Matinum

Taking Charge of Your Health


While considering the systemization of Ayurveda
which took place between first to the sixth centuries, we had mentioned the philosophical
ideas in Ayurveda; that is what we will be considering in this lecture. The contents of that will be as follows; how
do they relate to the theme of Ayurveda, which is dealing with treating sick people. The
ideas themselves, man and cosmos, methods of accessing knowledge, because the doctors
have to access knowledge, about the patient, about illness, medicinal plants and so on;
how do they get this knowledge; logical parameters of debate, how is it necessary for a doctor
to know this, body and its knower, guide to living, human destiny and habitat. These are
all ideas which have a philosophical basis as we will discover, as we go along. Now, one may very well ask, successful practice
of medicine can be done without any knowledge of philosophy. Where is the need for this? This is a question
which can legitimately arise. And, Charaka among the great three, has shown that Ayurveda
indeed is rooted in the philosophical soil. If you want to have a qualitatively different
type of Ayurvedic practice, you have to be sensitive to the philosophical base of Ayurveda.
The physician who aspires to be more than a average practitioner, he must imbibe the
physiological content, or spirit of Ayurveda. Charaka was the physician, philosopher non-paraeil.
Susruta and Vagbhata, in their classics, they largely dispensed with the philosophical ideas
of Charaka; because they were more and more, moving towards the demands of the practicing
Ayurvedic physician. Now, if you look at these, each one of these
ideas, a little explanation; man and cosmos, essentially deals with homology between substances
comprising the human body and substances comprising the universe; its relevance to health, disease
and treatment. The second, about accessing knowledge; traditional methods are perception,
inference and words of the wise preceptors, or shabda, as it is called. They are valid
in Ayurveda, which prized reason, yukthi; yukthi was always considered a part of inference,
but Charaka gave it almost a semi-independent status, in claiming that, Ayurveda in his
time had become yukthi japashraya. So, he gave it a semi-independent status. Logical
parameters of debate; important in a physician s training; body and its knower, which has
a metaphysical basis. Guide to living, what has philosophy got to
do with it? The connection is essentially ethics, which cannot be separated from living.
Human destiny, always important in the practice of medicine, and habitat, how unrighteous
human conduct can lead to the ultimate cause of environmental devastation.
Now, each of these topics, if you look at it, their connection with philosophy, one
is, it deals with cosmology, it deals with epistemology, deals with metaphysics, body
and its knower, it is metaphysics; epistemology, all this acquisition of knowledge is epistemology;
cosmology, evolution of the universe; logic in the matter of debate, and bioethics, when
you are dealing with habitat. Therefore, each one of these topics have a direct connection
with classical philosophical systems. Now, look at man and cosmos, we have referred
to this earlier, and whatever exists in the cosmos, all the substances, they also exist
in the human body; and whatever exists in the human body also exists in the universe.
This is the panchabhuta doctorine which is very fundamental in Ayurveda. The number of
constituents are countless; but at a gross level, these are the panchabhutas. Again,
we have talked about it earlier, space, air, fire, water, earth, all these, and the spirit,
or the supreme self. All these panchabhutas, there are derivatives in the human body, have
also been identified in these texts. For example, the heavy part of the body, the bones for
example, it is originally derived from earth. Similarly, agni, all the enzymes in the body,
what we call, or the metabolism, wherever heat is generated, that is all directly related
to fire, agni. So, like that, various body components, they have origins in terms of
panchabhuta. They have been very clearly& In fact, tables are available, what they considered,
where derived, what was derived from which bhuta. And, the moment one discovers this
identity, it is an epiphanic experience because, it is a discovery nothing is away from us;
nothing is strange; we are also part of this universe; that creates a new type of awareness.
In other words, nobody is inimical; we are also a part of that and they are a part of
us. Even philosophically, it is a new perception for an individual, the moment you realize
that, you are a tiny part of this universe. And, going on this, how does it really concern
a practicing physician? How does this cosmology, or panchabhuta, how is it relevant for a physician
practicing medicine? That connection comes at two levels. What is diseases which affect
the patients? They come from, either excess or deficiency of dosas in the body; excess
or deficiency of dhatus, or body components in the body. So, you have to bring it down
to the normal range, because there is a normal range for these. They are all essential, including as I mentioned
in the morning, malas are also dhatus, as long as they are in that normal range; vata,
pitta, kapha, what we consider execrables, they are also part of the body, provided they
are within this normal range. If they exceed that normal range, then they become dosas.
