• Hastaprayartima— drawing with the hands and carrying it to the fields in pitchers, etc.,


• Skanda— the shoulders or the necks of bullocks,


• Srotoyantra— a mechanism for lifting water in channels flowing into the fields,


• Udghatam— the water-wheel for raising water from river, etc.


Bhoja’sSamaranganaSutradhara describes a few types of water machines (vari-yantras), but does not provide a systematic classification of all of them.

Water lifting mechanisms were prevalent in the southern part of the Sub-Continent from the very early centuries of the Christian era. The application of water-lifters and other simple devices in South India is mentioned in the following Tamil works such as

• Ahananuru, a Sangamliterary work,


• Maduraikañchí, one of the ten Idylls Pattuppattu. Here it is mentioned that tev and eda, denoting palm-leaf baskets, were responsible for the continuous water-logging in the paddy fields.


• Silappadikaram and Manimekhalai, the two Tamil epics. In the former, the poet IllangoAdigal, while giving a detailed account of the Kaverí describes the modes or devices of irrigation, particularly the bucket, the water-lifts and palm-leaf baskets,


• The Periyapuranam, a compendium of biographical sketches of the 63 Saivanayanars (saints), also makes reference to eda-perida-k-kollamun-kavitu. Here the term peridastands for a ‘large basket’.


A number of early Tamil epigraphs mention ettapulam and ettapadam to categorize lands irrigated by means of picotahs (water-levers). Depending upon the extent of wet-fields under irrigation, kurrettam indicates ‘small picotah’ and perettam stands for ‘large picotah’. An epigraph from Tiruvorriyur (Madras) of PallavaKampavarman tells of Tengeriinnilattirkenalettameduppadaga, the cultivable lands on the banks of the tank Tengeri, to be irrigated by four picotahs. Another record from the same place of the Pallava king Aparajita mentions about ‘the land irrigated by two large picotahs’ which by their description must have irrigated large area of land. It also refers to two jala-yantra (water-levers), which were apparently added as additional means of irrigation in the village. The Rayakota plate of Skandasishya (fourth year) records that such water-levers were also known as etta-ppadam.


In the light of all literary and epigraphic evidences, the methods of irrigation employed by the ancient Indians can be arranged under three broad heads as follows:


Intermittent or discontinuous water-supply from streams, canals and wells


The three types, the basket, the bag or bucket moved by pulley-wheels and the water from wells by animal power, come under this category.