When we are objective we are relaxed. When we are subjective, the opposite.
When you do not interfere with your own personal preferences and likes and dislikes…
When you do not react or respond to anything in fear, anxiety, elation, dejection, frustration….
When there is absence of these things one is at peace in oneself and at peace with the world or all that is.
Only then there is the individual and there is god, or whatever name you wish to give.
Health is not just the absence of sickness. It is defined as ‘prasannatmendriyamanah’ – physical, mental, and spiritual health where mind and spirit are in a state of prasanna (a content, clear, and serene). The key to health is a complete psychosomatic equilibrium which makes it essential for us to be aware of the elementary rules and laws of living. This healthcare involves the entire being at its optimal physical and psychological levels in samyaka yoga (adequate contact or association), together with kala (season), artha (sensory modalities) and karma (actions), and is the main definition of health.
The root cause and promotion of all the good or bad action that man performs is manas, the mind. Following a beneficial diet, beneficial lifestyle and conduct, and self-realization are the tools to having control over manas.
Knowing what is beneficial is thought to be a subjective thesis in Western society today as we believe our opinion and the need for individual freedom and expression is the priority in life. Nobody really likes to hear this but it is the truth. This juxtapose destroys knowledge and wisdom as it is all based in ego. Knowing what is beneficial is turned into a personal choice or opinion rather than science (knowledge) that is time-tested and not changing every few weeks or at the blink of an eye. Look around, its right there before you in all the popular health fads and diets. You can see this in the hamster wheel that circulates constantly onto the next cool thing in Western consumeristic and capitalistic culture. Realize this is all there will ever be in this culture. There can be nothing else when opinion and ego are what rules. It is a Yelp.com world now. The knowledge and living of a Daily regime (Dinacharya), Evening regime (Ratricharya), Seasonal Regime (Rutucharya), healthy living of self hygiene (Swasthvritta), moral code of conduct recommended for health (Sadvritta), good conducts which boosts spirituality (Achara Rasayana), and proper following rules of diet (Ahara vidhi vidhana) are the science of living a healthy and full life in body, mind, and spirit. Its based in the science of nature. We, in the Western culture and our sciences, are only starting to realize things like the “brain and the gut connection” or how our mind acts on our worldview and the connection to that being our internal environment and health as well and many other ‘new discoveries’ by our sciences and the many many books for the masses written on these. These ‘new discoveries’ have already been around already for thousands of years and are only small pieces of the whole.
Food promotes a satvika, rajasika OR tamasika temperament and although we have not ‘discovered’ this yet, it has been known in depth for thousands of years in the Indian and Asian cultures. We continue to believe we are far progressed further than the ancients. The wheel cannot be reinvented by a limited framework and mind of today. Look at where Western nutrition was just 40 years ago? It wasn’t. Truthfully, it still isn’t. It still believes everything is calories in and calories out, macronutrients and micronutrients. What is still not comprehended at all in the modern world is that health is a social element where the attempt of an individual to remain healthy succeeds only when the society as a whole is healthy. Again, if you just look around….
Ahara (food) is the necessity of all living beings. The path of all beings is nothing but food. You eat throughout your life and you become food when you die. You are what you eat is the common saying in the West but this is far from true. You are what your body takes in and you are made up of what it is able to process and also what it is unable to process and excrete. If the processing is not functioning properly, your whole system is made of ill processed substance i.e. the tissues are created improperly or substandardly. I am using this term ‘substance you take in’ in light that you also process experience or not (subtle level of psyche) as it is also a type of food. Properly taken food builds up of the body and mental factors whereas improper food habits lead to heaviness and darkness of the mind and physical various diseases. This is the credibility of food. Just the details of what is eating ‘proper’ food are not the only part to all of this. The details extend to more knowledge of time, place, quantity, and manner of intake and make the intake proper or beneficial or not. A simple example of this would be eating curd at night. In the Western world, this is not known at all to be anything that would be something that would have any sort of bad result. It actually cannot from the Western template. How could it. Calories in and calories out, macronutrients and micronutrients. There is no context or container for anything else. Have curd at night and you will most likely wake with a cold or at least congestion and a runny nose. In long term use, it will create many other diseases that cannot be correlated by Western means.
Again, do you digest and process or is it just eating of calories in/calories out as the Western world has thought for decades? Most still do think this. There is so much more to health than what the Western concept comprehends. Food taken in proper manner helps in the proper growth and health of the body but on contrary, if taken in an improper manner it leads to various diseases. The mental factor of a man is reflected by the type of food he takes. The system in all of its details is only a replica of the food that we intake our digestion of that intake, and the excretion after the digestion. Just one more example of how all of this works; we are made of the 5 gross elements as everything in this universe is. You are your own combination of these elements that make you an individual just like everyone else. If one was to excessively intake one of those elements they will create an imbalance in the system and this will cause disease. Those elements also change with time and the seasons and this too has its results on the system. What all of the details are to all of the mentioned pieces above is the abode of Ayurveda.
In a very general way to start to understand some of these details here are some things to follow:
Quantity and digestion of food.
The proper quantity of food is that which does not disturb the equilibrium of dosha and dhatus, digests in proper time. The quantity of food depends upon the power of digestion including the metabolism. Eating light food stimulates the appetite and are less harming even in excessive quantity unless of course the metabolism is very strong or the person does a lot of physical work.
Maintain personal hygiene.
This sounds like a no-brainer but the subtleties of this go deep. Even what this entails might not be what one realizes. There is a systematic functioning of the body that goes thru it’s own cleansing when it is in a healthy state. This is not simply just about taking a bath and brushing your teeth.
Do not suppress the natural urges.
The urges are relating to: urine, feces, semen, flatus, vomiting, sneezing, belching, yawning, hunger, thirst, tears, sleep, and breathing caused by overexertion. Suppression of these urges causes various types of disease. To understand how and why this happens takes an education in Ayurveda physiology. The Western science does not have any understanding or acceptance of prana; what it is as well as how it functions. It is not breathing as prana moves regardless of the breath. Its necessary that the needs of these natural urges are satisfied instantaneously or they will create an imbalance that creates disease.
Suppress the suppressible urges.
Suppress urges relating to wickedness in mental thoughts, oral expression and physical action. Suppress the urges relating to greed, grief, fear, anger, vanity, shamelessness, jealousy, attachment, and malice.
