Athirathram lower water, soil contamination: Scientists

via IANS published on June 12, 2011

New Delhi: The initial findings of a scientific study carried out during the Vedic ritual in Kerala show that the ancient Sanskrit chants, rites and smoke from the sacred fire accelerate germination of seeds in the vicinity and lower the level of microbe contamination in water and ambient soil, scientists said Thursday.

The ritual of ‘Athirathram’ was held in Panjal village in Thrissur district of Kerala April 4-15.

The scientists researching the impact of the ritual on environment said the fire laced with herbs, wood, milk and the juice of Soma plant, the earliest known intoxicant, acted as a natural purifier. The Soma plant grows in abundance in the Western Ghats bordering Kerala.

A team of scientists said in a statement that ‘the studies showed encouraging results on the environment’.

The statement by the Varthathe Trust, the organisers of the ritual, said: ‘There was preliminary evidence that the yagya (ritual) had a positive impact on the germination of the seeds’.

The scientists led by V.P.N. Nampoori, former director of the International School of Photonics, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), had planted three types of seeds – cowpea, green gram and Bengal gram – around the venue of the ritual.

‘The results showed that the growth was accelerated in the case of seeds on the western side of the altar in comparison to other sides. The effect was very clear in the case of Bengal gram which grew 2,000 times faster than the plants on the eastern, northern and southern side,’ Nampoori said.

Microbial analysis carried out at distances between 500 metres to 1.5 km of the location of the ritual to count the bacterial colonies before and after the ritual found that ‘ambient air and water was purer with low microbial count compared to normal circumstances’.

An analysis on the dimensions of temperature from the flames of the ‘great ball of fire’ generated by the Vedic priests using a slow ritual sequence of chants and sporadic offerings of milk, ‘soma rasa’ and clarified butter into a pot holding the sacred fire found the fire ball had a ‘particular wavelength with unusually high activity similar to what was observed in typical laser beams at about 3,870 degrees centigrade’.

The fire study was conducted by experts from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore.

Kerala-based Vedic scholar M. Krishnakumar said: ‘The scientific study was a pioneering endeavour to explore the effects of the ritual on people, environment and atmosphere.’

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