Monday 7 January 2013

The making of the legendary paste

Chyawanprash, the Ayurvedic paste, is generally reckoned to be the oldest commercial brand in the world. It was created or rather formulated in India by ancient Ayurvedic experts several thousands years ago and since then it has been selling in large numbers both in India and abroad.
The Chyawanprash was and still is a paste of 46 herbs and shrubs. It is also credited with being the oldest generic brand formulation. The tale of this herbal paste is fascinating.
The first mention of the Chyawanprash is during the Vedic age, more than several thousand years ago. The saints, Brighu and Chyavana lived thousands of years ago in north India and they were gifted this rare combination of herbs in Dhosi Hills in Haryana.
The Doshi Hills have several varieties of herbs and shrubs and it is a rare repository of Ayurvedic plants and trees. There is something in the land and water of the Hills that makes the herbs so special.   
The twin Ashwinis-experts in Ayurvedas and physicians of Gods- prepared Chyawanaprash by grinding the herbs to prepare the paste.
Various religious, medical and philosophical texts, including the Mahabharata and Puranas tell us that this formulation was first prepared by the Royal Vaids of Gods- the Ashwini twins-10,000 years ago, for Chyawan Rishi at his Ashrama on Dhosi Hills near Narnaul in Haryana. It also borders Rajasthan.
This is how the formulation came to be known as Chyawanprash. However, the first historically documented formula for chyawanprash is found in Charaka samhita, the ancient Ayurvedic text.
Another paste “manufactured” from herbs in the Hill is Kayakalp, a skin toning and glowing process. This made Chyavana look young and energetic. This story is mentioned in the Puranas, Brahamanas and the Mahabharata.
Besides these two pastes, the hills have several ponds or kalyanis which are supposed to have medicinal properties. People come from several states crossing thousands of kilometers to take a dip in these ponds which are supposed to rejuvenate the body.
Chyawanprash is widely consumed in India and south Asia because of its health benefits. The market size of chyawanprash in 2010 was Rs. 400 Crores or Rs 4 billion (about 80 million US dollars). Amla is the main ingredient and today’s paste has anything from 29 to 80 herbs.
The Mahabharata says the hills were formed after a volcanic eruption during the beginning Treta Yuga. This is described by Sage Shaunak, who had accompanied Pandavas during their visit to the hills as part of their agnyatawasa   some 5100 years ago. Lava, in solidified condition, can still be seen on one side of the hill.
As per Manusmriti, this hill is part of the Vedic state of Brahmavarta which is also called as Devabhoomi. Apart from Manu, rishis like Durvasa, Piplad, Chyavana lived in the vicinity. It also says that Brahmavarta was situated at the confluence of two revered rivers-Saraswathi and Drishadwati near the Hills.
Dhosi Hills is in Mahendragarh district of Haryana, about 8 kms from Narnaul town. It is connected by road to Delhi, Gurgoan, Rohtak, Rewari, in Haryana, and Jaipur, Jhunjhunu, Behror in Rajasthan.
Buses depart from the main bus interchange junction in Narnaul to these and other towns of Haryana  and Rajasthan. Narnaul is located on the Chandigarh-Delhi-Ringas-Abu Road-Ahmedabad-Mumbai railway track. Only seven trains run on this section.
The nearest airport is Delhi, which is 130 kms away. Jaipur is 160 kms away. There is an airstrip located at Bachhod village 10 km from Narnaul and it is mainly used as a flying club.