Jala (जलम्)

From Dharmawiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article needs editing.

Add and improvise the content from reliable sources.

Origin of Water

Water is the fourth of the Panchabhutas (Akasha, Vayu, Agni, Jalam and Bhumi) or the gross primary elements in this universe.

Mahabharata explains the formation of the four gross elements from Akasha (ether) in the Shanti Parva. Comining with Pavana (air) Agni (heat) throws up Jala (water) into the space or ether and with their help it further undergoes condensation.[1]

अग्निः पवनसंयुक्तः खं समाक्षिपते जलम्। सोऽग्निमारुतसंयोगाद् घनत्वमुपपद्यते।। (Maha. Shan. Parv. 12.183.15)

The significance of Jala

All annas are born of jala, water. In Srlmadbhagavata, Sri Vyasacarya gives a detailed description of the various annas in the context of prthvidohana, the milking of the earth, in the story of Prthu. And, जल || jala is the source of all anna; in fact, आपः || apa (water) stands for सोम || soma through which all अन्न || anna obtains the necessary nourishment for growth. That is why the greatness of annadana and jaladana, of the giving of food and water, is superior to all others. The danavlras,the ones who give food and water to others, attain to the best of lokas after their death and achieve great glory. They also live a long life and obtain great wealth in this world. The Mahabharata, describing the greatness of annadana and jaladana, says:

" na tasmdt paramam danam kincidsastiti memanah |"

" anndt prdnabhrtastdta pravartante hi sarvasah ||"

Dear Yudhisthira, I believe that there is no dana greater than the dana of food and water; because all beings are indeed born of anna, and from anna alone do they obtain sustenance for living.

" tasmddannam param loke sarvalokesu kathyate |"

" anndd balam ca tejasca prdninam vardhate sadd ||"

That is why anna is said to be the highest in this world. The bala, strength, and tejas, vitality, of all living beings always depends upon anna.

" anne datte nareneha prdnd dattd bhavantyuta |"

" prdnaddndddhi paramam na ddnamiha vidyate ||"

The one who gives anna indeed gives prana, gives life itself. And what can be a greater dana in this world than the dana of life?

" annam vdpi prabhavati parity at kurusattama |"

" nirajdtenajii vina na kincit sampravartate ||"

But, Kurusrestha Yudhisthira, anna itself is born of water. In fact, nothing can exist without the anna, that is born of water.

" nirajatasca bhagavdn somo grahaganesvarah |"

" amrtam ca sudha caiva svaha caiva svadhd tathd"

" annausadhyo rnaharaja virudhasca jalodbhavah ||"

" yatah prdnabhrtdm prdndh sambhavanti visdmpate |"

" devanamamrtam hyannarh naganam ca sudha tathd |"

" pitfndm ca svadhd prokta pasundrh cdpi virudhah ||  "

Soma and Jala

Soma, the god of grahas, celestial bodies, is born of water; and so are amrta, sudha, svaha and svadha; and, rnaharaja, so are anna, foodgrains, osadhis, herbs, and vlrudhas, the grasses, etc. O protector of the people, all living beings are born of and live on these various annas that are all born of water. Of these, amrta is said to be the anna of devas, sudha of the nagas, svadha of the pitrs, and vlrudhas of the animals.

" annameva manusydndm prdndndhurmanisinah |"

" tacca sarvam naravydghra pdniydt sampravartate |"

" tasmdt paniyaddndd vai na varam vidyate kvacit ||"

Jala as Prana

The manlsis, the thinkers of India, have described anna as the prana, the very life, of men.

And, O lion amongst men, all kinds of anna is born of water.Therefore, there is no dana that is greater than the dana of water, giving of nothing else can compare with the giving of water.

" tacca dadydnnaro nityam yadicched bhutimdtmanah |"

" dhanyam yasasyamayusyam jaladdnamihocyate |"

" satrumscdpyadhi kaunteya sadd tisthati toyadah ||"

Therefore, the one who aspires to well-being in this world and beyond should always give water to the thirsty. Jaladana, the giving of water, is said to endow the giver with wealth,fame and longevity in this world.

Kaunteya Yudhisthira, the giver of water always finds himself to be superior to his enemies.

" sarvakdmamavdpnoti mrtirh caiva hi | "

" sdsvatim pretya cdnantyamasndti pdpebhyasca pramucyate ||"

Jaladana: giver of water

He, the giver of water, attains to the fulfilment of all his desires and everlasting fame in this world; and after accomplishing his life here, having been washed of all his sins, he enjoys unending pleasures in the worlds beyond.

" toyado manujavyaghra svargam gatva mahadyute |"

" aksayan samavapnoti lokanityabravinmanuh ||"

O, the shining lion amongst men, the one who gives water to the thirsty attains to the immortal lokas on reaching the heavens. This is what Manu has said.

