body of the plant is also made of five elements. The plants react when they are struck. The atoms making the body of the plants are closely stuck but still there is some space in between the atoms, which enable them to assimilate the rays of the sun, rain and air causing the blossoming of the flowers, and bearing of fruits. The trees have the capacity to suck water through roots. Withering of trees, creepers, and of their foliage from excessive heat or from thunder show that they have both the power of feeling and hearing. [UKT ¶]

UKT 141114: In the above para does "the existence of life in plants" mean Atta - the same as in humans? Obviously not from what I have read so far.

These details, put through commonplace analogy and popular belief, highlighting basic concepts of plant life must have arrived at form systematic observation and analysis. [UKT ¶]

It will not be out of place to add that Guṇaratna, a commentator of the Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya also referred to the existence of consciousness among plants in 1200 A.D., keeping alive the tradition of the Manusamhitā and the Mahābhārata. To end this review I am inclined to state here that the basic text of the Vṛkśāyurveda of Parāśara, as presented herewith, can be placed in all probability in the 3rd-4th cent A.D. when the Manusamnitā took its final shape. [UKT ¶]

The critical review by the editors provides ample evidences that the present text includes a great deal of knowledge on plant science that survive in India tradition through the ages. (Roman08end)

(Roman09begin)
It is laudable that Dr. Roma Sarkar has taken up the mantle from her illustrious father, the late N.N. Sircar (senior editor) in bringing this work to its completion in the form of the present edition. It is hoped that the text edited herewith will receive attention of scholars at home and abroad as an outstanding contribution in the field of Botany in ancient India.

(Dileep Kumar Kanjilal)
M.A., Ph. D (Cal), B. Litt (Oxon)
Sanskrit College, Calcutta

B.D. 25 Railpukur Road
Deshbandhunagar
Calcutta-59, India
July 7, 1994

Contents of this page

Para Footnotes

Foot notes are continuous as in BHS.

rom02-01. The History of Indian Medicine. G. Mukherjee Vol. 1. p44. - rom02-01b
rom02-02. Rgveda VII. 18. 21 - rom02-02b
rom02-03. Taittiriya Āraṇyaka I.I. 3. 37 - rom02-03b
rom02-04. Br. Ar. Up. II. 6. 2; IV. 6.3 - rom02-04b
rom02-05. Sabhāparvan Ch. 113. vss 15-27; Chitrasala Edn - rom02-05b
rom02-06. Yāj. I 5. - rom02-06b
rom02-07. Sῡtrasthāna, Ch. I. - rom02-07b
rom02-08. Ch. 29 - rom02-08b
rom02-09. Preface to the Bṛhatsamhitā. Sarasvatibhavan series 96. - rom02-09b
rom02-10. Vide the Catalogue of Sanskrit Mss in the Sahityasabha of
  Coochbehared by D.K Kanjilal and published by the Sahityasabha,
  Coochbehar 1977 - rom02-10b

rom04-11. Sasvatakosa, ed by E.D. Kulkarni, Oriental Book Agency, Poona 1929. - rom04-11b
rom04-12. Dronaparvan Ch. 36 and Sisupalavadham 15.22 - rom04-12b

rom05-13. Susruta Samhita, Sutrasthana, Ch. 46. - rom05-13b

rom06-14. Aspects of History of Agriculture in Ancient India
  by Lallanji Gopal, Bharati Prakashan (Varanasi) 1980, p. 37. - rom06-14b
rom06-15. Vanaparvan Ch. 85, Vss, 56-58 - rom06-15b
rom06-16. Rāmāyana 4.41 - rom06-16b
rom06-17. Manusamhitā 10.44 - rom06-17b

rom07-18. vide "The genuineness of the Uttarakāṇḍa of the Rāmāyana" S. JanakiFel. Vol. 1991
  published by the Kuppuswarni Sastri Research Inst. Madras - rom07-18b 
rom07-19. Manusamhitā 2.21- rom07-19b
rom07-20. Mānasollāsa, 1, pp. 44, vss, 172-179. - rom07-20b

rom08-star.  *10, 146, 1-6 - rom08-star-b

-----

 