Do not speak harsh words.
Avoid diseases arising of external factors
These are prevented by avoiding intellectual errors, control of sense organs (indriya), having a good memory (smritti), knowledge of place (desha), time (kala), and one’s own capability (patra) and then having good conduct. Controlling the sense organs strictly means no indulgence in their objects.
Taking care of the body
Be nonattached and dispassioned to other physical materials, if ones own bodily and mental health is lacking what is the use of these things?
Follow proper food intake guidelines and guard ones Agni at all times
Many many diseases have their origin in the consumption of food and this is not a simple matter. The second piece to this is controlling one’s sense organs.
After carefully considering what is beneficial and what is unbeneficial for one’s health one should avoid the harmful and unwholesome regimens and adopt the wholesome ones in regard to purusharta. There is no real contentment in the mundane world without these four in the context.
Serve persons knowledgeable in the nature and cure of psychic diseases.
Study and acquire knowledge of the self, strength, and the capacity in order to use them all wisely, the place or environment to know of what one exists in and its variants, family and bonds and debts for depth to life and karma, and time.
Care of the self and mind
Understand and avoid the cause of disease; unwholesome use of the sense organs and union with their objects (Asatmendriyarthasanyoga), crime against one’s own intellect (Pragyapradha) and transformation into effect (Parinama).
Maintain positive health and control of sense faculties by paying respect to gods, cows, preists, elderly people, those who have accomplished spiritual perfection and teachers
Offer oblation to fire
Wear good herbs
Perform sandhya ( a vedic ritual to be performed during dawn and dusk)
Clean excretory passages and feet frequently
Cut hair, shave, and cut nails six times every month
Wear good and proper clothing and apparel
Comb the hair and be presentable
Always apply oil to the head ears nostrils and feet
Protect people in affliction
Perform religious ceremonies
Pay respect to cross roads
Offer pindas (a ball or lump of rice offered to the ancestors at ceremonies or sradha)
Speak timely beneficial measured and sweet words
Be self-controlled and virtuous
Seek to do ones best at all times with no attachment to the outcome or results of one’s actions
Be careful and fearless, bashful and wise, have enthusiasm.
Be thoughtful and patient
Have faith in God
Devout to teachers who have attained spiritual perfection and are advanced in modesty and intellect.
Follows general principles
Do not deviate from approved principles or break codes of conduct of the culture that one lives in. In other words, conform to the cultural norms and do not stick out.
Do not walk during the night or in inappropriate places.
Do not eat, study, have sexual relation, or sleep during the dawn or dusk (at times of sandya). Do not make friends with children, the old, the greedy, fools, or people under affliction.
Do not be insulting to anyone.
Avoid alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes.
Avoid exposure of the body.
Be humble, capable, and friendly.
Be kind to all beings and animals alike.
Never speak harshly to old people, teachers, or groups
Be patient and not too courageous
Take care of those that serve you and be reliant on the family.
Do not over trust nor be too suspect and doubtful.
Don’t be too detail oriented.
Practice self-control at all times.
Don’t postpone things or indulge in any activity without prior thought and analysis.
Control one’s senses and never let the mind be out of control.
Do not overuse the intellect or senses.
Refrain from taking action when in a fit of anger or rejoicing.
Do not grieve for long.
Do not celebrate your achievements and do not despair in your losses
Know yourself by your nature
Understand the laws of karma and live in dharma.
Do not be complacent of action
Do not hold grudges.
Ways of well being
Follow healthy rules of diet and action. As an example, one should not take curd at night; it should not be taken alone without ghee, sugar, green gram soup, honey or Amalaki and it should not be heated. Having curd in the evening will give diseases like fever, bleeding from different parts of the body, erysipelas and herpes, skin diseases, anemia, giddiness and jaundice. Again, this cannot be comprehended by Western sciences comprehension.
Follow a proper code of conduct
One should not lie or steal or engage in a desire for another person’s partner or property
Avoid hatred, vengeful, or sinful activities
Never do or wish bad even on to the vicious
Do not share secrets of other’s
Keep company with:
People who have wisdom and learning.
Those of age, proper conduct with themselves as well as with others and have patience and memory.
Those that meditate.
Those that are wise to human nature.
Ones who have no anxiety and are peaceful.
And most important, ones who are following a right course of action.
Ones who are of good conduct and promote it in others.
Avoid the company of:
It is kind of obvious but we don’t really think much of how this is an how it affects our lives. Keeping clear of people that are sinful. (Now I know that word has such triggers around it. If your triggered by it, maybe look at that.)
People that do not have clear and clean speech and thought.
Those who are argumentative or like to fight.
People who are sarcastic.
Ones who are greedy or envious of others.
Those that are cruel to others.
People that have fickle minds or who suck up to or serve others that are corrupt or not good people.
In general, those who do not on a virtuous path, whatever that path may be, they are to be avoided.
Avoid the company of those with low moral standards, cheaters, mentally unstable, the fallen, mean and crooked persons.
It is also useful to look in the mirror and see if you have these characteristics as well.
In each birth, the soul is infested with the plexus of the worldly sensualities that have been condensed by actions of many previous births. It’s imprints on the self have become ever more and more crude and dense over a series of previous births. The Supreme Self is free from any such plexus, but the individual self as endowed with such plexus. If somehow the individual self would be freed from such plexus, if somehow that individual self would be freed from such plexus, it will become identical with the Supreme Self.
The indelible imprints of the plexus of the worldly sensualities are carved on the soul through the mind. Soul, in fact has nothing to do with the worldly sensualities but the mind has the tendency to reveal in the worldly sensualities and because of its very close proximity with the soul, those plexus of worldly sensualities of mind appear to be engraved on the soul. The mind dwells in our ethereal body in its two principal states, internal and external, which in psychological terms are described as the conscious and subconscious mind. In addition to this there is a third state of mind which is the unconscious. Incarnate soul does a lot of things with the conscious and subconscious parts and all things are registered in the unconscious mind. We are always aware about the things that are done with the conscious mind and can easily recollect them. If the subconscious mind can be activated through meditation or otherwise we would recollect the things done subconsciously also. Similarly, if the unconscious mind can be activated, the things done over there series of birds can also be known because, they are safely stored up there. Yogis (nothing to do with modern yoga) do this through meditation and come to know everything about their own or other person’s previous births because in the unconscious mind things of several previous births remain stored and intact.
