Red rice (rakta shali) is the best among paddy that has bristles
Green gram is the best among pulses
Rain water collected before it touches the ground is the best among waters
Rock salt is the best among salts
Jivanti (Leptadenia Reticulata) is the best among pot herbs
Ena (a type of deer) is the best among the meat of big animals
Quail among meat of birds
Iguana among meat of animals living in holes
Grass carp (roha) among fish,
Cow’s ghee among ghees
Cow’s milk among milk
Sesame oil among vegetable oils
Pig fat among meat of marshy animals
Fat of the Gangetic dolphin among fish fat
Fat of the white swan among aquatic birds
Fat of hen among gallinaceous types of birds with beaks
Fat of goat among fats of tree branch eating animals
Ginger among rhizomes
Grapes among fruits
Sarkara (misri or crystal sugar) among preparation of sugar cane
Most unwholesome articles:
Yavaka (form of small barley) among paddy having bristles
Black gram among pulses
River water in rainy season among waters
Ushara (salt from saline soil) among salts
Mustard green is the most unwholesome among pot herbs,
Beef among meats
Kana Kapota (Young dove) among meat of bird
Frog is most unwholesome among meat of animals living in the holes
Chilichima among fish
Ghee of sheep milk among ghee
Sheep milk among milk
Safflower (Canthamus tinctorius Linn) oil among vegetable fats
Fat of Water Buffalo among fats of marshy animals
Fat of water foul among fats of aquatic animals
Fat of Kumbhira (Crocodile) among fats of aquatic animals
Fat of Chataka (sparrow) among fats of gallinaceous types of birds
Fat of elephant among fats of tree branch eating animals
Nikucha (Atrocarpus nikucha Roxb) among fruits
Aluka (potato) among rhizomes and roots
Phanita (treacle) among preparations of sugar cane
Food is the best among things which sustain life
Water is best to generate soothing effect
Wine is best to dispel fatigue
Milk is best of that which enlivening and invigorates
Meat is best among nourishing food
Meat soup (Mamsarasa) is best among refreshing and nourishing food
Salt is best among substances that enhance taste.
Sour substances are best among cardiac tonics
Chicken is best to improve strength and immunity,
Semen of crocodile (Nakra Retas) is the best among aphrodisiac substances
Honey is the best substance to balance Kapha and Pitta
Cow ghee is the best substances to balance Vata and Pitta
Taila (sesame oil) is the best to balance Vata and Kapha
Vamana (emesis) therapy is the best of Kapha balancing procedures
Virechana is the best of Pitta balancing procedures
Basti is the best of Vata balancing procedures
Swedana (sweating therapy) is the best among procedures to bring about softness and tenderness
Exercise (Vyayam) is the best to bring about firmness of the body
Kshara is the best substances to cause impotence
Tinduka (Diospros peregrine Gurke) is the best amongst substances that hurt the taste of food
Unripe Kapittha (Feronia Limonia Swingle) is the best among those to hurt the throat and quality of sound of the voice
Sheep ghee is the best amongst those to damaging the heart
Goat milk is the best among those substances that mitigate emaciation, improve breast milk, improve blood production, absorbent (best in grahani) and best in bleeding disorders
Sheep milk is best to Vitiate Kapha and Pitta Dosha
Buffalo milk is best to induce sleep
Half-formed curds (Mandaka Dadhi) is best to obstruct the body channels and circulation
Food prepared of Wheat Grass (Triticum aestivum Linn) to cause emaciation
Food prepared with Uddalaka (a variant of black gram) is best to cause drying
Sugarcane is best in producing a diuretic effect.
Barley is best to increase bulk of feces
Jambu (java plum/Syzygium cumini) is best in aggravating Vata
Shashkuli type of pastry is best in aggravating Pitta and Kapha
Kulattha (horse gram) is best in causing Amlapitta (hyperacidity)
Black gram is best in aggravating Kapha and Pitta
Fruit of Madana (Emetic Nut/Randia dumetorum Lam) is best in Vamana, Asthapana and anuvasana types of enema
Trivrit (operculina turpethum R.B) is best in causing easy purgation
Aragvadha (Purging cassia/Cassia fistula Linn) is best in causing mild purgation
Milk of the Snuhi plant (Common milk hedge/Euphorbia nerifolia Linn) is best in causing strong purgation
Apamarga (Chaff tree/Achyrantes aspera Linn) is best in eliminating doshas from the head
Vidanga (False black pepper/Embelia ribes Burm .f.) is best for destroying parasites
Shirisha (Lebbeck/Albizzia Lebbeck Benth) is best anti-poisonous herb
Khadira (Acacia catechu wild) is best in curing skin diseases
Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata) is best in alleviating vata
Amalaka (Emblica officinalis) is the best rasayana (rejuvenation)
Haritaki (terminalia chebula Linn) is best wholesome fruit
Castor root (Eranda moola) is best to alleviating Vata and aphrodisiac
Pippalimoola (long pepper root) is best to promoting digestion, carmination and relieving bloating and constipation
Root of Chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica Linn) is best in promoting digestion, carmination and curing hemorrhoids and colic pain
Pushkaramula (Inula racemosa hook) is best to curing hiccup, asthma, cough and pain in the chest
Musta (Nut Grass/cyperus rotunds Linn) is best in causing astringent effect
Udichya (Fragrant Swamp Mallow/Pavonia odorata) is best in causing digestion, carmination, anti-emetic and anti-diarrheal.
Katvanga (Araluka/Oroxylum indicum) is best to cause absorption, to improve digestion and carmination.
Ananta (Sariva/Hemidesmus indicus) is best to cause absorption and in bleeding disorders
Guduchi (Gilroy/Tinospora cordifolia) is best to cause astringent effect, promoting digestion, alleviating Vata and Kapha, constipation and raktapitta (bleeding disorders)
Bael (Bilva/Aegle marmelos) is best to cause astringent effect, promotes digestion, and alleviates Vata and Kapha.
Ativisha (Indian Atees/Aconitum heterophyllum) is best to cause an astringent effect, promote digestion, carmination and alleviation of all doshas.
Utpala (White water lily/Nymphaea alba), Kumuda (blue water lily) and Padma (Lotus/Prunus cerasoides) is best in causing astringent effect and alleviating bleeding disorders
Duralabha (Fagonbushe/Fagonia cretica) is best in alleviating Kapha and Pitta.
Gandha Priyangu (Beutyberry/Callicarpa macrophylla) is best for alleviating acute heavy bleeding
Kutaja Bark (Kurchi/Holarrhena antidysenterica) is best for balancing Kapha and Pitta, causing astringent effect of blood and drying absorbing quality
Gambhari fruit (Beech wood/Gmelina arborea) is best for causing hemostasis and curing bleeding disorders
Prishniparni (Uraria picta) is the best astringent and aphrodisiac, causing digestive effect and alleviating Vata
Vidarigandha (Ipomoea digitata) is best aphrodisiac and balances all doshas
Bala (Country Mallow/Sida cordifolia) is best in causing absorbing action, improving strength and relieving Vata Dosha.
Gokshura (Goat’s Head/Tribulus terrestris) is best in relieving dysuria
Asafoetida (Hingu) is best in causing excision, promoting digestion, downward movement of Vata (Anulomik), and balancing Vata and Kapha dosha
Amlavetasa (Garcinia pedunculata) is best in causing purgation, promoting digestion, downward movement of vata (Anulomik) and balancing Vata and Kapha.
Barley Ash (Yavakshara) is best in causing laxative effect, carmination and cures hemorrhoids
Buttermilk is best in curing Grahani (digestive disorders), Shotha (edema), hemorrhoids and excessive ghee intake
Continual use of meat soup of carnivorous animals is best in curing grahani, emaciation and hemorrhoids
Continual use of milk and ghee is best in causing anti aging effect (rasayana)
Continual use of equal quantities of ghee and saktu (roasted corn flour) is best aphrodisiac and Vata balancing.
Sesame oil (Tila tailum) is best to strengthen teeth in gandusha and to relieve lack of appetite
Sandalwood (Chandana) is best in reliving bad odor, burning sensation and best lepana
Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata) and Agaru (Aquilaria agallocha) is best in removing coldness with use as lepana
Lamajjaka (Cymbopogon jwarancusa) is best in curing burning sensation, skin diseases, and sweating with use as lepana
Kushta (Saussurea lappa) is best to balance Vata with usage as massage and/or poultice
Madhuka (Licorice) is best to improve health of eyes, aphrodisiac effect, improving hair quality, throat and voice, complexion, imparting color and healing of wounds
Air is best to restore prana and consciousness
Fire is best in curing indigestion, stiffness, cold, colic pain and shivers
Water is best for causing absorbancy and astringent effect
Water from a mud pot is best in alleviating thirst and vomiting
Eating excess quantities is best to cause aama (metabolic morbid waste and impaired metabolism)
Intake of food as per digestion strength is best to improve digestion
A wholesome diet and regime is best to create health
Eating meals at the right time is best to promote health
Trupti (satisfaction) is the best quality of food
Suppression of urges (vega dharana) is the best way to cause disease
Alcohol (madya) is best to sooth the mind and cause exhilaration
Alcohol addiction is the best to lose intelligence, memory, and patience
Heavy food intake (Guru ahara) is best to create indigestion
Intake of only one meal a day is the best way to create digestion and absorption of food
Excessive indulgence in sex is best to cause emaciation
Continual suppression of ejaculation is the best for impotency
The butcher shop is the best to cause aversion to food
Fasting is best way to reduce of longevity
Reducing food intake quantity is best to lose weight
Eating a meal before digestion of previous meal is best in causing disease
Eating meals in irregular timing is the best to cause irregularity and weakening of the digestive power
Eating incompatible foods items is best to create the worst of diseases
Peaceful, soothing, and calming behavior is the best promoter of health
Exertion beyond one’s capacity is best to create ill-health and disease later on in life
Improper utilization of objects of the sense organs is best in causing disease
Sex with a menstruating woman is most inauspicious activity
Celibacy is best to gain longevity
Adultery is best to reduce longevity
Resolution is the best aphrodisiac
Having difference of opinion is the best anti-aphrodisiac
Effort beyond one’s capacity is best to lose one’s life
Grief and depression is best way to make a disease worse
Bath is best to remove fatigue
Cheerfulness is best to create pleasure
Worry is best to cause emaciation
Detachment is best to cause nourishment
Eating food that is nutritious is best to induce sleep
Excessive amount of sleep is best in causing drowsiness
Meals with all the 6 tastes is best to promote strength and immunity
Meals with one taste is best to cause debility
A dead fetus is best to be removed immediately
Indigestion is best to be averted
Children are best to be given mild medicines
Aged patients are best to be given palliating medicines
Pregnant women are best to not be given strong medicines, engage in sex, or exercise
Having like mindedness is best for conception
The worst imbalance to treat has involvement of all doshas
Aama is best to be considered as toxicity
Fever is worst among disease
Skin disease is the disease with the longest duration
Rajayakshma (TB/AIDS) is the best disease complicated of many other diseases
Urinary disorders are the best repeating disease
Leech is the best surgical device
Basti is the best elimination therapy
Himalayas is the best place for medicinal plants
Soma is the best medicine
Desert is best among healthy place
Marshy land is unhealthiest place
Compliance with the instructions of the doctor is the best quality of patient
Atheist is best to be rejected for treatment
Greed is the best to cause the worst troubles
Noncompliance is the worst prognostic sign
Confidence is the best prognosis of recovery
Having a group of physicians is best to eradicate doubts
Conforming to standards is the best quality of a physician
Knowledge is the best medicine
Scriptural logic is best way to gain knowledge
Presence of mind is best to understand a situation
Inaction is the best way to waste time
Practical experience is best to rid doubt
Incompetence is best to cause fear
Reasoning based discussion with peers is best in creating wisdom and intelligence
The guru is best tool to understand science
Knowledge of Ayurveda is the best nectar
Words of noble person is the best to be followed
Words of wicked is the best to cause troubles
Complete detachment is the best to achieve happiness
Ever face having to give up a bad habit that you just can’t quit?
Going “cold turkey” is not supported by Ayurveda and is going to create an imbalance from the very view of Ayurveda but if you do a quick search on the net on quitting smoking with ayurveda, you’ll only see quitting cold turkey and herbal support or inspirational mental support articles written. That is not ayurveda and there is a better way without creating imbalance in manas and dosha.
The process is over a week to give up the habituated bad habit.
On the first day one should give up a quarter of the unhealthy habit while maintaining ¾ of it, and at the same time adopt a quarter of what is healthy and wholesome.
On the second and third days, half of the bad habit should be given up and half of the wholesome practice is to be continued.
On the 4th, 5th and 6th days, ¾ of the good habits should be adopted.
On 7th day, switch fully to the good habit.
– Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 7. 36 – 38
By slowly and gradually giving up the bad habits and by slowly cultivating the good habit, the body becomes accustomed well to the new habit without any complication.
This graduated movement of change is seen in Ayurveda over and over. It is used in changing dietary features in the time at the junction of two seasons as well.
Viruddha means opposite and is explained as incompatibility. It is a very important subject explained in Ayurveda. It is the cause of many systemic disorders. A person who consumes incompatible foods is prone to many many disorders. It is important to correlate the mechanism how viruddha is a cause of metabolic disorders and to know how combinations interact and create a disease.
Diet and its combinations which interrupt the metabolism of tissue, inhibit the process of formation of tissue, and which have the opposite property to the tissue are called viruddha anna or an incompatible diet. The food which is wrong in combination or undergone wrong processing or consumed in incorrect dose and/or consumed in incorrect time of the day or season is considered viruddha ahara. Food substances and combinations, which induce deteriorating action on the body tissues (Dhatus) are called as Viruddha Ahara.
1. Desha Viruddha
Incompatible with the environment/land/place
2. Kala Viruddha
Similar qualities of food substances are harmful to respective region & season and it may produce diseases.
3. Agni Viruddha
One should take diet considering the four types of agni. If food has not been taken in accordance to the respective digestive power then it will become Agni Viruddha.
4. Vatadi Viruddha
The use of articles of diet which are similar in quality to that of the respective body humors
5. Koshtha Viruddha
If a person takes diet irrespective of Koshtha (strength of one’s digestive capacity and digestive system)
6. Avastha Viruddha
Incompatibility with reference to the state of the person
7. Satmya Viruddha
Satmya means the substance of pleasure to oneself and it mainly related to sharira physiology.
8. Hridaya Viruddha
This is incompatibility of palatability where a substance of food is unpleasant in taste. It is related to manas which affects sharira dosha.
9. Sampada Viruddha
This is incompatibility with reference to richness of quality.
10. Matra Viruddha
If one cannot take Matravataahara, then it is called Matraviruddha. Combination of different substances in specific quantity. Intake of substances in less or in excess quantity
11. Samyoga Viruddha
A chemical combination exhibits a harmful property which none of the constituents ever possessed.
12. Virya Viruddha
When substances having opposite Virya (potency) are used in combination. Also, dravyas having opposite Rasa, Virya and Vipaka when combined with each other produces a detrimental effect to body.
13. Samskara Viruddha
Food substance is converted into poison during the course of preparation.
14. Paka Viruddha
If food substances are prepared with bad and rotten fuel or are overcooked, undercooked, burnt, or reheated then it is called as Paka Viruddha.
15. Parihara Viruddha
This is incompatibility of the rules of prohibition. In disease condition intake of food substances which are mentioned as Apathya or unwholesome for that particular disease.
16. Upachara Viruddha
When Parihara is related to any management.
17. Krama Viruddha
Not following proper sequence in ahara (food) and vihara (activities).
18. Vidhi Viruddha
This is incompatibility of rules of eating. One should take food substances/diet according to Upayoga Samstha mentioned in the eight factors of diet and dietetics. (Ashta Ahara Vidhi Visheshayatana).
The general qualities and effects of substances are changed due to several factors like matra (dose) samyoga (administration with other substances), svabhava (nature) and processes involved in the preparation etc.
Even poison, when taken in small quantity equal to a sesame seed, acts like nectar.
Kodrava (Paspalum scrobiculatum Linn) on its own cures raktapitta (haemorrhagic diseases or haemo therma) but when it is used along with substances which are vidahi (substances causing inflammation or burning sensation), it causes raktapitta.
In the same way, sesame seeds, having a quality of causing dermatosis, cure it when it is applied along with bhallitaka (Semicarpus anacardium).
Jaggery a non-digestive stimulant becomes a digestive stimulant when combined with substances like abhaya (TermioaIia chebula).
Ghee, which stimulates the gastric fire is given to a thirsty person with excessive gastric fire along with madana (beeswax)
Milk which is well known as a Jivaniya (life-prolonging) causes death when traces of poison are left in the body
Sthavara (vegetable and mineral) and jangama poisons (animal poison) though both are poisons, act as antidotes to one another.
By Inherent nature
By nature, mani (precious stones) and charms though not consumed, subside fever. Unboiled buttermilk increases kapha in the throat but subsides in the alimentary canal. Ghee, even with more unctuousness in it, does not have the quality of subsiding facial paralysis, while butter does have that quality though less unctuous.
Dry ginger is prepared from ardraka /fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc) but the process involved in its preparation makes dry ginger lighter (easily digestible)
Rice is heavy but the laja (fried patty) though prepared from rice are light.
Kulmasa(grains soaked with water and then fried) prepared from mudga /mung (Phaseolus mungo) after steam-boiling is changed in quality from grahi and laghu to bhedana and guru
Wheat has a quality good to the eyes but when it is fried in oil it become harmful for the eyes.
Mulaka /Radish (Raphanus sativus) is injurious to health as it provokes all doshas, but when it is cooked or boiled it subsides them.
By its own Action
Rice is light (easily digestible) in its quality but the treatment of frying and pounding applied in preparing prithuka (poha/parboiled and flattened paddy) changes the quality of lightness to heaviness.
The normal (not heated) buttermilk and dry ginger are more grahi in their action than the buttermilk which is boiled and ardraka (fresh ginger) respectively.
By Combinative action
Jaggery water becomes more effective in its diuretic quality than jaggery or water given separately.
Similarly, jaggery and curd are aphrodisiac and the item called rasala, prepared from jaggery and curd, is more aphrodisiac
Grapes (Vitis vinifera) though having a quality of subsiding doshas, if kept in utensils made of iron. become sour and provoke all the three doshas
Application of the paste of candana (Santalum album) as an unguent is cool-producing in its effect but if the paste is made very fine and applied thickly and allowed to dry, it will give an effect of heat (burning sensation) due to the blocking of the heat from the skin.
A paste of agaru (Aquilaria agallocha Roxb) having an opposite quality of candana (i. e. producing coolness) gives an effect of cooling if the paste is rough, wet and applied in a thin layer.
Due to the difference in the constitution of the person, cow milk having the quality of shramsana, acts as grahi
Due to the change in the age and position, administration of emetics etc is prohibited to obese, old and children
Milk is sweet, sara and cold but curd a product of milk is opposite in its qualities.
Ghee, also a product of milk is same in its qualities to milk.
Milk and curd subside vata but unformed curd provokes vata
Meat of peacock is not very wholesome for general health but it is wholesome for ears, voice, and eyes. Though eyes and ears are predominantly formed with the elements fire and wind, substances which are cold and hot to touch are respectively wholesome.
As a normal procedure administration of emetics is prohibited in chardi (vomitting). heart ailments, and tumors. But it is advised in certain special cases, in chardi where the provocation of the doshas is very high to evacuate all the vitiated doshas and in cases of heart diseases and tumors where the vita dosha is obstructed by kapha, vomitting is advised.
Generally, basti is prohibited in the diseases of arshas (piles) and kushta (skin disorders) but in certain specific cases, i.e, when vata is provoked and when there is severe dryness in kustha, basti is permitted.
By Nature of Disease
Venesection is prescribed in diseases which are caused due to the vitiation of blood but in raktapitta (haemotherma) venesection is prohibited, though it is also caused by vitiated blood
The same food which is wholesome to the persons afflicted by eye disorders, becomes unwholesome during night
Dried saktu is unwholesome to all but wholesome only to a person of prameha disease
By daysleep, the food eaten on the previous day or night is digested but the food, which has been eaten on the same day is not digested
Scorpions are produced from the decomposed bodies of snakes but the same snakes die due to the sting of scorpion.
Ayurveda is first a science of understanding the details of what is beneficial and nonbeneficial to an individual’s life in the view of an individual and it is secondarily a medical science for the cure of disease. It gives an understanding in detail of rules and regulations upon how nature works that give the workings to ensure the health of human being with the least impediments and creating balance. Environmental health is the biggest importance in Ayurveda. There is a great detail of science to the daily regimen (dinacarya) in general for functional health, and following a code for the seasonal changes (rtucarya) to balance the disorders that are caused due to the seasonal changes. The application of these instructions constitutes basic activities i.e., diet, work, rest and sleep, purity of use of the senses, sexual behavior and activity. In this, it covers not only strengthening the physical body but strengthening the senses and the mind, leading to health, peace, and contentment. Ayurveda also covers very clear details on understanding what to follow with the natural urges of the body and emotions.
Those, who do not follow healthy daily and seasonal habits are prone to diseases. Hence, a healthy person should follow proper daily and seasonal regimens for the maintenance of good health. – Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 7. 45
Diets and practices in relation to seasons.
The general division of the year is in three parts known as winter, summer, and monsoon. Again, each of these three is divided into sub-seasons. In all the main texts of Ayurveda a chapter on basic fundamentals of living has been dealt with and the seasons in clear terms and laid down the rules for diet and practices as follows:
The seasonal dietary and regimen practiced by a man who knows the seasonal variation with regard to behavior and diet promote life, vigor, and complexion.
Derivation of seasons (rtu)
Geocentric model of universe
Movement of the sun
Division into two parts – adana (weakening) and visarga (strengthening)
Division into six parts – heat/cold & dry/wet
Seasonal Divisions of the Year
The year consists of six parts when divided according to the seasons. From among these, the three seasons from the late winter season to the summer (mid-summer) represent the sun’s northern course and its ‘period of absorption’ while the three seasons from the rains (mid-summer) to the mid-winter represent the sun’s southern course and its ‘period of liberation or release’.
There are identifying factors of the seasons
They are: Gunas, Doshas, Plants, Fruits, Flowers, Animals, Birds, Physiological changes that happen in each season, and Pathological changes like diseases that have their predominance in a certain season due to the influence of the aggravation and excess of element.
Another way of identifying the season is thru the properties of the different season Gunas – Heat or Cold / Dry or Wet
Doshas – Vata Pitta and Kapha
During the period of the sun’s southern course, the prevailing winds are not excessively drying; it is not this way with the period of absorption. During the southern course, the moon has full strength on the earth and her cool radiation nourishes it constantly; therefore the period of the sun’s southern course is characterized by the predominance of the water element. The period of the sun’s northern course is characterized by the predominance of the fire element.
In this manner, the sun, the wind, and the moon, governed by time as well as their own individual natures and orbits, are explained as the causative factors of the manifestation of the periods, seasons, tastes, constitutions and bodily strength.
The Debilitating Effect of the Sun’s Northern Course
During the first period, the sun with his hot rays slowly absorb the moisture from the earth and piercing dry winds further dehydrate it. The sun and the winds, giving rise to progressive dryness and promoting the formation of the three dry tastes, bitter, astringent and pungent respectively, lead to the gradual decrease of strength and health in men.
The Strengthening Effect of the Sun’s Southernly Course
From the season of the rains (mid-summer) to the autumn and the winter, however, the sun who has set its face to the south, being shorn of its glory by the cumulative influence of the period, orbit, clouds, winds and rains, the moon remaining undiminished in power, and the summer heat having been quenched with the descent of rain, the tastes of sour, salt and sweet, increase in the given order and the strength and health of men increases.
The Developing order of the two Seasons
In the beginning and the end of the sun’s gradual movement, the bodily vigor of men is at its lowest in summer; in the middle of these periods, it is moderate; while in the winter the bodily vigor is at its highest.
Recommendations are for each season to create balance
Food – based on agni, dosha
First Half of Winter
In the cold season or winter, with the gastric fire in strong men because they are hemmed in by the cold air surrounding, digestive capacity in the healthy man becomes greatly enhanced and capable of digesting heavy food intake, both as regards measure and quality of the articles. If such a strong gastric fire does not get sufficient amount of fuel, then it consumes the body fluids and then Vata, which is of cold quality, is provoked in the cold season.
Second Half of Winter
In the season of the winter, one should take unctuous, acid and salt juices of the flesh of fatty animals of the aquatic and wetland groups. One should take the spit-roasted flesh of the burrowing and the tearer groups of animals, followed by wines and honey. One who uses habitually in winter, milk, preparations of sugarcane juice, animal fat, oil, new rice, and warm water, protects his lifespan from diminution. One should resort to unction (intake of oil), oil-massage, oil shampoo, hothouse sudation, sunbaths, warm cellars and warm inner apartments in winter. In the cold season, one should have vehicles and beds well covered, and seats with thick quilts and deerskin or tiger skin, silk sheets, course cloth sheets or with variegated blankets. When winter begins, one should always wear warm and thick clothing and should have one’s body anointed with thick paste of Eaglewood. Lying in bed with a plump and passionate woman of broad and well-filled breasts, who has anointed herself with the paste of Eaglewood, warmed up by aphrodisiac wines, spend the night in her embraces. In the season of winter, one may indeed indulge in sexual enjoyment to one’s heart’s content. On the beginning of the cold season, one should give up eatables and drinks that provoke Vata, and should avoid drafts, restricted diet, and diluted demulcent drinks. Early winter and the late winter season are similar in nature yet there is a slight distinguishing characteristic in the late winter season, the dryness born of the sun’s absorbing period and the cold born of clouds, wind and rain. The entire regimen prescribed in winter is to be observed in the dewy season as well. In fact, the rule as to residence in draftless and warm apartments is to be observed even more stringently in the late winter season. One should avoid eatables and drinks that are pungent, bitter, astringent, provoke Vata, light, and cold.
