Supreme beauty of body, mind and soul

1. Supreme beauty of body, mind and soul

Every individual has a natural desire to look beautiful and there is nothing wrong in it. Youth and particularly young girls often spend hours before the mirror. A saint once said in his discourse that, “Beauty is only skin deep”. A young man stood up and told him, “We are interested only in external beauty. What have we to do with the inner muscles and bones?” In general, the common impression is that beauty depends on the external appearance and the qualities of the skin. But this external beauty depends on the health of the body and mind. Even a beautiful person does not appear so when he is tense or afflicted with an ailment. Hence to look beautiful, it is important to maintain a healthy body and mind.

1.1 Ayurvedic oil massage

Diet, activity, exercise, rest, oil massage, bathing, attire, etc. which are important to maintain a healthy skin and the ways to modify them in various seasons are well described in this book. Ayurveda advises amalaka, yashtimadhu (glycerrhiza) and triphala as tonics for the skin. Ayurveda advises that everyone should apply to the skin, a paste of keshar (saffron) and agaru in winter, a paste of sandalwood and ushira in summer and a paste of keshar and sandalwood in the rainy season. Ayurveda advises massage with oil medicated with rasna and bibhitaka for individuals with a vata constitution, milk medicated with sandalwood, manjishtha and sariva for individuals with a pitta constitution and a fine powder of triphala or a mixture of lodhra and katphala for individuals with a kapha constitution.

1.2 The three humours

Vata, pitta and kapha constitutions are diseased constitutions. As the constitution is present since birth, the individual gets used to the unhealthy state. Guidelines to change the diseased constitution into a balanced one (sama prakruti) through appropriate diet, activity and medication are elucidated in this book.

The body and mind constantly work as one unit. The unbalanced state of vata, pitta and kapha humours (doshas) gives rise to disease and their balanced state results in health. Natural desires help to restore health and promote the quality of the weak tissues, e.g. an individual with decreased body fluids desires to drink water to prevent dehydration. An emaciated person with decreased muscular and fatty tissue develops a desire to eat meat, ghee and butter. Such natural desires should be fulfilled.

1.3 Importance of Spirituality

The mind becomes healthy and beautiful when its sattva component increases and the raja and tama components decrease. This is achieved by undertaking the practice of Spirituality as advocated by the Path of Action (Karmayoga), Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) or Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga). Sattvik (sattva predominant) people possess good qualities such as compassion, kindness, helpfulness, etc. However they are unable to tolerate the misery of other people. Hence they have to achieve a higher state i.e. a state beyond the sattva, raja and tama components (trigunatit state). In this state, a person’s Serenity and Blissful state are not affected by praise or criticism, respect or insult, riches or poverty. An ideal man (Purushottam) attains the trigunatit state but continues to work for the welfare of society without any selfish motive or ego.

Lord Krushna was such an ideal person (Purushottam). He had a balanced constitution and every tissue of His body was of an ideal quality. Lord Krushna is beauty in the manifest form. The beauty, fragrance and sweetness of His divine life will continue to have its impact on the universe and the minds of the people and make the entire universe overflow with Bliss and beauty. To appreciate the beauty of Lord Krushna we will have to become ideal.

This book will serve as an excellent guide to attain the state of supreme and eternal beauty which begins with the beauty of the skin and the body.

If a person follows the guidelines as described in this book, he will experience the universe overflowing with Bliss and Beauty from within and outside too.

2. Contents of the book

  • 1. Beauty
  • 2. Beautiful life
    • 2.1 A healthy life
    • 2.2 A healthy mind
    • 2.3 A happy life
    • 2.4 A useful life
  • 3. Vedanta theory of origin of components of human life

Section I: Beauty of the skin

  • 4. Skin (structure, functions and care)
    • 4.1 General information on skin
    • 4.2 Structure of the skin
    • 4.3 Hair follicles
    • 4.4 Hair on the skin
    • 4.5 Sebaceous glands
    • 4.6 Apocrine glands
    • 4.7 Sweat glands
    • 4.8 Structure of the skin (Ayurvedic concept)
    • 4.9 Hair
    • 4.10 Nails
    • 4.11 Functions of the skin
    • 4.12 Colour of the skin
    • 4.13 Constitution and the skin
    • 4.14 Age and the skin
    • 4.15 Tissues and the skin
    • 4.16 Ideal skin (tvaksara)
    • 4.17 How to maintain the skin healthy ?
    • 4.18 Season and the skin
    • 4.19 Diet for the skin
    • 4.20 External applications in different seasons
    • 4.21 Skin tonics
    • 4.22 Improving the complexion of the skin according to the constitution
    • 4.23 Selection of an appropriate preparation for external application to the skin
  • 5. Oil massage (abhyanga)
    • 5.1 General information
    • 5.2 Various modes of application of oil
    • 5.3 Advantages of oil massage to the entire body
    • 5.4 Contraindications for oil massage
    • 5.5 Advantages of scalp massage
    • 5.6 Advantages of instilling oil drops in the ears
    • 5.7 Advantages of massage to the legs and soles
    • 5.8 Advantages of sitting with the body immersed in an oil tub
    • 5.9 Advantages of sprinkling or spraying the body with oil
    • 5.10 Oil massage according to the season
    • 5.11 Udgharshan and utsadan
    • 5.12 Samvahan or gatramardan or mardan
  • 6. Bath
    • 6.1 Advantages of having a bath
    • 6.2 Temperature of water used for a bath
    • 6.3 Contraindications for having a bath
    • 6.4 Udvartana
    • 6.5 Attire
  • 7. Skin diseases associated with beauty
    • 7.1 Acne
    • 7.2 Dark circles below the eyes
    • 7.3 Medicines which increase the lustre of the skin
    • 7.4 Medicines which impart freshness to the colour of the skin
    • 7.5 To darken the colour of the skin
    • 7.6 To make the skin fair
    • 7.7 To keep cold skin warm
    • 7.8 To prevent wrinkling of the skin
  • 8. Hair
    • 8.1 Role in beauty
    • 8.2 Constitution and hair
    • 8.3 Causes of hair loss
    • 8.4 Exercises for maintaining the hair healthy
    • 8.5 Dandruff
    • 8.6 Ayurvedic treatment
    • 8.7 Seborrhoeic dermatitis
    • 8.8 Lice
    • 8.9 Greying of hair
    • 8.10 Medicines which improve the colour of hair (kesharanjana)
    • 8.11 Medicines which augment the growth of hair (keshya)
    • 8.12 Diet beneficial for the hair
    • 8.13 Removal of unnecessary hair
    • 8.14 Nails
    • 8.15 Shampoo
  • 9. Baldness
    • 9.1 Causes
    • 9.2 Treatment
  • 10. Local applications in skin lesions
    • 10.1 Acute eczema
      • Wet dressings
      • Solutions
      • Powders
      • Lotions
      • Sprays and aerosols
    • 10.2 Subacute eczema
      • Creams
      • Gels
      • Hydrophilic ointments
      • Pastes
    • 10.3 Chronic eczema
      • Moisturising creams
      • Ointment
      • Cold creams
      • Keratolytic creams, lotions or powders
      • Tar preparation
      • Antifungal agent
      • Antibiotics
      • Corticosteroid solutions, gels, creams and ointments
      • Sunscreens
    • 10.4 Selection of an appropriate preparation for external application to the skin
  • 11. Cosmetics
    • 11.1 Cosmetics and their side-effects
    • 11.2 Cleansing agents
    • 11.3 Bleaching agent
    • 11.4 Axillary antiperspirant
    • 11.5 Scented oils and perfumes
    • 11.6 Lipsticks
    • 11.7 Eye shadows and eyeliners
    • 11.8 Dentifrices and mouth wash
    • 11.9 Bindi dermatitis
    • 11.10 Kumkum (vermilion dot) or bindi
    • 11.11 Hair dyes
    • 11.12 Rinses and tint
    • 11.13 Hair bleaches
    • 11.14 Permanent waves
    • 11.15 Hair straighteners
    • 11.16 Hair sprays
    • 11.17 Depilators
    • 11.18 Hair tonics and lotions
    • 11.19 Hair conditioners
    • 11.20 Nail lacqures or nail polish
    • 11.21 Nail polish removers
    • 11.22 Artificial nails
    • 11.23 Nail hardeners
    • 11.24 Refresheners
    • 11.25 Lubricants of the skin
    • 11.26 Fragrance
    • 11.27 Medica or mendi or mehendi
  • 12. Facial treatment
    • 12.1 Cleansing
    • 12.2 Facial massage
    • 12.3 Steaming
    • 12.4 Gentle scrubs
    • 12.5 Facial or nutritional packs
    • 12.6 Toning moisturising pack
    • 12.7 Toners
    • 12.8 Moisturisers
    • 12.9 Mists
    • 12.10 Use of Ayurvedic cosmetics based on the season
    • 12.11 Daily and seasonal regime
    • 12.12 Home remedies to keep the skin of the face healthy
  • 13. Groups of medicines acting on the skin
    • 13.1 Jivaniya gana (group)
    • 13.2 Brumhaniya gana
    • 13.3 Lekhaniya gana
    • 13.4 Bhedaniya gana
    • 13.5 Sandhaniya gana
    • 13.6 Balya gana
    • 13.7 Varnya gana
    • 13.8 Kushthaghna gana
    • 13.9 Kandughna gana
    • 13.10 Krumighna gana
    • 13.11 Svedopaga gana
    • 13.12 Shvayathuhara gana
    • 13.13 Dahaprashamana gana
    • 13.14 Udardaprashamana gana
    • 13.15 Rukshana gana
    • 13.16 Snehana gana
    • 13.17 Svedana gana
    • 13.18 Rakshoghna gana
    • 13.19 Rasayana gana
    • 13.20 Pûyavardhana gana
  • 14. Diet for skin disorders and spiritual therapy
    • 14.1 Diet
    • 14.2 Spiritual therapy (karmavipak)

Section II: Beauty of the Body

  • 15. Beauty of the five cosmic elements
    • 15.1 Qualities and action of the five cosmic elements
    • 15.2 Absolute earth (pruthvi) element
    • 15.3 Absolute water (apa) element
    • 15.4 Absolute fire (tej) element
    • 15.5 Absolute air (vayu) element
    • 15.6 Absolute ether (akash) element
  • 16. Molecular beauty
    • 16.1 Kapha
    • 16.2 Vata
    • 16.3 Pitta
  • 17. Constitution and beauty based on the three humours (tridoshas)
    • 17.1 Origin of constitution
    • 17.2 Vata constitution
    • 17.3 Pitta constitution
    • 17.4 Kapha constitution
    • 17.5 Balanced constitution (sama prakruti)
  • 18. Diseased constitution due to increase or decrease in vata, pitta and kapha
    • 18.1 Causes of increase in vata, pitta and kapha humours (doshas)
    • 18.2 Clinical manifestations of increased or decreased humours (doshas)
    • 18.3 Treatment of decreased humours (doshas)
    • 18.4 Treatment of excessive increase in humours (dosha prakopa)
    • 18.5 Humours (doshas) and diet
  • 19. Healthy and a beautiful body (tissues and beauty)
    • 19.1 Rasa dhatu (body fluids)
    • 19.2 Rakta (blood)
    • 19.3 Mansa dhatu (muscular tissue)
    • 19.4 Meda dhatu (fatty tissue)
    • 19.5 Asthi dhatu (bony tissue)
    • 19.6 Majja dhatu (nervous tissue)
    • 19.7 Shukra dhatu (reproductive tissue)
    • 19.8 Oja (vital energy)
    • 19.9 Dhatu sara (tissues of a good quality)
    • 19.10 Ideal tissue and the associated quality of the mind

Section III – Beauty of the Mind

  • 20. Impact of the body on the mind
    • 20.1 Origin of the body from the mind
    • 20.2 Effects of constitution on the mind
    • 20.3 Effects of tissues on the mind
    • 20.4 Humours (doshas) and desires
    • 20.5 Tissues and desires
    • 20.6 Unnatural desires
    • 20.7 Ideal tissues and qualities of the mind
  • 21. Four stages of treatment
    • 21.1 Roga nashini (treatment of diseases)
    • 21.2 Prakruti sthapini [establishing a balanced constitution (sama prakruti)]
    • 21.3 Rasayani treatment (administration of tonics to improve the health of the tissues
    • 21.4 NaishthikiMokshadayini treatment (attaining the Final Liberation)
  • 22. Soul, mind and body
    • 22.1 Self-realisation
    • 22.2 Deny the presence of the disease
    • 22.3 Faith
    • 22.4 Love
    • 22.5 Getting rid of your real enemies
    • 22.6 Truth
    • 22.7 Beautiful and ugly
  • 23. Beauty of the mind
    • 23.1 Psychological constitution
    • 23.2 Tamobhuyishta or tamasik (tama predominant) individuals
    • 23.3 Rajobhuyishta or rajasik (raja predominant) individuals
    • 23.4 Sattvabhuyishta or sattvik (sattva predominant) individuals
    • 23.5 Trigunatit (one beyond the three components)
    • 23.6 Ideal individual (Purushottam)
    • 23.7 Diet and the mind
    • 23.8 Qualities of an individual with a healthy mind
    • 23.9 Beautiful life

What is the real beauty?


1. Beauty

According to the common man, that which appears pleasing to the eyes and which attracts the mind is beautiful. Any object or person whom we consider dear to us also appears beautiful. Hence every mother feels that her child is beautiful. A future bride did not like the groom selected by her parents as he was not good looking. However after contemplating about his qualities, she willingly agreed to marry him. Thereafter whenever they met, the boy appeared more and more handsome to her. Thus, beauty is not the quality of an object or a person, rather it is the reflection of our acceptance of that object or person. A girl is neither beautiful nor ugly. She appears beautiful due to the sexual desire in our mind.

The Indian poet Kalidas states that, that which appears fresher, newer and more lustrous each moment is beautiful.

