The knowledge streams of Ayurveda and Yoga have culminated thousands of years ago which go beyond the physical world and into the inner realms of human consciousness. Great seers in the Indic civilization began to question life, and its deeper problems, as they wanted mankind to maximize their consciousness potential in physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions.
The quest of “How can mankind progress from illness to wellness, and to stillness?” lead the seers to discover this timeless wisdom of Ayurveda and Yoga. The framework of Ayurveda together with yoga is immensely useful for humans to discover the highest potential, and complete the evolution, transformation of one’s life.
According to Ayurveda, life attains its highest fulfillment when we are able to convert it as a gift to creation. It is a stimulating system through which life becomes aware of itself. This possibility is the privilege of rare human birth.
In order to actualize this potential it is essential to cultivate a way of life, wherein we have to become fully aware of our existence, along with the tools that we have at our disposal, and this completes the final step in the process of evolution of life on Earth. Ayurveda says that a human being is the epitome of the universe.
puruṣoyam loka samitha
पुरुषोयम् लोक समिथ
Humans are a part of this vast cosmos, having sprung forth from this cosmos the climax of manifestation of life is to reunite with the source itself. The word “Ayush” means that which comes to an end, our embodied existence has a limit in time and space, and in the limited span available we have to discover ways and means to reunite with the force from which we have sprung forth.
A human being has the potential to grow as big as the universe itself, not at the physical level, but at a level of deepest consciousness, one can become united with the vast expanse of the universe. What is most intriguing is this vision of life. Ayurveda thus is not merely a medical system, rather it is this vision of life.
A vision that sets one in the path of transformation and self-evolution. This goal of life is immaculately defined in Samskrta terms Ayuh, Arogya, and Soukhya. Ayurveda begins by setting these three goals of human life subsumed in the vision. The focus is not just on prodding a disease-free life rather a life into the deeper dimensions of consciousness.
Unlike other medical systems that only look at disease and health. Wherever there is life there is Ayurveda. It is a universal expression of human civilization and culture that our great Rishis have expressed. Very similar to Samskrta, a language which even in its name conveys universality. It is not restricted in space and time, Samskrta means that which is refined.
This character of universality is focused on the development of human consciousness as a whole, this is very unique and important when we understand the terminology in Ayurveda. This is the perspective where Yoga and Ayurveda resonate with each other and become sister disciplines.
sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
May everyone in the world be happy
sarve santu nirāmayāḥ
सर्वे सनतु निरामयाः
Let everyone be free of disease.
sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
Let everyone see only auspicious events unfolding
mā kaścidduḥkhabhāg bhavet।
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग् भवेत्।
Let nobody get affected by sorrow
Ayurveda comes up with an all-encompassing altruistic vision which is evolutional humanity and posits an illuminated concept of Ayuh, Arogyam, and Soukhyam.
Ayuh steers all our efforts towards self-preservation, a crucial and fundamental aspect of life. The poised nature of Ayurveda is such that it handholds us from our existing level of consciousness, it literally starts at ground zero and prepares us to enter into higher practices like yoga. It comes down to the level of a common man to help us restore balance in ourselves.
Ayurveda becomes a remarkable enabler of Yoga. Most of the modern ideas of health are very narrow in scope and limit their contribution to survival or to the mere absence of illness, based on the normalcy of one’s physical functions understood through laboratory testing.
Arogyam in Ayurveda means an absolute feeling of ease both with the body and mind, the very definition of ārogya goes beyond what is considered as normalcy in laboratory tests, and not just about physical and mental maladies.
A test result is a mere confirmation that we are fit enough to survive but it never confirms if we are in a state of robustness, a state of inner well being where we are able to express our higher energies in an effective way. Ayurveda nurtures and propels us from Ayuh to Arogya and to the next higher state Soukhya.
Soukhya is a state of inner contentment and bliss. Modern science and medicine are far from the realms of Soukhya. How can we define this state? The ultimate analysis of health is if we can be happy for no reason. Soukhya is a state of mind in which we are spontaneously happy. In the present day, we need a reason to be happy, our happiness is conditioned predominantly by external circumstances.
Ayuh, Arogya, Soukhya – The choice is ours!!
Most of the modern health care systems are still focused at the level of just the preservation of Ayuh. We can settle with a limited existence, where we would only live for survival. We can also aim to live for higher achievements in life and this means we are living for a higher goal, for a fully functional body and mind, for a deeper integration of body and mind which is Arogya.
Not to stop here, Yoga offers us an even more opulent choice where we can aim for the inner transformation of our consciousness. We can realize this goal when Ayurveda is able to connect us with Yoga.
If we learn to ground ourselves in Ayurveda, the higher practice of Yoga becomes very effortless. Placing Yoga before Ayurveda is like positioning a cart before the horse. The recent surge of Yoga institutes and Yoga training has sliced the philosophy so much that many understand Yoga to be limited to some physical exercises, āsana, and prāṇāyāma.
