Where do we get our information from and of what level is it? What do we believe and what is opur well?
Superstition is a great enemy of man, but bigotry is worse.
Science is nothing but the finding of unity. As soon as science would reach perfect unity, it would stop from further progress, because it would reach the goal. Chemistry could not progress farther when it would discover one element out of which all others could be made. Physics would stop when it would be able to fulfil its services in discovering one energy of which all the others are of manifestations. and the science of religion becomes perfect when it would discover Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him who is the constant basis of an ever changing world. One who is the only Soul of which all souls are but delusive manifestations. Thus is it, through multiplicity and duality, that the ultimate unity is reached. Religion can go no farther. This is the goal of all science.
– Swami Vivekananda
Conceptions of the material world such as good and bad, lower and upper, important and insignificant, are estimations of the material energy by the mind, of the mind. What is transcendental to all such conceptions?
How deep is your well and do you have a passport?
While discussing with Rishi Punarvasu the author of ” Charaka Samhita”, some vaidyas raised the question “Koruka?” meaning “who does not fall ill?”. Somebody said “One who eats chyavanprash every morning.” Another said, “One who takes lavan bhaskar and triphala regularly.” Eating chandravati every day was described by another as the source of health. Finally the fundamental principle of natural maintenance of good health was expressed by Vagbhat as “Hitbhuka, Mitbhuka, Ritbhuka “.
Hitbhuka means eat that which is nourishing for your health and do not eat merely for taste.
Mitbhuka means eat moderately only that much which is essential for sustenance of the vitality and stamina of the body.
Ritbhuka means eat that which is earned and prepared by righteous means and also what is suitable in a particular season.
We all might have heard these in one form or the other at some time but how many people really pay attention to these? In view of the life style adopted by most of us today and considering the growing pollution in the gross and the subtle environment, we ought to be more careful about healthy food.
1. Shuka Grain (Cereals): Wheat, rice, barley, maize, millet, corn etc, are principal ingredients of Ayurvedic cooking. The cereals are natural sources of nourishment for human body. Carbohydrates are their major constituents. They also contain about 6 to 12 % proteins. The presence of minerals and vitamins is, however, nominal in the cereals; only vitamin B is found in greater quantity in their outer sheath. The shelf life of these cereals ranges between one to two years after harvesting.
2. Shami Grains (Pulses and Legumes): This category of grains consists of grams and pulses, which are rich in proteins. Mung, kidney beans, red and yellow gram and lentil, black-gram, soybean seeds, pigeon peas, etc. fall in this category. These are main source of proteins for vegetarians. The protein contents and mode of metabolism of these are healthier and more compatible with the metabolic functioning of the human body as compared to those in the non-vegetarian foods (meat, chicken, eggs etc).
3. Kandamula (Tubers and Roots): Sweet potato, carrot, beetroot, turnip, radish, etc are members of this class of naturally healthy foods. They are rich in carbohydrates and are important sources of balanced calories in our bodies and activation of metabolism. These, if eaten in appropriate quantities, are good means of strength and energy in the body system. The rishis of the ancient times used to take only kandamula as their main food. The term phalahara for the food prescribed during fasts refers to these only.
4. Phala (Fruits): As we all know, vitamins, minerals, natural glucose and carbohydrates are present in substantial proportions in fresh fruits. Amalki, apple, banana, dates, figs, grapes, guava, mango, orange, pomegranate, papaya, lime, etc are easily available fruits in almost all parts of the world. According to Ayurveda, these fruits also have medicinal properties. Fruits like apricot, cherry, pineapple, strawberry; etc… could also be used when available. Fruits should be eaten in their specific season and should be naturally ripe. Over ripe or rotten fruits are harmful. Unripe fruits would be difficult to digest and will not have the desired natural qualities. Care should be taken to avoid eating fruits preserved in cold storage as most fruits are that you buy in grocery stores today and also those ripened through the use of chemicals like carbide. These have severe negative effects and frequent use of such unnaturally ripened fruits can cause dreaded diseases like cancer. (Think about this the next time you think juicing is healthy)
5. Shakas (Vegetables): Fresh vegetables are important ingredients of a healthy food. They provide us with essential vitamins, minerals and compounds. Use of different types of green beans, bitter gourd, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, long gourd or opo squash, okra or bhindi, tomato, etc… is very good for health. The use of fruits, specific vegetables should also be consumed only in the specific season of their natural growth. Use of vegetables of one season in another season is prohibited in Ayurveda. This is proving difficult in modern times when everything is available all year around and the understanding of seasonal foods is lost.
6. Harit (Greens Leafy Vegetables): Coriander, fenugreek, green peas, mint, daikon radish leaf, spinach, etc… should be part of a healthy diet.
7. Shuska Phala Va Tilahan (Dry Fruits and Oil Seeds): Almond, cashew nut, chestnut, coconut, groundnut, peanut, pistachio, etc… The oils inside these provide natural lubricants and fats necessary for the body’s mechanical and other functions. The edible, oily-seeds of sesame, mustard, etc.. also serve this purpose.
8. Ikshu (Glucose rich substances): Molasses, sugarcane, sugar, treacle, and other glucose rich substances fall in this category. These are often used to sweeten the drinks and eatables.
9. Ambu (Watery or juicy substances): This category includes all edible substances that are rich in water content. Major part of our body-system is filled with water. We should fulfill the consistent requirement of its supply by drinking substantial amount of water.
10. Goras (Milk-products): Milk, curd, buttermilk, paneer, etc fall in this group. Pure milk especially that of cow and buttermilk are described as “divine” food or best source of nourishment for sadhakas. Many people observe kalpa, long-term fasting, only with the intake of milk or buttermilk. Milk, especially cow-milk, is said to be a whole food in itself. Curd is also nourishing food with several medicinal qualities, if taken fresh and in appropriate quantities in different seasons as per one’s prakrati, as well as mixed with its appropriate additions for digestibility. Fresh paneer if not fried is wholesome sources of calories. Buttermilk AKA takra, is referred in Ayurveda as an important medicinal food. Condensed milk and milk powder might be easy to preserve and use, and may help in making delicious dishes, but these are harmful to health, particularly in the lazy life style we have adopted and because of the chemical synthesis processes used in their preparation. Use of condensed milk and milk powder or dairy whiteners should therefore be avoided as far as possible. Dairy whiteners have been proven to cause cancer. In view of the reports of adulteration of milk by mixing urea and other chemicals, processing, etc, these days, we should be careful in verifying and ascertaining that milk and its products are free from toxicity.
