01 Sep



A Medicinal system for the benefit of plants

All of us know very well about the health systems that work for the benefit of humans and animals. Many may also be familiar with the ancient Indian (Auyur-Veda), Chinese (Zhōngyī xué) and Tibetan (gSoba Rig-pa) health systems for the humans. However, not many may be aware of an ancient medicinal system devised to ensure healthy growth of plants, trees and preservation of environment; and that too an Indian one! Well, is there really such a system? Yes, there is one. It is Vrikshayurveda (Sanskrit term to mean the Plant Life Science or the Science of Plant Life) – (Vriksha = tree + Ayur- Veda = science of life).

2. Vrikshayurveda

2.1 It is interesting that ancient India not only had a medical science for the humans (Auyur-Veda) but also a one for the plants, called Vrikshayurveda. The earliest references to such a science are in the Rig-Veda and Atharvaveda. The other books that provide valuable information are Kautilya’s Artha-sastra, Amarsimha’s Amarkosha, Patanjali’s Mahabhasya, Krishi-Parashara, and Varahmihira’s Brhat Samhita etc. But, no   independent texts seem to have been written on the subject. The oral tradition   however regarded Surapala’s Vrikshayurveda as a credible compendium. Sadly, the actual text of Surapala was not available.

2.2 It was only in the   year 1996 i.e. after Dr. Y. L.  Nene (Asian Agri-History Foundation , India ) procured the manuscript from the Bodleian Library, Oxford , UK and Dr. Nalini Sadhale translated it into English; Surapala’s work became known to the modern world.

[ Shri keshavapuri , however mentions :

the book Vrikshayurveda was published in English translation long back in 1935 from kolkata. it is still available over internet. Vrikshayruveda has been published in Kannada in 1950, 1972,, 1990 etc/. the reprint of 1935 edition was published in 1994 from Bengaluru. No one of the so called modern minded people took cognizance of the subject.]

3. The manuscript written in a form of Sanskrit since extinct runs into 60 pages containing 325 well-knit verses , describing, among other things, characteristics of 170 plants. Surapala’s work puts forth authoritative opinions on several issues concerning plant life such as procuring, preserving, 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 , remedies there to; layout of a garden; agricultural and horticultural wonders; groundwater resources; etc.    It is a comprehensive and a systematic compendium on all issues of plant life and environment.


4. Surapala

4.1 A word about Surapala before we get to know  his work; no definite facts are available about him or his time (as it usually happens in Indian history). Historians approximate his time as 10th century A.D. He was a renowned and a highly respected physician in the court of the King Bhima Pala. Judging by the soil types, plants, and environments discussed in the work, historians surmise Surapala lived in the Gangetic plain i.e. the present day U.P / Bihar region.

4.2 Surapala calls his work a compendium of Auyur-Veda as applied to plants. He expresses indebtedness to the earlier scholars but declares that in writing the present text his own reasoning was his guide.

4.3 What were the Ayur–Vedic principles applied ?

5. Auyur-Veda grafted on plants

5.1 As per Ayur – Veda   all substances ,all physical  and mental constitutions , all ailments and all curative processes are pancha –bhautika in character , meaning they are related to the ambiance created by the composition of five elements viz. earth , water , fire , air and space. Further, it assumes that a person’s constitution, health and disease are a result of the balance/imbalance of three different biological systems – vata, pitta and kapha. While Vata controls all the movements in the body, pitta takes care of chemical reactions and biosynthesis of various compounds within the body. Kapha, on the other hand, deals with balanced growth, development and functioning of the body. If the functions of these three humors were well balanced, then the individual would be in a healthy condition. An imbalance within or between them, would lead to various kinds of ailments. This is the tri-dosha-siddhanta. The primary purpose of Ayur – Veda   is to restore/ maintain proper balance of vata, pitta and kapha. In Surapala’s work, these concepts are grafted on to the plants as well. According to him, the plant condition, health –sickness, cause –remedies etc. all are to be viewed through the prism of Ayur-Veda.

5.2 Interestingly, the ideological structure of Ayur – Veda itself is in the image of a tree. It employs terms such as root, trunk, branches, leaves etc. while describing the disease cause, its symptoms, diagnosis, remedy etc.