क्षणे क्षणे यन्‍नवतां उपैति तदेव रूपं रमणीयताया: ।
नव नवोन्‍मेषशालिनी रमणीयता । – कालीदास

The Upanishads state, ‘That which is pure and eternally Blissful is beautiful (सत्‍यं शिवं सुंदरम्‌)’. True beauty never withers away. The soul principle which is the same as Brahma, God (Îshvar) or the individual soul is the only principle which has eternal existence, bliss and beauty.

To appreciate the beauty of God, a seeker must raise himself to the highest level of consciousness. It is said, ‘One can truly worship Lord Shiva only when one becomes Lord Shiva Himself (शिवो भूत्वा शिवं यज्ञेत्‌ ।)’. One has to tune oneself to the frequency of one’s deity before one can love and appreciate its beauty. For most people, the idol of Lord Viòhòhal is merely an idol. But Saint Tukaram considered the same idol as the most beautiful, manifest God Himself.

Every object or an individual has an aura i.e. it radiates energy of a particular frequency. When the frequency of the observer matches that of the object or the individual, that particular object or individual appears beautiful to the observer.

As God is beautiful, an individual with divine qualities such as serenity, compassion, kindness, goodwill, contentment appears beautiful. On the other hand, an individual with bad qualities such as anger, vengeance, hostility, violent nature, etc. appears ugly and ferocious.

Beauty appears where there is harmony and harmony exists when there is perfect co-ordination between all the elements in a situation. The food that one prepares may be highly nourishing and may contain all the essential nutrients in an adequate quantity. However, the food will be beautiful only when a sense of cleanliness, neatness and order is maintained while preparing and serving it. The one who cooks and serves it should have love and affection for his master. This is the manner of presenting and serving food beautifully. Such food is digested easily and is more nourishing to the body as well as the mind. This food is termed as ‘beautiful food’.

Beauty does not exist in the sunrise or a rose. If one is merely looking at the sunrise or a rose but one’s mind is elsewhere, then they will not appear beautiful. One can appreciate beauty only when one is engrossed in viewing the object.

A dance looks beautiful when one is so engrossed that the dancer disappears and only the dance remains. Similarly, music becomes beautiful when the musician disappears and only the music remains.

The Upanishads do not believe in perfection. They believe in totality i.e. living in harmony with the universe. When one lives every moment in totality by being fully engrossed in whatever one is doing, the entire life becomes beautiful and it takes one closer to God.

It is only in the Sanatan Religion (Dharma) that beauty is equated to God. The Upanishads state, ‘God is the Absolute Truth, Absolute Purity and Absolute Beauty (सत्‍यं शिवं सुंदरम्‌)’. The word shiva refers to purity or one who is benevolent to all. Shiva is the Name of Lord Shiva. Another Name of Lord Shiva is ‘सुंदरेश्‍वर’ i.e. ‘The Lord of beauty’ or the ‘most beautiful God’.

Lord Krushna says in the holy text, the Gita (10-41) –

यत्‌ यत्‌ विभूतिमत्‌, श्रीमत्‌ ऊर्जितं एव वा ।
तत्‌ तत्‌ एव अवगच्‍छ त्‍वं मम तेजोंश संभवम्‌ ।। – गीता १०-४१

Meaning: I represent the divinity in all living beings and objects, e.g. I am the spring season among the various seasons; I am the energy in energetic individuals and the strength in the powerful; I am the knowledge in the learned and the beauty in the beautiful.

ऋतूंता कुसुमाकर: । – गीता १०-३५
अंह तेजस्‍विनां तेज: । -गीता १०-३६
ज्ञानवतां ज्ञानमहं । -गीता १०-३८

2. Beautiful life

Ayurveda, the science of life defines life as a constant and continuous amalgamation and union of the body, the sense and motor organs, mind and the soul acting as one functional unit. The concept of beauty is not limited to the skin alone. Life itself has to be beautiful. For a beautiful life, the four essential components are – a. A healthy life, b. A healthy mind, c. A happy life and d. A useful life. The characteristics of each are described below.

2.1 A healthy life

A healthy individual has a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. He has a well balanced constitution and all his tissues and organs function at an optimal level. He is well built, healthy, strong and has a proportionate and shapely physique. His skin is lustrous and complexion is pink. He has a swift, rhythmic gait and a deep, voluminous, melodious and resonant voice. While enjoying sex and having good libido, he has total control over his sexual urge. He has a good appetite and digestive power and regular bowel habits. He enjoys all seasons equally well. He enjoys sound sleep. He is energetic and undertakes physical and mental chores with enthusiasm and skill. He rarely falls ill. Though capable of enjoying all the worldly pleasures, he does not crave for them. He looks younger than his age and enjoys a full, healthy life of a 100 years.

2.2 A healthy mind

The characteristics of a healthy mind are –

  • A happy and contented state of mind, cheerful disposition and pleasing manner
  • A feeling of security
  • Self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Absence of tension and frustration
  • Ability to accept and give love, affection and happiness
  • Insight or knowledge of the self
  • Ability to use one’s capability in the task at hand
  • Maximum ability of getting along with people and being friendly to all
  • Ability to adapt easily in every respect
  • Stability of the mind which does not fluctuate or waver
  • Fortitude and courage
  • Intelligence and a good memory
  • Creative ability
  • Follower of the dictates of one’s conscience
  • Having perfect control over one’s own desires, instincts, emotions, behaviour, actions and speech
  • Having respect for teachers and learned people
  • Truthful speech, clarity of thought and right action
  • Humility and gratitude
  • A well wisher of people and working for the upliftment of the society.

2.3 A happy life

The characteristics of a happy life are as follows –

  • Life which is free from physical or psychological illness.
  • Strong, energetic, courageous and confident life which is full of the vigour of youth.
  • Powerful sense and motor organs, intellect and memory.
  • Life with all the means and freedom to enjoy whatever one likes and travel wherever one wishes.
  • Every desire in the life of such a person is fulfilled, all his activities are successful and he gains fame. His children too fulfill his desires and expectations

2.4 A useful life

The following are the characteristics of an individual leading a useful life.

  • One who is intelligent, has a good control over his desires and instincts, speaks the truth, loves peace, thinks before he acts and follows the rules of righteous conduct even while earning money or fulfilling his desires.
  • One who always aims for that which is good for his present life as well as for his future lives and who is engrossed in acquiring spiritual knowledge and meditation.
  • One who respects the elderly and respected people, one who does not expect any help from others but himself wishes to help and donate wealth to others and one who desires and works for the welfare of others.

Primary instincts: The basic instincts of all the living beings are –

  • Instinct for survival (pranaishana) : This is the most primitive but a very important instinct as all the aims of life can be fulfilled only if one is alive and healthy.
  • Instinct for the propagation of the species (putraishana) : It is important to have progeny as through it our unfulfilled desires and activities can be fulfilled.

Pursuits of human life (purusharthas) The aim of human life is four-fold namely –

  • Righteousness (Dharma) : A desire to lead a good, righteous and respectable life on earth and in heaven after death. By following the rules of Righteousness, the society and government, one commands respect from people as well as ensures happiness for oneself in one’s next birth.
  • Desire to acquire wealth (artha or dhanaishana) : By acquisition of wealth through righteous means, not only can we enjoy it but we can help others too.
  • Fulfillment of desire (kama) : Desire to lead a happy life through fulfillment of our desires. Our motto should be fulfillment of not only our desires but also those of each one in this world.
  • The Final Liberation (Moksha) : Desire to attain eternal and supreme Bliss. By attaining the state of highest evolution of the mind and acquiring true knowledge about the self and the universe, one can achieve a state of supreme and eternal Bliss i.e. the Final Liberation.

It is but natural that even if a person has a beautiful skin, he will not appear beautiful and attractive if –

  • He is suffering from an ailment.
  • He has mental tension.
  • He is not happy.
  • He is not living a useful life.

In our country, we worship God as beauty (Shyamasundar). We do not fear Him. We love Him. God or divinity manifests as knowledge in our mind, love in our heart, energy in our life and as beauty in our physical form. Beauty lies not only in one’s appearance but in the way one walks, moves about, organises one’s life and in the way one thinks i.e. the beauty of thoughts. The beauty of the heart is to love. Such a person feels good and makes others feel good too. He is always a well wisher of others. Frequencies of good qualities radiate from him and reach everyone. A perfect form, proportion, pattern and co-ordination of the different parts of the body and a lustrous skin with a good complexion constitute the beauty of the physical body.

In ancient India, beauty was valued and respected. About 2500 years ago, when Gautam Buddha and Mahavir made a tremendous impact on the minds of the masses, the values of beauty and joy started dwindling. People underwent renunciation (sannyas), shaved off their heads, wore saffron robes as ascetics and discarded beautiful clothes condemning them to be a sign of materialism.

The Sanatan Religion (Dharma) states that the body is the temple of God. We have to treat our body as sacred and keep it clean, pure, well decorated and beautiful. Indian philosophers say that the world is the divine play (lila) of God. One should accept life and imbibe the qualities of God. Only then will all His divine or sattvik (sattva predominant) qualities including beauty descend upon oneself.

3. Vedanta theory of origin of components of human life

Man is an epitome of the universe. The soul, mind, sense and motor organs and the body constitute the main components of an individual.

Soul : The soul is eternal, omnipresent and is without a beginning or an end. The soul is the trinity of Absolute Truth, Absolute Knowledge and Bliss (सत्‍यं ज्ञानं आनंदं ब्रह्म). The universal soul is called God. Devotees describe God as the trinity of Absolute Truth, Absolute Purity and Absolute Beauty (सत्‍यं शिवं सुंदरम्‌).

Maya is the basic energy of the universal soul principle from which the entire universe including the animate and inanimate creation is formed. It is the finest form of energy. The subtlemost cosmic elements of absolute ether (akash), absolute air (vayu), absolute fire (agni), absolute water (apa) and absolute earth (pruthvi) are derived from the Great Illusion. Each of these cosmic elements is derived from the preceding cosmic element.

These subtle cosmic elements are composed of the subtle sattva, raja and tama components. The mind as well as the sense and motor organs are derived from the subtle sattva, raja and tama components of all the five cosmic elements. Though the mind and the subtle sense organs are derived from the sattva, raja and tama components, they are dominant in the sattva component. The Sattva component is derived from the five cosmic elements of absolute ether, absolute air, absolute fire, absolute water and absolute earth and gives rise to the subtle sense organs of hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell respectively. Similarly, the five vital energies (panchaprans) and the subtle motor organs are predominant in the raja component. The tama component is derived from all the five cosmic elements which get differentiated into the five subtle elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth which still exist in the form of energy and are known as tanmatras. These five tanmatras get further differentiated into the five gross elements which exist in the atomic form of ether, air, fire, water and earth. These are called as the five gross cosmic elements (panchamahabhutas). In this state they cannot be recognised by the sense organs. These atoms combine with one another and form molecules which are termed as the panchabhautik panchamahabhutas which are the pentad gross elements, e.g. pruthvi (earth element) contains 50% of the gross earth element and the remaining 50% is composed of the other four gross elements. All man made objects and the physical bodies of all animals and human beings are derived from these five gross elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth.

God also known as Paramatma is the universal soul principle. He is the creator of the Great Illusion (Maya). After creation of the universe, God permeates the universe and is omnipresent.

Beauty is an integral quality of the soul and God. If God is beautiful, the entire universe has to be beautiful. There can be nothing ugly in the universe.

How does sattvik mind help in leading blissful life?


1. Soul, mind and body

1.1 Self-realisation

The soul of every individual is a minute part of the universal soul i.e. God. God is omnipresent and He dwells in each one of us. The Vedanta states that knowledge of the Self is itself the true knowledge. Unless you know by experience who you are, how can you know others? After experience, the individual realises that he is the soul principle and not the body or the mind. Our life is a constantly active amalgamation of the body, mind and soul which act as one unit. The soul does not have any qualities hence it is impossible to describe it. A yogi following the Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga) experiences the soul as Absolute Knowledge and Bliss. A devotee following the Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) experiences the soul as spiritual love, beauty and Bliss. One following the Path of Action (Karmayoga) experiences the soul as infinite creativity, activity and Bliss. Even the eternal Truth – God who is formless and devoid of qualities (nirgun) is experienced by the spiritually evolved according to their own path.

The mind exists in the form of energy. It is an instrument of acquiring knowledge about the Self as well as the external world.

The body exists as matter. Matter always degrades and dies. Hence for the body, death is unavoidable but the soul is immortal. The soul has neither a beginning nor an end. The innate energy of the soul gives rise to the mind and the mind gives rise to the body.

When an individual realises that in reality he is the soul principle and not the body, his fear of death disappears as the soul is immortal. In reality, we die only once but we die thousands of times due to the fear of death. When the fear of death disappears, the individual appears peaceful and Blissful even at the time of death. The seeds of all the diseases are implanted in fear. Even a beautiful person appears ugly when in a state of fear.

When afflicted by a disease everyone should take treatment as advised by the physician. However one must bear the following points in mind which will help one to get rid of the disease and lead a happy and beautiful life.

1.2 Deny the presence of the disease

An individual is the soul and not the body. The soul is immortal and Blissful. It cannot suffer from any ailment. Whether it is cancer or some hereditary disease, the firm belief that I cannot suffer from a disease helps one to get cured even from an incurable illness. Even if the illness is not cured or it advances, one does not suffer because one can look at the illness with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav).

1.3 Faith

Faith plays a significant role in the life of every individual. The Upanishads state, ‘Man is faith (श्रद्घामयोऽयं पुरुष:)’. Everyone receives different results for the same action depending on one’s faith. If one believes that getting wet in the rain will give rise to cold and cough, one will certainly suffer from it when one gets wet in the rain. On the other hand, people who enjoy getting wet in the heavy showers hardly ever catch cold on getting wet.

The very feeling that I am a sinner and I am suffering from a disease due to sins in my past life becomes an obstacle to getting rid of the disease. Swami Vivekanand says, ‘You are the sons of immortality – God. How can you commit sins ?’