11. Sneha (Oils and Fats): Butter, ghee, edible oils and fatty substances, if taken in balanced amounts, are also part of a healthy diet. These help in fulfilling the requirements of lubrication of body parts especially joints. However, excess use of these substances is harmful to both physical and mental health. Extra care should therefore be taken to keep the level of proportion of this category to the proper amounts.
12. Krattana Va Yaugika (Cooked Food and Edible Compounds): Cooked food is a separate class of food. All the categories described above are independent of each other. Most of the constituents of these could be consumed raw. Cooking changes the natural properties of food ingredients. Proper cooking (esp. of cereals and pulses) is important because it makes the food easily digestible and many of the new edible compounds produced under this process would also be of vital use in the metabolic system and other body functions. Cooked food could consist of members of more than one of the above classes and help giving new combined positive effects. The concept of cooking as referred in Ayurveda is quite different from what it is from what we think. Cooking today is mostly aimed to make the food more delicious. Different experiments are tried out by chefs in this regard and new dishes and new recipes are derived. This is not to be confused with what is healthy.
Deep fried food, varieties of spices and arbitrary combination of foods of non-compatible natural qualities are harmful to our health. We don’t normally think of this as long as the food is palatable. The use of precooked foods and fast foods should be avoided, as it has very adverse effects on our body-system. This type of modern food is will impair the normal functioning of our digestive system and cause harmful mutations due to the chemicals in the preservatives, the artificial flavors and the chemically processed cooking involved in its preparation. Besides, it just isn’t fresh.
What, how much and when to eat?
What to eat? The principle of “Hitbhuka and Ritbhuka” conveys us that we should always eat properly earned, pure, seasonal and nourishing food. A balanced combination depending upon the physical and mental labor required in one’s daily routine from those categories of healthy foods would be best suited. For example, you may use wheat, barley, corn, and some pulses, curd, butter, peanuts, oilseeds, etc, in appropriate quantities with larger amounts of green, leafy and other vegetables. Don’t eat overcooked or undercooked foods; use of spices, salts, sugars and oily substances should be used in their moderate amounts. Desist consuming toxic substances, stimulating and alcoholic drinks, and non-vegetarian foods.
How much to eat? “Mitashi Syata”. Meaning, eat moderately. No matter how nourishing or healthy the food may be, it would cause harm if eaten in excess. Watch the quantity of your diet. Don’t fill your stomach more than half its space, leave one-fourth for water and the remaining one-fourth for air. Lots of people eat fast. Not only does this stop the food from digesting properly due to lack of mastication, it is a subconscious way to try to eat more. If you eat slower and chew more you will find you will eat way less food.
When to eat? As per the vedic routine, one should eat only twice a day after performing agnihotra in the morning and then in the evening before sunset. Be regular in the timings of taking your meals; avoid eating late in the night. One of the major causes of metabolic disorders and varieties of diseases is that people keep watching TV and eating very late in the night. Eat only when you feel hungry. Eating is a kind of agnihotra. The ahutis are made in agnihotra only when its fire is lit well; putting the ahutis in half burning wood would only produce smoke instead of healthy effects of agnihotra.
Why to eat? Eat to maintain and strengthen the health and vigor of your body. Healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Diseased mind resides in a diseased body. There is no separation. The purpose of food is to sustain healthy and harmonious functioning of the body system, the physical medium of our life. Food is not meant to satiate the greed of our tongue or stomach.
How to eat? Take your food gracefully in a calm state of mind, paying full attention to eating. Every morsel should be chewed properly. Food should be revered like the prasada, the offerings made to the Deity. Water should be taken a little before and after the meals. Water is like nectar for our vital functions. This helps in proper digestion. Cold ice water will stop digestion. Never drink ice water.
Annaharartham Karma Kuryadanindyam, Kuryadaharam Prana Sandharnartham | Pranaha Sandharyastatva Jijnasanartham, Tatvam Jijnasya Yena Bhuryo Na Duhkham – Yoga Vashishtha
Earn your food by proper, just, and honest means. Eat it with purity to sustain your vital energy. Elevate your vital energy to be able to gain knowledge and attain vigorous potentials to get rid of all infirmities and sorrows.
The food we eat is used in the production and strengthening of seven dhatus (tissues) in the body. At a gross level these dhatus are physiological fluids, blood, serum, flesh, bones, muscles and sperm/ovum. Food is given foremost importance in prevention as well as in cure of diseases as well as what kind of food should be taken for sustenance of a healthy body. As the levels of the three functional energies; vata, pitta, and kapha are regarded here to characterize one’s natural constitution, the triumphant of proper food, sound sleep and chastity are the predominant factors in regulating the health of the mind/body system. Of these three, food is given maximum importance as it plays a direct role in the maintenance of the seven dhatus and in affecting the balance of the tridosa.
There is no constraint of diet imposed in the Allopathic methods of treatment and Allopathic doctors have less than 20 hours of nutrition on average in their education. As of 2004, medical students across the US only averaged about 24 contact-hours of nutrition education during medical school. Also, medicines are given principal importance in allopathy with very little understanding of there being any responsibility of the individual in how they are eating and living having any effect on their health or disease.
Ayurveda appropriately selects and controls diet as an integral part of treatment to enhance vitality and regulate the medicinal effects in natural harmony with the entire system of the body and mind . Charaka has explained six aspects which should be considered in deciding what is worth eating and what is not in a given condition.