Contents of this page

Preface

 

 

 

 

Contents of this page

Introduction

 

 

 

Contents of this page

UKT notes

Coochbehar

-- UKT 141102

The area of Cooch Behar (Bengali: কোচবিহার, Hindi: कोच बिहार) is of interest to me because of
¤ its proximity to Myanmarpré,
¤ the Punjabi word Khatri for kshatriya, and
¤ the Bengali word ‘Krore’ to ‘Koch’ the area where Khatriyas took shelter to escape the wrath of Parshuram - the predecessor of Rama (husband of Sita.)
The following are the excepts from the references given.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_Cooch_Behar 141102

Cooch Behar (Bengali: কোচবিহার, Hindi: कोच बिहार) is the district headquarters and the largest town of Cooch Behar district in the Indian state of West Bengal. The name Cooch-Behar is derived from the name of the Koch tribe that is indigenous to this area. The word "Behar" is the Sanskrit word "bihar" (to travel) which means the land through which the "Koch" Kings used to travel or roam about ("bihar").

The Historical Kamtapur comprises the total North Bengal maximum parts of Assam, some parts of present Bangladesh and few parts of Bhutan.

In the olden days a greater part of the Kamrup made up the Koch state. The state of Kamrup was made up of four Pithas. Out of that Cooch Behar was a part of Ratna Pitha. In the beginning of the 16th Century, this state emerged as a powerful kingdom. In the beginning this state was known as Pragjyotish, Lohitya, Kamrup, Kamta, etc. In Bhaskar Verma’s Tamralipi we found the name of ‘Kamrup’. In the travel logs of Hiuen Tsang [the Chinese pilgrim monk of 7th century who avoided the area of Myanmarpré] and Harischaritra we also discover the name of Kamrup. In 1586 British businessman Ralph Fich have stated the name ‘Couch’. In Akbarnama we also found the name of ‘Koch’. Stephen Casilla have stated the name ‘Coch’ and the capital as ‘Biar’. In the 17th Century Von Dan Brooke’s map there is a place mentioned as ‘Ragiawerra Cosbhaar’. In one of the description by a Dutch Sailor we found the name ‘Kosbia’.

In the ‘Bishwakosh’ (Bengali for Encyclopedia) written by Nagendra Nath Bose, he stated that in the beginning the state of Cooch Behar was first stated as ‘Bihar’. Later to distinguish between Mughal occupied province of Bihar the name of the state was changed to Koch Bihar, but this theory have some doubts as well. The kings of Koch dynasty such as Biswa Singha, Nara Narayan, Pran Narayan, etc. have their title of ‘Kamteshwar’. The state of Cooch behar have been stated in various book, in different times as ‘Bihar’ or ‘Behar’ or ‘Nijo Behar’. Even in the Cooch Behar Royal Government’s letters, Notices, records, deeds, etc. we can see these names. But there are many theories or stories behind the naming of Cooch Behar.

From the Bengali word ‘Krore’ to ‘Koch’: In the fear of Parshuram the Khatriyas took shelter in the ‘Krore’ or ‘Koch’ of Bhagabati.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khatri 141102

Khatri is the Punjabi word for kshatriya, a designation in the Brahmanic varna system of ritual ranking that is often translated as "warrior caste".[4] [page needed] Caste members consider themselves to be of pure Vedic descent and thus superior to other claimants to kshatriya status, such as the Rajputs. Their standards of literacy and caste status were such during the early years of the Sikh community that, according to W. H. McLeod, they dominated it. [5] Nath called Khatris a warlike race, a claim further supported by their employment as soldiers by Mughal emperors.

Go back Coochbehar-note-b

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