Live with full faith in God and be sure that God will definitely cure one. Instead of keeping the mind engrossed in thoughts about the ailment, concentrate on some useful activity, repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name or meditate. Despite the ailment, one will be able to live a happy and beautiful life.

1.4 Love

Immense faith in God and His creation enhances beauty. God is love and beauty. If the physician and relatives of the patient treat the patient with love and compassion, he will get cured very fast. Love is the tonic for the mind and in turn for the body.

1.5 Getting rid of your real enemies

Cravings, greed, ego, jealousy, anger, etc. are one’s real enemies. They make the mind restless and ultimately one develops ailments like high blood pressure. Even a beautiful person looks ferocious when he gets angry.

1.6 Truth

Truth is beautiful and untruth is ugly. Diseases which arise from untruth get cured by following the path of truth. Diseases, misery, sins and death do not have a real existence. They arise from ignorance.

1.7 Beautiful and ugly

Shakespeare says that there is nothing beautiful or ugly in the world. It is our thoughts which make them so. A person with good thoughts sees everything as beautiful and himself becomes beautiful.

God is beauty Himself. Naturally, the universe created by Him is overflowing with beauty. Look at the mountains, rivers, sea, sunset, moon or stars. How beautiful they are ! Look at the plants and animals. What natural beauty they exhibit in their appearance, their look, their movements, their gestures ! Go to any forest. How clean and beautiful it looks ! Man has lost his natural beauty. Therefore wherever he goes, he carries with him dirt, foul odour and jealousy.

Plants and animals are naturally beautiful. All infants and children appear naturally beautiful because their mind is simple and straightforward.

When a diamond appears more beautiful than a stone, the beauty is of the diamond. If the stone appears as beautiful as the diamond then it is one’s inner beauty of the mind and the soul. Everything in the world is beautiful. We only have to change our ideas and attitude.

We spend a lot of time, money and energy to appear beautiful. It is important that we ourselves (i.e. our mind) become beautiful. When we become beautiful, the inner beauty radiates outside and the external appearance automatically improves.

Worship (upasana) of Shri, the deity of beauty: Deity Shri is also known as Lakshmi, the deity of wealth; Dhanalakshmi, the deity of money; Dhairyalakshmi, the deity of courage; Vijayalakshmi, the deity of victory; Shouryalakshmi, the deity of bravery; Vidyalakshmi, the deity of knowlege; Kirtilakshmi, the deity of fame; Rajyalakshmi, the deity of the kingdom; Bhagyalakshmi, the deity of fortune and Soundaryalakshmi, the deity of beauty.

Thus, deity Shri or Lakshmi is the deity of beauty, wealth, cleanliness, purity, success, fame, prosperity, etc.

The Shri sukta is the Vedic hymn consisting of 16 stanzas (ruchas). The word sukta means well spoken. The Shri sukta mentions how one can please deity Shrilakshmi by repeating (chanting) verses in Her praise, which describe Her divine qualities.

Once a devotee asked deity Shri, “O mother, where do you dwell ?” The deity answered, “I dwell in courage and adventure (साहसे श्री: प्रतिवसति ।)

It is important to repeat (chant) the Shri sukta by understanding its meaning and imbibing the divine qualities of deity Shrilakshmi by emulating Her.

Deity Lakshmi sits on a lotus in a lake. Though the lotus floats on water, it still remains aloof from it as water does not adhere to the leaves of lotus. Just like deity Lakshmi we too should learn to remain aloof or detached from worldly objects and transactions. Though Lakshmi is the deity of wealth, prosperity, success and fame and despite her being the consort of Lord Vishnu, she sits at His feet and serves Him by gently pressing His legs. This shows Her humble nature and servitude. If we imbibe such qualities of deity Shrilakshmi, our mind too will become beautiful along with the body.

One should repeat (chant) the 16 stanzas of the Shri sukta (verses in praise of deity Lakshmi) daily as well as the 10 stanzas about the benefits (phalashruti) of repeating (chanting) it. The first stanza of the Shri sukta and the ninth stanza about the benefits of repeating (chanting) it are given below along with their meaning. Undertaking repetition (chanting) of these two stanzas, nine times a day after completely comprehending their meaning serves the same purpose.

हरि: ॐ – श्री सूक्‍त
हिरण्‍यवर्णां हरिणीं सुवर्णरजतस्‍त्रजाम्‌ ।
चंद्रां हिरण्‍मयीं लक्ष्‍मीं जातवेदोम आवह ।।१।। – श्री सूक्‍त

O Jata Veda (the deity of the sacred fire), who has complete knowlege of the entire universe, we pray unto you to invite deity Shrilakshmi, who adorns gold ornaments, whose radiance is lustrous akin to pure gold, who loves to wander from one place to another like a deer, whose effulgence radiates light and who imparts happiness to the entire world, into my house. – Shri sukta 1

श्रीवर्चस्‍वं आयुष्‍यं आरोग्‍यमविधाच्‍छोभमानं महीयते ।
धान्‍यं, धनं, पशुं बहुपुत्रलाभं शतसंवत्‍सरं दीर्घमायु: ।। लक्ष्‍मीसूक्‍त ९

O deity Shri, bless your devotees with good position, victory, prosperity, sound health, beauty, fame, healthy progeny and a long, wealthy and useful life of a 100 years. – Lakshmi sukta 9

ॐ महालक्ष्‍म्‍यै च विद्‌महे महश्रियै च धीमही । तन्‍नो श्री: प्रचोदयात्‌ ।

We are aware of the divine nature of deity Mahalakshmi. We meditate upon deity Shri. May deity Shri enlighten our intellect.

2. Beauty of the mind

The word ‘mana’ is derived from ‘मन (mana)’ which means the mind. The one who can think [मनन (manan)], is a man. The mind is also called as the antahkaran i.e. the inner sense organ in relation to the five external sense organs of hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell. The antahkaran is composed of –

  • Ego (ahankar)
  • Mind (mana)
  • Intellect (buddhi)
  • Subconscious mind (chitta)

The qualities of the mind which is subtle and those of the gross body differ. Increase in weight and attachment make the body strong. The mind becomes strong by becoming subtler and detached. The speed of the mind varies. At times it exceeds the speed of light while in the meditative state (samadhi) or deep sleep, its speed becomes nil.

The mind manifests through the nervous system. It is composed of subtle components of sattva, raja and tama. The sattva component is composed of subtle knowledge, light and pleasure. It manifests as love, gratitude, compassion and other divine qualities. The raja component has the basic qualities of misery and movement. It manifests as sexual desire, anger, greed, selfishness, craving for power, jealousy, etc. Ignorance and darkness are the basic qualities of the tama component. It manifests as laziness, sleep and jealousy.

Though the tama component is subtler than electrons yet it is more gross as compared to the sattva and raja components. The raja component is subtler than the tama component while the sattva component is the most subtle one.

2.1 Psychological constitution

Indian philosophers classify the qualities of the mind into good qualities i.e. the sattva component and undesirable qualities. The undesirable qualities are further divided into raja and tama components. All of us possess both, good as well as bad qualities. Individuals are classified into the following groups depending on the predominance of the sattva, raja or tama component.

2.2 Tamobhuyishta or tamasik (tama predominant) individuals

Individuals who come under this category are less intelligent, in a depressed frame of mind and generally prone to laziness. The slightest mental exertion tires them easily. A common feature is a tendency to feel sleepy even during the day. They take the path of least resistance and eat, drink, sleep and indulge in sex to a greater extent. They are extremely greedy, irritable and do not have consideration for others. They may go to the extent of even harming others to safeguard their vested interests. In these people, the id dominates over ego and super ego.

Pashav (animal), matsya (fish) and vanaspatya (vegetable) constitutions represent the three types of tamasik personalities.

2.3 Rajobhuyishta or rajasik (raja predominant) individuals

These individuals are egoistic, proud, ambitious and have a tendency to boss over others. They are loquacious and though hardworking, their endeavours lack proper planning and direction. Their mental makeup is not so strong as that of sattvabhuyishta individuals. Emotions such as anger, joy, attachment, jealousy, etc. dominate their personality. They are prone to emotional outbursts and hence their mental energy is wasted. They require eight hours of sleep. They are calm and patient, only so long as their interests are not affected. They are good, friendly and faithful only to those who are helpful to them. In these people, the ego usually dominates over the id and super ego. Asura and rakshasa (demon), pishachcha and preta (ghost), sarpa (serpent) and shakuna (bird) constitutions represent the six varieties of rajasik (raja predominant) personalities.

2.4 Sattvabhuyishta or sattvik (sattva predominant) individuals

These individuals have a steady and pure mind. They have a religious inclination and follow the path of Truth and Righteousness (Dharma). They stand out by their good manners and good character. They possess a great deal of self-control and do not get easily upset or angry. Even a considerable amount of mental activity does not result in mental fatigue. They need hardly four hours of sleep. They respect their teachers and always try to improve their knowledge, proficiency and skill. They are capable of taking correct decisions after careful and mature thinking which is derived from a clear intellect. Religious by nature, they have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and take a detached view of problems. In sattvik people, the super ego dominates over the id and ego. Brahma and Arsha (saint), Indra, Yama, Varun and Kubera (God) and Gandharva (celestial musician) constitutions represent the seven types of sattvik personalities.

2.5 Trigunatit (one beyond the three components)

A trigunatit person is one who has mastered all the mental processes. He ceases to have any desires, aversions, emotions and attachments. As he has no desires or aversions, he performs his activities without expecting any returns. As he has full control over his emotions, all attempts to make him angry, frighten him or make him elated prove futile. Even Menaka, the celestial beauty cannot stimulate his sexual instinct. He is a fearless person, not even afraid of death. Free from all attachments, he renounces all worldly pleasures. He is least concerned about what the society thinks of him. As he has lost his identity, he is neither happy when honoured nor unhappy when insulted. He is engrossed in elevating his own mental level and lies in his own realm of peace and happiness. A renunciant (sannyasi) who has renounced all worldly pleasures and spends his life in meditation is a trigunatit person.

2.6 Ideal individual (Purushottam)

How then should we categorise an ideal individual ? What are the components which give shape to such a balanced personality ? An ideal individual should have all the qualities of the mind and heart of a trigunatit and sattvik (sattva predominant) personality. Complete and total detachment of the former should combine with a friendly, helpful and social nature of the latter. He should place service unto others before self. Though detached, he should perform all his activities in a masterly manner for the benefit of his fellowmen and upliftment of society. Lord Krushna may be cited as an example of an ideal individual. Lord Krushna’s detached attitude towards life is well portrayed in the following episode which took place when He was at the tender age of twelve. Kansa, the maternal uncle of Lord Krushna was the king of Mathura at that time and a tyrant. He came to power by imprisoning Ugrasen, the rightful ruler. Lord Krushna killed Kansa when He was twelve years old. The people of Mathura were grateful and happy to be relieved of Kansa’s tyranny and wanted Lord Krushna to become their king. Though Lord Krushna had the ability and wisdom to rule the kingdom, He refused. Detached as He was, He handed the kingdom to Ugrasen the rightful ruler and left Mathura. Throughout His life there are many such instances wherein He fought for justice and played the role of a king maker but never accepted the role of a ruler.

Lord Krushna had exemplified perfection in various spheres such as music, philosophy, politics, war, etc. Even the animals and birds were enchanted with the melodious notes which flowed from His flute. The victory of the Pandavas in the Mahabharat war was on account of Him. Arjun, the most renowed archer of His time, could not combat Lord Krushna on the battlefield. In a duel between Lord Krushna and Arjun, Arjun was humiliated in no time. The Bhagvadgita, one of the most phenomenal philosophical discourses of all times was narrated to Arjun by Lord Krushna within a few hours on the battlefield. The teachings of the Bhagvadgita and the life of Lord Krushna portray how an ideal individual should be.

A tamasik (tama predominant) person has an ugly personality. A rajasik (raja predominant) person has a changing personality. He looks ferocious when angry and affectionate when loving. A sattvik person has a pleasant personality due to his Blissful state of mind. A trigunatit person appears beautiful due to His Blissful state. He radiates Bliss and attracts people. An ideal individual (Purushottam) is the healthiest and the most beautiful and attractive person.

2.7 Diet and the mind

According to the Chandogya Upanishad, the sattva, raja and tama components in the food, supply these components to the mind. Diets which dominate in sattva, raja and tama components are given below.

Sattvik (sattva predominant) diet: Cow’s milk, butter, ghee, fruits, dry fruits like almonds, walnuts and food items which do not ferment or putrefy easily increase the sattva component of the mind.

Rajasik (raja predominant) diet: Spicy, pungent, sour, salty and hot food items, garlic and onion increase the raja component of the mind.

Tamasik (tama predominant) diet: Unclean, stale, dry, fermented and putrefied food items increase the tama component of the mind.

Food bought with money acquired through righteous means increases the sattva component of the mind. Food bought with money acquired through selfish motives increases the raja component of the mind. Food bought with money acquired by stealing or cheating others increases the tama component of the mind.

Food offered heartily by sattvik (sattva predominant) people or eaten as a holy sacrament (prasad) increases the sattva component of the mind. Food eaten at parties increases the raja component of the mind. Food given by or eaten in the company of a wicked person increases the tama component of the mind.

When every morsel of the food is eaten while repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name, it increases the sattva component of the mind. Food eaten while gossiping increases the raja component of the mind. Food consumed with alcoholic drinks increases the tama component of the mind.

Fresh fruits increase the sattva component, pickles prepared from fruits increase the raja component while wine prepared from fruits increases the tama component of the mind.

Buffalo’s milk increases the strength of the body and the tama component of the mind while cow’s milk increases the strength of the mind and the sattva component.

Good thoughts, righteous conduct and good speech increase the sattva component of the mind. Thoughts have an immediate and 100% effect on the mind as thinking is the function of the mind. Food can affect the mind only to the tune of 5%.

Birth in a pious family, the holy company of saints and sattvik people and visits to places of pilgrimage increase the sattva component of the mind.

