The All Party Parliamentary Group (appg)
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Indian Traditional Sciences was launched in 2014.
WHAT WE SEEK TO ACHIEVE
- To promote better preventative healthcare; to improve the quality of life of people looking for effective holistic health care and to ensure policy-making is practice and evidence based and user-centered and improve integration with all other medicinal traditions.
The hallmark of Indian Traditional Sciences is that the individual and not the disease is the target of treatment. In contrast to allopathic medicine, we view disease not as an enemy with which to grapple, but as a manifestation of the breakdown mechanisms that maintain control, resilience, and balance. Dysfunction and disease are rarely organ-specific. Rather, they are an altered systemic physiological malfunction that requires an integrated or holistic model of therapeutic intervention.
Virendra Sharma MP Chairman
The disciplines of modern medicine are uni-dimensional. Modern medicine, following the principles and methodology of modern science, is divided into different disciplines, different specialisms. This approach does not comprehend the holistic, joined-up nature of Indian healthcare sciences in general.
The criteria by which modern medicine attempts to define, understand and regulate Indian Sciences are inadequate and often inappropriate – the frame of reference is different.
- The modern scientific method is to analyse and dissect.
- The very foundation of Indian health sciences is to synthesise and to bring together.
- Indian health sciences begin with the full understanding of the hierarchy of intelligence in nature and the corresponding physical structures at each level of intelligence.
- Consciousness, pure intelligence, is the prime mover, the seat of total intelligence. From pure consciousness emerge in sequence the intellect, the mind, the senses, the physical body and its environment.
- The totality of Indian healthcare sciences is based on this understanding of intelligence and its relationship to the different levels of material structures.
Therefore, Indian healthcare sciences cannot be viewed as just medicine – based in herbs, minerals and other substances. The Indian Integrated Science of Health is of wholeness. It encompasses the understanding and practices related to all the levels of expression. It includes the full unfolding of consciousness. It includes the sciences of mind, it focuses on prevention and maintaining wholeness, and not just cure. It also pertains to our understanding of and maintenance of wholeness in all levels of the environment, from the local environment – the buildings in which we live – up to the entirety to our cosmic environment.
In English, the word “health” means “wholeness”. The same is true in other modern European languages, for example in German ‘Gesundheit’, meaning ‘to be sound’, ‘to be whole’.
In Sanskrit, the original language of Ayurveda, the word for ‘health’ is ‘swast’. The deeper meaning of this word is ‘to be established in the self’, to be established in consciousness, pure intelligence’.
The bulk of modern medical knowledge is grounded only in classical physics and chemistry, the science of one century ago. To understand the science of health in its fullness, it is necessary to take the most profound and comprehensive understanding of nature – as revealed in the modern unified field theories.
These theories mirror the total, holistic understanding of health found in Indian Traditional Sciences, and reveal a hierarchy of intelligence and structure of matter. The deeper the level of nature, the more integrated we find the structure of intelligence to be.
Therefore, two conclusions emerge.
- Firstly, it is not possible to digest, analyse and understand the range of Indian healthcare sciences through the perspective of modern science and modern medicine; it has to be viewed and understood through its holistic foundation of knowledge.
- Secondly, no isolated discipline in Indian Traditional Sciences can be taken on its own. The attempts by modern medicine and regulatory authorities to place for example Ayurveda in a limited box of herbal medicine is completely inadequate and inappropriate. The science of health must encompass all levels to which health pertains from the foundation of the physical universe in pure intelligence through all the levels of intelligence and their corresponding structures.
A person-centred, person-empowering approach to health and self-care is now also intricately linked to public health strategy. In their Choice Matters document, the Department of Health states: ‘Giving people more choice and control over their treatment and services is one of our key priorities in the NHS – because people want it’.
Indian Traditional Sciences (ITS)
Ayurveda – Knowledge of Life
People suffering from stomach upset or acidity are advised to use ajwain (thyme) and heeng (asafetida) and to avoid drinking cold water. Those suffering from the common cold, sore throat or cough are encouraged to use adrak (ginger), tulsi (holy basil) black pepper, and honey mixed in ginger juice and turmeric powder along with warm milk. Each particular spice or food item according to Ayurveda is ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ in its energies and has corresponding usages. Such Ayurvedic practices have percolated through many generations. Most of the ingredients in these simple remedies are available in Indian kitchens and gardens and can be used as helpful medicines free of any side effects. Thus, Ayurveda is an integral part of daily life in India and has been so for thousands of years.
Therefore, it behooves us to understand what Ayurveda really is and the many ways that it can benefit us. Etymologically, the word Ayurveda is a combination of two words: ayush, which means life, and veda, which means knowledge. Ayurveda means the ‘Knowledge of Life’. Yet this knowledge or veda is not a mere theoretical or external knowledge but a profound understanding of the essence or true nature of things. Simply stated, Ayurveda embodies the art of living in harmony with all of life and is not confined to illnesses and their treatments. Ayurveda provides a comprehensive life wisdom enabling us to lead a productive and healthy existence in which all our faculties, potentials and aspirations can be realized.
The common notion that Ayurveda is only another system of medicine, because it provides detailed and organized information about the treatment of disease, is limited and incomplete. Ayurveda is the science that can impart not merely physical, but also psychological and spiritual well-being to all living beings. Defining Ayurveda, in Charak Samhita, one of the great classics of Ayurvedic thought, Maharishi Charak said, “The science that teaches us what is good or bad, what causes joy or sorrow, as well as the duration and characteristics of life, is Ayurveda.” Ayurveda is beneficial not only to certain individuals or to the residents of a particular country, but has a universal significance. Just as life is real and has its own natural intelligence, so are Ayurvedic principles and philosophies, which reflect the wisdom of life. Ayurvedic practices are valid wherever there is life. They are eternal and everlasting as they are rooted in enduring cosmic principles. The aim of these principles is to guide us to complete well-being and lasting joy.