The accumulated Kapha getting liquefied by the hot rays of the sun in the spring affects the body heat and gives rise to many diseases. In the spring, purificatory procedures like emesis, etc. should be performed and one should avoid heavy, acid, unctuous and sweet articles, and also day sleep. In the beginning of the spring, one should resort to physical exercises, dry massage, medicated smoking, gargles, collyrium (kajal) and frequent ablutions with warm water. One should anoint their body with sandalwood paste, eat meals prepared of barley or wheat, flesh of deer, rabbit, Indian antelope, grey quail and grey partridge. One should drink wholesome sidhu (The alcoholic preparation made out unboiled sugarcane juice) or honey wine and enjoy the youthful loveliness of women and the woods.
First Half of Summer
In summer, the sun drinks up the unctuous element of the earth. During this season, therefore, foods and drinks that are sweet, cool, liquid and unctuous are conducive to health. By staying to a diet of cold demulcent drinks mixed with sugar, the flesh of animals and birds of the jangala (desert) group, ghee, milk and sali rice, one escapes the unwanted effects of the season. No wine should be drunk or it should be drunk very diluted with water. One should give up foods that are salty, sour, pungent and hot, as also give up exercise. Smearing oneself with sandal paste, one should court sleep by day in the cool apartment of the house and by night on the terrace cooled by the rays of the moon and open to the breezes. In the summer season, one should abstain from sexual intercourse, and seek the coolness of the woods, waters, and flowers.
Rains (Late Summer)
In the body that has been impoverished by the effects of the sun during his period of absorption (southern course), the digestive power too grows weak. On the advent of the rainy season, the digestive power readily succumbs to the disturbing effects of Vata. The constitutions in their turn, finding the strength of the gastric fire very weakened, get provoked aided by the effects of moist and hot exhalations from the earth, the precipitation of the rains and the tendency to sourness in water that occurs in the rainy season. The general rule that is laid down for the rainy season is moderation. One should particularly avoid watery demulcent drink, day sleep, frosts, river water, exercise, sun and sexual intercourse during this season. One should take foods and drinks that are well seasoned, in combination with honey. On very cold days that have stormy winds and rain, one should take unctuous (oily) articles with pronounced acid and salt tastes, for the sake of alleviating Vata. Taking care to preserve one’s agni, one should take old barley, wheat, and sali rice together with the flesh and well-seasoned soups of the jangala (desert) group of animals. One should drink, mixed with honey, a small measure of decocted wine or rainwater, well water or lake water that has been boiled and cooled. In the rains, one should have recourse to friction type massage, dry massage, bathing, wearing of perfumes and garlands, light and clean clothing, residing in a house free from damp.
When the body which has become habituated to the cold of the rains, is suddenly heated by the rays of the sun in the autumn, the accumulated Pitta in the body is generally provoked. In this season one should partake of food and drinks that are sweet, light, cooling, slightly bitter, and curative of Pitta, in dose and when really hungry. In the beginning of the autumn, one should take the flesh of grey quail, grey partridge, black buck, wild sheep, deer, hare, sali rice, barley and wheat. When the rain clouds have disappeared, one should resort to a portion of ghee medicated with bitter articles, to purgation and to bloodletting, and one should avoid exposure to the sun. In this season one should avoid animal fats, oils, exposure to frosts, the flesh of aquatic and wetland animals, alkalis, curds, day sleep and easterly winds.
Each season has it possible imbalance of dosha due to the seasonal change of elements
Late winter – Vata Kapha
Spring – Kapha Pitta
Summer – Vata Pitta
Rains – Vata Pitta and Kapha
Autumn – Pitta Kapha
Early winter – Kapha Vata
The seasonal variances have been described with reference to behavior and diet. That which becomes balancing by habitual use is said to be an acquired balance.
The knowers of these principles consider it desirable to acquire balance regarding food and behavior which are antagonistic to the characteristics of the land and the causative factors of the diseases prevalent there.
Direction of wind
Here is a little bit deeper knowledge in understanding the seasonal changes that I have not seen taught or talked about anywhere (until now). The change of the direction from which the wind is coming is also part of the season. It is explained in the late summer that the change of direction of the wind is part of what aggravates Vata.
The East wind
The East wind, which is cool and sweet in its potency, is heavy and charged with salt; it aggravates blood and Pitta and gives rise to an acid digestive reaction. It especially aggravates the disease in a patient suffering from a wound or an ulcer, or from the effect of any poison, and affects persons of Shleshmala temperament. It is highly efficacious to fatigued persons, as well as to those of a Vatala (nervous) temperament, or who are afflicted with any sort of Kaphaja disease; though it increases the slimy secretion in their ulcers if there be any.
The South wind
The South wind is light, sweet (produces the same soothing effect on the organism like a thing of sweet taste) and is followed by an astringent after-taste (Anurasa) being antacid in its reaction. It is the best of winds, gives vigor to the eyes, increases the strength, and soothes the blood and the Pitta without aggravating the bodily Vayu.
The West wind
The West wind is pure, non-slimy, dry, rough to the perception, and keen. It absorbs the albumen or oily principle of the body. It absorbs or dries up fat and Kapha, produces a parched condition in the body when exposed to it, and speedily diminishes the strength of a person.
The North wind
The North wind is cold, crisp, mild, of a sweet taste terminating in an astringent one. It does not in any way enrage or agitate the deranged doshas. In healthy subjects, it increases the strength and the running secretions from the different orfices of the body (such as the nostrils etc.). It proves extremely salutary to patients suffering from consumption, wasting disease and the effects of poison.
To then stretch the brain is to see how this fundamentally works around the globe.
There are basic challenges in implementing the rtucharya. It looks to have been easier in the past because life was simpler. People did not travel as much. They ate seasonal foods that were fresh whereas today we stockpile food in the refrigerator and still believe it is fresh. Seasons came at the right times due to lack of modern pollution of air, water etc. Back then they generally followed a healthy lifestyle with more physical activity than today with our technology and luxuries that have stolen away what was once a physical effort. Foods were generally wholesome and healthy until modern agriculture. The modern lifestyle is referred to in Ayurvedic verbiage as “Gramya” or what can be translated to “urban”. It is by itself the cause of much imbalance and disease.
From the knowledge of Ayurveda, in a nutshell, we are living way out of harmony with nature and seriously disconnected. How often do you watch the sunset/sunrise, observe the moon or the tides, learn about a new plant or get your feet or fingers in the soil? If you are lucky you can say your life includes some palliative practices, but the majority of people living in cities live months, even years disconnected. Now add to that most people are plugged in 24/7. We are excessively hyper-stimulated by mass media and social media overload. Even the spiritual “Swamis” spend so much time on Facebook. Even within our modern technological-based lives, everything keeps changing or upgrading, and quickly.
Will Durant has to say, in his famous work, “ Our Oriental Heritage” on the subject:
“ Chemistry developed from two sources, medicine and industry. Something has been said about the chemical excellence of cast iron in ancient India and about the high industrial development of Gupta times when India was looked to even by Imperial Rome as most skilled of the nations in such chemical industries as dyeing, tanning, soap making, glass, and cement. As early as the second century u.c. Nagarjuna devoted an entire volume of Mercury . . . Anatomy and physiology’ like some aspects of chemistry were by-products of Hindu Medicine. As far back as the 6th-century b.c., Hindu physicians described ligaments, sutures, lymphatics, nerve plexus, facia, adipose and vascular tissues, mucus and synovial membranes and many more muscles than any modern cleverer are able to show …. They understood remarkably well the processes of digestion . . . the different functions of gastric juices, the conversion of chyle into chyle and of this into the blood. Anticipating Weismann by 2400 years Atreya 500 B.c. held that the parental seed is independent of the parent’s body and contains in itself in miniature the whole parental organism. Examination of virility was recommended as a pre-requisite for marriage in man and the code of Manu warns against marrying mates affected with tuberculosis, epilepsy, leprosy, chronic dyspepsia, piles or loquacity.
Birth control in the latest ethiological fashion was suggested by the Hindu medical schools of 500 b.c. in the theory that during first 12 days of menstrual cycle impregnation is impossible. Foetal development was described with accuracy; it was noted that the sex of the fetus remains undetermined for a time and it was claimed that in some cases the sex of embryo could be influenced by food or drugs.
“Appended to the Atharva Veda is the Ayur Veda (‘The Science of longevity ’). In the latest system of Hindu medicine, the illness is attributed to disorder in one of four humours (air, water, phlegm, and blood) and treatment is recommended with herbs and charms. Many of its diagnoses and cures are still used in India, with a success that is sometimes the envy of western physicians (italics ours). The Rig Veda names over a thousand such herbs and advocates water as the best cure for most diseases. Even in vedic times physicians and surgeons were being differentiated from magic doctors and were living in houses surrounded by gardens in which they cultivated medicinal plants.
“The great names in Hindu Medicine are those of Sushruta in the 5th century before and Charaka in the 2nd century after Christ. Sushruta, Professor of Medicine in the University of Banaras wrote down in Sanskrit a system of diagnosis and therapy whose elements had descended to him from his tutor Dhanwantari. His book deals at length with surgery, obstetrics, diet, bathing, drugs, infant feeding and hygiene and medical attention. Charaka composed a Samhita (or encyclopedia) of medicine which is still used in India and gave to his followers an almost Hippocratic conception of their calling ‘ not for self, not for the fulfilment of any earthly desire of man, but solely for the good of suffering humanity should you treat your patients and so excel all.’ Only less illustrious than these are Vagbhata (625 a.d.) who prepared a medical compendium in prose and verse and Bhava Misra (1550 a.d.) whose voluminous work on anatomy, physiology, and medicine mentioned, a hundred years before Harvey, the circulation of the blood and prescribed mercury for that novel disease, syphilis, which had recently been brought in by the Portuguese as part of Europeans heritage to India.
“Sushruta described many surgical operations, cataract, hernia, lithotomy, Caesarian section, etc. — and 121 surgical instruments including lancets, sounds, forceps, catheters and rectal and vaginal speculums. Despite Brahmanical prohibitions, he described the dissection of dead bodies as indispensable in the training of surgeons. He was the first to graft upon a torn ear portions of skin taken from another part of the body and from him and his Hindu ancestors rhinoplasty — the surgical reconstruction of the nose — descended into modern medicine. ‘ The ancient Hindus,’ says Garrison ‘ performed almost every major operation except ligation of the arteries.
Limbs were amputated, abdominal sections were performed, fractures were set, hemorrhoids and fistulas were removed.’ Sushruta laid down elaborate rules for preparing an operation and his suggestion that the wounded be sterilized by fumigation is one of the earliest known efforts of medicinal liquors to produce insensibility to pain. In 927 a.d. two surgeons trepanned the skull of a Hindu king and made him insensitive to the operation by administering a drug called Samohini.
“For the treatment of the 1,120 diseases that he enumerated, Sushruta recommended diagnosis by inspection, palpation, and auscultation. Taking of the pulse was described in a treatise dating 1300 a.d. Urine analysis was a better method of diagnosis. Tibetan physicians were reputed able to cure any patient without having seen anything more of him than his water. In the time of Yuan Chwang, Hindu medical treatment began with a seven-day fast; in this interval, the patient often recovered; if the illness continued, drugs were at last employed. Even then drugs were used very sparingly; reliance was placed largely upon diet, baths, enemas, inhalations, urethral and vaginal injections and bloodlettings by leeches or cups. Hindu physicians were especially skilled in concocting antidotes for poisons; they still excel European physicians in curing snakebites. Vaccination unknown to Europe before the 18th century was known in India as early as 550 a.d., if we may judge from a text attributed to Dhanwantari, one of the earliest Hindu physicians. ‘Take the fluid of the pock on the udder of the cow . . . upon the point of a lancet and lance with it the arms between the shoulders and elbows until blood appears; then mixing the fluid with the blood, the fever of the small-pox will be produced. Modern European physicians believe that caste separateness was prescribed because of the Brahman belief in invisible agents transmitting disease; many of the laws of sanitation enjoined by Sushruta and Manu seem to take for granted what we modern who love new words for old things, call the germ theory of disease. Hypnotism as therapy seems to have originated among the Hindus who often take their sick to the temples to be cured by hypnotic suggestion or‘ temple sleep’ as in Egypt and Greece. The Englishmen who introduced hypnotherapy into England — Braid, Esdaile, and Elliotson – ‘ undoubtedly got their ideas and some of their experience from contact with India’.
“The general picture of Indian medicine is one of rapid development in the Vedic and Buddhist periods, followed by centuries of slow’ and cautious improvement. How much Atreya, Dhanwantari, and Sushruta owed to Greece and how much Greece owed to them we do not know. ‘ In the time of Alexander says Garrison * Hindu physicians and surgeons enjoyed a well-deserved reputation for superior knowledge and skill and even Aristotle is believed by some students to have been indebted to them.’ So too with the Persians and Arabs; it is difficult to say how’ much Indian medicine owed to the physicians of Baghdad and through them to the heritage of Babylonian medicine in the Near East; on the one hand, certain remedies like opium and mercury and some modes of diagnosis like feeling the pulse, appear to have entered India from Persia; on the other hand, we find Persians and Arabs translating into their languages, in the 8th century a.d. the thousand-year-old compendia of Sushruta and Charaka. The great Caliph Haroun-al-Rashid accepted the pre-eminence of Indian medicine and scholarship and imported Hindu physicians to organize hospitals and medical schools in Baghdad. Lord Ampthill concludes that the medieval and modem Europe owes its systems of medicine directly to the Arabs, and through them to India. Probably this noblest and most uncertain of the sciences had an approximately equal antiquity and development in contemporary conduct and mutual influence in Sumeria, Egypt and India.”
This quotation has been given in extenso in spite of some inaccuracies in it, such as the confusion between the four Greek humours and Tridoshas of Ayurveda, because it not only brings out the importance of Ayurveda but also puts it in its proper perspective.
Takra (Butter milk)
Takra is light, astringent, hot and digestive stimulant. It alleviates kapha and vata. It cures sotha (oedema), udara (obstinate abdominal diseases including ascitis), arsas (piles), grahani (sprue syndrome), mutra graha (anuria), aruci (loss of taste), gulma (phantom tumour), plihana (splenic disorder), ghrta vyiipat (complications because of wrong administration of ghee) and pandvamaya (anemia).
Takra is of three types depending upon the content of fat which is either completely removed, half removed or not removed at all.
The first variety from which fat is completely removed is light and wholesome. The second variety from which half of the fat is removed is exceedingly heavy and aphrodisiac. The third variety from which fat is not removed is exceedingly aphrodisiac.
The properties of the different types of dadhi prepared from the milk of different animals are also shared by the takra prepared out of them.
By the great sages like Sushruta, takra is described to be of four types viz., ghola, mathita, udasvit and takra. The butter milk which contains cream and to which water not added is called ghola. When the cream is removed but no water is added then it 1s called mathita. When one fourth quantity of water is added then it is called takra. In udasvit half the quantity of water is added.
Takra alleviates all the three doshas. Udasvit aggravates kapha, promotes strength and alleviates fatigue par excellence.
Property of different types
Buttermilk prepared of the manda variety of dadhi is ununctuous, abhisyandi (obstructs the channels of circulation), and difficult of digestion.
Buttermilk prepared of the sweet variety of dadhi is unctuous. It aggravates kapha and alleviates vayu and pitta.
Buttermilk prepared of the sour variety of dadhi alleviates vayu. Buttermilk prepared of dadhi which is extremely sour, aggravates rakta (blood) and pitta.
The heaviness of takra progressively increases depending upon the increase in density.
When there is aggravation of vayu, sour variety of takra should be taken by adding rock salt. In pitta. sweet variety of takra should be taken mixed with sugar. In kapha the un-unctuous variety of takra should be used by adding alkalies, sunthi, pippali and marica. In mutrakrcchra (dysuria), guda should be added and in pandu citraka should be added to the takra.
If hingu and jira are added and the powder of rock salt is sprinkled over takra, then it becomes an excellent alleviator of vayu. It also becomes an excellent curative for arsas (piles) and atisara (diarrhoea). It is an appetiser, nourishing and strength promoting. It also cures colic pain in the region of vasti (urinary bladder).
Process of preparation
Unboiled (ama) takra alleviates Kapha in the koshta (colon) but produces kapha in the throat. The boiled (pakva) takra is specifically useful in pinasa (chronic cold), svasa and kasa (bronchitis).
Properties in general
Takra works like ambrosia in winter season, when there is suppression of the power of digestion, in the diseases caused by kapha and vayu, in aruci (anorexia) and srotorodha (obstruction to the channels of circulation). It cures diseases caused by kapha, cchardi (vomiting), praseka (salivation), visama jvara (irregular fever), pandu (anemia), medas (adiposity), grahani (sprue syndrome), arsas (piles), mutragraha (suppression of urination), bhagandara (fistula-in-ano), meha (obstinate urinary disorders including diabetes), gulma (phantom tumour), atisara (diarrhoea), sula (colic pain), plihana (splenic disorder), udara (obstinate abdominal disorders including ascitis), aruci (anorexia), svitra (leucoderma), kotha (urticaria), ghrta vyiipat (complications arising out of improper use of ghee), kustha (obstinate skin diseases including leprosy), sopha (oedema), trsna (morbid thirst) and krmi (parasitic infection),
Takra should not be used in ksata (phthisis), during hot season, when a person is weak and in murrcha (fainting), bhrama (giddiness), daha (burning syndrome) and raktapitta (a disease characterised by bleeding of different parts of the body).
A person who habitually takes takra never suffers and being impregnated with takra diseases do not attack him. As ambrosia gives happiness to the gods, so also takra produces happiness in human beings on this earth.
It cures vayu because of its sour taste, pitta because of its sweet taste and kapha because of its astringent taste.
In continuing the posts on Swastavritta, we come to the third pillar of brahmacharya.
Brahma means Brahman/God or the absolute/eternal, achar means the way/the path. To be a Brahmachari, practising Brahmacharya, means to walk in the path or lifestyle adopted to enable one to attain the ultimate reality that was set down in the Rig Veda and in the Upanishad. That is the true meaning of Brahmacharya. To practice brahmacharya in the mundane world today it is different as it is taken out of that context but still means one must exercise some form of control. That control is about eating, it is about sleeping, is about drinking, and it is about sex so we see that brahmacharya in the mundane context is a larger and broader idea and not just about celibacy or ‘maintaining sexual energy’ and it has been coined today.
There is the higher context of brahmacharya that is of complete celibacy and is not for householders, it is not for married people. It is for ascetics (something that there is no context or container for in the Western world) where they go through severe asceticism, severe austerities, whereby they sublimate the sex energy, which is one of the strongest urges in a human being, and sublimate that energy into light through special practices. In Yagnyavalkya Smritti it is broken down into eight factors that are to be considered sex that are to be controlled. They are: memory of female by male or vice versa, talking about qualities of, to indulge in playing with, to look at, talking in a lonely place with, to preparing for coitus, to attempt or effort in, and the actual act of coitus or sexual intercourse. Let’s get real here, that is for ascetics, not for the householder or modern world constant sex on the mind mundane humans. When one represses energies and they are not fit, ready, not having the abilities, the lifestyle, the cultural context, or knowledge on how to sublimate those energies, it will result in destruction of the person and their life.
Brahmacharya shabden indriya sayyamsaumanasya prabhritayo brahmagyananuguda grihyante.
Chakrapani tika Charaka Su. 11.35
This term has been given for control over senses, purity of mind and conducts towards goal to Brahma. It has been advised to be used very tactfully as excess use or even non use leads to psychic disturbances.
There is lots of confusion in the world when we step into and take on a different culture’s paradigm and try to put it on like new clothes on our own paradigm in which it has no context in. The danger of this is the damage it does to the individual as a dog cannot be a cat no matter how much it tries. Much less, it does not help when oodles of people write books on the subject from their own opinion and bias and the masses then just pick up those books and read them naively without the bigger knowledge of paradigm and context in which it comes from. “Strictly following or adopting the path to reach Brahma (God).” In this path, the individual needs to conserve his semen which adds to his strength and takes him closer to the supreme soul. Loss of semen is the biggest obstacle in the path of brahmacharya. In the Ramayana, Lord Rama’s younger brother Laxmana had maintained brahmacharya during his stay with his brother during his fourteen years stay in the forest for which he was very powerful due to preservation of semen and able to destroy evil powers. Also in the Ramayana, there is a description of Hanuman, who had also followed the path of brahmacharya and hence it is considered the most powerful. The Mahabharata states Kamachari (kama = enjoyment) is one who is always indulged in sensory amusement but brahmachari keeps a control over his senses.
Brahmacharya also refers to one of the four stages of life in the age based social system as principled in the Veda. Everyone was required to practice Brahmacharya during their educational period of fourteen to twenty years but sages and saints practiced the entire life till they left their body.
When we speak of real Yoga and Yogis, the text of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali starts with the word Atha. This is not a mistake of words as sanskrit is a detailed language. Atha means that now the person has now reached a level of development and capacity for the actual study and life to now be able to receive the teachings that are going to be expounded. In Yoga set down by Patanjali, brahmacharya is complete celibacy and is a method opted for conquering of the chitta.
Of course there are other paths of Yoga like in Tantra but even there there is no sexual excessiveness much to the chagrin of what is being taught today in the masses but that is the modern world for you. Tantric texts actually contain NO teachings or techniques on how to enhance or prolong sexual pleasure and how many books are written out there by the pseudo spiritual marketing and sales world to the naive masses about just the this? This just depicts the truth of the modern world. Where is the context or container in this Western paradigm when everything in the modern world is based in subconscious marketing of sexuality, food, and excessive desire fulfilment where examples like Pokimon Go and focus on celebrities and what they are wearing show just how undeniably disconnected we are. It is the paradigm, even in the Western yoga world you have the same celebritism and yoga fashion wear.
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika
cittäyattam nrnäm sukram sukräyattam ca jivitam |
tasmäc chukram manas caiva raksanéyam prayatnatah ||4.90
A man’s semen can be controlled by the mind and control of semen is life giving. Therefore, his semen and mind should be controlled and conserved.
Then it gives instructions of practices of sublimation.
For a householder or mundane people what we are really talking of walking in the path of divine righteousness, fidelity in marriage, and chastity. It is who has completely eradicated lust and is established in mental control, they have to exercise all forms of control within them self.
Abstinence is refraining one’s mind and body in indulgence of sex and desire related matters. At the outset, it appears as if it covers only physical aspect. But it also covers the mental aspect. If you indulge in sex, there is lack of abstinence at the same time, if you imagine about having sex, then also there is lack of abstinence. The mental realm is a subtle realm and is impacted in the energy realm. It is almost near to impossible for common people to practice abstinence at the highest level but it is possible to follow abstinence at certain levels based on one’s own capacity and comfort.
It is interesting to note that this abstinence is also found in Christianity, Islamic, and Buddhist texts as well.
In Ayurveda, a knowledge base from five thousand years ago, they knew that semen is derived from marrow (which has only now been “discovered” by modern science). Semen is formed from flesh and blood in stepwise manner. Blood is formed from food. Therefore, semen is derived from food in a multistep process of purification and filtration. During each step of this process there occurs forty times condensation and ultimately one drop of semen is formed from 40 drops of bone marrow. Due to these reasons, semen is considered as highly precious body fluid. Among all dhatus, shukra is last formed dhatu and its preservation leads to healthy life. Shukra has been considered to be specialised converted product of food. Not following brahmacharya leads to excessive loss of shukra dhatu leading to Shukra Kshaya (depletion of reproductive tissues). Semen also attributes to physical beauty, physical strength (energy) and mental strength (intelligence and memory). Loss of semen leads to loss of happiness, loss of memory, loss of vigor and depletion. Obstruction of semen by suppressing the erotic impulses gives rise to loss of libido in long run unless done thru proper spiritual practices. Both obstruction of semen and loss of semen over time give rise to impotency.
As everything has its context, brahmacharya in Ayurveda is means to a balanced and healthy sex and worldly life. It’s rules guide the indulgence in sex and similar worldly acts. The practice promotes life and preserves health and as such is an important practice. Carnal desires and their timely satisfaction play a very important role in maintaining good health and promoting longevity in adult individuals. Ayurveda never dictates voluntarily suppressing this urge as it invites diseases but gives emphasis on the controlled indulgence of sex. Sexual maturity starts by the twelfth year in girls and in twenty first year in boys. It is advisable for them to avoid sex, marriage, and conception till the age of sixteen and twenty five years of age, respectively, because the internal organs and tissues are not fully matured until this time in each.
Generally the frequency of indulgence depends on age, moods, surroundings, nutrition, and willingness of the other partner.
Indulgence is advised in winter, one can do vyavaya (coitus) as per will. In Spring season to one’s physical capacity and age permits. Charaka advises to avoid sexual contact in summer and late summer as it is ill advised during monsoon. Do not exceed in summer the extent of once in two weeks. This is done to save the vital energy from draining out of the body and to avoid physical over exertion.
Sex is contraindicated for a person who is physically over-stressed, mentally not prepared, worried or tense, suffering from fever, suffering from prolonged systemic disease, having a venereal disease, when the surroundings are not good, and if the partner is not willing. All these factors may lead to a physical or sexual problem and can cause disease due to imbalance. Women are to avoid sex during menstruation, during early or late pregnancy, and after menopause. While for men should abstain from sex after 50 years of age. In old age (70 +), if someone is indulgent after the age of seventy they will suffer depletion of tissues and harmful results.
Excessive coitus is contraindicated to health as it leads to pain, cough, fever, difficulty in breathing, emaciation, anemia, and decreased immunity.
Now I know from my experience of people’s reaction in the modern world than much of this is disagreed with for their own bias and reasons which only shows the level of what we are in the Western world today and the level of imbalance of the mind of the culture. The reasons of these guidelines in Ayurveda is all based in the knowledge of health of the individual and the deeper knowledge behind each stated is known in understanding the elements in the foundations that make up Ayurveda.
If one practices absolute abstinence for a period of 12 years continuous, a nadi develops in the brain which leads to multi-fold improvement in concentration, memory and courage. Abstinence is the fuel for spiritual journey and there is no spirituality without abstinence.
