Tag Archives: Ayurveda

Eating Habits, Cleanliness, How to Deal with Loneliness

Question: I’m curious about eating habits according to Ayurveda. Why do so many sadhus and strong bhajana practitioners eat only once a day? Is it good for the health and bhajana? I know that Śrī Haridāsa Śāstrī Maharāja and perhaps you also take prasad once a day.

What are the benefits of such a diet? What is the best time to take that one meal during the day? In the West, intermittent fasting is becoming popular for its health benefits, but is it according to śāstra?

Answer: The best advice is given by Kṛṣṇa in Gita 6.16–17. Many advanced sadhus eat once a day, not because of some sadhana, but because they do not need more than that. So eat according to the requirement of your body. Overeating and undereating both are harmful. There is no need to follow others in this regard. Listen to your own bodily needs.

 

*

Cleanliness

Question: What are the basic cleanliness standards suitable for the present time, which are to be followed if someone is wishing to enter into the bhakti path?

Answer: Cleanliness related to the body includes taking a daily shower, being vegetarian, not using unclean objects while dressing, and washing oneself properly after going to the toilet. Cleanliness of the mind means avoiding intoxicants and thoughts related to sense pleasure. Our Sādhana Guide can give you more specific guidance on these points. 

 

*

Feeling of Loneliness

Question: Why does one feel alone? What should one do in such situations?

Answer: In reality, we are alone. Consider this: We are born alone and die alone. No one can say otherwise. Even if two or more people die simultaneously in an accident, they die alone.

There is a rule that what is not in the beginning and not in the end, is also not in the middle. Ādāvante ca yan nāsti vartamāne’pi tat tathā. That means that we are alone in the middle, i.e., between birth and death. Out of illusion, we think that we are not alone. The sense of togetherness that we feel, Śrī Kṛṣṇa calls it vyapadeśa-mātram “just in name” – na yat purastād uta yan na paścān madhye ca tan na vyapadeśamātram (SB 11.28. 21). In other words, we are not really together but have an illusion of it. At least we can experience it during our sleep. We sleep alone even if someone else is sleeping next to us. 

Maybe this reality hits you sometimes and you then realize that you are alone. That is the time to meditate on the truth and realize that only God is with us. He was with us when we were born, He is with us now, and will also be with us when we die.

The modern world gives us two temporary solutions to our loneliness: 

1. Dull your awareness by taking drugs, alcohol, etc. 

2. Stay engaged and busy by partying, watching movies, etc.

People are afraid to be with themselves. They get bored and anxious if left alone without anything to do. This is because they are not trained to be alone. They are used to being ever engaged with something.  The spiritual solution is to learn to be with God. He is already present within.

 

 

 

 

 

Vrindavan Retreat on Ayurveda and Spirituality

From August 13th to 15th 2016, Jiva Institute will offer a Vrindavan Retreat that promises “A  Unique Insight into Wellbeing from Ayurvedic Perspective” held by Dr. Partap Chauhan and Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa.  

From an Ayurvedic and spiritual perspective one’s bodily and mental condition will be examined in order to find solutions and remedies for improvement. This retreat will help the participants  to gain a deeper understanding how to lead a life that will ultimately bring them to a permanent state of happiness and fulfillment, which is altogether free from any mental and physical suffering. 

Babaji and Dr. Partap
Babaji and Dr. Partap

Modern living offers us many comforts and luxuries. In the last two decades, our pace of life has been increasing constantly. New gadgets and instruments have been invented which help us work faster and travel to distant places in a short time. Technology has enabled us to do more work in less time and grow materialistically. All the wonderful inventions were originally discovered to enrich our lives with health, happiness and peace. Interestingly, however, the results are totally opposite to such expectations. Modern medicine has invented diagnostic tools and therapeutic formulations that can identify and suppress diseases at the nascent levels, but in spite of these improvements, the number of diseases all over the world is increasing every year. In addition, new diseases are emerging which are not understood well by the advanced medical science.

Thus, it is time we take a deep breath, relax and think about where we are heading. Health is not merely the absence of symptoms or physical discomforts. Ayurveda defines health as a “complete state of balance at the levels of body, mind and spirit.” While modern technology offers us solutions for comforting the body and senses, these “solutions” are actually disturbing the mind and are unfulfilling for the soul. When the mind is disturbed and there is lack of love in our lives, blockages and imbalances are created in physical organs and systems.