Unique features of Ayurvedic treatment- While using the Ayurvedic system of medicine, certain basic considerations should be kept in mind. Ayurveda has its own logic, methodology and background, following its deep understanding of the forces of nature, as summarised below
A comprehensive cure- During diagnosis, the Ayurvedic physician does not isolate his attention only to the affected parts of the body or to the particular symptoms of the illness. In addition, he examines the patient’s overall constitution, emotional state, spiritual orientation, and other conditions affecting their physical and mental makeup. He also takes into consideration the condition of the waste materials and bodily tissues. This explains why patients suffering from what appears outwardly to be the same disease are prescribed different remedies in Ayurveda.
Psycho-somatic nature of disease- According to Ayurveda, no disease is only physiological or only psychological in nature. Physical ailments affect the psyche and mental disturbances affect physical health. Therefore, the body and mind cannot be divided and considered separately for treatment. This is the rationale behind Ayurveda treating every disease as a psycho-somatic disorder. According to Acharya Charak, all diseases – whether Vata (Space and Air)-caused, Pitta (Fire and Water) -caused, Kapha (Earth and Water)-caused or psychological – have one underlying cause – mistakes committed with wrong or perverted knowledge (Pragyaparadh). All disease is rooted in an ignorance of how life functions and can only be corrected by bringing us back in harmony with life as a whole.
The use of Ayurvedic remedies is rooted both in the insights of the ancient Vaidyas/Yogis/Rishis and in millennia of experience and application by Ayurvedic doctors and patients. Nature is the primary source of all Ayurvedic medicines. All ingredients in Ayurvedic formulations are of plant origin (herbs, extracts, juices), from the animal world (milk, ghee), or from metals and minerals that occur naturally. No artificial chemicals are used in the preparation of these medicines and therefore toxic side-effects are minimal.
One reason why the Western medicine model has reservations regarding Ayurvedic medicines is the presence of heavy metals like copper or mercury in some Ayurvedic formulations. This concern is misplaced because even metals and poisonous plant products (like kuchla, bhilawa, aak etc.) are never used in Ayurveda in their original harmful form. They are subjected to numerous purification processes and made compatible with the life-force in the body before usage. Consequently, far from being harmful, they can prove to be extremely beneficial to the patient.
Every Ayurvedic medicine is a tonic- All Ayurvedic medicines act as tonics by virtue of providing improved nutrition to the body and triggering special restorative processes in the brain, which in turn lead to healing of the psyche and correcting mental, psychological and emotional imbalances. This unique restorative characteristic of Ayurvedic medicines makes them useful even for people who are otherwise in good health, strengthening their vitality for the future. Ayurvedic medicines are not only curative for specific diseases, but also prophylactic as they strengthen the immune system. For example, Chyawanprash and Chandra Prabhavati are common restorative Ayurvedic tonics, which have wide applications for disease prevention and the promotion of longevity.
Importance of developing the immune system and dietary control- In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, importance is placed on strengthening a person’s immune system so that one is less susceptible to disease. The Ayurvedic emphasis is on improving one’s own vitality rather than on prescribing antibiotics to attack external pathogens. For the same reason, healthy food habits and nutritional guidelines are described in great detail in Ayurvedic texts. These help sustain our vitality, immunity and longevity so disease does not afflict us, even if pathogens may be present around us.
Role of dietary regime and simple food- In Ayurveda, great care is taken to prescribe a diet in accordance with the physical constitution and medical history of the patient. Such a diet hastens the healing process to have such a supportive diet. In contrast, a diet that is unsuitable for the constitution of the patient or might aggravate his problem is prohibited. The Ayurvedic dietary regime strengthens the immune system in healthy people and aids in the quick recovery of the sick as well. Ayurveda has one of the most comprehensive dietary therapies in the world, along with a clear system of adapting foods to different individual types and environments that makes it unique among all medical systems.
Simple and affordable remedies- In Western health care systems, treatment usually does not begin until several complicated medical tests have been conducted. This creates physical, mental and economic stress on the patient. In contrast, an Ayurvedic doctor can diagnose the ailment by examining the patient’s pulse and other bodily conditions and symptoms. This helps to avoid unnecessary stress, delay and expenditure.
Ayurvedic Cure targets the root of the ailment- One of the unique features of Ayurveda is that its treatment methods aim at eliminating the root cause of disease in wrong living habits, and do not merely suppress the symptoms. Elimination of the root cause ensures a permanent cure to the particular ailment as well as overall health and well-being.
Preservation of ancient medical traditions- Natural healing traditions are among the most important heritages that a culture can possess. Practicing Ayurveda ensures the preservation of precious ancient knowledge gathered by our sages over many millennia. We thus contribute towards saving a time-tested and effective system of holistic health care from the onslaught of quick but incomplete systems of medicine that cause us to lose control over our own well-being. Ayurveda is one of India’s greatest cultural treasures and preserving it has many benefits.
Ayurvedic remedies: natural and easily available- Procuring most Ayurvedic medicines is easy, as numerous herbs are available in local kitchens, gardens, fields and forests. Another benefit of using Ayurvedic medicines is that since one is using natural products, it keeps one in contact with the world of nature and prevents one from being carried away by the modern high tech and artificial life with all its stress and anxiety.
Universal Status of Ayurveda– Ayurveda is concerned with the welfare of all living beings including plants and animals, not just human beings. Together with treatises that examine diseases afflicting human beings, there are Ayurvedic texts on plant and animal diseases and their management. Among the better known are Asw Ayurved (horse), Gaj Ayurved (elephant), Gav Ayurved (cow), and Vriksha Ayurved (tree).
