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Unique Ideas on Water in Ancient Indian Scriptures and Culture



Vedas are the foremost record of great wisdom and advanced thoughts presented first ever by
humanity since its awareness of the physical world around and the metaphysical elements pervading it.
The knowledge of Vedas is synonymous with knowledge of science and metaphysics of creation. They
are the repository of eternal knowledge and wisdom.

The whole material world is believed to have developed from five prototypal gross elements called
Panchamahabhuta. These are Prithivi (Earth), Aap or Jal (Water), Agni or Tej (Fire, Energy), Vayu (Air)
and Akash (Ether, Space). These five bhuta’s constitute the physical universe. The hymns in the four
Vedas, namely, Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda were composed by various
enlightened sages or seers (Rishi’s) through an estimated time span from 6,500 BC to 1,500 BC on
various aspects of scientific truths unravelled by them regarding psychological matter (consciousness)
pervading the physical matter (electrons) which is present in the whole material creation/universe in
three forms. In latent form it is present as agni (fire) on the earth, in violent form as vayu (air), in
dominating factor in mid sphere as Indra (god of atmosphere), and in a dominating factor in celestial
sphere ionized or luminous form as Surya (sun).

Water is regarded as the primordial substance from which the universe came into being. The
knowledge of cosmology, inter alia, attracted the thinking of meditating wise seers of vedic times and a
vivid description of theories as propounded by them are a part of the Vedas. While in most of the
ideas, the concept of unmanifest or unravelled is seen, however, water is regarded as the original
source that gave rise to the subsequent evolution of the universe. Despite our so-called
unprecedented advancements in the area of cosmology, science and technology, our knowledge on
cosmology is yet to transcend the peripheries of queries and wisdom unraveled by the Vedas
thousands of years ago, as evident from hundreds of the hymns contained in the ancient scriptures.
The ancient scriptures present in great detail, inter alia, the concepts on evolution of earth, the science
of rainfall, its measurement and forecast, climatology, meteorology, hydrology, water use and
management, agricultural planning etc. while describing and hailing the five basic elements of nature
as mentioned above. With a greater zeal to know the truth hidden in the ancient cultures, especially in
the Indian scriptures, the modern scientists, archaeologists and historians are beginning to rise above
the hitherto seen biases of the past historians against the ancient Indian achievements and exploring,
to their amazement, many startling facts.

It is indeed amazing that the theories advanced by recent developments in Physics, astro-physics and
nuclear technology are not different from what was hypothesized in the Vedas and other scriptures like
Upanishads several thousand years ago! The Quantum Theory, the String Theory etc. of the modern
times seem to be a close reflection of the spiritual phenomenon of Consciousness propounded in
ancient times by the Indians.


Water has enjoyed the highest status in the social and religious context in the ancient Indian culture.
It was an essential medium for performing daily religious rituals and social ceremonies, and a primary
means for purification of body and soul. It still continues to be so. Even after thousands of years, the
rivers in India, especially Ganga (the Ganges) and Yamuna are considered divine and capable of
purifying a sinful body with their few drops of water. The ancient Indian scriptures such as the Veda’s,
Brahmana’s, Upanishada’s, Purana’s, Smriti’s, etc. dating back from over 6,500 BC to as late as 500
AD vividly glorify the role of water in rituals and ceremonies. These scriptures also propound scientific

* Secretary, International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID)
48 Nyaya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi-110 021 (India).
concepts on cosmology, universe, natural resources, hydrometeorological phenomena,
environmental protection and conservation etc. Ecological balance has been at the centre of all
religious and social rituals and the vedic students were taught to learn the integrated and holistic
approach towards maintaining the order of Nature and preserving the environment. Agni (fire) is said
to the born from the waters. Therefore, both water and fire are said to possess procreative powers.
The waters are considered as excellent mothers while the fire is seen as prolific generator and
begetter and both of them pervade the entire universe. The place of water as a life giving and life
sustaining element was very high. It was considered to be cleanser of sins and was regarded as divine
and a protector. It was addressed by various names – nectar, honey, ambrosia… (Rigveda, RV 6.70.5)
in the prayers. Water in all its various forms was considered divine and blissful. This respect for waters
worked as a deterrent against pollution. Stagnant water was rated unhygienic.


