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……
Hitahitam Sukham Duhkhamayustasya Hitahitam | Mananca Tacca Yatroktam ayurvedah Sa Ucyate
The grand treatise, which contains the details of healthy and long age (ayush) and which defines what is good (hita) and what is bad (ahita) for the four different types of ayus (namely, hitayu, ahitayu, sukhayu and dukhayu, concerning different conditions of diseased or healthy life ) is Ayurveda .
The basic purpose of Ayurvedic knowledge is cited as
“Swasthasya Swastharakshanama Turasya Vikara Prashamanam Ca”
Ayurveda aims at the protection and maintenance of good health of the healthy people and elimination of and control over the ailments and health -disorders of the un healthy. The following are the signs of a healthy person according to Ayurveda.
Samadoshah Samagnishca Samadhatumala Kriyah | Prasannatmendriyamanah Swastha Ityabhidhiyate
Only that person is healthy, whose doshas, dhatu, mala, and agni (the basic elements and functional energy streams as per one’s natural constitution or prakati) are balanced and free from all defects and disorders and whose mind and soul are in perfect harmony. The above definition conveys the comprehensive and complete approach of this great science of medicine and total health . Prakati Nidana the basis of diagnosis and treatment under Ayurveda describes one’s natural constitution (prakrati) in terms of three basic functional elements or physical, mental and emotional energy patterns called the tridosha: namely, vata, pitta and kapha. In terms of the physique and physiological activities of the body, the modern researchers interpret vata as the energy of movement, pitta as the energy of digestion or metabolism and kapha as the energy of lubrication and structure. Harmonious balance of vata, pitta and kapha is regarded as the sign of normally healthy state. Any disturbance, excess or deficiencies in any of these upsets the normal concentration of vital elements, and physiological and (bio) chemical reactions and functioning inside the body and therefore results in different kinds of diseases. For example, if the waste products inside the body are not discharged properly, these will cause harmful deposits and toxic effects. Ayurveda recommends disciplines in eating habits, sleep, and other phases of daily routine , etc, as per one’s prakati and the nature of the climate and the ambience one lives in. One of the major causes of generally bad health and mushrooming of diseases in the modern times is the haphazard and undisciplined life style adopted by most people today. If we care for natural maintenance of good health , it is worth paying heed to the tips provided under the teachings of Ayurveda . Let us first look at what is described as the ideal routine of the day according to Ayurveda . After getting up in Brahm-muhurta (about three hours before sunrise); five to ten minutes sadhana of contemplation on self-realization, paying respect to mother earth in the form of Namaskar, drinking substantial amount of water to fill the stomach for proper cleansing by excretion, cleaning the teeth, massaging the body with oil, morning walk, physical exercises (by suitable yoga asanas), bathing followed by japa sadhana with meditation, swadhyaya (study of enlightening books and scriptures) are the successive steps of the daily routine before having lunch. Getting up in the Brahm-muhurta is given significant importance in the scriptures for physical, mental and spiritual development .
Brahme Muhurte Hyuttish hejjirna Nirupayan Rakshartha Mayusah Swastho A. Su. 3 Brahme Muhurte Budhyet Swastho Raksharthmayusah | Bha. Pra. 1| 24
In order to enjoy a long, healthy life , a person should get up in the brahm-muhurta with positive thinking. He should also take care of what he eats at night; whether it is digested properly or not? (That means, the night-meal should be light and taken much earlier before going to sleep so that one will not feel heavy and drowsy in getting up so early).