5.3 Surapala advocates a holistic crop management system. He stresses the use of suitable cultivars, use of good seeds, pre-sowing treatment of seeds, use of suitable soils, growing intercrops, having optimum plant population, balanced nutrition, optimum use of water, timely weeding, protection from disorders by use of herbal products or dead animal wastes, harvest at the right stage, and seed drying and storage

6. A word of caution    Surapala also comes up with a number of impractical suggestions, untested methods, fanciful ideas that do not make sense. Therefore, caution, discretion, further study and research should go along with the enthusiasm to accept  the book.

[ Shri keshavapuri does not agree with this view. He points out:

Such caution is  meaningless. this opinion is formed without any practical knowledge of the subject. All these methods in Vrikshayruveda have been tried on large scale which is still unknown to the many, practical implementation of Vrikshayruveda can solve many problems of the modern day world like pollution of all types, which is yet unknown to many.]

The text is a very helpful compendium in deed.


7.  Continuing on  Vrikshayurveda, the science of the treatment of plants in other ancient texts, Prof. Girija Prasanna Majumdar writes in his Vanaspati: plants and plant-life as in Indian treatises and traditions (Published by the University of Calcutta 1927, pages: 46-49) refers to passages in Agni Purana, Brihat-samhita of Varahamihira, and other texts dealing with maintenance and treatment of plants:

Just as the human body is subject to jaundice, dropsy,  emaciation and defects (dwarfness) of finger, nose, etc., etc., so also plants suffer from similar diseases such as inception of disease, displacement or dislocation of flower, fruit, leaves, bark.

And just as by the application of the appropriate remedies unnatural growth, deterioration, wounds, fractures, etc., can be cured, so also in plants by application of proper drugs as prescribed in Vrikshayurveda.

Varahamihira gives the following signs of the diseased condition of plants:   Cold climate (low temperature), wind (dryness) and sun (high temperature) are the causes of disease. When the plant is diseased, the leaves become yellow (etiolated), buds (pravalanam) do not develop or their growth arrested, branches become dry and the sap (rasa} exudes.

Kasyapa says: those plants that have yellow leaves (pandurii patreshu), that are fruitless and denuded of leaves arid those caused by coldness, excessive heat, too much rain, dry wind and by the intermingling of roots of different plants are to be known as diseased, and are to be treated accordingly


Remedies that are prescribed are both preventive and curative.

As a general prophylactic, Varahamihira says:   As a sort of general prophylactic, mud kneaded with ghee and Vidanga (Embelica glandulifera) should be applied to the roots; and, after which milk diluted with water should be poured.

Agni Purana also recommends similar remedies: Vidanga mixed with rice, fish and flesh all these mixed together constitute a remedy invigorating to the plants and curative of their diseases.

As regards the curatives:

A cure is prescribed for that most incurable of diseases barrenness. Varahamihira prescribes: as a remedy against barrenness, a hot decoction should be made of Kulattha (Dolichos biflorus), Masha (Phaseolus mungo var Roxburghii), Mudga (Ph. radiatus), Tila (Sesamum indicum) and Yava (Barley) which when cooled should be poured round the roots.

Almost an identical recipe occurs in the Agni Purana: Vidanga and ghee kneaded with mud and sprinkled with cold water together with Kulattha, Masha, Mungo, Yava and Tila should be used in a case of barrenness (phala-nashi).


8. Further Reading :

1). Sadhale, Nalini (Tr.). 1996.   Surapala’s Vrikshayurveda (The Science of Plant Life by Surapala). Agri- History Bulletin No.1. Asian Agri-History Foundation, Secunderabad – 500 009,   India .

