It is a traditional science of plant life of india for the production of superior quality yields from the healthy plants  in terms of its uses as food and medicine.understanding of physiology and pathology of plant life similar to that of Animal and Human life based on the philosophy of ancient Indian system of panchamahabhuta and its products are clearly described.Various measures for nutrition,prevention of  diseases, diagnosis and treatement based on the theory of Tridosha (Vata,Pitta,Kapha) has been also visualized in this science of plant life.Thus it is a part of amazingly futuristic one health framework (Combinining plant, animal and human health)of ancient Indian health sciences has been established  many centuries ago

Ayurveda, was theorized few thousand years back and is practiced up to this day. Although in theory the science relates to all forms of life, in actual practice, its efficacy only in the case of human beings in widely known. It is not commonly known that since the ancient time, the science was also made applicable to lower forms of life like animals and plants. There are ancient Sanskrit texts independently devoted to diseases and treatment of elephants, horses, and cattle to vouchsafe the same. The Ayurvedic base of these sciences is evident there although it is not expressly stated. The application of Ayurveda to plants and trees too, was known all along but in the absence of works independently dealing with plant life its validation was lacking. After the discovery and publication of surapala's vrikshayurveda it became quite evident that surapala too, had ingeniously used the basic principles of Ayurveda like the tridosha theory for the diagnosis and treatment of the various diseases of plants and trees. He used the same materials and pharmaceutical preparations for curing their ailments. Being himself a noted physician, he could apply the principles and practices of Ayurveda to the plant kingdom with authority and ease to this branch of Ayurveda.

A resurgence of interest in Ayurveda and other traditional systems of medicine has resulted from the preference of health seekers towards holistic approach and products of natural origin. About 80% of population in India utilizes AYUSH and LHTs (Local Health Traditions) to help meet their primary health requirements. India is having the world‟s richest flora, comprising of about 120 families of plants,covering about 1,30,000 species. Ayurvedic texts cover about 2000 species of plants with their medicinal uses as described by ancient Indian medical scholars. About 10,000 herbs are used worldwide for medicinal purposes. Proper documentation is one of the unique features of the ancient Indian medicine system. The Pharmacopoeia for the plant based medicine was initiated building during the 3000 BC -1000 BC in the form of Atharvaveda with the incorporation of 289 clinically potential plants which is reported in  the Vedic text.

A brief observation on Evolution of Indian pharmacopoeia


Approximate number of Plants


Remarks on changes


3000 BC -

1000 BC


Building of the Pharmacopoeia


Vedic texts

1500 BC -

500 AD


Incorporation / discarding drugs

Charaka Samhita

Sushrut Samhita

 Astanga Samgraha

500 AD-

1900 AD


Incorporation / discarding drugs

Varieties identified

Substitutes identified

Expansion in applications

16 major Nighantus

(like Dhanvantari

Bhavprakasha, Raja Nighantu

upto Shaligram Nighantu )

With this renaissance of utility of Indian Systems of medicine, there is an increasing need to refer to not just the profile of the ingredients but to satisfy the consumer that safety and efficacy of the drugs has indeed been established. Though animal and mineral sources comprise a part of drug source, plants represent the major resource  of traditional systems. Quality assurance is the pivotal aspect for the development of these systems and major challenge being the availability of quality raw plant material satisfying specific protocols cited  in  classical literatures and also fulfilling  the aspirations of present-day scientific benchmark. Adding to this, certain medicinal plants reported as endangered or extinct.