Manu has advised Brahme Muhurte Budhyet Dharmarthacanucintayet | Kayakleshanshca Tanmulan veda tatwarthameva Ca -Manu. 4 | 92
Every man and woman should get up in the brahm-muhurta and think of dharma and artha. (That means one should determine the righteous mode of utilizing the day ahead and also plan for constructive use of his time and efforts during the day for progressive augmentation of resources and talents). One should also contemplate on his body-functions and analyze whether it is in healthy state or not. If not, he should try to investigate (by introvert concentration on the body) the cause of what is going wrong. Reading and contemplating on the teachings of the Vedas should also be a part of this morning phase. Today, there is a general habit of eating late in the night, watching television still longer. Then how could one get up early in the morning? But if we want to be away from all diseases and enjoy a vigorous and hearty life , we will have to change this wrong trend. We must inculcate the habit of getting up before sunrise. Human life is indeed a rare opportunity for self-realization. We must make best use of every moment of this precious gift. We should get up every morning with a feeling of having a new birth and plan constructively for the best use of the day, as though the next twenty-four hours would be the entire span of the new life . Lotus blossoms with bliss with the dawn of the day, birds welcome it with sonorous warbling, wind flows smoothly with a refreshing touch. Everything in Nature’s creation appears to gain new life , new energy in the brahm-muhurta. If we miss these beautiful moments by sleeping, great will be our loss in terms of soul awakening. Brahm-muhurta is said to be the best period of the day. It is most favorable for maintaining good health and also for intellectual and spiritual progress. Nature wholeheartedly enshowers during this time phase all that is essential for mental and bodily strength, vigour, happiness, intellectual brilliance and productivity and spiritual benefits. The ancient scriptures of Ayurveda mention the above fact at one place as
Varna, Kirti, Mati, Lakshmim, Swasthyam Ayushca Vindati | Brahme Muhurte Sanjagracchiyam Va Pankajam Yatha
Getting up in the brahm-muhurta helps gaining beauty, charm, brilliance of intellect, glory, prosperity,health and long life . The body gets energized and blossoms like a lotus flower if one is awake at this time. We should get up in this supremely energizing phase of the day and do the sadhana of atmabodha (self-realization). The atmabodha sadhana is performed just after getting up. The conscious mind and all associated faculties go into rest with sound sleep in the night. The visible world ends and one lives in a different world of unconscious perceptions. The soul has only a tenuous connection with the body and the gross world in this phase; which is just sufficient to enable continuity of the vital functions that maintain the living state of the body. The consciousness and its intimate connection with the body is regained the moment one gets up. Thus, the instance of getting up is somewhat like having a new birth. In order to perform the above sadhana , sit up on the bed or on some cloth piece with erect spine; preferably with legs folded as in sukhasana. Keep both the hands on your lap. (The body may be covered with extra warm clothes in winter). Take a deep breath in a relaxed mode and exhale it slowly (breathing should be through the nostrils only). Try meditating on bluish light during the first breath, yellowish light during the second and reddish light during the third. Thank the Almighty for giving this life and feel happy to have this opportunity of a new lease oflife for the day ahead. Contemplate for few minutes that God is blessing you for the next twenty hours and is going to keep watch on how you plan to make ideal use of this boon. Think positively of doing something constructive and adopting a virtue and/or giving up a bad habit in your behavior and actions that day. (Plan something that is do-able; howsoever small it may be, it will boost your self-confidence if you are able to follow what you resolve). The next step of your routine should be to pay obeisance to the mother earth.
The following shloka describes what should be our feeling at these moments (the shloka may be chanted like a prayer):
Samudra Mekhale Devi Parvatastana Maale| Vishnu Patnim Namastubhyam Padasparsham Kshamasva Me
You who wear a waistband of oceans, huge mountains cover whose breasts; who is the eternal Companion of Lord Vishnu, I pay obeisance to you Oh Mother Earth! Kindly forgive me, as I have to commit the sin of putting my feet upon your surface (to begin my journey of life for the day ahead). The third major step is drinking fresh water. It should be drunk slowly, but continuously, to fill the stomach completely. This should be done before going to the toilet, as it helps in fast and smooth excretion and proper cleansing of the stomach. This activity is called “ushapana” and is recommended as “One who does ushapana every day after getting up in the (early) morning indeed protects his body from diseases and makes his body healthy”. Generally cold (normal temperature below lukewarm) water is supposed to give best effects. It is a pity to note that even in India the land of the genesis and practice of Ayurveda , many people mostly the so-called educated ones, who are supposed to be more aware of health- are now getting used to ’bed tea’ or ’bed coffee’ which is harmful for our body in all respects. Normally cold water is good for our teeth and it also strengthens our digestive system. Our metabolic system has the capacity to heat up the chilled things entering the stomach, but there is no process to cool down the hot things up to the healthy or normal temperature. Consumption of hot tea, coffee, other drinks or eatables damages the delicate tissues in our tongue, food pipe and the stomach; these give rise to ulcers at times, which might become cancerous, if neglected. Ushapana in the morning is also useful as it helps curing the indigestion, if any, due to the food consumed during the previous night. The following quote in “Bhava Prakasha” also highlights the importance of ushapana:
Savituh Samudaya Kale Prasati Salilasya Vi veda shuau | Roga Jara Parimukto Ji vedaVatsarashatam Sagram
“The person who drinks eight ’anjali’ (deep cup made by joining the two hands) water every day at the sunrise time becomes free from all ailments. He lives for hundred years and the (weakness and other problems of) old-age does not even touch him”. Complete cleansing of the stomach by ushapana not only keeps the body light but also refreshes the mind . It eliminates problems of white discharge etc. Sexual complexities, boils, ulcers, headache and problems pertaining to eyesight are also found to be naturally cured by regularity and consistency in this simple exercise. Greater benefits of ushapana are obtained if one can (after due practice of “jala-neti” etc) drink about 250 ml of water through the nose instead of mouth.