Water has been highly respected and treated with great reverences in the vedic literature and has
been prayed to grant men procreative power with the belief that “All creatures are born from the
waters” (RV). Waters have been considered as mostly “motherless, and the producers of all that is
stationary and all that moves”. They are also hailed as “mothers of all beings’. “They are the mother
of the sun”. “They produced Agni”. It is also recognized that all objects, movable or immovable owe
their existence to the waters. The Chhandogya Upanishad (7.10.1) says that “it is the waters who
pervade everything, big or small, the earth, the atmosphere, the heaven, the mountains, gods, men,
animals, birds, grass, plants, dogs, worms, insects, ants. All these (worldly manifestations) are waters
indeed”. “They are the foundations of all in the universe” (Shatapath Brahman, SB

The Panchamahabhuta or the basic five gross elements mentioned above have been attributed each
to a deity in the Veda(s). The waters were prayed to grant prosperity, happiness, health etc.

Rigveda says : “Since waters are the source of happiness, grant to us to enjoy abundance, and a great
and delightful perception”. (RV 10.9.1).

“I invoke for protection the divine waters of excellent wisdom, discharging their functions – flowing by
day and flowing by night”. (RV).

The Rigvedic hymns vividly describe the Dyava Prithivi (Heaven and Earth) as `full of water’,
`decorated with ornaments of water’, `abundantly blessed with love of water’, `conservator of waters’,
etc. The firmament (Dyaus) and the earth (Prithivi) create and surround between them the
environment (paryavaran), which is directly responsible for our well-being. Recognising this fact, the
seers prayed - “Your mother (earth) and father (celestial sphere) together make the world inhabitable.
May the celestial Dyava (Heaven/Firmament/upper atmosphere) and Prithivi (Earth) provide you with
rains and other factors that promote life on earth.”

Whether in rivers, under ground, in waterfalls or in lakes, the waters were handled with great care and
reverence - “May the waters that descend from the sky or from the top of glaciers, which are derived
from the earth by digging or which have been bestowed on us by the god in the form of lakes and are
self evolving, those that continuously flow towards the oceans, and the ones which are themselves
holy and are used for purifying everyone, bless us!”

Seers (Rishi’s) in all the four Vedas hail water practically as a form of demigod and worship it as such,
since it is considered as life giving. Water has been variously described as `incarnation of god’,
`nectar’, `the protector of the earth and the environment’ etc. The sages in Yajurveda pray – “O
Water, thou art the reservoir of welfare and propriety, sustain us to become strong. We look up to thee
to be blessed by thy kind nectar on this earth. O water, we approach thee to get rid of our sins. May
the water cleanse the earth, the earth cleanse me. May the holy waters make me devoid of sins. May
the waters remove my bad deeds. The waters that kept the Agni (fire) inside them, bless us. The
waters that generate all prosperity on earth and heaven and those which dwell in different forms in the
atmosphere, those who irrigate the earth, may be those waters be kind to us and bless us. O Water,
kindly touch me with thy divine self and establish strength, radiance, intellect and wisdom in me.”
The water was considered to be a means for purification of body. A few drops of holy water sprinkled
on one’s own body with the chanting of blessing prayer were considered to impart a sense of
purification to entitle one to start a rite or ritual.

“May the material (earth’s) waters purify us, may the shedders of water purify us with the effusion; for
the divine (waters) bear away all sin: I come away from them purified (to heaven).” (RV 10.17.10)1.

