Brihat Samhita

by N. Chidambaram Iyer | 1884 | 135,584 words | ISBN-13: 9788171104215

This page describes gardening (vrikshayurveda) which is the fifty-fifth Chapter of the English translation of the Brihat-samhita. This work, written by Varahamihira in the 6th century, is classified as jyotisha literature, also known as Indian astronomy. It contains however, also content regarding astrology, palmistry, agriculture, gardening, perfumes, medicines and various other encyclopedic topics.

Chapter 55 - On Gardening (vṛkṣāyurveda)

1. The sides of rivers and lakes and other water banks will not be pleasant and agreeable if devoid of shady trees. It is therefore necessary to form gardens on the banks of waters.

2. Soft soil is congenial to the growth of all trees. Such a soil should be selected for the garden and the sesamum plant should first be grown in it. As soon as the plant begins to bear blossoms, it must be cut and removed from the spot.

3. The trees—Ariṣṭa,[1] Aśoka, Punnāga and Śirīṣa shall be grown either in gardens or in houses by their seeds and they will conduce to prosperity.

4-5. The trees—Panasa, Aśoka, Plantain, Jambū, Lakuca, Dāḍimā, Drākṣā, Pālīvata, Bījapūra and Atimuktaka shall be grown by planting either their roots after clipping them or their branches, smearing cow-dung over the parts cut.

6. Trees that grow without branches shall be grown in the Śiśíra season, and in the Hemanta shall be grown trees that grow with branches; in the winter season shall be grown trees possessing good trunk. The trees may be planted in any quarter of the garden.

7. The growing of trees by smearing over them from the root to the branches a mixture of ghee, of Uśīra. of seasmum seeds, of honey, of Viḍaṅga, of milk and of cow-dung, is known as Saṅkrāmaṇa growth.

8. The person planting the tree shall do so after bathing and after washing it with water and adorning it with sandal. The trees will then bear the leaves of their parent trees.

9. In the dry season the trees shall be watered both in the morning and evening; in the cold season they shall be watered at mid-day, and in the rainy season whenever the ground is found dry.

10. The Jambū, the Vetasā, the Vānīra, the Kadamba, the Udumbara, the Arjuna, the Bījapūralca, the Mṛdvikā, the Lakuca, the Dāḍimā, the Vañjula, the Naktamāla, the Tilaka. the Panasa, the Timira and the Āmrātaka shall be grown on wet soil.

12. An interval of twenty cubits between trees is the best; one of sixteen is passable; and one of twelve is injurious.

13. The trees that are planted very near to each other get their branches as well as their roots interwoven and such trees get choked and do not grow well.

14. Cold winds and hot sun produce diseases in trees, and the trees turn white and do not put forth new leaves; the branches become dry and the juice oozes out.

15. To cure the tree of these diseases, first scrape off or otherwise remove the parts dead from the tree with a knife; rub over the parts a mixture of Viḍaṅga, ghee and mire and pour water mixed with milk at the roots.

16. If the fruits are seen to die out, then heat a mixture of horse gram, black gram and Mudga (kidney bean), sesamum seeds and barley; after the mixture has fully cooled pour it at the roots. Then the trees will yield an increase of flowers and fruits.

17-18. Get two ādhakas of the excrement of the goat and the ram, an ādhaka of sesamum seed, half an ādhaka of saktu,[2] an āḍhaka of water and a tula[3] of cow’s flesh. Form a mixture of these, keep it untouched for seven days, and if at the end of the time spreading creepers, plants and trees be watered with the mixture, flowers and fruits will grow in abundance.

19-20. Keep the seeds soaked in milk for ten days; then rubbing ghee over the hands the seed shall be taken up in the hands and passed from hand to hand till it is covered with ghee. It shall then be rubbed over several times with cow-dung and exposed to the smoke of the flesh of the hog and the deer. It shall then be mixed with the serum or marrow (of the flesh) of the fish and the pig, and when dry, it shall be sown in a well prepared soil and watered with a mixture of milk and water. When it grows, it will grow with flowers.

21. Mix together the flour of rice, black gram and sesamum seeds with the flour of barley (fried before ground) with the dead or decayed flesh, and with a small quantity of water; soak the seed of the tamarind in the mixture and expose it to the smoke of the root of the turmeric. The seed when sown will grow as a creeper.

22. Put into the milk of the cow the roots of Asphota, Dhātrī, Dhava, Vāsikā, Palāśinī, Vetasā, Sūryavallī, Śyāmā and Atimuktā and heat the milk on fire; after it has cooled, put into it the seed of the Kapittha and allow it to soak for 100 ghaṭikas[4] and dry the seed in the sun for 30 days, if the seed be then sown in the soil it will grow as a creeper.

24-26. Dig a pit in the ground a cubit square and two cubits deep, and fill it with water prepared with a mixture of the flesh of the fish. Allow the pit to dry up completely; dry it further by means of fire; rub the sides and bottom with a mixture of honey, ghee and ashes, fill the pit now with the flour of black gram, of sesamum seeds and of barley mixed with earth; pour over the pit water prepared with the flesh of the fish and pound the mixture well till it becomes hard. Sow any seed at a depth of four digits and water it with the water of the fish. The seed will grow as a fine creeper with tender leaves over terraces and the roof of houses in a most wonderful manner.

27-28. Soak any seed one hundred times either in the Kalka (decoction) or in the oil of Aṅkola, or in the fruit of the Śleṣmātaka. The moment the seed is put into the ground it grows with branches laden with fruits. What wonder!