Its positive effects are cited in the Ayurvedic scriptures as
Vigat Ghan Nishithe Prataruthaya Nityam, Pivati Khalu Naro Yo Ghranarandhrena Vari | Sa Bhavati Mati Purnashca Kshusah Tarkshyatulyo, Vali Palita Vihina Sarvarogervimuktah
The person, who consumes water through the nose, soon after the darkness of the night is over, gains bright intellect and sharp eyesight; his hair do not become gray or white and he remains free from all diseases. The water used in ushapana may be kept at a lukewarm temperature in the winter seasons to avoid irritation in the nose/throat. The next step (after ushapana) in the daily routine is excretion of faeces (shauca).
Sushruta has mentioned about its importance as
Ayushyamushasi Proktam Maladinam Visarjanam
Excretion of the dirt inside the body in the morning before sunrise helps in maintenance of long healthy life . The Indian style of toilets is most suitable in terms of proper pressure on the legs and stomach. Excretion at the right time in the morning is important as a delay in it leads to harmful deposits of the toxic and waste substances in the body that eventually cause or support the occurrence of diseases. Everyone desirous of health y and active body and mind should have shauca twice a day once in the morning after the atmabodha sadhana and ushapana and once in the evening. Some people resist going to the toilets or urination at times against the call of nature. This should be avoided, as it is quite harmful for health . Also, care should be taken to wash hands, legs and face after each visit to the toilet. This is essential for hygiene and also for refreshing the body and mind . Because of the fast and tension-filled routine , many people have complaints of constipation or unclear stools these days. Apart from ushapana, some specific yoga sanas and physical exercises would be beneficial in such cases. Use of coarse flour, cereals, fibers, green vegetables and pulses with skins (especially sprouted ones) in food is also recommended as a good remedy against such problems. In severe cases of constipation (e.g. due to some long- term hidden mental tension) taking one spoon of the Ayurvedic herbal medicines, such as haritaki-powder every night gives fast relief. “Dantadhawana” the process of cleaning the teeth and mouth is also given significant importance. Root causes of many diseases are said to grow from dirty teeth. Shining white and healthy teeth are often compared to pearls and add to one’s charm. Teeth are like the guards sitting at the main entrance of the body. Teeth are cut a few months after the birth of our body. If we do not take care of our teeth through proper eating habits and cleaning, these become the hideouts of germs. The diseases of gums, formations of cavities in the teeth, toothache, etc are clear signs of the damages caused to the teeth by our negligence. Much before such manifestations, the dirt and the bacteria hidden in the teeth are carried inside the body along with whatever we eat. We must therefore follow prescribed disciplines for keeping our teeth clean and strong. Ayurveda gives due importance to teeth as the key elements of healthy body. They had recommended datuna (small pieces of soft branches of certain medicinal trees) as the best for dantadhawan. The medicinal trees/plants of Nima (margosa), Babula (acacia), Sihora (Siamese Roughbush), Khadira (Black Catechu), Kanera (Indian Oleander), Mahua (Bassia Latifolia), Arjuna (Terminalia Arjun), Badama (almond), etc are found most suitable for this purpose.
The Scriptures say:
Avekshyartum Ca Dosham Ca Rasam Virya Ca Yojayate | Kashayam Madhuram Tiktam Katukam Pratarutthitah || Nimbashca Tiktake Shreshah Kasaye Khadirastatha | Madhuko Madhure Shreshah Karanjah Katuke Thata|| -Su. Chi. A. 24
A datuna of sweet, bitter, astringent or spicy taste should be used as per the state (determined in the Ayurvedic diagnostics in terms of kratu, dosha, rasa and virya) of the teeth and general health of a person. Datuna of Nima is acrid spicy, Khadira is astringent, Mahua is sweet and Kanera is bitter in taste. Use of these strengthens and beautifies the teeth with shining glow. Sushruta has also recommended the datunas of the above kinds for different tastes and effects. Nima is generally good for every one as it eliminates the dirt and mucus in and around the teeth, gums and mouth, works as a disinfectant and removes stinking odors from the mouth. It is also important to use a datuna properly. The teeth should be brushed gently and the datuna should be pressed beneath the teeth so that its juice is extracted and spread around the teeth and gums and fills the mouth. One should sit and use the datuna with full concentration; whenever needed, the saliva or the used juice of the datuna should be spitted in a pit, bathroom-canal or washbasin without dirtying the surroundings. Usually, a datuna should be about six inches long and have thickness about that of the little finger. After brushing the teeth the datuna should be torn into two pieces from its central axes; one portion of this should be used as a tongue-cleaner. The palate should be cleaned by rubbing the other portion on it with the support of the thumb.