When we jump into rigorous āsana and prāṇāyāma practices without the necessary preparation, it inflicts injury and damages the body and mind. If we have Ayurveda as a preceding and preparatory step, then Yoga becomes spontaneous and highly efficacious. Therefore, Ayurveda facilitates this uninhibited movement into Yoga. Ayurvedic and Yogic living tell us how we can achieve this without stress, step by step.
yogaschitta vrtti nirodhaḥ
योगस्छित्त व्र्त्ति निरोधः
(Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2)
The goal of Yoga is to achieve a mind of absolute stillness. This sutra is a composition of four unique words that encompass the essential nature of Yoga.
Yoga comes from the root Yuj which means to join. Human soul referred to as “Jivatma” is a facet or an expression of the divine reality “Paramatma”, which is the source of the manifested universe.
Although in essence the two are the same and are indivisible, still the Jivatma has become subjectively separated from Paramatma, after going through an evolutionary cycle in the manifested universe, to become united with Paramatma again in consciousness.
This state of unification of the two in consciousness as well as the mental process, and discipline through which this union is attained is called Yoga.
Chitta is derived from the basic idea of chit, which means to be conscious of, to be aware. It is considered as a universal medium through which consciousness functions on all the planes of the manifested universe, which includes the conscious state of mind, the subconscious state of mind, the unconscious state of mind, and also the Jivatma. The totality of these states of mind is symbolized as chitta.
Vritti comes from the root vritta which means circle, the word vritti means circular pattern, just like the movement of water spreading outward when a stone is thrown in a pond. The attitudes of chitta are called chitta vritti.
Nirodhah comes from the root rodha, which means an act of blocking. The sutra helps us to understand that yoga is the blocking of the patterns arising in all the dimensions of consciousness. It is not only shutting ourselves from the external experiences which we face in our everyday lives but also setting the vision we will have in deep meditation and higher consciousness.
When the expressions of individual awareness arising in different planes are transcended, the state of yoga manifests. This is the order of evolution of our consciousness.
Ayurveda says we become the healthiest beings in this universe when we are able to offer our lives as a flower, as a prayer to the cosmos to the vast consciousness, of our own existence. Or we can lead a life of dukkha āyu, which means a life of pain and sorrow, it can be ahitam for us plus causing pain for others. The choice is ours!
How do we achieve a life which is shubham for us and hitam for others? By seeking our own inner well being, not only does it not conflict with the happiness of others, but it also promotes the happiness of others. Medical science is growing in leaps and bounds like never before.
We are at the cutting edge of new discoveries, and research, but this is all happening from an inhuman “asuric” state of mind, and that is the leading cause of devastation, greatly disturbing the subtle balance within and outside. Modern achievement becomes self-defeating because of this agitated, competitive, self-centered state of mind.
If we learn to engage with the world in the state of yoga, a life full of consciousness, and fulfillment, it would spread to the people around us for us. This would bring in auspiciousness not only for us but also for everyone around us.
From the ideal mental and psychological states let us look at the more concrete aspects of Ayurveda. The word Aushadham is not just medicine, it is a burning transformation of our rasa dhātu that leads to the expression of our higher consciousness. The whole protoplasm, cytoplasm fluids in your body undergo a profound chemical transformation,
the purpose of the transformation is to express a higher consciousness. If we take a lot of modern medicines to treat the symptoms without even thinking about the root cause, one of the biggest problems facing us in modern times, this creates a viṣāda, “uneasy and sad” state of mind.
Ayurveda, on the other hand, works on treating the root cause as well as alleviating the symptoms. It gives a clear interpretation of the rogabala, “severity of the illness”, rogibala, “disease-fighting ability in the individual”, sattvabala, “level of vigor, vitality” based on the tridoshas vāta, pitta, and Kapha), and their prakopa.
It helps in ridding the toxin “ama” in the body and helps in restoring the fine balance of Vāta, Pitta, and Kapha. A complete and detailed diagnosis of the illness and the patient is done, to come up with a good prognosis for the disease condition.
In Ayurveda, there is a process called panchakarma for cleansing of the body, and in Yoga, there are the śaṭ kriyās. Through panchakarma, the gross waste from the system is eliminated, after which continuing with the śaṭ kriyās in Yoga will help with the removal of subtle wastes.
When we practice different kinds of prāṇāyāma techniques such as the bhastrika, or kapālbhati, we are opening up the nāḍis, “channels”, but before we do that it is very important to ensure that the sthūlamala, “gross wastes” are disgorged.
Ayurveda prepares our body for Yoga by removing the excess noise and makes it free from impurities. It begins with modifications in āhāra, “diet”, vicāra, “thought”, and vyavahāra “lifestyle”. Root causes of the illness are categorically identified before the treatment begins. Ayurveda customizes and curates the treatment, or intervention as per the needs of the individual.
