Nagpur 1st feb 2015
The presentation gives a brief description of Environmental Engineering in ancient India during Vedic period (2000-5000 BC). Most of topics of modern sciences were known in ancient India. India gave the definition of Environment to modern world.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Nagpur 1st feb 2015
in Ancient India
Professor of Civil Engineering, (Retd.)
The word "Paryavaranam" is combination of
four words , "Pari+ang+vru+lyut"
A Sanskrit word "Paryavaranam" was prevalent in
ancient India Thousand years prior to advent of
modern Environmental sciences
Western Definition: The environment is
defined as the physical, non-living and
living surrounding of a society, with
which it has a reciprocal relationship.
Ancient Indian Definition: The
environment means neighborhood of six
factors i.e. Site, People, Animals, Birds,
Trees and Water.
Environment means neighborhood of
1) Earth – Prithwi
2) Water – Aap
3) Air – Vayu
4) Sky – Aakash
5) Light- Tej
Aitariya Upanishad gave the concept of
‘Earth is my mother, I am her son.'
Earth is not for the different races of men
alone but for other creatures two or four
O Prithivi! thy centre, thy navel, all forces that have
issued from thy body, Set us amid those forces;
breathe upon us.’
38 Names of mother Earth
Prayer of Motherland
Ideal Environment : Land, which contains oceans, rivers
and canals; Whose farmers produce food grains and live
together; Where each living persons works with vigor;
Such our motherland may nurture us with her juices.
Atharvaveda chapter 12
2- Aapah- Water
Water occurs in five forms: Rain water, Natural spring,
Wells and canals, Lakes and Rivers
Waters are nectars
The only three precious things on the earth are
water, food and pleasing words. 10
Water is nectar. It is source of all
plants and gives of good health.
From ocean waters reach to sky and from
sky come back to earth. –Water cycle
Jala Shastra = Water Resources Engineering
• Sanchetan = Water Supply
• Samharan = Drainage
• Stambhan = Storage of water
Three Vidyas (Techniques)
Related to Water
3-Vayu - Air
Yadya is best sacrifice
Air is nectar, it gives us long life. The pure
air which we inhale enriches good health.
O Air! You are our father, the protector.
Air has medicinal values.Rigved 1-37-2
Prana, Vrana, Apana, Udana and
Samano ,Air resides in the body as life.
Two types of ether i.e.- one inside
the body and the other outside the
Do not destroy anything of the sky
and do not pollute the sky Do not
destroy anything of Space.
Worship trees which gives us medicines
Plants came to existence on earth first. Rigveda 10-97-1
• Milky Trees: (with poisonous juices): milk bush .
• Thorny Trees: Babul or Prickly pear.
• Trees having hard through out: Tamarind or
• Bushes: Which give shelter to small animals and
consequently serpents frequent them.
• Fruit bearing Trees: Mango, Guava etc. People are
tempted to throw stones.
• Other Trees (Trees without hard core).
Tree Recommended near Habitat
High trees or fruit bearing trees may be
allowed, provided they cast no shadow at noon
or overtop the building. The distance of tree
from house should be twice the height of
Trees permitted to grow near Habitat
Confinement of trees (Vratabandha)
Some holy trees may be allowed to grow near
buildings, but they should be confined to a
certain area within a circular wall. Trees
transgressing this boundary by breaking
through it, should be pruned to avoid damage
to the building.
Forests should not be destroyed.
Chlorophyll is the cause of greenness in trees
Plants are live.
Trees save those, who saves trees
One tree is equal to ten sons.
Kills the germs of T.B., measles, smallpox and
Lessens the effect of atomic radiation to a
Controls the air-supply and temperature
variation due to sacrificed substances of
• Creates a pure, hygienic, nutritional and
It has been proved that Yadnya
Ghee and different types of wood and grasses were
offered to gods through Yadnya.
Yadya is considered as the noblest action.
Yajna cleans atmosphere through its
medicinal smoke, and provides
longevity, breath, vision etc.
Peace should remain everywhere. peace of
sky, peace of mid-region, peace of earth,
peace of waters, peace of plants, peace of
trees, peace of all-gods, peace of
Brahman, peace of universe, peace of
peace; May that peace come to me!