The expertise and scope of Ayurveda is quite vast. On one hand, it provides detailed information on how to treat rare and complex ailments (including those usually regarded as incurable) and, on the other hand, it teaches a healthy person how to remain fit and disease-free throughout a long life. In-depth and clear instructions are given about what to eat and when, what to avoid, and how to conduct one’s life are given in order to cultivate a healthy and stress-free lifestyle. Ayurveda enumerates healthy and beneficial ways of attending to biological needs like hunger and thirst. It describes how to deal with natural infirmities, particularly the illnesses that accompany old age. It is a medicine that can be adapted to the needs of every person, place, time and culture, linking us all back to the great healing powers of life.
A number of comprehensive treatises on all these categories have been written by different sages and Ayurvedic experts over the centuries. Paediatrics was perfected under the guidance of Sage Kashyap.
Sage Sushrut was a master surgeon. His Sushrut Samhita is available even today. Surgery was common and highly evolved in ancient India. Caesarean operations and plastic surgery are described in Sushrut in great detail. Sushrut had attained perfection in the art of plastic surgery. Complex procedures like bhagandar (Piles), and removal of brain tumours were also performed.
Eight branches of Ayurveda:
- Kaay Chikitsa : Healing bodily diseases through internal medicine, mainly diet and herbs.
- Shalya Chikitsa (Surgery): Treatment by surgical procedures.
- Shalakya Chikitsa : (7) Special treatment procedures for diseases of the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and throat.
- Agad Tantra (Toxicology): Deals with ailments caused by toxins, poisons and pollutants
- Bhut Vidya (Psychology): Treatment of mental disorders, emotional disturbances and psychiatric management.
- Bal Tantra (Pediatrics): Deals with illnesses and well-being of infants and children.
- Rasayana Tantra (Rejuvenation Therapy): Deals with maintaining good health, promotion of longevity and countering the aging process.
- Vajikaran Tantra (Science of aphrodisiac): Detailed treatment of debility and disorders of the reproductive system.
Jyotish – Indian Astrology
Almost since records of human civilisation began there is evidence of man’s interest in the planets and stars.
Jyotish is the world’s oldest system of astrology and astronomy. Jyoti is a Sanskrit word meaning light. Dating back well over 5000 years, Jyotish comes out of ancient India, and is referenced in Atharva Veda in the form of Mahopanishat or Jyothishmati. As per Indian astrology, every event in our life is based on the position of celestial bodies at time, date and place of birth.
The Vedas also have six supplements also known as Vedangas or the limbs of the Vedas. Jyotish Vedanga-Vedic astronomy and astrology on which the Indian ancient astrology is based is one of these.
Ancient sages Vashistha, Bhrgu, and Garga were the masters of astrology and made many predictions that were true. Then, before the beginning of Kaliyug (present time around 3000 BC) the sage Parasara wrote the astrology text called Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra. Through his disciples including sage Maitreya, this Indian Traditional Science made a long journey from India to Persia and Babylonia. From these civilization to the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians and the Orient.
As the pure light of scientific knowledge, the word Jyotish implies studying a person’s character, health, habits and even the future on the basis of his or her birth chart. Jyotish offers tremendous depth and wisdom in understanding the infinite complexities of our human experience, and of consciousness itself. Indian Astrology can be extremely accurate looking at the total being; mind, body, and spirit. Jyotish looks at every part of our life, from birth, to death. It can reveal detailed information about our life’s purpose, our talents, our jobs, and our partnerships.
Vedic astrology shows the understanding of life, the journey of the spirit from past to present life, effects of karma on present life, doshas and remedies and many more. Jyotish believes that it is the supreme power who is handling everything and that supreme power decides the birth time of the individual according to the past karma so that he or she can have the life in which they are best suited.
Not only is Jyotish believed to be the oldest system of astrology in the world, it is highly authentic and its predictions are most accurate. Being based on the actual constellations of stars, this is the most widely used system of astrology across the world.
Indian astrology believes the Sun is the basis of life which is true as we cannot imagine life without Sun. The fertility cycles are governed the by moon and it rules the emotional nature of the individual.
Jyotish has six branches:
- Gola: Positional astronomy
- Ganita: Mathematical calculations to find Gola
- Jataka: Natal astrology
- Prasna: Answering questions based on the time it is asked
- Muhurta: Auspicious time to start anything
- Nimitta: Omens and portents
With the help of Jyotish the actual traits of an individual, marital compatibility and the future, based on the position of planets at the time and place of birth can be defined.
Astrology in Vedic texts is known as “the eyes of the Vedas” and its effectiveness is due to the precise mathematical observations from earliest astronomers in India. Jyotish has continued into modern times from the unbroken traditions of Vedic scholars, known as Rishis.
Anyone can learn Jyotish. The reason that this astrology works is because of human error in the form of identification and attachment. People identify with their bodies and bodies simply follow the laws of nature, like any physical object. They are not free in any way at all, so their actions can be predicted. The body is a slave and the mind is its master. If the mind were free, then the actions of the body could not be predicted. As the mind is generally not free due to attachment, so its desires, thoughts, feelings, emotions, which are all of a mechanical nature, can be easily seen. Because they are all a part of nature you can read what is happening like a book. The whole of nature is a very great book, so the level of skill needed to read it is high.
An astrology chart is a snapshot of the universe at any moment. Each planet and star group play a very precise role in what is happening. At the time of the chart the ascendant, i.e. the point on the eastern horizon cut by the ecliptic, the path of the Sun, relates each person to the universe. So, at any moment there are approximately seven billion different ascendants for individual human beings and each one shows that person’s place in the expanding universe. Individuals all have different lives. Because all of nature is running as one machine, each person in a group shows common characteristics. Large groups, such as countries, also have a past and a future that can be seen. The same is true for the National Health Service. Because of the powerful desires that started the NHS on the 5th of July 1948, its future was set out then. It is still running like a well-oiled machine.
