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Ayurvedic Principles



Special Topics


This section mailnly focused on the Ayirvedic con cepts of Viruddhaahaara or the incompatible foods, paakashaasthra , upavaasa and ayurvedic classification of foods viz. annavargas and oral hygiene.

Section I: Viruddhaahaara ( Incompatibility of Foods )

Viruddhaahaara means incompatibility of foods. According to this we cannot take anything that is edible at any time.An example is honey and ghee, the combination of fish and curd or milk.Many practices and principles which are followed today is the concept of viruddhaahaara.

It can be explained as the food or food combination which when taken causes a vitiated activity of doshas, but without removing the vitiated doshas from the body,thus giving rise to diseases by contaminating the rasaadi dhaathus. “Yat kinchit dosham utkleshya buktham kaayaat na nirharet rasaadishu ayathaartham va tadvikaaraaya kalpathe” (Sus. Sam., Sut. 20/20).

Diseases caused by Viruddhaahaara

By Charaka the diseases are : Shaandya andha visarpa dakodaraanaam, visphotaka unmaada bhagandaraanaam moorcha mada aadhmaana galagrahaanaam, paandwaamayasya aamavishaja chaiva, kilaasa kushta grahani gadaanaam, shothamlapitthajwara peenasaanaam, santaanadoshasya tathaiva mrtyorviruddham annam pravadanti hetum. (Cha. Sam., Sut. 26/142,143).

It causes : infertility, blindness, erysipelas, ascites, localized blister, psychological imbalance along with certain physical and personality changes, sudden spells of unconsciousness, impairment of perception, abdominal distension, obstruction of the throat, anemic condition (lack of lustre, discolouration and diminished tissue metabolism), toxicity due to products of improper digestion, vitiligo, eighteen chronic skin disorders, weakness of the deuodenum (characterised by alternating diarrhoeas and constipations), swelling, (localised /generalised) fevers, frequent colds chronic watering of nose, congenital disorders of the offspring and untimely death.

Types of Viruddhaahaara by charaka with examples :

1.Deshaviruddha : This is due to variance in place.By intake of rooksha arid teekshna, snigdha and sheetha.
2. Kaalaviruddha : This is due to variance in time.By intake of cold and dry substances in winter, pungent and hot substances in the summer.
3. Agniviruddha : This is due to variance in power of digestion.If we take heavy foods, the digestion is less heavy meal after fasting.
4. Maathraviruddha : This is due to variance in dosage.Substances should be taken only in particular dosage.e.g.ghee and honey in equal quantity.
5.Saatmyaviruddha : Due tovariance in habit.Intake of sweet and cold substances by persons accustomed to pungent and hot substances.
6. Doshaviruddha : Due to variance in doshas (Constitution). For example a vaatha constitution person will be healthy on taking foods that are hot, sweet, snigdha etc. which contain the vaayu dosha at a normal functional level. However if foods that are dry, bitter and rooksha are taken, it enhances the already marked vaathic activity and manifests in a disorder of vaatha variety.
7. Samskaaraviruddha : Due to variance in the Mode of preparation. Drugs and diets when prepared in a particular way produce poisonous effects - for example intake of immature curds or mercurial preparations without its proper shodhana (purification).
8. Veeryaviruddha : Due to variance in potency.Substances having cold potency in combination with those of hot potency. e.g combination of fish and milk.
9. Koshtaviruddha : Due to variance in the nature of digestive tract.Administration of mild purgative in a small dose for a person of kroorakoshta (costive bowel) and administration of strong purgatives in strong doses for a person having laxed bowel.
10.Avasthaaviruddha : Due to variance in state of health.Intake of vaatha aggravating foods by a person after exhaustion, sexual act, physical exercise, intake of purgatives in strong doses or intake of kapha aggravating foods by a person after sleep or drowsiness.
11.Kramaviruddha : Due to variance in order. Intake of food before bowels and urinary bladder emptying or when one does not have appetite or after one’s hunger has been aggravated. If the food is excessively spicy it should end with madhura rasa. It is also said that we should generally take fruits before food except plantains and cucumber.
12.Parihaaraviruddha : Due to proscriptions and prescriptions.Intake of hot things after taking pork etc. and cold things after taking ghee.
13.Paakaviruddha : Due to variance in Cooking.Preparation of food with bad or rotten fuel and under cooking or over cooking or burning during the process of preparation.
14.Upacharaviruddha : Similar to parihaaraviruddha.
15. Samyogaviruddha : Due to variance in combination .Wrong combinations like intake of sour substances with milk.
16. Hrudyaviruddha : Due to variance in palatability.Any substance which is not pleasant in taste.
17. Vidhiviruddha :Due to variance in rules of eating.Taking meals in an unhygenic place or while talking, laughing etc.
18.Sampadviruddha : Due to Richness of quality.Intake of substances that are not matured or over matured or putrified

Treating the ill effects of Viruddhaahaara

There are two ways :
1. to cure the ill effects caused after intake by shodhana therapy.
2. preventive measure and conditioning the body
Charaka remedies are : purgation, emesis, use of antidotes and prophylaxis.