Cleaning of the tongue and the palate is as important as that of the teeth and the gums (as cited in the following scriptural quote):
Jihvanirlekhanam Raupayam Sauvarna Varkshameva Ca | Tanmalapaharam Shastam Madushlakshanam Dashagulam || -Su. Chi. A. 24
The tongue cleaner could be (if not of datuna) made up of gold, silver or any metal or wood but it should be soft, smooth, flexible and (long enough for proper cleaning of the tongue). In case people have problems in getting datuna every day, they may make use of (herbal) toothpaste or toothpowder. Use of powdered rock salt, mustard oil, and powders of dry ginger, sal ammoniac, dried green-leaf of guava, dry bark-skin of Molashri (Surinam Madler), Kayaphal (Myrtalberry) and triphala etc is recommended in preparation of good Ayurvedic toothpastes or tooth powders. One may make use of a brush and stainless steel tongue-cleaner but the method of cleaning should be slow, consistent and long enough, as it is while using a datuna. The toothbrush should be moved upward and downward on each tooth (on the front as well as back and around). Middle finger could also be used for this purpose. The teeth should be cleaned with the help of this finger with proper gargling each time we eat something. Sometimes some particles of eatables or grains are stuck in between the teeth; in such cases, the particle should be brought out with the help of the brush or toothpick followed by thorough gargling. The teeth should also be cleaned before going to bed. Many people have a habit of drinking milk before sleep. They should be extra careful, as the deposited layers of milk, if left unclean, will invite attack of germs. Proper cleaning of the teeth, gums and mouth (including tongue and palate) in the morning and night is a healthy habit that must be adopted by every one who cares for good health.
Nyaya and Vaisheshika Systems:
The first twin systems are the Nyaya and the Vaisheshika systems. The two systems are allied together. The Vaisheshika system outlines the scheme of the ontological categories and describes their nature, the origination and the dissolution of the world. The Nyaya System examines the logical explanation, apparatus of human knowledge, the criterion of truth and falsehood, the nature and function of knowledge, its instruments, their limits defects and problems relating to the validity or knowledge. Rishi Gautam wrote the famous Nyayasutra on which an excellent commentary was written by Vatsyayan followed by many othrs. The initiator of Vaisheshika darshan was Kanada whose Vaisheshika sutras were followed by many other explanatory works like Bhasha Parichcheda by Vishwanatha.
The Sankhya System is considered to be the oldest Indian Philosophical system. There are references to this system in the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Mahabharata. The word Sankhya has two meanings; the knowledge and number. Maharshi Kapila is the originator of the system. The two important source books for the system are Isvara Krishna’s Sankhyakarika and the Vachaspati’s Tattva Kaumudi. This system contains elaborate discussions on Purush and Prakriti.
The Yoga System:
Amongst all the systems of Astika school, the Yoga System of Maharshi Patanjali is the most widely known and popularly appreciated system of thought. The system of Yoga is a psychosomatic process for training the mind and keeping the body under control. The source and significantly single inspiration for Indian psychology is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The date assigned to Patanjali is the second century B.C. The Yoga system is considered to be complementary to the Sankhya. If Sankhya is the theory; yoga is its practical side. The Yoga System enables one to realize kaivalya (liberation), i.e., his true nature.
The Mimamsa System:
Among the philosophical systems, the Mimamsa and the Vedanta are exclusively based on the authority of the Vedas. The word Mimamsa means an enquiry. This system holds that the Vedas issue commands and have ritual actions for the purport. This also prescribes certain actions and prohibits certain others. The prime purport of the Vedas is to command duties and prohibit some acts. It is a list of do’s and don’ts. The System is pragmatic in approach.
The Vedanta System:
What is living and vital in Indian Philosophy today is the Vedanta system in its various forms. The Vedanta is the crowning edifice of all the systems. The other philosophical systems are mainly studied as accessories to the study of Vedanta and not as ends in themselves. There are different branches of Vedanta which have grown from the interpretation of the triple text: (i) the Upanishads, (ii) the Gita, (iii) the Vedantasutras. All the commentators claim alike that the systems of philosophy, they have built, are in complete accord with the total unitary import of the three texts, that these texts should have lent themselves to a variety of interpretations even contradictory to one another, is the most amazing nature of these scriptures and their inexhaustible significance. The branches of this system are, the system of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) of Shankara, the system of Dvaita Vedanta (dualism) of Madhva, the Dvaitadvaita Vedanta of Nimbarkacharya and Vishistadvaita (qualified non-dualism) of Ramanujacharya.