This concludes the posts on three pillars of Swastavritta.
in our fourth part of Swastavritta we now start the second of the three pillars of health, SLEEP.
Sleep is as important as food and one of the adharniya vega. (urges not to be suppressed)
Sleep is the mental operation having the cognition of absence for its grasp.
Sleep is nothing but temporary loss of contact with organs of sense and organs of action (Su. Su. 15/40)
Physiology of Sleep
Charaka states that when the man, including senses, are exhausted and they dissociate themselves from their objects, then the individual sleeps.
When mind as well as soul get exhausted or become inactive and the organs of sense and organs of action become inactive then the individual gets sleep. Sleep is nothing but the location of the man in a place unconnected with the senses and action organs. In the event of the exhaustion of the mind, the individual is dependent on that of the mind; so when mind dissociates itself from its objects, individual also dissociates themselves from their objects.
The doshic reason of sleep is that the sensory channels and kapha with tamas cause sleep (Su. Sha. 4/6). Another reason is due to fatigue of senses and mind causes sleep (As. Su. 9/7).
The third reason is that it is just the natural instinct which is the healthiest of the three.
General principles of sleep
When tamas increases person sleeps
When satva increases person wakes up
Tamas and satva qualities alternatively are responsible for sleep and awakening
Sushruta Su 5
There are 10 classifications of sleep.
Normal daily routine sleep. This as a natural phenomenon occurs as a part of our daily life, generally at the end of the day i.e during the night..which is the natural time to sleep..in natural conditions and normal health. This form of sleep is good for health. It keeps us physically and mentally fit for the daily schedules.
Sleep occurring due to the disturbances of the mind or due to mental exhaustion.
Abnormal type of sleep either in excess or in a disturbed form occurring as an effect of long standing illness or due to the effect of a disease process. This needs a medical intervention and gets right when the pathology behind it is attended to.
Sleep occurring due to physical exertion.
Sleep occurring due to the predominance of Kapha- one of the 3 essential humoral factors governing the body functions. Generally those who are of the Kapha predominant constitution tend to sleep more than the other Vata and Pitta constitutions. Excessive sleep is also seen in the diseases of Kapha predominance…which is pathological. When the causative disease is dealt with, sleep pattern will get synchronised.
Sleep caused due to a trauma or injury involving head.
Sleep occurring due to the predominance of the Tamasika guna in the mind…which generally tends to calm the mind and also cause sleep.
Sleep occurring as an effect of our sins.
Sleep which occurs in the form of a disease.
Sleep occurring at the end part of our life i.e death..which is a permanent form of sleep ending our life process.
When an individual is deficient of sleep it will create unhappiness, emaciation, weakness, impotency, impairment knowledge or unwise, and otherwise destroys the life.
Sleeping during the day is contraindicated except for those who are tired due to singing, studying, one who takes alcohol and intoxification, due to sexual intercourse, from purification procedures, weightlifting and exercise, fatigue due to indigestion, weak due to injury, those that are weak, the old aged, a child, suffering from thirst (a disease called trishna), fatigued due to excess loose stools, suffering from pain in the abdomen, from breathing difficulty, from hiccough, emaciated, fallen, injured, insanity, fatigued, travelling, one that has stayed awake at night, and one who is emotionally stuck full of anger or grief or fear.
In summer, being the part of adana kala, there is mainly dryness and vata dosha accumulates and aggravates. The duration of night time is short and thus day sleep is advised by the ayurvedic texts. They also expound upon who day sleep is advised for but it is only for a limited time of one kala. These people are children, old aged, emaciated, one who takes alcoholic drinks daily, one who travels, who is tired due to walking, who who does not take food on time, one who has less fat, one who sweats less, one of less kapha, depleted blood or rasa dhatu. Taking a nap by these conditions leads to a rebalancing of body tissues, gives strength, the kapha gained nourishes the body parts, and it increases the lifespan.
It is contraindicated to sleep during the day in all the other seasons as it vitiates kapha and pitta, by the obese, one that is of kapha prakriti, who are addicted to taking oily substances, having kapha disease, and those with cumulative toxicity.
Sleeping during the day causes advanced stage of jaundice, headache, stiffness, heaviness in the body, body pain, it destroys the agni, gives a feeling as if something is applied around the chest, creates swelling and edema, tastelessness, creates excessive salivation, gives congestion and colds, migraines, urticaria and rashes, itching, sleepiness or sluggishness, cough, diseases of throat, failure of memory and intelligence, obstruction in the micro channels, fever, inefficiency of the sense organs, and it increases the speed of poison to spread.
To increase sleep one can do abhyanga, proper rubbing the body with powdered herbs, bathe, eating meat soup (without the meat) of animals of dry land, marshy land,and aquatic animals, eating rice, curd, milk, oil, alcoholic drinks. Create happiness in the mind, doing a treatment to the eyes in which oil is held in a dam build around the eyes, or a medicated paste on head.
What reduces sleep is inducing purgation through bowel, excretion from head with specified procedure, inducing vomiting, fear or sadness or anger, doing smoke inhalation of medicinal plants, physical exercise, blood letting, fasting, weight reducing procedures, engaging in work, diseases, vata dosha imbalances, increasing satva guna or decreasing tama guna.
From Ayurveda’s understanding of dreams are when the waking functions of the mind are hindered in the sleep by tamas, at a stage when the rajo guna increases and the mind cognizes the content as if in the waking state but without any contact of the senses with the sense organs.
Insomnia is created by aggravation of vata and pitta, mental agony, and weakness due to injury. It can be treated by oil application on body or on the head, by rubbing the body with medicated powders or simply a gentle rubbing of the body. One can eat rice, wheat, foods prepared by flours, foods processed with sugarcane, eating sweet and oily foods, drinking milk, drinking meat soup (without the meat) of the animals living in burrows, eating grapes, candy sugar and sugarcane preparations at night.
To treat excessive sleep vomiting purification procedures are followed, fasting, blood letting, and creating sadness of the mind.
Only in kapha diseases, obesity, and in poisoning one is indicated to staying awake at night.
We continue our third part to Swastavritta talking more about the details of food and how to eat.
Sequencing tastes during a meal
Consume food with full concentration.
Sweet is eaten first which pacify increased vata.
Sour & salt is second to be eaten which increases agni for easy digestion.
Bitter & astringent is had after which reduces excessive pitta.
Sequence of the food eaten
Hard food should be taken with ghee, water is to be taken during and at the end of the meals in small amounts and not cold
Amalaki (indian gooseberry) can be consumed before, during & after meals
Milk is good after meals but not curd
Pitta is aggravated by sour, salt, and pungent food, will be pacified by a small amount of sweet at the end of meals. This is why sugar and fennel is had after a meal at an indian restaurant. We are not talking about dessert after a meal here.
Saatmya is the one which is conducive to oneself.
Asatmya is non-conducive to oneself
Oksatmya is that which became conducive due to consistent use. This is the knowledge behind why someone can do something unhealthy for their whole life and it does not effect their health where as someone else it effects their health.
Food, drinks & medicines which dislodges dosha from its site, but does not expel it out
They vitiates dhatu (tissues) and produces diseases
Viruddahara is unwholesome to body and it may act as acute and chronic poison
Influenceable Factors incompatible foods
State of health
Order of intake
Rules of intake
Eating fish along with milk is Abhishyandi (great obstructor of the channels), it vitiates blood and is great if you want skin diseases. Abhishandi food substances clog channels and produces tissues that are in excess of moisture hence ready for diseases of that nature. Mushrooms, sprouts, etc… are abhishandi in nature
After eating radish, garlic or basil one should not take milk because it causes skin disorders
All sour liquids are incompatible to milk for obvious reasons
Hot honey taken by a person induces toxicity and leads to death. Likewise honey and ghee in equal quantity.
Ex. Fish and milk. Fish is heating and wet in nature, milk is cold.
Heating honey brings out the natural poisonous qualities of it.
Honey and cow’s ghee mixed in equal proportion.
Action incompatibility – Hot water after taking honey
Time incompatibility – Pungent substance (because it aggravates vata) in summer & cold substances (aggravates kapha) in winter
Order incompatibility – Consuming curd at night. You will wake in the AM with congestion and cold
Combination incompatibility – Fruit salad or fruit with anything else. Like banana and milk
Contraindication incompatibility – Consuming cold water immediately after having hot tea or coffee.
Diseases caused due to these incompatibilities
It is the etiology of various diseases like Sterility, Blindness, Erysipelas, Herpes, Ascites, Eruptions, Insanity, Anal fissure/fistula, Fainting, Intoxication, Tympanitis, Gaseous distension, Spasmodic obstruction in throat, Anemia, Poisoning due to Ama (food poisoning), Many types of skin disease, Sprue syndrome, Edema, Hyper acidity, Fever, Rhinitis, Congenital anomalies and even death.
Among this Erysipelas and Herpes, Eruptions, Fainting, intoxication, Gaseous Distension, Spasmodic Obstruction in throat, Poisoning due to Ama are acute in nature.
Anaemia, Types of skin disease, Sprue Syndrome, Oedema, Hyper acidity, Fever, Rhinitis, Congenital anomalies and Death are to be considered as chronic diseases.
Due to the affliction of threefold distress, the inquiry into its removal [arises]; [if said to be] pointless because obvious [methods exist], this is not so, for such methods are neither singularly directed nor conclusive.
The heard [method] is like the obvious, as it is conjoined with impurity, corruption, and excess. The superior and opposite of that [comes] from the discrimination of the manifest, the unmanifest, and the knower.
Mulaprakrti is uncreated; the seven – ‘the great’ (mahat) and the others – are creative and created; the sixteen, meanwhile, are [merely] created; purusa is neither creative nor created.
The attainment of knowledge is based on [certain] ways of knowing; the accepted ways are three – perceiving, inferring and reception of verbal testimony – as these cover all ways of knowing.
Perceiving is the discernment of particular objects; inference, which is said to be threefold, is the tracing of the mark-bearer from its indicating mark; reception of verbal testimony, meanwhile, is reception of sruti.
Inference by analogy ascertains what is beyond the sense-capacities; and what is unaccomplishable even by that is established by verbal testimony.
[Something may be imperceptible] due to: remoteness, closeness, sensory impairment, instability of mind, subtlety, obscuration, suppression, similarity with something else.
The non-apprehension of that [i.e. prakrti] is due to subtlety, not non-existence; it is apprehended by means of its effects. Its effects – mahat and the others – are both with and without the nature (rupa) of prakrti.
The [formally] existent [is] an effect due to: the non-causation of non-being; the apprehension of a material cause; the non-production of everything [from everything]; the possibility of causation [only] from that which is capable; and the nature of the cause.
The manifest is caused, temporal, spatially limited, active, non-singular, dependent, a cipher, composite, conditioned; the unmanifest is the opposite.
The manifest as well as pradhana (i.e. the unmanifest) are tripartite, undiscriminated, objectual, universal, non-conscious, productive; and puman (i.e. purusa) is the opposite of these.
Of the nature of gladness, perturbation and stupefaction; serving to illuminate, activate and restrain; the strands (gunas) subjugate, support, generate and combine with one another.
Sattva is light and illuminating; rajas is impelling and moving; tamas is heavy and delimiting; and their purpose is to function like a lamp.
Undiscriminatedness and the other [qualities] are established due to the tripartition, and to the non-existence [of the three gunas] in the opposite of that. The unmanifest is established [as having the same nature as the manifest] due to the guna-nature of the effect being also that of the cause.
Due to: the finitude of differentiated [objects], homogeneity, the procession from potency, the distinction between cause and effect, and the undivided form of the world the unmanifest is the cause, productive due to the combination of the three gunas, and transformable fluidly in accordance with the specific abode [character?] of each of the gunas.
Purusa exists due to: composites [being] for another’s sake, the opposite of the three gunas etc., [the need for] a controller, [the need for] an enjoyer, and the process [being] for the purpose of aloneness.
Due to various patterns of birth, death, and capacities, and to the disjunction of activities, purusa’s multiplicity is established; and also due to contrariety of the three gunas.
And thus, due to [its being] the opposite [of prakrti], the witnessing, aloneness, equanimity, awareness and inactivity of purusa is established.
Due to the conjunction of those [two, i.e. purusa and prakrti] the non-conscious likga appears as though conscious, and similarly, owing to the activity of the gunas, the non-engaged appears as though active.
For the purpose of perceiving pradhana, and for the purpose of purusa’s aloneness, the two [come together] like the blind and the lame; that conjunction is creation, emergence.
From prakrti [comes] the great; from that, egoity; and from that, the group of sixteen; again, from five of those sixteen, [come] the five elements.
Buddhi is discernment, its lucid (sattvika) form [comprising] dharma, knowledge, non-attachment, [and] masterfulness, and its darkened (tamasa) form [comprising] the opposite.
The thought of self is egoity; from that, a twofold emergence proceeds, namely the group of eleven and the five tanmatras.
The lucid (sattvika) eleven proceed from the modified egoity; from the source of the elements, which is opaque (tamasa), the tanmatras [proceed]; from the fiery (taijasa), both [proceed].
Sense-capacities is the term for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching; voice, hand, foot, anus and underparts are called action-capacities.
In this regard, of the essence of both is mind (manas), which is synthesis and is, due to its similarity, a capacity. Variousness and external differences are due to the specific modifications of the gunas.
The operation (vrtti) of the five [sense-capacities] is held to be bare awareness of sound and so forth; speaking, grasping, walking, excreting and [sexual] pleasure are [the operations of] the five [action-capacities].
Each of the three is distinguished by its own operation, which manifests differently [from those of the other two]. Their common operation consists in the five vital currents, [namely] praja and the others.
The operation of the four with regard to what is present to perception is both instantaneous and progressive; while in the case of what is imperceptible, the operation of the three is preceded by that [i.e. by the perception of a present object].
The respective operations are performed in co-operation with one another from a common impulse, the sole end being that of purusa; nothing else activates the instrument.
The instrument, comprising thirteen parts, is grasping, holding and illuminating; and its object (karya), which is tenfold, is grasped, held and illuminated.
The inner instrument is threefold, the outer is tenfold [and] is held to be the domain of the three; the outer [operates in] the present moment [alone], the [inner] instrument in all three times.
Of these, the five sense-capacities have specific and non-specific objects; the voice manifests sound-phenomena whereas the other remaining [action- capacities] have [all] five modes of phenomena.
Because buddhi along with the other inner instruments is immersed in all objects, the threefold instrument is the chamber, the rest being the doorways.
These specifications of the gunas, distinct from one another, present the whole [world] to buddhi, illuminating it like a lamp for the sake of purusa.
[This is] because buddhi gives rise to every particular enjoyment of the purusa
and, furthermore, discloses the subtle [difference] between pradhana and purusa.
The modes of sensory content (tanmatras) are non-specific; from these five [come] the five elements; these are regarded as specific, and as tranquil, disturbing and delusive.
Subtle, born of mother and father, and elemental are the three specific types; of these, the subtle are permanent, [whereas those] born of mother and father are corruptible.
The likga is already existent, unrestricted, permanent, comprising ‘the great’ and the rest, down to the subtle; wandering without enjoyment, endowed with dispositions (bhavas).
Just as there is no picture without a support and no shadow without a post or suchlike, so the likga does not exist without the support of the specific.
This likga, motivated for the sake of purusa, by means of the association of causes and effects, and due to its connection with the manifestness of prakrti, performs like a dancer.
The dispositions, [namely] dharma and the rest, both natural and acquired, are perceived to abide in the instrument, and the embryo and so forth abide in the object (or effect, karya).
By means of virtue (dharma) there is movement upwards, by means of non- virtue (adharma) there is movement downwards; by means of knowledge liberation is attained, and bondage is due to the opposite.
Prakrti’s dissolution occurs as a result of non-attachment, wandering is due to attachment, which is impulsive; removal of obstructions is due to master-fulness, the reverse of that is due to the opposite.
This is the emergence of mental phenomena (pratyaya), comprising delusion, weakness, contentment and excellence; and these are divided into fifty kinds according to the respective imbalance of the gunas.
There are five kinds of delusion, and twenty-eight kinds of weakness due to defects in the instrument; contentment is ninefold, excellence eightfold.
There are eight kinds of dullness, and also of perplexity, ten kinds of great perplexity; depression is eighteen-fold, as is intense depression.
Impairments to the eleven capacities along with buddhi are said to constitute weakness; impairments to buddhi are seventeen, due to the opposites of contentment and excellence.
Nine modes of contentment are distinguished; four are internal, concerning respectively disposition (or natural constitution, prakrti), acquisition, time and fortune; five are external, due to abstinence from [sensory] objects.
The eight ways of attaining excellence are: reasoning, [reception of] verbal instruction, study, eradication of the threefold distress, friendliness, and generosity; the previous three are hindrances to excellence.
Without the dispositions (bhavas) the likga cannot operate, and without the likga the dispositions cannot operate; therefore a dual emergence proceeds, distinguishable as likga and disposition.
There are eight varieties of divine beings and five of [non-human] natural beings; mankind is singular; such, in brief, is the elemental realm (sarga).
The upper realm is pervaded by luminosity (sattva), and the base is pervaded by opacity (tamas); the middle is pervaded by activity (rajas); [such is the case] from Brahma down to a blade of grass.
Purusa, consciousness, acquires there the suffering created by decay and death until its deliverance from the likga; hence one’s own nature is associated with distress.
This prakrti-creation, from the great down to the specific elements, is for the sake of the liberation of each purusa, for the other’s benefit as though for its own.
Just as the profusion of unknowing (ajña) milk brings about the nourishment of the calf, so the profusion of pradhana brings about the liberation of purusa.
Just as [in] the world actions are performed for the purpose of removing [i.e. fulfilling] a desire, so does the unmanifest perform for the purpose of the liberation of purusa.
Just as, having displayed herself before the gaze of the audience, the dancer desists from dancing, so prakrti desists, having manifested herself to purusa.
She, being endowed with the gunas, moves without any benefit [to herself] for the sake of puÅs (i.e. purusa), who, being without gunas, does not reciprocate.
In my view there is no one more tender than prakrti, who, saying ‘I have been seen,’ never again comes into purusa’s sight.
No one, then, is bound, nor released, nor wanders; it is prakrti, in its various abodes (afraya), that wanders, and is bound and released.
Prakrti binds herself by herself with the use of seven forms; and, for the sake of each purusa, liberates herself by means of one form.
Thus, from the assiduous practice of that-ness, the knowledge arises that ‘I am not,’ ‘not mine,’ ‘not I’; which [knowledge], being free of delusion, is complete, pure, and singular.
Then purusa, abiding [in itself] like a spectator, sees prakrti, who has returned to inactivity and retreated from the seven forms due to her purpose being complete.
‘I have seen her,’ says the spectating one; ‘I have been seen,’ says the other, desisting; although the two remain in conjunction, there is no initiation of [further] emergence.
Due to the attainment of perfect knowledge, virtue (dharma) and the rest have no impelling cause; [nevertheless,] the endowed body persists owing to the momentum of impressions, like a potter’s wheel.
Pradhana being inactive, her purpose having been fulfilled, [purusa], upon separating from the body, attains aloneness (kaivalya), which is both singular and conclusive.
This esoteric knowledge of purusa’s goal, examining the existence, arising and dissolution of entities, has been expounded by the highest sage.
The quiet monk first passed on this supreme means of purification, compassionately, to Asuri; Asuri, again, to Pañcafikha, and by him the teaching was widely distributed.
Communicated along a lineage of disciples, this has been thoroughly expounded in arya metre by the noble-minded Ifvarakrsjena, attainer of ultimate knowledge.
The topics of the seventy [verses] are indeed those of the entire ‘sixty doctrines’ (sastitantra), though excluding illustrative stories and the consideration of opposing views.
Eight factors of diet/dietetics
Natural qualities of substance
Actions give to a substance and preparation of it
Time of season and day
Following the rules of use
The user’s own prakriti, vikriti, agni, etc etc etc)
Charaka CS. 1.21
Natural qualities are the innate properties of substances. The presence of qualities like heaviness vs lightness, etc…. if the natural property of substances used as diet or drug. Ex. Heaviness is the nature of black gram and pork and lightness of green gram and venison.
Preparation is the process performed to modify the natural properties of substances. It is that which modifies radically the properties of substances that is transformation. This modification is brought about by application of water or heat, cleaning, churning, storing, maturing, flavoring, impregnation, preservation and the material of receptacle.
Ex. The property of rice is heaviness. This property is lost by washing with water and cooking and the rice acquires the property of lightness. This is why it is washed three times before cooked.
Curd causes swelling/edema but after churning it to takra, it destroys it.
Combination is the combining together of two or more substances. This combination exhibits special properties which none of the constituents ever possessed separately.
Ex. The combination of honey and ghee. Honey and ghee taken alone is wholesome to the body but combined in equal quantities, they become toxic. Similarly the combination of honey, fish and milk has a toxic effect. There are many other mentioned incompatible combinations but the actual knowledge of why they are incompatible is void completely in Western Ayurveda. Most all sanskrit texts are written this way to hide the knowledge as well as to teach it to those that are pure enough to understand it.
Quantum is of two varieties
One which is the total measurement of the entire meal as a whole i.e. the combined quantity of the rice, meat, pulse, condiments etc.
One is the detailed measurement of each article of diet separately. It determines the effects of the right and wrong doses.
Habitat is a geographic region. It indicates variations in the qualities of substances, due to difference in soil, use and climate. Substance grown in the region of Himalayas are heavy in property while those grown in desert or sandy region are light. The living beings who consume light articles of food or live in desert or sandy regions or indulge in many activities are also light in nature. Compatibility to habitat is that having opposite qualities to those of the region. Ex. Substances having the qualities of hot, dry etc. are homologous to the watery or marshy region, and the substances having the qualities of cold, unctuous etc. are compatible to the habitat for the desert or sandy regions.
Time is used in two senses, time in the general sense and time in the sense of a stage.
Time in the general sense is used in relation to seasonal wholesomeness.
The stage is used in relation to a disease.
The procedure in diet consists of the dietetic rules. They are determined by the strength of agni/digestion.
The user is he who makes use of food.
These eight different factors give rise to good and evil effects. One should try to know them and their details and derivation. Having known them one should make use of them with wisdom. One should not make use of any article of diet or any other thing which is pleasant but unwholesome because it is fraught with unhappy consequences in time.
Rules for taking food
Hot – the meals must be eaten cooked and served warm. There is no such thing as raw ayurveda, no one with any real knowledge of ayurveda would come up with such a thing and just throwing pungent herbs like cayenne onto raw food (yes this is the thought) is going to create disease in the eyes of Ayurveda. It is also being said that pitta prakrti is allowed to eat raw food. This too is a fabrication by improperly educated and this is not Ayurveda.
Unctuous – the food should be moist and with oil
In due measure – within proper amount
After full digestion of the previous meal – see above if not clear
Non-antagonistic in potency – Opposite virya is a indigestible combo
In the congenial place – This speaks to eating out at almost every restaurant
Provided with all the favourite accessories – Chutneys, accoutrements, proper utensils, etc
Neither eaten hurriedly nor eaten leisurely – too fast and too slow both imbalance the digestion
Without talking or laughing – do not speak while eating
With full concentration – just focus on your food, chewing what it tastes like/feels like and swallowing. Its gonna turn into you. If you actually love yourself, this would be the first indicator of that.
Having proper regard to oneself – obvious
Staples, the foods that are to be eaten all the time
Shashtika (Variety of rice grown in sixty days)
Meat of animals of desert like lands
Changeri (Marssilea minuta or clover)
Jivanti (Leptadenia reticilata)
Young daikon radish
Patoli (Trichosanthus dioica Roxb.)
Rain water or purified water
Foods that are to be used sparingly
Mixture of buttermilk and milk
Solid portion of yogurt
Meat of emaciated animals, (Dry meat, Meat of boar, sheep, cow, fish and buffalo)
Black gram (Phaseolus mungo)
Flat bean (Dolichos lablab)
Small type of barley
This is but a start to understanding food. There is even a whole science just of cooking, preparation, and serving of food.
Swasthavritta, is the Ayurvedic preventive and social medicine in view of modern medical science. It’s primary aim is to preserve the health of healthy individual. It laid down all the preventive principles which are necessary in maintenance of health. The concept of Swasthavritta is a pioneer in the field of medicine propagated by ancient seers and is a basic need for building a healthy society.
It is based in the three pillars of health; food, sleep, and abstinence. These three can be compared with health behaviour of modern day and are major contributors of both mortality and morbidity of a number of disease and health issues and their consequences globally.
Food and lifestyle routines are considered the most important medicine in Ayurveda. Every individual is unique and there is no diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone. Ayurveda has the container to hold this with the detailed depth of knowledge to diagnosis each individual as to their own needs.
Ayurveda stresses FOOD, SLEEP & ABSTINENCE to be used with intelligence in a planned manner. This facilitates a person with all benefits of life endowed with strength, complexion, and full life span provided one does not indulge in unbeneficial activity and maintains rules prescribed for that. This ‘usage with intelligence’ also is interesting due to the fact that in following one’s intelligence to to go about their life using what is known to be beneficial and disregarding what is not beneficial it takes awareness of many variables. In understanding these variables, it makes one aware of and draws one to live in accordance to their surroundings and environment as well as their own system to a hugely greater degree. In this living, the rules of Ayurveda cannot maintain a superficial chore list of ‘eat this don’t eat that’ and do this and do that’ but one experiences the knowledge first-handedly. Following a to do and not to do list will never be anything other than empty information that ends in failure. For instance just the knowledge alone of one substance like and apple, it can be sweet or can be sour. Each will have its own effect on the system. This is applied into everything; how one lives and what one does, not only the understanding of food or how to eat.
In the next several posts, I will talk about each of the pillars. The first is Food. I find it the most challenging for people to understand as there are so many variables that go into it and the details continue to get deeper and deeper as one learns. It is not something that is learned thru a simplified book or by following a dosha diet propounded by Western new age Ayurveda books that saturate the market. So where does one start? We start with the basics.
