Agricultural Heritage

In ancient Indian literature, sutra denotes a distinct type of literary composition, based on short aphoristic statements, generally using various technical terms.

This literary form was designed for concision, as the texts were intended to be memorized by students in some of the formal methods of scriptural and scientific study. So, the ancient people were certainly technology focused. Technology is nothing but the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.

Following sutras give us a glimpse of the rich knowledge and science discovered and practiced by our ancestors contained in the available texts as of today.

The Fine-Timing of Sow-Time

Sowing in Vaishaka(May) is stated to be the best; in Jyeshtha(June) mediocre and in Ashadha(July) bad and in Shravana(August) the worst. ||168||

It is excellent to sow seeds in hot season(April-May) for transplantation. Sowing in Shravana(August) is said to be bad and in Bhadrapada(September) the worst. ||169||

The end of Jyeshtha and the beginning of Ashadha is the menstruation period. Seeds must not be sown during this period. This saves the farmer from regret. ||170||

- Krishi-Parashara

Indications of Ground Water

The trees which are shirt and wide, with long hanging branches and glossy leaves indicate the presence of underground water nearby, whereas trees which are hollow and dry with pale leaves indicate nonexistence of underground water nearby.

- Brihat-Samhita 54.49

If there is an anthill covered with Kusha grass to the northeast of the mountain - Ebony Tree; there will be inexhaustible water at a depth of 22 1/2 cubits between the tree and the anthill.

The appearance of a snake of the colour of the Lotus-Calyx at a depth of 5 cubits from a surface level, followed by layers of red earth and ruby indicate the presence of water. 

- Brihat-Samhita 54.27, 28

Seed Collection and Upgradation

All sorts of seeds should be procured in Magha(February) or Phalguna(March) and should then be dried well in the sun. Do not sow them directly. ||175||

- Krishi-Parashara

Weeding the Field

Even a well-grown crop does not yield full returns if grass is not weeded out.

Crop from which grass is weeded out in Shravana(August) and Bhadrapada(September) doubles itself later.

- Krishi-Parashara (189,190)

Water retention

In Ashada(July) or Shravana(August), the wise farmers construct small bunds for retaining water. If this is not done, the seed will not germinate.

If rains are scanty, an attentive farmer constructs these bunds in sign of cancer(June) itself. If it is done in Bhadrapada(September), the crop is reduced to half the quantity. If done in Ashwina(October), there is no hopes of returns whatsoever.

At lowlands, transplantation and manuring should not be done. Only weeding of grass is to be done.

- Krishi-Parashara (186,187,188)

Water Divining

If in a grassless place a patch of ground is seen covered with grass or in a grassy plot, a patch is seen devoid of it, a vein of water or a treasure is to be declared to exist there.

- Brihat-Samhita 54.52

Rain Forecast

Ants emerging(from the anthill) carrying their eggs and a sudden croaking of frogs are also indication of sudden rain.

- Krishi-Parashara (66)

Water birds drying their wings in the hot sun and crickets chirping in the sky also signify sudden rains.

- Krishi-Parashara (70)

Draining of water

Water should be drained off from the field in the month of Bhadrapada(September) to keep the crop disease-free. Water sufficient only to wet the roots should be retained. ||193||

If crops are allowed to be in large quantities of water in Bhadrapada(September), They are damaged by various harmful factors depriving the farmer of a good harvest. ||194||

- Krishi-Parashara

Management of Agriculture

"Farms yield gold if properly maintained but lead to poverty if neglected" said Parasara, the sage well versed in the sacred science of agriculture.

And so did the other sages: "Management of one's harem may be entrusted to one's father; that of the kitchen to one's mother; cattle to someone equal in status. But farms should be never left to the care of anyone other than oneself.

Agriculture, cattle, business, women and royal families, if left unattended even for a short while, perish in no time.

An agriculturist who looks after the welfare of his cattle, visits his farm daily, has the knowledge of the seasons, is careful about the seeds, and is industrious is rewarded with the harvest of all kinds and never perishes.

- Krishi-Parashara (79,81,83)

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