“The waters, with their ocean-chief, proceed from the midst of the firmament, purifying (all things),
flowing unceasingly : may the divine waters, whom the thunder-bearing Indra, the showerer, sent forth,
protect me here (on earth). May the waters that are in the sky, or those that flow (on the earth), those
(whose channels) have been dug, or those that have sprung up spontaneously, and those that seek
the ocean. All pure and purifying, may those divine waters protect me here (on earth).” (RV 7.49.1-2)2.


The medicinal quality of water has also found enough mention in the Vedas - “I have this day entered
into the waters (for bathing), we have mingled with their essence. Agni aboding in the waters,
approach and fill me with vigor” (RV 10.9.9). Rigveda hails waters as the reservoir of all curative
medicines and of nectar. It invokes waters which the cows drink and offers oblations to deities
presiding over the flowing waters-

“ O Water, which we have drunk, become refreshing in our body. May you be pleasant to us by driving
away diseases and pains – O divine immortal waters” (RV 63).

Atharvaveda describes various sources of waters and describes them as dispeller of diseases and as
more healing than any other healer. The scriptures believed that waters avert pain, they are
restorative/curative, they are medicine. Wherever waters fall on earth, excellent plants grow there
abundantly. The hymns in Atharvaveda (6.23, 24, 57) hail water as possessing medicinal qualities. It
is prayed as a dispeller of diseases. A hymn in Atharvaveda prays waters to cure ‘incurable’ diseases.

Rigveda (1.161.9) states – ‘there exists no better element other than water which is more beneficent to
the living beings. Hence waters are supreme’. Varuna is a cosmic ruler as well as the deity that dwells
in waters, presides over them and is therefore prayed for granting strength and virility from waters. “ O
Varuna, the ruler, you possess hundreds or thousands of medicines”.

The Samhitas also regard water as capable of alleviating pain –“ O water which we have drunk,
become refreshing in our body. Be pleasant to us by driving away diseases and pains, O divine
immortal waters”.

“Waters, sovereigns of precious treasures, granters of habitations to man, I solicit of you medicines
(for my infirmities). Within the waters, Soma has told me, remedies exist of every sort, and Agni, who
brings blessings to all. Waters, bring to perfection all disease dispelling medicaments for the good of
my body, so that I may long behold the sun”. (RV 10.9.5-7)3.
Aapae ASmaNmatr> zuNxyNtu "&ten nae "&tPv> punNtu,

ivñ< ih irà< àvhiNt devIéidda_y> zuicra pUt @im. \k! 10,17,10
smuÔJyeóa> sillSy mXyaTpunana yNTyinivzmana>,

#NÔae ya v¿I v&;Éae rrad ta Aapae devIirh mamvNtu.

ya Aapae idVya %t va öviNt oiniÇma %t va ya> SvyÁja>,

smuÔawaR ya> zucy> pavkaSta Aapae devIirh mamvNtu. \k! 7,49,1-2
$zana vayaR[a< ]yNtIí;R[Inam!, Apae yacaim Ée;jm!.

APsu me saemae AävIdNtivRñain Ée;ja, Ai¶< c ivñz<Éuvm!.

Aap> p&[It Ée;j< vêw< tNve mm, JyaeKc sUy<R d&ze. \k! 10,9,5-7
Other hymns from Rigveda mention -“Ambrosia is in the waters, in the waters are medicinal herbs;
therefore, divine (priest), be prompt in their praise. Soma has declared to me, `all medicaments, as
well as Agni, the benefactor of the universe, are in the waters’: the waters contain all healing herbs.
Waters, bring to perfection all disease-dispelling medicaments for (the good of) my body, so that I may
long behold the Sun. Waters, take away whatever sin has been (found) in me, whether I have
(knowingly) done wrong or have pronounced imprecations (against holy men) or (have spoken)
untruth. I have this day entered into the waters – we have mingled with essence – Agni, abiding in the
waters, approach, and fill me, thus (bathed), with vigour.” (RV 1.23.19-23)4.