Matrakalakriya Bhumidehadosa Gunantaram | Prapya Tattaddhi Dashyante Tato Bhavastatha Thata | Tasmatsvabhavo Nirdistastatha Matradirashrayah | Tadapekshyobhayam Karm Prayojyam Siddhimicchata | Tadeva Hyapathyam Deshakala San yogaviryapramanati Yoga dbhuyastarampathyam Sampadyate | Tatra Khalvimani Astavaharvidhivishesayatanani Bhavanti | Tadyathaprakatikarana San yoga rashideshakalopa yogaSansthopayoktastemani Bhavanti|| Charaka Sutrasthana
1 Quantity of food
2 Time at which it is prepared or is being eaten as well as seasonal variations
3 Process of its preparation
4 Place including soil, climate and surrounding conditions, etc at which its raw constituents have grown
5 Constitution including chemical, botanical, properties, etc
6 Subtle and gross defects, unnatural effects or impurities, if any
These are the principal factors responsible for the making a food pathya (worth eating or healthy) or apathya (not worth eating and harmful). The unhealthy nature or flaw in any one or more of these could convert a generally edible food into inedible or apathya. Charaka further enjoins that some substances are naturally inedible. They should never be used in food. Even the medicinal plants, vegetables, and grains should be taken only in proper mode while taking into account the above aspects.
Astavidh Ahara Vidhi Vishesayatan
Charaka describes eight principal factors associated with the process of eating. These are collectively termed as Astavidh Ahara Vidhi Vishesayatan. These are supplementary to each other and comprehensively represent the process of eating. Each of them contributes to healthy or negative effects of the food being eaten. These are:
1 natural quality of food
2 method of preparation of food (who prepares the food, how and where all are part of this important factor; whereas, for most of us only the taste matters)
3 combination (of various components or constituents of the food);
4 amount or quantity of food;
5 place (at which the food-ingredients are grown; where it is prepared and being eaten) the seasonal effects are also included here;
5 time (of preparation and consumption of food);
6 the mode of eating;
7 the physical and mental state of the person who is eating it.
The importance of these factors is justified scientifically. It is well known which food will be digestible in which season and in what quantity etc,…… depends upon the basic properties of the raw substances in it, the method of preparation e.g., mixing some other substances increases or negates some of its qualities; or steaming it would be healthier than deep frying in oil, etc… and upon the metabolic health of the person who eats it. That the metabolic system is incredibly sensitive to mental condition is also confirmed in many clinical trials all over the world. Added to this, Charaka Samhita, the main text of Ayurveda, also takes into account the subtler aspects e.g. the sanskara of the food which includes the manner in which it is obtained and purchased, the way the money or resources used in getting or preparing it are earned, etc and the sanskara as intrinsic tendencies of the person who prepares the food, etc. Yes, it gets pretty detailed.
Sushruta has described the major categories from medical point of view of food under the heading “dwadashashana vicara”. Ata urdhwam Dwadashashan, Praticaran Vakshayamah | Tatra Shitosna Snigdha Ruksha, Dravshuskaika Kalika Dwikalika Ausadhiyukta Matrahina Dosa Prashamana Vatyarthah || This shloka tells twelve different types of food in terms of their gross basic properties and also tells what type is good under what natural conditions. Seeing these properties and the conditions in terms of the prominent natural constitution or tridosa level and/or diseases caused by the imbalance in the tridosa under which they are prescribed will give a deeper understanding to the fundamentals that are applied throughout.
1. Shita (Cold): This type of food (which has a cooling tendency) is advised for those suffering from acidity, heat or plethora. It is also advised for those weakened by excessive sexual indulgence, or due to some toxic effect.
2. Ushna (Hot): It is recommended for those suffering from the diseases or problems of excess of vata or kapha dosa. The food intake in small quantity after total stomach cleansing, fasting, etc, should also be of this category.
3. Snigdha (Oily): This type of food is suitable in appropriate quantity to suppress vata dosa. Those used to physical labor or substantial physical exercises also benefit from such food. It is also remedial against dry skin, bony, thin or weak body.
4. Ruksha (Rough & Arid): It helps controlling kapha dosa. Those having fatty body or oily skin should also use this type of food.
5. Drava (Liquid): The diet of those suffering from dryness inside the body which may lead to boils, peptic ulcer, or ligament problems, etc should consist of this type in substantial proportions.
6. Shuska (Dry): Those suffering from leprosy, prameha (what we call diabetes but diabetes is an extremely limited term, instead, it is the excretion of sperm and several vital hormones with the urine), erysipelas or wounds should be given dry food.
7. EkaKalika (One-timely): Those suffering from loss of appetite or weak digestive system should take food only once a day to help normalization of the appetite and metabolic disorders.
8. DwiKalika (Two-timely): In normality, healthy people should take proper meals only twice a day. (not three or even worse what is popular in the west for supposed blood sugar problems is to eata small meal every few hours)
9. Ausadhi-Yukta (Medicinal): Those who cannot take medicines orally may be given these mixed in appropriate food. Sometimes, specific medicinal plants or herbs are also advised as essential ingredient of the regimen in specific diseases.
10. Matrahina (Light): Those having liver problem, suffering from fever, or having loss of appetite due to some other disease(s), should take light and easily digestible food. This may be dry or liquid, warm or cold type, as per the nature of the ailment and natural tendency in terms of the level of dosha.
11. Prashamanakaraka (Tridosa-Controller): For healthy as well as diseased persons, the choice of food should be according to the season and the level of dosas. For example, warm, sour, and sweet foods help suppress vata dosha when it is high in autumn or rainy season.
12. Vatti Prayojaka (Naturally Soothing): For healthy persons, nourishing food is that which helps maintaining and strengthening the vital elements and stamina and which increases resistance against diseases.
Apathya (unsuitable) Food: This category of food corresponds to what either causes some ailment or disorder of some kind or aggravates or prolongs an existing disease or weakness. Ayurveda has affirmed food as the essential source of sustenance and strengthening of health. However, they had also alerted that “what one eats and how?” could be the major factor for or cause of illness; it could even prove to be toxic. In fact, the same type of food could have contrary effects, though invisible, under different circumstance or for different persons; most important is what kinds of guidelines one follows in the selection and preparation of food and in his eating habits. According to the following shloka in SutraSthana in Charaka Samhita, the food or medicine, which might suppress an ailment or temporarily control the imbalance of the dosas but does not uproot or eliminate them completely is also apathya (unsuitable and harmful). Yatkincitaddosamasadya, Na Nirharati Kayatah | Aharajatam Tatsarvamahitayopapadyate ||
Non-compatibility of Place: Rugged or arid food and herbs are harmful or unsuitable in a wild land or in a desert, while cold and greasy-smooth, oily or fatty substances or preparations including medicines are bad for health or have negative effects in a wet or highly humid or swampy area.