According to psychological aspects of the real yogic practices, the conscious mind at the time of death, resolves into the subconscious mind which again dissipates into the unconscious mind with which the soul ultimate leaves the body. The unconscious mind is always associated with the soul at all levels in each state of existence and that is why such souls are called jivatma and it takes rebirth again only because of its association with unconscious mind. With the death, mind does not die and departs with the soul as it’s inseparable attribute. Since the mind revels in the sensualities it cannot stay without a body, which is mandatory for sensual gratifications, and therefore, it impels the soul to reincarnate in different forms commensurate with the merit of karma. In case, the subconscious mind fails to dissolve into unconscious mind at the time of death, due to strong worldly desires, the soul has to set forth on its celestial voyage with the disintegrated subconscious mind and becomes a pretatma which cannot take rebirth and suffers a lot in it’s etherial realms owing to the sensual urges that cannot be gratified without any physical body. The suffering of such souls are too much excruciating.
Meditation is the only way to arrest the flight of mind. Yogic texts describe it as concentration of consciousness while Tantra defines it as Sammohana. In the deepest state of meditation one abdicates all that is appertained to the observable universe and delves deep beyond the phenomenal flux of the dual predicates and attributes Supreme Self. The meditation is of two types: Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa each having 12 modes or states which make a total of 24 states of Samadhi. During the state of Savikapla Samadhi the world and sadhaka become face to face but in the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi even the world disappears and the soul alone exists. If the yogi makes a conscious departure from the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the soul leaves behind the mind along with the body. This is called find a liberation. Therefore, the mind mind does not to die in the normal process of death along with the body, in the MahaSamadhi, mind too dies away. That is why it is also termed as Mahamrtyu because both the body and the mind die in that state. This is the ultimate goal or aim and objective of all yoga and Tantric meditation. It is also called self-realization when the self becomes a akin to the supreme self.
Still think that the yoga your practicing and being taught has anything to do with yoga?
There are signs that are to be followed in a healthy person when it is time to eat a meal. They are:
After eliminating urine and stool
When there is clear belching and no previous food taste or smell is evident
When the heart feels light
When the appetite is strong
When the senses are functioning clearly
When the body feels light
When the previous meal has been digested
A major consideration when consuming food is quantity, (matra). The quantity of food intake is a crucial factor in maintaining good health and proper functioning of the whole being. Food when consumed in an appropriate quantity stimulates and activates the digestive fire, (agni). The proper quantity of food is that amount which, without disturbing the equilibrium of the doshas, gets digested and absorbed in proper time. There are signs of the proper quantity as well with a healthy being. They are:
There is no undue pressure in the stomach with food consumed in proper quantity.
There is no obstruction or pressure felt in the region of the heart or flanks.
There is no excessive heaviness is felt in the abdomen.
The senses are properly nourished.
There is no hunger and thirst.
There is comfort in standing, sitting, sleeping, walking, breathing, laughing and talking.
Food that is eaten in the morning should be digested by evening and what is consumed in the evening should be digested by morning. This is part of the reason why hours are left after eating before sleeping and why ultimately one does not eat or drink after sundown.
Heavy (guru) food that is difficult to digest as well as light (laghu) food that is easy to digest, both need to be consumed in proper quantity for proper digestion. Heavy foods like sweets should be consumed only up to half satiation. This means one should stop when one still feels like eating some more. Light foods may be consumed to full satiation but not more than that.
One should consume food only up to 3/4 the capacity of the stomach. Half the stomach should be filled with solid foods and a quarter with liquid. The remaining quarter should be left empty. For the food to digest well, it should be consumed warm.
The order in which food is consumed is important. Heavy to digest, fatty, sweet, solid foods – such as sweet dishes – are consumed at the beginning. In the middle of the meal, food that is predominantly sour and salty is consumed. At the end of the meal, light, easy to digest, dry (not fatty), liquid type of food is consumed. Buttermilk is an example of such a food. Western habit has us having a dessert at the end of the meal and having cold ice water before a meal. Simply try to eat your same desert first and you will have the experience of not being able to eat as much of the meal. But instead we throw this in at the end of a meal in our unconsciousness.. Food, when consumed in proper order, gets digested properly.
Incompatible foods are poison to the system. Some food combinations are incompatible and hence they ought not to be consumed together. Milk should not be combined with any substance which has a sour taste. Milkshakes (milk with fruits) have become very popular and as most fruits are sour, milk shakes are classic examples of incompatible foods. Adding milk to curd to make the curd less sour is another . Both these are incompatible combinations which can lead to many diseases. Curd or buttermilk with plantain or banana is another incompatible combination. Heating curd, honey, or alcohol makes them unfit for consumption. Milk and fish combined is another.
In discussion with a student, this came up so I am sharing it here. Please comment below.
In the modern world of yoga, I have watched things grow. What I mean by this is that years back in maybe around 2000 there was very little access to texts with only Gherandha Samhita, Siva Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and Bhagavad Gita being the main ones in mediocre circulation in the West. The internet has changed this. Not that yoga teachers even knew about these back then but there was little access to the general public anyway. There was and still pretty much isn’t even the knowledge of the background of these texts (like that they are not all the same lineages) to the general mass of yoga teachers and they just follow what their teacher has said, adamantly and I may say blindly. This brings up a conversation about what is knowledge versus what is information. It also brings up another conversation about what is the experience based on knowledge versus experience based on information. There is a drastic difference. Information is not knowledge. (See past posts on Pramana, Knowledge, and Experience.)
Today there is a lot more access to other ancient texts and a lot more information out there as to the history and different paths and sects. This doesn’t mean that the general community of yoga teachers know any more than what they did back in 2000, it means that there is just more information.
I present a question from what the discussion with a student created.
Back in 2000, what was a bandha was not generally known to yoga teachers. I would say the same today but then would be barraged with an argument. So below is a table to explain. I gave the student the homework to look for all the various ways that Mulabandha is taught by the various teachers (from books) out there then to do them and explain the results of each.