Medicinal plant biodiversity is the natural biological capital of the earth. Its conservation and sustainable management is of pivotal importance. Medicinal plants are important components

of natural resources and are currently recognized throughout the world. An estimated 30,000

species fall into this group. Around 90% of the species are used by the people in the

ecosystem and 10% of the medicinal plants are in the national and global trade. Around 70%

of the world‟s known plants are found in tropical forests. The remaining 30% are found in

temperate, alpine, and high-altitude vegetation. India; with varied bioclimatic, Altitudinal,

edaphic zones and other accompanying micro-climatic conditions-nurtures rich and diverse

flora. It has a unique combination of habitats and ecosystems, which together makes it a

diversity-rich country in the world and is fortunate enough to be ranked sixth among the

seventeen mega biodiversity countries. The total number of plant species in India is estimated

to be about 45, 000 (17,500 flowering plants, 64 gymnosperms. 2843 bryophytes, 1012

pteridophytes, 1940 lichens, and 21,600 fungi). According to some studies out of about 9500 species in the country, 7500 are used for medicinal purpose by traditional systems, local health traditions and folk healers, while 3900 for edible use, 700 for other material & cultural requirements, 525 as fiber and cordage, 400 as food material, 300 as pesticides etc. 300 plants yield gum, resin & dye and about 100 species forms base for perfumes. In terms of the use of plant material and traditional

medicine, it is estimated that local communities used over 7,500 species of plants

Vrikshayurveda in Ancient texts

Matrial of vriksha ayurveda is found doccumentedin several ancient texts like chanakya’s Arthashastra,Brihat Samhita,Agnipurana,Krishi prashara,Manasollasa,Kashyapiya krishi sukti,and lokopkara.Thease texts have been written in Sanskrit,Pali,Tamil,Malyalam and kannada between 300 BCE to 1200BCE

Subjects covered

The subjects covered in thease  classical texts include ecology,distribution of forests,morphology of plants,histology and physiology,natural indicators of ground water,construction of water reservoirs,classification of plants,types of soils,procedure to be followed for collection and storage of seeds,sowing procedures,right season,best days of sowing,rituals to be followed during sowing/planting,pre treatment of seeds to ensure good germination,treatement for quick sprouting, preparation of bed pits, plant distance for different types of plants, watering regimen,nutrition,vegetative propagation process,management of ailments and pests,methods to produce horticultural wonders like trees with attractive flowers,big and small fruits and methods to produce seedless fruits.

Surapala's Vrikshayurveda

Independent text of Vrikshayurveda were given up by scholars, till Y L Nene (Chairman, Asian Agri-History Foundation) procured a manuscript of Vrikshayurveda of Surapala from the Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK. Sadhale undertook the translation of the text at Nene's request.

The manuscript is written in an old form of Nagari script. The script of the manuscript represents, most probably, the stage immediately preceding the modem form of Nagari. The script consists of sixty pages with margin on both sides. Each page contains six lines in general (occasionally five or seven). There are about thirty characters in each line written boldly with a thick pointed pen.

Brhatsamhita of Varahamihira of the sixth century also contains a chapter titled Vrikshayurveda. It also contains chapters on allied subjects such as divining groundwater, productivity and non-productivity of land as indicated by natural vegetation, etc. However, beyond establishing the antiquity of the sastra, it cannot give any definite clues to any full-fledged, independent texts on Vrikshayurveda.

An anthological compilation of Sarngadharapaddhati (written by Sarngadhara), belonging to the thirteenth century, is yet another ancient text which in its chapter "Upavanavinoda" deals with an allied subject, viz., "arbori-horticulture". The chapter discusses such topics as planting, soil, nourishment of plants, plant diseases and remedies, groundwater resources, etc. Thus it shares with Vrikshayurveda of Surapala almost all the topics. Many verses are identical and several others, although worded differently have an identical content. In spite of the striking resemblance between Upavanavinoda and Vrikshayurveda of Surapala, the former cannot be considered as a complete and independent text on Vrikshayurveda.

