India had ancient wisdom of farming since beginning of human civilization. It came from enlightened Rishis who lived in forests and understood all the rhythms of nature. One of these great rishis was Parashara but there were many others who taught the art and science of cultivation as per Vedic science.
The Vedas are the historic texts that allows us to examine past agricultural techniques. There are a number of writings that deal with agriculture, particularly Krishi-Parashara, which discusses tools and techniques for efficient and mindful farming. Vedas keep record of the advanced agricultural practices of ancient Indian farmers.
Vedic India was essentially agricultural India. After conquering the fertile land of India, the Aryans settled down and commenced cultivation and animal husbandry on the Indio- Gangetic plains of northern India. The very name Arya, by which Aryan conquerors of India have distinguished themselves from the aborigines, is said to be derived from the root, which means ‘To cultivate’. Agriculture was the most important industry and occupation of the people as also the biggest source of income of the society and state.
Agricultural heritage denotes the values and traditional practices adopted in ancient India, which are more relevant for present day system. Krishi Parashara authored by Maharshi Parashara, grandson of Maharshi Vasistha, consists of 243 verses. It is the theory of agriculture expounded in such a manner that farmers would benefit by its application. This treatise includes observations on all aspects of agriculture such as meteorological observations relating to agriculture, management of agriculture, management of cattle, agricultural tools, and implements, seed collection and preservation, ploughing and all the agricultural processes involved right from preparing fields to harvesting and storage of crops.
The treatises advocates a symbiotic relationship, organic farming techniques, crop management, holistic farming, or sustainable use of available material. Given below are a few pointers.
METHOD OF AGRICULTURE: - (Krushi Karm) The review of the various methods of agriculture, in Vaidic Period, definitely reveals, that farming at that time also, was similar to the present one. No doubt, the Indian Aryans were familiar with the farming methods, even before the separation from IRANIANS. This becomes clear from the similarity between the mystic words ‘Yavankrush’ and ‘Sasya’ from RIGVEDA, and ‘Hahaya’ and “Yao Karesh”, from AVESTA. The meaning of these words, is “the seeds sown by ploughing” and “the food reaped from that”.
During Vaidic Age, the fields (Urvar Kshetra) were made proper for sowing seeds, by the use of a plough. The plough was commonly known as ‘Lagal’ or ‘Sir’, and its front sharp part, was known as ‘Fal’. The handle of the plough, used to be very smooth (Sumatitsakh, ATHARV. 3/17/3). One long Bamboo (Isha) was tied to the plough, over which, one YOKE (Yug), was being placed. The oxen were tied to this yoke, using the ropes around their necks.
The plough was pulled and drawn by 6, 8 or 12 bullocks, and from this number, we can imagine the heavy weight, and big size of the plough.
The ploughman (Kina) used to drive the bullocks, with the help of, the pointed iron stick, (Toya). Generally, the VAISHYAS (Vaishya) used to carry out the farming, in Vaidic Age. The fields were rich crop - producing. If they were not capable of producing good crops, the MANURES (crop-nourishing agents), were used. The cow - dung (Karish), was used for this purpose. The natural Waste - products of the animals, was considered as important fertiliser, for the fields, as stated in ATHARV. 4/2/9.
The different actions concerning Agriculture, are clearly stated in Shatpath Brahman (1, 6, 1, 3), as follows:- ploughing (Krushantaha); sowing (Vapantaha); harvesting (Lunantaha); crushing (Mrunantaha). The ripe crop was cut with a hack - saw (Datra, Sruni), tied in different bundles (Parn); and was dumped in godowns (Khal). After that, it was sieved through sieves (Titad) or jerked (Shubh), for separating corn, from the husk, and grassy portion, (RIG. 10/71/2). The person who used to jerk it, was known as ‘Dhanyakrut’ (RIGV. 10/24/13). The food crop was measured, by filling it, in a measuring - vessel, called ‘Udar’.
The seasons of Farming, are described in short, in Taitiriya Sanhita (7, 2, 10, 2) - “It gets ripe, in summer, and, no doubt, it was sown, during WINTER season, as is the practice, in modern INDIA. RICE gets ripe in AUTUMN Season, and is sown, in the beginning of Rainy Season (Varsha) ‘Mash’ (Udid) and ‘Til’ (sesamum) are sown during the Rain in summer, and get ripe in Winter Season.” According to Taitiriya Sanhita (5, 1, 7, 3), the crop (Sasya) was cut, twice during the year. As state in Kaushitaki Brahman (19.2), the seeds sown during winter, get ripe up to the month ‘CHAITRA’ (Chaitra).
‘Avat’ (ditches created by digging) are available in many places, inRIGVEDA. The water of these wells, never diminished. The water from the well, was drawn out, with the wheels, created from stones. (Ashmachakra), to which, the pots that can hold water, were tied, by the Ropes (Barwa) (RIGV. 11/25/4). After drawing the water from the well, it was poured into the wooden receptacle (Aahav). The wells were used, not only for drawing water for the people and animals, but also, for Irrigation of the fields, some times. The well - water would reach the fields, by flowing through, wide lanes prepared (RIGV. 8/69/12) and make them fertile. This method of drawing water from wells, still prevails in some areas around Punjab and Delhi.
