Friday, January 29, 2010

aah water - अजीर्णे भेषजं वारि

water is curative in indigestion, water is nourishing after digestion;
water is appetizing during food, and ill-affects immediately after food.

ajIrNe bheShajam vAri, jIrNe vAri balapradam |
bhojane chAmRitam vAri, bhojanAnte viShapradam ||

अजीर्णे भेषजं वारि, जीर्णे वारि बलप्रदम् ।
भोजने चामृतं वारि, भोजनान्ते विषप्रदम् ॥

Water - the least appreciated thing, right before air. We just take it for granted. There was a time, not too long ago, when you could drink water from pretty much any tap in india, or a well, river. There would be water sheds called 'pyaaoo' on road sides, sponsored by local businessman or charitable person, manned by local hands. You would get some of sweetest natural water, along with some jaggery and roasted grams (at least in hot and dry Rajasthan), easing your travel-related travails. Thanks to recent decades of industrial progress, even in india it is difficult to find drinkable water from free natural resources. And the rivers, the life line of any civilization, are terribly polluted as well like the gangA (गङ्गा) and yamunA (यमुना).

Water - different effects on the same body, depending upon how or when it is consumed.

Medicinal -
Sometimes, we get food poisoning, or an upset stomach and can't eat anything. We should not eat in such times but take enough of water. Today, there are electrolytes, earlier they had salt and sweet lime water or such home made drink that would act as electrolyte as well keep you hydrated. In such condition of upset stomach, drinking plenty of water flushes out the toxins, keeps the stomach light, and helps recover faster, almost like a medicine, a medicine that washes inside out!

One of the reasons for weekly fasting is to give the stomach some rest. The spiritual, religious meanings are also attached, but there is simple medicinal purpose as well. Various kinds of fasting are observed - fruits only, fruits and milk, only water. And then the modern exceptions added like tea, coffee, roasted peanuts etc. which ultimately defeat the purpose of fasting itself.

Appetizer -
During the meal, it is very nice to take a sip of some drink, maybe water or juice. Instead of cold juices, or cold water or cold drinks, one should sip water. It enhances the sense of eating, between two different tastes, a sip of water is great. Throat doesn't feel dry, or choking with a small sip in between. But this should be a sip.

Thanks to the incessant marketing by carbonated drinks, water is considered useless in many 'developed' countries, specially US. In all my long stay in US, I rarely saw any born-American drinking water at restaurants, it was always large coke or pepsi or sprite or something like that. Carbonated drinks upset the digestion, contrary to what advertisements make you believe, and they rot the teeth as well. Kids who get this habit early on at home, suffer from bad stomach and bad teeth, and consequently bad health. A simple solution is to not have it at home at all, don't stack the refrigerator with 12 pack of coke, just because it is cheap. Drink water when you need a drink. And that too not too cold.

Harmful -
If we drink a lot of water during the meal or immediately after a meal, then we are inviting for trouble. Stomach upset, indigestion (and subsequent gastro problems) is a common lament these days, next only to back-aches and cell-phone-induced ear-aches. What is the cause of this? Stress, lack of sleep, fast food, lack of exercise, lack of water in diet, and addition of carbonated drinks to add just a few.

But it is interesting that many people don't realize that drinking water immediately after meal is also bad for digestion. The reason is simple. Like a chemistry lab experiment, drinking water after meal, and that too cold, dampens the digestive juices and hinders proper digestion. Over the long run, the habit causes bad metabolism, bad digestion, bad absorption of nutrients.

Nourishing -
So when should we drink water? After a couple of hours of eating the full meal, is the best time to drink to your fill! That time water will actually help the body by not interfering with digestion and helping the movement as well.

So next time you see water, greet it with glee, and know when to drink and when not to, so it aids the body naturally.

Some more useful links about modern statements on the benefits of water -

and now the language aspects of the shloka -

this shloka appears in vRiddha-chANakya.

ajIrNe = अजीर्णे = a- prefix + jIrNa + -e suffix
jIrNa = old, broken down (structure), tattered (cloths), ruined (building), digested (food)
jIrNe = in (-e suffix) digestion
a-jIrNe = in indigestion

bheShajam = भेषजं = medicine.
the etymology for this word is - "bheSham rogamayaM jayati" which means one that wins over the fear of the sick.

vAri = वारि = water

jIrNe = जीर्णे = in digestion
balapradam = बलप्रदम् = strengthening, nourishing (for food)
bala = strength
pradam = that which gives. root 'da' (to give)

bhojane = भोजने = literally in food (i.e. during meal)
bhojanam = meal, food

chAmRitam = चामृतं = cha + amRitam = and nectar
appetizer, nourisher (and not literally nectar, ambrosia)

bhojanAnte = भोजनान्ते = in the end of the meal
bhojanam = food
anta = end; ante = in the end

viShapradam = विषप्रदम् = poison giving
viSha = poison. here ill effects, not fatal poison, but bad digestion
pradam = that which gives

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook.


  1. Thanks for this ancient quote on such a vital substance Shashi-ji. Water is all this and water is food too because the food we eat itself needs water to be produced.

  2. Thanks for this ancient Sanskrit quote. Water is all this and more. Water is food (all the food we eat needs enormous amounts of water to produce). Water is energy (all energy needs water to produce). Water is health (all the money being spent on health and eradication of diseases is of no use unless water is clean).

  3. I had learnt this shloka in school and have tried to recollect it several times! Thanks for sharing! Its such a relief to remember it again! This is the legacy of our ancestors' scientific and medical knowledge!

  4. Plz give reference of above slok

  5. It is not "bhojanAnte viShapradam". It is "bhojanAnte viShApaham". Water taken after food will protect you from poision.

  6. Water immediately after food dilutes the gastric juices in action thus weakenig proper digestion. Hence i understand that it should be "bhojanAnte viShapradam" itself and NOT Vishaapaham.


Please do add your name and place, after the comment.