Thus, curing our mind is as important as curing our body. The basic disease of the mind is ignorance of the self, which gives rise to identification with one’s body, which further results in raga (attachment) and dvesa (aversion). The human mind basically rotates in the groves of raga and dvesa. All our actions are impelled either by either raga or dvesa. Therefore one has to rise above these dualities, as Sri Krishna teaches in Bhagavad-gita. There are various means for that, such as karma yoga, jnana yoga, astanga yoga, and bhakti yoga. Of all the processes, the path of bhakti is best, because on this path one can receive the grace of Bhagavan, on whom everything rests and depends. On the other paths, there is no such facility.

 

Babaji and his brother Dr. Chauhan have been teaching both together and on their own in various countries around the world to make the Vedic knowledge system, which Ayurveda is part of, accessible to the modern mind and enrich people’s lives with new insights and experiences. Their last seminar was very successfully help a few weeks ago in Japan about “Detoxification of the mind.”

Faculty :

BabajiBabaji – Satyanarayana Dasa, an alumni of IIT, he completed B.Tech in mechanical engineering (1976) and a postgraduate degree in industrial engineering (M. Tech, 1978). In spite of his successful career in the US, he felt an increasing yearning for the roots of his own spiritual culture. Eventually he left his job and career in order to pursue his inner quest for truth. After extensive study of the Vedic scripture, Satyanarayana Dasa realized it was essential to establish a proper facility to protect this ancient knowledge, and therefore he founded the Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies to preserve and teach this ancient wisdom.

Dr. PartapjiDr. Partap Chauhan – Author, public speaker, TV personality and master Ayurvedic physician. He currently serves as the Director of Jiva Ayurveda and spearheads all its medical and pharmaceutical activities.

 

Itinerary of the Retreat :

13th August

  • Arrival by 12:00 noon at Jiva Institute ( Address : 380, Sheetal Chaya, Raman Reti, Vrindavan, U.P. 281121, Mobile:097566 05055)
  • 1 pm – Lunch at Jiva
  • 3pm – Visit around Jiva premise , library and the garden.
  • 4 to 6 pm- Lecture by Baba ji on Spirituality & Health
  • 6.30 pm – Visit to Radha Raman temple for evening aarti & bhajans (OPTIONAL)
  • 8 pm – Dinner at Jiva

14th August

  • 8 am – Breakfast at Jiva
  • 9am – Kirtan
  • 10 to 12pm – Discourse by Dr. Partap Chauhan (Body mind analysis along with Ayurvedic body constitution- determining your Aryurvedic body type Doshas- Vata, Pitta, Kapha and the therapies associated with it)
  • 1pm – Lunch at Jiva
  • 3 to 5 pm – Discourse by Babaji on Spirituality & Health
  • Visit to Banke Bihari temple for evening aarti (OPTIONAL)
  • 7.30 – Dinner at Jiva

15th August

  • 8 am – Breakfast at Jiva
  • 9am – Kirtan
  • 10 to 12pm – Lecture by Dr. Partap Chauhan (Ayurveda- maintaining balance in body, mind and soul)
  • 1pm – Lunch at Jiva
  • 2pm – Closing ceremony and Departure

 

To attend the retreat,  please fill the enrollment form (available on the quantuminstitute website) and mail to sriparna610@gmail.com

Babaji & Dr. Partapji

 

 

The Functions of VATA – Emotional and Physical Health

By Satyanarayana Dasa

According to Ayurveda, there are three vital bioenergies in relation to the constitution of the physical body, which are called doshas. They are vata, pitta and kapha. In the following, we want to take a closer look at the function of vata. The word vata is derived from the Sanskrit root va, which means to blow, to go, or to move. Thus vata means that which blows around or moves.  It denotes wind or air, but in Ayurveda it has a special meaning. It is responsible for all movement in the body, physiological as well as psychological. Another word commonly used for vata is prana, usually translated as life air. Vata as a dosha is not air; rather, it is subtle, like electric energy. When aggravated, however, it causes an increase or decrease in the bodily airs. Just as electric energy flows through a medium, wind may be considered as the carrier of the vata dosha.

Prana and Atma

Prana sustains life. We cannot survive without it. Prana is thus called the life air or life force. It pervades the whole universe and is specifically prominent in open areas, near lakes, rivers, seas or forests. Prana has a great role to play in our physical and mental health. Our gross physical body contains two subtle bodies, the pranic body and the psychic body. The pranic body consists of the five divisions of prana called prana, udana, samana, apana and vyana. Prana causes respiration and circulation in the body. It also governs all of the motor and sensory functions, aids in digestion, and governs the functions of the mind, memory, thoughts and emotions. The psychic body consists of the mind, intellect, ego and the senses.  Beyond the psychic body resides the atma or purusha, which is the source of consciousness in the body, or the conscious living entity. Atma makes the psychic body conscious, which in turn energizes the physical body. All of this happens with the help of prana.