The rivers and river waters have also been treated with great reverence since the ancient times.
Traditionally rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, etc are regarded and worshipped as goddesses.
The traditional Indians sprinkle drops of water on themselves, invoking holy rivers for purification of the
body thus- ”In this water, I invoke the presence of holy waters from the rivers Ganga, Yamuna,
Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Cauvery to make this water pure and blissful” 5. One could
witness every morning and evening on the banks of Ganga at Haridwar (India), the daily Ganga
worship with lighted lamps in the presence of thousands of devotees, traditional holy music and chants
of mantras.

The Sarasvati river was one of the largest rivers in the ancient India before 3000 BC. and drained the
Sutlej and the Yamuna. By the end of Harappan culture, the Sarasvati went dry bringing about the end
of Harappan civilization around 1900 BC. The Vedic texts are replete with references of river Sarasvati
flowing into the ocean/sea. The number of allusions to Sarasvati in the Rigveda far outnumber those to
other rivers. She is regarded as Goddess Sarasvati, “Ambitame (greatest of mothers), Naditame
(greatest of rivers), Devitame (greatest of goddesses) Sarasvati” (RV 2.41.16).

In the Rigvedic literature, it is indicated that seven mighty river channels, called as the Sapta Sindhu,
existed from east to west which refer to rivers Sarasvati, Shutadri (Sutlej), Vipasha (Beas), Asikni
(Chenab), Parushni (Ravi), Vitasa (Jhelum) and Sindhu (Indus). Among these, Sarasvati and Sindhu
(Indus) were major rivers that flowed from the mountains right upto the sea. The hymns of Sarasvati
are some of the oldest ones and were composed more than 8,000 years ago. As mentioned earlier,
one of the most celebrated rivers in the Vedic text is Sarasvati. Rigveda addresses Sarasvati as the
celestial cow that nourishes the people with its wholesome milk.

The importance of water as a prosperity imparting commodity (through irrigation) was recognized.
This is amply reflected in the following verses –

“Sarasvati, with your breast, which is the source of delight, with which you bestow all good things,
which is the container of wealth, the distributor of riches, the giver of good (fortune); do lay open your
that (bosom) at this season for our nourishment.” (RV 1.164.49).

“Opulent waters, you rule over riches; you support good fortune, pious rites, and immortality; you are
the protectors of wealth and of offspring : may Sarasvati bestow all this opulence on him who praises
you.” (RV 10.30.12).
APSvNtrm&tmPsu Ée;jmpamut zStye, deva Évt vaijn>/.

APsu me saemae AävIdNtivRZvain Ée;ja, AiGn< c ivZvzMÉuvmapZc ivZvÉe;jI>.

Aap> p&[It Ée;j< vêw< tNvemm, Jyaek! c sUyR< d&ze .

#dmap> vht yiTk< c duirt< miy, yÖahmiÉduÔaeh yÖa ze; %tan&tm!.

Aapae A*aNvcair;< rsen smgSmih, pySvanGn Aa gih t< ma s< s&j vcRsa. \k! 1,23,19-23
g<ge ! c ymun!e cEEv gaedavir! srSvit!

nmRde! is<xu! kaveir! jle=iSmn! siNnix< kué,
The rivers have been source of evolution of particular socio-economic and cultural patterns. The role
of river in India is hailed as the shaper of people’s lives, as material sustainer and spiritual nourisher.
Vedic seers also revered rivers as females possessed of extra-ordinary powers. Water, like fire, has
been the divine witness to all human deeds. As a result, no Hindu rite is complete without its presence.
In Hindu rituals, rivers are symbolically represented by a pitcher (kalasha or kumbh). This is the reason
that at every auspicious occasion, including social events like marriages, or religious
rituals/performances, the pitchers will be visible.

“May the divine rivers, whether flowing down declivities, in hollow places, or upwards, whether filled
with water or dry, nourishing all with their water, be auspicious to us by protecting from diseases,
may all the rivers eliminate harm or injury”. (RV 7.50.4) 6.

