The Vedic era was the golden period in Indian history. India had contributed a lot to the world during that period. Wherein, for the first time in the world, origin and development of culture and civilization was brought by our ancestors. At the same time Indian Rsis (sages) gave the legacy of medical science, cosmic knowledge, yogic education, spiritual knowledge and the science of knowledge building to the world at large. Besides the above legacy, various dimensions of human development from education, law and social system to ideal ruling system were originally led down by ancient Indian sages. Uptil 18'h century, India had been a superpower in terms of economy and spirituality. With passage of time, India suffered with social, spiritual, political and economic down fall. India remained a slave country for a long time, the biggest economic plunder of the world happened here. To get rid of this difficult situation and to get freedom from foreign rule millions of people sacrificed their lives. India got independence, still the question arises that, is political independence sufficient; or is there a further distance to travel and move ahead.
Today, United States of America (USA) is ruling the world by means of United Nations Organization (UNO), World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Do we have any other better option than this? In terms of role and responsibility, among these five global organizations, WHO has a big challenge to solve the world's health problems through proven and scientific solutions. Rather than digressing about other issues we pay our attention only to the problems of health. We open heartedly appreciate the achievements of modem medicine in the field of surgery, diagnosis and etiology of the diseases. The achievement of modem medicine in emergency treatment and life saving drugs is uneatable but the biggest question is that except for tuberculosis, malaria and other such diseases do we have a permanent and perfect treatment for other diseases. Does modem system of medicine have a workable cure for stress, stress related blood pressure, diabetes, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders, HIV, DMD (Duchene Muscular dystrophy), dengue and other such diseases. Is there any permanent answer to hepatic, renal, cardiac problems and other incurable diseases related to Vata, Pitta and Kapha ? Does modem medicine have any solution to provide complete health and balance to each individual cell of the body or the whole body system.
In this context, with utmost sincerity, experience and scientific inferences we wish to state that for 99% diseases, we have a permanent and perfect solution in Ayurveda which we inherited from our ancient sages. We just implemented that ancient knowledge on millions of people and found it successful on the scientific grounds.
Ayurvedic treatment is not just symptomatic, infect it is completely systematic one and almost harmless. It does not merely control but cures the disease hundred percent. Ayurvedic system of medicine is economical, scientific and based on the experience of millions of years.
The biggest challenge which Ayurveda faces is correct identification of medicinal plants, their availability, purity in manufacturing practices of medicine and requirement of experienced Vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians) who properly understand their ancestral Ayurvedic Risi-Karma of treatment. Patanjali Yogpeeth is working in this direction with utmost sincerity and reliability. Since eternal times the Jivaniya gana drugs of Astavarga (group of eight specific medicinal plants) remained a mystery for all. Astavarga being an important ingredient of the world famous drug or health tonic "Cyavanaprasa", still problem remains about the uncertainty and confusion in identification of Astavarga plants. Acharya Balkrishna Ji, a profound renovator of Ayurveda and who belong to an intellectual heritage of Dhanvantari, Caraka and Susruta has clarified this confusion for the first time in the history of Ayurveda through his book 'Vitality strengthening Astavarga Plants Uivaniya &amp;amp;amp; Vayahsthiipana Paudhey after his deep studies and thorough research in the year 2005. Acharya Balkrishna Ji has immense experiential knowledge regarding medicinal plants and their uses than thousands of Vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians) and big organizations throughout the world. Very soon, a high quality and scientifically reliable "World Herbal Encyclopedia" is going to be published for the welfare of humanity; which includes more than 5000 medicinal plants selected out of all the medicinal herbs and trees found throughout the world. After '!. gap of several centuries, when this new treatise will add on to existing treatises and Semites of Ayurveda; it will create a golden history. In the present book by Acharya Balkrishna Ji entitled 'Secrets of Astavarga Plants (For vitality and Anti-aging), one can have a glimpse of 'World herbal Encyclopedia'. This will enlighten the world about the mystery of Astavarga plants and throw light on their restorative and vitality strengthening properties. Here we are neither praising yourself nor challenging modern system of medicine; instead on the basis of co-operation and faith of millions of people, we are confident of providing a fully evident, ideal health care system to the whole world. Let us participate in this holy movement or Mahayajiia (sacrifice) for providing an ideal health care system to entire nation and the whole world. Let us fulfill our dharma (duty) as a true son of the God and of a true Yogi (sage); and playa historic role by getting associated with Patanjali Yogpeeth which is rejuvenating the ancient Rsis sanskrti (culture) of India. Once again, I wish to thank and salute the great humanist of this age Sradheya Acharya Ji for his divine knowledge, diligent saintly practices, hard work and his noble mission.