The turbulences in the body and mind create noise that drowns our own consciousness. If consciousness is a signal, a sound, a beautiful melody, then Ayurveda makes the signal of consciousness express itself like a Dolby digital experience! Ayurveda has great power to purify the body.
Rasāyana is a kind of medication that enhances one’s immunity, Ayana means path and rasa means the digested essence of food, the fluid. So Rasāyana means the path of transformation of life fluid, it transforms in such a profound manner that we are able to express our higher consciousness.
na kevalam dīrgham ihāyuḥ rashnute
न केवलम् दीर्घम् इहायुः रस्ह्नुते
rasāyanam yo vidhivān niśevite
रसायनम् यो विधिवान् निशेविते
Someone who takes Rasāyana will not just achieve a long or a healthy life,
ratimsadevarishe niśevitām shubham
रतिम्सदेवरिस्हे निशेविताम् स्हुभम्
prapadyate brahma titayī vichakśe
प्रपद्यते ब्रह्म तितयी विछक्शे
But with Rasāyana a person is able to transform his consciousness to reach the higher state called, “Akshaya” in which there is no more distortion, transformation, or destruction.
By ingesting a lot of toxins in the name of medicines, in the form of food, by ingesting preservatives in food, we are poisoning ourselves, by using toxic chemicals in almost every aspect of our lives, from cooking to cleaning, we are poisoning ourselves, and the environment.
We are inducing a state of depression and intoxication, this is also greatly reducing the quality of our consciousness. Ayurveda is meticulous in offering its rich wisdom through which we can liberate our consciousness, through this process of discovering wholesome holistic health, when we realize a state of unity with the whole universe; “The whole universe becomes part of me, and I become a part of the whole universe”.
ātmānancha sarva lokae samānam anupaśyata
आत्मानन्छ सर्व लोकए समानम् अनुपश्यत
satya buddhi samutpatya
सत्य बुद्धि समुत्पत्य
The true understanding that I am part of the whole universe and the whole universe is part of me, experience and realization about the intricate continuity, which is not limited to just this body, this is what Ayurveda calls as Yoga. Where Yoga means reuniting with our source, with the entire cosmos.
In Ayurveda, the knowledge is not imparted by dissecting a dead body as in modern medicine, in which case the student becomes insensitive to life itself, and loses respect for life. In Ayurveda, the study begins with sriṣti, knowledge about how the universe emerged, how the microcosm emerged from the macrocosm.
The continuity and connection within the microcosm and macrocosm are established at the very beginning of the study. When a student gets a complete background and understanding of the emergence of new life, they start to respect life.
They start studying by gazing at this wonder of how new life is created, therefore it is a “science of life”, this is the premise in which Ayurveda is set.
We need to prepare our body to reach the state of Yoga. There are many texts which emphasize restriction, especially on the practice of advanced techniques of prāṇāyāma. In certain texts, it is clearly mentioned that it leads to mental disturbances, psychological, and neurological diseases.
Yoga happens when prāṇa moves effortlessly through the subtle channels of our body. Before we can start practicing āsana and prāṇāyāma, our inner body has to open up as prāṇa moves through the nāḍis. If we try to force prāṇāyāma and āsana when the body is not in a state of homeostasis, it gets heated up and can lead to neurological disturbances, and eventually psychological disturbances.
Sage Patanjali has been a great contributor who put together remarkable tools for purifying our body, speech, and mind. These tools help us to free ourselves of the emotional turbulence, and complications related to metabolic processes. When the mind is calm and established in itself, in that state of inner silence we can experience the beautiful melody of our own inner and deeper consciousness. With that empowered mind we are going to take a launch into the world.
It is essential to take care of the body in the right way, if the type of food that we eat is rajasic, and tamasic, it impacts the functioning of both our body and mind. The mind, in turn, is pulled down towards a lower level of awareness.
To rise in our awareness, we need to start from basic factors like the food we consume, the geographical region, climatic condition, nature of tridoshas. How we harmonize within/without, and how well we follow this process of Ayurveda, is what brings balance and restores homeostasis.
The first step that Ayurveda takes us through is the inner transformation of the physical body, it is possible to completely change the chemistry of our body.
Thus there is a beautiful synergy between Ayurveda and Yoga. Ayurveda enables us to manoeuvre gradually from illness to wellness, while Yoga empowers us with stillness.
We must ensure that our prāṇa is flowing, that our body is active, and that the mind is still, for our holistic health.
In these moments of stillness, we can create an inner silence to discover and unite with higher consciousness. It is obvious that life will come to an end, but within the confines of that allocated time, there are lots of important things to discover.
What makes the difference is our ability to discriminate between what is essential versus what is non-essential, great seers of Indic civilization have provided us with all the necessary paraphernalia to learn to discern this well.
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