There is a wide spread practice in Kerala is to give plantain (nendran variety) along with curds or buttermilk, to small children. This would be one way of immunizing the children to such viruddhaahaaras, as the combination of plantains with curds is known to be incompatible.

Incompatible food articles :

Milk with sour foods, horsegram, blackgram, fish, meat, raw mango, sweet lime, curds, radish etc. Honey and ghee in equal quantities,Honey and anupamaamsa (flesh of animals from marshy areas),Chicken meat with curds,Radish and black gram ,Jack fruit and curds ,Kaka machi (Sloanum nigrum, Hindi-Makoya, Tamil-Manathakkali) with jaggery, pepper and dry ginger. (Ash. Hru., Sut. 7/33).

Section II: Paakashaasthra ( Qualities of Cook and Serving )

Paakashaasthra or Soopashaashtra in Matysa puraana , Soopavidya, Paakavidya, Annavidhi defines the art of cookery. It also deals with the qualities of cook(soopakaara),male or female servers(pariveshaka or pariveshika),the qualities of prepared food,the effects of food on the body,vessels used,the location of kitchen(Mahaanasa / Soopaagaara). Vaatsyayana has listed soopakala as amongst the sixty four arts auxiliary to kaamashaasthra. Paaka darpana, Kshema kuthoohalam, Bhojana kuthoohalam, Ayurveda Mahodadhi Annapaana vidhi, Bhimabhojhna kuthoohalam etc. are some of the texts which are wholly devoted to Paakashastra.

Qualities of a Cook :
A soopakaara should be from the same place where he works,knowledgeable,good nature,one who controls his sense organs,from a good family,clean,soft spoken. Some famous characters who have been outstanding cooks include Nala and Bhima.

Qualities of a Server :
A pariveshaka (male server) or pariveshika (female Server) should be clean, anointed with sandal wood paste, born of a noble family, good hearted, well dressed, pleasing by appearance and should have a serving attitude. The mahaanasa (kitchen) should be built according to the specifications laid down. It should not be exposed to one’s enemies and insects. It should be sprinkled with fragrant powders which are krimi naashaka. It should be located in the “aagneya kona (South-Eastern direction) of the house. The stove should face the West (i.e. should extend from east to West).

Vessels used for Cooking and Serving :
(Paatravishesha Guna)
The vessels should be washed with clean water. The mud pots and iron vessels are good for cooking.Food cooked in iron vessels are good for eyes and cures arshas(piles), antiemetic, antianemic,improves complexion, cures oedema.In India Bell metal/Bronze vessels which is called as vengalam in south and koot in north are extensively used. It is a combination of Copper, Zinc and Tin. Bhoja Raja in Chaarucharya says that “the food kept/or cooked in a bronze vessel is worthy of praise, it activates blood and pittham. It is good for the heart, improves appetite cures all eye diseases”.Copper vessels makes the food, unappetizing and they cause amlapittham (hyper-acidity). It is good to use copper vessels to store drinking water. Milk, tamarind and curds should not be stored in copper vessels. People who can afford it can cook food in silver and gold vessels as they pacify the doshas and give happiness to the mind. Sarwadoshaghnam dhishanolsavadaayakam. Bhojana Kuthoohalam states that gold vessels, remove all doshas and are good for the eyes. Silver vessels are also good for eyes and controls the Tridoshas.

Vessels and Containers for storage :
The storage containers is very important in the sense that the food does not loose its freshness.There should not be any reactin/change of food with containers.The food cooked should not be left in the same vessel, it should be transferred to a specific container, Ghee, Boiled/heated milk should be kept in a wooden or iron vessel. Meat and meat soups should be kept in silver vessels or in gold, iron or wooden vessels, vegetables in wood, water and sweets in earthen pots.

