Water Purification Techniques in Ancient Indian Literature!

Strychnos_potatorum_5

Clearing nut (Strychnos potatorum = Thetraang Kottai in Tamil)

Written by London swaminathan

Research Article No. 1688; Dated 3 March 2015.

Water is a rare commodity in certain parts of India. There is a proverb in Tamil, “Treat Water as Precious” – “Neeraiyum Seeraadu”. Villagers have to walk miles together just to get some water for their day to day essential use. Even that water is murky or muddy. Indian literature is full of stories about mass migration because of big droughts. We read about the droughts and migration in Vedic literature and later Tamil literature. Indus valley civilization was also affected by acute drought. Mahabharata described the drought in Saraswati River basin and the Brahmins moved out of that area.  have collected all the references to drought in the Vedas and Tamil literature for my research.

Waterpurify

Water purification in African countries with drumstick tree

Even in the areas where water is available, there were certain periods of acute scarcity. So the ingenious people have found out some techniques for water purification. Usually they dugout water springs in the dry river beds or some places identified by the trees. Varahamihira has dealt with this in a separate chapter in his Brhat Samhita (Please read my earlier article on this topic: How to find water in the desert? Posted on 16th February 2015 in this blog)

pathiri

Tamil Books on Water purification

Kalitokai is an anthology of Sangam Tamil period. It is dated to first three centuries CE. A confused woman who later became clear and composed is compared to the water that is purified by the clearing nuts (Kalitokai, Neithar Kali by Poet Nallanthuvanar):

“ How come she has become bright and composed now! As soon as she embraced that broad chested man, she has become clear like the water that has become crystal clear after adding the Thetraankottai (Clearing nuts)”

Naladiyar is an anthology of 400 verses in Tamil. It is dated to eighth century CE. One of the verses says about the unlearned people,

“Though they be unlearned, if they move in the society of the learned, the former will grow wise and learned just as the new earthen pot by its contact with the bright coloured “Paathiri” flower, imparts its fragrance to the water deposited in it”.

best water

जलकतकरेणुन्यायः

jalakatakarenu nyayah

Sanskrit language has got many Nyayas (analogies or similes) and one of them is jala katakarenu nyaya. The nyaya is used to illustrate that dirty things can be purified by mixing with good things. If you mix the kataka powder (Clearing nut powder), then the water gets purified-  is the message. This is used by great people like Sri Sathya Sai baba to bring out the sacrifice one makes in community service. He used to say, “bring out the good in the society and disappear like Kataka powder. Once it purifies the water it dissolves in the water and loses its shape. A social worker also should sacrifice his name, fame and identity when he serves the community like the kataka powder” — is the message, he gives.

KATAKA = Strychnos potatorum = clearing nut tree= Thetra maram in Tamil

It is a common sight in South Indian houses that a corner is allocated for a mud pot. There the mud pot is placed on a heap of river sand and in the water pot they put Vettiver or pathiri flower for fragrant and cool drinking water.

Moringa_oleifera_pods_NP

Drumstick tree is used in African countries for water purification.

Varahamihira on Water purification

Brhat Samhita – Chapter 54

“A mixture of antimony, and the powder of Bhadramusta ( a kind of grass) bullbs, andropogon, Rajakostaka and myrobalan combined with Kataka nuts should be dropped into a well.

Anjanasusthosariirai: saraajakosathakaamalakachurnai:

Kathakafalasamayukthairyoga kuupe pradhaatavya:

(Kataka = Strychnos potatorum- Clearing Nut tree. Cilliya mara , Tettamaram in Tamil and Malayalam;  Anjana is translated as antimony; but it has other meanings in Sanskrit).

Even the water that is muddy, bitter, saltish, bereft of good taste, and of bad odour, will become clear/pure, of good taste and good smell and endowed with other qualities”.

the-moringa-book

The villagers living in arid areas will be benefitted if they follow ancient scriptures. In African countries they use the seeds of Moringa oleifera, a common vegetable used in South India and Sri Lanka.

moringa-oleifera-powder2

Swami_48@yahoo.com

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1 Comment

  1. VERY GOOD PIECE OF INFORMATION FOR FURTHER PRACTICAL RESEARCH !
    DR ASHUTOSH TANDON

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