Ayurveda is the eternal science of life.' It is associated with the noble, excellent and great radiation of our ancient Rsis and is a part of our prosperous and glorious history. Starting from Brahma, various Rsis and Maharsis (sages) in the tradition of Daksa, Asvini Kumdrs, Indra Atreya Punarvasu, Dhanvantri, Bhdradwdja, Nimi, Kasyapa' and other humanists have enriched an, protected the prosperous tradition of Ayurveda. Over the course of time, instead of progressive development of Ayurveda, ignorance and controversies started taking place. Many of the divine medicinal plants due to ignorance were believed to be either controversial or extinct. This restricted the work of research in this field. This is true that due to the instability in nature and environments changes many plants have become rare and endangered. Those medicinal plants which usually grow in smaller niches are not visible over larger areas. It is essential to protect and conserve these plants In case of medicinal plants, the word 'controversial' is nothing but shows lack of our knowledge Human knowledge may be limited and confusing but nature and all the herbs and medicinal plant created by nature are absolutely perfect in their divine qualities.
In the tradition of Ayurveda, Asvini Kumars, (very renowned and reputed divine Ayurvedic Vaidya of their time, due to their miraculous and magical cures) saw the old, feeble and emaciated Ris Cyavana. They used the formulation containing some divine medicinal plants to rejuvenate an make him young once again. Later, this divine formulation was named as Cyavanaprdsa. It is sai that the 'Vitality strengthening' active ingredients' of Cyavanprasa were Astavarga plants, which made the old Risi Cyavana, young again and his youth and strength was restored.' From here onward a divine medicinal formulation (Rasayana), in the form of 'Cyavanaprasa was ad vented in the traditional system of Ayurveda.
In due course of time lack of traditional knowledge, laxity in teaching practices, lack of knowledge regarding natural habitat and correct identification of medicinal plants; unavailability of any evident and newly written textual material for centuries, were the major reasons due 10 which the actual identification of medicinal plants became uncertain and illusory. Many Ayurvedic texts an manuscripts state that access to these Astavarga plants was difficult even for Maharajas' (Kings and advised use of substitute and representative herbs. As a result, no serious attention was give on the search for the original Astavarga plants, which required especial attention.
The renewed interest in Ayurveda after independence, created a new enthusiasm. Due to the research efforts of Dr. Mayaram Uniyal, Prof. Priyavrata Sharma, Dr. K. C. Chunekar and Dr. P. K. Senani proper guidance and instructions were received in this direction.
In association with Divya Yog Mandir, Haridwar and with assistance from Dr. B. D. Sharma we made extensive trips and expeditions to inaccessible places in higher ranges of the Himalayas, in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. This gave us an opportunity to publish a fully evident, reliable and informative book on Astavarga in the year 2005 entitled 'Vitality Strengthening Astavarga Plants Uivaniya &amp;amp;amp; VayalJsthiipana Paudhe),. In this mission, we received the help and co-operation from many known and unknown people and scholars. Amongst these, the co-operation provided by Swami Muktanand ji, Dr. J. S. Goraya and Mr. Melaram Sharma have been significant. Dr. Bansilal Sharma, Dr. S. K. Pareek and Dr. J. C. Rana gave lot of encouragement for the completion of this work. The reception and acceptance given to this book by the people and scholars throughout the world was unimaginable. In mere seven years, we have disseminated around one lakh copies in Hindi and English language, which gives us immense pleasure and satisfaction.
