Thursday, July 21, 2011

Water-purifying 'kataka' powder - जल-कतक-रेणु न्यायः

Water purifying 'kataka' powder

= jala-kataka-réṇu nyāyaḥ (jala-kataka-reNu nyAyaH)
= जल-कतक-रेणु न्यायः
= “As the kataka seed powder purifies the water.”

Before the advent of modern impurities and modern purifiers that do ‘reverse osmosis’ and ‘ionization’ and what not, water was purified using simple, available, natural ways – filtering through thin cloth, use of alum crystals, and use of the seeds of kataka plant (Strychnos potatorum). Even a recent World Health Organization report mentions this practice in India as a “low cost solution for poor communities of Africa.” Such seed extracts act as a particulate, colloidal and soluble polymeric coagulant as well as a coagulant aid.

"The ripe seeds of Strychnos potatorum, known as Therran or Nirmal, can be ground and used as a coagulant to purify water; or they may be rubbed against the inside walls of the earthenware water containers." [Wiki]

"According to Ayurveda, seeds are acrid, alexipharmic, lithotriptic and cure strangury, urinary discharges, head diseases etc. Roots cure Leucoderma whereas fruits are useful in eye diseases, thirst, poisoning and hallucinations. The fruits are emetic, diaphoretic alexiteric etc. According to Unani system of medicine, seeds are bitter, astringent to bowels, aphrodisiac, tonic, diuretic and good for liver, kidney complaints, gonorrhea, colic etc. " [Purdue Univ]

Interestingly, there are varieties of the Strychnos genus and some are even toxic, so if you are trying this out in the wild, be careful! Another plant with similar properties is Moringa.

The maxim is traditionally used in two ways. One, just like the kataka seeds remove the impurities of the water, true knowledge removes the impurity of our ignorance and makes our mind clear. [ Gourd in water (jala-tumbikā)]

Two, as Manusmṛiti 6:67 says -
“Even though the Kataka tree’s fruit is a water-purifier, 
just taking its name does not clean the water.” 

फलं कतकवृक्षस्य यद्यप्यम्बुप्रसादकम् ।
न नामग्रहणादेव तस्य वारि प्रसीदति ॥

phalam kataka-vṛikṣhasya yadyapyambu-prasādakam, 
na nāma-grahaṇādéva tasya vāri prasīdati. [IAST]

phalam kataka-vRikshasya yadyapyambu-prasAdakam;
na nAma-grahaNAdeva tasya vAri prasIdati . [ITRANS]

Similarly merely knowing or talking of dharma will not do, one has to practice it. Similar to Mere resolve would not help (ékākini pratijñā) maxim.

Check periodically if your thoughts are clear or muddy. Take time out of the regular rut to introspect. Clear your mind, your thoughts, your attitude. More reading or knowing would not help much unless you start practicing what you already know.

Purify your thoughts.


Read more such maxims in Attitude Shift - Sanskrit Maxims for Contemporary Life

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and now the language aspects -

जल-कतक-रेणु न्यायः
= jala-kataka-réṇu nyāyaḥ |
jala = water.

kataka = a plant whose seeds when rubbed on the inside walls of pots, cause impurities in water to precipitate, like alum crystals.

réṇu = dust, powder.



फलं कतकवृक्षस्य यद्यप्यम्बुप्रसादकम् ।
न नामग्रहणादेव तस्य वारि प्रसीदति ॥

फलं = phalam = fruit

कतकवृक्षस्य = kataka-vRikShasya = of kataka tree
vRikSha = tree
kataka-vRikSha = kataka tree
-sya suffix = of (for masc. or neutral genders)

यद्यप्यम्बुप्रसादकम् = yadyapyambu-prasAdakam = even though is water cleanser/purifier
= yadi-api-ambu-prasAdakam
yadi = if
api = also
yadi+api = yadyapi = even though, if also
ambu = water
prasAda = pure, clear, clean (other meanings, graciousness, grace, favor etc.)
prasAdakam = cleanser, purifier, cleaner


न = na = not

नामग्रहणादेव = nAma-grahaNAdeva = only by taking the name
= nAma-grahaNAt-eva
nAma = name
grahaNAt = by grabbing, accepting, taking (chanting the name)
eva = only, merely

तस्य = tasya = of it

वारि = vAri = water

प्रसीदति = prasIdati = becomes clean

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

jAlagate ..."More reading or knowing would not help much unless you start practicing what you already know"....etat sammichInam vakyam asti...kintu atra "More reading" bhavitavyam vA "Mere reading"

shashi said...

Joy, dhanyavAda, nice play on the words in English :)

What I was saying was not just mere reading, but if one keeps on reading more and more and even if understanding it or not, but more and more reading (input of knowledge) is not going to helpful, unless at some point we try to start acting upon the knowledge, data, information we have.

But yes, 'mere' reading fits the bill as well as 'more' reading :)
Thanks much again!

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