Today the air we breathe in is loaded with harmful gases like NO2, CO, SPM and RSPM, which are all above the standards prescribed by the Government and are extremely harmful for human health. There are also new species of bacteria and virus coming up which cause new diseases and are resistant to old drugs. The wastes from the industries as well as the city is being dumped into the rivers, thereby causing severe water pollution. The indiscriminate use of pesticides and synthetic chemical fertilizers has resulted in poisoning of underground water reserves and also resulted into loss of soil fertility. To top it all the lack of empathy of the people to these problems has made it worse. Governments is spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for tackling this problem but not much results are seen.
Gayatri and Yagya are the pillars of Indian philosophy and culture. Gayatri Mantra, the eternal source of universal knowledge is deciphered and the cosmic energy of sound contained in is activated and expanded with the help of Yagya. The four Vedas reveal the philosophy of the eternity and absolute complementary role of Gayatri and Yagya in the divine creation. Atharvaveda deals with mantra and in modern understanding falls under a category of sound therapy for the treatment of the ailing human system at the physical, psychological and spiritual levels. The Samaveda focuses on the musical chanting patterns of the mantras and the subtle form of Yagya by defining the later as the process of mental oblation on the surface of internal emotions through the cosmic radiation of the omnipresent subtle energy of sound. The Yajurveda emphasizes the knowledge of principles and methods of performing Yagya as Spiritual and Scientific experiments for global welfare.
Yagya is the selfless sacrifice for noble purposes. Sacrificing of the ego, selfishness and material
attachments and adopting rational thinking, humane compassion and dedicated creativity for the welfare of all is indeed the best Yagya which should be performed by all human beings. The philosophy of Yagya teaches an art of living in the society in harmony, a living style to promote and protect higher human values in the society which is actually the basis of the ideal human culture.
The seva yagya, the service of the society is a noble example of Yagya. The Gnana Yagya, shows the service of people by enlightening their lives in the glow of knowledge and education. The Prana Yagya reveals the service of saving the lives of people from suffering and agonies, inspiring livelines and respect for life in them. A variety of such Yagya are described in the Shastras. In physical terms, Yagya is a process aimed at he refinement of the subtle energy existing in matter with the help of thermal energy of the mantras. The knowledge of philosophy and science of Yagya is an essential for understanding and experimenting the science of spirituality as the knowledge of elementary physics is for material based sciences. The experiments of Yagya, when performed at a small scale in day to day life are called Havan or Agnihotra. This science is hardly understood or acknowledged by the West but now using Western science to prove what has already been known, written, and handed down in another culture may finally bring some needed change of attitude towards the Western sciences look at vedic sciences.
Ph.D. work of Dr. (Mrs.) Mamta Saxena
In an endeavour to find some solution which is effective and long lasting for this environmental problem, the vedic science of ‘Yagya’ was chosen for the necessary experimentation to see if it actually helped in the reduction of air pollution as mentioned in the ancient books. All the experiments were conducted in collaboration with Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi.
Initially several types of wood were burnt to see the CO emissions from each of them. The emissions were recorded on digital analog . It was found that the mango wood gave almost near zero CO emission. Hence the mango wood was taken as the basic Samidha for the experiment. The special Havan Samigri prescribed by Brahma Varchas, for the purification of atmosphere, was used along with the normal havan samigri. As far as possible Cow’s pure ghee was used for the Havan.
In all the experiments, the effect of Yagya was studied on the atmospheric odour, on the air microflora and also on the gaseous pollutants like NO2, SO2 and RSPM. The effect of odour was very good as after Yagya, the nice smelling odour lingered on till the evening and a very faint smell remained till the next day (in the indoor experiments).
One experiment was continued till 7 days after Yagya resulting an impressive reduction of 93%, in bacteria, 8% in fungi and 93% in pathogen, as compared to their respective backgrounds showing the effect of Yagya is long lasting and it continues till long after the physical process has occurred. It is the general belief that any type of fumes help in the reduction of air microbes. In the experiments of comparison of Yagya with that of non- Yagya, proper Yagya was performed at one place and plain wood was burnt at another place keping factors like temperature, humidity, number of persons, air flow etc., as constant and samples of air were taken before Yagya, during Yagya and till two days after
Yagya. The results were very surprising. In the case of Yagya where there was a reduction of 79%, 68% ,69% and 3% respectively as compared to the background in the bacteria, fungi, TMF and the pathogens till two days after the Yagya there was an increase of 11%, 257%, 104% and 10% respectively as compared to the background, one day after the Non-Yagya experiment. The same experiment was repeated again after one year and the results of this experiment were again similar. In fact he fumigation of simple wood has led to an increase in the counts in most of the cases. Whereas on the other hand the smoke/gases produced as a result of Yagya led to an overall decrease in the
Air microflora in the atmosphere.