So, if it exceeds, or it falls below that range, a physician, that is what we call disease,
or a disorder. And, if a physician has to correct it, he has either to add, or he has
to subtract, whether it is a dhatu or dosa. And, this is done either through, manipulation
through drugs, or manipulation through diet, pathya; that is how it is done. So, if you want to, let us say, add to deficient
dhatu, or a deficient dosa, you have to find a like substance. In Ayurveda, there is a
concept samanya and vishesha. This samanya and vishesha, actually, it is borrowed from
our Vaisheshika system. And, Vaisheshika is the mother of physical sciences in India.
[FL] is the great name connected with Vaisheshika system, the atomic theory and so on. Now,
this Vaisheshika system, they use samanya and vishesha in a very highly philosophical
sense. In other words, a class which is united by one particular property that is samanya;
and that property which differentiates a class from this, that is vishesha. And vishesha,
it goes on in this fashion; like vishesha is, that differentiation is made on the basis
of some part which is consistent in that group, in that class. Suppose, you keep on analyzing that and you
will come to a stage, when that part is not there, then what happens. So, in Vaisheshika
system, the vishesha, what they say, even in the tiniest part, that vishesha remains.
Therefore, even at atomic level, there are differences. In other words, all the atoms
are separate. In Vaisheshika system, unlike the modern atomic physics, atoms are also
different; even the vishesha persists at that level. So, this is a highly philosophical
concept in Vaisheshika. But Charaka, when he adopted this samanya and vishesha into
Ayurveda, he had adopted the terms, but the meaning changed. Samanya is a class of substances sharing properties.
Vishesha& In other words, samanya substances which are united in properties, and if you
put them together, they unite; they add bulk; they grow. But if you have a vishesha, something
opposed being united, then it diminishes. This is samanya and vishesha, what was abstract
in vaisheshika; terms were borrowed, but it became concrete in Ayurveda; because Ayurvedic
physicians needed that. Therefore, if you are particular a dosa, a particular dhatu
is in excess, you want to bring it down, you will use a substance similar to that, if you
want to add to the bulk; if you want to reduce it, you will use something with an opposing
property. This is how that whole concept has been modified for application. So, panchabhuta
becomes a tool in the hands of an Ayurvedic physician. And similarly, if there is homology between
substances in the body and substances in the universe; what happens is, the universe will
affect us; what happens, it does in a very infinitesimal way might affect the universe.
For example, if there is severe heat, heat wave, plants are affected; animals are affected;
we are affected; everybody is affected; an external environmental change. So, similarly,
if there are environmental changes& Suppose, there is a place with very high levels of
silica in the atmosphere; you go to Rajasthan and see one place like that, it is an environmental
change. People are doing industrial application; there
is a lot of silica dust, whole lot of people will be affected. It is something entirely
in the environment, manmade, change in the environment, but it affects; it is external.
Therefore, any changes in the environment, natural or manmade, that can affect the body.
Therefore, the universe, what, in one way, for practice, it is important. And secondly,
in the terms of changes taking place in the body leading to diseases, there again, changes
are extremely important. So, punchabhuta therefore, becomes important in the practice of Ayurveda. Now, then comes this question of cosmic evolution.
