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.