Ancient Indian literature refers to several plants with a high economic potential for the country and it should be the responsibility of Indian botanists to explore the potential candidates for these species. While there are some attempts to identify such plants, but with no conclusive results. For example attempts to find the equivalents of Vedic Soma plant has ended up in a set of six plants. Despite this it is important that such efforts do continue to search other plants referred to in the Indian literature. At our lab, we have attempted to search for the possible candidate species that could represent Sanjeevani the mythical herb from the epic Ramayana. We undertook an objective approach to identify the potential plant by setting up a set of four criteria developed based on the consistent details available: a) it should be referred to in equivalent name in diverse Indian cultures and thence in diverse Indian languages; b) it shall be distributed in the habitats referred to in the epic; c) it should have high medicinal values and, d) it should have the ability to 'resurrect' life. Accordingly, from an initial list of 18,000 species, we have filtered two species as potential candidates for Sanjeevani. The scientific studies and the anecdotal information available seem to suggest that these species are highly likely to represent Sanjeevani. Our search shall not be considered complete and final, as there could be other approaches and accordingly, other suggestions as well for Sanjeevani. Whether or not the results of the search are held up, the approach suggests that a) the criteria based filtering approach could be a very useful tool for searching such mythical plants of potential commercial value and, b) that the ethno-botany should tap on the otherwise neglected mythology also as a source of bio-resources.
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