Ayurveda is knowledge of life. It is the traditional health care system of India which originated in the Vedic tradition. A very interesting story is given in Bhagvat Purana and Vishnu Purana. This story is the churning of ocean of milk by Gods and demons. Ocean of milk is the mind. Many valuable things emerged from this introspection. The last to appear was divine physician Dhanvantri who was holding a pot of nectar which could make any one immortal. Dhanvantri stands for health. This signifies that immortality can be achieved only when the body and mind are in perfect state of health. No progress is possible for a person who is mentally or physically sick. This nectar was distributed by Lord Vishnu who assumed the form of Mohini. Demons were enchanted by the form of Mohini. Mohini stands for delusion of mind in the form of pride. With pride on their mind the demons lost the battle of immortality. Ayurveda is an essential knowledge to progress in life by keeping in good health both mentally and physically. Thus the origin of Ayurveda is from time immemorial.
Ayurveda is based on the fact that all matters including human beings are composed of five basic elements. These are Earth, water, fire, wind and ether. The structural body is made of these five elements. Thus the human is an assembly of five great elements.
Earth: Earth is the solid state of matter. It is stable. The parts of body like bones, teeth, cells, flesh, body mass and tissues are manifestation of earth.
Water: It represents liquid state of matter. It represents change as water is not stable. A large part of body is made of water. Water is used for two functions. One is by storing it in body and other parts use water for their functioning. The fluids move between our cells to bring energy and take out waste. It control body temperature, fight disease and gives energy.
Fire: Fire has no substance but it can transform the state of any material. Fire is the energy which converts the food to fat. This energy controls our impulses and thought process and nervous system.
Air: Air is gaseous form and is always moving and dynamic. Air helps the fire to burn. Without air the life is not possible. The energy transfer is through air.
Ether: Ether fills the void between any two elements. It helps all elements to work and perform their function. Without ether other elements cannot exist. Ether gives individuality to other elements. The function of ether is sound.
Concept of Tridosha
Concept of Tridosha is unique in Ayurveda. It is a combination of basic elements. The structural part of body is made of five elements but the functional aspect is governed by three humors or Dosha. These are always present in the body. The three humors are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They are present in every cell, tissue and organs. They govern all biological and pathological changes of the body. Each humor is combination or Yoga of at least two elements.
Vata: The elements of Vata are air and ether. It regulates movements and the nerve system. It controls all elimination of waste products.
Pitta: The elements of Pitta are fire and water. It causes all metabolism process in the body. It is from digestion of food and other transformation.
Kapha: The elements of Kapha are water and earth. It is the energy of cohesion and lubrication. It holds the body together.
Dosha or Yoga
These three humors are combination or Yoga of two elements. In every human all three humors are always present in different proportion and is the constitution of a person. The basic constitution is decided at the time of conception itself. It is called the PRAKRUTI. This should be maintained throughout life to stay healthy. When this basic constitution is disturbed the disease sets in and is called VIKRUTI. In this way the three humors are Yoga and not Dosha. The unbalanced state is Dosha.
To understand a person we must know his or her Prakruti. This helps in diagnosis of disease.
Both astrology and Ayurveda equate human with the factors that surround them. Ayurveda takes the nature and astrology takes the planets and stars. A comparison between Ayurveda and astrology is discussed to show the areas where these are of help.
The cause of disease is the vitiation of three humors which is by the surrounding nature. Astrology believes that the motion of planets in the sky have effect on human body. Each Nakshatra/ planet represents the function of a part of body. When planets move in different Nakshatra they affect the body parts. Thus both Ayurveda and astrology believe that the cause of disease is from outside source and not within.
In diagnoses of a disease the Ayurveda doctor will measure the vitiation of a particular Dosha and identify the disease. Astrology does this analysis with movements of planets. His may not be a very explicit diagnosis. He can identify the occurrence even at the birth of a person. Astrology can predict the disease which a person is likely to suffer in later life. Astrology can fore tell the occurrence of disease which is not possible for a physician.
The treatment of disease by a physician is by symptoms. He cures by prescribing medicines to balance the Dosha. Many Ayurveda physicians refer to the astrological chart also. In a similar way an astrologer may prescribe some prayers etc. in advance to put a check on the disease. Each Nakshatra is linked to some herbs and plants. He may suggest them for the treatment of disease.
The five basic elements are represented by the seven planets.
Brihat Parashar Hora Shastra identifies each planet with three humors.
