About the Author:
Prof. P.V. Sharma, the author of this work, is known for his valuable contributions in the field of Indian Medicine. During the last three and half decades he has written on various aspects of Indian Medicine; literary and scientific, conceptual as well as historical.
Born on 1st November, 1920. Graduated in 1940 and got A.M.S. degree from H.H.U. in 1st class. Also did M.A. in Sanskrit and Hindi, and Sahityacharaya.
In September, 1963 joined as Professor on Dravyaguna in the Post Graduate institute of Indian Medicine, Banaras Hindu University and later worked as Director of the Institute. Now Senior Professor and Head of the Department of Dravyaguna, and Dean, Faculty of Indian Medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University.
Contributions:- Published about 300 papers and 30 books.
Since the earliest times fruits are the common and important items of man's diet. In earliest times when man lived in forest he had to fill his belly with fruits and tubers whatever he could find in natural surroundings because till then he knew no cultivation and cooking. Hence there was no any way out for maintenance of his life.
The Proto-Australoids who displaced the negritos, the earliest inhabitants of India, started crude form of cultivation. It is said that they used fruits like Kadali, Narikela, Jambu, Dadima and Bhavya in their diet.
The Dravidians who came next, used fruits like Panasa, Cinca and Puga.
The Indus valley civilisation shows that those people at Harappa and Mohanjodaro used fruits like Kharjura, Narikela, Dadima, Kadali and Nimbuka. when we come to the Vedic period we see considerable increase in the number and variety of fruits. ‘Pippala’ (the fruit of Aswattha-Ficus religiosa) is mentioned in the Rgveda (1. 164. 20). We find use of fruits like Badara, Bilwa, Kharjura, Karira, Udumbara, Jambira and Vikankata in Yajurveda. In Satapatha Brahmana (14. 7. 41) there is mention of Amra, Udumbara and Pippala. ‘Amala’ of Jaiminiya Upanisad Brahmana (1. 38. 6) is the earlier name of Amalaka which is mentioned explicitly first in Chandogya Upanisad (7. 3. 1). Atharvaveda has added Kapitthaka and Parusahwa (Parusaka) in the list.
The medical texts which owe their allegiance to the Atharvaveda present a very developed picture of the situation. Caraka has very clearly mentioned the concept of balanced diet for which he has used words ‘Sarvagraha’ and ‘Parigraha’. The former means the total quality of food while the latter denotes quality of the individual items which are essential from the point of view of nutrition. One of his verses contain all the essential items of food including fruits. Again in another chapter (Su. 25.37) dealing with wholesome and unwholesome items or food he has mentioned the categories of nutritional items including fruits.
These are :-
2. Samidhanya (Vegetable Protein).
3. Jala (water).
4. Lavana (salt).
5. Saka (vegetable).
6. Mamsa } (animal protein)
8. Dugdha (milk)
10. Vasa} (Animal fat).
12. Oil (Vegetable fat).
13. Kanda (Tuber)
14. Phala (Fruits).
15. Iksuvikara (Sugar).
Among fruits he has placed Mrdwika as the best and Lakuca as the worst one. In the chapter of description of food items (Su. 27) the individual items in the above categories have been described. A considerable number (76) of fruits has been described in ‘Phala-varga’ (Su. 27). Similarly Susruta has described 84 fruits in the Phalavarga (Su. 46) in his Samhita.
In Kalpasutra a large number of fruits are mentioned in various contexts such as Amlika, Amra, Ingudi, Jambu, Tinduka, Dadhittha, Dadima, Palevata, Priyala, Bilva, Bhavya, Mrdwika, Vikankata etc. The powder (Saktu) of various types of Badara was prescribed for religious sacrifices.
In Panini's Astadhyayi, we find mention of fruits like Aswattha, Amra, Jambu, Tala and Bilva. In Ganapatha there are several others as Amalaka, Ingudi, Kadali, Kapittha, Kharjura, Dadima, Draksa, Bilwa, Bijapura, Lakuca. Panasa is found in Linganusasana.
Lord Buddha was found or fruits and fruit-orchards. His disciples also followed him in this respect and that is why copious mention of fruits is found in Buddhist works. It is a historical fact that Jivaka, the personal physician and spiritual devotee of lord Buddha presented his Amravana (mango-grove) at Rajgir to Him (Lord Buddha). Lord Buddha never stayed for long at any place and was moving constantly from one place to the other. During his travels he generally took fruits alongwith with his followers and stayed in mango groves.
Similarly in early Jain works, there is mention of a large number of fruits. One thing is evident that Amra was getting popularity day by day and that is why it is mentioned frequently in early Buddhist as well as Jain works.
In Puranas, the importance of fruits is clearly seen by the fact that the dwipas are named mostly after plants and the foremost one (Jambudwipa) after Jambu, a common fruit of India. It was so abundant that the juice of the fruits took shape .of a river and when it was tuken by persons they became free from troubles like excessive sweating, bad smell (from the body), old age, organic disability and mental depression. In all the Puranas, there is mention of a large number of fruits-bearing trees.
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