Atmospheric, or rain water is possessed of a non-patent taste. It is ambrosial in its nature, pleasant and beneficial to life. It is enlivening, * invigorating or strength-giving, † re-frigerent, frigorific, antipyrotic, anti-hypnotic, and conquers vertigo, drowsiness and fits of fainting. It is most wholesome to the human body. After having fallen upon the surface of the earth it acquires one of the six different tastes according to the nature of its receptacle such as, a river, or a Nada (a river with a masculine name), a pond, a tank (Vapi) ‡ , a Kupa §, a Chunti ||, a fountain, an Artesian spring a Vikira **, fallow land (Kedar), or a pond covered over with a growth of aquatic plants
* Enlivens the body during fits of fainting and such like cases.
† Imparts strength to the exhausted or emaciated frames.
‡ A tank or a large well with its sides protected by buttresses of masonry work.
§ A well with flights of masonry steps descending to its bottom.
|| An ordinary well, unprotected by buttresses and unprovided with steps.
** A flow of subterranean water dug out of a bed of sand.
(Palvala). Certain authorities maintain that heavenly or atmospheric water having fallen on a red, brown, grey, yellow, blue or white coloured soil, respectively assumes a sweet, acid, saline, pungent, bitter or an astringent taste. But the theory is not a sound one in as much as the comparative predominance of the attributes of the five material principles in a particular soil determines the taste of the water contained therein. Water, contained or collected in a soil marked by a predominance of the attributes of earth-principle, acquires an acid and saline taste. Water, contained in a soil marked by a predominance of the attributes of fire, acquires a bitter and pungent taste. Water, contained in a soil marked by a predominance of the attributes of air, acquires an astringent taste. The sky is devoid of all tastes, and hence, the water contained in a soil, which is largely possessed of the specific attributes of that element, is characterised by the absence of any taste whatever. Only the last named kind should be used for drinking purposes where atmospheric water would not be available.
Atmospheric water (Antariksha Jalam), in its turn, may be divided into four classes such as, rain water, hail water, frost water or dew, and snow water, of which the first is the best for its lightness. Rain water may be divided into two classes such as the Gangam and the Samudram, according as the rain-cloud is charged with vapours evaporated from the bosom of the Ganges or the sea. Gangetic rain generally descends in the month of Ashvina, but both kinds should be subjected to a test; The test in the case of Gangam rain water consists in exposing to it, for a Muharta (forty-eight minutes), a quantity of undiscoloured Shali rice in a silver bowl which is not extremely softened by boiling. To ascertain whether it is Gangetic rain water or not, Gangetic rain water should be ascertained from the fact of the aforesaid Shali rice not being in any way affected in its colour; whereas a change in its colour under exposure, as well as the fact of its being formed into shreddy or seedy balls mixed with slimy secretions, would indicate that the rain water had been formed of the vapours of the sea (Samudram), and should be regarded as extremely unwholesome. Rain water from a cloud entirely formed of sea-vapours and collected in the month of Ashvina, is as wholesome as what is technically known as Gangetic rain water, but the latter is the best of the several kinds of atmospheric water.