An interested person will want to know what we call this universe with its enormous diversity,
countless living beings, non living systems, universe is full of them; countless. How did
all these evolve? Where did it come from? This is a question which had been asked in
India for many many centuries, even from Vedic times. But here, Charaka has a very important
contribution in this area. And here, it starts with the column avyakta, or undifferentiated
existence. That is where according to this Charaka s view of parinama, or evolution,
that is where it begins. In the beginning, Avyakta, undifferentiated,
indeterminate, a primordial existence. You cannot characterize it. There are latent forces
in that, that is all we know; we do not know anything more about it. But at some point
in time, which is not predictable, which is not controllable, there is some perturbation
in that avyakta; because of these forces, there is some imbalance; we do not really
know what happens. But once that has happened, a series of changes, a cascade of changes,
they are set into motion. And, the first thing that happens is mahat,
the next stage; that is consciousness is built into what was an undifferentiated existence;
that is the next stage, which is called mahat, or buddhi. And, the next stage comes, follows;
that is ahankara; that is individuation; what was a collective existence, individual, individuation
develops; this is the next stage. And, the next comes tanmatras. These are the forerunners
of the five pancamahabhutas. These are not the mahabhutas, but the forerunners of the
pancabhutas, which lead to five bhutas; that is the next stage. And, that leads to indriyas,
the five indriyas; that is something concrete. And, the indriyas, once they come, mind is
part of it. It is not derived from the indriyas, but along
a co-development relay, because indriyas cannot independently function; mind has to be there;
that is indriyas and the mind. And, the next stage, once the indriyas are there, there
is something for the indriyas to do; they have got to have some object. If their eye,
a sense organ, eye has to have something to see; the vision is there; smell is there;
touch is there; that is what makes all these things accessible to us. So, indriyarthas is the next stage. And, indriyarthas
really is the universe; because universe is what our senses can perceive. When I use an
instrument to see, this instrument to hear like a stethoscope, but still, it is the ear
which is sensing that. Therefore, indriyarthas is what we call the physical universe, and
what is beyond this, what is beyond the physical universe, supra-sensory, that is not part
of the Ayurveda. In fact, Ayurveda very clearly says, we do not deal with that. We only deal
with this sensory world. Therefore, if this cycle here, starting with
avyakta and coming up to indriyarthas, these are twenty four stages, what are called [FL].
They are called tatwas in the Charaka, in the Sankhya system of philosophy. That, Charaka
is one of the original contributors of the Sankhya system. Apart from being a great physician,
he was also a philosopher. Now, this twenty four tatwas, there is a difference here, this
evolution we are talking about, we come to indriyarthas; you will notice indriyarthas,
again they go back to avyakta. So, it is a cyclical change. This is different from with Darwinian evolution
with which we are very familiar. Darwinian evolution is open ended; it keeps on evolving;
there is no stopping; but here, it is different. Once it comes to indriyarthas, at infinite
time, it will dissolve into avyakta and the whole process will start again. This is Charakas
[FL], the original Sankhya system. In [FL], which is the classical [FL], written a hundred
or two hundred years after Charaka, there are [FL], there are twenty five; and he gave
an independent, he added one more, that is purusha. Because if you notice here, this twenty four,
there is no place for an external agency. See, that is a very important thing. There
is no external agency here. In other words, if you want to pray, you are miserable, there
is nobody to hear that. There is no place for any kind of intervention; this will go
on; it is a harsh system; a merciless type of, there is no compassion; nobody to listen
to us, to our prayers; nobody to wipe our tears. So, it is a harsh system, but logically
very acceptable; very appealing. So, this is for the people; they crave for
something; they crave for a ishwara, for example; that is where, perhaps because of that, Eshwarakrishna
has added independently purusha, which is not there in this book. Purusha is part of
prakriti in Charaka, but that has been given a separate status. So, it became [FL]. So,
that is the difference here. Now, the original Sankhya is credited with Charaka and the classical
Sankhya of Eshwarakrishan is twenty five and that came later. So, this is therefore, not
directly related to the practice of medicine, but it is important, in the sense, you may
remember, or you may have heard, there is an old Indian story about three stone masons. Three people were carving stone and the first
man was asked, what are you doing here? I am carving the stone; I am paid hundred rupees
a day. The second man was asked, he said, I am carving a stone; there is a temple being
built here; I am paid hundred rupees. Third man was asked; he said, they are building
a Shiva temple here, and I am carving that Nandi; and Nandi is Shiva s carrier; he has
to occupy a lower level; the master is sitting in a higher level. So, I am carving his eyes
now. It has to be focused in an upward direction and that is what I am doing. I am paid hundred
rupees. Now, if you look at these three people, they
are doing the same job essentially, but the third man, he gets far more out of his work
than his hundred rupees. And also, the quality of his work will be different. If you go to
great temples, you may see these deepayakshi standing, holding a lamp. I am sure in Tamil
Nadu also you have, you may see hundreds of them standing, but they all look alike; but
once an art critic told me, you think they are all alike, but they are not. If you go
and look it, an art critic can make out much easier than us, because we are not art critics.
