The late Vaidya Mana Bajra Bajracharya was not only a prolific author, writing over 40 books on the subject of Ayurveda, he was also a talented artist as well. When he was seventeen years old, he finished his formal study of Sanskrit and began to learn the classical texts of Ayurveda, as well as the Mahayana Buddhist texts that necessary as part of his hereditary role as a Vajracharya priest. After this he began to practice Ayurveda, but after some time realized on his own that he needed to see the plants he had begun to work with, and in 1955, headed off on a two year journey, traveling on foot throughout Nepal and India, collecting almost all the plants that are mentioned in the classical texts of Ayurveda, and made water color paintings of them. Here are a few of these remarkable water-colors, and a brief excerpt of each herb and its medicinal uses, written by Vaidya Mana:
Amalaki or Amalakam fruit (Indian gooseberry / amla / Phyllanthus emblica)
Amalaki is a tropical and sub-tropical middle sized tree that grows in dry areas. The fruit is sour, sweet and astringent in taste, and cooling in action. It is a heart restorative, and a Rasayana when used over a long period of time. It is used in bronchitis, cough, fever, alcoholism, and hemorrhage. It reduces Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It is also used for anemia, asthma, burning sensation, lung disease, and cancer. It is part of Triphala, where it is mildly laxative. It is tridoshaghna, an agent that stimulates the brain to subdue the increased body systems.
Brahmi leaf/root (gotu kola / Centella asiatica)
Brahmi is an annual (perennial) small spreading plant that grows near rivers and ponds. All parts of the plant are bitter in taste and cooling in action (Virya). It is used in epilepsy, to improve memory and concentration and to prevent miscarriage. It is also an anti-poison and good for throat hoarseness.
Dadima rind/fruit (pomegranate / Punica granatum)
Dadima is a small cultivated tree. Pomegranates come in two varieties: sweet-astringent, and sour-astringent. The rind is astringent in taste, and cool in action (Virya). It is used as a rejuvenative for anemia. It increases mother’s milk production. The fruit is easy to digest, carminative, nourishing to the heart and is helpful to digestion. The sweet-astringent variety has medicinal value in treating diarrhea, alcoholism, indigestion and heart problems. The sour-astringent variety is more effective in treating indigestion and alcoholism.
Guduchi stem (Tinospora cordifolia)
Guduchi is a long creeper that grows in temperate and sub-tropical forests. The stem is bitter in taste and warming in action. It is a Rasayana, for good health and longevity, as well as being an anti-toxin. It reduces Vata and Pitta. It is used for fever due to cold, including malaria fever, as well as to remove toxins in hepatitis, gout, toxemia, and urinary diseases. It is diuretic and aphrodisiac, useful in impotence. It has the prabhava (special power) called samanam, meaning it restores balance, but never causes increase.
Kanchanara bark (mountain ebony / Bauhinia variegata)
Kanchanara is a sub-tropical, medium-sized tree. Its bark is astringent in taste and cold in action. It is sansodhanum, a body and blood purifying agent that excretes defective bile, mucus and gas. It is used in diarrhea, leprosy, glandular swelling and ulcers.
Kuchila seed (purified nux vomica / Strychnos nux vomica)
Kuchila is a perennial large tree that grows in the tropical and sub-tropical climate. The seed is bitter in taste, hot in action, and poisonous. Purified seed is rejuvenative and used for indigestion, menorrhagia, back pain, rabies, twitching, lumbago and paralysis (oil form). Purify by first soaking in vinegar and cow urine for three days, then boil until red.
Pippali fruit/root (long pepper / Piper longum)
Pippali is a sub-tropical and tropical creeper that grows in the forest, and is also cultivated. It is grouped with Pippali, Gajapippali and Chavyam, all of which share similar effects. The fruit is pungent in taste, appetizing, and digestive. It reduces Vata and Kapha. It is used in bronchitis, asthma, cough and fever. It stimulates the medicinal effects of other herbs, has restorative qualities and is good for long life. The root is pungent in taste, light in quality and aids in food digestion. It is good for stomach diseases, liver and spleen diseases, and tuberculosis.
Rohitaka stem (rhododendron / Rhododendron arboreum)
Rohitaka is an alpine and sub-alpine small tree with red flowers. The stem is pungent in taste, and is used in enlargement of liver and spleen. It reduces Pitta. The root is pungent in taste, and used in leucorrhea. It is mildly poisonous.