According to Taittriya Upanisad (2.2), prana, is the link between the gross physical body and the mind or psychic body. Prana carries the consciousness of the atma into the mind and physical body. Therefore, our minds and bodies need prana to function properly, or rather, to function at all. There are two ways to get prana; one is through the lungs, which extract prana from the air we breathe in, and the other is through the colon, which extracts prana from digested food. A person’s health depends upon the absorption of prana into the body by these two processes. Good absorption of prana into the body makes one feel energetic and enthusiastic. Inadequate absorption gives the opposite effect. To absorb prana well, one must breathe properly, in particular fresh air, and eat good quality fresh organic food. Food that is over-processed, refrigerated, frozen, stale or canned contains very little prana. One needs to eat a lot of it to obtain the required amount of prana.

The Basis of Everything in the Universe

Prana is one, but is divided into two when we breathe in through our nostrils. This bifurcation of prana is the basis of all duality in life. In the Vedas there is mention of soma (the cool, or feminine energy) and agni (the hot, or masculine energy). These two energies are the basis of everything in the universe. Prana stimulates these two energies within the body. The right nostril is related to the male energy, and the left to the female energy. When we breathe in through the right nostril, our left brain becomes activated. The left brain is logical, linear and methodical.  Similarly, when we breathe in through the left nostril, our right brain is stimulated, which is emotional and non-linear. Generally, our breathing is not completely balanced, i.e., one nostril is more open than the other. The breath cycle changes every 90 minutes.  Thus, although prana is one, it manifests a dualistic pattern in the human body.

Emotions are related to prana. They change with the movement of prana and vice versa. According to Ayurveda, our emotions influence the lungs, one of the seats of prana. When there is deep-seated grief and sadness, it affects the upper part of the lungs. Anger and hatred damage the middle part of the lungs.  And attachment and greed affect the lower part of the lungs. By controlling prana (pranayama), we can control emotions. Whatever we experience gets stored in the psychic body, and through meditation, one can clear up unhealthy emotions stored there. All the movements of prana in the body are governed by the psychic body. The movement of prana controls our voluntary and involuntary movements, as well as circulations within the body. We all breathe differently, think differently and have different desires. All of this is rooted in the psychic body, where our past karma is stored.  The past karma, called fate, manifests from subtle to gross through prana, and influences our life. By the control prana, one can thus influence one’s karma.

Cow Dung Village House in Thar

Meditation on God in a Mood of Devotion

Lord Kapila says that by controlling prana, a yogi can free one’s mind of impurities and become peaceful (S.B. 3.28.9, 10). Thus by control of prana, one can change one’s emotional and physical health. Our emotions have performed some useful service in the past; therefore we are attached to them. But now they may be unwanted and harmful, and so need to be cleared up. Otherwise they become a blockage to our health and happiness, both material and spiritual. First one needs to introspect and recognize such unwanted emotions, then observe them dispassionately while breathing harmoniously. Once they are visualized in this manner they will dissolve. In this way one can remain healthy by balancing one’s prana, and clear up the stored unhealthy emotions and traumatic experiences.

However, pranayama or yogic exercise alone cannot uproot the unwanted emotions. They linger on in seed form and will sprout again in a favorable environment. Unless one takes to loving devotion to God (bhakti yoga), the seeds of material desires and unwanted emotions will sprout again, even in a mind that has been purified by the process of pranayama (SB. 10.51.61). Therefore, not only is there a need to balance one’s prana but also to meditate on God in a mood of devotion. This is Krsna’s advice to a yogi (Bhagavad Gita 5.27-29).

Read also  about Pitta (Fire – The Transformational Energy of Life )

 

Fire – The Transformational Energy

Fire – The Transformational Energy of Life

By Satyanarayana Dasa

Agnimile purohitam yagyasya devamrtvijam hotaram ratnadhatamam

“O Agni, I adore Thee, O priest, O divine minister,

Who officiates at the divine Sacrifice,

Who is also the invoker, the Summoner,

Who most bestows the divine wealth upon us.”

This opening verse of the Rig Veda clearly outlines the significance of Agni or Fire, in our Vedic culture. According to Hindu scriptures, Agni is the first of the cosmic gods to be invoked and worshipped. Agni means “fire,” and this fire refers to the aspiring flame that rises from our innermost being. Agni is the mouth of God and oblations are poured into the fire in order to worship God and the devas. Mouth is called “mukha” in Sanskrit and from mukha comes the word “mukhya,” which means chief. As the mukha, Agni is the prominent deva.

