A civil engineer has to use different building materials including wood. The quality and durability of the structure depends upon the wood used. The life of the structure is also affected by trees grown in its vicinity. Hence a civil engineer should have some basic knowledge about botany.
This Presentation is based on an article Botany of Ancient Indiaby K.V. Vaze, published in Vedic Magazine Lahore (November 1922, pages 268 – 282) K.V.Vaze-Pioneering Author of books and articles on “Science & Technology of Ancient India Presentation by Dr. A.S. Nene
Living Things • Astrot - things which have no circulation • Sastrot - things which have circulation Sastrot things• Arwakstrota (Things having downward circulation)• Titakastrota (Things having slant circulation)• Utstrota (Things having upward circulation) Utstrota or plant life
Indian Botanical Classification Western Botanists divide trees into two classes viz.; 1) Endogenous or growing from inside and 2) Exogenous or growing from outside.Ancient Indian Botanists divide trees into four classes viz.;1. Nissar – Trees having no hard core2. Antassar- Trees having hard core inside3. Bahhissar – Trees having hard core outside4. Sarvassar- Trees having core throughout their cross-section
1.Nissar trees are Pipal, Banyan and Holy fig.However thick these trees grow they form no core.Their flowers are closed. Fruits are bunch of flowers
2.Bahhissar trees, Endogenous trees, as perwestern Botanist, are Bamboo, Coconut orBettle nut and others of this class.
3. Antassar trees or Exogenous trees, as perwestern Botanist, are Mango, Jackfruit, Neemtree and other trees.
4. Sarvassar trees are hard throughout thecross-section. Tamarind, Babul, Shirish treeand marking tree are the examples of thisclass.
Nissar trees and Sarvassar trees are unsuitable construction Unsuitable trees Pipal , Banyan , Holy fig, Kadamba Saptaparn ,Tamarind Bilva Palash, Pilu ,Kutaj, Shlemantak, Lodhra , Parijat, Kovider, Shirish, Plaksha, Mahadroom
Forbidden Trees• Milky Trees: (with poisonous juices): milk bush• Thorny Trees: Babul or Prickly pear• Trees having hard through out: Tamarind or Bunyan tree.• Bushes: Which give shelter to small animals and consequently serpents frequent them.• Fruit bearing Trees: Mango, Guava etc. People are tempted to throw stones.• Other Trees (Trees without hard core)
Tree Recommended near HabitatHigh trees or fruit bearing trees may beallowed, provided they cast no shadow atnoon or overtop the building. The distance oftree from house should be twice the heightof tree.
Confinement of trees (Vratabandha)Some holy trees may be allowed to grownear buildings, but they should be confinedto a certain area within a circular wall. Treestransgressing this boundary by breakingthrough it, should be pruned to avoiddamage to the building.
Classification of Trees According to Gender Gender: This subdivisions is based on the direction of growth of the tree.• Male trees : Trees strong vertically or in compression• Female trees: Trees strong laterally or in tension
Classification of Trees According to AgeAge: This subdivisions is based on the five life spansthe tree: Child, Young, Adult, Aged and DeadThe trees in the middle three spans of life are to be usedfor constructional purposes. The trees in the extreme twospans (childhood and decay) of life should not be used.
Selection of a Tree for Timber Do not Select a Tree, which is• in the compound of religious place,• struck by lightening ,• scorched by fire,• grown in covered area, in unhygienic conditions or• grown along the roadside,• broken by wind or animals or vehicles impact,• entangled by other trees or wound by creepers,• grown in anthills or supporting honey beehive,• grown on cremation ground or which harbors vultures or owls.
Formation testTo ascertain the stage of life of a tree, a bore throughthe stem, at two feet above ground is made. The age ofthe tree is indicated by1) color of the core,2) hardness and3) juice oozing from the bore.If a tree is already cut, instead of juice, the soundproduced by tamping with a heavy rod, will indicate thestage of age.
Knots in WoodThe wood should not be full of or devoid of knots.
Seasoning of woodFor seasoning of wood, it should be placed on sandwith bottom portion facing wind blowing from west orsouth direction.
Felling the treeBefore felling the tree, the branches of treeshould be cut first to avoid unusual strains.
Preservation of WoodThe wood should be painted to avoid thelosses of oily substance. An oil coat shouldbe applied every year after rainy season.
Frames and door shuttersWood for frames and door shutters should be of sametype so that the action of weather may be same onboth. Unequal action produces unequal strains and itis detrimental to architecture.
Tree ExtractsFor seats of balloons extracts of few treesare specified in Agastsamhita.
Water retarding substancesThe juice of coreless trees contains water retardingsubstances (lac) and hence the juice was used inpreparing silk cloth gas holders in ancient India.
Conclusions• The study of botany was very useful and essentialfor Indian engineers.• It had formed a part of ancient Indian Engineeringsciences.
References from Ancient Indian LiteratureAgastsamhita Bhrugusamhita Bruhatsamhita GeetaKashyapa Manushyalaya Mayamat PaniniShilpa chandrikaParashariya Paraskar Rajavallabha Sakaladhikarakrushi GruhyasutraShatapath Shilpadeepak Sukhanand TaitariyaBramhana Vastu BramhanaVastu Vidya Yogavashishta Yuktikalpataru
For more information contactDr. A.S. Nene,Professor of Civil Engineering (Retd)V.N.I.T. NagpurEmail: email@example.com