From back in the Vedic era, Taittiriya Upanishad states that food is known as Brahma as it is the supreme and the creator as all the living beings originate from food and will this body with then be food to other organisms after this life is over. It is present in form of food sheath, annamaya kosha, in all living beings.
In Kashyapa Samhita, Kashyapa has called food Mahabheshajya, the biggest medicine. There is no medicinal equivalent to food. It is possible to make a person disease free with proper diet. It is also the main causations of disease. You can imagine that if the ancestors knew this, what we still do not get today, that it probably goes into much much greater detail as well. It does.
The Bhagavad Gita says that satvik food makes the mind clear and when mind is devoid of blemishes memory power enhances.
Ayurveda defines the types of food as
Corns with bristles – Sali (rice), Sashtika (60 days harvest rice), Yava (barley), Godhuma (wheat) etc.
Pulses – Mudga (mung dahl), Masha (black dahl), Adhaki (pigeon pea), Tila (sesame), etc.
Vegetables – consisting of leaves, tubers etc.
Raw food edibles that are eaten like salad
Milk and milk products
Sugar cane products like jaggery, sugar etc.
Food preparations – peya (gruel), vilepi (thick gruel), manda, saktu etc.
Accessory food articles – oils, condiments, spices, salts etc.
When and how to eat
Two Aahara kalas
Morning and evening is only recommended for the principal meals. Food in between (snacks) is not recommended at all. The reason why is that the food must be taken only after proper digestion of previous food which can be known from the signs of proper digestion like; clear belching, enthusiasm, proper evacuation of bowels, lightness of body/emptiness of stomach, hunger and thirst.
The food should not be taken within 3 hours in general after the previous meals. During this period rasa dhatu if it is disturbed by the consumption of another meal, its development is hindered and aama (improperly digested food nutrient toxicity) occurs. Rasa dhatu is what is formed when agni (digestive fire) digests food. When food is completely digested with the help of normally secreted digestive juices, the nutritive part of the digested food is called as rasa. This nutritive juice nourishes all cells and tissues of body. It is somewhat analogous to extracellular and intracellular fluids.
“Rasajam purusham vidyaat rasam rakshet prayatnatah
annath paanathcha mathimaan aahaaraatch apyathandritah”
Rasa dhatu contains all the nutrients required to nourish body. Hence Ayurveda mentions human body as product of rasa. As rasa dhatu nourishes body and helps to keep it healthy, we should always put efforts to protect rasa dhatu. Indigestion impairs quality of rasadhatu.
Also one should not fast for more than 6 hours because it causes depletion of the strength of the system. Food then should be taken after 3 hours of the previous meal and before the completion of 6 hours in general.
Again, the previous meal should be completely digested before another meal is taken. Taking the evening meal even though the morning meal has not been completely digested is not injurious because the srotamsi (micro channels) are open due to the exertion, movement, and mental activity (stimulation of prana) of daytime as well as the sun being up. Due to this, the dhatus (tissues) of these channels do not get softened by excessive moisture (kleda) in the day. In the night, when the heart is in a state of diminished action, the channels, including the koshtha (digestive system), are inactive and dhatus are soften with kleda. Thus when the food consumed in the night is not fully digested, the person of intellect desiring to protect his strength and life, should not have any food.
The exception to the rule…… hunger
Hunger falls in the group of Adhaarniya vega (natural impulses or urges that not to be suppressed) so no rule is required to be followed. If one suppresses hunger then the digestive fire in absence of food, starts digesting doshas, then the dhatus and then ultimately digests prana and takes away life. This in fact is the deeper knowledge of fasting. Fasting done correctly digests the doshas and creates health. Fasting incorrectly destroys health. We can see this trying to be used in the Western world’s newest diet fad, ‘intermittent fasting.’ Problem is that our view of health is skewed. If you just search intermittent fasting on the net and see what pictures you come up with, everyone is getting ripped and that is the goal. There is a normal level of fat on your body that maintains health of the system and regulates many other things that the Western world has yet to discover yet is known in Ayurveda. Being ‘ripped’ is not healthy and creates disease later on in life. One more addition to think about is that your brain is made of fat. If your whole system is ripped, what do you believe is happening to your brain.
What is the effect of eating food untimely?
Vishamam bahu vaalpam vapya praptaateet kaalayoh
Bhuktam purvannasheshe tu puaradhyashanam
Intake of less or more at irregular timings and intake of food before digestion of previous food leads to death or dreadful diseases
Charaka CS 15.235
Rasad raktam tato mamsam mamsanmedah prajayate, medasosthi tatomajja, majja shukrasya sambhavah—From food comes juice or chyle; from chyle, blood; from blood, flesh; from flesh, fat; from fat, bones; from bones, marrow; and lastly from marrow, semen.
The Veerya comes out of the very marrow that lies concealed inside the bones. It is found in a subtle state in all the cells of the body. Out of food is manufactured chyle. Out of chyle comes blood. Out of blood comes flesh. Out of flesh comes fat. Out of fat comes bone. Out of bone comes marrow (Majja). Out of marrow comes semen. These are the Sapta Dhatus that support this life and body. Mark here how precious semen is! It is the last essence. It is the Essence of essences.
Semen is the quintessence of food or blood. One drop of semen is manufactured out of 40 drops of blood according to modern medical science. According to Ayurveda, it is elaborated out of 80 drops of blood. Just as sugar is all-pervading in the sugar cane, butter in milk, so also, semen is pervading the whole body. Just as butter-milk is thin after the butter is removed, so also, semen is thinned by its wastage. The more the wastage of semen, the more is the weakness.
In Yoga Shastras it is said, “Maranam bindu-patanat jeevanam bindurakshanat”—falling of semen brings death; preservation of semen gives life. semen is the real vitality in man. It is the hidden treasure for man. It imparts Brahma Tejas to face and strength to the intellect.
The two testes or seeds that are located in the scrotal bag are called secretory glands. These cells of the testes have been endowed with the peculiar property of secreting semen from the blood. Just as bees collect honey in the honeycomb drop by drop, so also, the cells of the testes collect the semen drop by drop from the blood. Then this fluid is taken by the two ducts or tubes to the vesiculae seminalis. Under excitement, it is thrown out by special ducts, called ejaculatory ducts, into the urethra where it is mixed with the prostatic juice.
According to Ayurveda, semen is the last Dhatu that is formed out of Majja or marrow. From food, chyle (Rasa) is manufactured. Out of chyle comes blood (Rakta); out of blood comes flesh; out of flesh comes fat, out of fat comes marrow; out of marrow comes semen. These are the seven Dhatus. There are three divisions in each Dhatu. Semen nourishes the physical body, heart and intellect. That man who uses the physical body, heart and intellect.
A tree draws the essence (Rasa) from the earth. It is circulated throughout the tree, its twigs, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. The shining colour and life in the leaves, flowers, etc., is due to this Rasa. Similarly, the Veerya that is manufactured by the cells of the testes out of the blood gives colour and vitality to this body and different organs.
One of the students of Dhanvantari approached his teacher after finishing his full course of Ayurveda and asked him: “O Bhagavan! Kindly let me know the secret of health now.” Dhanvantari replied: “This Veerya (seminal energy) is verily Atman. The secret of health lies in the preservation of this vital force. He who wastes this energy cannot have physical, mental, moral and spiritual development.”
If the spermatic secretion in men is continuous, it must either be expelled or reabsorbed.
And then the Western science has once again proven what Ayurveda has already known for 5000+ years….
Human bone marrow has been used to create early-stage sperm cells for the first time, a scientific step forward that will help researchers understand more about how sperm cells are created.
The research published (Friday, April 13 2007), in the academic journal Reproduction: Gamete Biology, was led by Professor Karim Nayernia (pictured), formerly of the University of Göttingen in Germany but now of Newcastle University and the North-east England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI).
For the experiment, Prof Nayernia and his team took bone marrow from male volunteers and isolated the mesenchymal stem cells. These cells have previously been found to grow into other body tissues such as muscle.
They cultured these cells in the laboratory and coaxed them into becoming male reproductive cells, which are scientifically known as ‘germ cells’.
Genetic markers showed the presence of partly-developed sperm cells called spermatagonial stem cells, which are an early phase of the male germ cell development. In most men, spermatagonial cells eventually develop into mature, functional sperm but this progression was not achieved in this experiment.
The research was carried out in Germany. Prof Nayernia is continuing with this work at NESCI, which has just opened a suite of new laboratories at the Cente for Life in Newcastle.
Earlier research led by Prof Nayernia using mice, published in Laboratory Investigations, also created spermatagonial cells from mouse bone marrow. The cells were transplanted into mouse testes and were observed to undergo early meiosis – cell division – the next stage to them becoming mature sperm cells, although they did not develop further.
Talking about his newly published research paper, Prof Nayernia said : “We’re very excited about this discovery, particularly as our earlier work in mice suggests that we could develop this work even further.
“Our next goal is to see if we can get the spermatagonial stem cells to progress to mature sperm in the laboratory and this should take around three to five years of experiments. I’ll be collaborating with other NESCI scientists to take this work forward.
Prof Nayernia says a lengthy process of scientific investigation is required within a reasonable ethical and social framework to be able to take this work to its next stage or to say if it has potential applications in terms of fertility treatments in humans.
Prof Nayernia gained worldwide acclaim in July 2006 when he announced in the journal Developmental Cell that he and colleagues had created sperm cells from mouse embryonic stem cells and used these to fertilise mice eggs, resulting in seven live births.
Research paper reference: N. Drusenheimer, Wulf, G., Nolte, J., Lee, J.H., Dev, A., Dressel, R., Gromoll, J., Schmidtke, J., Engel, W. and Nayneria, K. (2007) Putative human male germ cells from bone marrow stem cells. In: Gamete Biology: Emerging Frontiers on Fertility and Contraceptive Development (SRF 63) (S.K. Gupta, K. Koyama and J.F. Murray Eds). Nottingham University Press, Nottingham, England. pp. 69-76.
The means of repressing the force of the senses, and of curbing the sensual desires of men.
The vast domain of death, in the region of hell, is full of the furious elephants of our sins; and the ungovernable enemies of the senses with the arrows of desires. (I.e. hell is the abode of sinners, sensualists and the greedy).
2. Our senses are our invincible enemies, being the sources of all misdeeds and wicked actions. They are the ungrateful miscreants against the body, in which they have found their refuge.
3. The roving senses like flying birds, have found their nest in the body; whence with their outstretched wings of right and wrong, they pounce on their prey like vultures.
4. He who can entrap these greedy birds of the senses, under the snare of his right reason, is never ensnared in his person in the trap of sin, but breaks its bonds as the elephant does his fetters.
5. He who indulges himself in sensual pleasures which are pleasant at first, will have to be cloyed in them in process of time. (Pleasure is followed by pain. Or: Rills of pleasure not sincere.)
6. He who is fraught with the treasure of knowledge in his frail body, is not to be overcome by his inward enemies of sensual appetites.
7. The kings of earth are not so happy in their earthly citadels, as the lords of the cities of the own bodies, and the masters of their own minds. (Mastery over one’s self, is better than over a realm).
8. He who has brought the senses under his slavery, and reduced the enemy of his mind to subjection; has the blossoms of his understanding ever blooming within him as in the vernal meadow.
9. He who has weakened the pride of his mind, and subdued the enemies of his senses; has his desires all shrunken as the lotuses in the cold weather.
10. So long do the demons of our desires, infest the region of our hearts, as we are unable to bring the mind under the subjection of our knowledge of the True one.
11. He is the faithful servant, who acts according to the will of his master, and he is the true minister who does good services to his prince. He is the best general who has command over the force of his own body, and that is the best understanding which is guided by reason.
12. The wife is loved for her endearments, and the father is revered for his protection of the child. A friend is valued by his confidence, and the mind for its wisdom.
13. The mind is called our father, for its enlightening our understanding with the light of the sāstras derived by itself, and for its leading us to perfection by losing itself in the Supreme spirit. (The mind like the father, is the instructor and bequeather of its all to man, ere it is extinct in the universal soul).
14. The mind that has well observed and considered all things, that is enlightened and firm in its belief, and is employed in laudable pursuits, is verily a valuable gem within the body.
15. The mind as a counsellor of our good, teaches us how to fell down the tree of our transmigration, and produce the arbour of our future bliss.
16. Such is the gem of the mind, unless it is soiled by the dirt and filth of sin and vice; when it requires to be washed and cleansed with the water of reason, in order to throw its light on thee.
17. Be not dormant to cultivate reason as long as you abide in the darksome abode of this world; nor thrust yourself to every accident, which awaits upon the ignorant and unreasonable men.
18. Do not overlook the mist of error which overspreads this world of illusion, abounding with multitudes of mishaps and mischiefs. (Harm watch, harm catch. Hold arms, against harms).
19. Try to cross over the wide ocean of the world, by riding on the strong barque of your reason, espying the right course by your discretion, against the currents of your sensual desires.
20. Know your body to be a frail flower, and all its pleasure and pain to be unreal; so never take them for realities, as in the instance of the snare, snake and the matting; but remain above sorrowing for any thing as in the instance of Bhīma and Bhāsa (which will be shortly related to you).
21. Give up, your misjudgments of the reality of yourself, and of this and that thing; but direct your understanding to the knowledge of the Reality which is beyond all these; and by forsaking your belief and reliance in the mind, continue in your course of eating and drinking as before.
यत्रोपरमते चित्तं निरुद्धं योगसेवया ।यत्र चैवात्मनात्मानं पश्यन्नात्मनि तुष्यति ॥
yatro’paramate cittam niruddham yogasevayā,
yatra cai’vā’tmanā’tmānam paśyann ātmani tuṣyati
“In the state in which even the yoga restrained mind is dissolved by a direct perception of God, the worshiper rests contented in his Self.’’
This state is achieved only by a “constant” and long practice of yoga.
In the absence of such, there can be no restraint of the mind.
The Liberation of the Rājasa-sātvika natures, and description of knowledge and Indifference.
Those that are born with the nature of Rājasa-sātvika, remain highly pleased in the world, and are as gladsome in their faces, as the face of the sky with the serene light of the moon-beams.
2. Their faces are not darkened by melancholy, but are as bright as the face of heaven; they are never exposed to troubles, like the lotus flowers to the frost of night.
3. They never deviate from their even nature, but remain unmoved as the immovable bodies; and they persist in their course of beneficence, as the trees yield their fruits to all.
4. The rāja and sātva natured man gets his liberation in the same manner as the disk of the moon receives its ambrosial beams.
5. He never forsakes his mildness, even when he is in trouble; but remains as cool as the moon even in her eclipse. He shines with the lovely virtue of fellow-feeling to all.
6. Blessed are the righteous who are always even tempered, gentle and as handsome as the forest trees beset by creepers with clusters of their blossoms.
7. They keep in their bounds, as the sea remains within its boundaries, and are meek like yourself in their even tempers. Hence they never desire nor wish for any thing in the world.
8. You must always walk in the way of the godly, and not run to the sea of dangers; thus you should go on without pain or sorrow in your life.
9. Your soul will be as elevated as the rājasa and sātvika states, by your avoiding the ways of the ungodly, and considering well the teachings of the sāstras.
10. Consider well in your mind the frail acts, which are attended with various evils; and do those acts which are good for the three worlds, both in their beginning and end, and forever to eternity.
11. The intelligent think that as dangerous to them, and not otherwise; by reason of their being freed from narrow views, and the false spectres—the offspring of ignorance.
12. You should always consider in yourself for the enlightenment of your understanding, and say: O Lord! what am I, and whence is this multiplicity of worlds?
13. By diligently considering these subjects in the society of the wise and righteous, you must neither be engaged in your ceremonial acts, nor continue in your unnecessary practices of the rituals.
14. You must look at the disjunction of all things in the world from you (i.e. the temporaneousness of worldly things); and seek to associate with the righteous, as the peacock yearns for the rainy clouds.
15. Our inward egoism, outward body and the external world, are the three seas encompassing us one after the other. It is right reasoning only which affords the raft to cross over them, and bring us under the light of truth.
16. By refraining to think of the beauty and firmness of your exterior form, you will come to perceive the internal light of your intellect hid under your egoism; as the thin and connecting thread is concealed under a string of pearls. (The hidden thread underlying the links of souls, is termed Sūtrātmā.)
17. It is that eternally existent and infinitely extended blessed thread, which connects and stretches through all beings; and as the gems are strung to a string, so are all things linked together by the latent spirit of God.
18. The vacuous space of the Divine Intellect, contains the whole universe, as the vacuity of the air, contains the glorious sun; and as the hollow of the earth, contains an emmet.
19. As it is the same air which fills the cavity of every pot on earth, so it is the one and the same intellect and spirit of God, which fills, enlivens and sustains all bodies in every place. (The text says, “The Intellect knows no difference of bodies, but pervades alike in all”).
20. As the ideas of sweet and sour are the same in all men, so is the consciousness of the Intellect alike in all mankind (i.e. we are all equally conscious of our intellectuality, as we are of the sweetness and sourness of things).
21. There being but one and only one real substance in existence, it is a palpable error of your ignorant folks to say, “this one exists, and the other perishes or vanishes away”. (Nothing is born or extinct, but all exist in God).
22. There is no such thing which being once produced, is resolved into naught at at any time; all these are no realities nor unrealities, but representations or reflexions of the Real One.
23. Whatever is visible and of temporary existence, is without any perceptible substantiality of its own; it is only an object of our fallacy, beyond which it has no existence. (Hence they are no more than unrealities).
24. Why should any body suffer himself to be deluded by these unrealities? All these accompaniments here, being no better than causes of our delusion.
25. The accompaniment of unrealities, tends only to our delusion here; and if they are taken for realities, to what good do they tend than to delude us the more. (It is better to let the unreal pass as unreal, than to take them for real, and be utterly deceived at last).
The latent (lit: unmanifest) supreme nature (Prakriti) is the progenitor of all created things. She is self- begotten and connotes the three fundamental or primary virtues of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
She is imaged or embodied in the eightfold categories of
and is the sole and primary factor in working out the evolution of the universe. The one absolute and original nature is the fundamental stone house of materials out of which the bodies of all self-conscious (Karma-Purusha) working agents (agents who come into being through the dynamical energy of their acts or Karmas) have been evolved in the same manner as all water, whether confined in a tank or a reservoir, or coursing free through the channels of streams and of mighty rivers, have been welled up from the one and shoreless primordial ocean. 2.
Out of that latent unmanifest (Avyakta) or original nature (impregnated by the atoms or elemental units of consciousness or Purushas) Intellection or Mahan has been evolved, and out of Mahan egoism. This Mahan or intellection should be likewise considered as partaking of the three fundamental attributes (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas) of the latent (Avyakta) or original nature. Ahamkara or egoism in its turn may be grouped under three subheads as the Vaikarika Taijasa (operative) or Rajasika, and Bhutadi (illusive or Tamasika). 3.
The eleven organs of cognition, communication or sense perception have emanated from the co-operation of the aforesaid Vaikarika Ahamkara with the Taijasa or Rajasa.
Of these foregoing organs the first five are intellectual or sense organs (Vuddhi-Indriya); the next five being operative (Karma-Indriya). The mind (Manah) partakes of the character of both the intellectual and operative organs alike. 4-5.
The five Tanmatras or elementals (or the five proper sensibles of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell) characterised by the Nescience, etc. have been evolved out of the Bhutadi etc. (or Tamasa Ahamkara) concerted with the Taijasa Ahamkara through the instrumentality of the Vaikarika. The gross or perceptible modifications of these five Tanmatras are sound, touch, taste, sight and smell.
From the combination of the aforesaid five Tanmatras (Bhutadi) taken one at a time, have successively emanated the five gross matters of space such as
These twenty four categories combinedly form what is technically known as the twenty four elements (Tattvas). Thus we have discoursed on the twenty four fundamental principles (Chaturvinshati-tattvam). 6.
Hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell respectively form the subjects of the five intellectual (Buddhi) organs of man, whereas the faculty of speech, handling, pleasure, ejections or evacuation, locomotion successively belong to the (remaining) five operative (Karma-Indriya) ones. The original nature (Avyakta), Mahan (intellection), Egoism (Ahamkara), the five sensibles (Tanmatras), and the five gross material principles in their nascent stage in evolution form what is included within the eight categories of Nature (Prakriti), the remaining sixteen categories being her modifications (Vikara). The objects of intellection (Mahan) and Egoism (Ahamkara) as well as of the sense organs of knowledge and actions are the material principles (Adibhautika) though they are spiritual in themselves and in their nature.
The tutelary god of intellection (Buddhi) is Brahma.
The god Ishvara is the presiding deity of the sense of egoism (Ahamkara);
the moon god is that of the mind (Manah);
the quarters of the heaven, of the ears;
the wind god is that of the skin;
the sun is that of the eyes;
the water is that of the taste;
the earth is that of the smell;
the fire is that of the speech;
Indra is that of the hands;
Vishnu is that of the legs;
Mitra is that of the anus
and Prajapati is that of the organs of generations. 7.
All the aforesaid (twenty-four) categories or elementals (Chaturvinshati-Tanmatras) are devoid of consciousness. Similarly the modifications of the primal cause of Prakriti such as the Mahat etc. are all bereft of consciousness in as much as the cause itself, the Avyakta or the original nature is devoid of it. The Purusha or the self-conscious subjectivity, enters into the primal cause (Mula-Prakriti or original Nature) and its necessary effect (the evolved out phenomena) and makes them endued with his own essence or self-consciousness. The preceptors and holy sages explain the proposition by an analogy that as the milk in the breast of a mother, though unconscious in itself, originates and flows out for the growth and sustenance of her child; (as the semen in the organism of an adult male though devoid of consciousness, flows out during an act of sexual intercourse); so these twenty-four primary material principles (elementals), though unconscious in themselves, tend to contribute towards the making of the self-conscious self or the universal individual (the aggregate of limited or conditional selves) for the purpose of working out his final liberation or emancipation i.e., attainment of the stage of pure consciousness or perfect knowledge. 8.
Now we shall describe the tracts which the Purusha (subjective or self-conscious reality) and Prakriti or nature (passive non-conscious eternity) pass in common as well as those wherein they differ from each other. 9.
Both the Purusha and Prakriti are eternal realities, both of them are unmanifest, disembodied, without a beginning or origin, eternal, without a second, all—pervading and omnipresent.
Of the Purusha and the Prakriti, only the latter is non-conscious and possesses the three fundamental qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Prakriti performs the function of the seed or in other words she lies inherent as the seed or the primary cause in the latter phenomenal evolution of the Mahat etc. and contributes the maternal element in the conception, development and birth of the primordial cosmic matter (phenomenal universe), fecundated by the Purusha (self-conscious subjectivity) in its different stages of evolution. These stages are called Mahat, Ahamkara etc.; and Prakriti is not indifferent, as the Purusha is to the pleasures and misery of life. But the Purusha (units or atoms of consciousness), devoid of the threefold virtues of Sattva etc. are non concerning hence non-producing and bereft of the seed- attributes of lying inherent in all as the primary cause of evolution. They are mere witnesses to the joys and miseries of life, and do not participate in their enjoyment though imprisoned in the human organism. 10
Since an effect is uniform in virtue to its producing cause, the evolutionised effects or products of the Prakriti such as the Mahat, Ahamkara etc. must needs partake of the three fundamental qualities (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) which are predicated of the Prakriti. In other words, these Mahat, Ahamkara, etc, are but the modifications of the three fundamental qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Moreover, certain authorities hold that the Purushas are units of self-consciousness, possessed of the three aforesaid qualities owing to their antecedent conditions or causes (the gross material universe) being permeated with and characterised by them. 11.
It is asserted in the Ayurveda that it is only the gross-sighted ones and men capable of observing only the superficial appearances, who confound eternal order or sequence of things and events (Shvabhaba), God (Ishvara) Time (Kala), sudden and unlooked for appearances of the phenomena (Yadriccha), Necessity (Niyati) and transformation (Parinama) with the original Nature (Prakriti). The five different forms of matter (such as Ether etc) are nothing but the modifications or transformed states of the original nature and are characterised by the three universal qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and all created things, whether mobile or immobile, should be considered as alike exponentiated by the same. In the Science of medicine the cause of a disease is the one sole aim to be achieved by means of administering proper medicinal remedies (matter), and hence the properties of matter are the only fit subject to be dealt with in a book on pharmacy. And further, because the immediately prior cause of the human organism is a proper and congenial admixture of the sperm and ovum (matter), the sense organs are the resultants of phenomenal—evolution of matter, and the objects of sense perception are equally material or phenomenal in their nature. 12–14,
A man by a particular organ of his body perceives the same matter which forms the proper object of that sense organ in as much as the perceiving sense organ and the perceived sensible are produced by the same material cause. The matter, which specifically forms the object of a particular sense organ, cannot be perceived by the other. We see a flower with the eyes and not with the nose. 15.
The Science of medicine does not lay down that the self-conscious Selves (Kshetrajna) are all pervading, but on the contrary it asserts that they are real and eternal and are born in the planes of divine, human or animal existence according to their good or evil deeds in life. The existence of these self-conscious entities can be ascertained duly by inference inasmuch as they are extremely subtle in their essence. The self-conscious self is possessed of infinite consciousness, is real and eternally subject to the process of being evolved out into a finite, organic individual through the dynamics of the combined sperm and ovum. The view is further corroborated by a dictum of the Sruti which holds that Purusha (individual) is nothing but a combination of a self-conscious self and the five kinds of matter (Maha- bhutas) formed into an organic body. This Purusha or individual, which is called Individual of action (Karma- Purusha), falls within the scope of the science and art of medicine. 16–17.
Longing for pleasure, shunning of pain, enmity, energetic undertaking of work, respiration (Prana), emission of flatus (Apana), closing and opening of the eyelids, intellect (Buddhi), sentiment (Manah), deliberation, discretion, memory, knowledge of art, perseverance, sensation and perception, are the attributes of an organic individual. 18.