Non-compatibility of Season: Cold eatables and drinks and foods having chilling potency are avoidable in winter; whereas the use of hot and spicy foods and substances having potency to increase body heat should be avoided during summer and spring.
Non-compatibility of Appetite: Eating without having proper appetite is harmful. Similarly, not eating nourishing food in appropriate quantity even while feeling hungry is also harmful to health and has negative effect on appetite and metabolism.
Non-compatibility of Combination: Eating a combination of ghee and honey in equal proportion causes severe toxic effect while individually each has important nourishing and medicinal effects if taken in appropriate quantity with respect to other factors. Similar is the case with several other non-compatible combinations.
Non-compatibility of Body’s Adaptability: If one’s body has got accustomed to acrid, spicy, and hot in potency foods then sweet and cold in potency foods would be generally unsuitable to his body’s adaptability.
Non-compatibility of Tridosas: The food or medicine, that might have properties similar to those inducing the tendencies of any of the three dosas (vata, pitta and kapha) but, that causes contrary effects because of disharmony with one’s natural constitution, habits and physical or mental work pattern in practice is said to be non-compatiblity of tridosas.
Non-compatibility of Utensils: Boiling milk in pure copper pot makes it poisonous in its effects. These or some other types of metallic utensils are highly unsuitable for cooking meals; while several types of substances are unsuitable for preparation of chilled drinks, desserts, etc.
Non-compatibility of Eating Habits: Eating hot potency food with cold potency substances or vice-versa, simultaneously or without substantial time gap causes harmful effects.
Non-compatibility of Digestive System: Giving laxatives or strong medicines or foods to someone having a delicate digestive system or intra-body structure is harmful. (Now think about this one for a second in connection to all the detoxing dieting programs and books that are out there, what do you think they are doing to people since they have absolutely no possible way to diagnose an individuals ability to do any detoxing and they think everyone should do them)
Non-compatibility of Sleeping Habits: Food or medicine which intensifies kapha tendency is not suitable for people who are generally slow and sluggish in their routine or who sleep heavily; it further induces lethargy or drowsiness. (this would also apply to eating kale chips or doing any dieting or fasting for a vata person who thinks and speaks to much and does not sleep much)
Non-compatibility of Routine: Eating without proper excretion of urine and stools is harmful. Those desirous of good natural health should never eat food without really feeling hungry.
Non-compatibility of Sequence of Eatables: Having water, cooling food or any medicines after drinking or eating smooth oily stuff causes negative effects. (One might even vomit instantly or have sour throat in such cases.)
Non-compatibility of Cooking: Eating half-cooked or overcooked or over-fried food is unhealthy. Similar is the case with food cooked using polluting fuel.
Non-compatibility of Composition: Drinking any preparation of mixing acidic substances including fruits with milk is harmful for health. Unless well set and fresh, curd and desserts prepared with fruits kept in milk for some time are also prohibited in Ayurveda.
The Twelve Categories of Nourishing Eatables: Charaka Samhita and other Ayurvedic texts discusses a great deal about the impact of food on physical, mental and spiritual health. It broadly classifies the nourishing substances into twelve categories. This description is based on the common crops and vegetation available in ancient times. They are not all available today and some of those that are named is not even correctly identified. What cereals, pulses, plants, etc are available today could also be added into the corresponding categories.
Shukadhanyam Shamidhanyam Samatitam Prashasyate | Puranam Prayasho Ruksham Prayenabhinavam Guru || Yadyadagacchati Kshipram Tattallaghutaram Smatam| Puranamam Sanklistam Krimivyalahimatapaih|| Adeshakalajam Klinnam Yatsyatphalamasadhu Tat ||
The twelve categories of nourishing eatables are identified as
Shuka: grains or monocots like cereals, e.g. barley, maze, wheat, rice, etc
Shami: grains (duocots like all kinds of pulses and grams)
Shakas: all fresh vegetables
Greens: fresh, naturally green substances that contain chlorophyll
Ambu: watery substances
Goras: cow-milk and its pure, fresh products
Ikshu: sugar cane and its fresh products
Krattana: (food cooked on fire from cereals, pulses and vegetables)
Yaugika: (all kinds of nourishing minerals and compounds).
Alcoholic substances (wine etc) and Animal-based foods (including meat, fish, etc) are used in Ayurveda medicinally. They are also known for their negative impact on spiritual health and subtle mental tendencies.
A doti is used as clothing in worship as it is one piece and has no stitches. It is ONE piece of fabric. Think about what stitches are?
Like a snake around Shivas neck.
Naga – is the Sanskrit and Pāli word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake, found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
They are protecting, the kundalini is a naga. Sarpas are the negative.
Ga is darkness, Na is negation. = No darkness.
Gana = remover of darkness
Ganapati = Ganesha
Gana means count, categories, 1, 2, 3, 4,
When you learned how to count you took a promise to remove darkness from your life. it is the greatest blessing in your life. it is the blessing of Ganesha.
If you did not know how to count how would you have any knowledge at all? Everything has a count. A category.
Shiva says, “Thank he who first gives the first step to remove ignorance.” This is why Ganesha is always worshiped first before anything else.
Dharmartham Narthakamarthamayurvedo Maharsibhih | Prakasito Dharma Parairicchadbhih Sthanamaksaram
Ayurveda was developed for pure altruistic purpose of human welfare and not for any materialistic gain. Today’s scenario is just the opposite. People at large are draining vitality and vigor due to undisciplined lifestyle and sensual pleasures and medicine or health care has become a costly profession, a means for high earning. The need for a natural, inexpensive mode of preventive care and maintenance of health has become all the more crucial and urgent these days. The guidelines on daily routine as per the recommendations of Ayurveda provide practical and efficacious tips in this respect. Along with physical exercise, the daily routine should also have place for some activities to maintain mental and spiritual fitness. Sandhyaupasana and certain yoga kriyas with meditation are therefore described in the scriptures as integral parts of ideal daily routine. Doing sandhyaupasana every day with the japa of Gayatri Mantra is said to bestow longevity, strength, intelligence, success, glory and spiritual light. Nurturing the soul is actually more important than nourishing the body.
