Ayurveda: An introduction

In Ayurveda, aahar is very important. That which passes through the process of aaharan is called aahar. Food, despite being basic to life is also destructive of it which means food can be cause of ill-health, diseases to life-threatening situation to death finally. Food has to be adequate in terms of amount/quantity as well as calories and balanced in terms of nutrients. Food is more than calories. Food has got socio-cultural and psychological values also. It is here, that Ayurveda scores over other systema/pathies.

In Ayurveda, any substance taken as aahar (food) has guna (property), veerya (potency), vipak (resultant of metabolism), and above all prabhav (impact). Rasas undertake Gunas and is undertaken by veerya which is suppressed by vipak and finally prabhav makes all of them resultant. Therefore, our food should be such which provides us calories needed as per age and special conditions eg pregnancy and lactation and disease or recuperation. Calories must come in balanced form in terms of carbohydrates, fat and protein. Food is consumed as solids or semi-solids and liquids. Salads constitute important segment of food. Water other than different kinds of fluids is needed and must be pure and adequate depending upon age, occupation, special conditions, exercise and seasons.

Know all about Ayurveda

Ayurveda is one of the great gifts of the sages of ancient India to mankind. To fall sick is natural. Strange, but true! How come? The reason lies within ourselves, our bodies. As is known, our body is governed by the phenomenon of wear and tear. More the tear breakdown, more is the possibility of falling sick. In Ayurveda, this body of ours is considered to be a universe in miniature. This body or any living organism is composed of pancha mahabhoots (agni, jal, prithvi, vayu and akash) and is controlled by the laws of nature governing the universe. From panchmahabhoots, emerge the three doshas- vat, pitta, kaph.

They give rise to daihik prakriti (physical traits/temperament). Besides, satva, raja, and tam are the mansik (mental/emotional/psychic traits or temperament). Ayurveda is the oldest scientific medical system in the world with a record of clinical experience to validate it. However, it is not only a system of medicine in the conventional sense of curing disease. It is also a way of life that teaches us how to maintain and protect health. It shows us how to both cure disease and promote longevity. The naturalness of taking risk is matched with a natural desire to remain healthy, because the first requisite of the happiness is health.

The health as is known is a state of the body as defined by the World Health Organisation, health is not mere absence of infirmity but a state of physical, mental and social well-being. One of the two objectives of Ayurveda is to prevent the arrival of disease- state of ill health, a guest which comes unannounced, uninvited and persists its stay. In other words, promotion of positive health is the sheet-anchor of the approach of Ayurveda.

The second, and less important, is the cure of disease. Ayurveda, thus is mainly basically and primarily aimed at prevention of disease and promotion of positive health. Needless to say, Ayurveda is not merely a system of medicine. It is more than that. Ayurveda is also not a `Science of Life`. The biological sciences, no doubt, form part of the theory and practice of Ayurveda. It is the philosophy of life, art of living and a science of longevity. What is right, good and proper for happy life is Ayurveda. Ensuring long life, too, is one of the objectives of Ayurveda. Hence, Ayurveda is more than a system of medicine.

The concept of prakriti is a unique contribution of Ayurveda to the human endeavour of preventing physical and mental/psychic infirmities and achieving social well-being and thereby, staying healthy. The prakriti is daihik(physical) as well as mansik(mental/psychic) one. Understanding them (prakritis) is the key to immunity against encroachment of one`s physical, mental and social spaces by diseases. The daihik prakritis are seven in number. Three are uni-dosic, three are bi-dosic and one is tri-dosic.

On the other hand, mansik prakritis are also three in number and each one is identified with satva, rajah and tamas. The prakriti of an individual is also determined by factors like jati (race), kul (family) and kshetra (habitat). In order to prevent disease and promote positive health, we should follow regulations designed for different seasons and day-night. In these, regulations are included rules of aahar (food), vihar (life-style), and nidra ( sleep). One should never forget that health is a state and a state is always liable to change, following the principle of `negation of negation`, i.e., from health to ill-health to health to ill-health and so on.

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