If you look at them superficially, they look alike, but there not alike. When you look, you will find suddenly, one
yakshi will be jumping out and coming towards you, special, different; that is because it
is carved by a man, who put a bit of his own soul into it; that will look different. Now,
there is something in what he said. Therefore, here, the physician who is just ordinary treatment,
you know pathology, you know medicine, you treat; but an Ayurvedic physician who knows
this, the basis of knowledge, the basis of evolution, he is a very different kind of
physician; he is like a Charaka; and the patient going to him, the very sight of him might
partly relieve his illness. So, that is the difference essentially. It
is not for the& In fact, Charaka alludes to this in the beginning of his Samhitha, there
is a classification of decoctions; fifty different, there is a classification;, fifty groups.
At the end of it, it is good for fever, for diarrhea, for so many things. At the end of
it, he says [FL]; this table I have given, is good for the dim witted ordinary physician;
[FL]; but he does not stop there; [FL]; for the wise, this is to extend the domain of
knowledge. You can interpret it in any way you like; you may want to create new formulations,
find new medicinal plants, which we have not even done today; because how difficult is
it to find a wild plant, whether it has medicinal value, how do you do that? They had done it;
nineteen hundred plants they have done. We have not done anything since. So, you could
do that, or you could find out how they work, that also we have not done. So, extending
the domain of knowledge is open to us, but how few of us actually do it. Therefore, a
physician who reflects on all these, he becomes a physician extraordinaire. That is what is
important here. Then, we come to extending, methods of accessing knowledge. This is epistemology, very much a part of
a philosophy, and there are classical epistemology, authority, aptopadesa, that is a valid form.
Many western logicians will not accept it; that is, you do not take what somebody says
an authority, they do not accept it; but in India, in our systems, that is accepted and
Ayurveda especially, it is important; but this apta, who is the apta? Whose word are you going to take as an authority?
And, if you look at the definition, you can easily say wise savant, but he has the power
of knowledge and authority, who is rich in experience, who is incapable of lying, whose
character is spotless, who is a source of knowledge, a student should accept his authority.
And why, because a physician from his experience of so many years of treating, if he says this
particular sign is dangerous, you should do like this, or you should not give this medicine
at this particular stage, that sort of thing, you cannot learn from text books. It is learnt
from experience and if you insist that all these, you will also do experiments and discover;
that means, you will be doing it at the cost of many patients. Therefore, it is, we are
obliged to listen to experience; so, that is a valid form of knowledge, aptopadesa. And, the second is perception. This has been
always, even in western countries, everybody accepts perception. Even the lokayatikas,
the materialists of India, they only accepted this. No, other form of knowledge; what we
can see, what we can experience, that alone is the source of knowledge; but that is a
very complex process, because it involves instruments of perception and a certain process,
and a certain agent, which has to become aware of it; all these are involved in perception. Now, if you look at it, the words of aptopadesa
again, to repeat that, this is, this is as good a scriptural authority, valid. And then, we come to perception; five sense
organs, jnanendriyas, objects of senses which we have already seen, indriyarthas, sound,
touch, vision, smell, taste, these are all our sense organs who can, we can pick up these;
mind, intellect and the knower. These are the instruments, if any one is lacking, then,
there can be no perception. Now, if you look at that, each one of these we can consider.