From “Chanakya Niti”:
Vipro Vraaksastasya Mulam Cha Sandhya, Veda h Sakha Dharmakarmani Patram | Tasyanmulam Yatnato Raksaniyam, Chinne Mule Naiva Sakha Na Patram || Chanakya Niti. 10-13
Sandhyaupasana is the root of the tree of healthy life. Knowledge constitutes its branches and dharmic activities are its leaves. Blossoming growth of a tree is dependant on the life of its roots. Without the roots there will be no possibility of any branch or leaves. Sandhyaupasana is the basis of human life in the truest sense. The rituals in it of the two shatkarmas, pavitrikarana, achamana, sikhabandhana, pranayam, nyasa and praathvipujan are simple but effective practices for psychological boosting of the mind and energizing the body. If one can learn it in earnest and authentically, they should try to practice sandhyavandana three times a day. Minimum is once in the morning and once in the evening. The only real times are as the word sandhya implies, the junctions or sandhi between phases of the day.
“Ahoratrasya Ya Sandhih Suryanaksatra Varjita | Satu Sandhya Samakhyata Munibhistatva Darsibhih”
Around the times of sunrise and sunset when neither sun nor any of the stars are seen are the sandhi times. They are described as extremely sensitive with respect to the effect on bodily, mental, and spiritual well being. One should be very careful about what we do in this period. As per Ayurveda… “Sahityika Subhashita Vaidyakam”
Chatvari Ghorarupani Sandhyakale Parityajet | Aharam, Maithunam, Nidra, Swadhyaya m Cha Vivarjayet
Eating, sexual intercourse, sleeping, reading and writing during the sandhi times are extremely harmful and are strictly prohibited during these time intervals. Doing pranayama, meditation, and prayers or mantra in these times induce intensive positive and healthy effects. Garuda Purana says “If God Vishnu is found asleep during the sandhi times, Lakshmi would leave Him”. This is also stating the results that one can expect if one sleeps at those same times. These timings are of crucial significance in the practice of Gayatri Mantra japa and also when lamps are lit through the different religions in India. It is because the brilliance of rising sun happens to be the focus of Gayatri. Awakening of discerning intellect and holding onto knowledge is the immediate benefit of this practice. It is the coming of the light or knowledge and the going of the darkness or ignorance.
Matsya Purana says Adityasya Manaskaram Ye Kurvanti Dine Dine | Janmantara Sahastresu Daridrayam Nopajayate
Those who practice Suryanamskara every morning are relieved from all infirmities and sickness in this life and in the lives to follow.
Whatever one ingests falls in the category of food or annam, which when and if processed by the metabolic system, becomes a source of energy for the different organs and parts of the body. We all eat and some people are generally aware of the importance of our foods purity, freshness, etc… But more than that how many of us pay attention to its subtle properties? Apart from recommending suitable food choices for different seasons and for individual constitution, the Ayurveda also focuses on the intrinsic properties of food which affect the subtle body. The food, which is worth taking (healthy) in terms of its physical and subtle qualities, but taken with the wrong eating habits or method of preparation could make the food unsuitable or even toxic to one’s health. It is equally important to know not only what to eat but also when and how to eat it.
Brahadyogi yagya valkya Smriti states Amraatam Kalpayitwa Ca Yadannam Samupagatam | Pranagnihotravidhina Vidhina Bhojyam Tadwadaghapaham
Having food should be treated like a yajna in which holy sacrifices are made in the sacred fire of prana. Such a food becomes a source of elimination of all sickness and weakness of the body and mind. I am gonna share a personal experience here….. I personally pray before each meal. I give my food to god before taking any. This is my own way. I do this in restaurants, at friends houses, everywhere and anywhere. I get stared at and giggled at and even whispers and points sometimes. Interesting how uncomfortable it makes most people feel, specially internally. Even here in India. I don’t see many people in the world doing this at all. It is not just a vedic thing or a yoga thing or an ayurvedic thing… it is a totally natural thing to be thankful for the food that you have received and show gratitude to whatever higher force you may believe in that has brought it to you for your consumption. The gratitude for all the energy that has gone into growing it by nature, by god. All the people that have done some part of the work to bring it to the place it is, right in front of you. Knowing that this food, what you are about to eat will become you, is it not worthy of being praised, blessed? I have a devout Kabbalist friend, nothing at all enters his mouth, not even a liquid, without his blessing it. Think about it.
The Gita says Ayuh Satva Balarogya Sukha Pritivivardhana | Rasyah Snigdhah Sthira Hryadya Aharah Sattwikapriya || -Gita XVII-8
A person of Sattwika nature likes to eat foods that prolong life, purify one’s inner being, give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. The Gita further mentions about the foods liked by persons of Rajasika and Tamasika natures… Katva-amla-lavanati-usna-tiksna-ruksa-vidahina | Ahara rajasasyesta dukha-sokamaya-prada -Gita XVII 9
Foods that are bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to a person of Rajasika nature. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.
Yatu yamam gata-rasam puti paryusitam ca yat | Ucchistamapi camedhyam bhojanam tamas priyam || -Gita XVII -10
Stale, tasteless, decomposed, putrid and leftover foods are liked by a person of Tamasika nature. The Ramayana also has some reference to the quality of food. Talking of moral principles, Jatayu says “Eatable food is that which is completely digested in a natural way, without producing any harmful effect inside the body”.