In Ayurveda, fire is represented by Pitta, one of the three bodily humors. Pitta is hot, sharp, penetrating, oily, liquid, light, sour and pungent in nature, and controls the functions of digestion, metabolism and energy production in the body.  When Agni is low in one’s body one has weak digestion, leading to various diseases. Whatever the disease may be, except for bhasmaka [caused due to the hyper-functioning of the digestive capacity] , if Agni can be improved one will regain health. Most of the Ayurvedic treatments try to improve the Agni of the patient. Good health is the basis of spiritual life; a sound mind exists within a sound body. Therefore, a spiritual practitioner must learn to keep his or her Pitta in balance.

Pitta predominant people have a high metabolic rate and their body temperature is usually slightly higher than normal. They have a good physical and mental appetite and are capable of comprehending things as fast as they can digest their food. In essence, they have a great appetite for learning and understanding.

According to Vedic cosmology, the world is made of five elements – air, water, fire, earth and space. Out of these elements, the fire element is responsible for transforming things from one form to another. All transformations in the universe occur because of fire – the process of cooking, which uses heat, transforms raw food into a soft digestible form; fruits ripen because of heat from photosynthesis, and so on.

Impact of Fire on Spiritual Health

 

Pitta is illuminating in nature and moves in an upward direction. Even though Vata, or Air, is also light and mobile, it moves haphazardly; whereas fire only moves upward, indicating the Pitta’s hunger for moving toward higher goals. In essence, energetic Pittas are naturally inclined to transform or change things for the better.

According to ancient seers, spiritual advancement is the biggest change that can happen in an individual’s life. The process of liberating oneself from material attachment, or spirituality, is by far the best use of the Pitta nature in humans. This is why Vedic culture attributes tremendous importance to fire and propagates its worship during every ritual.

We get preceptorial information from our senses all the time. The mind receives messages through the senses, and information needs to be digested. Just as ingested food is digested in the stomach and intestines, mental food is digested by the buddhi or intellect, which is Pitta or fire predominant. Because of their strong digestive capacity, Pitta people are able to digest this knowledge in vast amounts. But, when their pitta is imbalanced or weak, the mind is not able to completely digest all the information coming into it, leading to the creation of mental ama. Hence, people with a weak Pitta become prone to mental problems and psychological disorders such as phobia and depression, etc.

Dhanvantari, the presiding deity of Ayurveda
Dhanvantari, the presiding deity of Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, an unhealthy body and mind is unfit for spiritual practice. Therefore, having a balanced Pitta becomes a critical factor for spiritual health. When  in  a balanced state, one can concentrate and comprehend things properly. But if the Pitta is disturbed,  a person has difficulty focusing the mind, and difficulty with concentration and comprehension, which are compulsory requirements for spiritual advancement. Moreover, when Pitta is increased a person becomes impatient and demands immediate results. This leads to irritability, anger, envy and jealousy. Such symptoms are common among youth because they indulge in pitta-aggravating diets. Imbalanced Pitta leads to preoccupation with judgement and revenge. This becomes a barrier in good human relations; thus balanced Pitta is crucial to one’s spiritual advancement.

 

Spiritual Guidelines for Pitta

Listed here are few guidelines that will help you maintain a balance in Pitta and prepare your body for spiritual practice:

  • Every spiritual path requires one to follow a specific lifestyle, but one has to make sure that this does not disturb one’s Pitta. For example, in Bhakti Yoga a practioner is expected to fast on certain days, such as Ekadashi, Janmashtami and other religious days. However, complete fasting might not be a good option for Pitta type persons as fasting for long hours can lead to hyperacidity, indigestion, ulcers and headache, ultimately becoming an obstacle to their spiritual life. So, it is better to avoid complete fasting; instead, Pittas should take fruits, milk and other light foods on days of fasting. Afterall, the purpose of fasting is not to starve oneself, but to utilize and re-direct the energy that one typically uses for digesting food to remember God. In Sanskrit, fast is called “upa-vasa,” which literally means to live close (to God through remembrance).
  • People who have high Pitta also have a tendency to become very angry and controlling. They must learn to balance the pitta with proper diet, breathing exercises and meditation. Even though they love knowledge and wisdom, Pittas might have the tendency to take revenge if incited – a quality which is not good for spiritual life. Hence, Pitta people must cultivate the habit of forgiveness; they need to realize that Vata and Kapha people have different capabilities and might not be able to live up to their expectations all the time. If not controlled, Pitta’s aggressive nature can often lead to health problems such as hypertension, stress and anxiety.
  • Because he has energy and is intelligent, Pitta likes to move and change things. Hence, he should first find an appropriate spiritual practice. For example, such a person should not sit down to meditate for long periods – he will not be successful at it. Pitta type people need more physical action. Asana and Pranayama can be good for Pitta people, as they need to engage in something that involves bodily movement and  thus utilizes their immense energy levels.
  • Pitta type people also should avoid being in the sun for prolonged periods of time.