An absence of all killing or hostile propensities, a judicious regimen of diet, forbearance, truthfulness, piety, a belief in God, spiritual knowledge, intellect, a good retentive memory, comprehension, and the doing of good deeds irrespective of consequences, are the qualities which grace the mind of a person of a Sattvika temperament. Feeling of much pain and misery, a roving spirit, noncomprehension, vanity, untruthfulness, nonclemency, pride, an over winning confidence in ones own excellence, lust, anger and hilarity are the attributes which mark a mind of the Rajashika cast. Despondency, stupidity, disbelief in the existence of God, impiety, stupification and perversity of intellect, lethargy in action and sleepiness are the qualities which mark a mind of a Tamashika stamp. 19,
Of these the ether or Akasa abounds in attributes of the Sattvika stamp, the Vayu or etherin in Rajashika, the Teja in Sattvika and Rajashika, the water in Sattvika and Tamashika and the earth in Tamasha attributes. 21.
Ṛtusaṃhāra is a poem written by Kalidasa. It is a nice example of how knowledge is held and passed on in ancient India.
Read and see how much you can pick out from each verse which is telling of the seasons and what to do to balance them in Rtucharya. I think Kalidasa gets carried away alittle and loses anything about the seasons in his passionate mind about halfway thru but there are still deep understandings of the seasons within.
The beautiful thing about this linked translation is the explanation in the second half which will give you a greater understanding not only of the prose but of the seasons observances. The following is just a taste… it is all written after the poem.
CANTO I Stanza 1, Line 7 ; CUPID—Churner of the Mind
The Churner of the mind, Manmatha, also known as Manasija, “ the mind-born is weary after the temptations and opportunities for love during the preceding Spring. How the God of Love came to reside in the mind is in the Introductory Note.
Stanza 2, Line 6 : SANDAL (Sk. Chandana)
The English word is derived from the Arabic pronunciation of the original Sanskrit name of the Santalum Album tree with its strongly scented yellowish brown heartwood. It is a small evergreen tree found mostly in parts of Bombay Presidency and in Mysore State. It is also grown in Coimbatore and parts of Madras Presidency adjoining Mysore State. The wood is hard, very close-grained and oily, the branches slender, and drooping with the leaves opposite. The flowering time is from February to July and the flowers are brownish-purple in colour. The plant is easily propagated from seed and is a root parasite, the roots sucking nourishment from the roots of the neighbouring plants by penetrating them. Sandal oil is valuable for its remarkable fragrance and is well-known for its healing virtues. The tree is felled at the age of thirty for the extraction of the essential oil and for sandal wood. Sandal paste is still commonly used in India especially in the summer/autumn as it has a cooling effect. It is also a votive offering in individual and public worship and Hindu women offer it together with flowers, kumkum and perfume to guests at marriages and other festivities.
Stanza 4, Line 3: LINEN (Sk. Dukula)
Dukula also means silk woven very fine. It is interesting to note that only linen and silk are referred to in this poem but not cotton fabrics for women’s wear. There are two reasons for this. Kalidasa is describing the activities of men and women of the wealthier classes who enjoy luxuries such as “ dwelling places with fountains,” “ ornaments of gold and pearls,” etc. who would not be in the habit of using ordinary cotton clothing. Apart from this, according to the Alamkara Sastra, while silk (Dukulam or Kshoumam) is believed to be auspicious (Mangalprada) and is always associated with all occasions of happiness and rejoicing. Similar use of the word may be found in Kalidasa’s Sakuntala (Act IV) and other Sanskrit poems.
There is much more of this explanation in the text after the poem.
And here is the poem……
The furious sun is ablaze.
One longs for the moon.
The pools of limpid waters
Invite a dip evermore.
The twilight hours are charming
When the day dies down.
And Cupid, churner of the mind, is weary.
This, my love, is the advent of full Summer.
The moon has chased and dispersed
The serried ranks of darkness;
Such nights, my love.
And somewhere a dwelling place
With a wondrous fountain of water.
And congeries of jewels and the liquid sandal cream,
Divert the people’s minds.
And add to the charm of the moment.
The delightful terraces of the mansions
Fragrant with flowers.
And wine, vivid with the breath and the lips of the beloved.
And song, accompanied by well-strung lute and lyre,
Kindling the light of love,
Are enjoyed by amorous men
During the midnights of Summer.
With rounded hips.
Whose grace is enhanced
By soft white silk and the girdle;
With the bosom ornate with strings of pearls,
Or gems and sandal paste.
And masses of hair
With the lingering subtle perfume
Of bath cosmetics,
Women soothe the senses of their lovers.
During the heat of Summer.
Day with the flame-coloured stain
Of laksha juice,
Maidens’ feet with tinkling anklets
Vying with the sonorous note of the hamsa.
At every step stir the mind of youths.
And turn them to thoughts of love.
With the fluid paste of sandal
And precious strings of snow-white pearls commingling
And the region of the hips
With the quivering golden girdle;
Whose mind do they not allure
And fill with a wistful yearning!
proud young women in beauty’s bloom,
Overcome by sweat and effusive moisture
Under arm and on perfect limbs,
Discard their cumbersome garments
And cover their high and pointed breasts
With fine linen and thin raiment.
Dormant Cupid, as if he were asleep.
Is awakened with the gentle breeze
Of fans moistened with sandal water.
With soft melodious music tuned
To vallaki lute and kakali pipe,
And the gentle pressure of rounded breasts
Inseparable from ropes of pearls.
The moon, long gazing, at will,
At the faces of lovely women
Sweetly slumbering on whitened terraces At night,
is doubtless over-eager;
Overtaken by dawn He is sadly crestfallen.
And hides his shame in pallor.
The earth oppressed with stifling heat
And enfolded in the circling dust storm
Raised by unbearable winds.
Cannot be seen by the lonely traveller
Whose mind is scorched by the fire of separation ;
His vision being blurred
He cannot tread his weary way.
The antelopes, harassed unceasingly
By the terrific glare of sunshine.
With thirsty palates and parching tongues,
Can scarce espy the firmament
Dark like the powdered collyrium;
They think ’tis a sheet of water
In the midst of an alien wood,
And, bounding, lightly break from the earth.
Romantic maids, like the adorable gloaming
Lit by the shimmering moon,
With lips that hold a ready smile.
And with stolen glances from lowered eyes
They soon ignite the flame of love
In the mind of the wayworn wanderer.
Oppressed incessantly by the sun’s rays,
And scorched by the heated dust on the way,
The cobra, with its hood depressed
And spiral gait in uncurled length.
Pants ever and anon,
And rests on the ground in the peacock’s shade.
A quenchless thirst has put an end
To the brave deeds of the lion, lord of beasts;
Panting audibly with jaws agape,
With lolling tongue and quivering mane.
He ignores the nearby elephant.
Though he loves the furious fray.
And the tuskers, too, lose the sense of dread
Of even the lion,
While from the trunks they throw up sprays
Of moisture cool to ease their flanks
Seared by the blistering rays;
And stricken with the growing thirst
They move in quest of water.
Weary alike in mind and body.
Through the rays of the sun.
Hot like sacred fire fed on the altar.
The peacock lets the nearby serpent live
Which seeking shelter thrusts its neck
Into the discs on its gaudy plumes.
And the herd of wild boar,
Tortured by the broiling sun.
Nuzzle in the drying mud of the ponds
Where the Bhadramusta weeds alone survive;
And digging with their lengthy snouts
Fain would reach the core of the earth.
Scorched by the burning rays of the sun,
The frogs leap out of the water
Of the marsh thick with mud,
And sit beneath the parasol
Of a thirsty serpent’s hood.
In the sylvan pool the tangled mass of lotus stalks
Has been torn asunder,
The fish have perished.
The terrified sarasa have flown away;
For, closely packed together.
And jostling one another.
The elephants, in a herd, have invaded it
And left it a sea of mud.
The iridescence of its crest-jewel
Is heightened by the sunbeams,
While the hooded cobra sucks the air
With its lolling cleft tongue;
Worried by the fiery warmth of the sun
And of its own envenomed fang.
And weary with thirst.
It is no more a menace
To the numerous frogs.
With foaming mouths
And sagging pinkish tongues.
The wild buffaloes emerge
From the caverns in the hills
With vision dazed and muzzles in the air ;
And irritated by thirst
They shuffle in search of water.
In the forest the mighty conflagration
Has consumed the sharp dry strings of the grass blades.
And the seared leaves are blown on high
By violent gusts of wind;
The water in the pools evaporates
With the burning breath of the midsummer sun,
And the scourged precincts of the woodland
Present a fearful scene.
Flocks of panting birds forgather
To perch on leafless trees,
And troops of weary monkeys
Shelter in caves in the hills;
The herd of wild bison wanders,
In anxious search for water,
The sarabhas suck avidly
The dwindling water of the pools.
The tongues of the flames have the fiery tinge
Of the opening petals of the palasha bloom,
The conflagration like glistening sindura is vermilion;
Swiftly it spreads by the force of the whirlwind,
And embracing the tender leafage
Of creeper and brushwood and tree,
Is filled with a wild ecstasy;
And many a glade and green recess
Is soon burnt to cinder and ashes.
The smouldering fire hugging the precincts
Leaps into flames fanned by the breeze.
And spreads to the distant hills and dales;
With a cracking noise it sweeps through
Tall clumps of the withering bamboo.
And, in a trice, gathering strength
Pervades the wilted grass.
Scaring and scathing the denizens of the wood.
The flames grow manifold in power
In the groves of the salmali trees.
Whose hollow trunks afire
Are glowing like burnished gold;
Leaping to the boughs of neighbouring trees.
Reft of ripe and fallen leaves,
The flames invade the heart of the forest.
Urged by the miscreant wind.
The elephants, bisons and lions.
With their bodies singed by the flames,
Cease the mutual feud and fray.
As if they were former friends;
They flee from the burning thickets
Distraught by the raging fire.
And run to a low-lying river-bed
Shelved by the silver sands
May you pass your Summers
Where lotus and lily lift their heads in the pools,
And the flowering patala scents the air.
And plunge, at will, in lucid waters.
And enjoy the argent moonbeams
Shooting lustre into the pearls;
And, at night, on open balcony,
When the air vibrates with song
From a voice that is rich and tender.
May you nestle midst charming women,
In sweet inflowing sleep.
The approaching season of Rain, dear love,
Comes like a king in pride of power.
The rain-laden clouds are its rutting war elephants;
The lambent flashes of lightning
Serve for its streaming pennons.
And the reverberating thunder
Is the rattle of its kettle-drums;
It is hailed by a host of lovers
As the royal cavalcade is acclaimed
By crowds of suppliants.
The sky is, on all sides, overcast
With a barrier of massive clouds,
Deep hued like the petals of the nenuphar
Or heaps bf powdered collyrium,
Or liker still to the darksome nipples
Of breasts of pregnant women.
Answering the plaintive call
Of the thirsty chataka seeking alms.
The Watering clouds, Bend low, when slow.
To deluge the earth with generous showers ;
And the lisping patter of the rain
Rings sweet to the ears of men.
Clouds with thunder, like the beat of drums,
And Indra’s colourful bow
Across the heavens, to which the streak
Of lightning serves for a string.
And flowing streams of water.
Like the fall of nimble arrows.
Assail the mind of the lonely traveller.
Green, like fragments of jade,
The grass rises on tiptoe,
Stretching its blades to catch the raindrops;
And a mass of the blithe new foliage
Bursts from the kandali plants.
And indragopaka insects make a crimson riot;
With patches of green and purple and gold,
The good earth is decked with many coloured jewels.
Like a woman of elegant taste
And charm of mellowed ease.
Thrilled with the pleasing sound
Of the sombre cloud that heralds storm,
Groups of gay amorous peacocks
Rend the air with their jubilant cries
To hail the friendly rain;
And spreading wide their jewelled trains,
With the love-play of the kiss and embrace.
They hold their gorgeous dance parade.
Hearing down the trees on the banks
With swirling torrents of turbid waters.
Rivers go surging to join the sea;
So, too, wanton women bespatter
The men of their clan with mire
By the vehemence of their wild desire.
And hasten to meet their wooer.
The slopes of Mount Vindhya,
Where the young green grass is springing
And the gentle does browse to cull a mouthful;
And the woods, where the trees in bloom are clad
In all the glory of their bursting leafage,
Elate and charm the soul of man.
There the meadows and sylvan glades
That abound in herds of the timorous deer,
Whose tremulous liquid eyes
Share the loveliness of the newborn utpala,
Rouse memories of soft adorings
That come crowding to the lonely wanderer.
Even in the blinding darkness
Of sombre, beclouded nights.
Despite the pouring rain and thunder.
Romantic women seeking adventure
Hie to their trysting-place.
While flashes of indulgent lightning
Guide them on their dark way.
Often the sheeted lightning,
Followed by a deafening crash of thunder,
And its lingering terrifying sound.
Scare the young wife into longing;
She nestles close and embracing her lover Forgives the error of his ways.
The young wives of voyagers.
In despair and fevered unrest.
Wait and fidget
For the golden hour of the loved one’s return;
They discard the chaplets of flowers.
Their trinkets and knick-knacks of beauty;
Like pearly dew on tender foliage
The tear-drops fall from their lotus eyes,
And moisten the twitching lower lip
Red-ripe like the bimba fruit.
The Carrying vermin, mud, and wisps of straw,
The turbid grey waters
Are watched by the terrified frogs,
Hurrying in tortuous serpentine ways
Heading for the sloping patch of land.
The deluded bees sweetly humming.
Forsake the lotus plant
Now reft of leaf and flower.
And crowd overeager on the discs
On the brilliant plumes of dancing peacocks,
Mistaking them for new lotuses.
Wild elephants, delirious with pride,
Fiercely trumpeting, ever and anon
Challenge the thunder of the clouds;
And the region of their temples.
Flowing with ichor,
Is, like the lovely indigo lily,
The haunt of murmurous bees.
The granite peaks of the mountain are kissed
By cloudlets floating like the silver lotus;
And all its gulleys and springs and rills
Are flowing and bubbling with water;
The mind is enthralled by the sight of the hills
Alive with the bustling peacocks.
Couched by the moisture-laden clouds.
The humid breeze is cool
And fragrant with the blossoms
Of kadamba, sarja, arjuna and ketaki
Whom it mirthfully shakes;
Who does not feel, in the quiet of content.
That something’s amiss —
An ache in the heart.
Or a tinge of sorrow!
Maids, with their gorgeous hair
Drooping to the hips,
With pendants of fragrant sprays on the ears.
The bosom decked with strings of pearls,
And the lips moist with wine,
Fill their lovers’ minds with longing.
The clouds, hanging low.
Laden with rain.
And adorned by flashes of lightning.
And gleaming with the rainbow hues;
And the maids, with their glittering girdles
And bejewelled ear-rings.
Capture in the same moment
The lone wayfarer’s vulnerable mind.
Maidens now adorn their heads
With chaplets of fresh-woven blooms
Of kadamba, bakula and ketaki.
And design the trinkets, at will, for the ear.
With tassels of kakubha blossoms.
The young wedded wife.
Richly anointed with sandal salve
And the aromatic incense of aguru.
And her lovely hair coiffure.
Decked with fragrant blooms.
Hearkening to the rumble of the clouds.
When the azure dusk is falling.
Slips from the elders’ apartments
And hastens to the slumber-room.
dark like blue lotus leaves,
Towering in eminence but humble,
Bent ’neath the burden of water;
Nod to the gentle breeze
And stroll across heavens
With lazy steps;
Adorned with the tinted bow of Indra,
They draw by mysterious enchantment.
The hearts of lonely maids
Pining for the straying lovers.
The woodland, where the fire is quenched
By the newly sprinkled showers.
Is gaily decked with kadamba tassels
In joyous celebration.
It is dancing merrily; its waving boughs
Of trees are tossed by playful winds;
It seems to be smiling sweetly
Through the sharp white blades of the ketaki leaves.
This season with its cluster of clouds, I ween,
Is like a dexterous lover,
For it deftly weaves round the heads of maidens
Chaplets of bakula flowers
Interlaced with malati blossoms;
It designs fresh trinkets for their ears
With wreaths of new blooms
And opening buds of the yuthika creeper
And full blown kadamba flowers.
Thrilled with the fresh earth-scented air,
And the drip and drizzle of falling drops,
Youthful women express their joy of life
With strings of pearls on their dainty breasts.
The soft white linen on their perfect hips.
And the glamour of the undulant waist line.
The wayward wind, wanderer in the sky,
Cooled by the touch of the fresh clean raindrops.
Rustles the leaves of trees
Bowed with the load of flowers.
And makes them dance;
Fragrant with the charming odour
Of the golden pollen of the ketaki.
It steals the heart of lonely lovers.
The wooded height of Vindhya is the rest-house
Of the likes of us bent with the burden of water;
So say the rain-clouds and, bending low,
They gladden the mountain.
Licked by the crimson tongues of fire.
With heavy showers of rain.
May this period of the rain-giving clouds.
Charming with its many attractions.
The dream of delight of romantic maids.
Unselfish friend of trees and vines.
And the breath of life of animate beings.
Grant you your heart’s inmost desires !
Behold! the lady Autumn comes
Clad in the silver kasa blossoms,
Her fair visage is the white lotus bloom,
The tinkling of her anklet bells is heard
In the tuneful cry of wild geese on high;
The harvest of rice with ripening sheaves,
Bending in billows in the fresh young breeze,
Is her graceful figure and supple body;
She emulates the charming bride
With white bridal vesture and lily-like face,
The jingling anklets and slender figure.
And the shoulders bowed with decorous modesty
And woman’s gentle grace.
The earth is blanched by kasa blooms.
The night by the silvery moonbeams.
The waters of the rivers are white with the hamsa.
And the pools with the new-born lilies;
The precincts of the woodland are gleaming
With the riot of saptachadda trees
Bending with the burden of flowers;
And gardens are gay with the fragrant blooms
Of the rambling malati vine.
And all is white that greets our eyes.
The lucid streams move slow
Like lovely dames grown restful and mellow.
With soft footfall.
And step unhurried;
The sparkling shafari is their glittering girdle.
The cygnets and drakes are their necklace of pearls.
And the flanks of expansive sands
Are their generous hips.
The puffs of clouds, hung in the air,
Free from rain, eased of their burden,
Are swayed by the wind in their hundreds;
Gleaming like the silver sea-shell.
Or the pallid lotus stalk,
Heaven’s canopy is resplendent like a king
Fanned by a hundred yak-tails.
The sky is a lovely deep blue
Like the powdered collyrium.
The earth, like the dawn of day, is tinged
Pink with the pollen of bandhuka blooms,
The fields are bright with burgeoning green
Where kalama rice has been sown;
Where is the youth whose heart
Does not throb with glamorous longing?
Amidst the kovidara trees.
In whose waving boughs
And tender young foliage
Mixed with the bursting flower-buds.
The breeze skims merrily.
There is a soft whispering turbulence of leaves;
And there the delirious bees
Are greedily sucking the flowing honey;
Whose heart does not swell with joy
At the sight of these lovely trees?
The sky is translucent When rain is done.
And the moon, free from the web of clouds.
Has lifted the veil;
The nights of Autumn, starred and gentle.
Garbed in the spotless fabric of moonlight.
Resemble the moon-face maiden
Decked in her trinkets,
Clad in pure white linen,
And growing in length each day.
The peckings of numerous wild ducks
Ruffle the water of the streams,
And make encircling wavelets;
And the banks are thronged
With the kalahamsa and sarasa.
While the cry of the migrant goose
Is resonant everywhere.
Gladdening the hearts of men.
The moon is a pageant of delight for the eyes,
With rays of light woven into garlands.
Streaming coolness and ravishing the heart;
Yet lo I the moon darts fire from frosty beams.
Burning like a poisoned shaft
The delicate limbs of the lovely maid
Pining in separation from her man.
Shaking the fruitful crops of paddy.
Scurrying over the tops of noble trees
Bowed with the weight of flowers.
And startling the lily new-born In the full-blown lotus fields.
The sky-borne breeze, perforce. Perturbs the mind of youths.
The lakes, necklaced with the curving waves
Swayed by the lazy morning breeze,
And adorned with the hamsa
Enamoured of its mate,
And decked with the full-blown stainless lotus,
And the deep-hued indigo lily,
Transport the heart with glee.
Now the bow of Indra
Has vanished in the womb of the clouds.
And the lightning, banner of heaven.
Has ceased to flash;
The cranes with their flapping wings
Agitate the air no longer,
No more do eager-eyed peacocks
Strain their necks to scan the sky.
Forsaking the peacocks.
Who refrain from the dance,
Love draws near to the swans
Whose voice is rich and tender;
And deserting the kutaja and kadamba.
The arjuna, sarja and nipa wood.
The radiant Lakshmi of blossoms
Honours the saptachadda tree.
The pleasure parks are redolent
With the scent of the fragrant shephalika.
And echo the gladsome twitter
Of numerous care-free birds;
And on their fringe the docs are standing.
Whose eyes replace the charming lily;
The park in Autumn stirs the hearts of men
Shaking the kalhara, padma and kumuda,
And furthermore cooled by their touch.
Autumn The breeze, at morn, grows more enticing
As it playfully rocks the dew-drops
Hidden in the folds of the leaves.
The rolling fields of abundant rice.
The echo of the tuneful cry
Of flocks of hamsa and sarasa
From the fringe of the landscape.
And the ploughy texture of the land
Adorned by the silent kine,
Gladden the hearts of men.
The swan has triumphed, by its alluring movements,
Over women of perfect figures,
The full-blown silver lotus has stolen
The charm of their radiant faces,
The delicate nenuphar excels
Their beautiful tremulous eyes;
And their arched delicate eyebrows.
The least bit raised, are rivalled
By the slender rippling wavelets
In the pellucid water of the pools.
The priyangu creeper’s sprays
Laden with flowers steal the grace
Of women’s arms decked with jewels.
And the gay blossoms of the malati.
Mated with the flowering asoka.
Vie with the glint of women’s teeth
Beneath their radiant smile.
Maids decorate their mass of curly hair.
Dark like the rain-cloud.
With the fresh huds of the trailing malati,
And add to the exquisite trinkets of gold
Fresh blue lily buds on the ears.
Women whose hearts are radiant with love
Still use the sandal cream
And a necklace of pearls on the bosom;
They add to the beauty of their ample hips
By the charm of the circling girdle;
And the anklets in symphony sweet
Caress their lotus feet.
The calm field of the Autumn sky, free from the turgid clouds
Spangled with emerging stars, and glazed by the moonlight,
Shares the exceeding glory
Of pools of sparkling water, crystal clear.
Dotted with flowering lotus and lily.
And flashing with the silver wings of swans.
The breeze is balmy cool in Autumn,
Mingling with the moon-lilies;
The directions are lovely.
With the scattered silver cloudlets;
The waters cease to be turbid grey.
And the ground is free from mud and marsh;
An amazing display of the constellations,
And the impeccable lustre of the moon.
Declare the glory of the sky.
Roused by the sunbeams at sunrise
The pankaja reveals its face.
Radiant like a young maiden
When the light of the moon is fading
The smile slips from the petals of the kumuda
Like the flicker of the smile
From the young wife’s lips
When the loved one is going far away.
The traveller is now bewildered
To see in the utpala bloom
The dark beauty of his sweetheart’s eyes.
And in the blossoming bandhujiva tree
The freshness of her lips enshrined;
And he chokes as he hearkens
To the dulcet note of the amorous hamsa
Vying with the jingle of her golden girdle.
Or perchance, at the advent of the glorious Autumn,
Pearly radiance forsaking the moon
Resorts to the faces of beautiful women;
And the tuneful cry of the hamsa
Is lost in their bejewelled anklets;
While the charm of the bandhuka blossoms
Is merged in their lovely lips.
May Autumn, whose face is the open lotus
And whose eyes are the full-blown nenuphar’s.
In robes of purest white arrayed
With the new-blown kasa blossoms,
Grant you, like the ardent sweetheart.
The favours your heart desires!
The spreading barley gleams
With a tender green embroidery.
The harvest of rice is ripening;
The lodhra trees are aflower.
And the lilies are fading away,
And so the falling dews
Usher the pleasant season of frost.
The the gleaming moon,
The snow, or kunda bloom,
The lovely rope of pearls.
Where colourful sandal cream is mirrored.
No more adorns the breasts of elegant maids.
Ro more the golden chains of the girdle.
Studded with many a gem,
Adorn the hips of dames;
Nor are their lotus feet caressed
By tuneful anklets
Vying with the mallard’s note.
The women of fashion no longer endure
The cool touch on their arms
Of armlets and bracelets.
Nor thin smooth linen on their hips.
Nor on their abundant breasts
The light transparent raiment.
Youthful women use on their limbs
The powder perfumed with kaleyaka
And make up their lotus faces,
With tracings of laksha juice ;
And the incense of the kalaguru
Lends a finishing touch to the hair
As they prepare to meet their men
The feast of love to share.
Albeit their faces are wan and pale.
Youthful women are happy
And serene with love fulfilled ;
Scanning the parched aching lips
They refrain from laughing aloud.
The dewdrops slipping from the blades of grass
Are the tears shed by the winter
Weeping at morn.
Distressed at the rigorous pressure
On the limbs and bodies of maidens
To which the season lends a peerless grace.
The fields covered to the furthest bournes
With rich crops of paddy,
And their fringes adorned with herds of deer,
And the midlands resounding with the distant cry
of the beautiful demoiselle crane
Which stirs the hearts of men.
The lakes, where the decorative lily is blooming,
And the amorous kalahamsa blends its grace.
The limpid waters and verdant weeds.
Steal the hearts of men.
The priyangu creeper, my love.
Is mellow and pale,
Swept by the wings of the icy wind.
Like the pallid face of the charming maid
Pining for her absent lover.
The mouths fragrant
With the wine perfumed with flowers.
And the sweet odour of the tender breath
Enveloping their limbs.
The young slumber,
Couched side by side,
Twined in each other’s arms.
Steeped in the luscious flavour of love.
To maids in the first flush of youth.
