The Vrksayurveda ascribed to Parasars is a treatise on Plant Science in Sanskrit. The date of its composition is yet to be ascertained. The work mainly dwells upon the descriptive Botany. The original manuscript was discovered sometimes before 1928. The work is certainly a unique production in the Sanskrit literature.
N. N. Sircar (1917-1991) was a renowned Pharmaceautical Scientist & Technologist and a Scholar in Ayurveda.
Roma Sarkar is a Scientist engaged in research in the field of plant Molecular Genetics.
We have edited here a manuscript the Vrksayurveda of Paragara, which is a full-fledged treatise on the plant science in Sanskrit. The original manuscript was discovered by the late Vaidyagastri J.N. Sircar Visagratna, who was an Ayurvedic Physician in the erstwhile princely state of Coochbehar, Ben-gal India. The manuscript was discovered sometimes before 1928. The late J.N. Sircar referred to the above di-,covery to Dorothea Chaplin of England in one of his correspondences to her. Chaplin mentioned about the extant manuscript in her book "Some Aspects of Hindu Medical Treatment", pub-lished by Luzak & Co, England in 1930. J.N. Sircar made a hand written copy of the original, and translated it into Bengali with a commentary, with an endeavour to publish the work, which however did not materialise. After his death the manuscript came into notice of his son, the late N.N. Sircar, the senior editor in the present work, and who was my father. No record was found as to the location of the original manu-script. The only impression one can have from the copied version is that the original manuscript was found in a some-what mutilated state as the copier left spaces blank at some places with the comment that the reading was indistinct. Also the last portion of the manuscript was found missing.
In 1950, N.N. Sircar presented an article "An Introduction to the Vrksayurveda of Paragara" in the Monthly meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal (1950, 4th April, Year-Book R.A.S.B. for 1950, vol. XVII p. 176) with extensive quotations from the original Sanskrit text. This was later published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal (1950, JASB, vol. XVI, No. 1, pp. 123-139). Some aspects of the above introduc-tory account were reviewed by G.P. Majumdar in his article "The History of Botany and Allied Sciences in Ancient India" (AIHS, UNESCO, Paris, 1951) . The Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, published a book "A concise History of Science in India" edited by D.M. Bose, S.N. Sen and B.V. Subbarayappa (1971), where the contents of the present manuscript were reviewed in detail drawn upon the above articles.
In 1989, a project "Vrksayurveda with English translation and notes", sponsored by the Indian National Science Acad-emy, New Delhi, was initiated by N.N. Sircar (Principal Inves-tigator) and myself. Unfortunately, N.N. Sircar, my revered father, passed away shortly after the completion of the above project. Thus it rests upon me the responsibility to bring the work to its final form. It is a matter of pride for me to be instrumental in bringing to culmination of an effort that was initiated about 70 years back by the late J.N. Sircar, my grand father.
As regards the original manuscript or any other copy of the same, we are still continuing our search. The basic copy of the manuscript that was made by J.N. Sircar, and other related documents are at present in my possession, which I intend to present to any institute of Oriental Study of India.
The text of the Vrksayurveda of Paragara edited by N.N. Sircar and Roma Sarkar is a remarkable contribution in the field of Botany in ancient India. The work consists of the text of the Vrksayurveda in Sanskrit, an English translation and critical notes. A dissertation under the heading "An Introduc-tion to the Vrksayurveda of Paragara" by the late N.N. Sircar appeared in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol. XVI. No. 1, 1950. In this article a preliminary account of the text-critical apparatus and of the contents of the Manuscript were furnished. It was stated therein that the original Ms was discovered by the late Vaidyagastri Jogendranath Sircar Visagratna, father of the late N.N. Sircar. The handwritten Devanagari copy of the Ms as now in possession of Roma Sarkar, contains five parts i.e. Bijotpattikanda, Vanaspatikanda, Vanaspatyakanda, Gulmaksupakanda and Virudhavallikanda. The text contains 65 folios in Devanagari script. The sixth and last part, the Cikitsitakanda as mentioned in the content (vs. 15 Ch. 1, Bijotpattikanda) is not available in the present Ms. The text ends abruptly with the Virudhavallikanda. Examina-tion shows that the present Ms unlike majority of the Mss does not contain an introduction regarding the author and of his lineage; a colophon at the end containing the date of composition is found missing too. But by paying homage to Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, and by referring to the work as a subsidiary branch of the Atharva Veda it has in a way fulfilled the object of introduction. Each chapter of the Ms begins with the caption "ityaha Paragara" and the concluding lines everywhere contain the statement "iti ParagarakrteVrksayurvede".. This Ms therefore, establishes Pard:sara's authorship of the Vrksayurveda.. In determining the authenticity of the text we have first of all to examine the validity of the tradition father-ing the authorship of the Vrksayurveda..., to Paragara, and secondly to examine the contents of the Ms to ascertain the nature of the data furnished by it.
