14 Nov 2008

Discovery of Sanjeevani Booti

Dr. Kaushal Kumar, Sr. Scientist
Patanjali Herbal Garden, Department of Ayurved Research & Development, Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar

The last week of September 2008 will be known in the Indian history for several centuries to come। The story of life saving herb – Sanjeevani got a new dimension. Revered Acharya Balkrishna Ji Maharaj could achieve his resolution. As we are aware that a number of divine herbs and medicinal plants have been described in the Ayurvedic books. But in due course of time the customs and traditions went through transformation. There was a different opinion with respect to the place, form, and qualities of the medicinal plants and hence it was very difficult to determine those plants. The opinion of one scientist would differ from the other. A holistic research could never be done due to difference in opinions and fear of criticism. It needs to be remembered that revered Acharya Balkrishna Ji went into the forests of Himalayan region and was able to find the Ashtavarga herbal plants mentioned in Ayurved. We all are aware that the holy epic written in Treta age describes four life saving herbs, namely, Mrita Sanjeevani, Shalya Karani, Suvarnakarani and Sandhani which were used during the great war between Rama and Ravana in Sri Lanka.

(Valmiki Ramayana, Yudhakanda 74/30-33)

It is known that Lakshman had become unconscious with an arrow and was treated with the divine herb। Sushaina was a learned of these medicinal plants and asked lord Hanuman to bring it from Himalayas. The origin of this divine herb is the mountain ranges of Himalayas, Mahodaya Mountain, Rishabh Mountain near Kailash Mountain. The availability of Sanjeevani has been discussed in Adhytama Ramayan. It has been clearly mentioned that Lakshman was made to smell this life saving medicinal plant and he woke up as if he was sleeping.

(Valmiki Ramayana, Yudhakanda 74/74)

Now it is a very important question for the biologists, medical practitioners, enthusiasts and research scholars as to which medicinal plant is Mrita Sanjeevani. The name suggests that this plant has the capacity to bring back life in a dead person. There is hardly any plant that has been determined to be of this rank among various medicinal plants. If we see from research point of view then we find a scientific basis of Mrita Sanjeevani in aromatherapy. According to one analysis we can associate it with the Mahamrityunjay mantra. Wherein it has been described as fragrant and healthy. I had the chance to be a part of the research team that visited Dronagiri mountain under the leadership of Acharya Balkrishna Ji. Dr. Harishankar Misra, a research scientist of medicinal qualities was also with us. Shri Ajit, cameramen of Astha Channel, personal bodyguard Shri Umed Singh, major general Vinod Kumar Bhatt were among the team. The head quarters of Indian army at Joshimath made the arrangements, which included Shri R.B.Khushwaha (Army Signal Core), Gulabsingh Kandari (employee of forest department), local guide and helper, Hukum Singh, Manoj Singh Kunwar, Tej Singh, Gajendra Singh, Dinesh Singh Thapa and others were in the team as they had good knowledge of the surrounding areas. The Patanjali Yogpeeth team covered a difficult terrain of 14 km from Jumma village to Dronagiri by walk. The road from Dronagiri village goes up to the glaciers, which is around three to four km. This is the origin place of the divine medicinal plants. The botanical names of the medicinal plants which were recognized as Mrita Sanjeevani is Saussurea gossypiphora, which are known as ‘Phena Kamal’ and ‘Kasturi Kamal’ in local language. This plant grows at a height of 4300 – 5600 meters in different parts of Himalayas. It is full of cotton fiber and looks like a snowball and is around 10- 20 cm long and has white flowers and Pleurospermum candollei is 30- 40 cm long and these two collectively make ‘Mrita Sanjeevani’ The local beliefs related to botanical fields of Himalaya have been made the basis to determine the plant as Mrita Sanjeevani along with mythological references. The tribal people of Dhouladhar hilly areas living in western Himalayan areas used to call it Bana or Shiva. They used to bring both the plants to their homes and pray it as they believed it to be life saving. (Reference – Bharat ki Divya Vanaspatiyan, 2004, Pg. No 4-7, NBRI, Lucknow). Both the above-mentioned herbs were used to cure unconsciousness, cerebral disorders, respiratory problems, bodily pains and other problems. The tribal people, villages, ascetics having knowledge of Himalayan traditions, never revealed about these plants with the fear of exploitation and extinction. These two divine herbal plants were used for the worship of mountain god and houses of rural folk living in the valleys of Dronagiri. However, lotus is offered to the gods and goddesses in almost all the religious places situated in Uttarakhand. The most interesting fact is that both these plants are worshipped like god and is an important aspect from research point of view. Secondly, when these herbal plants grow, they have the maximum aroma when compared to other medicinal plants growing in that region. It is also surprising to note that the plants lose all their fragrance in dry state. Probably this would have been the reason why lord hanuman carried the whole mountain to save Lakshman. He did not want to lose the medicinal qualities of the plants. It is said that lord hanuman went and placed the mountain back in its position after Lakshman gained consciousness. This is the best example to show about the conservation of medicinal plants. This is the discovery of Mrita Sanjeevani out of the four mentioned in the first part of Ramayana. Vishlayakarani (the plant with the power to relieve pain), Suvarna karani (heal wounds and improve complexion) and Sandhankarani (joining bones) are yet to be discovered. The scientists of Patanjali Yogpeeth are testing the medicinal herbs recognized for Mrita Sanjeevani at different levels. This is the first priority of this group of scientists. We hope that god will bless us for this research work being carried on under the leadership of Acharya Balkrishna Ji. The whole world is looking upto Patanjali Yogpeeth for this discovery and we are grateful to them for the confidence bestowed in us.