Organisation, Arrangements And SOP’S Of Ancient Research Labs in India

chemical laboratory experimentsShloka: Rasasalam prakurvita sarvabadhavivarjitam |

Sarvausadhimayedese ramye kupasamanvite ||

Meaning: Build a laboratory in a beautiful place that abounds in medicinal plants, devoid of any disturbance and has a well.

Shloka: Yaksa-tryaksa –sahasraksa-digvibhage susobhane |

Nanopakaranopetam prakarena susobhitam ||

Meaning: Build a laboratory bound by corridors, furnished with a variety of equipment facing north, northeast, or the eastern direction.

Shloka: Salayah purvadigbhage sthapayedrasabhairavam |

Vahnikarmani cagneye yamye

Pasanakarmani ca ||

Nairrtye sastrakarmani varune ksalanadikam |

Sosanam vayukone ca vedhakarmottare tatha ||

Meaning: Establish mercury in the eastern side of the laboratory, melting in the southeast and stone instruments in the southern direction. Cutting tasks in southwest, cleaning etc., in west, drying in the northwest and piercing in north.

Shloka: Sthapanam siddhavastuman

Prakuryadisakonake |

Padarthasangrahah karyo rasasadhanahetukah ||

Meaning: Ready to use goods should be kept in the northeast. Materials useful in the production of metal should be gathered.

Source: Rasa-ratna-samuccayah, Adhyayah 7, Slokah 11-14 Vagbhatah (12th Century AD)


Vahni-Karmani = Fire related activities = Melting

Rasa-bhairavah = King amongst chemicals = Mercury

Sulba-arih = The enemy of metals = Sulphurlayout

Ancient theory

Chemical laboratory in the ancient period consisted of chemicals derived out of plants. Hence the laboratories has to be located in places where medicinal plants are available.

The poetic style used to indicate the 3 directions is quite interesting and they are Yaksha (a particular class of divine-beings), Traksha (the 3-eyed-Shiva) and Sahasraksha (the 1000-eyed-Indra).

Chemical laboratory also known as Rasashala was a very well organised and well maintained in those days too. The organisation and planning is done while keeping safety as the first priority. The laboratories were placed according to the availability of resources such as plants, water etc. The building should be safeguarded with high boundaries like walls. Rasabhairava the presiding deity made of mercury is mounted in east. The setup is such that in south are the stone implementations, southwest are the cutting, slicing and such equipments and the rest washing and cleaning equipments are housed in the west.

The recommended layout for laboratories is in consonance with the Hindu thought on gods and their domain. Northwest is the direction of the god of wind and therefore drying should be located in the northwest. The suggested layout is tabulated below:

Sl.No Direction (in samskrit) Direction (in English) Presiding deity Domain of the lord Recommended activity


Uttara North Kubera Wealth Piercing


Uttara-poorva Northeast Shiva Ownership All the ready to use goods to be stored


Poorva East Indra Chief of the Devas Storage of the king of chemicals


Dakshina-poorva Southeast Agni Fire Heating/burning


Dakshina South Yama Death Work with stone


Dakshina-paschima Southwest Nirriti Destruction Cutting


Paschima West Varuna Ocean Cleaning


Uttara-paschima Northwest Vayu Wind Drying


Modern Theory

The present day chemical laboratory is no different than the ancient ones. But the difference is, in ancient days lab would be setup in and around the availability of resources but it is not the scenario now. There is a very well organised chemical laboratories as you would have seen in schools and colleges. And the resources are nothing but chemicals that are being bought from manufacturers. And maximum safety should be ensured with handling chemicals as well as the laboratory equipments. Like the ancient laboratories the modern laboratories also are well ventilated and the well organised according to the safety guidelines.

This serves as a solid proof to show that Ancient Indians had immense scientific knowledge and were very well organised in every work they did.

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