2.8 Qualities of an individual with a healthy mind

Individuals with a healthy mind are intelligent and have a good memory. They execute the job entrusted to them skillfully. Their thoughts are pure and pious. They are enthusiastic, brave, courageous and believe in the existence of God. They respect learned people, saints and the Guru. They are humble and grateful. They face any calamity fearlessly. They have good tolerance and have full control over their mind as well as the sense and motor organs. They are well wishers of others and work for the upliftment of the society.

Individuals with a weak mind require constant support. They are fearful and lose their mental balance easily. Their mind is unstable and they feel embarassed and become restless by minor disturbances. They do not have control over their mind as well as the sense or motor organs.

2.9 Beautiful life

The beauty one acquires at a beauty parlour lasts only for a few hours. If one makes one’s heart beautiful, the whole world will always appear beautiful.

Beauty does not lie in external objects. Rather beauty manifests when one gets engrossed in the object. Dance and music appear beautiful when one is so engrossed that the dancer and the musician disappear and only the dance and music remain. Similarly, when one is fully engrossed in whatever one is doing, life becomes beautiful at every moment.

2.10 Lord Krushna – The ultimate beauty

Life is defined as constant amalgamation and union of the body, mind and soul. An ideal individual must have an ideal body and mind. The soul never gets destroyed and remains eternally in a state of Absolute Knowledge, Bliss and beauty (सत्‍यं शिवं सुंदरम्‌). For an ideal healthy body one should have –

  • A balanced state of the five great cosmic elements (panchabhautik panchamahabhutas) i.e. an ideal quality and quantity of absolute ether (akash), absolute air (vayu), absolute fire (tej), absolute water (apa) and absolute earth (pruthvi) i.e. panchabhautik beauty.
  • A balanced constitution (sama prakruti) i.e. an ideal quality and quantity of vata, pitta and kapha i.e. molecular beauty.

For an ideal mind, the mind should be of a sattvik (sattva predominant) or trigunatit (beyond the three components) nature.

Lord Krushna had an ideal body and mind and He lived an active, healthy, happy and useful life of a hundred and sixty years.

He had a healthy, beautiful and attractive body and mind. Every part of His body and every action was beautiful. Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhu, a great scholar, saint and an ardent devotee of Lord Krushna was overwhelmed with the beauty of Lord Krushna and composed a song of 8 stanzas on the beauty of Lord Krushna whom He calls Madhuradhi pati – the king of beauty and sweetness.

Blood and liver disorders

1. Blood and liver

According to Ayurveda, the liver and the spleen are derived from blood, in the foetal life. According to modern medicine, blood is formed by the liver and spleen in early foetal life. This illustrates the close association between blood and the liver since foetal life. Ayurveda refers to only the cells in the blood as blood (rakta dhatu). The plasma i.e. the fluid in the blood is included in body fluids (rasa dhatu).

Ayurveda refers to blood as jiva (life) – ‘रक्‍तो जीव इति स्‍थिति:’. Five thousand years ago, Ayurveda mentions that oxygen is carried by blood cells – ‘प्राणा: शोणितं अनुवर्तन्‍ते’. In anaemia, when the haemoglobin content in the blood decreases, the functions of all the body cells are affected as they do not get adequate oxygen. In India, 70% pregnant women and children and 40% adult males suffer from anaemia. This affects their working output and body resistance.

Anaemia is called as panduroga in Ayurveda. The word pandu means white. In anaemia, the skin and the mucous membranes lose their red colour and appear whitish. Bleeding disorders are called as raktapitta in Ayurveda. The detailed description and treatment of both anaemia and bleeding disorders according to modern medicine as well as Ayurveda are given in this book.

1.1 Liver – the vital organ of the body

Liver is called yakrut in Ayurveda. Both the words are meaningful. It is said that life depends on the liver. Here the word liver is used with a double meaning, that is liver as an anatomical organ of the body and liver which implies one who lives, i.e. the lifestyle of an individual. The word yakrut is derived from ‘yaha’ i.e. one and ‘krut’ which literally means ‘does’. Thus liver is one which performs important functions of the body.

The book elucidates the functions of the liver and description of jaundice according to modern medicine as well as Ayurveda. In India, laymen who are not qualified in Ayurveda prescribe one or two herbal medicines for the treatment of jaundice. Patients suffering from jaundice should not take treatment from such people as they are not conversant with the varied causes of jaundice and its complications.

Alcohol is toxic to the liver. Drinking alcohol in excess can give rise to acute alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver, alcoholic intoxication and cirrhosis of the liver. It is difficult to overcome addiction to alcohol as in several cases, the addict is possessed by the soul of a deceased individual who fulfills his desire to drink alcohol through the medium of the addict.

The book also describes in detail hepatosplenomegaly, cirrhosis of the liver, oedema and ascites as per Ayurveda as well as modern medicine.

The book gives a list of Ayurvedic medicines which have proved to be useful in liver disorders by carrying out experiments on animals or clinical trials on patients. The book also gives measures to prevent liver disorders.

This book will prove useful not only to patients with blood and liver disorders but it will also be useful to haematologists, gastroenterologists, vaidyas, doctors, medical students and nurses. Everyone shall benefit by reading the book in keeping his blood and liver healthy.

2. Contents of the book

  • 1. Blood (rakta) – Ayurvedic concept
    • 1.1 Qualities of blood
    • 1.2 Functions of blood
    • 1.3 Qualities of a person with ideal blood
    • 1.4 Increase in quantity of blood – Polycythemia (raktavruddhi)
    • 1.5 Decrease in quantity of blood – Anaemia (raktakshaya)
    • 1.6 Vitiation of blood (raktadushti)
    • 1.7 Blood – Modern concept
    • 1.8 Components of blood
    • 1.9 Sites of blood formation
    • 1.10 Development of blood cells
  • 2. Anaemia
    • 2.1 Red blood cells (R.B.C.s)
    • 2.2 Nutritional and other requirements of red blood cells
    • 2.3 Normal values of haemoglobin and red blood cells in various age groups
    • 2.4 Anaemia
    • 2.5 Causes of anaemia
    • 2.6 Iron deficiency anaemia
    • 2.7 Daily requirement of iron in various age groups
    • 2.8 Iron content in common food items
    • 2.9 Why does an infant more than 5 months old develop anaemia when fed on breast milk alone ?
    • 2.10 Symptoms of anaemia
    • 2.11 Prevention of iron deficiency anaemia
    • 2.12 Ayurvedic medicines containing iron
    • 2.13 Diet rich in iron
    • 2.14 Treatment in anaemia where iron deficiency is not the cause
    • 2.15 Diet beneficial in anaemia according to Ayurvedic concept
    • 2.16 Treatment of anaemia with hepatosplenomegaly
    • 2.17 Spiritual therapy (karmavipak)
    • 2.18 Microcytic and megaloblastic anaemia
    • 2.19 Other causes of anaemia
    • 2.20 Haemolytic anaemia
    • 2.21 Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia
    • 2.22 Aplastic anaemia
  • 3. Leucocytes (white blood cells)
    • 3.1 Types of leucocytes
    • 3.2 Normal values of various types of leucocytes in different age groups
    • 3.3 Neutrophils (polymorphs)
    • 3.4 Eosinophils
    • 3.5 Basophils
    • 3.6 Lymphocytes
    • 3.7 Monocytes
    • 3.8 Total white blood cell count
    • 3.9 Increase in white cell count (leucocytosis)in pathological conditions
    • 3.10 Eosinophilia
    • 3.11 Lymphocytosis
    • 3.12 Monocytosis
    • 3.13 Neutropenia and agranulocytosis
  • 4. Bleeding disorders (raktapitta) – Ayurvedic concept
    • 4.1 Causes
    • 4.2 Types of bleeding disorders
    • 4.3 Symptoms
    • 4.4 Types of bleeding disorders according to the predominant humour (dosha)
    • 4.5 Complications of bleeding disorders
    • 4.6 Prognosis of bleeding disorders
    • 4.7 Treatment
    • 4.8 Beneficial diet and other measures
    • 4.9 Medicines useful in bleeding disorders
  • 5. Bleeding disorders (raktapitta) – Modern concept
    • 5.1 Blood factors required for blood clotting
    • 5.2 Process of blood clotting
    • 5.3 Epistaxis (bleeding from the nose)
    • 5.4 Haemoptysis (blood in the sputum)
    • 5.5 Haematemesis (blood in the vomitus)
    • 5.6 Bleeding per rectum
    • 5.7 Haematuria (bleeding from the urinary tract)
    • 5.8 Bleeding from the vagina
    • 5.9 Bleeding following increased blood pressure
    • 5.10 Treatment of bleeding according to the increased humour (dosha)
    • 5.11 Ayurvedic medicines useful to control bleeding
    • 5.12 General treatment in bleeding disorders
    • 5.13 Rasayana treatment for bleeding disorders
    • 5.14 Spiritual therapy (karmavipak)
    • 5.15 Diet in bleeding disorders
  • 6. Liver (yakrut)
    • 6.1 Life depends on the liver
    • 6.2 Close association of blood and the liver in foetal life
    • 6.3 Functions of the liver
    • 6.4 Why does the tummy of an infant appear bulging ?
    • 6.5 Why is liver disease commonly suspected in infants and children ?
    • 6.6 Causes of liver disorders
    • 6.7 Causes of jaundice (modern concept)
  • 7. Viral hepatitis caused by hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E
    • 7.1 Mode of virus entry
    • 7.2 Infective hepatitis caused by hepatitis A virus
    • 7.3 Infective hepatitis caused by hepatitis B virus
    • 7.4 Infective hepatitis caused by hepatitis C virus
    • 7.5 Infective hepatitis caused by hepatitis D virus
    • 7.6 Infective hepatitis caused by hepatitis E virus
    • 7.7 General care of a patient suffering from jaundice
  • 8. Jaundice – Ayurvedic concept
    • 8.1 Concept of germs in Ayurveda
    • 8.2 Classification of jaundice
    • 8.3 Ruddhapatha kamala (obstructive jaundice)
    • 8.4 Koshtha shakhashrita kamala
    • 8.5 Should one take medication for jaundice from laymen who give free medicines?
  • 9. Alcohol
    • 9.1 Properties of alcohol
    • 9.2 Constitution and alcoholic drinks
    • 9.3 Quantity of alcohol
    • 9.4 Alcohol and seasons
    • 9.5 How should one drink alcohol ?
    • 9.6 Contraindications for drinking alcohol
    • 9.7 How to overcome addiction to alcohol ?
  • 10. Diseases caused by excessive consumption of alcohol for a prolonged period
    • 10.1 Alcohol is toxic to the liver
    • 10.2 Pathogenesis
    • 10.3 Acute alcoholic hepatitis
    • 10.4 Fatty liver (medomaya yakrut)
    • 10.5 Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver
    • 10.6 Madatyaya (intoxication by alcohol)
    • 10.7 Why is it difficult to get rid of addiction to alcohol ?
  • 11. Hepatosplenomegaly (enlargement of the liver and spleen)
    • 11.1 Causes of enlargement of the liver and spleen
    • 11.2 General Ayurvedic treatment
    • 11.3 Rasayana medicines (tonics)
    • 11.4 Spiritual therapy (karmavipak)
    • 11.5 Liver abscess (yakrut vidradhi)
  • 12. Cirrhosis of the liver (yakrutodara)
    • 12.1 Causes of cirrhosis
    • 12.2 Symptoms
    • 12.3 Diet according to modern medicine
    • 12.4 Hepatic coma
    • 12.5 Liver transplant
    • 12.6 Ayurvedic treatment
  • 13. Oedema (shotha)
    • 13.1 Causes of localised swelling
    • 13.2 Causes of generalised swelling all over the body
    • 13.3 Pathogenesis
    • 13.4 Premonitory symptoms
    • 13.5 Ama stage of oedema
    • 3.6 Symptoms
    • 13.7 Complications of oedema
    • 13.8 Prognosis
    • 13.9 Principles of treatment
    • 13.10 Treatment during the ama stage
    • 13.11 Treatment during the nirama stage
    • 13.12 Diet in the ama stage
    • 13.13 Diet in the nirama stage
    • 13.14 Classification of oedema according to the predominant humour (dosha)
    • 13.15 Vataja oedema
    • 13.16 Pittaja oedema
    • 13.17 Kaphaja oedema
    • 13.18 Vatapittaja oedema
    • 13.19 Kaphavataja oedema
    • 13.20 Tridoshaja oedema
    • 13.21 Diet in oedema
    • 13.22 Spiritual therapy (karmavipak)
  • 14. Ascites (jalodara)
    • 14.1 Causes of ascites
    • 14.2 Classification of udara
    • 14.3 General treatment of ascites
    • 14.4 Diet in ascites
    • 14.5 Spiritual therapy (karmavipak)
  • 15. Drugs useful in liver disorders
    • 15.1 Best medicine in diseases of blood and liver
    • 15.2 Prevention of liver disorders
  • 16. Preparation of Ayurvedic recipes

Why is it said that life depends upon liver?




1. Blood (rakta) – Ayurvedic concept

Blood is a red fluid which is neither very thick nor very thin. The blood stains on cloth can be removed completely by washing. The quantity of blood in an adult is five litres, that is eight anjalis, i.e. the cavity formed by joining the ulnar surfaces of both the palms. The words asruk, rudhiram, lohitam, shonitam are sometimes used synonymously with rakta (blood)

1.1 Qualities of blood

Blood is slightly warm, salty, sweet, heavy, oily and with a peculiar odour. Its smell is derived from the absolute earth (pruthvi) element, its viscosity from the absolute water (apa) element, its red colour from the absolute fire (tej) element, its pulsatile and mobile nature from the absolute air (vayu) element and its lightness from the absolute ether (akash) element. Rohinis (arteries) carry the blood from the heart to various parts of the body and the nilas (veins) carry the blood from different parts of the body to the heart.

1.2 Functions of blood

Blood is called life itself as life depends on blood.