Another study was conducted in the open air at a place called Karawal Nagar in East Delhi where a large scale Yagya of 108 Kunds was performed. The sampling was done in the same way as in the case of indoor experiments and a comparison of the microbe colony counts during and after Yagya was made with the background. The experiment continued from 12th to 16th of Yagya and the sampling was continued till two days after the Yagya. The results show that in comparison with the background counts, there was a reduction of 5% in bacteria, 15% in fungi, and 79% in the pathogens on the next day after the Yagya was over. The reduction in pathogens was 79% even on the second day after Yagya. The total micro flora had reduced by 49% on the 2nd day after Yagya. (Experiments conducted under Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi.)
This is just a small sample of what knowledge lies blind to the modern world in the vedic sciences. When it is then taken by the Western world and capitalized upon to create income, the dharma is lost and the knowledge is as well.
A copy of the studies can be found here: http://ijirse.in/docs/Apr14/IJIRSE140407.pdf
Information on how to do your own Aginihotra and supplies can be found here: http://www.agnihotra.org/
What is Kaya Chikitsa?
Ayurveda has 8 branches that go into professional practice. Kayachikitsa is one of those branches.
It speaks of the organization which has the inherent ability to select things. The selective approach and build up, out of selected particles. Deha = derived from Dhi/to grow. Because this body we inhabit has the inherent capability to grow. Sharira = from Sri/to decay. Because our body is mortal, it decays. Sometimes we use decay to describe body. Kaya, deha, sharira all are terms used to describe the body, but they have very different meanings. When using Ayush/life we use Sharira to describe the physical body while describing life as whole or to describe the age of person. When we talk of Prakriti we use Deha – deha prakruti, never sharira prakruti or kaya prakruti because always growing. When we talk of internal medicine, we always use the word kaya. When talking of prakruti it is formed at conception so always discussing in terms of growth. We use the word deha to mean grow. Although the body ultimately will decay, when speaking of conception we speak always in terms of growth. When we talk of Vikruti/disease phenomenon or speaking of treatment, we talk of kaya chikitsa. Kaya depicts both breaking and fixing, that is, selection. When we select something we select something and reject others to form something new, that is what the body is doing all the time. This phenomenon is called kaya/chayana. Therefore in terms of vikruti and health management we discuss kaya – internal medicine aspect of life. Our body has been depicted by the samhitas as a mechanism that naturally selects and rejects useful things from aahara/food. Whole food is not used by body, rather, we take a mixture of things along with a specific digestive process in which Agni, Srotas and Dhatus all take part. So the real meaning of kaya depends on those 3 important without which the body cannot select the nutrients from the food. That nutrient selection is caused by Srotas and Agni. Very basic to body function.
Srotas – Our body is described in Charaka Samhita. This sharira is made of channels and channels and channels: the whole body is Srotas. Srotas are channels – to understand the true meaning of Srotas must understand this. Srotas are a structural body which may have space inside, content inside, and may have many openings. A Srotas is not a closed system. In addition, it has the quality that it moves/vibrates. So long as life is there, it vibrates and oozes. It can leave something, and absorb something. Any structure of your body which has these qualities is a Srotas. Try to understand why this would mean the body as a whole was a Srotas. If you take the whole body as a single unit, it has space, openings and many contents, and it moves. The whole body vibrates, it is one single Srotas. A living body vibrates, a dead body doesn’t.
In Charak Samhita, it describes 13 major physiological systems of the body. All those channels (srotamsi = plural of Srotas), there are millions of them in the body. So at one place Charaka says there are 13 major system. We must be able to understand each of those 13 in detail to see whether they are in order or not. The srotamsi are not only 13, they are innumerable. Ex. Each kidney has 1,000,000 tubular structures called nephrons packed together and kept in one organ. All of them have qualities of a Srotas. This goes further on if you go and look at each single cell in the body. Each one has perforated membranes, content, space and movement. Our bodies vibrate AND every cell of the body vibrates. The first quality of a dead cell is that it doesn’t vibrate. So the meaning of Srotas is divergent. The whole body is Srotas and many others and every unit of the body also srotamsi. Your body has as many different Srotas as there are different biological factors, millions and millions. For as many number of materials for each function of the body there are equally millions of Srotas. Such is the wide perspective of Srotas.
Srotas are an important component of Kaya. Without functioning Srotas, kaya does not function.