Surapal's Vrikshayurveda is a systematic composition starting with the glorification of trees and tree planting. It then proceeds to discuss various topics connected with the science of plant life such as procuring, preserving, and treating of seeds before planting; preparing pits for planting saplings; selection of soil; method of watering; nourishments and fertilizers; plant diseases and plant protection from internal and external diseases; layout of a garden; agricultural and horticultural wonders; groundwater resources; etc. The topics are neatly divided into different sections and are internally correlated. The author has expressed indebtedness to the earlier scholars but claims that in writing the present text he was guided by his own reason.

All these observations lead one to accept the text as an independent, full-fledged work on the subject of Vrikshayurveda. Sadhale informs that there are frequent references to this science in ancient Indian literature such as Atharvaveda, Brhatsamhita of Varahamihira,Sarngadharapaddhati of Sarngadhara, etc. which bring out the botanical and agricultural aspects; works such as the Samhitas of Caraka and Susruta which bring out the medicinal aspect; and works such as Grhyasutras, Manusmrti, Arthasastra of Kautilya, Sukraniti,Krishisangraha of Parasara, Kamandakiya Nitisara, Buddhist Jatakas, Puranas (Matsya, Varaha, Padma, Agni, etc.).

The colophon of the manuscript mentions Surapala as the writer of the text. He is described as a scholar in the court of Bhimapala. Surapala is stated to be "Vaidyavidyavarenya", a prominent physician.

Like several other Sanskrit texts the manuscript gives no clue to the date or place of the author. The subject deserves an in-depth study; however, any attempt at fixing a date of an author is bound to be at best a conjecture for want of definite proof.


The ignorance of our ancient texts is responsible for the degeneration of the agriculture

practices. With the help of ancient texts and model methods of agriculture we can not only

scientifically prove the sayings of the text but we could also establish some novel modified

methods for the agricultural systems. Present scenario is very suitable for the development of

the ancient sciences as there is a huge demand of the conservation and sustainable utilization

of the wood and non wood forest products as well as the medicinal plant sciences. The proper

interpretation and availability of Vriksayurveda can also play an important role in the field of

intercropping and put forward for the use of organic fertilizers and can play a crucial role to

build the ecofriendly environment.

The scientific community should validate the sayings of Vriksayurveda and the development

of the agriculture as well as the production of various medicinal plants used in various

systems of medicine. Very limited literature is available regarding the Vriksayurveda and

admirable interpretation is done by some of the agricultural scientists. Apart from

agricultural scientists the personnel from Ayurveda, Forestry, Ecology and Pharmacognosy

should emphasize to the respective ancient science of Vriksayurveda and corelate with the

modern science and the thorough validation is required.


1. A Manual for Doctors on Mainstreaming of AYUSH under NRHM, Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India New Delhi, 2008.

 2. Mainstreaming AYUSH & Revitalizing Local Health Traditions under the National Rural Health Mission- A Health Systems Perspective, National Health Systems resource centre, National Rural Health Mission Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, government of India New Delhi, 2009.

3. Status and role of AYUSH and Local health Traditions under the National Rural Health Mission-Report of a Study, National Health Systems resource centre, National Rural Health Mission Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, government of India New Delhi, 2010.

4,Heritage Amruth December 2015/1Published by the medplan conservatory society,Banglore

5, Surapala's Vrikshayurveda: an Introduction By D.P. Agrawal http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/t_es/t_es_agraw_surapala_frameset.htm

6, N. Srikanth, Devesh Tewari* and A. K. Mangal Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of AYUSH,Government of India, New Delhi, 110058, India. THE SCIENCE OF PLANT LIFE (VRIKSHA AYURVEDA) IN ARCHAICLITERATURE: AN INSIGHT ON BOTANICAL, AGRICULTURALAND HORTICULTURAL ASPECTS OF ANCIENT INDIA WORLD JOURNAL OF PHARMACY AND PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCES Volume 4,, Issue 06,, 388-404.. Review Article ISSN 2278 – 4357 www.wjpps.com/download/article/1432979698.pdf

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  • PUBLISHED DATE : Apr 12, 2019
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Janardan Panday
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Apr 12, 2019


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