  • Blood carries oxygen to various parts of the body ‘प्राणा: शोणितं अनुवर्तन्‍ते’ and carries carbon dioxide i.e. gaseous waste products to the lungs.
  • Blood constantly supplies nourishment to all the sense and motor organs, tissues and organs of the entire body and carries the waste products to the kidneys, skin and large intestine
  • It imparts a reddish tinge to the skin.
  • Skin is the sense organ of touch.
  • It supplies nourishment to the foetus.
  • In the foetus, the liver, spleen, lungs, intestines, appendix, kidneys, testes, heart, arteries and veins are derived from the endothelium of blood.
  • In women, blood is purified every month due to monthly menstrual flow.

1.3 Qualities of a person with ideal blood

The skin, nails, tongue, lips, eyes, mouth, palate, nose, palms, soles, forehead and glans penis of such a person appear reddish, oily and lustrous. These individuals have moderate strength. They are unable to bear exertion and heat. They have a good digestive power. They are happy, delicate, intellectual and egoistic.

The blood volume in the body is not constant and may increase or decrease or the blood may get vitiated.

1.4 Increase in quantity of blood – Polycythemia (raktavruddhi)

Symptoms: The entire body and eyes appear red. The veins appear swollen and the body becomes heavy. The patient suffers from a burning sensation, dullness, excessive sleep, enlargement of the liver and spleen, skin diseases and bleeding disorders

Treatment: The treatment consists of blood letting and removing 50 ml. to 100 ml. of blood intermittently and treating the root cause.

1.5 Decrease in quantity of blood – Anaemia (raktakshaya)

Symptoms: Pallor of the mucous membranes, nails and skin. The skin becomes dry, rough and lusterless. Desire to eat cold and sour food items. The patient suffers from loss of appetite, weak digestive power and hiccoughs, cough and breathlessness. The entire body and the tissues become weak due to inadequate supply of nutrition. If the brain does not get adequate blood supply, the patient suffers from loss of hearing, giddiness, fainting and loss of consciousness.

Treatment in anaemia where iron deficiency is not the cause: Some types of anaemia are due to folic acid deficiency. Food items which are rich in folic acid are liver, mutton, fish, pulses, leafy vegetables and sour fruits. In such cases the following Ayurvedic recipes are useful –

  • A decoction of haritaki, manjishtha and rohitaka.
  • A decoction of patola, sariva, musta, patha, katuka, amalaka and guduchi.
  • Two teaspoonfuls of shatavari ghruta twice a day.
  • Two teaspoonfuls of tikta ghruta or mahatikta ghruta twice a day.
  • Two teaspoonfuls of panchagavya ghruta twice a day.
  • Two teaspoonfuls of kalyanaka ghruta twice a day.

Diet beneficial in anaemia according to Ayurvedic concept:

Cereals: Wheat, bajra, vari and rajgira.

Pulses : Peas, kulattha (horse gram), chana (gram) and udid (black gram).

Milk products : Milk, curds, butter and buttermilk.

Vegetables : Onion and stem of lotus flower.

Fruits : Mango, watermelon, banana, jackfruit, sweet lime, orange, amalaka and nimba.

Meat : Mutton, liver and egg yolk.

Dry fruits : Kharik, dry coconut, pista, badam (almond) and charoli.

Sugar based products : Sugarcane juice and honey.

Harmful diet : Oil, groundnuts and ksharas (caustics).

1.6 Vitiation of blood (raktadushti)


General : Pain in the body, heaviness of the body, redness of the eyes, weakness, etc.

Related to the skin : Skin diseases like kushtha, visarpa, vang, masa, til, white spots on the body, ecchymosis, redness and inflammation of the mouth and the perianal region, discolouration of the skin, excessive sweating, itching, ulcers and foul body odour.

Related to the nervous system : Anger, intoxication, tremors, excessive sleep and giddiness.

Miscellaneous : Gout and bleeding disorders

The treatment is to diagnose and treat the root cause.

1.7 Blood – Modern concept

Components of blood:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Plasma

Sites of blood formation: In a foetus of less than 2 months, blood is formed in the yolk sack. Between 2 to 7 months of foetal life, blood is formed in the liver and spleen. After 3 months, the blood formation starts in the bone marrow. At birth and thereafter throughout the life, the bone marrow is the only site of formation of red blood cells, platelets and polymorphs (a type of white blood cells). Production of lymphocytes and monocytes occurs mainly in the spleen, lymph nodes and other lymphoid tissues.

Development of blood cells: The mature blood cells seen in blood circulation are derived from the precursor cells present in the bone marrow. The pronormoblasts present in the bone marrow mature and give rise to red blood cells. The myeloblasts in the bone marrow mature to form polymorphonuclear leucocytes, the monoblasts in it mature into monocytes and the megakaryoblasts in it mature into platelets. The lymphoblasts in the lymph glands and the spleen mature into lymphocytes. Erythropoietin formed mainly in the kidneys and in the liver to some extent, stimulates the formation of mature red blood cells by stimulating the bone marrow whenever there is lack of oxygen due to a decrease in the number of red blood cells. Erythropoietin levels are raised in all types of anaemia and in those who reside permanently at high altitudes. In diseases of the bone marrow such as aplastic anaemia and myelosclerosis, the patient suffers from anaemia and decreased number of polymorphs and platelets



2. Liver (Yakrut)

2.1 Life depends on the liver

It is said that life depends on the liver. Here, the word liver is used with a double meaning, that is liver as an anatomical organ of the body and liver which implies one who lives, i.e. the lifestyle of an individual.

In Ayurveda the word ‘yakrut’ is used for liver. This word is derived from ‘yaha’ i.e. one and ‘krut’ which literally means ‘does’. Thus the word yakrut means an organ which is always active and performs important metabolic functions of the body.

2.2 Close association of blood and the liver in foetal life

As described in Ayurveda, the liver is an abdominal organ situated below the heart on the right side of the abdomen. According to Sushrut, the liver and spleen originate from blood and the endothelium (raktadhara kala). According to modern medicine, in foetal life, blood is manufactured in the foetal liver and spleen. During the last three months of pregnancy, the function of manufacturing of blood is taken over gradually by the bone marrow. After birth, the liver and spleen become the storehouses of blood.

Bile is called as ranjak pitta. The word ranjak means that which imparts colour. The yellow colour of bile is due to bilirubin which is ranjak pitta. When pitta i.e. bile enters the intestines through the bile ducts, it imparts yellow colour to the digestive juices and faeces. In ruddhapathakamala i.e. obstructive jaundice, the stools become white in colour because the small bile canaliculi are obstructed by the sticky vitiated bile.

Vagbhat states in the Ashtangahruday that toxins affect the liver and spleen. Blood has a special affinity for toxins and as the liver and spleen are the storehouses of blood, the toxins lead to hepatosplenomegaly i.e. enlargement of the liver and spleen.

2.3 Functions of the liver

  • Maintaining the level of bile pigments in the blood: The dead red blood cells release haemoglobin which is converted into indirect bilirubin. This indirect bilirubin in the blood is absorbed by the liver cells and it is converted into direct bilirubin which is carried to the intestines through the bile ducts. This bile is called as ranjak pitta in Ayurveda. The word ranjak means that which imparts colour. The bile pigments are responsible for the yellow and green colour of the bile, stools and urine. Swelling of the liver cells in hepatitis or obstruction of the bile ducts raises the level of bilirubin in the blood and leads to jaundice
  • The haematopoietic cells in the liver manufacture foetal haemoglobin. This formation of red blood cells containing foetal haemoglobin stops when the infant is around two months of age.
  • Production of important biological molecules: The amino acids, fatty acids, glucose and glycerides which are formed in the intestine after the digestion of food are carried by the blood capillaries and lymphatics to the liver. In the liver cells, albumin which is important for maintaining osmotic pressure in the blood capillaries and prothrombin which is essential for the clotting of blood are formed, which circulate in the blood.
  • Storage of food: Glucose is stored in the cells of the liver in the form of glycogen. If the glucose level in the blood falls as in the case of fasting or after exercise, the liver cells convert the glycogen into glucose and thus maintain the level of blood glucose. In addition, iron and vitamin B12 are also stored in the liver.
  • Digestion of food: The liver cells manufacture bile which is carried to the gall bladder and stored there. During the digestion of food, the bile stored in the gall bladder is secreted into the intestine. About 600 ml. of bile are manufactured daily. The bile salts in the bile help in the digestion of oil, ghee and fatty substances.
  • Detoxication: The liver cells detoxicate i.e. convert poisonous substances and drugs into harmless substances which are carried by bile into the small intestine and later excreted in the form of stools.

2.4 Why does the tummy of an infant appear bulging?

In the foetus, the size of the abdominal cavity is very small. Hence the abdomen cannot accomodate the intestines. The abdominal cavity in the foetus gradually increases in size and after six months it can accomodate the intestines.

However, this results in bulging of the abdomen till the age of one to two years. As the size of the abdomen further increases after birth, the bulge reduces. In addition, the liver is a comparatively large organ in infants. This is also responsible for bulging of the abdomen in infants. In infants and children with a weak digestive power and malabsorption, the intestinal wall becomes weak and it bloats easily as a result of formation of flatus due to the weak digestive power. In rickets, the muscle tone of the abdomen as well as the intestines is affected and this results in bulging of the abdomen.

Enlargement of the liver and spleen, accumulation of fluids in the abdomen i.e. ascites, tuberculosis of the intestine and constipation can also give rise to bulging of the abdomen.

2.5 Why is liver disease commonly suspected in infants and children?

The liver is comparatively large in infants. It constitutes 5% of the total body weight at birth but only 2% of the body weight in adults. In adults, the liver is completely covered by ribs on the right side of the body and is not palpable with the fingers. In infants, due to the comparatively large size of the liver, it can be easily palpated by the doctor during examination of the abdomen. The liver is also enlarged in many infectious diseases in infants. Hence in many conditions like loss of appetite, distension of the abdomen, indigestion and diarrhoea, the large liver is suspected to be the causative factor.

2.6 Causes of liver disorders

Dietary causes –

  • Fasting for a long time along with malnutrition.
  • Eating in excess.
  • Eating incompatible food items.
  • Indigestion
  • Eating allergic (asatmya) food items not suitable for one’s constitution.
  • Eating heavy, cold and dry food items.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Viral infections such as hepatitis A, B, C, D, E and G.
  • Drug induced hepatitis: Most drugs are detoxicated in the liver and in this process the liver cells may get damaged.
  • Both obesity and malnutrition make an individual susceptible to liver diseases.
  • Metabolic disorders: Wilson’s disease in which the liver functions are affected due to accumulation of copper in the liver.

2.7 Causes of jaundice (modern concept)

An increase in the level of the bile pigments i.e. ranjak pitta in blood gives rise to jaundice. The normal level of bile pigments in blood is 0.8 mg.% – 1.2 mg.%.

A. Haemolytic jaundice: In this disease, there is increase in the formation of bile pigments. The destruction of red blood cells releases haemoglobin from which indirect bilirubin is formed. The increased destruction of red blood cells leads to jaundice. This increased destruction of red blood cells can be acute or chronic. This type of jaundice is called haemolytic jaundice.

Acute destruction of red blood cells

  • Incompatible blood: Blood transfusion with mismatched blood leads to sudden destruction of the red blood cells thus causing jaundice. If the father and the newborn baby have Rh positive blood group and the mother has Rh negative blood group or if the father and the newborn baby are of ‘A’ group and the mother is of ‘O’ group, the baby may suffer from intense jaundice in the first 2 to 3 days after birth. In these cases, exchange transfusion may be required.
  • G-6-PD deficiency: The red blood cells contain an enzyme called as G-6-PD. Due to this enzyme, the red blood cells can utilise glucose for the formation of energy. If there is deficiency of this enzyme, the red blood cells cannot utilise the glucose and die early. Administration of drugs like quinine, aspirin, sulpha, chloromycetin and nitrofurantoin precipitates the destruction of red blood cells in such cases. These drugs should be avoided in individuals with G-6-PD deficiency. In such cases, the level of bilirubin in the individual increases.
  • Chronic destruction of red blood cells: In diseases like Cooley’s anaemia, sickle cell anaemia and congenital spherocytosis the structure of haemoglobin is abnormal. Hence the red blood cells in these patients die within 30 to 35 days instead of a normal lifespan of 100 days. In such cases, the liver and spleen get enlarged and the patient suffers from intermittent jaundice. The bone marrow tries to compensate for this loss by increasing the manufacturing of the red blood cells. As a result, the reticulocyte count in the blood increases.

B. Obstructive jaundice: Obstruction in the bile ducts results in accumulation of bile in the liver cells which in turn enters the blood and gives rise to increased level of bilirubin in the blood, resulting in jaundice. Due to the absence of bile in the intestines, the stools become white in colour and greasy as there is insufficient digestion and absorption of fat. The urine becomes dark yellow in colour.

In infective hepatitis caused by viruses, swelling of the liver cells obstructs the fine bile ducts and gives rise to jaundice. In some babies, the bile ducts are not formed in foetal life. In such babies, the jaundice is apparent in the first few days after birth and it steadily increases.

C. Infective hepatitis: This jaundice is caused by hepatitis viruses which are named as A, B, C, D, and E.

D. Cirrhosis of the liver: This is a chronic gradually progressive disease of the liver wherein the liver cells die and are replaced by fibrous tissue i.e. scar tissue. Many bile ducts are obstructed by the scar tissue. Hence the level of jaundice keeps on increasing gradually.

Diet is divine


Section I: Fundamental principles of dietetics

  • 1. Food itself is Brahma (annam Brahma)
    • 1.1 Lord Vishnu – the deity of food
    • 1.2 Importance of food as a vehicle for the subtle body (linga deha)
    • 1.3 Food provides the structural components and energy
    • 1.4 The body is derived from food
    • 1.5 Definition of food
    • 1.6 Properties of food
    • 1.7 Importance of a beneficial diet


  • 2. Constituents and classification of food
    • 2.1 What is the composition of the human body ?
    • 2.2 What are the functions of these basic elements ?
    • 2.3 How are these basic elements available ?
    • 2.4 What are the basic elements and the biological elements of the human body according to Ayurveda ?
    • 2.5 How are the constituents of food classified ?
    • 2.6 How is food available in Nature
    • 2.7 What are the basic constituents of the human body ?
    • 2.8 What are the differences in the nutritive value of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food ?
    • 2.9 Best food items from various categories
    • 2.10 Important functions and effect of various food items commonly used in our diet


  • 3. Food processing
    • 3.1 What are the various methods of processing food ?
    • 3.2 What is the effect of cooking on the nutritive value of food ?
    • 3.3 How can one preserve food ?