This could easily be described as the unified field theory that modern science has been searching for. Until they see beyond the merely physical, they will not be able to accept astrology. Astrology has also been unacceptable to the Church in the West, who would say that only God can know the future. But astrologers believe in the same God and would say that ‘He’ is showing us the result of our actions, so that we may learn from our errors and know that we can change our ways. Astrologers are not pessimists, but they can see the difference between free will and fate. If you do not make errors you are completely free, otherwise fate in the shape of the laws of nature runs the universe.
Like the comb on the head of a peacock or a jewel on the head of a snake, this scientific composition of Jyotish occupies the position at the top of all (six) annexures of Vedas.
Vastu – Indian Science of Architecture
Modern science gave us the concept of the space-time continuum and how they exist not as two diverse dimensions but as a co-dependent entity. It describes how the presence of matter impacts the space-time fabric, which is used to understand and explain the working of the universe – at a cosmic as well at an atomic level.
Indian Traditional Sciences recognized this phenomenon thousands of years ago and coined the term Dik-Kal (direction-time), which it applied in the form of Vastu-Shastra (compendium) to construct and build spaces. The Indian sages from the Vedic tradition established that a change in Dik can result in change of Kal in the form of events in one’s life. The events are influenced by the directional virtue of the person’s-built environment, so in effect, the directional alignment of a person’s house can have the power to influence events in their life.
Vastu shastra the ancient science of geomancy and architecture was originated by Lord Shiva who gave it to Vishvakarma, the architect of the universe. He is mentioned in the Rig Veda, and is credited with Sthapatya Veda, the science of mechanics and architecture which is part of Atharva Veda. Vishvakarma revealed the Sthapatya Veda, an Upaveda (spiritual texts that are subordinate to the four main Vedas). Sthapatya means establishing, and Veda means knowledge. It not only establishes a relationship but also maintains a cosmic order between the dweller, dwelling and cosmos. Other ancient works include various treatises on the sixty-four traditionally recognized mechanical arts.
So, can Vastu be relevant to modern life? Are there ways it can be used in the present day on a large scale to transform the places where we live and work, so they will support the happiness, harmony, mental and physical well-being of the occupants? Can it be used alongside the latest technologies to combat climate change, strengthen communities and improve the quality of life of everyone on the planet?
In Vastu architecture, buildings are designed so that the energies associated with orientation and light correspond to the specific activities that take place in the various rooms of a home or building. This means that there will be a best place for the entrance, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room and etc. The architect needs to get the placement correct otherwise people will feel sleepy in the dining room or get very hungry in the study! Perhaps the most powerful principle of Vastu is that the walls of a building should be properly aligned to the cardinal directions, which reflect the structure of the planet; the North and South poles and the equator.
Similar principles apply to the proportions of a building; in any natural structure every element is properly proportioned according to its function. In the human body any deviation from the normal range of proportions can ultimately result in imbalances and health problems. Similarly, with Vastu in accord with natural law there are certain good proportions for buildings as a whole and for the individual spaces within them. These rules apply to ground level as well as in elevation; the result is that the building appears balanced and satisfactory from any viewpoint.
Vastu buildings can incorporate beautiful ornamental details designed to uplift the consciousness of the observer. By making the most use of colour and light, these features serve to enliven profound connections with the natural world. Vastu principles can be applied to any local vernacular style which has evolved out of locally-sourced materials and craftsmanship. Natural and non-toxic materials, anti-radiation measures and alternative energy sources are also used in the design and construction to protect health of the occupants and the environment.
The worldwide revival of interest in this knowledge has generated pilot projects in many countries – where people have experienced for themselves the effects of living in buildings designed and constructed according to the principles of Vastu. Perhaps the most striking of these communities is on our door step at Rendlesham in Suffolk, which now has the largest number of Vastu houses and apartments of anywhere in Europe. People living in these houses report a wide range of benefits including clearer thinking, increased creativity, harmonious relationships, better health and more peace of mind.
This knowledge is a time-tested science based on research and a tradition which has a natural potential to integrate with the architects of the 21st century. While modern art can confirm that there are physiological effects, potentially large ones, from physical influences in our environment – from sunlight to electromagnetic fields – it would take years of scientific research to determine the detail of what these effects are; which are good, which are healthy and unhealthy, and how to make best use of them. Systematically classified research on Vastu effects for different structures has been coordinated.
There is an increasing body of modern scientific evidence to support what can be seen as the specific predictions found in Indian Environmental Engineering: –
- Mental health studies conducted by a general practitioner in Iowa showed a strong co-relation between house orientation and mental health. Patients who had homes with south entrances had significantly lower scores than those with East or North entrances to their homes
- Cardiovascular health from a practising cardiologist in California found that 50% of his patients lived in South-facing homes – this disproportionately high percentage correlates to the Vastu prediction that residents of South-facing buildings come under the influence of problems and suffering. (John Zamarra MD; preliminary review of 100 patients)
- Hospital recovery rates have been found to be better in wards where the there was more light from the East than in those with more light from the West. In this study in all other respects the patients had similar treatments administered by the same doctors and nurses. (Beneditti F; Morning Sunlight Reduces Length of Hospitalisation in Bipolar Depression)
- A recent global study of 143 participants living and or working in Vastu buildings showed that 85% participants reported experiencing less stress in their lives and 80% an improvement in mental health. 88% noticed improvements in their children – that they were happier, healthier and better at school and 89% reported an overall improvement in their quality of life. The survey was conducted by Professor Sanford Nidich, Maharishi University of Management, in August 2017.
