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Spiritual aspects in Ayurveda

The category "Spiritual Aspects in Ayurveda" contains important knowledge about the connection between health and life in harmony with the divine order.

Diseases and epidemics

The following text is an excerpt from the german translation of the ancient Ayurveda teaching book Caraka-Samhita, called Ayurveda Lehrbuch – Caraka-Saṃhitā Kompendium and may be of particular interest for today, when epidemics among humans and animals seem to be rampant again. Or epidemics are fabricated, or something is declared a pandemic that was never considered a pandemic before, and on this basis terrible measures are taken under which the whole world groans and suffers. But let us first hear what the Caraka-Samhita has to say on the subject of epidemics. I will then comment on various statements in the text.

Once Atreya Ṛṣi and his disciples roamed the forest of Kampīlya, the capital of Pancala, where the elite brāhmanas lived at that time, and addressed the following words to them: "Some abnormal phenomena can be observed in planets, sun, moon, air, fire and nature at this time. These signs indicate disturbances in the coming seasons. Very soon the plants will not manifest their rasas, vīrya, vipāka and prabhāva properly and as a result diseases will spread. Therefore, you should collect medicinal plants before the time of destruction has come, the earth has lost its fertility and the plants have lost their power. We will need them for curable sick people who seek refuge with us. It is not difficult to cure epidemic diseases, provided the drugs are properly collected, stored and administered."

Agniveśa then asked his teacher how it is that people can be afflicted with the same epidemic disease at the same time despite differences in constitution, diet, physical strength, mind, age etc. Atreya now goes into the subject in detail, covering causes, symptoms, therapies and, in this context, the question of normal life span and premature death.

Causes of epidemics and characteristics of causes

Air (vāyu), water (udaka), place (deśa) and time (kāla) are factors that exert influence on all individuals in a society. Disturbance of these factors gives rise to diseases that can destroy an entire people, despite the different constitutions etc. of the people.

Air which is detrimental to health bears the following characteristics: Non-conformity with the season; excessive violence (hurricanes, etc.) or excessive stagnation (calm); excessive dryness, cold, roughness, humidity, heat; meeting of different winds from different directions; mixture with foul odours, gases, sand, ashes and smoke.

Since industrialisation, the air has been increasingly polluted by toxic chemicals from factory chimneys and, for some years now, even by spraying toxic substances from aeroplanes for weather manipulation and other purposes, which their originators call geoengineering, which of course does not have a positive effect on the health of humans and other living beings. Added to this is the pollution of the air by the exhaust fumes of countless motor vehicles almost everywhere on earth. Due to the harmfulness of the toxic substances, millions of people suffer from respiratory diseases and other affections.

Flu and Cold in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, the clinical picture of flu belongs to jvara, śvāsa, kāsa (fever, respiratory diseases, cough, dyspnoea, bronchitis, asthma etc.) and to colds. The cause of cold is already contained in the name: cold, cold (especially damp-cold) air in autumn and winter impair the function of the three doshas. If this is not countered with warmth (warm clothes, warm food, warm baths, etc.) and then the digestive fire is further disturbed and weakened by cold food or cold drinks after a meal, the food is not digested properly and the half-digested or undigested food mush, together with the impaired doshas, can then produce various symptoms of illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea, inflammation and also excessive salivation and nasal mucus, impairment of breathing due to blockage of prana-vayu, coughing and other symptoms. Undigested food and the result of it is called āma in Ayurveda. When āma has been eliminated e.g. by fasting, taking light food with digestive spices and by Ayurvedic preparations, the symptoms of the disease disappear.

Flu or flu-like affection is often associated with fever. From an Ayurvedic point of view, the cause is an impairment of jatharagni, the digestive fire. Namely, it is carried away from its seat (lower part of the stomach) by the excited doshas, distributed throughout the body and then localised in the skin and also in other dhatus. Āma must be reduced and eliminated and the digestive fire returned to its original seat. In the acute stage of fever caused by vāta and kapha, drinking of hot water or ginger tea are curative.

In the Caraka-Samhita, Cikitsasthanam, Jvara-cikitsitam, in the chapter "Principles of Therapy and Dietary Measures" it says:

"In acute fever, one should avoid day sleep, bathing, massage, solid food, sexual intercourse, anger, wind, physical exercises and taking drugs (medicine) in any form.

In the initial stage of jvara, laṅghana (fasting or light diet and evacuative measures) is the appropriate therapy, unless the fever has been caused by consumption, emaciation, vāta, fear, anger, craving, worry and overexertion.

By laṅghana the morbidity is removed and the digestive fire is kindled, causing the fever to disappear and lightness and appetite to return. Reductive therapy must not conflict with the patient's strength, because health, which is the goal of therapy, depends on strength.