Plates or leaves used for eating :
Gold, silver,iron,wood,leaves of plants and trees are used for the purpose of eating.The widely used is leaves. Bhoja Raja’s Chaarurharya says that the food served and eaten in a plantain leaf is light and very clean. It controls kapha and vaatha and is strength and health giving. The lotus leaves cures poisonous conditions. Other more rarely used leaves for this purpose are palaasha patram (Butea monosperma), vata patram (Ficus bengalenses), arka patram (Calatropis gigantica) and era nada pat ram (Ricinis communis). Palaasha patram is used for eating rice - it increases taste and is also useful in conditions of gulma and mahodaram. It reduces pain and pittha. Vatapatram is good for reducing pittha and healing wounds. Arka pa tram - cures peenasam and krimi and odema of the full body (all over the body). Eranda patram - is vaathaghnam and is kapha and pittha karam.

Section III: Upavaasa/Langhana ( Fasting )

Upavaasa / Langhana means fasting. Upavaasa is one of the panchatantras. The most well known and popular saying in relation to fasting is “Langhanam parama aushadham” i.e. langhana is the ultimate in therapy or medication/treatment. Langhana actually do Shareera Laaghavakaram dravyam karma vaa i.e. anything (both practice or substance) which causes lightness of body is termed as Langhana (Cha. Sam. Vim. 3/43). Upavaasa causes a reduction of the dhaathus and also purifies it.

Upavaasa can be of three types

1. Nirjalapavaasa - without even taking water. Gruhasthas are not eligible for this.
2. Jalopavaasam - only water can be taken - anybody can follow this except pregnant women, the sick, emaciated and weak persons.
3. Rasopavaasa - fluids other than water, like fruit juices, milk etc. can be taken.

Types of Langhanam

Langhana is of two types as shodhana and shamana (cleansing or pacifying). Charaka gives six types of shamana and four types of shodhana. The four types of shodhana are - vamana (emetic), virechana (purgative), nasya (errhines) and rakthamokshana (blood letting).

The six types of shamana Langhana are -

1. Maruta sevana (exposure to wind)
2. Aatapa sevana (exposure to heat/sunlight)
3. Pipaasa nigraham (control of thirst)
4. Upavaasa (complete fasting)
5. Vyaayaama (exercise)
6. Paachana (helping digestion) (Cha. Sam., Sut. 2/18)
A seventh type deepana (increasing digstive power) has also been mentioned by Charaka in a later chapter. (Cha. Sam., Sut. 14/5-7).

Qualities of Langhana Dravyaas :
Substances used for langhana should be laghu, ushna, teekshna, vishada, rooksha, sookshma, khara, sara, katina.

Indications of Langhana :

(a) In aama jwara or jwara of any kind langhana is advocated. “Starve a fever” is a sound advice as the cause of jwara is derrangement of agni (Cha. Sam., Sut. 3/140)
(b) All types of indigestion and aama conditions (Sus. Sam. Clii. 46/505)
(c) When the strength of the doshas is not much, then upavaasa type of langhanam is useful to increase the agni (Ash. San., Sut. 11/45)
(d) In prameha, obesity, urusthamba (a disease wherein there is stiffeness of the thigh along with severe pain), skin disorders, inflammation, diseases of the spleen, head, throat and eyes (Ash. Hru., Sut. 14/11).

Procedure for Upavaasa:

One must not have a heavy meal before the fasting begins and after it finishes. It is rightly said - “No feasting after fasting” . During upavaasa one should not indulge in day sleep and sexual activities,should take care of rest,food,concentration,cool water bath. After upavaasa, one should take only laghu, snigdha, madhura and appetizing food.

Duration of Fasting :

This depends wholly on the strength and age of the patient, the doshas involved, the state of the disease etc. It is of two types based on the duration, laghu - one to seven days and deergha - more than seven days. The latter should be done only with the advice of some experienced persons.

Benefits of Upavaasa :

1. Clarity of the sense organs
2. Excretion of water products (faeces and urine)
3. Lightness of the body
4. Improvement in taste
5. Timely urges like hunger, thirst and bowel movements.
6. Clear belch
7. Clean heart and throat
8. Control of diseases
9. Freedom from drowsiness
10. Enthusiasm (Ash. Hru., Sut, 14/16-17)

Section IV: Annavarga - Classification of Foods

Anna is nothing but food which is the basic factor. It is defined as Adhyathe ithi annam (Sus. Sam., Kal. 4/38). Charaka while describing agreya aushadas says “Annam vrutthi karanaam sreshtam” i.e. food is the best for growth (Cha. Sam., Sut. 25/40). All living beings in this universe require food. It gives Complexion, clarity, good voice, longevity, happiness, satisfaction, nourishment, strength and intellect are all conditioned by food.