Some scriptures also comment on the best quantity of food intakes. For example, the Vishnu Purana suggests
Jatharam Purayedardharmannairbhagam Jalena Cha | Vayoh Sancarnarthaya Chaturthamavasaisayeta
The portion of solid food should be about half the capacity of the stomach; one-fourth of the latter should be filled with liquid diet and water and the remaining one-fourth should be left empty for free movement of air and fluids inside the stomach. Ayurveda states that most of the diseases have their roots in overeating and improper cleansing of the digestive system. This is true in case of modern urbanized lifestyle of today. Excessive eating or consumption of lavish, gravy foodstuffs or fast foods, processed and canned foods, non-vegetarian dishes, etc… do not suit the biomechanics and natural process of metabolism of the human body. These unnatural foods eventually result in constipation, acidity, or other problems of indigestion. Defective metabolism leads to weakening of the entire system. The undigested toxic heavy molecules (aama) and other kinds of unexcretia inside the body cause varieties of unforseen reactions. Germs and other infections also get support in such a host system, the environment is created for their existence. If there isn’t sufficient space for airflow within and out of the stomach, it may cause unnatural pressure on the heart, often leading to angina. The instructions in ayurveda on “Why to eat? What to eat? When to eat? How much to eat? And, how to eat?” it is the key to a happy, healthy life.
Jirnabhojinam Vyadhirnopasarpati | Chanakya Sutra
One who eats only when the food consumed earlier has been properly digested, remains free from all diseases.
Abhyangamacarenityam Sa Jarashramavataha | Drashtiprasada Pushtayamu Swapna Sutvakcadadharya Krata | Shirah Shravanapadeshu Tam Visheshena Shilayeta
Abhyanga (oil massage): Daily oil-massage of the body prevents gastric problems, fatigue and aging. Clear eyesight, good sleep, long age, beautiful skin and stout body are gained by this practice. Oil-massage should be especially applied on the head, ears and legs. (This is generalized and not specific for everyone. It depends upon ones digestive strength, time of year, as well as other factors)
Sarshapam Gandhatailam Yattailam Pushpavasitam| Anya Dravyayutam Tailam Na Dushyati Kadacana
Mustard oil, fragrant natural-oil and oils extracted from flowers and mixed with other natural substances are usable. Massaging with the sesame or mustard oil as per the season is supposed to be the best.
Snehabhyangadyatha Kumbhashcarma Snehavimardanat | Bhavatyupango Dakshashca Dradah Kleshasaho Yatha || Thata Shariramabhyangadradam Sutvak Prajayate| Prashantamarutabadham Kleshavyayamasangraham|| Sparshane Cadhiko Vayuh Sparshananca Twamashritam | Twacyashca Paramobhyangastamattam Shilayennarah || Na Cabhighatabhihatam Gatramabhyangasevinah | Vikaram Bhajatityartham Balakarmani Va Kwacita || Susparshopacitangashca Balavan Priyadarshanah | Bhatyabhyanga Nityatvannarulpojara Eva Ca
As the polishing with lubricants makes a pot, leather and cartwheel shining, smooth and strong, the body also becomes strong and possesses beautiful skin by massaging it with oil. The vata (gas and movements related) problems are also allayed and the resistance and stamina of the body increases. Massaging the body everyday with due care makes the skin smooth and the body-parts strong; the signs of aging become less visible and the body becomes charming. Oil-massage helps in increasing one’s life -span and the glow of the body. The importance of oil is in no way less than that of ghee (clarified butter) in strengthening one’s health .
Ghratadashta Gunam Tailam Mardane Na Tubhakshane |
The power of oil is eight times more than that of ghee; the only difference is the latter is useful in eating while oil is beneficial in massaging.
Method of Massaging: First apply oil in the navel. It should then be rubbed on the nails of hands and legs. Then the soles should be massaged followed successively by the feet, above the feet, knees, thighs and hips. Then the hands, arms, neck, waist, back, abdomen, stomach should be massaged in that order. The chest should be massaged in the end. The hands should move in upward direction in all parts of the body except the neck; massaging the neck from top to bottom is more useful. Care should be taken to massage the chest slightly away from the heart. Massaging should be done in the morning before bathing. It is to be done in an open space with no breeze. A drop of oil could be poured in the ears while massaging them gently; this is quite useful against the problems of vata. Massaging the soles sharpens the eyesight because of the soothing effects on nerves. Massaging should be done slowly. It does not take much time. Though there is more benefit if it is done for half an hour. Some time should be given between massaging and bathing to help proper absorption of oil. For best results, one should lie down or sit in a relaxed position for fifteen minutes or so if possible. Shaving the beard and cleaning the nails etc could be done during this time. Care must be taken not to do massaging for at least three hours after eating. Massaging should not be done during illness.
Kshaurkarma (shaving): Shaving is a necessary requirement of the daily routine in Ayurveda for adult males in most normal cases. Hardly do we know its importance other than looking and feeling neat and clean. The Ayurvedic texts tell us that this daily chore is important for mental and physical health, too.
Paushtikam Vrashyamayushyam Shuci Rupavirajanam | Keshashmashrunakhadinam Kalpanam Sampra sadhana m|| Papopashamanam Keshanakharomapamarjanam | Harshalaghavasaubhagyakaramutsaha Vardhanam ||
Charaka has defined “shaving” as a cleansing and beautifying exercise, which augments health, life span and happiness. The second shloka from Sushruta Samhita, also has similar meaning (Sushruta is revered as the founder of surgery, in modern medicine too). It conveys that “shaving” everyday alleviates the evil tendencies of mind, reduces tension and heaviness and induces a cheerful mood and enthusiasm. Therefore everyone who needs it should shave his face every day. It makes one feel neat and energetic. Those who like to grow beard should take care of cleaning it and keeping it orderly and in proper shape as far as possible. Hair on the head should be cut at least once in 3 to 4 weeks. Women should also keep their hair clean and tidy. It should be noted that the “kshaurkarma” also implies cleaning and cutting wherever applicable hair on all parts of the body and cleaning and cutting the nails. Nails should also be cut regularly once a week or fortnightly, in general and cleaned everyday. (For even more detail, if you know tithis; cutting hair, nails and shaving is to be done on Pratipada, Tritiya, and Chaturdasi which are the 1st, 3rd, and 14th phases of the moon) The brush, razor etc used for cutting the hair, nail etc should also be kept clean.