The Arthshashtra contains provisions meant to
regulate a number of aspects related to the
Kautilya (350 B.C - 283 B.C)
The fifth pillar edict of Emperor Ashoka contains
such regulations for environment protection.
(269 BC to 231 BC)
King Piyadarsi (Ashoka), speaks thus:
Animals are declared to be protected ……..
Germination property, temperature & humidity ,
oxygen present, Smell and and taste of soil.
A site is selected on the basis of
These tests indicate the level of ground
In this test certain types of seeds are sown at the
proposed site. Depending upon the time taken for
germination (three, five or seven days) the site is
considered as good, average or bad respectively.
In this test flowers of four colors namely white, red,
yellow and blue are placed in leaf cones at the four
corners of a pit in the evening and the condition of
the flowers is observed at the next day morning. The
freshness of flowers indicates the suitability of site.
In this test four oil lamps are lit in the four directions
(east, north, west and south) in the foundation pit. Out
of this the lamp which lasts for longest period indicates
the suitability of site.
Nitisutras of Chanakya predicts;
God Vishnu and River Ganges would abandon this
earth after ten and five thousand years
(respectively), but only after twenty-five
hundred years the earth would be a barren land.
(Prediction of Global warming?)
Ants coming out from their caves usually
excavating or storing food.
Frogs croak near swampy areas
Lesser coucal makes mournful sounds
Dogs defecate in the middle of the road or at higher
Ancient text “Kadambini" describes forecasting
of rains based on traditional methods.
Dragonflies fly low.
Ring around the moon or sun (Lunar / Solar corona).
Fruits of trees ripen early or shed early.
Types of trees and their foliage,
Presence of anthill,
Presence of hibernating animals.
Brihat Samhita of Varahmihir
The prediction of depth, quality and
quantity of water on the basis of surface
Chapter 54 - Water divining
One who destroys wells, tanks or temples is a
The person who pollutes waters of ponds, wells or
lakes goes to hell.
One who renovates wells, tanks, temples gets
eight times results than that of constructing
If ground is waterlogged, then the water should be
drained out by digging drains parallel to north east
and refilling the trenches by brickbats and stones
so that excess water drains out.
Waste Disposal -Bhrugusamhita
Water drains should be below ground, The bottom
surface should be smooth and sloping, If such drain is
not provided then the owner should be fined (54 coins).
Waste disposal sites should be on north east side and
far away from residential areas.
Rivers, roads, agricultural fields, green
lands, sunshades and public places should
not be polluted (by urination or excreta).
One should not excrete or urinate in water,
one should not spit or take bath without any
cloths on the body .
Kautilya fixed Fines for
Noise pollution- Aapstamb Gruhyasutra
Students should observe silence from evening till
the stars appear in the sky.
The vow of silence (Mauna) is prescribed in
various rites and rituals.
Speech is restrained after the performance of
The consequences of sound pollution were
foreseen by Vedic Seers .
Pollution of Space
Effect of wireless communication on birds.
Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from mobile
communication towers is largely responsible for the
bird's declining numbers. 50 eggs of house sparrows
were exposed to EMR for 5-10 minutes. It was found
that all the 50 embryos were damaged.
Effect of mobiles on human health.
A Danish group's study report of 2006 indicates
a close connection between mobile phone use and
The INTERPHONE study group from Japan
published the results of a study of brain tumour
risk and mobile phone use.
• Sage Parashar developed astronomical
methods to predict rain fall.
• Brihatsamhita contains a chapter on
Earthquakes.( 5th- 6th Century)
• Ballal Sen in his book AdbhutSagar describes
four main and six sub types of earthquakes
and their zones in India. ( 10th- 11th Century).
•Nighantu" mentions one hundred
meaningful names of water.
•Sage Vashishtha and Sage Bhrugu were
the first to describe properties of
flowing and steady water. (Much before
•Kautilya gave guidelines for construction
of dams, canal, wells, pollution prevention
1. The term Environment was first well defined in
ancient Indian texts.
2. The residential sites were selected on the basis of
environmental factors such as land, trees and water
3. Methods for pollution prevention were described in
4. The ancient knowledge is consistent with modern
Late G.G.Joshi Shilpa Sanshodhan Trust
Library, 53 Ramkrishna Nagar, Nagpur.
This presentation is based on texts available in
Ancient Indian Shilpashastra library
established by Late Shri G.G.Joshi of Nagpur.