12 Sep Trees Have Life: Mahabharata explains about Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis research in India can be traced back to several thousands of years. Mahabharata mentions that the Sun is energising the plants, which forms food for all living creatures in the earth:-
“They drink water by their roots. They catch diseases of diverse kinds. Those diseases again are cured by different operations. From this it is evident that trees have perceptions of taste.
As one can suck up water through a bent lotus-stalk, trees also, with the aid of the wind, drink through their roots. They are susceptible to pleasure and pain, and grow when cut or lopped off. From these circumstances I see that trees have life.
They are not inanimate. Fire and wind cause the water thus sucked up to be digested. According, again, to the quantity of the water taken up, the tree advances in growth and becomes humid.” (Sage Brigu in Mahabharata Santi Parva, Section CLXXXIV. Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli)
Without doubt, though possessed of density, trees have space within them. The putting forth of flowers and fruits is always taking place in them. They have heat within them in consequence of which leaf, bark, fruit and flower, are seen to droop.
They sicken and dry up. That shows they have perception of touch. Through sound of wind and fire and thunder, their fruits and flowers drop down. Sound is perceived through the ear. Trees have, therefore, ears and do hear.
A creeper winds round a tree and goes about all its sides. A blind thing cannot find its way. For this reason it is evident that trees have vision. Then again trees recover vigour and put forth flowers in consequence of odours, good and bad, of the sacred perfume of diverse kinds of Dhupas (incense). It is plain that trees have scent.” (Sage Brigu in Mahabharata Santi Parva, Section CLXXXIV. Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli)
“In days of old, all living beings that had been created were sorely afflicted with hunger. And like a father (unto all of them), Surya (the sun) took compassion upon them.
And going first into the northern declension, the sun drew up water by its rays, and coming back to the southern declension, stayed over the earth, with his heat centered in himself.
And while the sun so stayed over the earth, the lord of the vegetable world (the moon), converting the effects of the solar heat (vapours) into clouds and pouring them down in the shape of water, caused plants to spring up.
Thus it is the sun himself, who, drenched by the lunar influence, is transformed, upon the sprouting of seeds, into holy vegetable furnished with the six tastes. And it is these that constitute the food of all creatures upon the earth.
Thus the food that supports the lives of creatures is instinct with solar energy, and the sun is, therefore, the father of all creatures. Do thou, hence, O Yudhishthira, take refuge even in him.
All illustrious monarchs of pure descent and deeds are known to have delivered their people by practising high asceticism. The great Karttavirya, and Vainya and Nahusha, had all, by virtue of ascetic meditation preceded by vows, delivered their people from heavy afflictions.
Therefore, O virtuous one, as thou art purified by the acts do thou likewise, entering upon a life of austerities, O Bharata, virtuously support the regenerate ones.” (From the Mahabharata, Vana Parva, Section 3, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli)
Sage Parasara had explained about the ability of plants to make their own food due to their pigments.
By Team Prachodayat