The senses like smell, or vision, they pick up a particular object. Now, that information
which is picked up by the sense organs, it cannot pick it up unless mind is involved. For example, I come here, the clock ticking,
I can hear that; but once my mind changes, I am listening to someone, I am doing something
else, I no longer hear that; the clock is still ticking; the sound waves are impinging
on my eardrum; but I am no longer aware of it, because my mind has changed somewhere
else. Therefore, in this knowledge process where all these instruments interact, that
is what we have to, the real philosophical basis of perception, the sense organ, the
sense object and the mind, a certain complex data is created; maybe auditory, maybe visual,
maybe related to taste, but that, all these three agents work together, produce a particular
product, a knowledge product. Now then, the next stage is, that knowledge
product does not stop with the mind, it goes to the buddhi; that is the next stage, which
is another part of the instrument. And, this buddhi, if you, you can well imagine a product
which is related to taste, a knowledge product related to vision, all these are entirely
different; but when they come to buddhi, the analogy used is, suppose the fingers are playing
on a multi-stringed instrument, number of strings are there, and your fingers are moving
on them, it creates all kinds of tunes, variegate tunes; that is the analogy they use. So here, this sense organ, sense object, mind,
product, that if you can imagine is a finger and there is a multi stringed instrument which
is the buddhi, when it comes and plucks, but it is an intelligent plucking, because obviously
we cannot, we do not hear this camera, we see it. It is highly specific, music, I hear;
I do not see it. Therefore, each of these products, when they come to this multi-stringed
instrument of buddhi, then, all these enormous perceptions arise; but then, it does not stop
there. Once this is happening, somebody has to know this; that is known as self. That is the next stage, purusa. This is not
the purusa, the supreme self. No, we are not talking about that, there is something in
individual self, jivatma; when, in our Indian philosophical systems they believe for example,
when a man dies, there is a shushma sharira which leaves the body and goes to another
person; the whole reincarnation is based on that. Now, that is jivatma; that jivatma is inherent
and that jivatma is active, only when it is in, comes in contact with this particular
complex; that is sense organ, sense object, mind, buddhi, that product, self is the one
which could, which comes aware of it. Now, it is important because, mind is, all these
are integral. If the instrument is defective, there is no knowledge. All these have to be
there. And, if self is not there, then this is inactive; this mind complex, mind itself
is inactive, if self does not come there. And, self detached from these is alone, it
cannot be aware of anything; it can become aware of it only when this product comes;
so, there is a mutuality in the relationship. Therefore, this complex process, the knower,
is also part of this; very different from this personal self, individual; very different
from the supreme self. Then we come to inference, which is very important,
because a physician, this is what physicians, in those days there was no laboratory reports.
They had to use inference very very much; observation, past, present, observations made
by others, you infer a lot of things from this. And this inference, there are three
types of inference. It can be consequent and precedent, what came first, what came later. That, like for example, consequent and precedent;
if you take rain and the rain clouds, rain clouds are the precedent, rain is the consequent.
Now, if you take precedent and consequent again, sexual intercourse and pregnancy, pregnancy
is consequent and sexual intercourse is precedent. And, there is a third type, a complimentary
pair; they always go together; fire and smoke. So, if you see fire, then there must have
been smoke here, or smoke, there is fire; that is because of complementarities. So,
there are three types of inference; all these are used in medicine. When you see a person having rigor, then you
know he is going to have fever. That is a, you know immediately, it is a precedent; like,
malarial patient is having rigor, then you know very well that he is going to have fever.
So, like that, there are so many which we use all the time in the diagnostic process. And then, we come to logical parameters of
debate. Why should this be important? Charaka gives a whole section dealing with this and
the reason is, it is not meant for all physicians. Physician who have a particular view, a doctrine,
they want to present it before an audience, they want them to accept it. If you want to
gain, today, it is like presenting a paper. You want to go for an international conference;
you have something new to report; only those people need this; all the people are not interested
in presenting papers, or getting global recognition. If you want to do that, then you have to know
this. And, the logical parameters of debate, what are the rules of debate, how you should
speak in an audience, how you should treat with the umpire; all those you have to be
aware of these, so that the scholars sitting in the assembly will listen to you. Therefore,
Charaka devotes a whole lot of debates on this subject, and he deals with the friendly
assembly. You may go to an assembly where you know most of the people, maybe your own
alma mater; people are friendly, respectful and you have one way of dealing with them;
you can take lot of things for granted there. Many of them may be good, personally known
to you. This is one way to deal with that audience when you present; but you may go
to a hostile audience, a foreign audience for example, highly critical of what is being
done in India. When you go there, your attitude has to be different; it cannot be the same.