The agriculture was so important and useful, for the living of Aryans, that they believed in the might of one GOD named ‘Kshetrapati’ and have prayed to him for making their Lands fertile with crops. The description of ‘Kshetrapati’ is available in RIG. Mandal 4/57 sutra, and one of the chants, is as follows: “Shunam Naha Fala.............................................................................................. Datt”.
MEANING: “Our Phal should happily dig out the earth, from ground. The plough-men (Kinash) should pleasantly, plough the fields, with the help of bullocks. He should bestow happiness, by pouring water, sweet like Honey (Mahamadhu), and Shunasir should create happiness in our minds.”
Agricultural Machines/Implements Developed in Ancient India:
- Axe (Kulhadi)
- Mattock (Phawada)
- Trowel (Khurpi)
- Plough (Hal)
- Sickle (Hasia)
- Wing (Sup for Winnowing the grains)
- Ginning wheel
- Spinning wheel (Charkha)
- Looms for weaving the clothing
- Clay pots (Pottery)
- Pan (Kadhai for heating)
- Bullock Cart
ANGARA (fertiliaer) PREPARATION :
Angara is an earthworm seeding preparation. To make its selection easy one uses soil from beneath a Banyan tree which has ample fruits and very fertile root systems including the roots that drop which have fertility promoting substances (for man and soil). If Banyan trees are not available or the soil beneath your Banyans is too dry to allow earthworms then looks for other earthworm rich soil to prepare the Angara from. You can also start an earthworm cultivation program if the above is not available or possible. 15kg soil from the base of a banyan tree (per acre of farmland). If in an area where the soil is hard packed under the Banyan trees then use soil from places where earthworms are present during the rainy season. The soil does not have to have live earthworms per say.
Coating of seeds before planting:
Coat all seeds with honey and ghee mixture 1:1 before sowing. The coating of seeds with honey and ghee is given by the Rishis. This provides a powerful boost to the potencies of the seeds and helps them germinate and gives a crop that is strong and resistant to disease for its entire life.
Coat all bulbs with wet cow dung before sowing Amritpani:
This is a special herbal nectar water that is fed to the soil to improve its nutrition and bring more vitality (prana) to the soil.
Use 200 litres of AMRITPANI per acre of farm land, 250g pure cow ghee from indigenous cows, 500g of organic raw unheated honey, 10kg of fresh cow dung from indigenous cows, 200 litre of water.
Mix the ghee and the dung first well. Blend the honey into this mixture. Add the 200 litre water stirring all the time.
How to use:
- Plant sugarcane, turmeric, ginger after dipping into the amritpani
- For all seedlings dip the roots into amritpani before planting
- When watering crops mix amritpani in stirring all the time
- When planting fruit trees, wet around the area with amritpani
Seed Dressing Paste:
Mix ANGARA with AMRITPANI making it into a thick paste.
When planting any hard seeds such s rice, wheat, corn, okra etc., mix the paste with the seeds in a sifting pan and keep on rotating the pan till the seeds are well coated with the paste. Dry the seeds in the shade and use as needed.
For soft seeds such as mung etc. sprinkle the paste lightly on the seeds and use immediately.
Cow Urine & Neem:
Keep bottles of cow urine (from indigenous cows) in sunlight and mix with neem extract (see below) for spraying crop as a preventative measure for insects. Mix 150ml of the Cow urine Neem extract solution in 15 litre of water. 60 litre of this solution is enough for 1 acre.
Soak 14-20kg of small bunches of Neem branches in 150-200l of water. Keep in the shade for 4 days. You can also dilute this with water after filtration if required. If Neem leaves are not available take 4-5kg of Neem oil cake and soak, filter and dilute as above. Cow urine and need spray is an effective anti pest measure.
For nightshades and cowpea you can spray the leaf with sour buttermilk with Neem extract.
Mulch can be made from help plants that are sowed a few months before the main crop. Also sugar cane bagasse can be used as a much. Mulching is very important.
Cow urine from indigenous cow breeds is an excellent pest control method. Spray it weekly once as a preventative measure. If you store it in glass bottles for some time the potency will improve. You can keep the bottles in sunlight. To make a spray solution dilute 20% cow urine and 80% water and spray weekly even if the plants are healthy as a preventative measure.
To prepare the Neem extract proceed as follows:
- Soak 20kg of Neem branch bunches in 200 litre of water
- Allow this to stand in shade for 4 days
- Filter and dilute with water 1:1 (it can also be used neat)
Note: If Neem leaves are not available you can use 4-5kg of Neem oil cake.
You can alternate with the cow urine and neem extract preparations for pest control and for treating all sorts of plant diseases. Buttermilk can be used with neem extract and cow urine for leaf curl disease.
Embelia Rives (Vidanga or False black pepper) decoction:
- Boil 250g of embelia rives berries with 2l of water till it has reduced to 20%
- Dilute 1:10 with water to prepare a herbal spray
Use this for all fruit crops it helps produce healthy produce.
Orris root (Iris germanica, Verkhand) decoction:
- Boil 250g of Verkhand pieces with 2l of water till reduced 20%
- Dilute in 200l of water and feed it to the soil through irrigation water
This can be used to keep snakes and scopions out of the farm and also to prevent white grubs from sugar cane crops.
To manage white fly you can burn organic matter near the crop so the winds will blow it over the farm.
Following this Vedic farming method in modern age can produce amazing crops, amazing soil fertility and no trouble from pests.