Even more on Subtle Digestion and now Ojas
Continued from several past articles, yes, i am doing it again. The more you read these posts from different facets and having different details incorporated into them, a greater view of what digestion is as well as what Ayurveda is will grow within you. If you don’t understand some of the sanskrit terminology read the several recent past posts.
The Subtle Digestion:
Aahara Rasa transfers to Shukravaha Srotas and then from there to the Shukra Dhatu Agni -> acts on Aahara Rasa, forms Shukra Dhatu + NO MALA + NO UPADHATU. Some texts consider Ojas a mala of Shukra Dhatu, but it not widely accepted. Considered the essence of the Aahara Rasa. When of good quality, the essence of this is considered Ojas. Not an upadhatu or mala, but the very essence of aahara rasa is Ojas. The energy lying within the body.
Two kinds of Oja – Apara oja – stays all over the body, gives luster and good qualities of the person. Para oja is the 8 drops that live within the heart. Physical anatomy wise will not be able to find. More a metaphysical (only due to the angle that modern science can’t understand it). But from vedic science it is always seen in the monks and is the very essence of good quality dhatu. Prevents all kinds of diseases. Good amount of oja prevents many illnesses. When ojas gets depleted or vitiated. Ojakshaya is a pathological condition that we can’t easily find but is a grave condition. Ojas vruddhi is always good for the body. There’s no real concept for ojas vruddhi because its always good for the body. But ojas kshaya is a condition that leads to overall depletion of dhatus and strength overall. Autoimmune deficiencies are due to specific dhatu depletion, but full blown AIDS could be an example of ojas kshaya. The symptoms are that ojas is very depleted and leading to depletion of dhatus. This is why can lead to TB – so any microorganism can become strong enough to deplete the dhatus. Even though someone gets HIV, doesn’t mean that we can’t see how the dhatus are being specifically affected. If you don’t have ojas, especially aparaojas you will die.
Para – close, of best quality
Apara – farther away, not of best quality comparatively
You will come across Para/Apara throughout the scriptures in relationship to other things than Ojas.
Agni converts outside and inside the dhatus. Acts first to break down food into Saara/Aahara Rasa and Kitta. Aahara Rasa role is to nourish body. It goes to every dhatu and nourishes and creates different upadhatus and malas. Just because an upadhatu is created at the level of a dhatu, doesn’t mean it is like the dhatu – ex. Menstrual fluid and breast milk are very different – have been transformed. Meda dhatu confused with muscle, but not muscle – that is an upadhatu. Instead, tendons made from rakta dhatu – usually flowing, but has pruthvi mahabhuta. Changed into tendon as an upadhatu in the Rakta dhatu agni. Upadhatu of meda dhatu is snayu – muscle body, Mamsa dhatu forms the sheath over the muscle – including ligaments, fascial tissue etc. So muscle tissue is made of all of those dhatus –when we eat meat all 3 dhatus get nourished. Upadhatu can get formed from the dhatu, but not the same as the dhatu. Understand that Dhatu and Upadhatu are different. Filtration system – whatever comes into the dhatu gets transferred to mala and upadhatu as well. If something is wrong with the upadhatu or the mala, something is wrong with the dhatu (and vice versa).
Ayurveda is not a mechanical science – it’s a bio-medical science, so a specific food that will nourish shukra dhatu will increase likelihood of increased ojas, but patient must also have a certain mindset along with. If patient is obsessed with sex, it will go to production of shukra vruddhi, not oja. If a person is following Sadvritta/good behavior: good peaceful lifestyle – don’t lie, steal, etc. (in post on dinacharya), will be able to increase ojas. In case of ojakshaya, must try very hard to increase ojas, but also must work very closely with patient to bring them to a clear spiritual path so that they can heal the condition. Sometimes have to treat the patient like a child. Ex. Aciditis – water intake is prevented to treat. In the granthas (texts), it talks about changing out toilet water to milk because urge to drink is so high. Milk acts as a laxative and therefore flush out the water. In modern medicine they try to give diuretics to release water, but that makes worse as well. Becomes more air filled and then water moves in. So a laxative approach is better because it naturally purges the water in right manner.
If giving herbs to increase ojas, the vaidya will ensure there is not aama present. But if person is not following right action, won’t matter what herbs are given, that won’t be enough. Patient must control urge of sexual activity so loss of shukra dhatu is minimal. Must control thoughts so that not thinking about sex all the time. The thoughts impact the shukra by affecting the conversion of shukra to ojas. That conversion from Shukra dhatu to Ojas in anyone is always related to thoughts, mind and food (including herbs etc – all physical intake). Brahmacharya is one thing, abstinence is another. Brahmacharya in Ayurveda is not seen as complete celibacy or abstinence. It means abstinence of Brahma – being the best person you can be. Including staying away from sex. See the posts on celibacy and brahmacharya to understand better. Nashtika Brahmacharya is limiting sexual activities according to seasons. This improves not just conversion of shukra dhatu to ojas, but rather ALL dhatu conversions. This is why it’s important to not sit and watch tv while you eat – our thoughts affect our ability to digest properly. Handling our food with our hands is an actual mudra – this helps us to increase our agni and improve our appetite. (actual mudra = 4 fingers and thumb together in position you hold food with.) There has been Ayurvedic research that has shown the connection between eating with your fingers and the stimulation of digestion. Sitting on floor with plate in front of you ensures you won’t fill to the brim. Energetically, the food moves down through the digestive system whereas if the food is up at the chest or even at the throat, it stops the food from moving downward. You can try this experiment for yourself. Hold a plate of food at your throat and then move it down to your pelvis. Can you feel the difference? The food should also be sitting on the floor with you sitting on the floor as well. Yes, this sounds strange from the Western culture but sitting up in a chair and eating from a table creates ego. Try eating while sitting on the floor as well and see if you have the discernment to sense a difference.
Sadvritta isn’t all or nothing. Start slowly with one thing, and grow over months and even years. Slowly incorporate changes. We tend to read books and take courses in the West and try to digest everything at once. We need to avoid tendency to give all information at once because it overwhelms a person. Start with one or two things and slowly convert.
This is a HUGE transition away from American healing modality, even a Western lifestyle and way of thinking/paradigm. It is truly as deeply back to nature that one can go. The way one lives, their lifestyle and their action, is what is their mind and body.