And, you may go to a hostile audience where they will be highly critical of you. And then Charaka, in this particular, different
types of assemblies, how you should strategize yourself, all that is described here. And,
in fact, it goes into such details; you should find out the opponent, your adversary, his
weaknesses; he may not be very good in articulating; he may be very deficient in his knowledge
of history; he may be very deficient in something else; he will be a nervous person; all these
you should find out, this is what it says, and you should attack him on that, his areas
of weakness. If he is deficient, you make a big quotation
from something and he will, immediately he will be off balance and you should take advantage
of that. So, like that, there are a whole lot of practical instructions, how to win
a debate. And sometimes, even you may think that, some of these are not even ethical;
so that, to win the debate at any cost, sometimes it goes to that extent; but then, all this
is, when you tend to doubt, is it correct to do that. When you begin to think like that, there is
a relief in the sense, at the end of it, this chapter, he says, the debate among physicians
should be confined to topics in Ayurveda. Then he says, not a word should be spoken
which is not well thought out, or which is out of place, or which is confused, or lacking
in scriptural authority; whatever is said should be backed by reason, because debates
based on reason are free from ill feeling. That is that is how he concludes. So, that
is a big relief, after reading all this. And body and its knower, it is a metaphysics.
Some of this we have already covered in that section dealing with the acquisition of knowledge,
mind, self and body. Charaka regarded as the tripod, which supports an individual s existence.
And, this inter relationship can be viewed differently mind, except when the mind is
active. This we have already touched upon, earlier in perception; sense data are not
registered by the individual, because that also, we have seen that, the mind is not present
there, then the sense data does not register. That is already known; that is, mind is the
controller of the sense organs, or the master of the orchestra which analyzes and conveys
the data to the intellect, or buddhi, and devoid of consciousness of its own, it is
self which gives consciousness to it. And sense organs, five sense organs, essentially
it is, slight differences are there; but the epistemology what we said, virtually being
repeated here. Five respective sense objects, sound, touch, etcetera; there are five motor
organs also to execute; intellect, we have the frontiers of the mind, intellect comes
buddhi, and self, cause of the living individual, the ultimate basis of existence which enables
us to appreciation of light and darkness, truth and untruth, things like that; all this
comes from self. Now, the body and its knower, the actually
that discussion comes because,, often we say it is my hand, my eyes; all that we talk about,
who is this I? When we say it is my heart, who is that I, the owner of all this; that
is the context in which this is being presented. That is that body and its knower. Body does
not know that; it is not visible; but that self who owns all this, he is aware; but the
body itself is not aware; that is how it comes, ksetra and ksetrajna. Ksetrajna is the knower,
ksetra is the body. Then, we come to guide to living. A lot of
it, there is no philosophy in it; but there are ethical dimensions and ethics is a very
important part of philosophy. Human bodies engineered to maintain good health. So, ill
health, or disease, is really an aberration; it is an accident; often, we are falling into
a pit we have ourselves dug; that is what we call a disease. And, all that medicine
does, as Vagbhata says, is to give a helping hand to get him out of this pit; that is all
medicine does. He may himself climb out of it, but the physician
can give a helping hand; that is all it does. And, lifestyle holds the key to wellness.
Ayurveda prescribed detailed guidelines on conduct in the different segments of an individual
s life, practically all segments of an individual s life, personal, professional, spiritual,
etcetera. And personal conduct, look at the details,
guidelines, some of these will come again and again, because Ayurveda, the code of living
is a very very live subject; everywhere you will find it impinging on the discussions.
Here is brushing teeth, bath, apparel, sporting ornaments, haircut, paring nails, conversational
style, all these are covered, how you should conduct yourself. A whole section was devoted
to food including the detailed classification of food, we will be having a separate discussion
on that, incompatibilities in food items, what to avoid, dining etiquette, how to eat,
what to eat, how much to eat, all these are discussed. And, food poisoning is discussed.
And, consuming food was looked upon, not as meeting a biological need, it is much more
than that; you have to enjoy that food. There is also a spiritual dimension here,
because it is likened, like you pour libations into the sacrificial fire and imagine that
the food that you are eating is also a sacrificial fire; there is a fire in the stomach. So,
that, you find a parallel being drawn even at the spiritual level. It was not just meeting
hungry, a biological urge; it was something more than that; there is an aesthetic element,
there is a spiritual element. Personal conduct continues here, in different
seasons, because these classics in Ayurveda, they were written in North India, where the
weather extremes, summer can be extremely hot; in winter, it can be extremely cold.
