Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
Users Online: 412 | Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 17-23

Nomenclature of Anukta Dravya

1 Research Officer (Ay.), Dr. A. Lakshmipathi Research Centre for Ayurveda, VHS Campus, TTTI Post, Chennai-113, India
2 Dean, Faculty of Ayurveda, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi-221005, India

Date of Web Publication24-Sep-2011

Correspondence Address:
Ganji Kusuma
Research Officer (Ay.), Dr. A. Lakshmipathi Research Centre for Ayurveda, VHS Campus, TTTI Post, Chennai-113
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 22557363

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

Field survey was conducted in rural areas of Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh including Ramnagar, Manduadih and surrounding areas to identify and collect information on undocumented medicinal plants (Anukta Dravya) by direct interaction with folklore people through field survey and indirect means by means of comprehensive survey of available literature. Local names of undocumented medicinal plants along with other relevant information were collected, after recording local names of medicinal plants, their botanical identification was done by comprehensive survey of literature, and the plants were identified according to Bentham & Hooker's system of classification using local floristic works. Expert opinion of plant taxonomists was also sought for cross checking and confirmation on identity. The freshly collected specimens were photographed for visual identification of the species. After identification, nomenclature of 10 Anukta Dravya was done as per the criteria of nomenclature mentioned in Nighantus.

Keywords: undocumented medicinal plants, Anukta Dravya, Botanical identification, nomenclature

How to cite this article:
Kusuma G, Joshi V K. Nomenclature of Anukta Dravya. Ancient Sci Life 2010;29:17-23

How to cite this URL:
Kusuma G, Joshi V K. Nomenclature of Anukta Dravya. Ancient Sci Life [serial online] 2010 [cited 2022 Dec 9];29:17-23. Available from: https://www.ancientscienceoflife.org/text.asp?2010/29/4/17/85384

  Introduction Top

The knowledge about medicinally useful plants in the early age is scientifically documented, and systematically organized in Ayurveda Samhitas, Nighantus and other texts. Codified information regarding plants of folklore origin is not documented in the classical texts of Ayurveda. Multiple exotic plants are existent in India which are not referred to either in classical literature of Ayurveda i.e. Samhitas or in Nighantus and are commonly referred to as Anukta Dravya (undocumented) in Ayurveda. A good number of such medicinal plants have been discretely mentioned at numerous instances. The complete description of such medicinal plants in terms of their pharmacodynamic properties i.e. name, identification, morphology, rasa, guna, virya, vipaka, etc. may not be available in the Ayurvedic texts. Therefore, there is an urgent need to first demarcate, identify, name these plants and then analyse them scientifically in terms of rasa, guna, virya, vipaka etc. Simultaneously, the plants should be described botanically and evaluated for their chemical composition so that they can be successfully utilised in therapeutics and documented by incorporating into Ayurvedic Materia Medica (nighantus) for future reference. The present study is a preliminary attempt and 10 Anukta Dravya (undocumented medicinal plants) were collected and identified by referring to Medicinal flora of certain districts in Uttar Pradesh & by seeking expert opinion of plant taxonomist.

Nomenclature of a substance is very essential for proper identification and to distinguish a particular substance from others. Regarding nomenclature, different scholars have put their views in respective period as follows:

'Nama' (Name) is defined by the learned as the word, which on being pronounced suggests some entity, and is used in alphabets.

Sabdenocchaariteneha yena dravyampratiyate /

Tadaksharavidhauyuktam nametyaharmanishinaha //

Durga (Nirukta 1.1)

There was no system of morphological description of plants as done in ancient and medieval period. Coining names and synonyms, which indicated the salient features of plants, however, fulfilled this object.

The naming of plants forms an extremely interesting topic with historical and cultural significance. It sheds interesting light upon the brisk intellectual intercourse among different parts of India, and gives us an indication of the geography of India. The nomenclature also highlights that our ancestors had a keen sense of observation. In Ayurveda, methodology of nomenclature is multinomial. A plant is referred to by many names. Each name describes a particular feature or a specific attribute of the plant.

An attempt has been made to name ten Anukta Dravya as per guidelines given in nighantus.


The main objective of this study is

  1. Identification of Anukta Dravya and
  2. To assign Ayurvedic name to the Anukta Dravya as per the Ayurvedic nomenclature.

  Materials & Methods Top


10 (ten) Anukta Dravya have been taken up as the material of the present study.