  • 4. Meals
    • 4.1 Kitchen
    • 4.2 Dining room
    • 4.3 Place for eating
    • 4.4 Vastushastra and the arrangement in the kitchen
    • 4.5 Utensils used for serving food
    • 4.6 Arrangement of food items in a plate
    • 4.7 When should a person dine ?
    • 4.8 Before meals
    • 4.9 Is it advisable to take an appetiser before meals ?
    • 4.10 Is it advisable to have an alcoholic drink as an appetiser before meals
    • 4.11 Selection of food
    • 4.12 How should one serve the courses of food ?
    • 4.13 When should one drink water during a meal ?
    • 4.14 Qualities of food and its effect on the body
    • 4.15 Eating slowly or eating fast
    • 4.16 Avoid the following types of food items
    • 4.17 Dinner
    • 4.18 Quantity of food
    • 4.19 Anupana
    • 4.20 Should one eat meals in solitude or in the company of family or friends ?


  • 5. Diet and the mind
    • 5.1 Concept of food according to the Vedas
    • 5.2 Diet of the sense organs, mind and intellect
    • 5.3 Factors affecting the purity of food
    • 5.4 Activation of the Sun channel (Surya nadi) after meals
    • 5.5 Diet and the mind
    • 5.6 Classification of diet in relation with the mind
    • 5.7 Examples of sattvik, rajasik and tamasik food items
    • 5.8 Effect of the state of mind on digestion
    • 5.9 Non-vegetarian diet
    • 5.10 Respect for food
    • 5.11 Diet with sanskars
    • 5.12 Effect of an evil eye being cast by animals and people on the food served as a meal


  • 6. Qualities of food
    • 6.1 The twenty biological qualities of food
    • 6.2 What is the scientific meaning of the words ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ with respect to food items and medicines ?
    • 6.3 Hot and cold food items
    • 6.4 Who should eat hot food items and who should avoid them ?
    • 6.5 Who should eat cold food items and who should avoid them ?
    • 6.6 Heavy and light food items
    • 6.7 Heavy food items
    • 6.8 Light food items
    • 6.9 What is meant by oily and dry food items ?
    • 6.10 Oily food items
    • 6.11 Dry food items
    • 6.12 Who should eat dry food items and who should avoid them ?


  • 7. Taste
    • 7.1 Six tastes
    • 7.2 functions of sweet taste
    • 7.3 Side-effects of eating sweet food items in excess
    • 7.4 Functions of sour taste
    • 7.5 Side-effects of eating sour food items in excess
    • 7.6 Functions of salty taste
    • 7.7 Side-effects of excessive salt intake
    • 7.8 Functions of pungent taste
    • 7.9 Side-effects of eating pungent food items in excess
    • 7.10 Functions of bitter tast
    • 7.11 Side-effects of consuming bitter food items in excess
    • 7.12 Functions of astringent taste
    • 7.11 Side-effects of excessive intake of food with an astringent tast


  • 8. Constitution (prakruti) and the diet
    • 8.1 Vata, pitta, kapha and balanced constitution (sama prakruti)
    • 8.2 Taste of food items and the humours (doshas)
    • 8.3 Beneficial and harmful diet and activity for vata constitution and vataja (vata induced) diseases
    • 8.4 Tonics for vata constitution and vataja (vata induced) diseases
    • 8.5 Beneficial and harmful diet and activity for pitta constitution and pittaja (pitta induced) diseases
    • 8.6 Tonics for pitta constitution and pittaja (pitta induced) diseases
    • 8.7 Beneficial and harmful diet and activity for kapha constitution and kaphaja (pitta induced) diseases
    • 8.8 Tonics for kapha constitution and kaphaja (kapha induced) diseases


  • 9. Season and the diet
    • 9.1 Seasons in North and South India
    • 9.2 Effect of seasons on man
    • 9.3 Seasons and the three humours (doshas)
    • 9.4 Seasons and vata
    • 9.5 Seasons and pitta
    • 9.6 Seasons and kapha
    • 9.7 Modification of diet in different seasons
    • 9.8 Spring season (vasant rhutu)
    • 9.9 Summer season (grishma rhutu)
    • 9.10 Pre-monsoon season (pravrut rhutu)
    • 9.11 Monsoon season (varsha rhutu)
    • 9.12 Autumn season (sharad rhutu)
    • 9.13 Early winter season (hemant rhutu)
    • 9.14 Late winter season (shishir rhutu)
    • 9.15 Diet and activity in different seasons
    • 9.16 Panchakarma treatment
    • 9.17 Exercise
    • 9.18 Afternoon nap


  • 10. Digestion
    • 10.1 Digestion of food
    • 10.2 Digestion in the stomach and the intestines
    • 10.3 Digestive power
    • 10.4 Factors affecting the digestive power
    • 10.5 What is the effect of diet on the qualities of the mind ?
    • 10.6 Guidelines to maintain the digestive organs healthy


  • 11. Dietetic incompatibility (viruddha anna)
    • 11.1 Incompatibility of food items with one another
    • 11.2 Incompatibility due to various conditioning factors
      • Nisargattaha viruddha (naturally incompatible)
      • Desh viruddha (regionwise incompatibility)
      • Kala viruddha (timewise incompatibility)
      • Agni viruddha (digestion power incompatibility)
      • Koshtha viruddha (digestive capacity incompatibility)
      • Parimana viruddha (fixed proportion of two food items)
      • Satmaya viruddha (habituation incompatibility)
      • Dosha viruddha (constitution incompatibility)
      • Increase in the same humour (dosha) caused by two or more food items
      • Sanskar viruddha (mode of preparation)
      • Incompatibility between a food item and the cooking utensil
      • Virya viruddha (combination of food items with opposing action)
      • Avastha viruddha (mental state of an individual
      • Krama viruddha (prescribed course
      • Paka viruddha (degree of cooking)
      • Sampat viruddha (quality of food)
      • Sanyoga viruddha (way of combination of food items)
      • Vidhi viruddha (breaking of dietetic rules)
      • Parikar viruddha (order of food)
      • Mana viruddha (against one’s liking)
    • 11.3 Diseases resulting from dietetic incompatibilities
    • 11.4 Treatment


  • 12. Place and food
    • 12.1 Effect of place on the quality and digestibility of food
      • Place where the food is grown
      • Place where a person has spent his childhood
      • Place where the food is eaten
    • 12.2 Time (kal)
      • Effect of time on food
      • Natural time for eating food
      • Time of the day for eating food
      • Season and food
      • Stage of a disease and food
      • Effects of food eaten at an inappropriate time
      • Upayukta


  • 13. Tolerance and intolerance (satmya and asatmya)
    • 13.1 Tolerance (satmya)
      • Pravara satmya (good tolerance
      • Avara satmya (poor tolerance
      • Madhyama satmya (moderate tolerance)
      • Oakasatmya (tolerance after constant use)
      • Jatisatmya (tolerance in a species)
      • Deshasatmya (tolerance according to the place or region)
      • Rhutusatmya (tolerance according to the season)
      • Prakrutisatmya (tolerance according to the constitution)
      • Vayasatmya (tolerance according to the age)
      • Vyadhisatmya (tolerance in a disease)
    • 13.2 Intolerance (asatmya)

Section II: Dietary Components and Their Functions

  • 14. Calories
    • 14.1 How does food supply energy ?
    • 14.2 What is a calorie in the context of food ? How does food supply energy to sustain all the body activities ?
    • 14.3 How many calories are supplied by common food items ?
    • 14.4 Which factors affect one’s food requirements ?
    • 14.5 How many calories and proteins do children and adults normally require?
    • 14.6 How does one’s activity affect the caloric and protein requirements of one’s body ?
    • 14.7 What are the manifestations of deficiency in calories ?
    • 14.8 What are the manifestations of taking food, i.e. calories in excess ?
    • 14.9 How is it that some people eat a lot and yet are thin whereas others may eat very little and yet gain weight ?
    • 14.10 What is the percentage of fat in the human body ?


  • 15. Proteins
    • 15.1 What are proteins ?
    • 15.2 What are the functions of proteins ?
    • 15.3 Why do children require more proteins?
    • 15.4 What are the sources of proteins ?
    • 15.5 Why are animal proteins rated as first class proteins and vegetable proteins as second class proteins ?
    • 15.6 Can vegetable proteins replace animal proteins ?
    • 15.7 What are the symptoms of protein deficiency ?
    • 15.8 Is it risky to consume proteins in excess ?


  • 16. Fats
    • 16.1 Components of fats
    • 16.2 Circulating lipoproteins
    • 16.3 What are the functions of fat ?
    • 16.4 What are the dietary sources of fat ?
    • 16.5 What are the differences between fat from animal source and that from vegetable source ?
    • 16.6 What are essential fatty acids ?
    • 16.7 What are the symptoms of fat deficiency ?
    • 16.8 What are the symptoms of excessive intake of fat ?


  • 17. Carbohydrates
    • 17.1 What are carbohydrates ?
    • 17.2 What are the sources of carbohydrates ?
    • 17.3 What are the functions of carbohydrates ?
    • 17.4 Types of carbohydrates
    • 17.5 What are the symptoms of deficiency of carbohydrates ?
    • 17.6 What are the symptoms of consuming carbohydrates in excess ?


  • 18. Minerals
    • 18.1 What are the functions of minerals in general ?
    • 18.2 Iron
      • What are the dietary sources of iron ?
      • What are the functions of iron in our body ?
      • How can one recognise iron deficiency ?
      • What are the daily requirements of iron and calcium in children and adults ?
    • 18.3 Calcium
      • What are the functions of calcium in the body ?
      • What are the sources of calcium in our diet ?
      • What are the symptoms of calcium deficiency ?
    • 18.4 What are the sources and functions of other minerals in the body ?
    • 18.5 Harmful effects of some minerals when absorbed into the body in excess
    • 18.6 Salt (lavan)
      • Saindhav
      • Sauvarchala (sanchala or padelona)
      • Bidalavan (bida salt)
      • Samudra lavan [common salt (salt from the sea)]
      • Oudbhida salt
      • Krushna lavan (black salt)
      • Romak
    • 18.7 Caustic salts (ksharas)
      • Yavakshara
      • Svarjikakshara or sajjikshara
      • Tankanakshara (borax)


  • 19. Vitamins
    • 19.1 What are vitamins ?
    • 19.2 What are the daily requirements of various vitamins ?
    • 19.3 Can vitamins be stored in the body ?
    • 19.4 Vitamin A
    • 19.5 B-Complex
    • 19.6 Vitamin C
    • 19.7 Vitamin D
    • 19.8 Vitamin E
    • 19.9 Vitamin K


  • 20. Water
    • 20.1 What are the functions of water ?
    • 20.2 How much water should one drink daily ?
    • 20.3 When should one drink water ?
    • 20.4 Rain water (divya jal)
    • 20.5 Properties of water according to the soil
    • 20.6 Sources of water
    • 20.7 Water during the day and night
    • 20.8 Testing water
    • 20.9 Purification of water
    • 20.10 Boiling of water
    • 20.11 Who should drink water which is cooled after boiling ?
    • 20.12 What are the indications to drink less water ?
    • 20.13 What are the symptoms of drinking excessive water ?
    • 20.14 What are the symptoms of deficiency of water in the body ?
    • 20.15 What are the indications to drink warm water ?
    • 20.16 What are the indications to drink cold water ?


  • 21. Balanced diet
    • 21.1 What is good nutrition ?
    • 21.2 How much food should one eat ?
    • 21.3 Food exchanges
    • 21.4 Principles for calculating calories in the diet
    • 21.5 Principles for selection of diet
    • 21.6 Outline of food exchanges
    • 21.7 What are the differences in the nutritive value of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food ?
    • 21.8 Is it possible for poor families to have a well balanced and nutritious diet ?

Why is food itself called as Brahma?


1. Food itself is Brahma (annam Brahma)

हे न जाणावे साधारण ।
अन्‍न ब्रह्मरूप जाण ।
जे जीवनहेतु कारण ।
विश्‍वा यया ।। – श्री भावार्थदीपिका (श्री ज्ञानेश्‍वरी ३:३३)

Saint Dnyaneshvar says, ‘Food itself is Brahma’ The whole universe originates from, sustains on and merges into Brahma. Similarly, all living beings originate from, survive on and merge into food.

1.1 Lord Vishnu – the deity of food

Lord Vishnu is the deity who controls the production, digestion and utilisation of food. In the Vishnu Sahastranam, ‘bhojan (food)’ and ‘bhokta (the one who consumes it)’ are also included in the thousand Names of Lord Vishnu as ‘भोजनाय नम:’, ‘भोक्‍ताय नम:’. That is food as well as its consumer are respected as Lord Vishnu.

1.2 Importance of food as a vehicle for the subtle body (linga deha)

In the cycle of life and death, an individual is reborn on the earth after experiencing the results of his good deeds in heaven.

। क्षीणे पुण्‍ये मर्त्‍यलोकं विशन्‍ति ।। – गीता

The entire process of descending on the earth from heaven can be explained as follows – The subtle body (linga deha) launches itself on the clouds. From the clouds it enters the earth through rain and from the earth it enters the foodgrains. When an individual consumes foodgrains, it enters into his body. In males, it enters into one of the sperms in the semen while in females it enters into the maturing ovum. During sexual intercourse if the sperm fertilises the ovum, it leads to conception only if the sperm or the ovum contains the subtle body. This is the actual birth of a human being wherein the body consists of only one cell. If the subtle body is present in the ovum then a girl is born whereas a boy is born if the subtle body is present in the sperm.