In the first stage of jvara, laṅghana, svedana, time, yavāgūs and drugs with bitter taste are beneficial for metabolic transformation of immature doṣas.

For thirst in vāta-kapha-jvara hot water should be given, while for fever caused by wine and pitta cold water boiled with bitter drugs is recommended. Both kinds of water are digestive, antipyretic, diaphoretic, produce taste, purify srotas, strengthen and are curative."

Among the above-mentioned characteristics of harmful air as a cause of epidemics (non-conformity with the season; excessive violence (hurricanes, etc.) or excessive stagnation (calm); excessive dryness, roughness, humidity; heat; meeting of different winds from different directions; mixing with foul odours, smells or excessive stagnation (calmness); excessive dryness, cold, roughness, humidity, heat; meeting of different winds from different directions; mixing with foul odours, gases, sand, ash and smoke) so nowadays toxic chemicals in the air are also added.

Before a pandemic with a name we all know was declared by the WHO in March/April 2020, people had been suffering from the same symptoms for a long time and this was called flu and a so-called virus was identified as the culprit. After the old flu was given a new name, it disappeared and nobody talked about it anymore.

Several good doctors in Germany and other countries investigated the connection between chemtrails and respiratory diseases years before. When toxins are present in the air almost everywhere to a greater or lesser extent, and cold, cold damp air etc. and eating habits and behaviour inappropriate to the seasons also play a role, it is easy to blame so-called viruses transmitted by breath, sneezing and coughing for their sickening effect and declare an epidemic.

But if only a small percentage of old and weak people worldwide or countrywide die or become seriously ill as a result of the poisoning, perhaps this should not be called a pandemic. At least it should not be followed by blind actionism in the form of useless measures that harm far more people physically and psychologically than the so-called epidemic has done or could have done. It would be better if the so-called experts and policy-makers (and of course all those who are intelligent enough) would seriously study Ayurveda, broaden their horizons and become spiritually healed.

The characteristics of water that has lost its normal attributes are abnormal taste, smell, color and touch; sliminess; absence of aquatic life; and unpleasant sight (of a lake, river, etc.).

It is the same with water as with air: pollution by poisonous chemicals causes disease. What was previously blown into the sky and what was sprayed out directly from above falls with rain, snow, hail and fog onto the land, onto the earth and from there it gets into the soil, plants and groundwater.

Land or earth has a deleterious influence if it has the following characteristics: Abnormality of smell, color, etc.; Extreme swampiness or dampness; Overpopulation of snakes, wild beasts, mosquitoes, flies, rats, owls, vultures and jackals; Desertification; Excess of withered crops; Cries of wild dogs and of birds (ravens and crows, etc. ); confusion and terrible condition of animals and birds; absence of dharma, truthfulness, simplicity, good conduct and other virtues of the inhabitants; constant agitation of waters and floods; frequent appearance of meteorites, volcanic eruptions, lightning and earthquakes; terrible appearance of nature; frequent appearance of red, white and copper-coloured vapours in the sun, moon and stars; atmosphere of confusion, agitation, lamentation and darkness; frequent sound of howling, as if the land is haunted by guhyakas (demons).

"Absence of dharma, truthfulness, simplicity, good behaviour and other virtues of the inhabitants; constant agitation of waters and floods; frequent appearance of meteorites, volcanic eruptions, lightning and earthquakes. . . " – does this not sound familiar or has it already become normal to us? "Absence of dharma" means godlessness and irreligion.

Seasons have a deleterious influence when they manifest features that are contrary to, or excessively or deficiently manifest, their normal characteristic features.

Above listed four factors (air, water, location, and season) with their characteristic features are responsible for the emergence of epidemics.

We see here that the Ayurvedic understanding of epidemics is different from the modern one. This is not surprising. I would say it is more comprehensive, it has the whole, the whole nature in mind and not any ideas of micro-organisms. Micro-organisms are also known in Ayurveda – I am referring here to the classical Ayurvedic writings – but they are much less important there than in the conception of modern medicine. Micro-organisms that are hardly or not at all visible to the eye, such as bacteria, very small worms, etc., can develop and multiply in the body of humans and other living beings and cause disturbances if they find a favourable, conducive environment for their development.

This is how the inventor (or pioneer of today's ideas) of the virus theory, Louis Pasteur, saw it at the end of his life. He said, "The microbe is nothing, the microenvironment is everything." This means that instead of casting out the devil with Beelzebub (killing the microbes with poisonous substances), Ayurveda eliminates the cause through sensible nutrition and lifestyle according to Ayurvedic principles of keeping the body healthy, which also includes hygiene. For example, washing hands after urination and defecation, washing hands before eating, washing fruits and vegetables before eating. You would think that this would be completely normal and that there would be no need to point this out.