The rivers have also been compared to beautiful maidens, mothers, princes or queens, swift mares
etc. in describing them in their descent with great force from the hilly terrains and in spate after being
fed by their tributaries or flowing quietly and spreading bliss with their sweet waters. The following
hymns of Rigveda describe the flowing rivers as :

“O fast rivers, the venerable Lord cuts easy channels for your onwards flow. Since the land fed by you
would be a source of immense food, you speed over the lofty rocks down to the plains. You will thus
evidently rule over the world. Like mothers crying for their children and like milch cows with their milk
for their calves, the other roaring streams (tributaries) run towards the main river. Irrigating the banks
on both sides, you march like a king going to battle carrying the waters of your tributaries along with
you like the troops of your army. The straight-flowing, white-coloured, bright-shining river moves along
with her ample volumes through the realms; the inviolable river, most efficacious and speckled like a
horse, is beautiful as a comely maiden”. (RV 10.75.2,4,7).


From the foregoing it is clear that the focal point of various social, cultural and religious activities and
rituals in the Hindu traditions of thousands of years has been the basic element – water. Indian
mythology attaches a lot of importance to bath (snana) which is mandatory for participation in any
important religious occasion. A dip in the holy rivers is considered as an essential part of Hindu culture,
especially on specific occasions such as the solar and lunar eclipses or occasions specified on the
basis of specific planetary configuration, which are considered to have its cosmobiological effect on
the human body and mind. In a cycle of 12 years, a great Indian festival takes place which is known as
Kumbh. Although, every 3rd year, a smaller water festival of Kumbh is also held where people
congregate at specified places at the banks of the holy rivers. However, in a cycle of 12 years a
Mahakumbh or a bigger Kumbh occurs. Various astronomical conjugations during Kumbh represent
various stages of the solar cycle which have a direct influence on the human beings and the biosphere.
The holding of Kumbh at an interval of 12 years is symbolic of the need of purifying the body by
sublimating the inherent vices of the 12 sense organs, i.e., 5 organs of action, 5 organs of perception,
the mind and the intellect, thereby to arouse the six psychic centres or chakras separated from each
other at distance of 12 angulas (finger widths) for attaining the `amrit kumbh’ or pitcher of nectar.

Depending upon the astronomical positions of the Sun and Jupiter, the twelve-yearly Kumbh festivals
are held at the four places as follows:

1. Haridwar (Uttaranchal State) on river Ganga : Jupiter in Aquarius and Sun in Aries

2. Prayag (Uttar Pradesh State) on confluence : Jupiter in Taurus and Sun in Capricorn
of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati

3. Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh State) on river Shipra : Jupiter in Scorpio and Sun in Aries

4. Nasik (Maharashtra State) on river Godavari : Jupiter in Leo and Sun in Leo
ya> àvtae invt %Öt %dNvtIrnudkaí ya>,

ta ASm_ym! pysa ipNvmana> izva devIrizpda ÉvNtu svaR n*ae Aizimda ÉvNtu . \k! 7,50,4
In the Kumbh festival (congregation) held from 4 January to 20 February 2001 in Prayag (Allahabad),
which is a place having the confluence of three holiest rivers of North India, namely, the Ganges,
Yamuna and the mythological Sarasvati of Vedic fame (now extinct), an estimated 30 million people
bathed during this period and an estimated 10 million on a single day of 24 January 2001. Nowhere in
the world can such a phenomenon be seen in such magnitude which imbibes in it a long tradition of
faith and belief. The water festivals are also celebrated in several other ways all over the country, not
described here. In the last such Kumbh held in Nasik in January 2003, about the same number of
pilgrims took a holy dip in the river Godavari at the holy place of Nasik in western India and other
places in southern India along this river.