1.3 Food provides the structural components and energy

At the time of conception, the body of all living beings comprises of a single, minute cell. This cell then undergoes mitotic cell divisions till 50 billion cells are formed. The formation of these cells and their constituents depends on food. After birth, the baby gradually grows into an adult through tremendous increase in the number and the size of the body cells. Additional energy, i.e. extra food is required for extra growth and development.

The lifespan of different cells in the body varies. The white blood cells (W.B.C.s) in blood have a lifespan of a few hours while the red blood cells (R.B.C.s) have a lifespan of 100 days. In an accident, injury or ailment, the cells and the tissues of the body are directly or indirectly damaged. The newly formed cells replace the dead ones and thus the tissues are repaired. This process continues till one dies. The non-functional particles, i.e. molecules from the old cells are converted into waste products. After digestion and absorption, food particles are utilised to form new particles in the cells and replace the old ones.

Every activity of the human body requires some amount of energy. Food is the source of this energy. Food supplies energy for activities like walking, playing, digestion of food, beating of the heart, etc. which are essential to live. In fact in every living cell, energy is utilised as a continuous process. The moment the body or the cell stops utilising energy, it can be termed as dead. The cells derive energy from food.

1.4 The body is derived from food

The millions of cells in the body are formed from food and food provides the energy required for the functioning of the body. Hence the Taittiriya Upanishad mentions the body as ‘annamaya kosh’, i.e. the sheath derived from food.

Charakacharya states that the body is derived from food (देहो आहारसंभव). All living beings are formed from food. They sustain and grow on food. Thus food is indispensible for living creatures. Hence the Taittiriya Upanishad mentions that food (anna) itself is Brahma. Hence according to the Upanishads, everyone should realise the importance of food and none should criticise it.

औषधिभ्‍यो अन्‍नम्‌ । अन्‍नात्‌ पुरुष: ।
अन्‍नात्‌ भूतानि जायन्‍ते । जातानि अन्‍नेन वर्धन्‍ते ।
अन्‍नं भूतानां श्रेष्‍ठं ।
अन्‍नं ब्रह्मेति व्‍यजानात्‌ ।
अन्‍नं न निंद्यात्‌ । – तैत्तिरीय उपनिषद्‌

The word ‘anna (अन्)’ is derived from the Sanskrut verb ‘ad (अद्‌)’ which means to eat. Thus anna means that which is eaten. All the substances in the universe are directly or indirectly the food of another, e.g. plants prepare food from the five cosmic elements (panchamahabhutas), namely earth (pruthvi), water (apa), fire (tej), air (vayu) and ether (akash). Plants constitute food for animals and human beings. The human body is formed from food. After death, the body merges into the five cosmic elements, i.e. the body becomes food for the five cosmic elements. Thus the cycle continues.

1.5 Definition of food

Food is defined as an essential substance having a pleasant appearance, aroma and taste, that which is capable of being digested, absorbed and utilised when consumed in a proper manner and in an appropriate quantity so as to help living organisms to replenish the wear and tear of body tissues, produce new body components and that which imparts energy, strength and happiness.

Plants can manufacture their food from simple chemicals derived from soil, water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the help of sunlight.

Animals including man do not have the ability to manufacture food from simple chemicals. Hence they use plants or other animals as food. Hence it is mentioned in the scriptures (shastras) that one living organism is the food for another (जीवो जीवस्‍य जीवनम्‌ ।). Substances included in the category of food, vary from animal to animal, e.g. grass is food for a cow but not for man as man cannot digest grass.

1.6 Properties of food

Food provides life, building material for the body, strength, enthusiasm, a sense of satiety, colour, lustre, memory, intellect, inspiration and helps in conception and propagation of the species. Food provides energy required to carry out the life activities which can lead one to heaven or help one to attain the Final Liberation (Moksha), i.e. eternal Bliss. Health and happiness depend on food. A beneficial diet gives happinesss, health and prolongs one’s lifespan. A harmful diet promotes diseases and makes one depressed.

1.7 Importance of a beneficial diet

An individual taking a beneficial diet is healthy and one taking a harmful diet succumbs to various illnesses.

पथ्‍ये सति गदार्तस्‍य किम्‌ औषधनिषेवणम्‌ ।
पथ्‍येऽ सति गदार्तस्‍य किम्‌ औषधनिषेवणम्‌ ।।

Meaning: Even if the patient does not take medication, the disease can be cured by taking a beneficial diet and avoiding a harmful one. If the patient does not follow the diet advised by the physician, medication alone will not cure him. This is because we consume food in a large quantity while medicines are taken in a very small quantity.

We do not live to eat. The ultimate and important aim of our life is to attain the Final Liberation. Hence a healthy body and a sattvik (sattva predominant) mind are necessary to undertake spiritual practice and follow the path to the Final Liberation. It is essential that the seeker (sadhak) should not adopt wrong means to earn his livelihood and procure food. He should always use the energy obtained from food to perform good deeds.

While preparing food, e.g. grinding, cooking, etc. several living organisms including animals, plants and germs are killed. Hence unknowingly one becomes a sinner. To get rid of these sins one should repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name with every morsel and eat food as The Lord’s holy sacrament (prasad).

2. Meals

2.1 Arrangement of food items in a plate



Rice, roti and bhakari should be served in the centre of the plate. Fruits and dry food items should be served on the right side of the plate and all liquid food items, i.e. those with gravy should be served on the left side of the plate. Raita, chutney and food items prepared from jaggery, pickles, etc. should be served in front of the rice on the left side.

2.2 When should a person dine ?

The ideal time to eat is when a person feels hungry. However in cities, one has to adjust one’s meal time according to the office hours. Even children have to adjust their meal time according to school hours. After some time however, one gets habituated to these timings and feels hungry at that time. It is necessary to adjust the quantity and the time of taking a meal in such a way that we automatically feel hungry by the next meal time.

When habituated, one feels hungry at a particular time even if one’s stomach is not empty. Similarly, after one sees or gets the aroma of tasty food, one cannot overcome the temptation to eat even when one’s stomach is full. One should not succumb to such temptations.

After passing stools, urine, flatus and burping, the baby feels light and hungry. These signs indicate that the initial food is digested. Only then should the baby be given more food. One should not eat until the previous meal is digested.

An adult should never eat any food within three hours of his lunch or dinner. A labourer should not remain without food for more than three hours.

During the day, the blood is diverted to the active muscles hence the intestines receive comparatively lesser quantity of blood. At night, more blood is diverted towards the intestines. Hence food is digested best, at night. Therefore one should take a light dinner if the lunch is not digested well. If the dinner is not digested well, one should have a late lunch or skip the lunch.

One should not eat food at midnight or early in the morning. However, young, growing infants are an exception to it. They should be fed whenever they are hungry.

2.3 Before meals

Before meals, one should have a bath and wear clean clothes. One should use perfume and ladies should decorate their hair with flowers. One should wash the hands, feet, face and rinse the mouth before eating. One should see that the elders, children, guests, the cook and servants have eaten their meal and that all the animals and birds in the household are fed properly. One should offer a prayer and a little food to the deities and one’s ancestors. Eating food is itself a good deed and it helps to sustain our life and health which are instrumental in all our good deeds.

2.4 Is it advisable to take an appetiser before meals ?

A person with a good appetite need not take any appetiser before meals. Persons with a weak digestive power should take the following appetisers before meals. Appetisers should have sour, pungent and salty taste. A combination of fresh ginger, lemon and saindhav salt is a good appetiser. It exerts a cleansing action on the tongue and throat. Ginger is pungent, hot and stimulates the digestive power. It breaks scybalous faecal mass and subdues vata and kapha. Saindhav stimulates the digestive power. It makes food tasty and subdues all the three humours (doshas). Fruits and soups are also used as appetisers.

Fruits : Fruit juices or fresh fruits like pomegranate which increase the appetite and secretion of digestive juices should be eaten before meals. It cleanses the tongue and throat. One should avoid eating heavy fruits like banana and pineapple before meals. One can take panha prepared from raw mango, kokam sharbat, etc. before meals.

Soup: A normal person should not start his meal with soup. Persons with a weak digestive power should take soup with pungent, sour and salty spices which stimulate the secretion of digestive juices, e.g. tomato soup with sunth (dry ginger) and pepper.

2.5 Is it advisable to have an alcoholic drink as an appetiser before meals ?

Alcoholic drinks like beer and wine are often taken as appetisers before meals. Though alcohol is an easily available source of energy, it is not a food item. It is quickly absorbed when taken in small quantities. It stimulates appetite. It gives a feeling of relaxation and helps a person to forget his misery. However, logical thinking and the ability to take an appropriate decision are affected under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol should not be consumed by individuals suffering from hyperacidity, peptic ulcer, jaundice, diseases of the pitta humour (dosha), bleeding disorders and fever. Individuals with a weak and unstable mind get addicted to alcohol easily. Individuals with a hot temperament cannot tolerate alcohol. Prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol leads to obesity, damages the stomach and liver and decreases the appetite and digestive power. Alcohol should not be consumed in summer. One should avoid drinking fresh (immature) wine while old wine should be drunk. Rajasik (raja predominant) and tamasik (tama predominant) people have no control over their mind so they get addicted to alcohol soon. Hence consumption of alcoholic drinks should be avoided by them.

2.6 Selection of food

One should select the quality and type of food after considering one’s age, constitution, season, time, digestive power, health, etc. One should feel hungry and eat the right type of food at the appropriate time in an adequate quantity. One should be habituated to the type of food eaten. The food should be fresh, warm, palatable and easily digestible. One should be in a happy state of mind while eating food. One should not take food which one does not like or which one cannot tolerate. One should be carefree and should focus the mind on eating and enjoy the taste and flavour of food.

Food should be cooked properly and should have good aroma and taste. It should contain some amount of oil and ghee. The food should be warm but should not be heated or fried again. One should have food of all the six types of taste, i.e. sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent and not food which is dominant in only one or two tastes. However sweet food items should be eaten in a greater quantity.

2.7 How should one serve the courses of food ?

One should follow the regional traditions regarding courses of food. However the general guidelines are as follows –

  • The first course should consist of sweet, heavy, solid, oily or fatty and hard food items which are difficult to digest. Sweet food items subdue vata.
  • The middle course should consist of sour, pungent, salty and soft food items which increase the secretion of digestive juices.
  • The last course should consist of pungent, bitter, astringent, light, liquid, dry and soft food items. Pungent, bitter and astringent food items subdue kapha.

One should eat half a stomachful of food, drink one quarter of a stomachful of water and leave the remaining quarter for air. One should have respect for food and should never criticise it. If one consumes excess of hard and dry food, one should drink a lot of water. Heavy substances such as poha and satu, starchy food items such as rice and tubers should not be taken towards the end of a meal or after a meal. Amalaka should be taken in all the three courses. If one takes excess of sour, salty and pungent food, one should drink milk at the end of a meal. Similarly, weak persons and persons with hyperacidity should take milk at the end of a meal. A person who has no control over his tongue should eat his favourite food item at the end of his meal.

2.8 When should one drink water during a meal?

One should sip water while changing from one course to another so that the taste of the previous course does not mask the taste of the next one. One should drink small quantities of water while eating food. An obese person should drink water at the beginning of a meal, an average person when halfway through a meal and a thin person at the end of the meal. One should not drink too much water after food as it dilutes the digestive juices and impairs digestion. One should not eat food when one is thirsty or drink water when one is hungry.

2.9 Eating slowly or eating fast

One should not eat too fast or too slow. One should avoid talking too much or laughing excessively while eating. If one talks or laughs too much or eats food very fast, the food is not chewed properly. Hence it is not digested well and one does not enjoy its taste. In addition, one may not notice foreign bodies in food such as stones, hair, flies and the food may get aspirated. If one eats very slowly, one tends to eat more. The food becomes cold and is not easily digested. One is not satiated after eating food too slowly.

2.10 Avoid the following types of food items

One should avoid very hot or very cold food items, food kept overnight, stale, bad, fermented, putrefied, undercooked or overcooked food, burnt, very sticky food items or those which are heated again. One should see that the food is hygienic and not contaminated with dirt, stones, hair and flies. One should not eat uncovered food. One should avoid a combination of dietary items which are incompatible with one another. Very hot food items decrease the digestive power.

Eating stale, unclean, putrefied food items and food items which are heated again, leads to infection and can cause vomiting and loose motions. Uncooked and burnt food items are heavy to digest.

Leafy vegetables, pippali and sour food items should be taken in a limited quantity and should not be consumed in excess. One should eat rice, wheat, yava (barley), jangal meat, mung (green gram), masur, chavli, raw radish, amalaka, grapes, phalsa, pomegranate, milk, ghee, honey, sugar and saindhav daily.

One should avoid intake of curds, ksharas (alkaline salts), e.g. soda-bicarb, sprouted cereals, old radish, pork, beef, meat of sheep and buffalo, fish, udid (black gram) and fermented food items in the daily diet.

2.11 Quantity of food

Food when eaten in an adequate amount is digested within proper time and makes one happy, healthy and bestows a long life.

When food is taken in less quantity one does not get a feeling of satisfaction. One feels hungry earlier and adequate energy is not supplied. The strength of the body, sense organs, mind and intellect decreases and the person becomes weak. Generally in diseased states, a person is advised to take a light diet in less quantity because initially the digestive juices from the intestines and the tissues will digest the food. Later on as there is no food, they will digest the increased vata, pitta and kapha humours (doshas). But if one continues to eat very little, the digestive juices will digest the tissues and the organs of the body after digesting the food and the person may die.

When one takes food in a greater quantity than required, the stomach becomes heavy and one feels discomfort in the stomach. One suffers from distension of the abdomen and rumbling noises are produced in the stomach due to formation of flatus. It promotes lethargy and increases all the doshas. When a greater quantity of food is taken for several days, one gains weight and it leads to obesity.