Today, for the first time, we have a building technology to transform the way people think and feel – to create homes and offices that, by their design, promote good health, clear thinking, happiness, harmony and prosperity for the family and business – architecture that is truly in accord with natural law. In our challenging modern times, we need to make use of this ancient knowledge to address the needs of society on a community, city and national level.
With the fast-growing recognition of the knowledge of Vastu there is a wider appreciation of its potential role in improving the quality of life for people in many areas of society. The Chinese concept of Feng Shui is similar to Vastu.
Vastu Shastra is related to all Indian Traditional Sciences and like them it is also based on the interplay of five great elements – the basic building blocks of life considered by the earlier civilizations. Great modern scientists used space-time and other variables to describe multiple dimensions of the universe; similarly, our ancestors used the five great elements and pointed towards a multi- dimensional existence via Indian Sciences like Vastu. These Vedic dimensions are not isolated but part of the complete wholeness. The Vedic seers were not contented with just the knowledge of various dimensions and they developed several fields of application so that the common man could also benefit from the great scientific discoveries of those days.
Modern science can dissect, break and explain with incredible detail but at times struggle to bring the same level of clarity around interrelated, connected and universal concepts in life – the way life was created. Indian Traditional Science, Vastu helps bring that. In this day and age, we need both – modern science with tried and tested ancient wisdom and contemporary know-how to scientifically apply the wisdom of the past.
Yoga: Science of Living
Bhagwan Krishna in Bhagavad Gita consoles deeply depressed Arjuna in battle filed by means of various techniques used in Yoga Sciences. Sage Maharshi Patanjali’s treatise on Yoga “Patanjali Yoga Sutra” has become a guide on how to master the mind and emotions. Pesently it is widely atccepted as a mind-body intervention for management of stress and lifestyle originated diseases.
The word Yoga derived from root Sanskrit word Yuj which literally means ‘to unite’, ‘yoking’. Yujyate anena iti Yogah, Yoga is that which joins. It is a process of self-discipline, with the aim of bringing harmony and awareness within oneself and between oneself and mother nature, leading to unity, and integrity with the conscious and sub-conscious level, connecting with the entire universe. It is the art of moving in peace and stillness. It is not a religion but a way of life based on experience, knowledge, study of two equal, opposite, but complementary forces Zara (Yin) and Chetna (Yang), and the rhythmic circulation of vital and universal energy, with its macrocosmic and microcosmic path and changing forms.
Definitions of Yoga:
In Yoga Vasistha, one of the finest texts, the essence of Yoga is beautifully portrayed as Manah prasamanopayah yoga ityabhidhiyate || Yoga is a skilful science to calm the mind.
Patanjali in his aphorism Yoga Chitta-vritti-nirodha || (Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.2). Yoga is the removing of the fluctuations of the mind. It is a conscious process of gaining mastery over the mind.
Yoga Karmasu Kaushalam || (Bhagavad-Gita 2.50). In action, Yoga is a special skill which makes the mind reach its subtler state
Samatvam Yoga Ucchyate || (Bhagavad-Gita 2.48). In the process, Yoga enhances the equilibrium of mind.
Lord SadaShiva is the first individual who practiced Yoga. Shiva is Adipurush who has no beginning nor end. ‘Sada’ means timeless and everywhere, while ‘Shiva’ means nature. Shiva is also known as Ardhnarishwar, and symbolizes the male aspect on the right side of the body and the female aspect on the left. We are all acussmmond to many portraits of Shiva in many different forms representing art, culture, and science. Ardhnarishwar is not only the symbol of origin and all spiritual sciences of India, but the snake which always resides around the neck of Lord Shiva has also been accepted as a symbol of healing in the western medical world.
As per Indian philosophy, Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (energy) are two corresponding equal but opposite forces. Prana Shakti or vital energy is defined to be the basis of life. It has two components, one with which we are born and the other which we receive by inhaling fresh air. In its primordial state, consciousness is united with Prana, like water and salt in the ocean. When they become separated, they play different roles in the various realms of creation. Shiva is consciousness and corresponds to mind, while Shakti is responsible for all the movements and activities of the body, which is, in fact, governed by the mind. But at the same time there is no mental activity without Shakti. So, both are interdependent and one cannot exist without the other.
Matter is a gross form of energy. The inherent energy in matter can be liberated, but it cannot be the final product. At the highest and most subtle level of vibration, energy manifests as pure consciousness. As the rate of vibration decreases, it appears as pure energy, and finally it solidifies into matter. It is a reversible process, as matter can be transformed into energy, and energy into consciousness. The main objective of yoga is to experience the inherent energy in matter which leads to consciousness by discipline, meditation, dedication, and practice.
In the ultimate analysis matter is only one state of energy. In another state of manifestation, matter can be transformed into energy or light. Yoga applies the same principle to mind. Mind is considered as a form of matter which operates as a higher energy level by changing the rate of vibration. The more the mind is absorbed in the physical and materialistic world, the grosser it becomes and the less the consciousness or awareness can function as there is no space left for the spiritual process. Just as a computer becomes slow if overloaded, so do our minds.
In fact, matter, energy, and consciousness are convertible. This is a basic scientific principle and is based on the modern concept of particles, molecules, and atoms. The difference between each mass is the arrangement of the molecules and the vibration of the particles. Any change in the arrangement of the molecular structure will change the form of matter. So, our body gives different appearances based on our energy pattern and DNA structure.
In a piece of ice, the particles are closely packed together because the vibration is low. By heating it, it changes into a liquid and the particles move away and the vibration increases. On applying more heat, the water becomes vapour and the particles move further apart, vibrating at a greater speed. Though the ice changes its forms, the basic element of the chemical still remains the same. In the same way, yoga considers pure consciousness to be the basic element, which manifests in the various forms of creation.