But it's not like that: a few years ago, many people in some areas of Europe suddenly fell ill with the same symptoms. There was speculation that the cause was salmonella or some bacteria on tomatoes grown in a certain area of Spain. On the radio I heard a medical doctor say that people should wash their tomatoes before eating them. This shows that the most normal thing seems to be unknown and not done.

It is clear that classical Ayurveda knows nothing of such micro-organisms, which are only visible with a thousand-fold magnification. Whatever is seen there at this magnification and is then called a virus or viruses, may be whatever it wants. In any case, there is a lot of room for speculation, and those who do not know and possess real knowledge have no choice but to speculate. What is seen there under the electron microscope is then held solely responsible for the manifestation of diseases, is then regarded as the cause of disease. "Hooray, we've again discovered something, we'll get the Nobel Prize for it, bring on the money" :-) However, others then make the big bucks by producing and selling drugs that are injected into the blood and are then supposed to neutralise all the invisible villains in the body who are supposedly solely responsible. Oh dear, oh dear. By the way, nothing is injected into the blood in Ayurveda. Injecting something into the blood circle is a horrible idea in Ayurveda.

What I noticed early on in my Ayurveda studies and what I particularly appreciate about Ayurveda is the analytical approach, the scientific-philosophical focus on the essential. In contrast to modern medicine, which cannot do without a huge apparatus of machines, electron microscopes, measuring instruments and highly technical devices of all kinds, Ayurveda never loses sight of the whole. While modern scientists with ever more complicated or finer technical devices go more and more into the depths and do not really know what they are seeing in the blood and other tissues and actually only speculate, puzzle, assume and then spread their ideas about it as important knowledge, as truth, although they are blind to the whole, Ayurveda has from the very beginning gone to the bottom of things as a whole.

The mahabhutas, five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space – are the basic building blocks of all dravyas (substances). Everything they see under their microscopes (and of course in the sky through super telescopes) are ultimately combinations of the five elements, but they cannot see these elements themselves. This apparently requires an understanding, an intelligence, that the modern scientists do not possess.

Modern scientists rely too much on their technology (measuring instruments etc.) for their research. Human research is subject to four defects: 1. we have imperfect senses, 2. we are subject to deception, 3. we commit errors and 4. we have a tendency to cheat. These four defects or deficiencies are the cause of many misconceptions or errors. Because of these deficiencies, even by using technical apparatus, one does not arrive at a clear understanding of a thing. Through a microscope I may see something that I cannot see with the naked eye, but it is still the imperfect eye that looks through the microscope and the limited mind that judges and classifies what is seen.

The mass of people are easily deceived, especially those people who, because of their indoctrination by school, university, television, radio and other media, believe everything that is dished out to them by these institutions, question nothing and rigorously reject every other idea. They believe everything they have seen on television and heard on the radio and what they do not see or hear there does not exist for them. Facts that are visible to everyone are quickly dismissed by them as conspiracy theories if nothing has been said about them on TV and radio or if these media themselves talk about conspiracy. They are ignorant, their mental horizon is pathetically limited.

The unconditional belief in technology and that technical progress improves the world, is absolutely necessary and makes life easier is deeply rooted in them. They see all the technical achievements like cars (absolutely indispensable for them), aeroplanes, agricultural machinery, computers (nothing works without them), instruments and apparatuses of medicine, all the thousands of technical devices and are bluffed, deceived. They may be in perfect health (who can actually claim that in the kali-yuga?), free of symptoms of illness and full of energy. But when a technical device tells them "hey, you're sick, you have nasty viruses in your body and you need a shot now so you don't infect others", they believe it. Without knowing the composition of the injectable, they have the stuff injected into their blood. And if they suffer serious damage or even die immediately afterwards or weeks later, it has nothing to do with the stuff.

This is all very unfortunate. If one looks at things from the Ayurvedic and Vedic point of view, one is no longer deluded and does not become a victim of the ignorance or deceitful intentions of others. Vedic knowledge – of which Ayurveda is a part – is of a divine nature and thus free from error. It is not the product of imperfect people who have the propensity to cheat. Clever cheats always find those who allow themselves to be cheated by them.

Prevention

Through preventive therapies one can protect oneself from epidemic diseases, provided one is not destined to die during the epidemic, and has no karmic reactions to suffer from the epidemic. The five purification therapies are recommended as therapeutic measures. After that, rasāyana should be applied with drugs collected before the outbreak of the epidemic. At least as important for the protection of the body and life at this time (and not only at this time) are truthfulness, a kind, benevolent disposition towards all living beings, charity, sacrifice, prayers, equanimity, recitation of the scriptures, brahmacarya, dwelling in healthy places, communion with sādhus, listening to the vedic scriptures of self-realised sages.