In the early Rigveda period, the performance of Yagyas (sacrifices) by seers as described in Vedic and
Brahmanic literature largely demonstrates scientific basis. These rituals were performed to ensure
timely and adequate rainfall for abundant availability of food, thriving of animal and plant life and for
overall human prosperity. The Yagyas can be considered to be very closely related to the evolution of
the universe, the solar system, human procreation, occurrence of the seasons, rainfall, and life on
earth. It has been mentioned at several places in the Vedic literature that Yagyas produce rain which in
turn produces food. “An offering made properly to Agni reaches the Sun and urges him to produce rain.
Rain produces food, and food the living beings”. The rains were therefore considered to be the main
source of well-being and prosperity, since they fed the rivers, the wells, the crops, the fields, the people
and all the creatures. It is perhaps one of the reasons that the science of meteorology had reached
near perfection in ancient times itself in India. The phenomenon of hydrologic cycle is mentioned at
several places in the Vedas. For example-

“The water vapours are carried higher in the form of clouds and are condensed in the presence of cold
air existing in the sky” (YV 23.26) 7.

“The smooth gliding sun-rays carry with them water vapours and rise high up to clothe the waters with
dark clouds. They resend them as rains to sprinkle the earth with water” (RV 1.164.47) 8.

“The same water passes upwards (as vapours) and downwards (as rains) in the course of the days.
The waters give joy to the earth and the fires (from sacrifices) rejoice the firmament” (RV 1.164.51) 9.

The ancient Hindu literature depicts that although water was used from different sources for various
purposes including agriculture, it basically remained a social `good’ to be used by all, albeit with
extreme care and extreme sense of duty of preserving it totally and prohibiting its over-use. Several
Rigveda verses refer to use of water from rains, rivers, wells, ponds etc. for agriculture, domestic and
or other purposes with wisdom and efficiency. To meet the obligations towards the society, Rigveda
stresses the need of construction of artificial canals to irrigate desert areas by deploying skilled
persons (engineers). Atharvaveda prescribes drought management through efficient use of available
water resources and its conservation. It prescribes the learned men to provide water in the desert
areas by wells, ponds, canals etc. and to take precautionary and preventive measures against the
droughts, floods and natural calamities in advance. `The digging of a tank or well is amongst the
greatest of the meritorious acts of a man’, as is said in the ancient literature.


^XvRamenamuCD+apy igraE Éar< hriNnv , yju 23,26
k&:[< inyan< hry> sup[aR Apae vsana idvmuTptiNt ,

t Aavv&ÇNTsdna†tSyaidd! "&ten p&iwvI Vyu*te . \k! 1,164,47
smanmetÊdkmucEv cahiÉ> ,

ÉUim< pjRNya ijNviNt idv< ijNvNTy¶y> .\k! 1,164,51
With righteousness as the governing diktat, hunger was considered a disgrace to humanity and to
those who possessed food but did not share with the ones that desperately needed it. It was never
accepted that food being available at a place or with a person, another person could be allowed to die
of hunger. How different from the present day global situation !

Rigveda says- “The gods have not assigned hunger as the cause of death, for, deaths approach the
man who has eaten; the riches of one who gives do not diminish; he who gives not, finds no consoler”
(RV 10.117.1). “He, who possessed of food, hardens his heart against the feeble man craving for
nourishment, against the sufferer coming to him (for help), (but) pursues (his own enjoyment even)
before the sufferer, that man finds no consoler” (RV 10.117.2). “The inhospitable man acquires food in
vain. I speak the truth- it verily is his death. He cherishes not Aryaman (nobelity) nor a friend; he who
eats alone is nothing but a sinner” (RV 10.117.6) 10.

With such lofty principles to uphold and a sense of magnanimity to profess, the ancient Indian
scriptures are indeed the epitome of social awareness, equity and ideal social governance. The seers
in Yajurveda pray for a sustainable availability of food for all living creatures- “A share of food, O Lord
of Food, vouchsafe us, invigorating food that brings no sickness. Onward, still onward lead us the
giver. Grant us sustainability, both for humanbeings (biped) and the cattle (or animals) (quadrupeds)”
(YV 11.83) 11.