On taking an adequate diet, the weight is maintained in adults while there is an adequate increase in weight in children.

Why should one chant Lord’s Name with every morsel of food?


1. Diet and the mind

The Vedas are the very roots of Indian culture. According to the Vedas, the aim of any activity is to achieve the Final Liberation (Moksha) whereas materialistic gain is only secondary to it. According to the Chandogya Upanishad, ‘Pure diet leads to a pure mind’. Positive mental health is essential to get rid of ignorance and acquire a state of eternal and supreme Bliss, that is the Final Liberation.

आहारशुद्धौ सत्त्‍वशुद्धि: सत्त्‍वशुद्धौ ध्रुवा स्‍मृति: ।
लब्‍ध्‍वा सर्व ग्रंथीनां विप्रमोक्ष: । – छांदोग्‍य उपनिषद्‌ ७.२६.२

1.1 Diet of the sense organs, mind and intellect

According to the Vedas, the word ‘ahar (nourishment)’ is used in a very broad sense. Every sense organ of the body has its specific ahar. Seeing objects or vision is considered as ahar for the eyes, hearing for the ears, sensation of touch for the skin, smell for the nose and taste for the tongue.

The sight of the Guru or saints is sattvik (sattva predominant) ahar for the eyes. Listening to spiritual discourses (kirtans) or devotional songs (bhajans) is sattvik ahar for the ears. Touching the feet of the Guru or a saint is sattvik ahar for the skin. Smelling the fragrance of flowers offered unto God is sattvik ahar for the nose and eating The Lord’s holy sacrament (prasad) is sattvik ahar for the tongue.

Harbouring good thoughts, following the code of righteous conduct, the rules and regulations prescribed by the scriptures, remaining in the holy company of saints (satsang) and undertaking spiritual practice according to the Path of Action (Karmayoga), the Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) and the Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga) act as food for the mind and intellect.

1.2 Factors affecting the purity of food

If the food is pure, our mind and body too become pure as they are derived from the food we consume – ‘आहारशुद्धौ सत्त्‍वशुद्धि:’.

For a pure diet, the following should be pure and pious:

  • A. Money: When unrighteous means such as theft, murder, bribery or cheating are used to earn one’s livelihood, the food procured with this money is not pure. According to Manusmruti, as compared to the above things it is very important that the money should be earned by righteous means.

    सर्वेषां एवं शौचानां अर्थशौचं परं स्‍मृतम्‌ । – मनुस्‍मृति ५.१०६

    Money obtained by righteous means also becomes pure after offering 10% of it unto God, i.e. for good deeds without expecting any returns. – Skanda Puran

    न्‍यायोपार्जित वित्तस्‍य दशमांशेन धीमत: ।
    कर्तव्‍यो विनियोगश्‍च ईश्‍वर प्रीत्‍यर्थमेव च ।। – स्‍कंदपुराण

  • B. Food items: Eating onions, garlic, eggs and meat.

    According to Ayurveda, onion, garlic, eggs and meat are necessary to maintain good health and so is a beneficial diet, as the main aim of Ayurveda is to maintain a healthy body. – Skanda Puran

    But according to Manusmruti, garlic and onion should be avoided by Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors) and Vaishyas (businessmen) as the main aim of Righteousness is to gain a healthy mind, i.e. a sattvik (sattva predominant) mind. On eating meat and eggs, the raja component of the mind increases. When animals are slaughtered, they are frightened and angry. On eating the meat of these animals, the same emotions increase in man too. Onion, garlic, alcoholic drinks and opium increase the tama component and sexual urge. Hence these food items should be avoided.

    लशुनं गृंजनं चैव पलाण्‍डुं कवकानि च ।
    अभक्ष्‍याणि व्‍दिजातीनां अमेध्‍य प्रभवाणि च । – मनुस्‍मृति ५.५

  • C. The place where the food is grown: Food items grown in black soil are more delicious and impart strength. Food items grown in a cemetry and rocky areas should not be consumed. Medicines grown in the Himalayas and food items grown along the banks of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Godavari are sattvik (sattva predominant).
  • D. Kitchen: It should be clean, well lit and well ventilated
  • E. Dining room: It should be clean and decorated with fragrant flowers.
  • F: Time of meals: Do not eat food at sunset or sunrise or at noon or midnight. Do not eat food 12 hours prior to a solar eclipse, 9 hours prior to a lunar eclipse and 3 hours after a solar or a lunar eclipse. The sun helps in digestion while the moon helps in nourishment. As the effects of the stars and planets decrease during an eclipse, one should avoid eating food during that period.
  • G. Cook: The cook should be hygienic. He should wear clean clothes after having a bath. He should wash his hands after going to the toilet and before commencing cooking. He should have clean habits and should be healthy.

    When the food is cooked by the mother, wife or sister with love, it promotes the sattvik (sattva predominant) tendency of the mind.

  • H. Utensils used for cooking and serving: A banana leaf or a lotus leaf or leaves of the palash tree are used to serve food.
  • I. The state of mind: Nourishing food eaten with the objective of obtaining energy to indulge in sex or to harass others increases the raja and tama components of the mind. Nourishing food eaten with the objective of obtaining energy to help others and perform good deeds increases the sattva component of the mind.

1.3 Activation of the Sun channel (Surya nadi) after meals

After eating food, walk a 100 steps and then sleep on the left side for 24 minutes so that the Surya nadi gets activated such that one breathes predominantly through the right nostril. The activated Surya naÅi stimulates the secretion of digestive juices and thus facilitates the digestion of food.

1.4 Diet and the mind

अन्‍नं अशितं त्रेधा विभजते
तस्‍य य: स्‍थविरो धातु: तत्‌ पुरीषं भवति ।
यो मध्‍यम: तन्‌ मांसं भवति ।
यो:णिष्‍ठ: तन्‍मन: भवति । – छांदोग्‍य उपनिषद्‌ ६.५.१

The Chandogya Upanishad states that the food we eat gets divided into three parts. The undigested solids are converted into faeces. The food which is absorbed into blood after digestion is converted into muscles and various tissues. The subtle, that is very minute particles of food form the mind.

The subtle particles of food are the particles of sattva, raja and tama which are the components of our mind. Therefore our thoughts and behaviour change with our diet. A diet which increases the sattva component is called a sattvik diet while a diet which increases the raja and tama components of the mind is called a rajasik and tamasik diet respectively.

1.5 Classification of diet in relation with the mind

Lord Shrikrushna has described sattvik, rajasik and tamasik diets in chapter 17 of the Bhagvadgita.

A. Sattvik diet: It is juicy, oily, stable (sthir) and tasty and pleasurable (hrudya).

Juicy (rasya): Juicy fruits and liquids.

Lubricating and nourishing (snigdha): Milk, butter and ghee prepared from cow’s milk act as lubricating agents and nourish the tissues of the body.

Stable (sthir): Food items like dry fruits such as almonds, walnuts, pistas which can be stored and do not putrefy or ferment.

Tasty and pleasurable (hrudya). A sattvik diet promotes life, health, physical and mental strength, happiness and love.

आयु: सत्त्‍वबलारोग्‍यसुखप्रीतिविवर्धना: ।
रस्‍या: स्‍निग्‍धा: स्‍थिरा हृद्या आहारा: सात्त्‍विकप्रिया: ।। – गीता १७.८

Sattvik people prefer a sattvik diet which in turn promotes the sattva component of the mind.

B. Rajasik diet: Pungent, sour, salty, very hot, dry and fermented food items increase the raja component of the mind. Rajasik people prefer this type of food. It gives rise to sorrow, disease and unhappiness.

कट्‌वम्‍ललवणात्‍युष्‍णतीक्ष्‍णरूक्षविदाहिन: ।
आहारा राजसस्‍येष्‍टा दु:खशोकामयप्रदा: ।। – गीता १७.९

C. Tamasik diet: Stale, tasteless and putrefied diet which is eaten by others, leftover food and a diet which affects the mind such as alcohol increase the tama component of the mind. Tamasik people prefer such type of food. It subdues the strength of the brain, mind and intellect.

यातयामं गतरसं पूति पर्युषितं च यत्‌ ।
उच्‍छिष्‍टमपि चामेध्‍यं भोजनं तामसप्रियम्‌ ।। – गीता १७.१०

1.6 Examples of sattvik, rajasik and tamasik food items

  • Ripe fruits are sattvik. Pickles prepared from fruits are rajasik. Alcoholic beverages and wine prepared from fruits are tamasik.
  • Food offered by wicked people is tamasik, that offered by relatives and friends is rajasik while food offered by saints is sattvik.
  • Food eaten along with alcohol is tamasik. Food eaten while chatting with friends is rajasik and that eaten while repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name is sattvik.
  • Food given by an enemy, an unhappy person, wicked people or prostitutes or food eaten at their place is tamasik and promotes the tama component. Food served in hotels or at a marriage is rajasik while food served as a holy sacrament (prasad) of The Lord and that given by saints is sattvik.

1.7 Effect of the state of mind on digestion

Food is digested easily when one is in a happy state of mind. If an individual is full of tension, sorrow, fear or anger, the food is not digested easily. If an individual does not get adequate sleep then also the food is not digested.

मात्रया अपि अभ्‍यवहृतं पथ्‍यं चान्‍नं न जीर्यति ।
चिन्‍ता शोक भय क्रोध दु:ख शय्‍या प्रजागरै: ।। – चरक

Sattvik people take an appropriate and adequate diet. Rajasik people eat tasty dishes till their stomach is full. Tamasik people do not have control over their taste buds and hence they overeat.

1.8 Non-vegetarian diet

न मांसभक्षणे दोषो न मद्ये न च मैथुने ।
प्रवृत्तिरेषा भूतानां निवृत्तिस्‍तु महाफला । – मनुस्‍मृति

In the Manusmruti, Manu states that eating meat, drinking wine or indulging in sex is not sinful as these are the natural tendencies of human beings. But those who refrain from indulging in these get good returns.

Ayurveda does not disapprove of eating a non-vegetarian diet. In fact in diseases wherein there is weakness, wasting of muscles and loss of weight, Ayurveda advises one to eat meat. In tuberculosis, one should eat meat of many animals because the main aim of Ayurveda is to have a healthy and strong body. Only if one is physically strong can one follow the rules laid down by religion and undertake spiritual practice. The poet Kalidas says, ‘शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्‌ ।।’.

1.9 Respect for food

Our body and the food we eat are formed from the the five great cosmic elements (panchamahabhutas). Today’s food is tomorrow’s body. One should never criticise food as then one does not get the expected beneficial results. One should always respect food because the same food when eaten with respect is beneficial to the body as well as the mind – अन्‍नं न निन्‍द्यात्‌ तत्‌ व्रतम्‌ ।

1.10 Diet with sanskars

A sanskar literally means a good action. Every activity of man including that of eating food should be beneficial for uplifting the level of the mind, i.e. to increase the sattva component of the mind. The host should see that all the children, the elderly and the ladies have eaten food and that all the servants and animals are fed before having food himself. Before eating he should offer the food to the five vital energies (prans) and the Brahman (priest) and repeat (chant) the following prayer:

वदनी कवळ घेता नाम घ्‍या श्रीहरीचे ।
सहज हवन होते नाम घेता फुकाचे ।
जीवन करी जीवित्‍वा अन्‍न हे पूर्णब्रह्म ।
उदरभरण नोहे जाणिजे यज्ञकर्म ।।

A person does not live to eat, but eats to live. So eating food does not merely mean filling one’s stomach. Eating food is a sacrificial fire (agnihotra yadnya). This means that the energy one gets from the food will be used for the welfare of the people.

One should repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name with every morsel of food, so that the food is digested easily and the energy from the food is used for The Lord’s mission, that is for good deeds and to help others. Saint Tukaram says, ‘काही नित्‍य नेमावीण । अन्‍न खाये तोचि श्‍वान ।।’ meaning, the one who eats food without making a resolve to utilise the energy derived from food for a good purpose, lives the life of a dog.

1.11 Effect of an evil eye being cast by animals and people on the food served as a meal

हीन दीन क्षुधार्तानां पाप पाखंड रोगिणाम्‌ ।
कुक्‍कुटादि शुनां दृष्‍टि: भोजने नैव शोभना ।। – निघंटुरत्‍नाकर, दिनचर्या

If hungry people, beggars, diseased persons, persons with a bad character, deceitful persons, atheists, sinners or animals like a dog, serpent or cock cast an evil look on food which is served as a meal, it can cause subtle changes in the food which can give rise to psychological and physical symptoms. On seeing delicious food, they may feel envious of the people who will eat it. If one prays before eating, the ill-effects due to casting of an evil eye are nullified.

पितृमातृ सुहृत्‌ वैद्य पाककृत हंस बर्हिणाम्‌ ।
सारसस्‍य चकोरस्‍य भोजने दृष्‍टिरुत्तमा ।। – निघंटुरत्‍नाकर, दिनचर्या

If our parents, relatives or the physicians watch us while eating, it is a good omen as these people feel happy on seeing us eat good food. If a swan, peacock, saras or chakora bird looks at the food, it is a good omen. Seeing a king, a priest, the sun, the sacred fire, gold, ghee or water at the time of meal is a good omen.

The following mantra nullifies the effect due to casting of an evil eye –

अन्‍नं ब्रह्म रसो विष्‍णु: भोक्‍ता देवो महेश्‍वर: ।
इति संचित्‍य भुंजानं दृष्‍टिदोषो न विद्यते ।।

One who eats food with the firm belief that food (anna) is Lord Brahma, the taste of food is Lord Vishnu and the one who consumes it is Lord Shiva is not affected by the ill-effects due to casting of an evil eye.

To nullify the ill-effects, one should offer the following prayer unto Lord Hanuman –

अंजनीगर्भसंभूतं कुमारं ब्रह्मचारिणं ।
दृष्‍टिदोषो विनाशाय हनुमंतं स्‍मराम्‍यहं ।।

One should remember Brahmachari Hanuman, the son of Anjani to nullify the ill-effects due to casting of an evil eye.