The posture of yoga varies from sitting postures to movement aimed at toning the body which stimulates certain Chakras and Nadis for gaining full vitality. Each posture can be divided into three main categories:
- Body movements
- Control of mental activities
- Respiratory techniques
The greatest emphasis is on the right breathing process, since breathing is the centre of our whole life, not only because it provides oxygen, but it also vitalizes the autonomic nervous system. When a person is tense his breathing is rather irregular, uncontrolled, and shallow. The diaphragm plays a great role in slowing and controlling the breathing process, helping body and mind to relax. During the learning process of yoga, control of the diaphragm and the anal sphincter become the primary impotence. Raising the diaphragm, which has been confirmed by repeated x-rays during the yogic practice, also helps the transverse colon to rise instead of sagging, and it may actually arch upwards. This process helps in reducing intra-abdominal pressure, thus providing better conditions for the functions of the abdominal organs.
The circulatory system can greatly be benefited by yoga. The Peacock Asana helps increase the blood flow to the pancreas, thus helping diabetic patients. The Sirs Asana helps blood to pool in the head and neck region due to gravity helping the pituitary gland and endocrine system. By regular practice of Yoga, it has been observed that the heart rate and blood pressure normalize. Many yogis have complete control of their metabolic system, cardio-vascular system, and digestive system. This needs very dedicated practice under the guidance of a Yoga Guru. Simply by controlling breathing yogis can produce alpha rhythms when they desire to alter their state of mind. Many great yogis can induce theta waves 75% of the time. These are the waves not normally seen during normal activity and sleeping, but sometimes may be seen during periods of high creativity. During this time our ancestors realised that the body communicates with the outside world and cosmic energy through Marmas and Chakras.
Yoga is universal in character for practice and application irrespective of culture, nationality, race, caste, creed, sex, age and physical condition. Neither by reading the texts nor by wearing the garb, can one become an accomplished yogi. Without practice, no one can experience the utility of yogic techniques nor can one realize its inherent potential. Only regular practice (sadhana) creates a pattern in the body and mind to uplift them. It requires keen desire on the part of the practitioner to experience the higher states of consciousness through training the mind and refining the gross consciousness.
Yoga is an evolutionary process in the development of human consciousness. Evolution of total consciousness does not necessarily begin in any particular man, rather it begins only if one chooses it to begin. The vices like use of alcohol and drugs, working exhaustively, indulging too much in sex and other stimulation is to seek oblivion, a return to unconsciousness. Indian yogis begin from the point where western psychology ends. If Fraud’s psychology is the psychology of disease and Maslow’s psychology is the psychology of the healthy man, then Indian psychology is the psychology of enlightenment. In Yoga, it is not a question of psychology of man rather it is a question of higher consciousness. It is also not the question of mental health, rather, it is the question of spiritual growth.
Tam Vidhya dukkha samyoga viyogam yoga sanjitam || Bhagavad-Gita 6.23). The main aim of yoga is to permanently detach from Dukha i.e. pain and sorrows which can be physical or mental.
Yoga offers the man a conscious process to solve the menacing problems of unhappiness, restlessness, and emotional upset, hyperactivity etc. In society, it helps to evoke the hidden potentialities of man in a systematic and scientific way, by which man becomes a fuller individual. Here is an integrated development as follows:
- Muscular Level: Deep Relaxation
- Pranic Level: Slowing down of breath and balancing
- Mental Level: Increasing creativity and willpower
- Emotional Level: Enhancing happiness in life and equipoise
- Intellectual Level: Sharpening the intellect and calming down the mind
As man progresses, his zeal to perfect himself grows. In the process, he learns and understands the expressions of nature around him. The inner growth and outer expression go hand in hand. He starts manifesting the inner divinity in his behaviour. His lower animal nature pulls at the emotions like Kama – Intense Desire, Krodha – Anger, Lobha – Miserliness, Moha – infatuations, Mada – Arrogance, and Matsarya – Jealousy, which diminishes continuously. His slavery is reduced. He starts becoming the master by gaining control over them and that is the growth process which is in tune with spiritual growth.
To achieve this state Maharshi Patanjali explained the eightfold path Yama – Rules, Niyama – Regulations, Asana – Postures, Pranayama – energy controlling breathing techniques, Pratyahara – the interiorization of the mind, Dharana – Contemplation, Dhyana – Meditation, Samadhi – oneness.
Yoga is to prevent disease, to promote positive health and to bring joy and pleasure. It teaches discipline to action and good food habits. Hence Krishna said it in Bhagavad-Gita as
Yuktahara-viharasya yukta-cestasya karmasu | yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha || (Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 6, Verse 17)
He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working, and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. Not only just walking or jogging, but also eating meals at regular intervals plays a role in health. Otherwise, there will be an onset of acidity and indigestion problems. Limiting daily travel for hours. If not, it will be the beginning of back pain, slip disc etc. And our fun/work tasks must be “stress” free. We are well aware of the consequences of stress. The irregular sleeping habits and the overwhelming awakening are the root causes of all types of hormonal disorders. But when we start a yoga practice, all these things can be corrected. Physical/mental disorders can also be avoided.
Hatha yoga very clearly explains the benefits of Yoga practice as:
Hathasya prathama-angatvad asanam purvam uchyate I kuryat tad asanam sthairyam arogyam changa-laghavam || Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 1, Verse 19
Being the first accessory of Hatha Yoga, asana is described first. It should be practiced for gaining steady posture, health, and lightness of body.
