Saturday, 5 October 2013


The Amazonian basil is a South American variety of the basil plant which is often utilized in 'ayahuasca' rituals of South America. The word 'Ayahuasca' is derived from the ancient Quechua language word 'ayawaska'. 'Ayawaska' is an infusion which was prepared by the shamans of Meso-America and is still used by the shamans of Peru today. The very fact that one of the ingredients of this brew is basil indicates that there is a probable link with the health brews of India. But there is more!

Ayawaska is known to enhance connect with the spiritual world. It is said that Ayawaska gives its user a clearer view of the spiritual world. People who have used this brew have experienced positive effects. It is not an easy brew to handle and it is therefore rarely used as an intoxicant. In the Vedic texts of India, the 'soma-rasa' (सोमरस) and amrit-rasa (अमृतरस) were regarded as the elixirs of spiritualism.

The term 'ayahvaska' that is commonly used in Peru and Equador is a word of the ancient Quechua language. The word 'waska' is the Quechua term for any species of vine and the word 'aya' refers to the 'soul' and to the 'spirit of a dead person', hence the two English translations of Ayavaska, 'vine of the soul' and 'vine of the dead.'

One of the ingredient herb of 'Ayavasaka' is Justicia Pectoralis. Surprisingly, in Sanskrit the Justicia shrub is known as 'vasaka' (वासक) or 'vashaka' (वाशक). 'Ayu' (आयु) has many meanings including 'life', 'living being', 'divine personification presiding over life'. The word also takes the form 'ayur' in 'Ayurveda' - where 'ayur' stands for 'life'. The 'aya' of 'ayawaska' seems to be related to the Sanskrit 'Ayu' and 'ayur'- both in sound and in meaning. 

Justicia Pectoralis is one of the
ingredients of the South American
'Ayavaska' brew. In Sanskrit, plants of the
Justicia Genus are known as 'vasaka' or 'vashaka'.
In Peru another medicinal plant goes by the name 'Ayahuma' and is recommended by the shamans of Peru for its medicinal properties. 

Ayahuma is known as Nagalinga
in India. It is a sacred tree and
is planted in many temples
dedicated to Lord Shiva.

In India 'Ayahuma' is known as 'Parusa' or 'Neel-Parna' or 'Naga-Linga'. Its medicinal use in Ayurveda is well recorded - its extract possesses antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic and analgesic qualities. 'Naga-Linga' is a sacred tree and is associated with Lord Shiva and is planted in many Shiva Temples.

Suggested Links:
The Soma drinkers of Ancient India


Vinay Kumar Vaidya said...

This herb is commonly known as 'adusa' in Hindi.There is a medicine Glycodine Terp vasaka which is made from this 'adusa'. 'adusa' word also resembles 'ayahuasca' ...

राजेंद्र गुप्ता Rajendra Gupta said...

Brilliant Sanskrit connect of the south American AYAHUASCA and VASAKA of India. You have written: "One of the ingredient herb of 'Ayavasaka' is Justicia Pectoralis. Surprisingly, in Sanskrit the Justicia shrub is known as 'vasaka' (वासक) or 'vashaka' (वाशक)." I wish to add that the Indian plant known as VASAKA is Justicia adhatoda which is closely related (botanically) to the South American plant Justicia pectoralis that is used in AYAHUASCA. However, the two plants have very different chemical and medicinal properties. They resemble in some botanical feature while differ enough to be recognized as separate plants. It is interesting to speculate that the ancient people who carried the Sanskrit word VASAKA to South America must have found similarities in flowers and leaves of the two plants and used Justicia pectoralis in place of Justicia adhatoda while making a medicinal concoction in their new homeland. And they also added basil to this concoction!
Can you please add the botanical name of 'Ayahuma'?

Neeta Raina said...

Ayahuma is known as Cannonball Tree in English. The Botanical name is Couroupita guianensis. In India it is known as Naga-lingam. But it is also known as Sal ( साल sAla m. Sal tree). I dont know if Cannonbal and sal are the same. I read somewhere that there is a shala (or a similar name - I forget) tree in South America which was planted closed to the ancient pyramid temples of South America.

Neeta Raina said...

Also 'draksha' is close to 'vasaka'- 'draksha' Sanskrit for 'vine' (creeper).

राजेंद्र गुप्ता Rajendra Gupta said...

Thanks. I checked more about this tree. It is known as SALA in Indonesian. But the tree known as SALA/ SHALA साल/शाल in Hindi/Sanskrit is Shorea robusta and it is an altogether different tree with no relations to cannonball tree /ayahuma. The common names are always confusing. Similar names in different languages quite often refer to very different trees.

Richie Benaud said...

Good one really. The lovely images are attractive.

Ayahuasca retreats