The dents of teeth on their faded lips.
And the marks of nails on the bosom.
Reveal the pitiless strain of love.
Behold ! the young maid, mirror in hand.
Making up her lotus face In the sidelong morning sun;
Pouting her mouth she scans her lips
Whose essence was sucked by the lover.
Here is another maid.
Her limbs are limp with love’s surfeit.
The lotus eyes are red
With the wakeful night of rapture;
The gorgeous hair lies ruffled
On the drooping shoulders;
She basks in the soft delicious sunshine.
With the burden of sleep upon her lids.
Soothing her limbs in sated rest,
And other young women
Free the chaplets of faded flowers,
Whose charming fragrance has had its hour.
From their dark mass of hair ;
They nag, I ween, at the weight of breasts
More abundant than their years,
By the slight stoop in their slender figures;
They are busy refashioning their hair.
Here is a maid who is radiant
At the sight of her body enjoyed by her lover ;
Whilst wearing the bodice on aching limbs
Bruised by the pressure of his finger nails,
She puckers up her charming lips into a smile
While the ringlets of soft black hair get loosened
And cover her eyelids.
Other young women of beauty and charm
Are feeling the strain and weariness
Since the surcease of love’s harmony,
And their slender limbs are languishing ;
When the masseuse is rubbing
The swinging line of shoulder.
The deep fold of the thighs.
And the nipples pressing upward.
May this season of frost with manifold charms
And with the peace of the dreaming landscape.
When the fields are mellow and fruitful with rice ;
Ever pleasant and encircled by the calling krauncha
Moving the maids to the depth of their souls,
Add to your welfare and joy!
The breath of Winter comes
Stealing into the lush greenery of fields of sugarcane
While yet the earth is spread
With the well-grown paddy;
Hark! my love, for somewhere
The demoiselle cranes are calling.
Bringing pretty maids and jaunty youths
The message of crazy love.
To slam casements and window panes
Of living rooms is a joy,
Welcome are the blazing fires of faggots
And the warmer lazy sunbeams;
One longs now for heavier garments;
Tis for youthful maidens
The true season for enjoyment.
No more the fragrant sandal salve
Cooled by the moonbeams.
Nor open terrace nor balcony,
Bathed by the silver moon of autumn.
Nor gentle breezes chilled by heavy frost,
Delight the people’s minds.
The starlit-nights of winter.
Decked with the sparkling constellations,
Are icy cold with frost.
And colder still by moonlight.
In the piercing chill.
They are not enjoyed in the open air.
Ardent wives repair to their sumptuous bower
Filled with the fragrant wreaths of aguru smoke,
Taking with them the tambula leaf and pigment,
The chaplets of flowers and knick-knacks of vanity;
And their lotus-mouths are scented
With the wine perfumed with flowers.
Hatching the face shadowed by thought —
In tremor of fear and numb—of the husband
Spurned and reproved for many a lapse,
The proud young wife relents,
And, longing for love and tenderness,
She weans her thoughts from the past.
In the retired quiet of long winter nights
Lusty youths are ruthless
In the revels and sports of love;
When the night has drained away,
The young wives are limp with tired limbs,
And gingerly tread their way.
Women hail the advent of winter.
They are an adornment to the stars,
With the bosom enfolded in tight bodices
And the limbs in colourful silk attired.
And flowers entwined in the coiffure.
Young lovers conquer the wintry cold
By the glow of their warm fresh youth,
The glorious age meant to savour love’s delight ;
Pillowed on the beloved’s fair breast.
Reflecting the ochre saffron hue.
They lie, with arms embraced.
And limbs interlaced
In peace and slumberous calm.
Joyous maids’ sip during winter nights.
In the company of their lovers,
Delightful and choice wines
For love’s awakening and pleasure,
While the lilies floating on the wine cups
Quiver with the fragrant breath of their lips.
In the silver morning the young bride.
Sobered with the overstrain of love’s delight,
Sees the nipples of her breasts,
And the resilient limbs embraced by the loved one;
She goes from her sleeping-room to other rooms
With a smile concealed on the fringe of her lips,
While another youthful maid.
With navel deep and ample hips,
And lovely slender waist,
Is just about to leave the bed;
In the early morning hour
She is loosely binding the ends
Of her gorgeous curly hair perfumed with aguru
In which the chaplet of flowers is fading.
In the splendour of the morn,
Women in their homes.
With their fresh skins like the golden glowing lotus,
The roseate lower lips, and long eyelids.
Stretched to the ears, suffused at the rims.
Their beauteous oval faces.
And on their shoulders the lovely hair
Tumbling in cascades,
Bear the semblance of Lakshmi.
Other youthful women with slender waists
And the burthen of hips and ample bosom,
Tread with languid steps;
They soon overcome the strain of love
As they change into vestments
Fit for the day.
In the rising light of the dawn.
The maids examine their limbs
For scars and nail marks;
Fingering the lower lips,
Tender like new-born leaves.
They blush; and rejoicing at love’s fulfilment
Proceed to make up their faces.
May this Winter time
Rich in dainties, sweets, and lucent syrups.
Charming with the fields of rice.
And cloying with the juice of the sugarcane,
Warm with love’s awakening
And happy fulfilment,
But painful to pining lovers.
Tend to your bliss for ever!
The warrior Spring,
Comes with armorial bearing.
Armed with the nimble shafts
Of the swelling mango blossom.
And the murmurous line of bees
Is the twang of his lustrous bowstring ;
He is shooting his flowery arrows, my dear.
To pierce the hearts of lovers.
The trees aflower are crowned with glory,
The waters are strewn with lotus and lily.
The balmy breeze liberates fragrance.
And maidens are filled with dreams of love ;
The languid perfection of the day
“Wanes to a quivering twilight.
And all that breathes, or moves, or blossoms,
Is sweeter, my love, in Spring.
The breath of Spring is in the air,
Spilling its richness everywhere.
It is stroking the waters of the pools.
Coaxing the lilybuds to emerge unscared.
Chiding the jewels aglimmer in the moon
It caresses the girdles
Encircling the waists of maidens.
And it is urging the mango trees
To flaunt their blossoms
In the eye of day.
At the hint of Spring,
Lovely women blend the charm
Of their peerless figures
With colourful linen vestments.
Dyed in the juice of the kusumbha bloom;
And the region of the bosom is adorned
By fine raiment of ochre brown
Stained with saffron hue.
The fresh blossom of the karnikara
Meet for the ear, and a wreath of asoka blooms,
And full-blown flowers of the navamallika vine,
On their wavy dark hair,
Enhance the grace of beauteous maids.
Glamorous maidens wrapt in love
Resume their necklaces
Wet with the liquescent sandal on their breasts,
And their intimate wristlets and armlets;
And they wear anew the girdle on their hips.
On elegant maidens’ faces,
Shining like the lovely golden lotuses.
And adorned with tracings of cosmetics.
Beads of sweat appear
Like pearls that embrace
The beauty of other gems.
The maids snuggling beside their men.
Draw breath quickly,
Disturbing the rhythm of the breasts.
Their clothing is loosened.
And their limbs relax, flecked by desire;
Young maids are tense in Spring,
Attuned to love’s instinct.
Love, the immortal god impersonate,
Makes pale and fragile maidens
Inclined to yawn and languish.
Alive with ethereal quickness.
And they learn to reveal their charm,
With beauty and grace.
In Spring the bodiless Love permeates
The limbs of a maiden, in manifold ways;
Into the visionless eyes,
That are dulled by wine,
He puts a sparkle and a softness;
He is the pallor of the cheeks,
And the hardness of the breasts;
He moulds the slimness of the waist.
The fall and swing of the hips.
It is love’s beauty itself
That shines through her loveliness.
Gathering all her charm in the lines of her body.
Love lends the youthful maid
A touch of drowsy lassitude,
And a little lisp to her speech.
As if tipsy with wine;
He adds the arched remoteness to the delicate brows,
And tilts her glances
Beneath the drooping lashes of the eyelids.
Imbued with the wayward indolence of youth.
Adorn again their fair breasts with sandal salve.
Mixed with priyangu, kaliyaka and saffron.
And the scent from the musk deer’s navel.
And discarding heavy garments,
Those whose limbs are overcome
By love’s lassitude
Soon assume the lighter vesture.
Dyed in laksha juice and scented
With the incense of black aguru.
The male cuckoo, crazy with joy,
Imbibing mango juice,
Is drunk as with wine.
And lovingly kisses its sweetheart;
And even the buzzing bee,
In the folds o£ the lotus petals.
Murmurs sweet nothingness.
And compliments its mate.
The mango trees are a blaze of colour.
The new foliage flecked with coppery sheen,
And their bursting blossoms.
Swinging as they list in the breeze,
Dazzle the minds of maids.
And they catch their breath
With golden new excitement.
Watching with a rapt seriousness
The clusters of flowers,
Red like coral beads.
Mingling with the leafage,
Down to the ground.
Of asoka trees.
The hearts of youths in love’s transcendence
Are touched with a tinge of melancholy.
The young atimukta.
The clinging vine.
Whose lovely blossoms are kissed by the crazy bees,
And whose soft tendrils aquiver
Bend in the gentle breeze,
Arrests the eyes of enamoured couples;
Sudden their hearts are filled
With the flowing stream of love.
At sight of the surpassing beauty
Of new-born kurabaka blossom.
Rivalling the radiance of the beloved’s face,
Which youthful bosom, my dear.
Is not fired with desire,
Smitten with the shaft of love?
The Spring has adorned the earth, in a trice,
With the groves of palasha trees aflower
Swinging in. the breeze.
Bowed with the load of blossom
Resembling flaming fire.
The earth looks like a newly-wed bride
In lovely red attire.
When the palasha flowers have burst
Shrill-red like the parrot’s beak.
Does naught remain to pierce;
And what, in sooth, is unconsumed
By the flame-colour karnikara bloom
That the cuckoo with its plaintive air
Fain would stab the hearts of youths
Pledged to maidens fair.
The voice of the joyous male cuckoo
Quavers as he sings
The sweet words of his haunting melody.
And the murmur of the intoxicated bees,
Reaches even maidens sheltered
By convention and modest upbringing,
And fills them with a rapture of expectancy,
Making them tremble with delight.
Waving the mango boughs in bloom.
And spreading, in all directions.
The fleeting melody of the cuckoo birds.
The breeze in Spring,
Charming since the surcease of frost.
Blows softly and wins the hearts of men.
The gardens are gay with the kunda blooms,
White like the gleaming smile of glamorous maids,
Provoking the mind of love-free saints
And even more the fancy of love-stained youths.
In the month of Chaitra,
Ringing with the sweet birdsong of the cuckoo.
And the murmur of the wild-bees.
Maidens, with their dangling girdles,
And roped gleam of necklace on the bosom.
Their supple limbs wholly relaxed,
And subdued by the mighty strength of love,
Enrapture by force.
The hearts of men,
The sight of the hills adorned with trees
And the varied lovely blossoms,
The sequestered peaks ringing with the echo
Of the voices of singing birds.
And the crevices of rocks strewn with alpine flowers.
Comfort the longing eyes.
Seeing the mango trees in bloom.
The passer-by, parted from his loved one,
Feels the bitter tears of umbrage
And yearning scorching his eyes,
And, placing the arm across his face.
He wails and sobs aloud.
In this flower-month,
The hovering bee with the balmy spoil of honey,
The cuckoo with its melodious lilt.
And the mango and karnikara trees
With their glory of blossoms;
Tempt the proud girl’s mind
With stinging darts of the swoop of thought
Kindling the flame of love.
With the veiled barbs of the tender mango blossom.
And his good bow the charming palasha bloom,
The mazy line of bees for his bow-string.
The spotless canopy of silken moonbeams.
The low south wind from Malaya
For his lordly rutting elephant.
And the singing cuckoo birds for his chanting minstrels;
May the bodiless Kama,
Bosom friend of Vasanta,
And sovereign conqueror of the world,
Bring to the growing generation
Hours filled with bliss!
What one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards it becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness.
This basis, is a support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is established and has come to growth, with it name and form is created. With name and form there is condition, the six senses come to be.
If then one does not intend, and one does not plan, but one still has a tendency towards something, this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis, there is a support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is established and has come to growth, there is creation of name and form. With name and form as condition, the six senses come to be.
This is the origin of suffering.
If one does not intend or plan and does not have a tendency towards anything, no basis exists for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is no basis, there is no support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is unestablished and does not come to growth, there is no descent of name and form. With the cessation of name and form comes cessation of the six senses.
This is the cessation of suffering.
Multiple factors like atman (soul), mana (mind), rasa (fluid), shad dhatu (six elements), matru-pitru (parents), karma (past deeds), svabhava (nature), Prajapati (Creator), and kala (time) have been considered as the source of creation of the purusha (human beings). The same factors are considered responsible for origin of diseases.
In order to sustain health, one shall follow a wholesome diet and restrain from following unwholesome diets and activities.
The best things shall be used as first choice in various respective conditions (samgraha).
Those food articles that help maintain a state of equilibrium among body elements (dhatus) and also help in eliminating imbalances that could occur due to abnormalities are considered to be wholesome food articles, while those articles that act in an opposite manner are known to be unwholesome articles.
Classification of food articles could be done by their suitability for consumption, source (vegetarian or non-vegetarian), effects on body (wholesome or unwholesome), mode of consumption (to eat, to drink, to chew or to lick), six tastes and twenty (gunas) qualities. There could be innumerable combinations.
Dietary preparations and drugs that do not affect the body system adversely, and those that are liked by the mind are considered pathya (wholesome). Likewise, those that adversely affect the body system and are disliked by the mind are considered apathya (unwholesome).
Drugs and food articles are also considered wholesome or unwholesome depending upon the dose (measure/quantity), time, mode of preparation, habitat of the drugs or food articles, individual’s constitution, and dosha.
Bear with me, this is a long post. You can research more online if you want but here is most you will need to understand about Durga Puja and Navratri, the nine nights of Devi.
Durga Puja, also called Durgotsava and Navratri, is an annual Hindu festival in the Indian subcontinent that reveres the goddess Durga.Durga Puja is celebrated during Devi Paksha which is 15 days period of Ashwin lunar month as per Hindu calendar. Devi Paksha begins on the next day of Sarvapitru Amavasya and ends on Kojagori Lokkhi Puja. Devi Paksha literally translates to “Fortnight of the Goddess”.
Durga puja is particularly popular in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Tripura, and the diaspora from this region. It is one of the bigger religious festivals of India which is celebrated throughout the country with great zeal and fervour. Durga Puja is particularly celebrated in the state of West Bengal in Kolkata in the honour of celebrating the unfathomable power of Goddess Durga. Whereas Navratri is very popular festival in the western states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and the southern state of Karnataka. The festivals are celebrated during the span of whole period of Navratri for a time span of 10 days. From the sixth day of Navratri till the ninth day the huge pandaals of the Goddess Durga are open for the visitors. The tenth day of the Navaratri is called as Dashami and on this day the idols of the Goddess Durga are immersed into water and this process is called as Visarjan. This year in 2017, dashami is falling on 30th September.
Durga Puja 2017 will begin on Tuesday, 26 September and ends on Saturday, 30 September but you may want to check the time for where you are on this planet. It will vary. As well these celebrations are done differently in different parts of India.
Navratri is celebrated five times a year and typically at the junction of Ritu change. They are also based upon the lunar calendar so the exact dates change every year. Navratri is the best time to subdue and bring into alignment the shadow planet Rahu. Rahu represents the demon in our mind, our desires that bind us to the material world. Obsessions. For those who want to pacify Rahu, or even improve its influence in their chart, Navratri is the best time for Rahu Sadhana, as Durga is the cosmic force and the remedy that destroys all inner and outer demons. It is useful to fast and worship and meditate upon Durga during these nine nights, with the mindset to overcome our inner fears and the resolve to confront and overcome our weaknesses. The fact that millions are chanting the Durga mantra during these nine days and nights further accentuates our personal sadhana.
Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Durga before going to war with Ravana. He had performed Chandi Homa and sought the blessing of Goddess Durga before going to war. As Lord Rama was blessed with victory over powerful demon Ravana, this time of the year is considered the most suitable to seek blessings of Goddess Durga and to perform Chandi Homa.
As per Devi Mahatmya, Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura. Hence Durga Puja festival is observed as the victory of good over evil.
There is much more detail to what is done every day but this is a brief overview.
The festivities Durga Puja last for ten days and the main ritual is only for the last four days. Each day of Durga Puja has a special significance and the preparation for the festivals begin months before the festival.
On the day of the ‘Rath Yatra’ or the Chariot Festival, the artisans make the foundation for the Pratima – Durga effigy. Part of the clay used in the festival is brought with the blessings of Courtesans or sex workers, signifying the all encompassing love of the mother. Some people also believe it is because, courtesans are believed to be adept at all the arts. A special puja is done before the collection of the clay.
The Pratima is made over the next two months by skilful craftsmen who have been doing this work for generations. They have mastered the art of making beautiful effigies, which in themselves are exquisite pieces of art.
Mahalaya day, or the first day of Durgotsav, is the day the Goddess is invited to come to earth with her children with Agomoni. It is the last day of the Pitri Paksha and the day of new moon. Historically this day has come to be associated with ‘Mahisasur Mardini’, an All India Radio program that plays the Chandi Path and Bhakti songs in Bengali in West Bengal and in Hindi all over India.
The ‘Chakkhu Daan’ – literally, the giving of eyes ritual, happens on the day of Mahalaya. The eyes of the Devi are drawn on this day. This ritual signifies the spirit of the Goddess getting instilled in the clay effigy.
India celebrates Durga Puja wherein the community comes together for a ‘Sarbojanin Puja’ – community worship. Huge decorative structures called ‘Pandals’ are constructed for the prayers, bhog and cultural functions. These pandals are mostly temporary structures and are made especially for the festival.
On the sixth day of the moon called Shasthi, Durga is welcomed with a ritual called ‘Bodhon’ in which the Pratima is unveiled for the public. Mothers fast for their children and their wellbeing. The fast is broken in the evening with fruits, vegetable and pooris.
The next day, Saptami starts with the bath of ‘Kola Bou’ – Banana Plantain. The twigs of white aparajita plant along with nine bunches of yellow threads are used to tie the Nabapatrika and then it is bathed in holy water.
Nabapatrika or the nine plants of worship depicts nine forms of goddess Durga. The banana plant represents Goddess Brahmani, the Colacassia plant represents Goddess Kalika, the Turmeric plant symbolises Devi Durga, the Jayanti plant denotes Kartiki, the Wood apple represents Goddess Shivaa (another name for Durga), the Pomegranate represents Raktadantika, the Ashoka tree symbolizes Sokrahita, and the Arum plant represents Chamunda and the Rice plant Goddess Lakshmi.
This ritual predates the Durga Puja Celebration as it derives from the nature worshipping rituals of the farming communities in east India, as this time also coincides coincidentally with harvest time.
Ashtami is the most important day of Durga Puja. Pushpanjali (offerings of flowers) is offered in the morning and Aarati is done by the priest. This is also the day of Prana Pratishthana – infusing of life in the murti. In this ritual the Pratima is reflected on a wide bowl of water.
At the time when Navami begins and Ashtami ends, Sandhi Puja is performed. It was at this moment Devi Durga transformed into Devi Chamunda to kill ‘Chand’ and ‘Mund’, the two generals of the demon Mahishasura. A 108 diyas are lit during the Sandhi Puja and dhak is played with fervency and people dance to the beats.
It is customary to perform a sacrifice during the Sandhi Puja. Obviously only a symbolic animal sacrifice is performed these days with vegetables like banana, cucumber or pumpkin.
Subhasini Puja, Kanya Puja, and Dampati Puja are observed on Mahanavami day in Navratri. On this day, the goddess Durga is worshipped in the form of Aparajita, and is offered sugarcane stalks. This day signifies Durga’s victory over Mahishasur (The Buffalo Demon). This the last day of last day of Durga Puja and a Navami Bhog is served to the people. Goddess Durga is offered food which is later distributed among the devotees. The ninth day of Navratri is also called the Ayudha Puja. This is the day we worship our tools and instruments, and other objects used in daily life because they help us achieve our goals. It is the manifestation of our earthly being.
Dashami is the day when Goddess Durga and her children set off for Kailash, her husband’s abode. Starting with Sindur Khela – married women play with vermillion like on Holi, and apply it on each other and give sweets to each other. This day is also called the Vijaya Dashami, celebrating the victory of Durga over the Mahisasur. Durga’s victory against Mahishasura has been taken to signify not just the fight between gods and demons or good versus evil, but also the concepts of truth and mental illumination triumphing over falsehood and ignorance.
At the bottom there are recipes for food to be following during this time. Enjoy.
Proper puja and reading of the Devi Mahatmya with full instructions and mantras etc is found here…. Devi Mahatmya and audio of the entire thing can be found here…. Audio but I believe most of this is way beyond the understanding of the readers here. This is the real thing.
Fasting is the act of refraining from having food and liquids for a period of time. It si the only real way of controlling the mind truly. Fasting brings about a spiritual awareness and is recognized as a technique to practice self-control. It brings about greater awareness of the body and its functions. It brings about greater awareness of one’s weaknesses and false emotional desires. Not having food and water for a period, is only the first stage to self control. With the process of fasting, one disciplines the mind. Fasting also helps to give rest to the physiological functions of the body. Warning to those that are vata predominant or have vata aggravation, don’t do fasting.
To please the goddess and to seek blessings from Durga Ma, many people keep fast during Durga puja. This traditional ritual of fasting is observed to honor the Devi for her triumph over evil. During the time of fast, the devotee should be in a state of self examination and tapas and put all the worldly pleasures behind. Reading the Devi Mahatmya and Chandi enables the devotee to concentrate and meditate.
One must rise early in the morning, bathe, wear new clothes and then offer prayers to Durga Ma. Many ways of fasting are followed during the Durga puja. Fasting can look like only having milk and fruits during the entire day, but not together. Another way is to have only one meal a day, after sunrise to before the sunset. Young girls or ‘Kumarikas’ are given food and gifts by those who observe fast, as part of the ritual on the day of Durga puja. Alcohol and non-vegetarian food is strictly forbidden while fasting. Generally, only 8 to 12 hours of fasting is observed during the puja. There are also general knowledge about how to come off a fast. You do not go out and have pasta or a burger with fries after, you need to build the digestion back to strength or you will have just caused the start of disease in your system by putting much to heavy food in your system that cannot be digested. (Warning: Naive westerners will say to you that the horrible feeling your feeling is because you are detoxing from fasting, but that is ignorance, it is because you have just created toxicity in your system, food poisoning can follow.)
Fasting is an important part of the auspicious festival of Durga Puja, observed by most all devout followers. It is believed that the ‘Devi’ bestows her blessings and fulfills the wishes of those who observe the fast during Durga Puja.
Best to fast
for the most of people reading this
instead of fasting…..
During the celebration the purpose is tapas, so indulgence should be avoided, and let your own viveka guide / give you the power to discriminate between what to eat and what not. Whatever you do, eat less.
What’s OK to eat –
1. Milk and milk products – milk, ghee, yogurt, cream (avoid the whipped ones in red spray like containers), fresh paneer, butter, butter milk (takra)
2. Fruits – generally all seasonal fruits
3. Dry fruits / nuts – all – cashews, almonds, dates, walnut, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts, raisins
4. Vegetables – traditionally vegetables that grow underground – potatoes yes potatoes although it is not a wholesome food in ayurveda it is still eaten widely at this time, sweet potatoes, yams which are not the sweet potatoes in the store (look up a elephant yam), taro root, arrow root.
5. Flours and seeds – Kuttu (buck wheat), Singora (water chestnut), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – flax seeds.
6. Sugars – generally all forms – guda, honey, sugar (organic), fruit nectars, etc. avoid artificial / synthetic sweeteners / syrups.
7. Natural fruit juices (avoid fermented ones like cider and also avoid frozen, packaged or bottled juices, only fresh. That being said, also juice is not taken in the Western 24 ounce per serving size. 4 ounces max per serving)
8. Chai / herbal teas. (again, a chai is not a 16 ounce glass of chai, 4 ounces per serving max)
What should be avoided –
1. All alcoholic, fermented and carbonated drinks
3. Meat – all kinds of meat and products – beef, goat, pork, sea food, fish, eggs.
4. Cereals and grains – wheat and wheat flour, all purpose flour, all kinds of bread, rice, rice flour, rice milk, breakfast cereals, soy beans, soy milk, corn, tortillas, lentils and beans (all forms – moong, urad, kidney beans, black eyed beans, no exceptions), green peas, garbanzo beans, chick peas, besan / chick pea flour, millet, barley – essentially any grain that you can imagine.
5. Vegetables – onions, garlic, tomatoes, chilies, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, beans etc.
Navratri Special Recipes
Goddess evoking, moon pleasing, woo woo warrior goddess hero meaning making pitta-balancing foods:
1. No meat (beef, lamb), poultry (chicken, duck, turkey) or fish (or any form of seafood) for the nine days.
2. No grains: wheat, rice, barley, oatmeal, corn, etc. during Navratri.
3. Refrain from alcohol consumption and smoking.
4. No onion and garlic (since they are tamasic in nature) are used in the food during these nine days
5. Use only rock salt.
6. Spices used are black pepper corns (no dried red or fresh green chillies), cumin, black zeera, turmeric powder, cardamom.
7. Fresh herbs: coriander, curry leaves and ginger.
8. Can eat all fresh (and sweet, no sour) fruits, nuts and dairy products (no processed cheese).
9. Non-grain based flours used are – Singhara (water chestnut) flour, Kuttu
(buckwheat) flour, Sabudana (tapioca / sago) – available at Indian stores.
10. Ghee or unsalted butter is the medium for cooking.
11. Vegetables used are – potatoes, sweet potato, arbi (colocassia / taro root), raw banana (plantain), lemon, water chestnut, suran (yam), pumpkin, lauki (doodhi /opo), carrots and raw papaya.
Suggested shopping list:
The recipes are suggestions; you don’t have to cook them all!! So buy only what you are making.
