HERBAL MYSTERY IN CHANAKYA NITI! (Post No.4645)

Written by London Swaminathan 

 

Date: 21 JANUARY 2018

 

Time uploaded in London 15-22

 

 

 

Post No. 4645

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We know that Chanakya alias Kautilya was a great economist, author of the world’s first economic book Arthasastra, a poor and ugly Brahmin, a king maker, a statesman and author of several didactic works. But no one considered him a medicine man; yet he made some passing remarks about herbs and health tips. The puzzling one is a sloka/ couplet about a herb called Amruta. Here comes the trouble! What is Amruta?

 

Like no two clocks agree no two herb books on the term Amruta; but we are not wasting tie in identifying what exactly is Amruta. Whatever they say about different Amrutas is good according to Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu medical system.

 

Let us explore it further:

His sloka in Chanakya Niti runs like this:

sarvushadhinaamamrutaa pradhaanaa

sarveshu saukyeshvasanam pradhaanam.

 

sarvendriyaanaam nayanam pradhaanam

sarveshy gathreshu sirah pradhaanam

–chanakya niti, chapter 9, sloka 4

 

The translation for this sloka according to Satya Vat Shastri, a great scholar in Sanskrit, is as follows

“Of all the herbs it is the Cocculus Cordifolius that is the best, of all the forms of happiness it is eating that is so, of all the sense organs it is eye that steals the palm, of all the limbs it is the head that stands out”.

 

The next step is to identify this herb Cocculus cordifolius. In Sanskrit they call it Amrutavalli or Amrutaballi. But Chanakya just gave the name Amrutaa.

 

This Cocculus Cordifolius itself has another name Tinospora cordifolia. Both these names agree the leaf is Cordi= heart shaped, Folia= leaf. The leaf is heart shaped (like Pipal or peepul tree leaf)

 

The Ayurvedic sources give two  candidates for this name Amrutavalli; one is Guduchi and another is Amrutavalli. In Tamil we get Seenthil kodi or Sirukattukkodi. Most probably Seenthil corresponds with Amrutavalli. Bothe these have lot of curative properties. Diabetes, Cancer, Arthritis etc cured by these herbs.

 

It is interesting to see that Chankya mentioned this herb 2300 years ago.

xxxx

 

Water is a Medicine

Chanakya says,

“In indigestion water is the medicine, with the digestion of the food it imparts strength, it is nectar during meals and is poison at the end of them”

Ajiirne beshajam vaari jeerne vaari balapradam

bhojame caamrutam vaari bhojanaante vishapradam

chapter 8, sloka 7

 

xxx

 

Butter Power!

Chanakya says,

“Flour has ten times more of potency in it than rice, milk has ten times more of it than flour, meat has eight times more of it than milk and ghee has ten times more of it than meat”

Ghee= clarified butter or melted butter

 

annaad dasagunam pishtam pishtaad dasagunam payah

payasoshtagunam maamsam maamsaad dasagunam ghrutam

chapter 9, sloka 19

 

“Diseases catch up with vegetables, body gains in strength with milk, semen increases with ghee, flesh gains from flesh”

saakena roogaa vardhante payasaa vardhate tanuh

ghrutena vardhate viiryam maamsaanmaamsam pravardhate

chapter 9, sloka 20.

 

My comments:

Here the power of clarified butter is explained. Brahmins consume it a lot in all the ceremonies. So it may be a warning about cholesterol.

The effect of meat is explained very well. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar also said the same. What is the use of eating flesh to increase one’s own meat/flesh? asks Valluvar in Tirukkural.

 

Chanakya’s statement about vegetables should be understood properly. If you don’t cook or wash and cook the vegetables it serves as a  source of diseases. Apart from it certain vegetables are avoided when one is on regular Siddha or Ayurvedic medication. This is not in allopathic medicines.

In modern terms we can translate ‘potency’ (in the sloka) as cholesterol.

 

–SUBHAM–

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2 Comments

  1. It is so difficult to translate and interpret the old terms, outside or in the absence of the practising ( living) traditions. Besides, in many cases, the terms have remained, but the contents have radically changed. Take ghee for instance. In the days of Chanakya, ghee meant only the ghee from indigenous cow’s milk. Those cows were also allowed to graze freely, and eat naturally from open fields. They were also fed other special items like cotton seeds, grain husk, vegetable peelings, oil seed cakes, etc. Today all this has radically changed. They are fed commercially made feeds, about whose chemical composition no one is sure. Europeans even fed cows with meat, which resulted in ‘mad cow’ epidemic. Further in India we have imported foreign breeds of cows in large numbers. It is said that the fat content in their milk does not agree with our DNA. How then can we take the old word milk or ghee as meaning the same stuff now?
    This cholesterol is also ugly business. There is no consensus on its bad effects any longer. We in India merely accept what the pale faces say, without critical examination. When they said oil was bad for heart, we never questioned which oil. it has been pointed out that in the United States, heart problems increased after the second decade of the last century when they started using cheap imported palm oils. Unrefined olive oil has always been held good.
    In India, we adopted refined and hydrogenated oils blindly in the name of progress. Mahatma Gandhi railed against both, but the Gandhi caps who ruled did not listen. We simply repeat what the westerners say. it is doubtful if any independent studies have been conducted in India about the effects of unrefined native Indian oils like mustard , groundnut and gingelly oils. Even these are now commercially (chemically ) grown, and hence may be devoid of their original nourishing properties. These oils available in the open market are freely adulterated.
    The same problems afflict the leaves, and herbs of our plants. Recently there were reports in the Press that many of the Ayurvedic medicines are not effective as the basic herbs are commercially grown with lot of chemical inputs, which interfere with their original curative properties.
    So it seems when we use the old terms like milk, ghee, etc, we have to suitably qualify them.

  2. Incidentally, vegetables have another angle. The modern way is to regard their nutritional value. In India, we consider their ‘guna’- a word difficult to translate. Vegetables are related to the five elements. As the body too is composed of the five elements , they interact. In the process, some vegetables may not suit some constitutions, may affect the different elements in the body adversely. For instance, brinjal promotes internal heat ( may result in piles for some), bitter gourd may aggravate ‘pitta’ in some; most roots lead to gas, especially in the middle-aged, some vegetables produce chill ( resulting in cold ) etc. Thus this caution about vegetable is related to the constitution of the individual. Besides, the same vegetable raised in two different locations may not give the same effect. Groundnut grown in certain regions lead to ‘pitta’ for some people. ( neutralised in part with jaggery). Anyway, most vegetables are now grown commercially in India with liberal and indiscriminate use of chemicals like pesticides which are not water soluble. Many are also genetically modified, whose long term effects on humans even the so called scientists do not know. Thus vegetables are really a source of illness today, and have to be consumed with caution and in moderation.

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