Vyayam (Physical Exercise): According to Ayurveda, regular exercise of the body is essential for everyone. Sharira Cheshta Ya Cheshta Sthairyartha Balavardhini | Deha Vyayama Sankhyata Matraya Tam Samacareta ||
The movements and postures of the body aimed at stabilizing and strengthening it constitute what is known as “Physical Exercise”. As food is essential for sustenance of life, so is physical exercise vital for its health. A mechanical clock does not work without periodical winding. Similarly the body can not function properly without any physical exercise. Regular physical exercise is like the nectar milk of Kamadhenu, a heavenly cow referred in scriptures, for good health. Interesting to note here is that in vedic times there was not endurance training and cardiovascular training like there is today in the Western exercise theory. In fact, if those types of training was seen from the lens of Ayurveda or Yoga it would be seen as ativyayam or excessive and would be condemned due to its destructive effect on health of mind and body. What could be considered cardiovascular exercise from a vedic sense would be pranayama but it even is deeper than that. The entire way of looking at exercise and what is healthy is backwards in the Western view from a Vedic understanding of health. The contractive training to break the muscle cells so that they grow back stronger is a singularly modern Western concept. The muscle fibers grow back adhesed like gristle in a piece of steak which makes the body tight and creates stress in the physiology as well as the mind. The heart has to work much harder to send blood through the tight tissues than it does for loose relaxed tissues (think of what high blood pressure really is). Bigger stronger faster is not what Ayurveda means by exercise, That is solely a Western mindset. In fact, Charaka states that having a relaxed pot belly is a sign of good health. This hardly fits today’s modern version of 8% bodyfat and ripped abdominals of what is considered ideally healthy.
According to Charaka, Laghavam Karmasamarthyam Sthairya Duhkha Sahishnuta | Doshakshayugnivraddhishca Vyayamadupa jap ate||
Physical exercise gives lightness to the body, increases its stamina for hard work, stability and tolerance. It helps in elimination of the bodily deficiencies and defects and augments the appetite (stimulates the digestive fire).
As per the text “Bhava Prakasha” Vyayamadradhagatrayasya Vyadhirnasti Kadacana | Viruddham Va Vidagdham Va Bhuktam Shighram Vipacyate ||
The body is strengthened by regular physical exercise and is prevented from catching diseases. Its capacity of resistance and defense and immunity against diseases also increases. Physical exercise helps digestion of heavy food which is difficult to digest easily. Physical exercise is a must to avoid or reduce obesity. Regular exercises of the body keep one fit and cheerful. Such people are free from the ’usual’ problems of old age. Proper physical exercises strengthen the muscles and keep the body in shape, harmonize the blood flow, give power to the lungs and energize the nerves. Physical exercises should always be done at a place where there is sufficient flow of fresh air. For an average man and woman, it is advised to practice physical exercises that use only half or little more of their stamina at any time. Different types of exercises are recommended for people of different age groups, physique and general health. Overdoing an exercise or stretching/stressing any part of the body beyond its limits proves to be harmful. The blind followers of aerobics or those going to the so-called heath-clubs out of craze or ’fitness fashion’ centers should take special note of this specially modern Western “yogis” practicing what they think is yoga but is actually just Western exercise.
Ayurveda warns us against the negative effects, balardha, of over or improper exercises which is unsuitable to one’s body:
Hradisthane Sthito Vayuryada Vakram Prapadhyate| Vyayamam Kurvato Jantoh Stadvalardhasya Lakshanam || Kaksha Lalata Nasasu Hastapadadisandhishu | Pras veda namukha Shoshacca Balardhamtaddhi Nirdisheta||
If the air/oxygen to be supplied to the heart begins to be absorbed in the mouth, i.e. having to breath through the mouth and not the nose, then it is a sign of balardha. Unusual perspiration through the armpits, forehead, on the upper lip and leg-joints, etc implies balardha. You can see from this that what the modern day science thinks is exercise is from a Vedic view…. excessive. All exercise should be done with breathing through the nose only. Breathing through the mouth is a sign that one has gone past their maximal capacity and prana will now be imbalanced if continued leading to disease.
Kshayastranarucchirdi Raktapittabhramaklamah | Kasashosha Jwarshwasa Ativyayama Sambhavah ||
Improper or over exercising may lead to excessive thirst, vomiting, giddiness, piles, problems of blood circulation, cough, breathing problems, fever and even tuberculosis due to excessive weakness etc.
Raktapitti Krashah Shoshi Shwasakasakshataturah | Bhuktavanstrishu Ca Kshino Bhramartashca Vivarjayet ||
The patients of plethora, asthmatic attack, or severe cough, withering of body, acute anemia and underweight, heart disorders, vertigo, etc or the one who has just eaten or drunk something should not do physical exercise. Ayurveda recommends practice of yoga for physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga means the path which leads to spiritual awareness, not exercise. However, the trends today have diluted and distorted the meanings and forms of yoga. Moreover, people in sheer frantic hurry to get rid of specific health problems or eager to slim the body, often start practicing some type of the asanas of yoga as advertised in a magazine or ’taught’ in a health club without realizing the possible adverse side-effects that are created unless these asanas are accompanied by some complementary asanas or without following the proper disciplines associated with them. All kinds of physical exercises or yoga should be practiced under proper guidance (what is that thought? a 200 hour certified person). It is also important to understand the underlying philosophy of yoga and understand that asana is a very small part of what yoga is.
Morning Walk: Most of us are aware of the importance of morning walk. It is regarded as an integral part of the daily routine in Ayurveda. The morning time is ideally conductive for enhancing and purifying the physical and mental energies. The air is fresh and pure, especially near the plants and trees it is full of soothing fragrances. Its cool to the touch and is very pleasant. Even in the peak of winter one can enjoy it while wearing sufficient warm clothes and it becomes energizing. Breathing should be deep and only through the nostrils (the mouth should be kept closed). Walk with as light and less clothes as feasible per the season. Walking speed should be as fast as one could manage with ease. The mind should be trained to visualise “through each in-breath, I am absorbing vital energy and radiance floating in Nature and throwing away the metabolic wastes and defects with its exhalation.” The immediate gains of a morning walk are elimination of constipation and digestive problems. Any clean and airy place is good for morning walk. There is research in Ayurveda that has shown that 5 minutes of the red rays of the first 20 minutes of the rising sun on just enough bare skin as the size of the palm to get your days worth of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
Bathing: Bathing every day at least once is a necessary discipline of Vedic way of life. It cleans the body and opens the skin pores. From an Ayurvedic view it opens the srotas or channels. Bathing in the morning removes all the drowsiness and laziness and refreshes the body. It soothes the mind and hence helps in concentration, meditation, studies, etc. Water has been referred as amrat or nectar and jivana, life giving, in the Vedas.