Sun: Bilious or Pitta
Moon: Windy and phlegmatic or Vata and Kapha
Mercury: all three
Venus: Windy and phlegmatic
Some astrological combinations are given to decide the nature of a person. This is not a comprehensive list.
- Jupiter is placed in Lagna and Saturn is in seventh house.
- Mars is in seventh house or in trines with Saturn in Lagna.
- Saturn and weak Moon in twelfth house gives serious disease.
- Saturn is debilitated and is related to sixth lord.
- Seventh lord is in Lagna or seventh house.
- Mercury and sixth lord are in Trik house.
- Sun is in sixth house and is related with a malefic.
- Sun is in eighth house. Mars is weak and a malefic is in second house.
- Mars and Lagna lord are in Lagna or in eighth house without any benefic association or aspect.
- Lagna lord is in eighth house.
- Mercury is with sixth and eighth lord.
- Sun and Saturn are conjunct.
- Sun or Moon is in fourth house and afflicted by Saturn.
- Mars occupies a malefic sign in Navamsha and is placed in sixth house with Mercury. Moon or Venus is related to them.
- Twelfth lord is in Lagna.
Taste and Cure
Ayurveda identify six tastes. These are created by the combination or Yoga of two basic elements. Each element is governed by a planet in astrology. This way each taste is linked with planets. These tastes will give rise to some humor and also diminishes some humor. In a similar way the planets also cause aggravation of some humor. These unbalanced humors are the cause of disease. Thus the affliction to the planets representing humor is the cause and is the onset of disease. The affliction to the constituent planets in birth chart is seen for promise of disorder in the body constitution. The affliction can also be seen during transit of malefic on the planets. When both factor shows affliction than it is aggravation of disorder.
An Ayurveda doctor will use this knowledge to cure a disease. An example is given. A disorder caused by Kapha can be cured by giving medicine or food which decreases Kapha. Bitter taste decreases Kapha and thus can control the disorders of Kapha. We can link this to the transit of planets to indicate the time of relief. The effects of benefic planets or the planets with bitter taste on the Kapha element planets.
We will now discuss the tastes with its representation by planets, disease caused and the effect on humors.
Sweet taste is the Yoga of earth and water. Earth is represented by Mercury and water is represented by Venus and Moon. It increases Kapha and decreases Vata and Pitta. The disorders caused are heaviness, cold, obesity, excess sleep, loss of appetite, diabetes, abnormal growth of muscles. The healing action is on skin and hair. It heals broken bones and promotes growth.
It is the Yoga of earth and fire. Earth is Mercury and fire is Sun and Mars. It increases Pitta and Kapha. It decreases Vata. The disorders caused are toxicity of blood, ulcer and sensitivity of teeth, heart burn, acidity, weakness and increased thirst. It stimulates appetite, sharpens mind and sense organs, good for heart and digestion.
Salty taste is combination of water and fire. Water is Venus and Moon. Fire is Sun and Mars. It increases Pitta and Kapha and decreases Vata. The disorders are heating of body with fainting, weaken system, gout, and aggravate skin condition, gives wrinkles, hair fall, blood disorder, hypertension, peptic ulcer, rashes and pimples. It is helpful in digestion, retains water in body and nullifies the effect of other tastes.
Pungent is the Yoga of fire and air. Fire is Sun and Mars. Air is Saturn. It increases Vata and Pitta. It decreases Kapha. Too much pungent can increase heat in body, causes weakness even unconsciousness and sweating. It improves taste of food and helps digestion by stimulating appetite. It improves circulation of blood, eliminates toxics, cleans body and removes blood clots. It cures disorders caused by Kapha.
It is combination of Air and ether. The planet for air is Saturn and for ether is Jupiter. It increases Vata and decreases Pitta and Kapha. It can cause dehydration, increase roughness and reduces semen and bone marrow. It is most healing taste for imbalance of body and mind. It is anti-toxic and germicidal. It relives thirst, good for fever, promotes digestion and cleans blood.
It is mixture of air and earth. The planet for air is Saturn and for earth is Mercury. It increases Vata and decreases Pitta and Kapha. Excess of astringent causes weakness and premature aging, constipation and retention of gas. It promotes paralysis, spasm and has adverse effect on heart. It causes coagulation of blood. It helps to squeeze out excess water and reduces sweating and blood flow. It is anti-inflammatory and has sedative effect.
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