1. Following criteria has been adopted to collect primary data related to AnuktaDravya

  1. Documentation through folklore
  2. Comprehensive survey of literature
Primary data related to Anukta Dravya were collected by both direct and indirect means.

(i) Documentation through folklore (Direct means)[1]

Information with respect to 10 Anukta Dravya was gathered by direct means through field survey from rural areas like Ramnagar, Manduadih and surrounding areas of Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. On reaching a village, villager's especially traditional healers, elderly people who were well acquainted with medicinal plants, were approached. Rapport was established with the people of the locality and interviewed them. Relevant information (Local name, Useful part, Form of use, Dosage, Vehicle, Indications) on 10 undocumented medicinal plants and their local names was collected from them. The selected plant specimens were collected for the present study after making a critical observation on habit and habitat, vegetation type, etc. The freshly collected specimens were photographed which exhibit the details of plant and will be helpful in visual identification of the species.

(ii) Comprehensive survey of literature (Indirect means)[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12]

Information related to 10 Anukta Dravya (botanical name, English name, family, morphology and chemical composition) was gathered by indirect means through comprehensive survey of literature.

On the basis of information gathered by fieldwork

  • Comprehensive review of books, journals and previous research works was carried out.
  • Computerised search of published and unpublished works related to the study was conducted.
2. Identification

After recording local name, its botanical identification was done. The plant was identified according to Bentham & Hooker's system of classification using local floristic works like Medicinal flora of certain districts in Uttar Pradesh; CCRIMH, New Delhi (1973) [8] .

All relevant books available on Indian indigenous medicinal plants were consulted for correct identification and verification. Expert opinion of plant taxonomists was also sought for cross checking and confirmation on identity.

3. Nomenclature

After identification, nomenclature of plants in Sanskrit was done prior to determining the name to every plant as per the criteria of nomenclature mentioned in nighantus.

  Observation & Results Top

The knowledge on 10 plant specimens during field studies and through comprehensive survey of relevant publication was further studied for their correct botanical identification. Vernacular names of plants corresponding to their botanical names are presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: List of vernacular names of Anukta Dravya corresponding to their botanical names

Click here to view

Family, native origin, habit, useful part and therapeutic uses of identified 10 anukta dravyas by literary survey have been presented in [Table 2].
Table 2: Family, native origin, habit, useful part and therapeutic uses of the ascertained botanical species

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Names of ten Anukta Dravya were coined on the basis of varied criteria from works including Raja nighantu and Dhanvantari nighantu, have given an outline of the same as follows.

Ekam tu Nama prathitam bahunamekasya namani tatha bahuni/

Dravyasyajatyakritivarnaviryarasaprabhavadigunairbha y anti //

Dhanvantari nighantu

In Dhanvantari nighantu [13] , the names of plants, one or many are assigned according to their habitat, form,colour, potency, taste, effect etc.

Namani kvachidiha Rudhitaha prabhavad deshyoktya kvacidiha lanchanopamabhyam viryena kvachiditarahvayadi deshad dravyanamiha saptadhoditani //

Raj a nighantu

In Raja nighantu [14] , seven basis of names and synonyms of plants are described as follows:

  1. Rudhi (Traditional usage), e.g., Atarushaka, Guduchi
  2. Prabhava (Effect), e.g, Krimighna, Nidrari
  3. Desha (Habitat), e.g., Vaidehi, Kairata
  4. Lanchana (Morphological characters), e.g., Citratandula, Rajiphala
  5. Upama (Simile), e.g., Ajakarna, Varahikanda
  6. Virya (Potency), e. g., Ushana
  7. Itarahvaya (Names prevalent in other regions or other factors) e.g., Indrayava, Analanama

According to Sharma, P.V (2000) [16] name and form are linked with each other like word and its meaning in order to distinguish objects. In his work on Namarupajnan (characterisation of medicinal plants), he has interpreted the word Namarupajnan in three ways.

  1. That by which name and form (of substance) are known

    (Namarupejayate aneneti)
  2. That which imparts knowledge of the forms of substances on the basis of names

    (Namabhihi rupamjayate aneneti)
  3. That which deals with proper correlation of names and forms so that the entity can be identified correctly

    (Namarupayoh samanjasyam jayate aneneti)
Apart from guidelines of earlier scholars, help of botanical names in respect of their origin was also considered before finalising a Sanskrit name to a particular plant e.g., (i) the botanical name of Garugapinnata Roxb which has been given a name 'Garugo' (name prevalent in a region), (ii) In case of Crossandra infundibuliformis (Linn.) Nees, the genus 'Crossandra' derived from Greek word signifies decorated border of anther, [17] considering it, Sanskrit name 'Alankrita kesara' (morphological character) is coined.