Vapuh krshatvam vadane prasannataa Naadasphutatvam nayane sunirmale I
Aroghata bindujayoaghnideepanam Nadivishuddhirhathasiddhilakshanam ||
(Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 2, Verse 78)
The body becomes leaner, the face glows with delight, internal sound/happiness manifests, and eyes are clear, the body is healthy (immunized), Bindu (eternal energy of the body) under control, and appetite increases. These are the symptoms of gaining success. One then should know that the Nadis are purified and success in Hatha Yoga is achieved.
Several research papers provide benefits of Yoga as
- Reactivation of cells of the pancreas by abdominal stretches during yoga exercise helps to beat diabetes.
- Reduction in blood sugar by enhancing muscular relaxation and by reducing stress.
- Improvement in lipids level after asana, pranayama practice.
- Pranayama improves cardiac activity and helps to strengthen circulation.
- Control of stress helps to regulate hormonal activity.
In the civilisations of India, the Middle East and the Orient, we find some of the oldest and most time-tested systems of healthcare and medicine. One of the distinctive features of energy medicines is that they are an integral part of man’s philosophy, his consciousness, his relationships with other beings and the cosmos. The results are a rich harvest of perspectives and modalities that are unsurpassed both in their sense and superiority, as well as being practical, economical and ecologically sustainable.
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean medicine or Unani Medicine are a tradition of health of the Middle East influenced by India’s Traditional Sciences, and a body of knowledge and practice, which maintains health and endeavours its restoration. Health is a purposeful condition of dynamic balance, in which all the functions are carried out in a correct and holistic manner.
Preventative by nature, the Unani system of medicine that holds food and lifestyle responsible for the creation and progression of disease. In such a system, balance and harmony with one’s environment, temperament, lifestyle and way of being are the central focus for health, which is created by adjustments of diet and lifestyle to suit the person’s temperament.
The Unani system makes use of the humor theory, a theory that matches symptoms to a person’s temperament, then treating the person with food and lifestyle changes that would suit their temperament and consequently remove the disease. This method of treatment worked on the theory that all symptoms were a result of imbalance, and that by restoring balance to the person, so too could health be restored.
An individual in Unani would be deemed to be made up of four humors or temperaments, and the physician’s understanding of health and disease would be based on his ability to assess these humors. These humors are classified into four – sanguineous, bilious, melancholic and phlegmatic. Each humor would carry many physical, emotional and personality characteristics that would present themselves positively when in balance (such as in a cheerful disposition) and negatively hen imbalanced (such as anger). The diagnosis or evaluation is to assess the whole person, while attempting to locate the focus of any given disease. The imbalance may be located within one or more of four elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Air and four corresponding humours: Phlegm (Balgham), Blood (Dam), Yellow bile (Safra) and Black bile (Sauda), which are analogous to Ayurvedic medicine.
Like other traditional medicinal systems, Unani views the body not as a machine with set functions that are identical to all people, but as a highly unique, intelligent and interactive organism that has the power to heal itself given the right conditions.
A condition of health is achieved via the balance of good air, food and drinks, assimilation and detoxification, sleep and wakefulness, physical and mental activity and rest. Balance is defined as not having any of these qualities in depletion or in excess, and in harmony with the genetic, physical and emotional make-up of the individual.
In the Unani system, health begins with understanding four overarching principles of treatment- temperament: the individual and unique qualities of each person, made up of mood, emotional states, physique and natural strengths and weaknesses. Physis, which is the body’s ability to heal itself when given the right conditions via food and lifestyle. Qualities, which is the theory that some form of unbalancing force has entered into person’s life or diet and is creating disease and fourthly, the lifestyle factor, which holds lifestyle accountable for chronic and long-term diseases.
In addition, and depending upon (a) the individual patient’s temperament (Mijaz) and (b) the level of their imbalance – the Unani physician (Hakim) can use one or more of the techniques or modalities to enable order and balance. On the physical level he may select manipulation, exercise, cupping, massage, leaching and diet alteration. In addition, he may move on to using plant medicines or animal and mineral medicines This may be complemented with subtle changes in diet supported by a simple or complex remedy from rich Materia medica, mostly from plants. If necessary and appropriate, the physician can use holistic psychotherapeutic measures to balance the inner dimensions of emotions or thoughts. If there is a spiritual imbalance, then the Hakim may use (Rhuhaniat) Logo-therapy to harmonise the transcendental aspects at the core of a human being.
The Unani Tibb system of herbal medicine is very similar to other herbal medicinal systems. It is an energetic system: one which matches the characteristics, temperature and taste to specific physical and emotional characteristics. Herbal flavours would be used to balance the quality that is thought to be creating the disease state: heat in the form of a high temperature would be treated with cold for example. The medicinal tastes and characteristics of herbal medicines in Unani Medicine are insipid, pungent, sweet, sour, and bitter.
Some of the most illustrious names, such as Ar-Razi of Persia, Ibn Al-Baytar of Andalusia (Spain), Mainmondes of Egypt, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) of Persia (Iran) and Hakim Ajmal Khan of India were practitioners and teachers of Unani Medicine and today, it continues to provide healthcare for millions of people in the sub-continent of India.
In modern times, Unani Medicine is still used as a medicinal system in India where this ancient knowledge has been fortified and verified by modern biomedical research and integrated into the Indian national healthcare system.
Sangeetam – Music of Nature
Indian Classical Music is listened to, in order to activate the holistic self-healing powers, to neutralise tension, and to create a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. This is an ancient preventative system of health-care that has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of health disorders and produces its effect by bringing mind, body, soul and environment into harmony with the universal rhythms of nature.