That is why the people prayed for good harvests at all times- “As a fountain rises in a hundred
thousand streams and remains inexhaustible, so may our crops grow in a thousand streams and
remain inexhaustible” (Atharva Veda 3.24.4)12.

The prayers asked for benevolence of each of the entities of nature for freedom from hunger for
humans and kine, for abundance of fresh water and food, a healthy atmosphere to live in and for an
overall prosperity - “May the winds bring sweet (rewards) to the sacrificer; may the rivers bring sweet
waters: may the herbs yield sweetness to us. May the night and morn be sweet; may every region of
the earth be full of sweetness; may the protecting heaven be sweet to us. May vanaspati (vegetation
and crops) be possessed of sweetness towards us; may the sun be imbued with sweetness; may the
cattle be sweet to us.” (RV 1.91.6-8) 13.
n va % deva> ]uximÖx< dduétaiztmup gCDiNt m&Tyv>,

%tae riy> p&[tae naep dSyTyutap&[NmifRtar< n ivNdte .\ 10,117,1

y AaØay ckmanay ipTvae=ÚvaNTsÚi)tayaepjGmu;e,

iSwr< mn> k«[ute sevte puraetae icTs mifRtar< n ivNdte.\ 10,117,2

mae"mÚ< ivNdte Aàceta> sTy< ävIim vx #Ts tSy,

nayRm[< pu:yit nae soay< kevla"ae Évit kevladI. \ 10,117,6

AÚpte=ÚSy nae deýnmIvSy zui:m[>,

àà datar< tair; ^j<R nae xeih iÖpde ctu:pde. y ve 11,83

%ÊTs< ztxar< shöxarmi]tm!,

@vaSmaked< xaNy< shöxarmi]tm! . A ve 3,24,4

mxu vata \tayte mxu ]riNt isNxv>, maXvInR> sNTvae;xI> .

mxu n´mutae;sae mxumTpaiwRv< rj>, mxu *aErStu n> ipta .

mxumaÚae vnSpitmRxuma~ AStu sUyR> , maXvIgaRvae ÉvNtu n>.\k! 1,91,6-8
To accomplish welfare for people, it was necessary that those responsible were to be healthy –
“May thy body be an unfailing instrument engaged in beneficial pursuits. O man ! nurture thy body and
strengthen it with food that provides vigour and vitality” (Yajurveda).

It is indeed amazing that the ancient Indian ecological philosophy was so holistic in nature that every
entity was assuaged to quietude – the atmosphere, the earth, the waters, the crops and
vegetation…etc (YV 36.17 and AV 19.9.14 )14. It is an irony that when everywhere we see only
ignominious enmity between peoples, the divided boundary lines and likewise hearts, obtrusive
policies and self-oriented behaviour that one can only loathe, the high ideals nurtured by the ancient
Indian scriptures may provide something to learn from – “United be your purpose, harmonious be your
feelings, collected be your mind, that you may be happy together” (RV 10.191.4)15, since “for the
magnanimous, the whole world is but a family” 16.


1. Sharma, K.N. (1998): “Water – The Fulcrum of Ancient Indian Socio-Religious Traditions”,
Proceedings of International Conference on `Water Resources at the Beginning of the 21st
Century’, UNESCO, Paris, 3-6 June, 1998.

2. Yajurveda Samhita, Second Edition (1999), Ed. Ravi Prakash Arya, Parimal Prakashan, Delhi,

3. Rigveda Samhita, Parts 1-4 (1997), Ed Ravi Prakash Arya and K.L. Joshi, Parimal Prakashan,
Delhi, India.

4. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1985), Ed. Swami Sivananda, The Divine Life Society, P.O.
Shivanandanagar, U.P., India.

5. Vedic, Buddhist and Jain Traditions Vol.2 (1995), Ed. Sampat Narayanan, IGNCA, New Delhi,
ISBN 81-246-0038-4.

6. Sharma, K.N. (2002): “Status of Water in Ancient Indian Literature and Mythology”, Second
International Conference of IWHA, Bergen, Norway, 2002.

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