Aahaara and Aushadha:

Aushadhi, aahaara and vihaara are the three essentials for human well being. According to Charaka all that is compatible to the body (be it dravya or adravya) is termed as aushadha. Actually there is no clear demarcation between anna and aushadha, but nevertheless it can be said that “aahaara” has a nutritive value and “aushadha” has a therapeutic value. Very often aahaara is used as a synonym to anna.

Different classifications of Anna :

I Based on the origin :

1. Sthaavara (inanimate) e.g. - Roots, tubers, fruits etc. which can be divided as,
Bhauma (belonging to the earth) e.g. ores and minerals.
Audbhidda (germinating/related to plants) e.g. all plants and trees.which is divided into,Vanaspathi (Trees which bear fruits without apparent blossoms) e.g. Peepal tree Vaanaspathya (Trees which bear apparent flowers and fruits) e.g. Mango tree Viruth (Spreading creepers) e.g. Jasmine (d). Aushadhi (Annual plants or herbs which die after becoming ripe) e.g. Plantain tree.

2. Jaangama (animate) e.g. - Meat, milk, honey, etc.
There are ten parts of Audbhidda that are used viz. Roots, bark, thorn, leaves, flowers, fruits, buds, pith, sap, juices.

II Based on Action :

These are of two types : Hitha (sama)-beneficial which keeps the equilibrium of doshas, dhaathus and malas when they are normal and makes them normal when they are not. Ahitha (Vishama)-non beneficial , acts in an opposite manner. (Cha. Sam.,. Sut. 25/34).

III Based on the nature of the substance or mode of intake :

1. Paana (drink)
2. Aahaara (eatable)
3. Bhakshya (chewable)
4. Lehya (electuary) (Cha. Sam., Sut. 25/36).

Classification of Foods :

Thaila Varga :
‘Thaila’ means oils. Thailavarga includes different oils like - gingley, coconut, castor, mustard, sun flower; neem, karanja, etc. Other unctuous substances or snehas like vasa (muscle fat), majja (bone marrow) and medas (animal fat) are included in this varga. The quality of each oil would wholly depend on its origin. The best among them is gingeley oil. They increase stability, are good for skin, eyesight and strength and do not increase kapha though they control vaatha.

Ikshuvarga :
This includes sugarcane, its juice and the products of sugarcane juice, phanita (molasses), guda (jaggery), sita (sugar), khanda (sugar candy) etc. The qualities of ikshu - are as follows: Sweet both by taste and vipaaka, sheetha in veerya, snigdha, guru, kaphakara, pitthahara, vrushya, balya, krimivardhaka and an antidote to rakthapittha (Sus. Sam., Sut. 45/148).

Madhyavarga :
All sorts of intoxicants and inebriating substances are listed in this group. They are classified into fourteen varieties based on the source from which they are made. A few examples are - sura (prepared from grains and flour), vaaruni (extracted from dates and palms), arishta (made by fermented decoctions) etc. Suitable for both lean and fat people and also those who suffer from insomnia (Ash. Hru., Sut. 5/62-64).

Dhaanyavarga :
This is broadly classified as Simbidhaanya and Shookadhaanya. Shookadhanya include various varieties of grains and cereals like shaali, vreehi (varieties of paddy), yava (barley) and godhooma (wheat). Simbidhaanya includes all pulses and grams. “Simbi” actually means a pod or a legume.

Shaakavarga :
Shaaka means vegetable or plants which are eaten in whole or in part, raw or cooked, generally in the meal as a dish or a salad but not as a dessert. Shaakas in general are heavy, dry, increases secretion or urine and stools, cause flatulence are not beneficial for strength, complexion, virility and eyesight and harmful to asthi and raktha.
They are of six types.
1. Pathram (leaves) e.g. Drumstick leaves
2. Push pam (flowers) e.g. Flower of plantain tree
3. Phalam (fruits-ripe or unripe) e.g. Brinjal
4. Naalam (stem) e.g. Stem of plantain tree
5. Khaandam (root) e.g. Radish
6. Samswedaja - Saprophytes living on wood, cowdung etc. e.g. silindhra (mushroom).

Phalavarga :
In this the fruits which are used as appetisers or desserts or eaten raw are included. Several fruits are described such as draaksha (grapes), daadima (pomegranate), badara (jujube fruits), bilwa (bad), bhallaataka (marking nut), jambeera (lemon) etc.