Sound has been used since time immemorial as a healing tool and we can find the use of ultrasound in modern day technology to observe foetuses, break kidney stones, tumours, check internal organs, to repair DNA and etc. By elevating sound vibrations to a spiritual level, the music in our heart resounds with the subtle music resonating in nature creating the required equilibrium and bringing about a cure. Many holistic health practitioners observe the music of nature whilst performing treatments even in the West.
‘Geetam Vadyam Nrithyam Trayam Sangeetam Uchyatey’. This Sanskrit shloka (phrase) in the oldest books of wisdom, the Vedas implies that the word Sangeetam includes the practice of Geetam (Vocal Music), Vadyam (Instrumental Music) and Nrithyam (Dance).
The music of India is one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world. Like all other Indian Traditional Sciences, Sangeetam too, is closely associated with the rich heritage, classical culture and poignant Indian philosophy of prevention is better than cure.
Raga – The Soul of Classical Music. The musical scales or melody formulas of Indian music, known as Raga, are as timeless as the law of gravity and must be discovered, much like the Vedas themselves. Each Raga embodies a particular Rasa (mood or flavour) and can thus generate those same feelings within both the listener and the performer when properly invoked. The rishis, or Vedic sages of India, understood the inherent intelligence of these frequencies and mirrored them through music.
The combination of several notes woven into a composition in a way, which is pleasing to the ear is called a Raga. Each Raga creates an atmosphere which is associated with feelings and sentiments. Any stray combination of notes cannot be called a Raga. Raga is the basis of Indian classical music. A Raga is based on the principle of a combination of notes selected out the 22 note intervals of the octave. A performer with sufficient training and knowledge alone can create the desired emotions, through the combination of Shrutis (smallest interval of pitch that the human ear can detect) and notes.
Guru Nanak Dev (Founder of Sikh Faith) also espoused Ragas as the primary medium for propagating his work which now forms the first of two sacred scriptures in Sikhism. Gurus who succeeded him to date, evolved the existing traditions of devotional, classical and folk music significantly through many unique contributions and innovations, into the form of music that is known today as Sangeetam. The Sikh Gurus and saints versed the entire Sikh scriptures of both the Sacred Adi (first) and Dasam (tenth) Granth to the Ragas.
Classical texts prescribe different Ragas, for each period of the day. Following the daily cycle is very important. For example, if you get up before 6.00 a.m., you feel more awake than when you sleep in, and if you eat your main meal at noon, you digest it better. Indian Classical music follows the same principles: a morning Raga can be energizing, while an evening Raga promotes relaxation. Specific Ragas are also prescribed to balance specific doshas.
Nada (sound) Brahman (transcendental) is at the heart of the process of creation.
Of the five elements, space is the subtlest and gives us sound (Shabad) in the universe. The other senses; of touch (Sparsha), Sight (Rupa), Taste (Rasa) and Smell (Gandha) all include the aspect of sound i.e. Shabdha (hearing) in a subtle manner.
According to Indian Traditional Sciences, human body exists in what is generally termed as an aura, in which the human body has around 72,000 metaphysical energy channels called Nadis (meridians) and a number of energy centres called Chakras both which operate on the subtle level. The Nadis or nerves converge and emerge from the Chakras. Whether we are conscious of them or not the Chakras are active at all times, constantly in a state of vibration with the movement of the life energy or Prana moving inside the body. Each of these has a basis in the five elements (water, earth, air, fire, and space). A Raga in music produces sound vibrations appropriate to a specific element. This in turn corresponds to a specific Chakra which in turn is related to a set of body organs. Internal blockages in the energy movement or increasing or decreasing frequencies in the vibrations are the primary causes for illnesses. Different Ragas are said to rectify the frequencies of different energy centres and enable the free flow of energy without blockages thus healing the illness.
The Ancient treatise of the Art of Celestial Music or Gandharva Veda explored the divine power of music. Thus, Chakras poise the physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual being of the individual and can be balanced by music, love and meditation. Ragas heal the mind, body and soul. Whether plants, animals or humans, everything in the universe is connected with each other through vibrations, every object having its own natural frequency. Whatever energy is given out is also received back. Music creates the atmosphere conducive to a calm and peaceful energy level which in turn enables healing.
Various research studies on the effects of Indian Classical music have shown that the sound and melodies stimulate healing impulses that can harmonise the biological rhythms and cycle of the organism as well as improve physiological functioning.
In the spiritual Namdhari-Sikh tradition, Indian Classical music is the norm at Gaushala (sanctuary for cows) at Sri Bhaini Sahib in Punjab and Sri Jiwan Nagar in Haryana, India, to yield rich milk where the tradition receives the much-coveted recognition Gopal Ratan by the Indian government year after year. Indian Classical music radiates a particularly intensive healing influence.
A variety of studies have shown how significantly music affects the human physiology and psychology. It can change pulse rate, circulation, blood pressure, metabolism and respiration rate. For this reason, music has been utilized as treatment in many hospitals to alleviate pain, and decrease the need for pain medication and anaesthesia.
Nada and its Secretion for Health. The 13th-century Indian musicologist Sarangadeva describes the emanation of Nada in the human body.
- The human body is made up of five elements or tri-Dosha (three Doshas): Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth).
- The Atma or the soul desiring to speak or sing, stirs the mind.
- The mind strikes the fire residing in the body.
- The fire strikes the wind in the body.
- The wind residing in the Brahmagranthi (energy knots where the energy and consciousness inter-act in the central pathway (Sushumna-Nadi) preventing the full ascent of the Kundalini) and rising along the upward path, manifests on the navel, heart, throat, mouth and head.
Thus, the NaDa is produced by the conjunction of Prana or life-force – ‘na’ and agni or fire ‘da’.
Indian Classical Music is traditionally taught via oral methods. The rules of Indian Music and compositions themselves are taught from a guru to a shishya (student) in person.