THE IMPORTANCE OF SWASTHA VRITHA
From time immemorial, man has always tried to find out ways to lead a healthy life devoid of ailments, or with minimum of them. Cleaning the mouth after food, washing feet after travel, taking bath etc… are all part of them. Similar searches range from individual practises to selfless and dedicated hard work of saints for human welfare.
Ayurveda stands for the unchangeable scientific know-ledge of lifespan. It is not merely a medical science, but a way of living. Ayurveda is not merely about how to prevent and cure disease but also about how to live a happy and useful life. As per text books, Ayurveda is supposed to have a divine origin which was passed on to the humans through the saints, dating back to thousands of years.
Some of them are:
• Panchamahabhootha theory – Theory of five elements.
It says everything in the universe is made up of these five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space (ether).
Uniqueness of any object is based on the predominant element in it.
• Tridosha theory – Theory of three dosha – Vata, Pitha and Kapha.
Harmonious coexistence of these three dosha is health and their imbalance is ill health.
Although the dosha are not practically visible, we understand them based on the actions attributed to each of them.
Vata dosha is related with the nervous system and the move-ments of skeletal system.
Pitha dosha is related with the digestive system and blood, metabolism in general.
Kapha dosha is related with fluid balance, lubrication of joints, nourishment.
At harmony the actions associated with the dosha happen in a normal way.
If the dosha are imbalanced, the actions are abnormal.
Thus when we see abnormal actions associated with the dosha, we assume that the dosha is / are imbalanced.
Also, each dosha has certain property also.
Vata is light, cold etc…
Pitha is hot, fluid etc…
Kapha is heavy, cold etc…
Based on these, the predo-minance of Vata, Pitha and Kapha is also considered in relation with a person, geo-graphical region, body, day, night, year / season etc.
Ayurveda has eight branches.
• Kayachikitsa – General medicine
• Kaumarabhritya – Paediatrics
• Salyatantra – Surgery
• Salakyatantra – Expla-nations and conditions dealing with neck and above
• Agadatantra – Forensic medicine and Toxicology
• Bhoothachikitsa – Psychology and Psychiatry
• Rasayanachikitsa – Rejuvenation and geriatrics
• Vajeekaranachikitsa – Aphrodisiacs and infertility treatments.
In addition to or within these branches, topics of Basic principles of Indian philosophy, Anatomy and physiology – in Ayurvedic concepts, Pharmacognosy (study of medicinal herbs), Pharmacology (study of medicine preparation), Social and preventive medicine, Pathology, diagnosis and prognosis of various diseases, Gynaecology and Obstetrics etc. are also explained in detail in Ayurvedic textbooks.
For practical purpose, Ayurveda science can be explained under two major heads – Swastha vritha (study of maintenance of health, thereby preventing untimely ailments) and Athura vritha (Study of disease and treatments)
SWASTHAVRITHA – Social and Preventive Lifestyle
The three major topics under this are:
• Dinacharya – Daily routines
• Rithucharya – Seasonal routines
• Sadvritha – Proper conduct
Rithu (seasons) vary in different places / countries.
So, in this article, we are explaining only about Dinacharya and Sadvritha.
Dinacharya – Similar to this universe, human body is, as well, supposed to be in tune with the natural clock.
Among these clocks, the day night cycle is the most important.
Based on the three dosha, Ayurveda explains about the Kapha cycle, Pitha cycle and Vata cycle, in that order, during the day as well as during the night.
Based on these, Dinacharya (Daily routines) have been explained.
The approximate time of these cycles where the particular dosha is most prominent, during the day / night (considering Sunrise at around 6 AM ) is as follows:
Kapha – 6 AM – 10 AM and 6 PM – 10 PM
Pitha – 10 AM – 2 PM and 10 PM – 2 AM
Vata – 2 PM – 6 PM and 2 AM – 6 AM
The important points of Dinacharya are:
• Wake up and associated activities • Lunch • Dinner and • Sleep
Wake up: According to Ayurveda, a person should wake up at ‘Brahma muhoortha’.
Considering a physiological interpretation of Brahma muhoortha, it could be different for different persons.
Kapha predominant persons need to sleep less than Pitha predominant person, which is still lesser than Vata predominant person.
So, for Kapha predominant, Pitha predominant and Vata predominant person, the Brahma muhoorta can be considered to be two hours before Sunrise, one hour before Sunrise and Sunrise, in that order.
By getting up during a Vata period, a person gets the advantages of lightness and freshness.
Waiting too long into the Kapha period that follows causes you to feel dull, heavier and less fresh.
After getting up, a person should have an analytic thought about the body, if the digestion has been proper after the dinner previous night etc.
Urination and bowel movements.
Brushing the teeth, massaging the gums and cleaning the tongue.
Clean the eyes properly with cold water.
Do mouthwash using a combination of sesame oil and warm water.
Abhyanga – Body massage, with preferably, sesame oil.
Exercises – especially by those who, otherwise, have less physical activities.
Bath – with warm water for body and luke warm water for head.
Eat breakfast – only after observing that the previous dinner has been properly digested.
Lunch: The digestive fire being at its height, lunch should be taken preferably around 1.00 p.m.
After lunch, walking for a few minutes will be good, aiding in the digestion.
Dinner: It is always better to have an early and light dinner. Preferable time will be around 7.00 p.m. (considering that the Sun sets at around 6.00 p.m. )
Walking for a few minutes will be good.
Avoid late night dinner and also avoid heavy dinner.
Do not go to bed immediately after lunch or dinner.
Heavy dinner is to be avoided so that the digestion will be easier.
The extra energy for digestion can be utilised for repair of damages caused by daily activities.
Do not take bath or engage in heavy physical activity immediately after food.
Bed time: Follow the principle – early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Preferable time will be around 9.30 PM , at the end of Kapha cycle.
Do not read, eat or watch TV in bed. It will be good to observe about the constructive activities that the person did on that day, before going to bed.
Sadvritha – Proper conduct is very important for maintaining health.
Proper manners, respecting teachers and veterans etc. are all part of proper conduct. Improper conduct by word, act and body should be avoided. Helping the needy, respecting veterans, teachers, guests etc. should always be practised.
Organs / Sense organs should not be misused.
Example: Looking at a bright object for a long time OR walking a very long distance at a stretch.
Daily bath, proper grooming, proper dressing etc. should be practised.
Try to be in the company of persons with good thoughts and deeds.
Try to be constructively active with body and mind.
Regarding eating habits, the following points are important:
• Pay attention to the call of nature before eating.
• Wash your hands, face and feet (may be, when you are at home) before you eat.
• Pray and thank Nature for providing you food.
• Concentrate when you eat; avoid watching TV etc.
• Food should preferably be warm.
• Half the stomach should be filled with solid food, one quarter by liquids and the other quarter empty for air.
• Do not over eat or eat untimely.
Some of the points mentioned above may be completely contradictory to what most of us practise.
Getting up early, not watching TV in bed, respecting elders, avoiding late and heavy dinner, sleeping early etc. are just a few among them, which most of us could not do because of various reasons like habit, profession, social situations etc.
But whatever the reasons be, those people who follow at least a majority of these suggestions feel more light and healthy and are more comfortable and happy with life.