Apa Id Va U Bheshajirapo Amivacatanih | Apo Vishvasya Bheshajistastva Muncantu Kshetriyat ||
Water is a medicine in itself; it is an enemy of diseases. It has the potential to kill diseases. It increases life span and helps in well being. At one place the Vedas even say “Bhishagyo Bhishaktara Apah |” Water is the best among all medicines. Realizing this importance of water, water is given prominent place in Ayurveda. Bathing every day helps healthy growth of the body and its activeness. Its obvious effects are cleansing and freshening of the body and inducing a feeling of freshness in the mind as well.
Pavitram Vrashyamayushyam Shramaswedamalapaham | Sharira Balasandhanam Snanamojaskaram Param || -Charaka Samhita
The body is purified by bathing. Bathing enhances life span, eliminates fatigue, sweat and dirt. It augments the liveliness and force of the body.
According to Sushruta, Snanam Dahashramaharam Swedakandutrashapaham | Hrdyam Malaharam Shreshtham Sarvendriyavishodhanem || Tandrapapopashamanam Tushtidam Punsatva Vardhanam | Raktaprasadanam Capi Snanamagneshca Dipanam ||
Bathing eliminates heat, fatigue, sweat, itching, and thirst. It cleans the sweat on the body, strengthens the heart and naturally cleans the sense organs. It removes the drowsiness and helps in recharging the blood circulation and energy. Very warm water should not be used for bathing above the collarbone as the heat has negative effects on the senses and on delicate skin. Bathing with comfortably cold water is best for healthy effects. It allays the excess heat of the body and plethora of other problems. Bathing should be started from the head. A bucket bath is the healthiest and a shower the least as it aggravates vata. In a bucket bath, at least three to four bathing cups full of water should be poured on the head in its straight and bent positions. Doing so helps release the heat of the head and the whole body. The other parts of the body should then be bathed in succession from top to bottom. Ayurveda would have you use a paste of besan (chick pea flour), turmeric and mustard oil, or suitable natural herbs rather than the soaps. Soap takes the natural oils out of the skin. This makes very little sense when really thought about. The body should then be rubbed by wet towel of cotton or a similar rough fabric after bathing so that the skin pores are opened up properly. Care should be taken to wipe up all the joints including those behind the ears and near the nostrils, etc this way. The body should be clothed only after it has dried completely. Absolutely do not bathe after having food or when having fever, or weakness due to dysentery, etc. Proper sponge bath could be taken while suffering from minor cold and/or some disease of ears or eyes. Bathing serves as a medicine.
Clothing: The Ayurvedic texts describe Kamyam Yashasyamayushyamlakshamighnam Praharshanam | Shrimatparishadam Shastam Nirmalambara Dharanam ||
Neat and clean clothing has pleasant and healthy effect; it eliminates the signs of indigence and enables one to sit with the civilized and cultured people. Different types of clothing are recommended for worshiping, working in the house, outing and sleeping. Different types of fabrics suit for different seasons; for example light especially white and light in texture, loose and thin clothes in summer. Warm clothes that are woolen, silky and dark colored that suppress kapha and vata in winter and easily drying clothes, especially whitish color, in autumn. Washing one’s clothes by oneself is a good physical exercise and also ensures careful cleaning. Do not wear dirty clothes. The choice of color for healthiest effect on the mental and physical health depends on chromopathy and astrological nuances in Ayurveda and Jyotisha. Tight clothes have negative effects on blood circulation and nervous system. Choice of clothing should be such that it allows comfortable movement of body and makes the personality graceful. (If you are so desiring the knowledge of best colors for you generally, you can send me your birth details of time and place and I can quickly look up what yours are. That is as long as I am not bombarded by requests to do so.)
Modern science knows of energy as material physical energy, can be physically measured… light, magnet, sound etc. It is now thought to be nothing but converted matter. Non-material energy cannot be measured yet. Our consciousness, Brahman, Chitta… these are still energy but cannot be measured by present day science. Development of future technologies may be able to measure this. We know that the entire creation of Brahman is a creation of consciousness… consciousness has created everything. That is non-physical energy. Maybe there are ways to convert that energy, the chakras and nadis are the way in which we convert that eternal, subtle, divine energy into physical energy… But really presenting whole idea in terms of modern science cannot be done now. Or maybe I should say that modern scientific limitations do not allow these to be presented by it’s paradigm which continually changes to its new discoveries and turns a blind eye to other paradigm’s that do not fit its own. It has great limitations. Some say modern science is a myth-making machine. Many truths are made into myths because cannot be proved by modern science because it doesn’t understand them. Non-physical energy is even more subtle. Prana is biological energy. The movement of the heart is a physical energy. The energy of the heart that moves it is physical energy. The Kundalini is even MORE subtle.
In Yoga Vashishta it speaks of this energy as a ripple, as a static energy that can’t be put into words. But that is an occurrence, which science would say has a cause. What is that cause if not physical? How is modern science ever going to be able to prove of anything non physical? I think we have seen this folly in the search for the god particle and its results with Higgs Boson.
The subtle nonphysical energy is even more subtle than that. For example the topic of prayer where experiment was on two separate patients with hemolysis of blood. One treated with conventional medicine, one doing conventional + prayer. Those receiving prayer sometimes from family member, some from priest. Those for whom prayer was done recovered, those done by the mother healed even faster. How did this prayer effect a change? The healing process occurs through nonphysical energy, science might say the mother is throwing a thought or something, that thought is quantum energy which then affects change. Brahman or creator of whole universe is energy and that happens on an even more subtle level. The hierarchy (yes, there is a hierarchy in the entire thing and much more than just this) of energy is nonphysical -> subtle – > gross/physical. The gross energy cannot create life, cannot create the whole universe. That phenomenon, called god or energy, is what needs to be studied. Not molecules, atoms, quarks, etc……