29-30. Soak any seed in the fruit of the Śleṣmātaka after removing its seeds, and then soak it in the water of the ripe fruit of Aṅkola and dry it in shade; repeat the operation seven times; rub the seed over with the dung of the buffalo, and keep it buried in the same dung for some time; then sow it in the soil drenched with the waters of the coconut. The seed will grow and bear fruits in a day.

31. When the Moon passes through any of the fixed[5] asterisms or the soft[6] asterisms, or through the asterisms of Mūla, Viśākhā, Puṣya, Śravaṇa, Aśvini and Hasta, trees shall be planted or seeds sown according to the views of sages possesed of the inner eye of knowledge.

Notes on gardening (vṛkṣāyurveda) from the Bṛhat Śāraṅgadhara:

[Note: The following have been extracted from a work known as Bṛhat Śāraṅgadhara.

1. Mix with earth a variety of fragrant flowers: use the mixture as manure to a tree of scentless flowers; pour at the roots the juice of Dhava and Khadira; smear sandal paste over the tree, and expose the tree to the smoke of ghee; its scentless ílowers will become fagrant.

2. Use the leaves of barley as manure to the roots of the cotton, sesamum and of turmeric, and pour water prepared with a mixture of these leaves at the roots. The plant will yield cotton throughout the year bright and red as fire.

3. Mix with water the juice of the sugarcane and the root of the Vidāri; heat the mixture and rub it over the roots of any flowering tree, and pour at the roots the juice of the sugarcane. The trees will yield flowers at unusual seasons.

4. Make cakes of a mixture of Madhuyaṣṭi, sugar, Koṣṭha and Madhupuṣpa and cover with the cakes the roots of fruit trees and throw earth over the parts. The fruits will grow without bones.

5. Kill a goal and immediately tie its shoulder skin over the branches of fruit trees. The fruits will remain unripe.

6. Pound in a stone mortar the bone of the monkey mixed with the juice of the elephant in rut; rub the preparation over the roots of fruit trees. The fruits will remain unripe for a year.

7. Tie over the branches of fruit trees the skin of an animal and grass: rub over the branches a mixture of Viḍaṅga, honey and milk; pour at the roots a mixture of milk and water. The ripe fruits will stick to the tree for a very long time.

8. Mix with milk the serum or marrow (of flesh) of the fish and the hog as well as the flesh of the two creatures. Soak any seed in the mixture: dry it and expose it to the smoke of ghee. The seed when sown will grow in an unusual and wonderful manner.

9. If the seed of the pomegranate be soaked in the blood of the cock 21 times and dried each time, it will, the moment it is put into the ground, grow and bear fruits in a most wonderful manner.

10. Thrust into the root of the Kumuda (the esculent white water lily) a variety of colours, soak the root in urine, rub over it ghee and honey, and then sow it in the soil, it will grow and hear flowers of the several colours originally put into the root.

11. Mix together the buffalo’s dung and urine, rub the mixture over the seed of the fruit of the Kumuda for seven days drying the seed each time. If the seed be then sown into the ground, it will grow as a Karavīra plant.

12. Soak the seed of the pumpkin or of the brinjal, or of the serpent cucumber and the like in the serum or marrow (of flesh) of the fish or hog and dry the seed. If the seed be then sown in good soil and watered, it will bear fruits of very large size and without bones.

13. Soak the seed of the Castor oil plant in the blood and serum (of flesh) of the hog and dry it; soak it again in the oil of the Aṅkolā and dry it. If the seed be now sown in the soil, it will grow and bear the fruits of Karavallī.

14. Use the excrement of the ass and the horse as manure to the root of the plantain; bum dry twigs over the root; the plantain will then yield fruits as big as the trunk of the elephant, and the fruits will appear as if to tear out the tree.

15. If the root of the plantain be drenched with the blood or serum (of flesh) of the hog or with the decoction of the fuit of the aṅkola, it will bear pomegranate fruits.

16. If the Rambhā (plantain) be watered with a liquid mixture consisting of the flesh, serum and blood of man and the powdered tooth of the elephant and water, the tree will yield mango fruits.

17. Mix together the shining decoction of the fruits of aṅkola, human flesh, the milk of the goat and oil cakes. Use the mixture as manure to the seed of the mango put into the soil. The seed will grow out as a spreading creeper like and will bear fruits at all times.

18. Form a mixture of Kṛmiripu. of barley, of Madhuyaṣṭi and of jaggery; rub it over any tree yielding bitter fruit, after slightly grazing out the bark with a knife, pour at the root a mixture of milk and water; the tree will thenceforth yield sweet fruits.

19. Soak any seed many times in human flesh and in the oil of the Aṅkola, drying the seed each time. Take a quantity of earth in the hand, bury the seed in it and pour water over it; the seed will grow that instant.

20. Dig a pit, bum in it the bones and the dung of the cow and the hog; remove the ashes; fill the pit with earth. Plant in it the root of the Mūlaka, the root will grow to the size of the pit.]

[Appendix 6: Glossary of Botanical terms]

Footnotes and references:


Ariṣṭa, etc. for an explanation, vide glossary at the end of this chapter.


Saktu, the flour of barley or rice fried and groun.


Tula, One hundred palas.


A ghaṭika is 24 minutes.


The fixed asterisms are—Rohiṇī, Uttaraphalgunī, Uttarāṣāḍhā and Uttarabhādrapadā.


The soft asterisms are—Mṛgaśīrṣa, Citrā, Anurādhā and Revatī.

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