The second major factor of Kaya is Agni, the ignition. Such a phenomenon is to be responsible for burning things. We burn things outside our body with physical fire, inside the body there is a similar factor to burn food, break and rebuild tissue, this is Agni. Vagbhata says that all disease is caused by manda Agni. All disorders that we suffer are due to depletion of Agni. When it doesn’t function properly, we get disease.
Srotas and Agni then are very important to the selection process of the body. When we take in food, its processed in this system by the help of those both and is converted into Aahara Rasa. The first Dhatu is Rasa Dhatu, but this is not what we are talking about. Aahara Rasa is the precursor of rasa Dhatu then into Rakta Dhatu etc as has been explained in previous posts. Aahara rasa must reach all respective Dhatus and then must be converted to Dhatus. Either is burned or turned into Dhatus. This process of food being converted into aahara rasa then into Dhatus is called Dhatu Poshana. For this process, the texts describe 3 mechanisms called Nyayas. (coincidentally, Nobel Prize was awarded to three scientists that showed three ways in which the cells received nutrition last year. They proved nothing more than what was said in Ayurveda 5000 years ago.)
Kedar Kulya Nyaya – the irrigation channels through which nutrition flows. We don’t irrigate everything at once, we put into channels – we must have channels through which nutrition reaches, like proper drainage, but takes to site of usage, not elimination. Transportation channels, the inner transport system. These Nyayas give the Dhatus a chance to get profused with aahara rasa. Only by profusing the 7 Dhatus with nourishment will the Dhatus become active.
Khale Khapotan Nyaya – translates to harvesting ground + birds – meaning, where things are collected. Selection requirement. Analogy is that different birds come to pick up different foods at the harvest ground so the different Dhatus pick up different nourishment at the same harvest ground. The mansa Dhatu has a different requirement than shukra Dhatu for example. Rakta contains rakta/redness – iron. All Dhatus pick up own requirements. Even with specific requirements picked up, but we are still not done.
Finally must be able to convert those nutrients into actual Dhatu. Chemically food may have same nutrients as Dhatu, but what converts them into Dhatu is different.
Ksheerdadhi Nyaya – translates to converting milk into yogurt Nyaya – the conversion process of aahara rasa into Dhatu. Dependent on Agni. If Agni is not in order, the food won’t have same affect. Ayurveda is not about giving food, but rather clearing the Srotas system and restoring Agni, so that the quality of nourishment received is improved. In conventional medicine there is more emphasis placed on getting more food, and even taking nutritional supplements. But the first requirement of nutrition is to get Srotas in shape, then Agni in shape, THEN food will have an effect.
Srotas systems, they are channels, spaces, openings, contents, vibrations. This kind of structure is most likely to lose its integration. Getting impure or blocked because our srotamsi has an inherent tendency to get blocked, Ayurveda says there is a need of purification of those channels. Even pores of the skin get blocked with dust and we need to cleanse. Inside the body those blockages can lead to losing vibration. Not absolute blockages, not necessarily structural blockage but functional blockage, when it loses vibration it gets blocked. So there is a need for periodic purification of channels. A washing of the Srotas system of the body. It is for this purpose that Ayurveda introduces theory of Samsrodhana, first purify the channels THEN give the medicine. If the channels are cleansed, medicine and nourishment reaches the body more quickly, effectively and less is required. Most logical approach of Ayurveda – our channels may get blocked and may need cleansing. PanchaKarma is not a classical word as it came much later. It is not the science of Samshodhana, but rather the technology of Samshodhana. But the original idea is Samshrodhana. You can develop a modern technology of Samshodhana, not necessary to use the old technology of Pancha Karma. When you think of Pancha Karma, your goal is to purify the channels of the body. Oleation, massage and heat all purify the channels. But think of the deeper purification goal. Ayurveda is the only system of medicine that talks about purifying the inner channels of the body. Even langhana/fasting is a cleansing of the channels – whatever is in them is burned. One of the most blocking agents of channels is Aama – due to depletion of Agni. When Agni is depleted, byproducts are made. These byproducts stagnate in the body and block the channels. Aama particles are bigger than fully digested food particles, therefore there is always a chance for a blocking effect. Therefore, the first line of treatment could be langhana itself. When you do langhana, aama is exhausted, channels become cleaner and therefore stronger. That is why langhana is worshipped in Ayurveda. Aama pachana.