Causes of abnormality of the four factors air, water etc.

The roots of the disturbances of air, water, land and seasons that lead to epidemics lie in human behaviour. This statement of Atreya Muni is confirmed in many Vedic scriptures. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavātam, Śrī Śiva declares that all the troubles of human society have their cause in impiety and irreligion. And in the Mahābhārata, after the battle of Kurukṣetra, Bhīṣma Mahārāja1 explains to his grandson Yudhiṣtira, the then emperor of Bharata-varṣa, the connections between the state of an empire and its inhabitants on the one hand, and the ability and conduct of the government on the other. In Vedic culture, rājarṣis (holy kings) ruled under the superintendence of brāhmanas and spiritual teachers in accordance with the revealed scriptures. Yudhiṣtira Mahārāja was one of the last great monarchs of Vedic culture. It is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavātam, that during his reign the earth produced food in abundance, that there was neither poverty nor hunger, nor calamities of any kind. There were no criminals, nor even disease and premature death. And why was this so? Because Yudhiṣtira Mahārāja saw to it that the brāhmanas and the cows were protected and everyone was employed according to his varṇa and āśrama and performed his religious duties. He followed the instructions of the śāstras and acted as God's representative on earth and was recognised and loved as such by his subjects.

The conversation between Bhīṣma and Yudhiṣtira took place at the end of the dvāpara-yuga (about 5000 years ago). At this talk, Bhīṣma Mahārāja also gave a preview of the coming age, the kali-yuga, and described very precisely the conditions that prevail on earth today and will continue to prevail in the course of time. The irreligion of disregard for the Vedic scriptures and mental speculation cause living conditions on earth to become more and more difficult as time progresses.

The attentive reader will have noticed that the symptoms of the impairment of air, water, land, time described above can be observed everywhere today to a greater or lesser extent. And epidemics, the cause of which lies in the lack of hygiene and sexual self-restraint, are also prevalent everywhere.

Atreya Muni, in accordance with the mahājanas, points out the importance of the exemplary character of a ruler or member of a government. If the leaders and members of the government of a nation are irreligious and uneducated in spiritual knowledge, they will be guided in their decisions only by economic interests and thus indirectly become the cause of epidemics, destruction of the environment, general want and misery, crime, etc.

Plagues and epidemics are ultimately a reaction to the accumulated sins of a population, namely the sins committed in the present and the sins committed in the past life. For this reason, they cannot be effectively contained by medicines, vaccinations, etc. Sacrifices, prayers, study of Vedic scriptures etc. purify the consciousness of people. Purification of the consciousness leads to truthfulness, cleanliness, compassion for all living beings, self-control, wisdom, religiosity. The Vedic scriptures recommend as the best and simplest process of purification in this age the sankīrtana-yajña, the sacrifice of praising the holy names of God conjointly. If people curtail their sinful actions (especially stop slaughtering cows) and follow dharma, the Supreme Lord will be pleased with them and bless them with everything they need as long as they live. Śrī Kriṣna says in the Bhagavad-gītā that material nature works under His guidance. The Devas are his servants and representatives who control the wind and weather and all the workings of nature. If people follow dharma, they will see to it that rain at the right time and in the right measure makes the earth fertile, that the earth produces enough food for all living beings everywhere, etc. But as long as the leaders of the states and the mass of people act under the influence of passion and ignorance and do not say goodbye to their godless, impersonal, mechanistic view of the world, this will not be the case.

In the Vedic scriptures, four things are referred to as the pillars of all sins: (1) meat-eating (killing), (2) illicit sexuality,2 (3) gambling and (4) intoxication. They are related to four qualities: (1) mercy, (2) abstinence, (3) truthfulness and (4) cleanliness respectively. These qualities are lost in people to the extent that they indulge in killing, etc. All offences against the divine order result in corresponding reactions, as do all pious acts committed by a person – one reaps what one sows. The karmic fruits of killing innocent animals may pour down on sinful people in the form of wars where whole nations destroy each other. And then they ask themselves "how could this have happened?" "what have we done wrong?" "who is to blame for all this?" and hundreds of books are written and thousands of speculations are made to explain the disaster. The reaction to sinful actions may also manifest itself in individuals or whole peoples falling victim to the attack of rākṣasas, or micro-organisms, or other living beings.

1 Bhīṣma Mahārāja is one of the twelve mahājanas (great sages of the universe) who are recognised authorities of Vedic knowledge.

2 extramarital sexuality, same-sex sexuality, sexuality in wrong places, at wrong time, etc.