The name of Paragara has come down to us from the hoary past ages as an authority on politics, smrti, astrology, as-tronomy, agriculture, meteorology, and the science of prog-nostications. Pargara is also credited with works on medicine and on the science of the use of whey (takrakalpa)1. ParMara has been referred to with reverence in the Rgveda2, the Taittiriya Aranyaka3, the Brhadaranyakopanisad4, Mahabharata,5 Yajfiavalkyasarinhita,6 Carakasamhita7 and Brhatsamhita.8 Bhattotpala in his commentery on the Brhatsamhita. Ch. 29 cites a verse from Paragara dwelling on the features of plants (vs 14). Bhattotpala can be placed in 976 A.D. from his own account.9
Thus we find that there is a great tradition associated with the name of Pardiara who might be a progenitor of a school and it can at best be inferred that the author of the present text may belong to that school.
The provenance of the Ms was probably Coochbehari° in North Bengal where Vaidyaidstri Jogendranath Sircar spent long span of his life. Coochbehar under the rule of the Maharajas from the late 13 the cent onwards grew up as a centre of study where scholars from distant parts of India converged. As a repository of the various texts on Nyaya, Vyakarana, Kavya, Alamkara, Jyotisa, Mimamsa, Tantra, Puraria, Mathematics, Alchemy (Rasasastra) etc. it rose into eminence, and the spread of the text of the Vrksayurveda and its survival in this process of cultural contact with the rest of India is a near possibility. Dependence on a single Ms can not be taken as a sign of weakness as the Bhelasamhita has survived till now through a single Ms.
The present Ms is written in the Siltra style with prose and verses elaborating the text. In the Puspangasutriyadhyayah the Ms has been written in the manner of Kulaka (five verses making one group) from verse 63 onwards. The compilatory fashion of collecting verses at the end of almost all the chapters has been noticed with the headings "tatra glokah" and "bhavanti catra slokah" et seqq. This is reminiscent of the style found in the texts of the Natyagastra of Bharata and in the Arthagastra, the Caraka Samhia and the Sugrutasamhita. The definitions of the chapters have been given with the suffix ja=iya, a style which also marks the texts of both Caraka and Suiruta. The language used is classical Sanskrit, and is not very different from the language used in the Upanisads and in the Mahabhasya,-except the technical aspect of a treatise on Botany. The highly developed philosophical texts are all written in the most simple language. The language of the Mahabhasya is marked by lucidity and clarity of expression and this feature also marks the present text. But even with its simple linguistic structure the Ms contains words and expressions which suggest its basic antique character. The Ms is marked by lacuna, misplacement of some portions of the the text and the absorption of portions of other well known texts like that of Caraka which come up in the normal course of dialogue. To wit, the opening verse of the Ms echoes the text of Manu 1.8 "sisrksur vividhah prajah" in a faulty manner and also the verse 9 (Bijotpattikanda, Ch. 1) echoes the text of Manu 1.49 "antatisamjnaii bhavantyete sukhaduhkhasamanvitah". Archaic expressions like "yadi cet" can be seen in Dwigariiyadhyaya Bijotpattikanda, verse 25; and "api cet" in Astangasutriyadhyaya, Bijotpattikanda, verse 6 which finds parallel in the Gita IX. 40.
The text as stated herewith uses a number of obscure, recondite and uncommon words, some of which are not to be seen in the Amarakosa or in any other lexicons. Some are to be found in the texts on medicines only. Thus the word puplika' (Bijotpattikanda, Puspangasfariyadhydya, verse 38) with an uncertain meaning and the word `kikhosa' (Bijotpattikanda, Dwiganiyadhyiya, verse 4) indicating the outer crust of a seed are absent in all the lexicons. `Vdina' in the expression `vi-jinapatra' (Bijotpattikanda, Vrksangasutriyadhyaya, verse 50) has been used in a very rare sense meaning 'crooked' which is found only in the Sagvatakoga, a work of the 8th cent. A.D." Irmbhita' (Bijotpattikanda, Puspangasutriyadhyaya, verse 34) used in a very special sense to indicate the curvature of lion's jaw comparable to the outer form of certain flowers, is a peculiar use not traceable any-where else. The word `kaficuka' (Bijotpattikanda, Dwiganiyadhyiya, verse 5) has been used in a special Botanical sense in. slight modification from its known literary meaning. Moreover, in the nomenclature of leaves (Bijotpattikanda, Vrksangasutriyadhyaya, verse 38-39) the Vedic words juhu' and `Sruba' have been applied to indicate the external fea-tures of some leaves. The use of these Vedic words as simile is a technique found in the Mahabharata and in the Sigupalavadam of Magha.12 The word `karava' (Bijotpattikanda, Puspangasutriyadhyaya, verse 12) which in all probability refers to the spoke of an umbrella can be traced only in the texts of medicine like the Caraka Samhita and the Susruta Samhita in the particular sense.
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