जलसंरक्षणम् ॥ Water Conservation

Water is known as one of the five great elements or Panchamahabhutas and has been given great importance in the Vedic culture. Infact, water conservation has been a fundamental component of the Vedic culture. The Rigvedic Rishi says,[2]

आ शर्म पर्वतानामोतापां वृणीमहे ।...॥१६॥[3] ā śarma parvatānāmotāpāṁ vr̥ṇīmahe ।...॥16॥

Meaning: There is happiness in mountains and waters. But only those who utilize them appropriately with knowledge obtain it.[4]

In ancient Indian culture water is considered as life. Therefore, great emphasis is given to sources of water, importance of water for all living organisms, quality and usefulness of water and conservation of water, etc. Infact, in the Vedas, water is said to have medicinal importance. The Rigvedic Rishi says,[5]

अप्स्वन्तरमृतमप्सु भेषजमपामुत प्रशस्तये । देवा भवत वाजिनः ॥१९॥[6] apsvantaramr̥tamapsu bheṣajamapāmuta praśastaye । devā bhavata vājinaḥ ॥19॥

Meaning: There is nectar in water, water possesses the qualities of a medicine. And is thereby praiseworthy.[7] Infact, in the Rigveda, water is regarded as our mother and it is said that water should make us powerful and excellent as ghee does.[5]

आपो अस्मान्मातरः शुन्धयन्तु घृतेन नो घृतप्वः पुनन्तु ।...॥१०॥[8] āpo asmānmātaraḥ śundhayantu ghr̥tena no ghr̥tapvaḥ punantu ।...॥10॥

Also, great emphasis is laid in the Rigveda on protecting such water in whatever form it is present and wherever it is present. It is said,[5]

अपामह दिव्यानामपां स्रोतस्यानाम् । अपामह प्रणेजनेऽश्वा भवथ वाजिनः ॥४॥[9] apāmaha divyānāmapāṁ srotasyānām । apāmaha praṇejane'śvā bhavatha vājinaḥ ॥4॥

Meaning: O human, rain water and water obtained from other sources such as wells, springs, ponds etc contains many nutrients. You should know this that you become energetic and powerful by using such nutritious water. Furthermore, speaking of the purest form of water ie. rain water, the Atharvaveda says,[5]

शिवा नः सन्तु वार्षिकीः ॥४॥[10] śivā naḥ santu vārṣikīḥ ॥4॥

Meaning: May the rain water be very good for us.

This shows the understanding of the importance of water in the Vedas. According to the ancient Indian civilization, each and every type of water present in this universe should be conserved. However, highest priority is given to conservation of river water because they irrigate agricultural fields which are responsible for the survival of all living beings. Moreover, flowing water of rivers is considered pure and hence, pollution of rivers is strictly condemned. Seven Sindhu rivers (Sapta Sindhu) are mentioned in the Vedas. They are,

  1. Sindhu river
  2. Vipash (Vyasa) river
  3. Shutudri (Sutlej) river
  4. Vitasta (Jhelum) river
  5. Asikni (Chenab) river
  6. Parushni (Ravi) river
  7. Saraswati river

These rivers satisfy all living beings by providing water, food etc. They love vegetation and contribute in the happiness of others.[5] Thus, the Rigveda sends a prayer that may the divine rivers flowing through high-lands, low-lands and the plains keep us, the citizens, disease-free.[4]

ता अस्मभ्यं पयसा पिन्वमानाः शिवा देवीरशिपदा भवन्तु सर्वा नद्यो अशिमिदा भवन्तु ॥४॥[11] tā asmabhyaṁ payasā pinvamānāḥ śivā devīraśipadā bhavantu sarvā nadyo aśimidā bhavantu ॥4॥

In the Vedas, 'Mitra' and 'Varuna' are the deities of Rain. Water is formed when they meet. Moreover, it is said that water flows during rainfall and it flows in the form of rivers. Flowing water is considered pure in the Vedic culture and that's why rivers are considered respectable as mothers. Infact, in the Vedic literature, a river which originates from mountains and flows till the ocean is considered pure and divine. Through these descriptions, the Vedic Rishis convey that we should conserve the flow of rivers ie. the rivers should be allowed to flow. Thus, whether rain water or flowing water, there is a lot of emphasis on water conservation in the Vedic culture.[2]Nine types of water are mentioned in the Vedas. They are,

  1. Water flowing from natural waterfalls
  2. Water flowing from mountains covered with snow
  3. Rain water
  4. Water flowing with great velocity
  5. Water of such place where there are many marshes
  6. Water of desert land
  7. Water present in earthern pots
  8. Water of wells
  9. Water of source

In this way, it is clear that water has been given prime importance in Vedas and all its types are pointed out so that water conservation can be done. It is need of the hour that the message of water conservation given in the ancient texts is grasped and an attempt is made to conserve water.[5]


  1. Pt. Ramnarayanadatt Shastri () Mahabharata, Volume 5, Shanti Parva. Hindi Translation. Gorakhpur: Gita Press (Page 4892)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vijnana - Level A (Chapter 5), Noida: National Institute of Open Schooling (Open Basic Education Programme).
  3. Rigveda, Mandala 8, Sukta 18
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sripad Damodar Satavlekar (1985), Rigveda ka Subodh Bhashya (Volume 3), Pardi: Svadhyay Mandal.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Vijnana - Level A (Chapter 6), Noida: National Institute of Open Schooling (Open Basic Education Programme).
  6. Rigveda, Mandala 1, Sukta 23
  7. Sripad Damodar Satavlekar (1985), Rigveda ka Subodh Bhashya (Volume 1), Pardi: Svadhyay Mandal.
  8. Rigveda, Mandala 10, Sukta 17
  9. Atharvaveda, Kanda 19, Sukta 2
  10. Atharvaveda, Kanda 1, Sukta 6
  11. Rigveda, Mandala 7, Sukta 50