Taking into consideration regarding nomenclature of new medicinal plants, the views of earlier scholars have been honoured and an attempt has been made to coin names often medicinal plants, which have been presented in [Table 3].
Table 3: List of Botanical names of Anukta Dravya along with their nomenclature based on different criteria

Click here to view

  Conclusion Top

Anukta dravya namely Cestrum nocturnum Linn, Garuga pinnata Roxb. Trichopus zeylanicus Gaertn, Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.ex Klotzsch, Solanum erianthum D.Don, Anagallis arvensis Linn, Gmelina asiatica Linn, Quisqualis indica Linn, Scoparia dulcis Linn and Mirabilis jalapa Linn have been collected by field survey. According to guidelines given in Raja nighantu and Dhanvantari nighantu regarding nomenclature of new medicinal plants, ten anuktra dravya were named accordingly in Sanskrit as Nishi Mahishi, Garugo, Shaktida, Kusumapatra, Vana tambaku, Harshani, Nagaprasuna, Rangunavalli, Mishtapatri and Kautuka Pushpa based on different criteria mentioned in nighantus like Kala, Rudhi, Karma, Lanchana, Jati, Prabhava, Upama, Desha, Rasa and Itarahvaya respectively.

Further, this study has revealed that there is a need for synthesis of contemporary and Ayurvedic knowledge, which will help the future generation to use Anukta Dravya, the ignored medicinal plants of great value. It was also observed that the incorporation of these very popular folk medicines and exotic plants into Ayurveda and in therapeutics would fill the gap in Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia where the classical drugs are facing the problems of scarcity.

  Acknowledgement Top

Author sincerely acknowledge the authorities of National Botanical Research Institute, Herbarium Museum, Lucknow and Dr. N. K. Dubey, Reader, Dept. of Botany/Herbarium museum, Banaras Hindu University for helping in the identification of different plant specimens collected during the field survey.

  References Top

1.Katewa, S.S. et al. , "Traditional uses of plant biodiversity from Aravalli hills of Rajasthan"; Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, vol.2 (1), pp.27-39,(2003).  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Bhattacharjee, S.K."Handbook of Medicinal plants"; Pointer Publishers., Jaipur, (2001).  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Bor, N.L. et al., "Some Beautiful Indian Climbers and Shrubs", Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay, (1954).  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Chopra, R.N. et al., "Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants", New Delhi, 1954; Supplement, (1976).  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Chunekar, K.C & Hota, N.P., "Plants of Bhavaprakash"; The Director, RAV, New Delhi, (1999).  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Husain, A. et al., "Dictionary of Indian Medicinal Plants"; Director, CSIR, New Delhi, (1992).  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Kirtikar, K.R and Basu, B.D., "Indian Medicinal Plants"; Lalit Mohan Basu, Allahabad, Vol.3, (1984).  Back to cited text no. 7
8."Medicinal flora of certain districts in Uttar Pradesh"; CCRIMH, New Delhi, (1973).  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Nadkarni, K.M., "Indian Materia Medica", Vol.1-2, Bombay, (1954).  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Rastogi, R.P and Mehrotra, B.N., "Compendium of Indian Medicinal Plants"; CDRI, Lucknow, Vol.1, (2002).  Back to cited text no. 10
11."The Useful Plants of India"; Publications & Information Directorate, CSIR, New Delhi.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Anonymous, "The Wealth of India", Vol.1-10; CSIR, New Delhi, (1948).  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Sharma, P.V and Sharma, G.P., "Dhanvantari Nighantu"; Chaukhambha Orientalia, Varanasi, (1998).  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Tripathi, Indradev, "Raja Nighantu"; Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, (1982).  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Vijayalakshmi, K & Shyam Sunder, K.M., "Vrikshayurveda-An introduction to Indian Plant Science"; Lok Swasthya Parampara Samvardhan Samithi,(1993).  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Sharma, P.V, "Namarupajnanam"; Satyapriya Prakashan, Varanasi, (2000).  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Hereman Samuel, "Paxton's Botanical Dictionary"; Bradbury Evans & Co., London, (1868).  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Materials & Methods
Observation & Re...
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded443    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal