What is a Rasayana?

What is rasayana?

From Charaka: Method of preventing aging and disease. The one which removes the aging and disease.

Two lines of original shastra about rasayan:
Rasayan is the main way to get the best dhatus. Transform dhatu to better quality. Each cell of body improves.

When we make diagnosis of disease, prescribe drugs, lifestyle changes, and rasayana.

Our life is time-bound. Not eternal. Even after we die, sense of life continues. Yet the human race wishes to live longer, healthier.

Ayurveda not just science of life, but science of longevity: Charaka begins talking about achieving longer, healthier life.

Future of medicine = health, life…that will take care of disease (this was the thinking of ayurveda originally). Ayurveda becoming more and more relevant.

Rasayana not for disease, it’s for health and longevity. (two words: rasa + ayan. rasa is a taste, first dhatu, but means nourishment in context of rasayana. Ayan: to make available, circulating.)

3 things involved in nourishment:

  • relevant nutrient in the food (rasa)
  • agni
  • circulation (srotas important so tissue nourishment can take place)

Any rasayana remedy will have an impact on all 3 of the above, in some way.
Enrich plasma. Lead to better nutrition to dhatu
1. longevity 2. delayed aging 3. Vyadhikshamatva – better mind power (pure mind) leads to rejuvenation (kaya kalpa)

Shatavari: more rasa-promoting rasayana
Gugguli: srota-promoting rasayan. Not nutritious. (Used to reduce weight, cholesterol, improves micronutrition.)
Pippali one of best rasayanas — no rasa: but improves agni. So nutrients processed better in the system. Pure mind

3 mechanisms of nutrition:
(3 dimensions of the same process, not separate, part of a continuum)

  • kedar-kulya nyaya:
    (small plot of land, tissues) kulya (irrigation channels, like blood vessels) nyaya: nutrient has to reach kedar is so tissue get nutrients <rasa=pool of nutrients that goes to dhatus (not rasa dhatu)>
  • khale-kapot nyaya:
    only operates after first nyaya. Harvesting ground (khale), kapot (birds, 7 kinds, each picks up with they need) selective uptake, because of each dhatu’s agni has to pick up the right nutrients
  • ksheer-dadhi nyaya:
    Transform into body tissue. Protein in food vs. protein of muscle is different. Ksheer=milk, dadhi=yoghurt. Tissues selectively pick up own requirement (some tissues mis-select; ex: muscles pick up too much asti—get calcified). Bhuta agni rasyana will help. (fresh ginger, amalaki, pippali, vacha (calamus ), pushkar mool )

Rasayan isn’t just herbs or drugs, it’s a way of life. Not just medicine.

  • Aachar rasayan: lifestyle rasayan–speaking truth, prayer, positive thinking, peaceful mind
  • Ajasrik rasayan: food-based—milk, nuts, veggies
  • Aushadhi rasayan: Herbs, minerals (enrich plasma, promote agni or srotas)
  • Divya rasayan: very special kinds of herbs, makes superman (developed for gods, not humans) hair turns from gray to black, more handsome, teeth not falling out

Classification of rasayana

According to purpose

  • Kaamya rasayana:
    to promote quality of life for a normal person to become more healthy, prolong life/prana
    a) pranakamya:
    longevity for normal person; examples: amalaki, chavanprash
  1. b) shrikamya:
    beauty, luster, appearance (shri=beauty from health); examples: haridra, manjista, triphala, swarna, loha, bakuchi (things that improve the glow of the skin)
    c) medhakamya: brain function, medha (metal capacity), buddhi (dhi, dhritti, smriti – grasping, understanding, recall); examples: brahmi, shankapushpi
  • Namittik:
    1) as per scope of use; for a diseased person to fight disease. Two examples:
    a) sheelajit: for diabetes (prameha), not to reduce blood sugar or fight the disease, but given to promote health of diabetes so that person can handle disease (insulin has more side effects, insulin is a protein and will develop kidney nephritis)
  1. b) turvarak: for all skin diseases (kustha), including leprosy/anti-leprosy
    2) as per method of use:
    a) vatatapik: exposure to air and sunlight (casual outdoor regimen)
    b) kutipraveshik: intensive indoor regimen rasayan therapy. Remain in a kuti (hut or chamber); three layers highly protected. Remain for 3 months, special food, lifestyle. Undergo panchakarma beforehand. Not very common and hardly even possible today, but ayurveda claims this is the only real rasayana.

Rasayana more a remedy during young age to prevent aging process. Especially in children.

Refer to: Charaka samhita chikitsa, chapter 1

Purusham, purusha vikshya


  • Content of use:
  1. Achar: lifestyle; can be independent but these two work together (achar and ajasrik)
  2. Ajasrik: food-based
  3. aushadi

divya: divine rasayana transforms into supermen.


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