Agriculture in Ancient India

Raychaudhuri, S.P. (1964) Agriculture in Ancient India. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, India.

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To open the pages of this book, which is largely made up of quaintly translated quotations from ancient Indian writings on agriculture, is to enter a world so remote from most of our own as to induce in the reader a sense of dreaming and fantasy. It was a world in which, as in our own, soils and land were classified and surveyed, irrigated and drained, tilled and manured, and in which a large variety of crops were grown, systems of crop rotation were practised, protective measures were taken against pests and diseases, and animal husbandry was well developed. But it was also a world in which plants not only suffered like men "from the disorders of the three humours, wind, bile and phlegm" but were also capable of responding to flattering attentions, as evidence by the following extract from an agricultural treatise cited in the chapter on manures and manuring: "the Asoka tree puts forth a wealth of blossoms when kicked amorously by a young woman, the ensign of cupid, with her lotus-like foot painted deep red with lac-dye and wearing jingling anklets." It was a world in which the cow was so highly valued that "if the entire earth with its mountains and forests be put on the one side and the cow ... on the other, then, surely, the cow would be the worthier of the two." Ploughing, sowing and harvesting were carried out only on certain days of the lunar month and only under certain constellations; and the seed, manurial and other treatments recommended often sound like witches' brews. Plant breeding seems to have been an incidental activity. Numerous varieties of rice differing in appearance and digestive properties were known, and considerable attention was paid to the collection, storage and sowing of seed; it was observed that "the preservation of the best kind of seeds conscientiously brings prosperity to the cultivators. For all its wealth of quotation, this is not, however, for the reader unfamiliar with Indian history, a satisfactory book. Little or no information is provided on the writers or writings cited or on their relevance to other aspects of history, quotations are almost invariably introduced without any indication of their date and there is no explanation of the abbreviations used. An appendix lists the sources and their dates when known, but its arrangement is not such as to facilitate its use in conjunction with the text. There is no subject index...

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: It gives me great pleasure that the project of producing a monograph on Agriculture in Ancient India, which was sanctioned by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research when I hahppened to be its President, has seen its fulfilment. This monograph is the result of the co-operation of scholars to whom my congratulations are due, for they have succeeded in producing an authoritative treatise on the subject.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agriculture, History, Ancient India
Author Affiliation: Indian Council of Agricultural Research
Subjects: Social Sciences > Agricultural Economics
Social Sciences > Agricultural Extension,Technology, ICT
Divisions: General
Depositing User: Mr Arbind Seth
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2013 06:10
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2013 06:10

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