Ancient Vedic Indians, during the Vedic period have developed advanced knowledge in Microbiology.
Biology and Surgery were developed and practiced.
They knew the classification of Species.
Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution , Survival of the Fittest was expressed.
An Santi Parva of Mahabharata,Section XV Arjuna speaks of the world of Microbes,’which ,though not seen by the naked eyes, support Life”
Talks of Darwinism when he says that the strongest survive by feeding and annihilating them.
The Mobile and the Immobile world is Food for Living creatures.
Jainism had such an advanced knowledge and Piety, the Jain Monks use to sweep the path they travel gently with a fan made of Peacock feathers to make sure that the smaller organisms are not unintentionally killed by them.
Kara , Dhooshana, Inderjith and Ravana’s Moola Sena were adept at fighting biological warfare.
Our Vedic literature recorded about 740 plants and 250 animals.
¨ The first attempt of classification is observed in Chandyogya Upanishad, which classified animals into three categories — Jivaja(Viviparous = giving birth to young ones), e.g. mammals, Andaja(Oviparous = egg lying), e.g. birds, reptiles, insects and worms, andUdbhija (Vegetal origin), e.g. minute animals. Post-Vedic Indian literature, such as Susruta Samhita (600 BC) classified all ‘substances’ into sthavara (immobile), e.g. plants, jangama (mobile), e.g. animals.
¨ Plants were further subdivided into Vanaspati (fruit yielding non-flowering plants), Vriksha (both fruit yielding and flowering plants),Virudha (shrubs and creepers), and Osadhi (plants that die with ripening of fruits).
Susruta described in detail the parts of plants, such as Ankura (sprout), Mula (root), Kanda (bulb or stem), Patra (leaf),Pushpa (flower), Phala (fruit), etc.
¨ Susruta Samhita also mentioned about classification of animals, such as Kulacara (those herbivores who frequent the river banks, e.g. elephant, buffalo, etc.), Matsya (fish), Janghala (wild herbivorous quadrupeds, e.g. deer), Guhasaya (carnivorous quadrupeds like tiger, lion, etc.). Susruta Samhita also records some observations on snakes (both venomous and non-venomous) and leeches.
They knew about Microbes and about fermentation.
They were aware of the exact combinations and temperatures at which fermentation takes place in preparing Buttermilk,Curds,Liquor.
The existence of Lives , which are smaller and Microscopic was analysed.
Germ theory of diseases was first established by Vedic Rishis and was recorded in Vedas.
Vedas are first text in the world to record nexus between microbes and disease.
In Vedas, prime etiological factors of diseases mentioned are–
a) Endogenous toxins, its accumulations, and causation of a disease; b) ‘Krimi’ –’Drisya’ (visible), ‘Adrisya’ (invisible); and c) Imbalance of tridosha.
In Rigveda (1/191), Rishị Agastya pinpoints out that there are two types of poisonous creatures viz. those exceedingly poisonous and others are less poisonous.
Of them, some are visible venomous, while others are invisible one.
Some of them live in water, while others live on earth.
Perhaps Ṛsị Agastya is the first person to state that invisible creatures are also toxin producers.
He also prescribes antidotes as remedy for the poison. Atharvaveda reiterates that whenever there is accumulation of toxins within the body, disease results.
Use of Biological weapons of Mass Destruction was known.
There are large number of suktas in the Vedas which provides information about microbiological knowledge in the ancient Vedic texts.
KankotanSukta by Rishi Agastaya (Rigveda 1/191); KrimighnamSukta (Atharvaveda 5/23), KriminashnamSukta (AV. 2/32), KrimijambhanamSukta
(AV. 2/31) all by Rishi Kanva; RakshognamSukta (AV. 5/29) by Rishi Chatan; KriminashnamSukta (AV. 4/37) by Rishi Badrayani and other suktas
provides insight into the Microbial sciences in Vedas.
Not only the Vedas, Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hridaya and many others provides rich insight into Vedic Microbiology.