Ancient Indians Worshipped Termite Mounds

Ancient Indians Worshipped Termite Mounds

It is hard to believe that anybody could have appreciated termites at any point in history. However, one sacred Indian Text, Perumpanarruppatai, mentions how termite activity makes soil better suited for farming. This text was written sometime during the Sangam period in India. This period lasted between 300 BCE and 100 ACE. Termites, are not so well appreciated today. Here in America there are a few different types of termites that destroy wood and cost homeowners lots of money. Termites are hard eradicate because they are, after all, successful creatures. Termites do not need much to survive. Water and the cellulose located in plant matter seem to suffice. Naturally, and, unfortunately, termites also have a taste for the lumber used for home building. We have all heard that termites require cellulose in order to thrive, but to be more specific, termites thrive on a biomolecule called lignocellulose.

Lignocellulose is basically a mixture of lignin and cellulose, which are inner plant materials. What many people do not know is that no other insect is capable of consuming this material, and it is present in all forms of plant matter, even rotting wood. Although experiencing a termite infestation in your home would be terrible, it is definitely a good thing that termites are able to break this material down. Lingocellusose is well known for not degrading easily, so if a field or forest area is covered with plant material, termites are the only hope for making these areas suitable for plant growth. It is estimated that termites consume between thirty to forty percent of all decaying wood and plant life in the world. Therefore, without termites, vegetation would be so sparse that fruits and vegetables would be rarities.

Back in 500 ACE an Indian astronomer, Varahamihira, wrote in the Brihat-Samhita, that termite mounds indicated a presence of groundwater and mineral deposits. This is certainly true since even the hated subterranean termite can dig as deep as one hundred feet below the ground’s surface in order to access water. These deep holes make rainwater percolate more effectively in soil. Also, when termites are constructing their mounds, they gather several minerals in order to strengthen their mound-structures. Also, not all termites go after the wood in peoples’ homes, so they are not all bad.

Do you think other ancient cultures were aware of the services that termites provide for the earth, and in turn, humanity?



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