THE PRINTED BOOK IS HARD TO GET. BUT, YOU MAY GET TO READ THE TEXT ON THE NET  ( the original manuscript in Sanskrit, with English commentary) AT





3) Also  Click to follow the links::


tree of life


Posted by on September 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


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17 responses to “Vrikshayurveda

  1. keshavapuri

    November 10, 2017 at 7:55 am

    the book vrikshayurveda was published in english translation long back in 1935 from kolkata. it is tilll available over internet. vrikshayruveda has been published in kannada in 1950, 1972,, 1990 etc/. the repritn of 1935 edition was published in 1994 from bengaluru. no one of the so called modern minded people took cognizance of the subject. this is the fact even today.
    the warning given at the end of this blog viz,
    6. A word of caution Surapala also comes up with a number of impractical suggestions, untested methods, fanciful ideas that do not make sense. Therefore, caution, discretion, further study and research should go along with the enthusiasm to accept .
    is also meaningless. this opinion is formed without any practical knowledge of the subject.
    all these methods in vrikshayruveda have been tried on large scale which is still unknown to the many,
    practical ikplementation of vrikshayruveda can solve many problems of the modern day world like pollution of all types, which is yet unknown to many.

    • sreenivasaraos

      November 10, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Thank Shri Keshavpuri for pointing out the correct position. I have since included your observations in the body of the blog , for the benefit of the future readers


  2. chetan

    March 10, 2018 at 2:53 am

    Hi, i am searching this book since three years, do you have this book, i need it ,

    • sreenivasaraos

      March 10, 2018 at 4:47 am

      Dear Shri Chetan , thanks for the visit.

      yes. It is hard to secure the printed book version of the :

      Surapala’s Vrikshayurveda the science of plant life by Surapala translated by Nalini Sadhale ; commentaries by K.L. Mehra, S.M. Virmani, and Y.L. Nene

      But, the E Book is available. Please check the link I have since added at the bottom of my post.

      I trust that might be of some help to you

      Please do read Vanaspathi by Prof Girija Prasanna Majumdar , a rare book, for which I have provided the link

      Cheers and Regards

      • Deepti

        June 17, 2020 at 5:13 pm

        I could not look for the link, if you could please post it again, I would like to read this book.

      • sreenivasaraos

        June 18, 2020 at 12:52 am

        Dear Deepti

        Try this link, click here

        I hope it works

        Please let me know

        Keep safe healthy and happy


      • sreenivasaraos

        June 18, 2020 at 12:56 am

    • sreenivasaraos

      March 31, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Dear Shri Chetan, Please see the response posted by Shri Reddy about the availability of the Book Surapala’s Vrikshayurveda


  3. RK Reddy

    March 31, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Surapala’s Vrikshayurveda by Chowkhamba sanskrit series publishers have got an english version. You may check their website for further info.

    • sreenivasaraos

      March 31, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      Dear Shri Reddy, thank you for the information

      But, I am not sure if it is available. In any case let me try

      Thanks again

  4. R Hemmadi

    December 8, 2019 at 1:13 pm


    wonderful first visit to blog

    can u please give me link to “vriksayurveda” e book with original sanskit text & translation?


    • sreenivasaraos

      December 8, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      It is already there , right at the end of the article

  5. Dr. Mohana GS

    May 16, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    Interesting information. I am interested in Vrikshayurveda and started reading ancient texts related to agriculture in this connection. I am a practicing plant scientist at ICAR- Directorate of Cashew Research, Puttur, Dakshina Kannada.

    • sreenivasaraos

      May 16, 2020 at 11:52 pm

      Dear Dr. Mohana

      You are welcome

      I am happy that you are interested in Vrkshayurveda

      You may click on the link provided towards the end portion of the article
      to read the text/translation of the Vrkshayurveda

      Please also read the Vanaspathi by Prof.Girija Prasanna mazumdar
      click on the link

      It is also very informative

      Stay safe, healthy and happy

      Cheers and Regards

  6. Abhi

    May 28, 2020 at 9:21 am

    The link for Vanaspati gives a PDF
    But the link for VrikshAyurveda only points ISSUU upload which shows but does not give PDF for download.

    Can you please get and share?

    • sreenivasaraos

      May 30, 2020 at 2:41 am

      Dear Abhi

      Please see the Vrikshyurveda pdf file right at the bottom of the blog
      place the mouse right in the middle of brown colored picture at the center

      That will show a red logo

      click on that logo

      That will take you Vrikshayurveda text in Sanskrit

      Please try and let me know


  7. sreenivasaraos

    June 18, 2020 at 12:58 am

    Dear Deepti

    Try this link, click here

    I hope it works

    Please let me know

    Keep safe healthy and happy



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