In the magnificent tapestry of our world’s history, there
lies an ancient wisdom, deeply woven into the cultural fabric of ancient
India—a wisdom that not only nourished the body but also nurtured the soul.
It’s a wisdom rooted in the sacred understanding of soil, a wisdom that
transcends mere scientific knowledge and touches the very essence of our
During the Vedic period, which dates back several millennia,
the soil was regarded not as an inert material but as a living entity, a mother
to humanity. In this ancient time, the health of the soil was intrinsically
linked to human well-being. Just as humans require rest and rejuvenation, there
were sacred periods in the agricultural calendar when the soil itself was
allowed to rest, to recover, and to regenerate.
The Vedas, some of the world’s oldest written
texts, delve into the profound mysteries of existence. The Rig, Yajur,
Sama, and Atharva Vedas provide detailed insights into the
creation, the purpose of human life, and our duty towards both humanity and the
environment. In the ancient Atharva Veda (12.1.12), Earth is
depicted as a mother, and humanity as her offspring. This starkly contrasts
with the modern perception of soil as mere “dirt” to be exploited, a mindset
that has contributed to our current climate crisis.
Soil is more than the ground beneath our feet; it’s a dynamic
entity providing essential ecological services. It filters, buffers and
transforms elements between the atmosphere and groundwater, nurturing the food
chain and serving as a source of water for humans, crops and animals. The Atharva
Veda even categorized soils—much like modern science does
today—differentiating them into brownish (bhabhru), black (krishna)
and red soils (rohini). Ancient Hindus understood which soils were
suitable for cultivating various crops, displaying an impressive knowledge of
Land preparation was deemed paramount, as detailed in Atharva
Veda 12.1.4-6. It emphasized the significance of preparing the land
correctly, highlighting that proper preparation could transform even seemingly
poor soils into “gold-bearing soils.” Terracing, to prevent soil erosion and
harness water for crops, was also a practice well understood and implemented.
Soils were revered and treated with profound respect, with prayers uttered
before stepping onto the sacred ground.
Farming wasn’t just a utilitarian task; it was a sacred
ritual to invoke the blessings of nature, fostering harmony and coexistence.
Hindus recognized lunar influences on crops, animals and humans, integrating
lunar rhythms into both spiritual practices and agriculture. Farmers during
the Vedic period used the moon rhythms for both spiritual practices and in
This sacred approach to agriculture can still be witnessed in
Bali, where temples dot every rice field, and over 40 rituals accompany the
journey from sowing to harvest. One remarkable ritual, known as Nyepe, is a
“day of silence” when the rice flower transforms into a seed. The entire island
observes this silence, a mark of respect for the rice plant’s transformation,
for it is considered akin to a human being.
What can we glean from these ancient Hindu practices? It’s
the understanding that sacredness in our actions begets sacred outcomes. The
climate crisis we face today is not merely a result of external factors but a
reflection of our inner climate. In the profound wisdom of our ancestors lies
the keys to a regenerative future, where science and spirituality coalesce to
nourish both the soil and the soul, ushering in a new era of harmony and