Mula bandha – from different sources
Feelings, sensations, observations by the student
1. “contract your anus” (Patthabi Jois – David Life)
If it is just the anus, the spine feels a little “current going up” initially but then I soon feel this downward pulling force, mind gets a little sleepy after a while, somehow doesn’t feel “uplifting” but more “downward pulling”
2. squeeze the perineum
Not much sensations, maximum feeling is the slight pulsation between navel and heart as I breathe in it
3. squeeze the urethra (though they admit it is vajroli or sahajoli)
It is a strange feeling as if a thread was pulled there which goes first towards my sacrum, then crossing the body moves towards the front of the torso and “comes out” at the sternum, so it is somehow seems to be connected to the heart, but not sure, not a strong sensation
4. flex the anus and lightly flex and pull up above the sphincter through the pelvis into your lower belly
This is more powerful but again energy feels blocked at the neck, then body gets agitates, excited, torso wants to blow up, heating and boiling a little, quite similar to the one where I squeeze the whole vagina and push the cervix up
5. squeeze the perineum and slightly pull up
This is very mild effect, not too disturbing but not affecting the mind too much, a bit “boring” in this sense, not much happens, although helps to sit nicely
6. same but pull up and contract until the cervix
My previous experience, orgasmic, energy blocked at shoulders, tears me apart
7. squeeze then pull up in five steps (like five stops in the elevator) inhale up in 5 steps, exhale down https://www.poise.com/advice-and-support/blog-and-podcast/blog/mula-bandha—an-alternative-to-kegel-exercise
This feels like a Kegel or physical exercise, the only interesting part is the “fifth floor” at the cervix where the same excitement happens as before
I can add several more to this list of what I have heard being taught out there. One guy even teaches that the bandhas are only energetic and that thought is what makes them, he’s famous. You all made him famous. 😉 , but instead of criticizing or even writing about the various ideas and concepts of this (and everything in the modern yoga world), I am just putting this forth to bring up the question of what is being taught, if this is even being taught. Which in most modern yoga classes, it is not.
Are any of the above correct? How would one know if they are just following blindly and not having the knowledge of what it is to do in detail of how it works and why?
What is more important to understand here is that each individual is going to have their own experience of it based on their own imbalances and set up. If there is no real knowledge of how, what, and why, then what is an experienced based in? An imbalanced state. A better question is why does the modern yoga world value their own experiences so much?
A simple way the individuality of the experience based in an imbalance can be explained is to see that someone with an anterior tilt of the pelvis (they would have an excess extension to the lumbar spine as well) will have different pelvic floor muscles that are short and others that are long in comparison to someone with a posterior tilt of the pelvis (lumbar spine would be in flexion). Using these two examples, the muscles of the legs up into the pelvis are going to be at different and opposite tensions in each person. The pelvic floor will also be at different tensions in each and this will cause the neuromuscular connection to use different muscles as prime contractors on each person. Each of these two are an imbalanced or not an ideal state but their awareness is confined to only that posture or balance that they are living in. This is a very linear and superficial way of trying to explain the complexity of just the physical body and how it is also how the entire system functions. It is also the same as how prana will flow in each persons individuality. A person with that anterior tilt of the pelvis will weight their foot in the forefoot which makes prana move upward in their system causing digestive problems and a multitude of other things. To explain my point in detail, their experience of everything (life) is simply confined to this postural position. I have experienced in my own practice with people over the last 25+ years that taking someone with little to no flexion in their lumbar spine (yet they do not experience it as this but it is obvious with pictures of them trying to move into lumbar flexion) and doing ‘work’ to mobilize and open that lumbar results in a massive change in their experience and awareness or perception and the body functions healthier as now there is an ability for a downward flow whereas there was not prior. (I have written this pretty simplified and there is much more to it all)
The same can be said about Uddiyana Bandha. I can name three different ways right off the bat that it is taught from different ‘schools’. Again, Pattabhi Jois teaches to pull the navel into the spine, yet if you do this it contracts the abs and Uddiyana Bandha is not possible, but who am I to say in a world that subjective experience is more important and my teacher is better than your teacher rather than actual knowledge?
An ongoing argumentive dismissal as a rebuttal is that they all are correct, which is just ridiculousness. So there is no difference then between Ashwini Mudra and Moola Bandha if this was true. Think about it.
This is being posed not as anything more than to make yoga teachers think and question what is being taught, again if it is even being taught. I am not teaching what is right due to the fact that it just becomes more information in the context that is living at the moment out there. The idea in the modern yoga world is about one’s experience. Is it valid? Is an experience without a roadmap or in other words the lack of real knowledge of those hows and whys valid or is it going to keep one on the hamster wheel of their own biases stuck in their own imbalances which will not change or maybe will change a little?
Without the complete knowledge of vayu and prana and all that is being done with the bandhas, there is no correct answer to be had. Just guesses and egoic responses like maybe one of saying Patabhi Jois’ is correct because he is Guruji. (You can see the same lack of knowledge and just coming up with ideas and guesses of why if you were to search why Patabhi Jois does not have practice on new moon and full moon days and the vast discussions around that on Ashtangi forums. The simple and correct answer to it is understood when someone comprehends the Indian calendar and how time affect the being)
Everyone of us is aware of the universal law of gravitation by which material bodies have a tendency to move towards the centre of the earth, which it is not feasible for them to reach as they cannot pierce into the hard surface which presents a serious obstacle to their downward passage. All material substances are thus necessarily attracted towards the earth, being unable to rise up in the air from its surface. It is, however, seen that many of them are not immoveably fixed to the earth and can move about on its surface as men and animals do. Inanimate things which are light in weight can be moved hither and thither by the force of wind, while things that are heavy remain attached to the earth with comparative steadiness; even these can possibly be moved from one place to another in many cases, Why is this so? If all material bodies have an irresistible tendency to move towards the centre of the earth, how can it be possible for them to move about or be driven from one place to another. The answer is that it is the existence of wind and air (vayu) which makes such movement possible, Air is perpetually in motion, and, permeating through every substance on the surface of the earth, imparts the power of movement to it. If there were no air, all things would have been immovably fixed to the surface of the earth without any power to move at all. There is hardly any place in this world which is devoid of air, which exists even in stone, iron, and other hard substances. All substances are composed of minute particles, called atoms, which adhere together in such a way as to admit of some vacant space, however small, between them, which varies in different substances and which is to be found even in iron, stone, human system, and in a mass of water as well. It is through these fine spaces that air enters into all things. In hard substances, this intervening space is very little, and the quantity of air that enters through it is hardly perceptible.