Lavana Varga :
This as described by Sushrutha, includes all types of lavanas (salts), kshaaras (alkalies), dhaathus (metals) and precious stones. Their common properties are: Salty in taste, pungent in vipaaka, ushna in veerya, subtle, sharp, vaathahara, kaphapithakara, ruchya, abhishyandi, cause inflamation, enhance excretion of urine and stools. (Ash. Hru., Sut. 6/141).
Types of Lavana
1. Saindhava (rock salt)
2. Saamudra (salt from sea water)
3. Vida or Bida (Salt petre)
4. Sowarchala (slack salt)
5. Audbiddha (Produced as efflorecences on rich lands)
6. Romaka (Sambhar salt) .

Maamsavarga :
Two major types of maamsa are jaangala,meat of animals from dry lands and aanoopa, meat of animals from marshy lands,water reservoir. Jaangala maamsa is sweet and slightly astringent in taste, dry, light, increases agni, all the dhaathus and semen in particular, controls the vaathaadi doshas which is useful in dumbness, stammering, facial paralysis, vomitting, anorexia, filarial swelling and diseases connected to vaatha dosha. Aanoopa maamsa is sweet, unctuous, heavy, sticky, abhishyandi, reduces the power of agni, increases kapha and maamsa, and are generally pathya.
Anna is nothing but food which is the basic factor. It is defined as Adhyathe ithi annam (Sus. Sam., Kal. 4/38). Charaka while describing agreya aushadas says “Annam vrutthi karanaam sreshtam” i.e. food is the best for growth (Cha. Sam., Sut. 25/40). All living beings in this universe require food. It gives Complexion, clarity, good voice, longevity, happiness, satisfaction, nourishment, strength and intellect are all conditioned by food.

Aahaara and Aushadha :
Aushadhi, aahaara and vihaara are the three essentials for human well being. According to Charaka all that is compatible to the body (be it dravya or adravya) is termed as aushadha. Actually there is no clear demarcation between anna and aushadha, but nevertheless it can be said that “aahaara” has a nutritive value and “aushadha” has a therapeutic value. Very often aahaara is used as a synonym to anna.

Section V: Oral Hygiene ( Consuming Nutritious )

Oral hygiene is as important as consuming nutritious food to maintain good health. Aachaaryas have given a detailed account of the oral hygiene and the process of mukhaprakshaalana, dantadhaavana and jihwa nirlekhana. Mukhaprakshaalana or .aachamana literally means washing/rinsing the mouth. It is said that one should do it after touching or coming in contact with any dirty or apavithra dravyas like feacal matter, or any other animal/human excreta, blood, flesh, hair, nails of dead animals. It should also be done before and after meals and sleep, after sneezing etc. The mouth wash should be done with full concentration, in a proper posture and with clean water which is not brackish. Before doing aachamana one should wash the feet and hands clean.

Sticks of vata (Ficus bengalensis), arka (Calatropis gigantea), khadira (Acacia catechu), karanja, apamarga (Achyranthes aspera) etc. are used as danta koorcha (brush) i.e. any twig or root of a plant or a tree which is either kashaaya, tiktha or katu by rasa can be used for this purpose.It should be done once in the morning and after every meal.

Use of the different tastes of the danta koorcha :
Kashaaya rasa helps in tightening the gums and strengthens the roots of the teeth. The thiktha taste is kriminaashaka i.e. controls the growth of organisms. Katu rasa causes increased salivation, by which unwanted fluids are thrown out. Madhura rasa is generally not used for dantadhaavana, as it is conducive for the growth of organisms. But Sushrutha (Sus. Sam., Chi. 24/6) indicates the use of madhura rasa also which may be understood in the case of mukhapaaka (inflamation of the mouth) - stomatitis where katu rasa would be contra-indicated. Dantadhaavana, removes bad odour and stickiness (coating), brings out kapha (vitiated or excess) and make the mukha clear. It also increases appetite, taste and mental happiness.

Jihwaanirlekhanam (Tongue Scraping / Cleaning) :
After cleaning the teeth one should gently scrape the tongue with a tongue cleaner made of gold, silver or wood, ten angulas long and smooth (not rough or uneven). This alleviates, distaste, bad odour, diseases of the tongue and is pleasing to the mind (Sus. Sam, Chi 24/13,24).

Gandoosha/ Kavala:
Gandoosha is keeping oil or any fluid in the mouth without movement - for this plain tila thaila or anu thaila can be used. Kavala is acutally gargling wherein the liquid is moved.


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