· Sweet fruits like banana, apple, grapes, watermelon, peaches etc.
· Nuts: cashews, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, walnut etc.
· Daily products: milk (cow milk ideal, goat milk OK, but NO soy or rice milk), butter.
· Vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, raw green banana / plantains, pumpkin/butternut squash, carrots, cucumber.
· Groceries at Indian stores:
Vegetables: arbi, lauki (doodhi), water chestnuts, suran (yam).
Spices and herbs: cumin seeds, cumin powder, methi (fenugreek) seeds, black pepper corns, rock salt (aka sindaloo / sendha namak), turmeric powder, fresh ginger, curry leaves, green cardamom, cinnamon.
Others – Ghee, singhara / kuttu atta, saboodana, lotus seeds (makhana, if using).
And then this is how you do it…. the recipes
· Put ¾ cup water, ¼ inch grated ginger, 1 ½ spoon sugar in a pan, cover and bring to a boil.
· Add 1 tsp. loose Orange Pekoe black tea (or you can use black tea bag) and let it boil for 1 minute.
· Add ¼ cup milk and bring it to another boil for about 1 more minute.
Takra Lassi Sweet
(Lassi is a yogurt drink, filling–can be a meal substitute–and helpful in digestion)
· 1 cup regular yogurt
· 2 tsp sugar (more the merrier!!)
· ¼ cup water
· 1 tsp. rose water or Kewda water (both available at Indian grocery stores) for fragrance / flavor (optional) Best if you’ve made your own
· Put all the ingredients in a blender, blend / frappe until smooth.
Best enjoyed in spring and summer.
Takra Lassi Salted
· 1 cup regular yogurt
· ¼ cup water
· ¼ cup roasted zeera (cumin) powder
· Salt to taste
· Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend / frappe until smooth.
Spiced Milk (serves as a meal substitute)
· Put 1 cup milk, 3-4 black pepper corns (crushed) ¼ tsp. turmeric, 2-3 crushed cardamom, 1 ½ tsp. sugar, 2-3 strands saffron in a pan.
· Heat and boil the milk for about 5 minutes on medium / low heat (make sure it spill).
· Strain and sip warm.
Yes, this is not the proper way to make takra, this is for the ease of it. Those that know how to make takra properly can.
Arbi Patties / Cutlets
(Patties / cutlets made of Arbi / Taro root)
· 1 lb. medium sized Arbi / Taro root (available at Indian or Chinese stores and sometimes Wholefoods)
· 2 potatoes
· 2 tsp. fresh chopped coriander
· 2 tsp. grated coconut (available at Indian stores — you can use fresh or dried)
· 1 tsp. roasted and crushed peanuts
· 2-3 tsp. singhara or kuttu flour
· 7-8 crushed black pepper corns
· Salt to taste
· Ghee for deep frying
-Steam or pressure cook the Arbi and potatoes for about 10 minutes, let
cool and peel and mash.
-Mix all the ingredients except ghee and flour and cool in refrigerator for
about 15-20 minutes (you can use this time to make the Peanut -Yogurt
Chutney to go with these patties)
-Make small / medium sized balls with the mix and press it between the
palms to flatten them.
-Roll / dredge the patties in the flour (don’t discard the remaining flour, it
can be used for some other preparations) shake the excess flour.
-Deep fry in ghee until crispy and golden brown.
-Serve with chutney.
· 1 cup kuttu flour
· 1 tbsp singhara flour
· 1 tsp. arrowroot flour
· 1 tbsp. hot ghee
· 3-4 pinches turmeric powder
· salt to taste
· 3 potatoes, boiled & mashed
· 4-5 black pepper corns crushed
· 2 tbsp. coriander leaves finely chopped
· 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
· 1 tbsp curry leaves finely chopped
· salt to taste
· 1 tbsp. ghee
· More ghee to deep fry!!!
-Mix all ingredients to make a smooth batter, it should coat the back of
a spoon thickly, keep aside till required.
-Heat ghee in a pan, add curry leaves and cumin seeds till fragrant and
-Add potato, salt, coriander, mix well.
-Cool a little, make round balls, keep aside till required.
-Heat ghee in frying pan.
-Dip each ball in batter, let gently into hot ghee.
-Fry on medium heat till light golden.
-Serve hot with coconut chutney.
Peanut Yogurt Chutney
· ½ cup plain yogurt
· 1 tsp. roasted and crushed peanuts
· 4-5 black pepper corns crushed
· 2 tsp. fresh coriander
· 1 stalk of curry leaves
· ½ tsp. sugar
· ½ tsp ghee
· Salt to taste
-Beat the yogurt to make it smooth.
-In a small pan, heat the ghee and add curry leaves till they splutter
-Add ghee, curry leaves and all other ingredients into the yogurt and mix
-Refrigerate and served with Zeera Aloo, Arbi Patties or Singhara / Kuttu
· 1 cup fresh grated coconut
· 4-5 ground black pepper
· 2 tbsp. coriander finely chopped
· 1 lemon juice extracted
· ½ tsp. sugar
· ½ tsp. cumin seeds
· salt to taste
· 1 tsp. ghee
-Put together coconut, coriander, sugar, salt, lemon juice and blend
using minimal water.
-Heat ghee in a small pan, add cumin seeds, allow to splutter.
-Pour chutney in a bowl, and pour the ghee and cumin on the chutney.
-Garnish with a tiny bit of chopped coriander if desired.
-Serve as accompaniment with parathas, khichdi, pakoras, etc.
D. Main dishes / Entrée
(Potatoes with cumin seed)
· 3 peeled and boiled potatoes
· 1 tsp Jeera (cumin) seeds
· 6 black pepper corns – crushed
· 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander / cilantro leaves
· Juice of ½ lemon
· Salt to taste
· 2 tbsp ghee
-Cut boiled potatoes into bite size pieces.
-Heat ghee and sauté cumin seeds until fragrant
-Add chopped potatoes, stir and fry for about 5 minutes.
-Transfer to a bowl, add lemon juice, salt, crushed black pepper and coriander
-Toss well and serve.
Kachche kele ki subzi
(Plantain with cumin seed)
· 2 green bananas / plantains
· 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
· 6 crushed black pepper corns
· 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
· 1 tsp coriander / cilantro leaves, chopped
· 2 tsp lemon juice
· 1 tbsp ghee
· 1 stalk curry leaves
· Salt to taste
-Peel the plantain and chop them into pieces.
-Take sufficient amount of water in a pan and add 1 tsp. salt.
-Immediately transfer the plantain in salted water to prevent discoloring, and put the pan water to boil.
-While the plantains are boiling, add turmeric powder and cook until soft.
-Drain the water and let the plantains to cool.
-Heat ghee in a pan and add curry leaves and cumin seeds until fragrant, add the plantain pieces, fold and mix well.
-Transfer to a bowl, add lemon juice and chopped coriander / cilantro.
(Sago / Tapioca Khichdi)
· 1 cup sabudana / tapioca (drained in water for about three hours)
· 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled, julienned and cut into ½ inch pieces
· 7-8 black peppercorns crushed
· ½ tsp. jeera
· 2 table spoon ghee
· ¼ cup spoon roasted (or fried) peanuts crushed
· 1 tsp. finely chopped coriander / cilantro for garnish
· Salt to taste.
-Heat ghee in a pan and add jeera to the heated ghee, until fragrant
-Add the cut potatoes and sauté them for 5 minutes
-Add the sabudana (make sure there is no water remaining, otherwise the khichdi will be soggy)
-Add peanuts, salt and crushed black peppercorns
-Mix well and sauté for additional 5 minutes so everything is evenly
warm / heated
-Garnish with chopped cilantro / coriander and serve hot
-(For additional flavor, you can squeeze some lemon juice as
garnish – NEVER cook lemon juice).
· 1 lb. pumpkin or butternut squash
· 2 tsp ghee
· ¼ tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
· ¼ tsp. jeera (cumin) seeds
· ¼ tsp turmeric powder
· 6-8 crushed black pepper corns (optional)
· ½ tsp. sugar (optional)
· Salt to taste
· 1 tsp. chopped coriander / cilantro
-Peel (remove the hard skin) and cut the pumkin / squash to about 1
inch / bite size pieces.
-Heat ghee in a pan, when hot, add the methi and jeera seeds, sauté
-Add the pumpkin / squash, salt, turmeric and (if using) sugar and
-Mix well, stir, cover and let it cook for 10 minutes at medium /
medium low heat, stirring every 2-3 minutes.
-When cooked, it would be soft and mushy.
-Garnish with chopped coriander / cilantro and serve hot.
-Best enjoyed with sighara / kuttu poori (next)
E. Breads / Side Dishes
Kuttu / Singhara Poori
(Pooris are a deep-fried Indian bread made of Water Chestnut or Buckwheat flour)
· 1 cup flour – either Singhara (water chestnut) or Kuttu (buck wheat)
· 1 tbsp. ghee
· ¼ tsp. roasted cumin powder
· ¼ cup finely chopped coriander / cilantro leaves
· ½ cup boiled and peeled potatoes
· 4 crushed black pepper corns (optional)
· Salt to taste
· Water for kneading
· More ghee for deep frying!!
-Mix all the ingredients thoroughly (except ghee for frying) in the Singhara/ Kuttu flour. (This flour is not like normal flour, so don’t add too much
-After mixing all the ingredients together and kneading with water into a
pliable dough, form round balls in your hand, one by one, adding scant
water as you knead each ball.
-Flatten ball into a poori, and deep fry until crisp and brown (about 1
Navratri aloo parantha
(Paratha is a pan-friend Indian bread)
For the dough
· 1 ½ cups kuttu flour
· 1 tbsp. ghee
· salt to taste
For the filling
· 1 potato boiled and mashed
· 1 tbsp. coriander leaves finely chopped
· 6-8 crushed black pepper corns
· 1 tsp. ginger grated
· ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
· ½ tsp. cumin seeds
· salt to taste
· Ghee to shallow / pan-fry
-Mix all ingredients and knead into a soft, pliable dough
-Cover with a moist cloth, keep aside.
-For the filling – heat ghee in a heavy pan, add cumin seeds and ginger
till they sputter.
-Add mashed potatoes, coriander mix well.
-Divide dough and filling into equal parts, shape the dough into balls
pressing with the thumb in the center for the filling.
-Bring together all edges of round over filling, press lightly to close
-Dust lightly with kuttu flour and roll into a paratha
-On a heated skillet (tawa), roast the paratha on one side, drizzle some
ghee and flip to the other side and repeat.
-Serve hot with coconut chutney or pumpkin curry.
(Raita is a side dish)
· 1 potato, boiled, chopped
· 1 cucumber, chopped
· 4-5 water chestnuts (singhara), boiled, peeled & chopped
· 1 tsp. roasted and crushed peanuts
· 1 cup fresh plain yogurt
· 1 tbsp. coriander finely chopped
· 4-5 crushed black pepper corns
· ½ tsp. cumin seeds whole
· salt to taste
· sugar to taste
· 1 tsp. ghee
-Beat the yogurt, salt, sugar and black pepper corns in a bowl, add 2-3
tsp. water for smoothness and consistency.
-Add all prepared vegetables, peanuts, mix to blend well.
-Chill well till required.
-Heat ghee in tempering spoon and add cumin seeds, till they splutter.
-Pour sizzling tempering over raita.
-Garnish with chopped coriander.
Aloo ka Raita
· ½ cup boiled and peeled potatoes, coarsely mashed
· 1 cup plain or low fat yogurt
· Salt to taste
· ½ tsp. sugar
· 2/3 crushed black pepper corns
-Mix sugar, salt, black pepper corns into yogurt.
-Add the boiled potatoes and fold well
-Cool for about ½ hour, serve.
(Tapioca pudding. Kheer is a popular dessert, rice kheer / pudding is the most common of them all)
· 1 tbsp Sago granules
· 4 cups milk
· ¼ tsp cardamom powder
· ¾ cup sugar
· 1 cup water
-Wash sago granules, drain and leave aside for 10 minutes.
-Fluff / toss the sago when the moisture has been absorbed, this is
done to prevent them from sticking.
-Heat water, bring it to a boil and add sago, stirring constantly, let it
simmer for about 5 minutes.
-Add milk, sugar and cardamom (crush the seeds into a powder), let
it simmer, stirring frequently.
-Cook until sago is very soft, but not mushy, and the whole thing is
a very thick consistency.
-Best served hot — garnish with saffron string (optional).
Khajoor Kheer (Pudding made with Dates and Almonds)
1. 8 -10 Medjool dates – pitted and finely chopped
2. 10-12 Almonds – coarsely ground
3. 2 cups Milk (whole)
4. 1-2 tsp. Ghee (or more)
5. ½ tsp. Cardamom powder
6. ¼ tsp. Nutmeg powder / grated
7. 1 tsp. Sugar (optional)
8. 1-2 Saffron strands (for garnishing) (optional)
1. Heat a thick bottomed pan, add ghee, when melted, add chopped dates and almonds and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add milk and sugar (if using), turn the heat to medium, mix everything well and let it simmer, stirring in between, until the milk-dates-almond mixture thickens and reduces in volume from 2 cups to about one to one and half cups, this should take about 15-20 minutes.
3. Stir the cardamom and nutmeg powders and simmer for another 5 minutes, garnish with Saffron and enjoy warm.
(Sugar is optional, but it tastes better with some sugar and more ghee!)
Note – you can also make a Sweet Potato pudding following the same recipe, simply replace the chopped dates with 1 medium sized boiled, peeled and grated sweet potato. Also, coarsely ground / chopped walnuts and raisins may be added, while simmering
Sabudana / Tapioca Pudding
1. 1 cup Sabudana / Tapioca
2. 2 cup Milk (whole)
3. 4 tsp. Sugar (or more, to taste)
4. 2 -3 tsp. crushed Cashew nut
5. 1 tsp. Raisin
1. Wash and drain the Sabudana / Tapioca, then soak it in milk for about 1 hour.
2. Add sugar to the milk and tapioca and simmer for about 15 minutes on medium-low heat.
3. Add cashews and raisins and simmer for another 10 minutes, until it has a sauce like consistency but not very thick.
4. Savor it warm.
Note – if you think the pudding is too thick, add a little milk to bring it to desired consistency.
Tandul / Samo (aka Rice for fasting, but it NOT rice)
1. 1 cup Samo (available at Indian grocery stores, specially during Navratri)
2. 3-4 tsp. Ghee
3. ¼ tsp. Cumin seeds
4. 4 cup water
5. ½ tsp. Salt (more or less, to taste)
6. ½ cup or more roasted and crushed peanuts
1. In a heated pan, dry roast Samo on medium heat, stirring frequently, till its lightly pinkish (about 5 minutes), and set aside.
2. Dry roast or shallow fry (in 1 tsp. ghee), ½ cup peanuts, fry / roast for about 1-2 minutes, till they are golden and set them aside.
3. Heat the ghee in the pan, add cumin seeds, swirl till they are fragrant, about 5 seconds, then add roasted Samo and salt, mix well so that the Samo is coated with ghee.
4. Add water, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the Samo is thoroughly cooked.
5. While the Samo is cooking, crush the roasted / fried peanuts.
6. Mix the coarsely grounded peanuts to the cooked Samo and enjoy it fresh and hot.
Roasted Peanuts (Make a variation by using almonds or cashews or a combination of them all)
1. 1 cup raw peanuts (with or without the red skin)
2. salt to taste
3. ¼ tsp. roasted cumin powder
4. 5-6 crushed black pepper corns
5. 2 tsp. freshly chopped coriander / cilantro
6. ghee for frying
1. In a deep pan, heat the ghee.
2. Add the peanuts in batches and fry for less than 1 minute, they would be lightly golden (don’t overdo it otherwise they would be bitter).
3. Add salt, roasted cumin powder, black pepper corns, chopped cilantro, mix well, enjoy hot with chai!!
Cool green yogurt
1. 1 bunch cilantro / coriander
2. 1 inch ginger
3. salt to taste
4. 4-6 crushed black pepper corns
5. 1 tsp. sugar
6. 1 cup plain yogurt (whole or low-fat)
7. 1 stalk of curry leaves
8. ¼ tsp. or less mustard seeds
9. a pinch of heeng (asafetida)
10. 2 tsp ghee
1. To make the chutney, put ingredients from 1- 5 in a blender and puree until very smooth.
2. Next whisk the yogurt to make it smooth, and add 2-3 spoons of the coriander chutney, mix well.
3. For the garnish – in a ladel, heat the ghee, add a pinch (no more than a pinch) heeng / asafetida and mustard seeds, let the seeds pop, then add curry leaves till they splutter.
4. Top the chutney mixed yogurt with garnish
This is one of the simplest recipes for getting rid of aama and regaining agni. If you find that you have made mistakes and the digestion is bad, take time off and make this only and rest. No sleeping during the day and having this for intake and the agni will return.
1 cup white rice (or rice flour) Rose Matta or Sona Masoori rices work well
5 – 6 cups water
1/2 tsp ghee
tsp grated ginger
tsp turmeric powder
Wash the rice vigorously in a bowl
Get a small pressure cooker and place it on heat, let it warm first on medium heat.
Add the ghee then other spices
When they are sizzling add the rice and mix it
Add the water
With the pressure cooker, let there be about 10 whistles and then turn off the heat and let set till the pressure releases completely.
This recipe can also be made with Ragi (finger millet) and other grains as well.
Arrow Root is another. Arrow root is good for excessive body heat and is very good for irregular bowels and diseases of the bowel.
Just for a trial to see how different it digests, try your normal oatmeal this way. You can also grind the grains and use them as flour this way.
If your not having massive aama or digestion problems, you can have this also with a little payar.
You will need a second pressure cooker
Take green gram in pressure cooker with 1 cup water and salt.
Pressure cook for 1 whistle and switch off the flame.
Once the pressure is released cook off the excess water.
In blender add coconut, garlic, cumin, green chili, turmeric and blend. The mixture will be coarse.
Add this the cooked green gram and mix well. Do not mash or blend.
Add curry leaves and mix well.
Try this mixture with your peya.
Real Yoga Will Not Wreck Your Body
By Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
January 24, 2012
The New York Times published an article on January 5, 2012 entitled “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”. This article has since spread like wildfire throughout internet. I am writing comments below to strongly refute much, if not most of what William J. Broad (the author) has said. I have copied the original article here, and then inserted comments within the body of that article. I have broken some of the original paragraphs so that I can easily comment on individual sentences where appropriate. Other than that, I have not changed Broad’s article in any way; it is exactly as I copied it from the New York Times website. My comments are indented in a way that it should be clear which parts are the original article (not indented) and which are my comments (indented with italics).
After repeatedly running into this article I wrote to the author: “Amazing that everybody seems to forget that the so-called ‘yoga’ that they are talking about is so far off from traditional yoga that it is not worthy of being called yoga. Getting hurt from doing gymnastics and physical fitness regimes is not uncommon at all; just ask any chiropractor. Real yoga has to do with sitting for meditation and that is not a posture in which one is likely to have the body wrecked. The main problem that needs to be dealt with is to come home to what yoga is really about… It would be useful if you would explore more authentic yoga instead of just going with the modern distortions.” While I sincerely appreciate his courtesy in replying to my email, no direct response came about my suggestion that he “explore more authentic yoga”.
While I admit to a degree of sarcasm in my comments about Broad’s article and the current state of yoga in general, my hope is that this whole subject of how yoga may or may not “wreck” the body will trigger a much more widespread public discussion about yoga in general, both traditional yoga and the popular revisions which have turned yoga into gymnastics or fitness. It appears that for recent decades most of the public information has been about the physical. Maybe this article about how yoga can “wreck” your body can be a way to at least somewhat bring attention back to the more traditional and authentic meanings and practices of yoga. Real, authentic, or traditional Yoga is an incredible practice, aspects of which are fitting and safe for all human beings. Yoga appears to have diverged in two directions: either it is perceived as physical fitness or it is seen as religion, while in actual fact it is neither, being instead a process of introspection into and through the levels of attractions, aversions, fears, and false identities in our minds so as to uncover the joyous depth of our own being.
~Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
On a cold Saturday in early 2009, Glenn Black, a yoga teacher of nearly four decades, whose devoted clientele includes a number of celebrities and prominent gurus, was giving a master class at Sankalpah Yoga in Manhattan.
Black is the teacher of “gurus”? Who are these “gurus” and what are the qualifications of Black to be such a teacher of other “gurus”? Traditionally, the word “guru” implies that one has attained some degree of enlightenment, Self- realization. Are these “gurus” referred to here new age, self-appointed gurus? What are their traditions? Are their traditions authentic yoga lineages, or does the use of the word “guru” here simply mean that they practiced new age yoga with any of the numerous people who have done something like put their own surname in front of the word “yoga” and call it a style of yoga?
Black is, in many ways, a classic yogi: he studied in Pune, India, at the institute founded by the legendary B. K. S. Iyengar, and spent years in solitude and meditation.
“Classic” yoga? Where is the linkage to the “classic” yoga of the ancient sages and rishis, which was about Self-realization, not gymnastics or physical fitness? Is Mr. Iyengar the “guru” who appointed Mr. Black as being such an advanced “guru” that he, himself is teacher to other “gurus”, as noted above, but not named? What makes Mr. Iyengar a “guru”?
To answer that we only have to look at his own website, bksiyengar.com. The site is titled as “the official website” of B.K.S. Iyengar where we find him referred to as “Guruji”. His site also explains that “Guruji was a sincere and committed practitioner. His own practice helped him to explore and achieve perfection in yoga asanas.” Thus, his “perfection” (according to his own website) is in asanas, physical postures, apparently not Self-realization.
It is widely known and takes minimal online research to find that Iyengar was a student of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who has been referred to as “the father of modern yoga”. However, Krishnamacharya is also credited with the revival of hatha yoga. Krishnamacharya was born November 18, 1888. At best, this then is the source of the tradition of which Mr. Iyengar is a “guru” and is a “hatha” tradition. There was no such yoga or tradition on November 17, 1888 (the day before Krishnamacharya was born) or any previous date.
Krishnamacharya and Iyengar may clearly have significant expertise in physical or postural yoga, and possibly even in more authentic yoga, but this does not mean they were focusing their teachings on the traditional yoga of the previous several millenia. The significance of this here, in this article about yoga “wrecking” the body, is that the background of Mr. Black and his predecessors emphasizes physical body work, not traditional yoga as meditation and contemplation for the realization of the Self, Atman, or Brahman.
He now lives in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and often teaches at the nearby Omega Institute, a
New Age emporium spread over nearly 200 acres of woods and gardens.
The fact that Omega is acknowledged as a “new age” place immediately reveals that Black’s interest is not in traditional yoga of the ancient sages, but is in one or more of the many “new age” styles of gymnastic or fitness “yoga”.
He is known for his rigor and his down-to-earth style. But this was not why I sought him out: Black, I’d been told, was the person to speak with if you wanted to know not about the virtues of yoga but rather about the damage it could do.
The author has settled for some very limited perspectives on yoga. It appears that his whole article is based on this one man, and from this, naturally concludes that yoga is all about the physical body, and that yoga is, in turn, dangerous to the body. By missing or ignoring the higher, deeper, more authentic meanings of yoga, he can easily talk about people getting hurt or “wrecked” by yoga. If he had sought out people better trained in traditional yoga he would have probably had very different outcomes or conclusions. It is highly unlikely that any true yogi is going to be hurt or physically “wrecked” by sitting quietly, introspecting through meditation and contemplation, which are the true practices of yoga.
Many of his regular clients came to him for bodywork or rehabilitation following yoga injuries.
The author has just discovered from Mr. Black the true nature of his work with “clients” (not with students of yoga). His “regular clients” came to him for “bodywork” or “rehabilitation”. They did not apparently come to him for the traditional goals of yoga, such as realization of the union (the meaning of “yoga”) between atman and brahman, jivatman and paramatman, or shiva and shakti, or purusha standing alone as distinct from prakriti.
This was the situation I found myself in. In my 30s, I had somehow managed to rupture a disk in my lower back and found I could prevent bouts of pain with a selection of yoga postures and abdominal exercises. Then, in 2007, while doing the extended-side-angle pose, a posture hailed as a cure for many diseases, my back gave way. With it went my belief, naïve in retrospect, that yoga was a source only of healing and never harm.
It is highly unlikely that he would have hurt himself through the practice of classical yoga of meditation and contemplation. Clearly, he states that his treatment of “pain” was doing “postures and abdominal exercises”, revealing his personal view that the true nature of yoga is as a physical treatment for physical maladies.
Who in the thousands of years history of yoga first said that “the extended-side- angle pose” is “hailed as a cure for many diseases”? Was it Patanjali, codifier of yoga principles in the Yoga Sutras? Was it Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita? Was it Yama of the Kathopanishad? Was it Vyasa? Was it Adi Shankaracharya in any of his well known writings? Was it Gaudapada in the Karika? Was it Swami
Svatmarama, codifier of hatha yoga in Hatha Yoga Pradikika? Or, was it some modern, self-appointed “guru” who is famous only because of his gymnastic and physical fitness expertise? If the latter, then was that man a physician, did he have any other proper training in medical sciences, or was it just his opinion that this posture was a cure all?
I also suggest that the reason for the author’s naïve belief is that he felt in the first place that the goal of yoga is “healing”, which it is not. In fact, yoga has to do with transcending all of the pairs of opposites such as “healing” versus “harming”, realizing the consciousness which is independent of, and beyond these.
At Sankalpah Yoga, the room was packed; roughly half the students were said to be teachers themselves. Black walked around the room, joking and talking. “Is this yoga?” he asked as we sweated through a pose that seemed to demand superhuman endurance. “It is if you’re paying attention.” His approach was almost free-form: he made us hold poses for a long time but taught no inversions and few classical postures. Throughout the class, he urged us to pay attention to the thresholds of pain. “I make it as hard as possible,” he told the group. “It’s up to you to make it easy on yourself.” He drove his point home with a cautionary tale. In India, he recalled, a yogi came to study at Iyengar’s school and threw himself into a spinal twist. Black said he watched in disbelief as three of the man’s ribs gave way — pop, pop, pop.
Black raises a most important question, “Is this yoga?” If it was not yoga, was that only because the man broke three ribs, or was it not yoga because the orientation of the practice was off in the first place?
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Bihar School of Yoga, Bihar, India, describes the modern situation of Yoga quite well in the Introduction of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika commentary by Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati, where he writes:
“In ancient times hatha Yoga was practiced for many years as a preparation for higher states of consciousness. Now however, the real purpose of this great science is being altogether forgotten. The hatha Yoga practices which were designed by the rishis and sages of old, for the evolution of mankind, are now being understood and utilized in a very limited sense. Often we hear people say, ‘Oh, I don’t practice meditation, I only practice physical Yoga, hatha Yoga.’ Now the time has come to correct this view point. Hatha Yoga is a very important science for man today….
“The main objective of hatha Yoga is to create an absolute balance of the interacting activities and processes of the physical body, mind and energy. When this balance is created, the impulses generated give a call of
awakening to the central force (sushumna nadi) which is responsible for the evolution of human consciousness. If hatha Yoga is not used for this purpose, its true objective is lost.”
After class, I asked Black about his approach to teaching yoga — the emphasis on holding only a few simple poses, the absence of common inversions like headstands and shoulder stands. He gave me the kind of answer you’d expect from any yoga teacher: that awareness is more important than rushing through a series of postures just to say you’d done them. But then he said something more radical. Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.
Give up yoga because it is “likely to cause harm”? This is absolutely ridiculous. The thing to give up is all of the modern distortions of so-called “yoga” and the thing to do instead is real yoga, provided one has the inclination towards the authentic goals of yoga. If one has no longing, no calling in the depth of the heart to know, to directly experience that inner most being, the still, silent, ever pure center of consciousness, then one should definitely not do yoga. But, that longing is the measure of doing or not doing, not a question of whether bending in some “wrong” way is going to hurt you. That question arises only once you have taken the bait of the promoters of the incorrect opinion that yoga is merely a physical practice.
Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable.
“Celebrated” teachers? Being “celebrated” may feed the ego, but that is not a measure of progress in real yoga, whether a practitioner or a so-called “teacher”. One more time, the author shows that he either knows little or nothing about authentic, traditional yoga, or does know but chooses to ignore it. He obviously has totally bought into the modern idea that yoga is a gymnastic or physical fitness practice.
Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”
Wrong! Yoga is for people who seek the direct experience of the eternal center of consciousness, which is one and the same with the universal consciousness. To say that “Yoga is for people in good physical condition” completely misses the depth and breadth of yoga. With this line of reasoning, people in ill health should avoid yoga practices such as breathing smoothly, ahimsa (non-harming),
santosha (contentment), and vairagya (non-attachment), practices which might actually help them.
Black seemingly reconciles the dangers of yoga with his own teaching of it by working hard at knowing when a student “shouldn’t do something — the shoulder stand, the headstand or putting any weight on the cervical vertebrae.” Though he studied with Shmuel Tatz, a legendary Manhattan-based physical therapist who devised a method of massage and alignment for actors and dancers, he acknowledges that he has no formal training for determining which poses are good for a student and which may be problematic. What he does have, he says, is “a ton of experience.”
Here we go again, citing the background of this yoga “guru”, now including physical therapy and massage. It has become so popular to tag “yoga” with many prefixes, we cannot be too far away from labeling massage therapy (an independent, licensed profession) as “yoga massage” and physical therapy (physiotherapy, a healthcare profession) as merely being branches of “yoga therapy”.
“To come to New York and do a class with people who have many problems and say,
‘O.K., we’re going to do this sequence of poses today’ — it just doesn’t work.”
Finally, we have a point of agreement, one of the few, though for different reasons. One view is that it “doesn’t work” because it is dangerous, and the other is that it “doesn’t work” because it ignores the real goals of yoga, and therefore does not lead to the fulfillment of those real goals.
According to Black, a number of factors have converged to heighten the risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems.
Yoga has been complete for a very long time, often said to be thousands of years old, though now, according to the author, yoga is evolving into “ever-more- difficult postures”.
Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga’s exploding popularity — the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in
2011 — means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury.
There may be 20 million people doing something in the “name” of yoga, but that does not mean that what they are doing actually “is” yoga. The word “yoga” has been hijacked and has little or no meaning anymore. Authentic yoga is neither an
“alternative” to “vigorous sports” nor an alternative to “rehabilitation for injuries”. I know that it is being repetitive to say it, but the goal of yoga has to do with realization of the union (the meaning of “yoga”) between atman and brahman, jivatman and paramatman, or shiva and shakti, or purusha standing alone as distinct from prakriti.
Georg Feurstein, a well known scholar and teacher, is quoted in a July/August
2003 article in the online LA Yoga Magazine. When asked, “How would you describe Yoga in the US today?” he responded:
” It’s a mess. And you can quote me on that. Anything that comes to America or the West in general, immediately gets individualized and commercialized. There has always been great diversity in traditional Yoga, and this diversity was based on the experience of masters. Today even beginning teachers feel qualified to innovate and create their own trademarked Yoga system.
“So, looking at the Yoga movement today, part of me feels very saddened by it, but then I also see that it contains the seeds of something better. Also, amazingly, Yoga can be beneficial even when it is reduced down to posture practice. But people shortchange themselves when they strip Yoga of its spiritual side.”
“Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying,
‘You should be able to do this by now.’ It has to do with their egos.”
Once again, we have a point of partial agreement, though not due to shared reasons. Most of modern “yoga” has to do with feeding egos. Real yoga has to do with attenuating the attractions, aversions, and fears associated with ego, so that the pure consciousness (purusha, atman, shakti) can be experienced directly.
When yoga teachers come to him for bodywork after suffering major traumas, Black tells them, “Don’t do yoga.”
It would be far better to tell them, “Don’t do modernized, gymnastic, physical fitness ‘yoga’.” “If you want to do authentic, real yoga as meditation and contemplation, please go to a real yogi to learn these practices that lead to peace, happiness, and bliss, but do not put such stresses on your physical body.”
“They look at me like I’m crazy,” he goes on to say. “And I know if they continue, they won’t be able to take it.” I asked him about the worst injuries he’d seen. He spoke of well-known yoga teachers doing such basic poses as downward-facing dog, in which the body forms an inverted V, so strenuously that they tore Achilles tendons. “It’s ego,” he said. “The whole point of yoga is to get rid of ego.” He said he had seen some “pretty
gruesome hips.” “One of the biggest teachers in America had zero movement in her hip joints,” Black told me. “The sockets had become so degenerated that she had to have hip replacements.” I asked if she still taught. “Oh, yeah,” Black replied. “There are other yoga teachers that have such bad backs they have to lie down to teach. I’d be so embarrassed.”
These are not, not, not yoga teachers. Wake up, everybody. What is happening in the name of yoga is mostly not yoga. It is a case of telling a big enough lie often enough that people will come to believe it.
Among devotees, from gurus to acolytes forever carrying their rolled-up mats, yoga is described as a nearly miraculous agent of renewal and healing. They celebrate its abilities to calm, cure, energize and strengthen. And much of this appears to be true: yoga can lower your blood pressure, make chemicals that act as antidepressants, even improve your sex life. But the yoga community long remained silent about its potential to inflict blinding pain. Jagannath G. Gune, who helped revive yoga for the modern era, made no allusion to injuries in his journal Yoga Mimansa or his 1931 book “Asanas.” Indra Devi avoided the issue in her 1953 best seller “Forever Young, Forever Healthy,” as did B. K. S. Iyengar in his seminal “Light on Yoga,” published in 1965. Reassurances about yoga’s safety also make regular appearances in the how-to books of such yogis as Swami Sivananda, K. Pattabhi Jois and Bikram Choudhury. “Real yoga is as safe as mother’s milk,” declared Swami Gitananda, a guru who made 10 world tours and founded ashrams on several continents.
More than supporting that yoga can “wreck” your body, Broad’s comments support the idea that real yoga has been almost completely distorted in recent decades. Interestingly, the quoted comment of Swami Gitananda may be right on track, that “real” yoga is safe. The yoga that is of questionable safety is not the traditional yoga of the sages of the distant past, but the innovations of the recent hundred years or so, plus or minus a few decades.
“… Through the discipline of Yoga, both actions and intelligence go beyond these qualities [gunas] and the seer comes to experience his own soul with crystal clarity, free from the relative attributes of nature and actions. This state of purity is samadhi. Yoga is thus both the means and the goal. Yoga is samadhi and samadhi is Yoga….”
“… Usually the mind is closer to the body and to the gross organs of action and perception than to the soul. As asanas are refined they automatically become meditative as the intelligence is made to penetrate towards the core of being. Each asana has five functions to perform. These are conative, cognitive, mental, intellectual and spiritual….”
But a growing body of medical evidence supports Black’s contention that, for many people, a number of commonly taught yoga poses are inherently risky. The first reports of yoga injuries appeared decades ago, published in some of the world’s most respected journals — among them, Neurology, The British Medical Journal and The Journal of the American Medical Association. The problems ranged from relatively mild injuries to permanent disabilities. In one case, a male college student, after more than a year of doing yoga, decided to intensify his practice. He would sit upright on his heels in a kneeling position known as vajrasana for hours a day, chanting for world peace. Soon he was experiencing difficulty walking, running and climbing stairs.
Here we go again. Were these reports of “yoga injuries” about traditional yoga, or the revised yoga? There is no suggestion given here that the yoga referred to is anything other than the recently invented gymnastic yoga.
Doctors traced the problem to an unresponsive nerve, a peripheral branch of the sciatic, which runs from the lower spine through the buttocks and down the legs. Sitting in vajrasana deprived the branch that runs below the knee of oxygen, deadening the nerve. Once the student gave up the pose, he improved rapidly. Clinicians recorded a number of similar cases and the condition even got its own name: “yoga foot drop.”
Patanjali clearly states in the Yoga Sutras that the posture (for meditation) should be steady and comfortable. The fact that this fellow hurt himself by forcing himself beyond his comfortable capacity is not a condemnation for sitting in meditation. It is not evidence of following the instructions, but is actually evidence of NOT following the instructions.
More troubling reports followed. In 1972 a prominent Oxford neurophysiologist, W. Ritchie Russell, published an article in The British Medical Journal arguing that, while rare, some yoga postures threatened to cause strokes even in relatively young, healthy people. Russell found that brain injuries arose not only from direct trauma to the head but also from quick movements or excessive extensions of the neck, such as occur in whiplash — or certain yoga poses. Normally, the neck can stretch backward 75 degrees, forward 40 degrees and sideways 45 degrees, and it can rotate on its axis about 50 degrees. Yoga practitioners typically move the vertebrae much farther. An intermediate student can easily turn his or her neck 90 degrees — nearly twice the normal rotation.
You do not need to stretch your neck to such extremes to sit for introspection through meditation and contemplation, the central-most practices of authentic yoga.
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, head of the Himalayan Institute of the USA writes in an article entitled Real Yoga that: “Yoga has become the health and fitness system of choice. This is odd because it is the mind – not the body – that is the main target of all genuine Yoga practices…. To regard Yoga primarily as a set of practices for
increasing strength and flexibility while calming the nervous system is to mistake the husk for the kernel.”
Hyperflexion of the neck was encouraged by experienced practitioners. Iyengar emphasized that in cobra pose, the head should arch “as far back as possible” and insisted that in the shoulder stand, in which the chin is tucked deep in the chest, the trunk and head forming a right angle, “the body should be in one straight line, perpendicular to the floor.” He called the pose, said to stimulate the thyroid, “one of the greatest boons conferred on humanity by our ancient sages.”
These “hyperflexions” have nowhere been recommended in any of the traditional texts and practices of yoga.
Extreme motions of the head and neck, Russell warned, could wound the vertebral arteries, producing clots, swelling and constriction, and eventually wreak havoc in the brain. The basilar artery, which arises from the union of the two vertebral arteries and forms a wide conduit at the base of the brain, was of particular concern. It feeds such structures as the pons (which plays a role in respiration), the cerebellum (which coordinates the muscles), the occipital lobe of the outer brain (which turns eye impulses into images) and the thalamus (which relays sensory messages to the outer brain). Reductions in blood flow to the basilar artery are known to produce a variety of strokes. These rarely affect language and conscious thinking (often said to be located in the frontal cortex) but can severely damage the body’s core machinery and sometimes be fatal. The majority of patients suffering such a stroke do recover most functions. But in some cases headaches, imbalance, dizziness and difficulty in making fine movements persist for years.
Russell also worried that when strokes hit yoga practitioners, doctors might fail to trace their cause. The cerebral damage, he wrote, “may be delayed, perhaps to appear during the night following, and this delay of some hours distracts attention from the earlier precipitating factor.”
In 1973, a year after Russell’s paper was published, Willibald Nagler, a renowned authority on spinal rehabilitation at Cornell University Medical College, published a paper on a strange case. A healthy woman of 28 suffered a stroke while doing a yoga position known as the wheel or upward bow, in which the practitioner lies on her back, then lifts her body into a semicircular arc, balancing on hands and feet. An intermediate stage often involves raising the trunk and resting the crown of the head on the floor. While balanced on her head, her neck bent far backward, the woman “suddenly felt a severe throbbing headache.” She had difficulty getting up, and when helped into a standing position, was unable to walk without assistance. The woman was rushed to the hospital. She had no sensation on the right side of her body; her left arm and leg responded poorly to her commands. Her eyes kept glancing involuntarily to the left. And the left side of her face showed a contracted pupil, a drooping upper eyelid and a rising lower lid — a cluster of symptoms known as Horner’s syndrome. Nagler reported that the woman also had a tendency to fall to the left.
Her doctors found that the woman’s left vertebral artery, which runs between the first two cervical vertebrae, had narrowed considerably and that the arteries feeding her cerebellum had undergone severe displacement. Given the lack of advanced imaging technologies at the time, an exploratory operation was conducted to get a clearer sense of her injuries. The surgeons who opened her skull found that the left hemisphere of her cerebellum suffered a major failure of blood supply that resulted in much dead tissue and that the site was seeped in secondary hemorrhages.
The patient began an intensive program of rehabilitation. Two years later, she was able to walk, Nagler reported, “with [a] broad-based gait.” But her left arm continued to wander and her left eye continued to show Horner’s syndrome. Nagler concluded that such injuries appeared to be rare but served as a warning about the hazards of “forceful hyperextension of the neck.” He urged caution in recommending such postures, particularly to individuals of middle age.
The experience of Nagler’s patient was not an isolated incident. A few years later, a 25- year-old man was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago, complaining of blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and controlling the left side of his body. Steven H. Hanus, a medical student at the time, became interested in the case and worked with the chairman of the neurology department to determine the cause (he later published the results with several colleagues). The patient had been in excellent health, practicing yoga every morning for a year and a half. His routine included spinal twists in which he rotated his head far to the left and far to the right. Then he would do a shoulder stand with his neck “maximally flexed against the bare floor,” just as Iyengar had instructed, remaining in the inversion for about five minutes. A series of bruises ran down the man’s lower neck, which, the team wrote in The Archives of Neurology, “resulted from repeated contact with the hard floor surface on which he did yoga exercises.” These were a sign of neck trauma. Diagnostic tests revealed blockages of the left vertebral artery between the c2 and c3 vertebrae; the blood vessel there had suffered “total or nearly complete occlusion” — in other words, no blood could get through to the brain.
Two months after his attack, and after much physical therapy, the man was able to walk with a cane. But, the team reported, he “continued to have pronounced difficulty performing fine movements with his left hand.” Hanus and his colleagues concluded that the young man’s condition represented a new kind of danger. Healthy individuals could seriously damage their vertebral arteries, they warned, “by neck movements that exceed physiological tolerance.” Yoga, they stressed, “should be considered as a possible precipitating event.” In its report, the Northwestern team cited not only Nagler’s account of his female patient but also Russell’s early warning. Concern about yoga’s safety began to ripple through the medical establishment.
These cases may seem exceedingly rare, but surveys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that the number of emergency-room admissions related to yoga, after years of slow increases, was rising quickly. They went from 13 in 2000 to 20 in
emergency rooms. Many of those suffering from less serious yoga injuries go to family doctors, chiropractors and various kinds of therapists.
It is no wonder that there are physical injuries. Yoga has been redefined as a gymnastic or physical fitness regime, which it is not.
Paramahansa Yogananda, the well-known author of Autobiography of a Yogi, responds to the question “What is Yoga?” in the text The Essence of Self- Realization:
“Yoga means union. Etymologically, it is connected to the English word, yoke. Yoga means union with God, or, union of the little, ego-self with the divine Self, the infinite Spirit. Most people in the West, and also many in India, confuse Yoga with Hatha Yoga, the system of bodily postures.
But Yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline. I don’t mean to belittle the Yoga postures. Hatha Yoga is a wonderful system. The body, moreover, is a part of our human nature, and must be kept fit lest it obstruct our spiritual efforts. Devotees, however, who are bent on finding God give less importance to the Yoga postures. Nor is it strictly necessary that they practice them. Hatha Yoga is the physical branch of Raja Yoga, the true science of Yoga. Raja Yoga is a system of meditation techniques that help to harmonize human consciousness with the divine consciousness.
Around this time, stories of yoga-induced injuries began to appear in the media. The Times reported that health professionals found that the penetrating heat of Bikram yoga, for example, could raise the risk of overstretching, muscle damage and torn cartilage. One specialist noted that ligaments — the tough bands of fiber that connect bones or cartilage at a joint — failed to regain their shape once stretched out, raising the risk of strains, sprains and dislocations.
In 2009, a New York City team based at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons published an ambitious worldwide survey of yoga teachers, therapists and doctors. The answers to the survey’s central question — What were the most serious yoga-related injuries (disabling and/or of long duration) they had seen? — revealed that the largest number of injuries (231) centered on the lower back. The other main sites were, in declining order of prevalence: the shoulder (219), the knee (174) and the neck (110). Then came stroke. The respondents noted four cases in which yoga’s extreme bending and contortions resulted in some degree of brain damage. The numbers weren’t alarming but the acknowledgment of risk — nearly four decades after Russell first issued his warning — pointed to a decided shift in the perception of the dangers yoga posed.
It is self evident that their results would be skewed in the way described above solely because of the confused belief that yoga is a physical exercise program. If they had prefaced their questions with descriptions of yoga as introspection
through contemplation and meditation, it is highly unlikely that people would have reported all these problems with lower back, shoulders, knees, necks, and strokes.
In recent years, reformers in the yoga community have begun to address the issue of yoga-induced damage. In a 2003 article in Yoga Journal, Carol Krucoff — a yoga instructor and therapist who works at the Integrative Medicine center at Duke University in North Carolina — revealed her own struggles. She told of being filmed one day for national television and after being urged to do more, lifting one foot, grabbing her big toe and stretching her leg into the extended-hand-to-big-toe pose. As her leg straightened, she felt a sickening pop in her hamstring. The next day, she could barely walk. Krucoff needed physical therapy and a year of recovery before she could fully extend her leg again. The editor of Yoga Journal, Kaitlin Quistgaard, described reinjuring a torn rotator cuff in a yoga class. “I’ve experienced how yoga can heal,” she wrote. “But I’ve also experienced how yoga can hurt — and I’ve heard the same from plenty of other yogis.”
To have the editor of Yoga Journal talk like this shows how utterly widespread is the misunderstanding of the true nature of yoga, or even worse, it may show the intentional misrepresentation of yoga if its real meaning is known by these people. It would have been much better (above) to say something like, “I’ve experienced how physical postures can heal, but I’ve also experienced how physical postures can hurt — and I’ve heard the same from plenty of other people who do physical postures.”
Swami Rama writes about the situation of traditional Yoga and modern Yoga in his text, Path of Fire and Light:
“The majority of people view Yoga as a system of physical culture. Very few understand that Yoga science is complete in itself, and deals systematically with body, breath, mind, and spirit.
“When one understands that a human being is not only a physical being, but a breathing being and a thinking being too, then his research does not limit itself to the body and breath only.
“For him, gaining control over the mind and its modifications, and the feelings and emotions, become more important than practicing a few postures or breathing exercises. Meditation and contemplation alone can help the aspirant in understanding, controlling, and directing the mind.”
In the opening paragraph of Lectures on Yoga, Swami Rama explains:
The word Yoga is much used and much misunderstood these days, for our present age is one of faddism, and Yoga has often been reduced to the
status of a fad. Many false and incomplete teachings have been propagated in its name, it has been subject to commercial exploitation, and one small aspect of Yoga is often taken to be all of Yoga. For instance, many people in the West think it is a physical and beauty cult, while others think it is a religion. All of this has obscured the real meaning of Yoga.
In the second volume of Path of Fire and Light, Swami Rama goes even further, where he flatly declares:
“The word ‘Yoga’ has been vulgarized and does not mean anything now.”
One of the most vocal reformers is Roger Cole, an Iyengar teacher with degrees in psychology from Stanford and the University of California, San Francisco. Cole has written extensively for Yoga Journal and speaks on yoga safety to the American College of Sports Medicine. In one column, Cole discussed the practice of reducing neck bending in a shoulder stand by lifting the shoulders on a stack of folded blankets and letting the head fall below it. The modification eases the angle between the head and the torso, from 90 degrees to perhaps 110 degrees. Cole ticked off the dangers of doing an unmodified shoulder stand: muscle strains, overstretched ligaments and cervical-disk injuries.
Yoga is NOT a “sport”, period. Saying that yoga is a sport reveals an extreme ignorance about the true nature of yoga. If yoga had not become so totally distorted, it would be absurd to even have to point out that yoga is not a sport, and thus, has no place being included in the respectable field of Sports Medicine.
But modifications are not always the solution. Timothy McCall, a physician who is the medical editor of Yoga Journal, called the headstand too dangerous for general yoga classes. His warning was based partly on his own experience. He found that doing the headstand led to thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that arises from the compression of nerves passing from the neck into the arms, causing tingling in his right hand as well as sporadic numbness. McCall stopped doing the pose, and his symptoms went away. Later, he noted that the inversion could produce other injuries, including degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine and retinal tears (a result of the increased eye pressure caused by the pose). “Unfortunately,” McCall concluded, “the negative effects of headstand can be insidious.”
The mere fact that we consult with physicians about yoga tells us that we have an odd understanding about yoga. If we are going to integrate yoga with a profession, at least it would fit better with psychology or psychiatry, as yoga has far more to do with the mind, its emotions and habits than it does to do with the physical body and its ailments. Surely physicians can be of value in the postures aspect of hatha yoga, but that is a minor part of yoga.
David Frawley, an internationally recognized scholar and teacher, is quoted in the Sep/Oct 2000 issue of Yoga Journal:
Yoga in the West “has only scratched the surface of the greater Yoga tradition,” he says. “The Yoga community in the West is currently at a crossroads. Its recent commercial success can be used to build the foundation for a more profound teaching, aimed at changing the consciousness of humanity. Or it can reduce Yoga to a mere business that has lost connection with its spiritual heart. The choice that Yoga teachers make today will determine this future.”
Swami Chidananda Saraswati, former head of the internationally known
Sivananda Ashram (Divine Life Society) in Rishikesh, India explains that:
“Yoga is not mere acrobatics. Some people suppose that Yoga is primarily concerned with the manipulation of the body into various queer positions, standing on the head, for instance, or twisting about the spine, or assuming any of the numerous odd poses which are demonstrated in the text-books on Yoga. These techniques are correctly employed in one distinct type of Yoga practice, but they do not form an integral part of the most essential type. Physical posture serve at best as an auxiliary, or a minor form of Yoga.”
Almost a year after I first met Glenn Black at his master class in Manhattan, I received an e-mail from him telling me that he had undergone spinal surgery. “It was a success,” he wrote. “Recovery is slow and painful. Call if you like.”
The injury, Black said, had its origins in four decades of extreme backbends and twists. He had developed spinal stenosis — a serious condition in which the openings between vertebrae begin to narrow, compressing spinal nerves and causing excruciating pain. Black said that he felt the tenderness start 20 years ago when he was coming out of such poses as the plow and the shoulder stand. Two years ago, the pain became extreme. One surgeon said that without treatment, he would eventually be unable to walk. The surgery took five hours, fusing together several lumbar vertebrae. He would eventually be fine but was under surgeon’s orders to reduce strain on his lower back. His range of motion would never be the same.
Black is one of the most careful yoga practitioners I know. When I first spoke to him, he said he had never injured himself doing yoga or, as far as he knew, been responsible for harming any of his students. I asked him if his recent injury could have been congenital or related to aging. No, he said. It was yoga. “You have to get a different perspective to see if what you’re doing is going to eventually be bad for you.”
Black recently took that message to a conference at the Omega Institute, his feelings on the subject deepened by his recent operation. But his warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears. “I was a little more emphatic than usual,” he recalled. “My message was that
‘Asana is not a panacea or a cure-all. In fact, if you do it with ego or obsession, you’ll end up causing problems.’ A lot of people don’t like to hear that.”
I quite relate to this problem of having comments “fall on deaf ears”. I and others I know have dealt with this for years and decades in relation to real yoga versus gymnastic or fitness yoga. The audience that Black is talking about is the same audience that does not listen to the voices of traditional yoga. Though he is complaining that yoga is dangerous, the traditional voice is saying that what is being done in the name of yoga is not actually yoga, and in one way or another is calling for the cessation of the hijacking of the name of “yoga”.
Unfortunately the voice of traditional yoga now falls on two kinds of yoga people with deaf ears: those who promote the physical yoga as being safe, and those who say it is dangerous and should be stopped. Neither of these groups–each for their own reasons–seem to have any interest in the traditional, authentic, or real yoga of the masters. Black is right in pointing out that “A lot of people don’t like to hear” this.
This article [“How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”] is adapted from “The Science of Yoga: The
Risks and Rewards,” by William J. Broad, to be published next month [February 2012] by Simon
& Schuster. Broad is a senior science writer at The [New York] Times.
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