Air enters into all substances in the world and makes them moveable. The greater the quantity of air in a substance, the more capable it is of movement. Air enters into the human system and renders it fit for loco-motion. Not only does it enter through the nostrils and the mouth, it also finds access into the human body through infinitely small openings between its molecules which are finer than the pores of the skin and are countless in number. It penetrates deep into the blood, flesh, and bones; and it is this which causes the blood to circulate through the veins and arteries in all parts of the body. Blood may flow down from the brain to the extremities or it may rush to the head from the feet in a contrary direction. The first phenomenon may be due to gravitation but the second can never take place without the agency of air. We all speak of circulation of blood but we do not perhaps know how this is caused. The primary and only cause of this circulation of blood is the constant presence of air which enters into every part of our body and sets the entire organism in motion. It is present everywhere and pervades the bones, the flesh, the blood, and even the minutest parts of our body. If you apply heat to any part of your body, blood takes its course in that direction, and on the other hand, if you apply cold to any part, the blood tends to flow away from that part. Vayu or air is the cause of this movement. If heat is applied to any part of the body, the air in that part becomes lighter and expands by the action of heat and some portion of the air shifts to other parts. The vacuum thus caused is filled by the flow of blood from other parts i.e., blood rushes in from other parts to take the place of the displaced air. There is then a ceaseless movement going on within the body. An application of cold on the other hand produces an opposite effect. When any part of the body becomes cold the other parts of it become comparatively warm; hence a portion of the blood from the former rushes to the warmer parts.
From this it is clear that without air we could not live, nor could there be any circulation in the system. Vayu or air is one of the main conditions of life, it constitutes a primary ingredient of animal organism. The various organic functions, such as breathing, discharge of excreta, circulation, exercise thought, and energy are carried on through its instrumentality.
Air, though forming one of the chief constituents of the human body, acts prejudicially on it when it finds its way into the system in an abnormal quantity. When it exceeds the quantity required to stimulate circulation, the flesh, bones, marrow, etc. dry up and become contracted under its pressure. The greater the quantity of air generated in the system, the more heavily will it press upon blood, bones, etc.
The solar system is the fountain and source of all heat, and all things in this world derive heat from the sun, This warmth which is present every-where in a more or less degree, cannot be felt by the touch in all cases. If the heat of any substance exceeds the normal temperature of our body, we say that it is heated; if it be less, we say that it is cold. The constituents of animal organism i.e., blood, flesh etc., possess a natural warmth which is termed pitta without which life would have been unsupportable. Like air, it forms one of the vital constituents of our body.
But an abnormal increase of heat vitiates our blood and brings on that state or condition of our body which is usually termed inflammation or derangement due to excess of heat. This disorder gives rise to endless diseases. On the other hand, an unnatural decrease of bodily warmth is no less danger. Excess of pitta gives rise to diseases, abnormal increase or decrease of the same may even bring about death. Health and long life may be ensured by maintaining the internal heat of the body in a normal condition.
It has been said that the function of vayu in the body is to produce dryness or to absorb moisture from it while that of pitta is to generate heat or warmth in it. The things which constitute our body are rendered dry by air and warm by pitta, but dryness and warmth are not the only attributes of human organism which is also characterised by the quality of coldness or tenderness without which life would have been impossible. Besides dryness and heat, all the constituents of human body possess softness which is present in the blood, bones, flesh, and other vital parts. The general name for this all pervading softness is kapha, which is present in different parts of the body in various forms, and performs diverse functions. If there is excess of kapha over what is necessary for the sustenance of life, various diseases may develop; on the other hand, if it unduly decreases, it may be attended with serious and baneful consequences. Total loss of kapha as well as an abnormal excess of the same may even lead to death. The same remarks may be made with regard to Vayu or air and Pitta or heat. Abnormal quantity of these three vital elements is as dangerous as their abnormal decrease or loss.
The following symptoms usually develop when vayu is unduly in excess in our body:
Pain in the limbs, scanty evacuation of urine and stools, contraction of the arteries, nerves, etc. thirst, shivering, roughness of the skin, astringent taste, dryness of the mouth etc.
When the pitta is unduly in excess, the following symptoms appear burning sensation in the palm of the hands and feet, redness of the skin, generation of excessive heat in the system, promotion of digestion, sweating, etc.
The properties of things having different tastes, when taken internally, are given here in brief:—
1) A sweet thing is nutritive; it pacifies vayu and pitta, but increases mucus and other dirts in the system.
2) A sour thing increases the power of digestion, make the blood impure, increases pitta, but pacifies vayu.
3) A thing with a salty taste increases appetite, destroys semen, strength, and eye-sight, pacifies vayu, but increases phlegm and pitta.
4) A pungent thing increases vayu, pitta, and appetite; destroys phlegm, obesity, semen, etc, and causes constipation.
5) A bitter thing removes thirst, fever, pitta, phlegm, and impurities of the blood, increases vayu, but destroys blood, semen, flesh, etc. It is not to be taken in excess. (The use of bitter things causes a waste of blood, semen, flesh, marrow, fat, and bone, leading to all sorts of diseases, especially chronic fever consumption, and paralysis.)
6) A thing with astringent taste destroys phlegm, blood, and pitta; it increases vayu.
One desirous of a disease-free life should get up during brahmamuhurta because it is the best time for study and obtain knowledge. Then after eliminating urine and feces, they should clean their teeth with twigs of karanja, karavira, arka, malati, arjuna, asana, khadira, amrataka, amra, kappitha trees. The twigs should be the thickness of the tip of the finger and length of 12 fingers. The tip of the stick should be chewed to make it soft then used to gently clean the teeth. One should not clean teeth with these on pratipad, amavasya, sashti, navami, and ekadashi. Cleaning the teeth this way removes odour, distaste, and scum from the tongue, teeth and mouth.
Unctuous gargles kept in the mouth alleviate distaste, foul odour, dryness and stiffness and also make the teeth firm.
Signs of a healthy person:
Removal of all disorders of defecation, urination, dosha and dhatus, desire for intake of food and drink and taste in them, proper digestion of the food taken, attaining the strength of the food taken, the satisfaction of sleep, proper function of the actions of all the sense organs.