Kaya means chayana/selection. This body is called kaya because it has the capacity to select. How it has this capacity is through the Srotas, therefore important to take care of those Srotas. It is the nature of Aama to be half processed, incomplete processing at level of Jathara Agni (basically the stomach), digestion or even at level of dhatu agni (tissue digestive level). Even level at bhutagnis (cellular molecular level). For our purpose, Aama may be thousands of kinds. Unprocessed tissue factors, undigested food, etc. But whatever level it is, it has a blocking affect. It disrupts the srotamsi. It is a foreign body, something alien and not supposed to be stagnating in the body. Whenever there is stagnation in the body, our body reacts to it like visha/poison. Because your body is dynamic, sensitive, selective, it will try to throw it out. When the body is reacting to aama, there can be many disorders. There is a general lowering of Agni, and this may lead to many diseases. Aamvaata (rheumatoid arthritis like disease), a disease where someone has pain and swelling in all joints because of aama joining with Vata and also Kapha which lead to different joints. When there is a diagnosis of aamvaata, we don’t treat the joint, rather we treat the aama visha (aama poisoning). The gut is treated, not their joints. Promoting Agni, deplete aama, then reduce blockage affect and the joints will be healthy. Conventional treatment is drugs to lessen pain and inflammation in joints, but that is all and it doesn’t go to the root of the problem in the Agni system. The joint is the manifestation not the disease. Disease is at a deeper level, at the level of Agni.
Sandhivaata (arthritis), pain in joints another kind of arthritis but NOT due to aama. It is a more degenerative function due to Vata, which leads to pain. It is a pure vata disorder. It is treated in different way. If you mix up the treatments you won’t get a good results and will make the disease worse.
Srotas don’t die and that is why we need to cleanse those Srotas. If some are blocked we can’t get rid of the blocked one, we must cleanse them. Both possibilities are there whether blockage come from another area or from the Srotas decaying itself. It is a natural process to cleanse itself. We lose the appetite so we don’t eat more. This is the natural process of the body but because of lack of awareness and feeding the tongue, people just eat regardless of any ideas of what appetite is. Many times though, in the natural cleansing process, the in-built mechanisms are not enough and we need to support it.
Normally there is not much Aama in the body. If there is Aama there is pathology. There is only Aama naturally at presence of digestion and the body moves it out. Nutrition takes place and Dhatu regeneration process continues normally. If there is Aama, the process continues but very slowly. All Dhatus have a lifespan though. A natural breakdown takes place, but an abnormal breakdown doesn’t take place.
When the 13 major Srotas are mentioned in the text, Manas Vaha Srotas (the channel of the mind) is was not mentioned. When Charaka mentioned the causes for unmada roga (insanity), he mentions this Srotas. Every channel has a Mula/main organ. The main organ of Manas Vaha Srotas is the hridaya/heart but not the one in the chest, rather the one in the brain. The seat of buddhi, the intellect. If it is deranged, that channel is blocked. The Manas Vaha Srotas content is impulses and emotions. It is not necessary that the channels carry liquids and solids, but can also carry impulses, emotions, and energetic things. These channels are different from gross bodily srotamsi.
Samshodhana, langhana, aahara/vihara (food and lifestyle) all ultimately have goal of protecting Agni and keeping Srotas healthy. Directly connected because all of our thoughts have specific qualities, i.e. guru aahara will lead to depletion of Agni and laghu aahara will improve digestion. For nourishment certain dhatus may need guru qualities, so don’t reject all guru qualities. One must analyze nutrition in terms of Gunas. Ex. Ushna (hot) will purify system, and shita (cold) will NOT purify system (raw food, juicing is cold). In addition to properties, we must pay attention to the amount. Taking a small quantity of guru will not be a problem. One must plan intake of aahara precisely. Ex. Using leafy vegetables in salad. The outer part is more green and laghu, the inner part is more pale and wet, so it is more guru. For a Vata person use the inner part of the leaf. If you know what is the guna (propeties) and dosha you will be able to develop your own mechanism for thinking to practice. Then you don’t need to refer to books about which foods are Vata and which are Kapha. Catch the principles and bring them into your thinking. Then experience them yourself. Everywhere in India people are conscious of hot and cold, heavy and light. They may ignore it due to pradnyaaparadh (crimes against wisdom), but they understand the effects. Many know what will increase Vata, Pitta and Kapha. If you have a cold, don’t take yogurt. The ideas are still in the common mind. It doesn’t mean they don’t know if they don’t follow. There is a need of reminding people that they should practice what they know. Ex. Yogurt, books say don’t eat yogurt at night. Everybody in rural areas in India know this and won’t eat it because it aggravates Kapha and Kapha is nighttime. Cold increases if you take it everyday. In the concept of channel clogging and channel opening, all things that are guru and picchila (slimy) block channels. Yogurt is one such thing. There is a need to remind people. This is easier in India though because it is in the culture. In the West, their is no known knowledge base in the culture. The ideas of what is healthy is an opinion, the latest diet fad, or the latest research which only changes with time. It is much harder to teach people in the West due to the massive amount of avidya and confusion.