Every living and non-living beings in this universe is composed of five basic elements, the Pancha Mahabhootas, namely Earth (Prithvi), Water (Ap), Fire (Teja), Air (Vayu) and Ether (Akasha) the Panchabhuta components of ingested food nourishes their respective tissue elements in the body. Ahara is the best of all medicines and is considered one among the three sub-pillars of Ayurveda (Thrayo-Upasthamba). The Ahara (food) and Vihara (lifestyle) which are congenial to the channels, constitution and strength of an individual is termed as Pathya (wholesome) and that which is non-congenial is termed as Apathya (unwholesome). The preventive and curative aspects of Ayurveda revolve around the central theme of pathya Ahara and Vihara. Ayurveda emphasizes basic dietary guidelines in terms of appropriate food, combinations of food, methods of cooking, storage, eating atmosphere, hygiene and etiquette (Ashtavidha Ahara Vidhi Visesha Ayatana).
Ayurvedic dietary guidelines include:
The food and nutritional requirement varies from person to person and depends upon the status of Agni, Shariraprakriti, age etc. Susruta and Vagbhata have suggested that if stomach capacity is hypothetically divided into 4 parts on the basis of its filling, one should take 2 parts of solid food, 1 part of liquid food and one part should be left empty for easy movement of Vata.
Guru, Madhura and Snigdha food should be taken initially during the course of a meal followed by Amla, Lavana Ahara. Food which is Ruksha, Katu, Tikta and Kashaya should be taken in the last part of the meal for proper activation of Agni, proper absorption and assimilation of food. After taking food, it is advised to take rest for Muhurta Matra (48 minutes) for proper digestion.
Ahara vidhi viseshaayatana
To receive the total benefits of Ahara it is also necessary to have the knowledge about “Ashta Ahara Vidhivisheshaayatana”. They are
Incompatibility or Viruddha is a unique concept in Ayurveda. The drugs and diet that provoke doshas, dislodges from their normal bio-rhythm and not eliminated out are called Viruddha. Charakacharya has defined ‘Virudhaahara’ as certain diet and its combinations which hinders the metabolism of tissue, which inhibits the process of formation of tissue and which have the opposite property to the tissue. The food which is wrong in combination, has undergone wrong processing, consumed in incorrect quantity, with food of opposite qualities, consumed in incorrect time of the day and in wrong season can become Virudhahara. Charaka has mentioned 18 such conditions and those types of wrong combinations can lead to even death.
Such food if consumed regularly can lead to number of disorders such as Impotency, Visarpa (erysipelas), blindness, ascitis, psychiatric conditions, fistula in ano, coma or fainting, intoxication, abdominal distension, stiffness in neck, varieties of anaemia, indigestions, various skin diseases, diseases of intestines, swelling, gastritis, fever, rhinitis, and infertility.
The etiological factors of almost all Manorogas enlist Virudhahara as a major cause. A new branch called topography (a science related to combination of food) is emerging, which tells about the combination of basic categories of the food and their effects in the body
The description about Dinacharya, Rtucharya, Sadvrtta and Nidra in Ayurveda clearly depicts the importance of a healthy regimen in the prevention and management of many diseases. A growing body of scientific evidence has demonstrated that lifestyle intervention is an essential component in the treatment of chronic disease that can be as effective as medication but considered to be safe without risks and side effects. A lifestyle is a characteristic bundle of behaviours that makes sense to both others and oneself in a given time and place, including social relations, consumption, entertainment and such other behaviours.
Ayurveda promotes a lifestyle that’s in harmony with nature.
In Ayurvedic classics, there has been a thorough consideration for seasons, besides the dietetic regimens for days and nights. Whole year is divided into six seasons and detailed regimen for these seasons is prescribed. In spring season, bitter, hot and astringent diet is advised while salty, sour and sweet food should be avoided. Wheat, barley, honey syrup, fruits like mango, jack fruit-etc. and meat of forest animals is advised. In summer season due to hot climate, aggravation of Pitta occurs. Hence Pitta pacifying cold, liquid, sweet and oily diet is advised. Excessive hot, spicy, sour salty diet should be avoided. Intake of rice, milk, ghee, sugar, grapes, coconut water etc is advised. In rainy season aggravation of Vata occurs, hence Vata Shamaka sweet, sour and salty food and drinks are preferred. The food should be hot, dry, fatty and easily digestible. Preserved rice, wheat, barley and mutton soups are advised. In pre winter and winter season Vatadosha aggravates due to cold, dry, chilly atmosphere hence Vataghna, Pittavardhaka diet is recommended. Hot, sweet, sour and salty food, milk, sugarcane, rice, oils and fats are advised and in autumn season aggravation of Pitta dosha occurs. Therefore, it is ideal to take ghee processed with bitter drugs; purgation, bloodletting, coolant, and light diet are advised. Diets dominant in Bitter, sweet, pungent diets are good.
Ayurveda prescribes certain rules for maintaining healthy mind. These are principles of right conduct that are applicable to all people at all times and places. Practicing them gives balance and harmony to the mind. These are
Vegadharana (withholding/inhibiting natural bodily urges) is said as a prohibited bodily function as it results in vitiation of three Dosha, and most importantly of Vata, which is acknowledged as the controller of mind and body. Vegas can be said as the natural urges of the body which help the body in maintaining its internal homeostasis by expelling the unwanted things.
The word ‘Vegadharan’ has two components Vega & Dharan. Vega means natural urge & Dharan is suppression, thus Vegadharan means suppression of natural urges. Adharaniya vegas are the natural urges which should not be suppressed. Initiation of Vega is a normal body activity and is a process timely carried out by body at regular intervals & controlled by nervous system, suppression of which not only stops the elimination of waste products but also brings strain and disorders of nervous system causing many diseases. By triggering an urge or suppressing an urge, Vata Dosha is being forcefully hampered and thereby leading to imbalance in the mind, which ultimately leads to psychosomatic diseases or purely somatic diseases.
Dharaniya Vegas (suppressible urges) are Lobha (greed), Irshya (envy/jealousy), Dwesha (aversion), Maatsarya (competitive mentality), Raga (attachment). Manasika vegas also include the other emotions like Kama(lust), Krodha(anger), Bhaya (fear), Soka (grief), Chinta (anxiety). Excessive indulgence in Dharaneeya Vega is the result of improper Atma-Indriya-Artha Samyoga and further impairs the synchrony of Manogunas. Thus, one can understand that Manasika Vega is a result of vitiated Rajas and Tamas that cloud the mental faculties and cause it to form unwholesome association with objects due to impairment of the intellect and the other regulating factors.
He who is desirous of happiness both in this world and the other, should control these urges and thus gain control over one’s sense organs. One should avoid speaking harsh words, back biting, lying and using untimely words. Violence against others, desire for other women and stealing should be avoided. Many of the psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and different forms of psychosomatic disorders result due to non-controlling of these Dharaniya Vegas.
Last Modified : 4/23/2021
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