Deep thinking, study and analysis of many ancient unpublished Ayurvedic treatises (about two dozen Nighantus') and thorough study and research of many years generated interest to revise and republish the book on Astavarga. I feel delighted to present this new book entitled 'Secrets of Astavarga Plants (Jor Vitality and Anti-aging)'. For the completion and compilation of this work with high quality and standards, much more time and effort was required, but due to unfavorable time, busy schedule and several other reasons, the completion of this task took seven years. Along with the heavy occupancy, several unavoidable situations also turned up but the golden and glorious moments of my past gave me the strength and determination to complete this task because this work is intimately related to my days of Sad hand (Spiritual practice); those divine feelings and spiritual experience were the perfect witness of that time, had always stayed by me. Those were the days when life was carefree, joyous and delightful; the sustained journeys from one Himalayan peak to another, bountiful jungles and mountains gave me unbounded happiness. The spiritual strength which I received from my Sadhana, prevents me from getting distracted from the path of my duty. In the company of revered saints, I received their blessings and opportunity to learn the reliable and scientific knowledge of divine medicinal plants, along with knowledge of yoga science, nadi (pulse examination) and self enlightenment. In the pious region of Gangotri I got the wonderful experience of serving people and being identified as an Ayurvedic practitioner. Perhaps this resolution to serve the motherland and to resolve various human sorrows; inspire of the different adversities, is definitely the result of this penance done in the Himalayas and the blessings of the sages. Inspire of being in the midst of various conspiracies, different obstacles, disturbances, struggle and other time consuming impediments, I am still working with new energy and rejuvenation.
A big contribution to fulfill this resolution has come from the inspiration and strong self confidence C given by Sradheya Swami Ramdev ji Maharaj. I have taken full efforts in doing this project with his blessings. I am highly indebted to Swami ji for his kind and extended support, spiritual guidance and encouragement, which gave me strength to complete this uphill task, to pen down my knowledge, information and experience of my struggle for the search of spiritual exertion towards an intended goal in the Himalayas, during the compilation of this work. I would like to extend my sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Swami Ji.
This work would not have taken up this shape without the hardcore efforts of our research team working on the 'World Herbal Encyclopedia'. Without their valuable contribution in the documentation of this work, research and development; it would not have been possible to compile this work. Our team members, who are my closest associates in this Endeavour include Dr. Anupam Srivastava, Dr. Rajesh Mishra, Dr. Shambu Patel, Dr. Rajiv Vashistha, Dr. Parul Saxena, Dr. H. L. Sharma, Dr. Vikas, Dr. Chanchala Tiwari, Dr. Ajay Singh, Dr. Vandana Verma and Dr. Meenakshi. My heartful thanks and appreciation goes to my research team who willingly helped me out with their abilities in the fulfillment of this project. For their tire-less efforts and specific contributions, I give my heartiest blessings and good wishes for their bright future.
I wish to remember the support given during this adverse time by mother Sumitra Poddar and mother Aarati Majumdar. I pray to God for the welfare of Gagan, Aashu, Parul, mother Salil Sharma, brother Bharat and Yashdev Shastri for their different services rendered.
This work would have been incomplete without the extended support and co-operation of Dr. M.M. Padhi, who also helped us to provide an extensive collection of various rarely available Nighantu's; otherwise surely there would have been some lacuna in the development of this work. I heartedly welcome his efforts from the bottom of my heart. I give my blessings and pray to God for the welfare of Acharya Chandradatt Sharma for Sanskrit translation and corrections and also for continuous efforts of the typing team including Pramod Kulshreshtha, Montu Rana, Sanjay Kumar Saini, Lalit Tyagi, Pradeep Lutiel and all other persons associated with it.
The provision of colored photographs of entire plants along with their parts used has made the identification very easy and evident. At the same time, lively hand paintings of each plant have enhanced the beauty of the book. I congratulate brother Pawan and his team for his beautiful efforts to create marvellous hand paintings of medicinal plants. I also congratulate to Amresh Amar for beautiful designing and the entire team of M P Printers, Noida (A Unit of D.B. Corp.) for publishing of the book.
I am sure that the new version and revised edition of this Astavarga book will attract the attention of researchers, Ayurveda experts, botanists, cultivators of medicinal plants and billions of people throughout the world, who wish to establish a precise and accurate knowledge of medicinal plants in the global forum.
In the present book, I have also identified and mentioned about all other medicinal plants similar to Astavarga, so that accurate identification is possible. I have also attempted to provide a genuine and detailed use of Astavarga plants and have also included references and research work of complete Sastras (Sarnskrit texts). I hope this will enhance the utility of this book for most of the people in society .I feel pleasure of getting an opportunity to present this priceless gift to my fellow country people on the auspicious occasion of my birthday.
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