Before work each morning one should look at auspicious items to remove evils; Ghee, a mirror, mustard seeds, bilva fruit, ox bile, or saffron.
On every 5th day, one should trim their nails, beard, moustache and hair. It creates satisfaction, strength, it is auspicious, promotes life, it is cleansing, and give lustre to the face.
Never pull out hair from the nose, it weakens the eyes sight and causes myopia.
Taking of tambula (betel leaf) destroys kapha, the lime destroys kapha and vata, and katechu destroys kapha and pitta. It alleviates the doshas, provides good looks and lustre, and is wholesome after arising from sleep, after food, and after vomiting. It is contraindicated in someone with poisoning, fainting, consumption, bleeding disorders, roughness, emaciation, intoxication, and dryness in the mouth. In excess, it is harmful to the body, vision, hair, teeth, digestive fire, ears, lustre, and strength. it causes emaciation and disorders of pitta and vata blood disorders. The disorder is found in the stalk, sin is found in the apex of the leaf, and the middle portion and the middle portion along the stalk is harmful to longevity. The stalk destroys intelligence. The stalk, the tip and the root should be discarded.
Massaging the head with proper oils daily alleviates disease of the head, softens the hair, gives suppleness, calm, and protection. It saturates the head firms the hair and strengthens the sense organs.
Combing the hair gives beauty to the hair, it removes dust and dirt, and insects.
Oil drops in the ear alleviate jaw problems, head disorders, and earache.
Oiling the body with proper oils gives softness, alleviates kapha, vata, and provides strength in the tissues, softness, lustre, and general strength.
Washing the feet alleviates dirt, disorders of the feet and tiredness. Its beneficial for the vision, the heart, it removes bad effects and gives satisfaction. It causes good sleep, relief for the whole body, benefits vision, alleviates disorders of the feet and softens the skin of the feet.
Application of proper pastes on the body alleviates vata, kapha, and fat tissue. The skin becomes firm and beautiful.
Bathing removes drowsiness, sin, it gives satisfaction and increases the firmness of body, blood volume, and digestive fire. It is contraindicated in diarrhoea, fever, earache, facial paralysis, abdominal tympanitis, anorexia, and indigestion. Do not take a bath after eating because it is harmful at this time.
Wearing clean clothes improves richness. Applying scents is an aphrodisiac, provides longevity, fulfils wishes, gives energy, and gives strength. Wearing a garland of flowers brings wealth and gives pleasure.
Application of collyrium in the eye is good for the eyelashes, makes sight better, eyes beautiful and clear.
Wearing shoes is beneficial for the eyes and makes walking easier, it relieves troubles with the feet, gives strength, pleasure in walking and promotes health.
Holding an umbrella protects one from sun, wind, dust, and rain.
Sitting before a fire stops affects of vata and cough, cold, trembling, relieves ama, excessive moisture in the system but will increase bleeding diseases.
Intake of food causes immediate satisfaction, gives strength, stabilizes the body, increases energy, life, semen, existence, vigour, lustre, and encouragement. Taking food that has all the six tastes gives energy and does not cause indigestion. After digestion of impurities and ama, doshas, and rasa it may not be the best of times to partake in food.
One should fulfil their desires at a proper time but should not become controlled by them. One should not keep awake for long periods of time and also not sleep too much. One should have compassion for all beings. One should pay respect and worship gods, cows, brahmins, teachers, preceptors, and the old.
One should pay respect at crossroads, give alms to the needy, pay oblations in the fire, speak in a sweet voice, apologize to the angry, protect the poor, and do not blame others.
One should help to maintain courage in the fearful, have a brotherly feeling to all human beings, and should abandon passion in desires and their causes. One should always be ready to perform auspicious deeds.
One who takes a wholesome diet and performs wholesome actions, acts, after much consideration, not driven by passion and desire, gives alms to needy, always acts equally and justly with all persons, speaks the truth, pardons others, protects the troubled, and worships God, never falls ill.
When in sun keep your back to it, receive heat from fire keeping the front of the abdomen to it, and worship God with all devotion, those will attain higher abodes.
One should not suppress the urges of gas, defecation, urination, ejaculation, yawning, coughing, sneezing, belching, breathing, thirst, vomiting, and hunger because by doing so many many diseases may arise. One should have restraint over their mind, speech, and actions of the body. One should never have excessive use of the sensory organs or completely avoid the use of them. One should respect all faiths equally. One should not desire another’s spouse or their wealth. One should not let their thoughts and mind become uncontrolled nor should one waste their time.
One should not utter words that are hurtful to another even in friendship. One should always observe nonviolence and always have a positive thinking and know that everything is transient.
One should offer his digestive fire food and drink that are wholesome, with proper quantity, and at proper timing. One should have wholesome diet and actions that do not cause disease and which are beneficial in keeping one’s health. One should give prior importance to keeping good health and leaving others works because if one does not have health all work is impossible.
Feeling of pleasure in thought, words, and acts, following right and just acts, having a clear and positive intellect, knowledge, endeavour, readiness, and concentration, keeps a person free from diseases.
One who does not indulge in impossible deeds and respects acts and times which are obtainable and tries for them keeps control over his body and senses, they never fall ill if God and luck favour them.
Emesis is recommended in disorders of kapha, purgation in disorders of pitta, basti in disorders of vata, and exercise is beneficial in all three doshas because exercise digests doshas. Even unwholesome food does not harm the one who exercises properly.
One who does not take leafy vegetables, takes ghee, cooked rice, milk, and meat soup daily, does not take too much water, takes cooked and light and non-irritant food, eats food only after proper digestion of the previous meal has occurred, they do not ever attain severe bodily disorders.
As a city is looked over by its head and a chariot by its driver, in the same way, the welfare of the body should be looked after with intelligence by the person who desires benefit of the body.
First create the environment that is conducive to meditation (4 levels).
There is one external level or bahiranga asana and three internal levels or antaranga asana – internal, antaranga tara – more internal, antaranga tama – innermost internal. Asana here is not speaking of what the Western world thinks yoga is, it means seat and refers to a meditative posture.
Find a clean and sacred, pure place conducive to sit that will not be sitting too high nor too low
Use a kusha grass mat with a dear skin on top with a cloth on top. The kusha is Prithvi tatva connected to adhara chakra. All of this is about creation. The earth has the energy to heal but you do not want to lose your own energy into the earth. All pujas and yagnas are done sitting upon an asana for this reason. The deerskin is Jala tatva and connected to svadishtana chakra. All of this is about the sustenance. The pure cloth is Agni tatva connected to manipuraka chakra. Now, this is pretty far out there for most and not easy to procure for most people but it has very deep implications and also advanced reasons behind it. These are the elements earth, water, fire, the first three chakras as well as the shakti of each.
Four asana are known to be proper for meditation. Siddhasana, Swatikasana, Padmasana, Bhadrasana, etc….. Sit steady, motionless, calm, comfortable, symmetrical, with the 3 parts of the body aligned, balanced, and in a way that the asana inducing a state of a habituated state of engrossment in emptiness or godliness and the bodily awareness is overcome. Pain in sitting is only a restlessness. Duration matters, it should be long, as the asana needs to set in. If there is any little set time or timer, it will be a complete destruction of meditation as it is a subtle vasana that will continue to obstruct and stop one from being able to become absorbed. There must be no time.
There are as many asana as there are living beings capable of asana, 8.4 million which is then distilled into the known 84 main asana. Each has its own vinyassa krama. Each is connected to its own jiva’s disease/bondage that the krama frees one from.
This is to set up the foundation to sit, to be able to reach the following for purification.
Proper energy movement – Pranayam
Movement and regulation of prana by way of controlling inhaling, pause, exhalation, and pause because when you regulate in proper time, space, and count it is pranayama.
Until these two have been completed, you will not attain concentration leading to attention and meditation then absorption.
Attention – Pratyahara
With ease and not paying attention or intake anything that is coming from any external 10 directions or of the mind (it’s imagery, conceptions, feelings, and thesis), focus upon the beginning of the nose at the point where the brows come to meet the root of the nose (the midpoint of the two eyebrows). You cannot be engrossed in the atma by darshan on the end tip of the nose. The eyes are not actually supposed to be closed but relaxed half/half closed open with no tension, relaxed, and the gaze inward. One can get an understanding of just how spun out their nervous system is by the flickering of the eyebrows, eyeballs, eyelashes, and eyelids not to mention the general lack of being able to focus the mind on one point.
Mudra and Kriya
Rest the hands in the lap in front of the bladder, five fingers below the navel, interlacing the fingers with the left thumb over the right.
Then find and listening to the internal sound (nada) which is easily found in the occiput and then the center of the head (connected thru kechari from…) but ultimately it is from the heart (anahata – the unstruck sound) but the heart must be pure for this as the purity of the heart is only determined by the purity of the mind (this says a lot).
Sitting in this manner, then…. the mind must be free from thought, deliberation, affirmation, and imagination for the absorption in one-pointedness, one thought construct or one object of contemplation that is needed.
It is about the size of the thumb tip inside the heart which is the size of the fist in the centre of the chest. Here the contemplation is upon the soul.
The sense organs are controlled by the subtle organs of sense perception in the order of most cognitive to most retentive (pratyahara). This way they follow the attention/perception of the mind (in attention there is a distraction) and withdrawing from the sensory objects. If you pay attention to external then pratyahara cannot happen.
There is a natural absorption that happens into the subtle Om that is ‘not created’ but witnessed within the inner heart. The whole body is actually transmitting the Om. It creates an awareness of an experience that continues even when one is not merging into it.
In the subtle heart, there is a light that is infinitely bright. Great meditation can be done on this.
Without this/these (the proper sequence), we have the most likely possibility of distraction, disruption, and a high possibility of the introduction of delusion.
The mind when one-pointed will absorb into the object of meditation, the subtle awareness of ‘I’ will become absent and objective knowledge will be absorbed into. Then when this is fully present the mind becomes the object of meditation the meditator is absent. No time is present. Then the cognition dissolves. This is where it all begins.
When one has attained this arrested state, there are no mental imprints from latency from knowledge or effort. Subtle desire and impressions are stored in the chitta and soul and they fructify in normal life. These are arrested and there are no more fluctuations or the cognition of them. The mind is saturated with impressions of nothingness. The subtlest of feelings are arrested. No object of knowledge.
The purification of the subtle heart and mind (mind, ego, and intellect) is thus and is able to behold the subtlest essence of beingness and consciousness. The impurities of the heart are of two kinds; distraction, disruption, delusion, and the impurity from opacity which covers and veils the truth filled content of the light in the heart. The consciousness is held and the knower becomes the seer.
The result of this is that the knowledge gained is never lost, the affliction is removed. The experience is never lost. There is no popping in and out of a spiritual experience from mundane to higher levels of consciousness.
If all day you are engaged in the worldly mundane life and then you sit for meditation, the mind continues with the previous thought process as it is very subtle. The more you try to calm the more disturbance comes. The knowledge that happens through that kind of meditation will not bring what removes the affliction. It will not bring you wisdom. If one is engaged in the worldly life, real meditation will not happen. The sense organs will direct the mind away to the objects of senses. To the object of attraction, there must be withdrawal. There can be a peace but the wrong knowledge that is gained with that will not lead anywhere and will not stay. There must be an object of knowledge which gives the freedom from affliction. The primary identification of the individual will remain and prevail. Another way to say it, that experience will be much like the rest of the individual’s experiences in the mundane. Just another experience. The observer remains the observer in all states in the real thing. The heart only purifies in the final highest state. The mind must be prepared for meditation with the above. One cannot be worldly. It will not work. This is also why there are all sorts of types of supposed meditations being sold to the mundane world. They do not give the result and they never can. The sole priority of a meditator is mediation.
All of these rules and regulations in the discipline are not needed for one that is already beyond it all and able to absorb naturally and spontaneously to get into the repetition of the one-pointedness of the mind. All of these disciplines come naturally to one who is a meditator.
Bhagavad Gita, chapter 6, verse 10 – 15
Brahma Sutra, chapter 4.1, verse 6 – 11
Gorakshanath Samhita, chapter 1, verse 6 – 11
Yoga Sutrani, book 1 verse 2
Uddhava Gita, chapter 9, verse 11 – 13 or Srimad Bhagavatam 11.9.11 – 13
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.
The man whose gastric fire is well tended, who feeds it duly with wholesome diet, who is given to daily meditation, charity and the pursuit of spiritual salvation who takes food and drinks that arc homologatory to him, will not fall a victim to approaching diseases except for special reasons. The disciplined man who takes wholesome diet lives for a period of 36,000 nights, i.e. 100 years (a generalization), blessed by good men and devoid of disease.
Education is a different thing completely back in time in these sciences of ancient India. The texts are written in a beautiful way that unfolds the knowledge and needs a teacher to unfold them due to the lack of our own abilities today call it intelligence or the many other faculties of time and commitment and just how the education is gone about. Today we have short certification courses with no standardization or authorizing authority to them. It is a free for all and just because someone hangs a title on a sign does not mean anything at all today. To share the following verses from Sushruta Samhita may give a sense to what just the start of the education would be back in time.
Formal initiation of a pupil into the science of Ayurveda
Such an initiation should be imparted to a student, belonging to one of the three twice-born castes such as, the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, and the Vaishya, and who should be of tender years, born of a good family, possessed of, a desire to learn, strength, energy of action, contentment, character, self-control, a good retentive memory, intellect, courage, purity of mind and body, and a simple and clear comprehension, command a clear insight into the things studied, and should be found to have been further graced with the necessary qualifications of thin lips, thin teeth and thin tongue, and possessed of a straight nose, large, honest, intelligent eyes, with a benign contour of the mouth, and a contented frame of mind, being pleasant in his speech and dealings, and usually painstaking in his efforts. A man possessed of contrary attributes should not be admitted into the sacred precincts of medicine.
A Brahmana preceptor should initiate a disciple or student in the following way:
A square sand cushion or platform, measuring a cubit in length and breadth, should be laid out on a plot of smooth, level and sacred ground under the benign influence of any auspicious phase of the moon or astral combination such as, the “Karana,” etc. and in a direction of the compass which is held most auspicious to that end. The cushion or the platform should be plastered over with a solution of water and cow-dung; and blades of Kusha grass should be strewn over it. Then the gods, the Brahmanas and the physicians should be worshipped with oblations of flowers, fried paddy, gems and sun-dried rice. Then having drawn straight lines across the Sthandilam so as to meet the top of the furthest side of the square, and having sprinkled them over with holy water, the preceptor should lay down a blade of Kusha grass tied up in the form of a knot, known as the Brahmana, along the side of the sacred cushion to his right, and kindle the sacred fire close to his seat. Then having soaked the twigs of the four sacrificial trees of Khadira, Palasha, Devadaru and Vilva, or of Vata, Oudumvara, Ashvattha and Madhuka in curd, honey and clarified butter, he should perform the rite of Homa according to the rules of a Darvi Homa ceremony. Then libations of clarified butter should be cast into the sacrificial fire with a repetition of the Maha Vyahriti Mantras preceded by the mystic Omkara. After that, libations of clarified butter should be cast into the fire in honour of each of the gods and Rishis (celestial physicians) invoked by repeating the Svaha Mantra, and the disciple should be made to do the same.
A Brahmana preceptor is competent to initiate a student belonging to any of the three twice-born castes. A Kshatriya preceptor can initiate a student of the Kshatriya or the Vaishya caste, while a Vaishya preceptor can initiate a student of his own caste alone. A Shudra student of good character and parentage may be initiated into the mysteries of the Ayurveda by omitting the Mantras enjoined to be recited on such an occasion.
Then having thrice circumambulated the sacrificial fire, and having invoked the fire-god to bear testimony to the fact, the preceptor should address the initiated disciple as follows:
“Thou shalt renounce lust, anger, greed, ignorance, vanity, egotistic feelings, envy, harshness, niggardliness, falsehood, idleness, nay all acts that soil the good name of a man. In proper season thou shalt pair thy nails and clip thy hair and put on the sacred cloth, dyed brownish yellow, live the life of a truthful, self-controlled anchorite and be obedient and respectful towards thy preceptor. In sleep, in rest, or while moving about—while at meals or in study, and in all acts thou shalt be guided by my directions.
Thou shalt do what is pleasant and beneficial to me, otherwise thou shalt incur sin and all thy study and knowledge shall fail to bear their wished for fruit, and thou shalt gain no fame. If I, on the other hand, treat thee unjustly even with thy perfect obedience and in full conformity to the terms agreed upon, may I incur equal sin with thee, and may all my knowledge prove futile, and never have any scope of work or display.
Thou shalt help with thy professional skill and knowledge, the Brahmanas, thy elders, preceptors and friends, the indigent, the honest, the anchorites, the helpless and those who shall come to thee (from a distance), or those who shall live close by, as well as thy relations and kinsmen [to the best of thy knowledge and ability], and thou shalt give them medicine [without charging for it any remuneration whatever], and God will bless thee for that.
Thou shalt not treat medicinally a professional hunter, a fowler, a habitual sinner, or him who has been degraded in life; and even by so doing thou shalt acquire friends, fame, piety, wealth and all wished for objects in life and thy knowledge shall gain publicity.”
Amavasya, Krishna Ashtami, Krishna Chaturdasi, as well as the corresponding tithis in Shukla Paksha, Purnama, and sandhya are occasions when the study of the ayurveda is prohibited. Similarly, a clap of thunder heard at an improper season (months of Pausha, Phalguna and Caitra), or a flash of lightning occurring at a time when such phenomena are naturally rare, or an evil befalling one’s country, relations, or king, should be deemed as occasions prohibiting the study of the ayurveda. Moreover, one should not read it in a cremation ground, nor while riding (an elephant, horse, or any) conveyance, nor in a battle-field, nor in a place of execution. A festival or the appearance of inauspicious omens, and the days of the fortnight usually avoided by the Brahmanas in studying the Vedas, as well as an unclean state of the body, should be regarded as occasions prohibiting the study of the ayurveda.
Yogarudha state –
Described in Gita 6. 4.
yadā hi nendriyārtheṣhu na karmasv-anuṣhajjate
sarva-saṅkalpa-sannyāsī yogārūḍhas tadochyate
”’When one is attached neither to sense-objects nor to actions, and has given up all desiresor the fruits of actions, then he is said to be a Yogarudha or to have elevated the Yoga path (to be a yogi).”
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.
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.
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