So, the code of conduct has to change radically to suit the environment. So, ritucarya was
a very important subject. And here, you will find very detailed description on all these.
The code of conduct mentioned earlier, in all respects, you have to change about your
diet, about your sleep, all those have to change. So, the general conduct was completely modified
to suit the environment, the ruthus of tha; we will be discussing this also. And, there
is an interesting side in this, that is, when you talk of ruthu, we talk, think of cold
and heat; but according to Ayurveda, we will have a discussion on this later, when these
weather changes take place, especially the summer or winter. In summer, all the trees, they shed their
leaves; they become lean; the water is being drawn away from the earth, including the human
body; earth becomes dry; plants become dry. So, when this drying, desecration goes on
all over, Ayurveda believed, just like there is water, a solution of, salt solution, if
the water is evaporating, it becomes more and more concentrated. So, similarly, in the
body, they believed, when this desecration goes on, in, it is a [FL] or a summer, then
body chemistry changes. So, when they, they put it, the taste changes;
in summer and winter, two halves of the year, it was, even though there are six seasons
in Ayurveda, for rtucarya, they were divided into two, six months each. And, that hot half,
the body chemistry is different, because tastes are different; taste is a short hand for chemistry.
Therefore, you have to have your diet, your food, all this you will have to adapt to that
particular chemical environment in the body. So, rtucarya is not only the simple common
sense in Ayurveda, there is also a particular scientific basis for this change in conduct. Then, life is, there is a lot of life beyond
bread, and they talk about perennial subjects, truthfulness, forgiveness, compassion, equanimity;
some of these we talked about this morning, dedicated work with indifference to results,
and again, to see oneself in all the living beings. There all the living beings in us;
they are all our kin; that feeling, repeatedly, a number of times Ayurveda talks about; all
these three acharyas; even the ants, they are all our brothers. Now, with the discovery
that, in terms of even the humble earthworm, 30 percent of the DNA they share with us.
So, it has a particular relevance today, when they say, all these are our brothers and sisters;
that is very true. So, this is something Ayurveda repeatedly stresses, the brotherhood or sisterhood
of all that exists, living beings. Another aspect is liberality. Very liberal
way of thinking; there is no rigidity. For example, in, the only place you shall do this
is when they teach students, when they are taking an oath, when they are being accepted
for training by an acharya; there is a certain ceremony fire with as the witness and the
teacher will give commands and student has to say, yes, I do, I do, in the presence of
a big assembly; that was the initiation ceremony. Now, there are all orders, you shall tell
the truth, you shall do this and he will say, yes; but the physicians, when they write their
prescriptions everywhere, you will see, you may do this, you may do that. So, in Sanskrit,
that verbal form itself and , there is a difference here. So, you will find that liberality; you
may try this, you may do this; you will never find a prescription, you shall do it; you
never see this. So, that liberality, or willingness to accept that there may be other ways equally
effective of treating. That is a very important thing. And Charaka,
in fact, a code of conduct which he describes in very great detail, his, concludes it by
saying, if someone has found good result by following another code, that is acceptable
too; because somebody living in another country, used to a different lifestyle, different type
of food, different way of clothing and he finds himself in good health; there is no
reason for you to impose your code on him; that is acceptable too. So, you will find that liberal attitude. And
professional conduct, Ayurveda, this is about physicians. They insisted on high standards
from physicians and this is fully reflected in the oath which I have mentioned; we will
be talking about it when we deal with training and the physician must have enough mastery
of ancient texts, theoretical knowledge; he must have practical skill, clinical experience,
access to necessary equipment, noble character, intelligence, sharp memory and above all,
friendship and goodwill to treat all living beings as his siblings and kin; again, you
come to this. No wonder the, Vagbhata in his conclusion
of [FL], there is a famous , glory to the physicians of noble conduct and keen understanding
of medical texts; glory to the physicians whose practical experience is profound; glory
to the physicians who regard all living beings us their own children and friends . So, these
are the qualities priced in physicians. Outlook on life and here, the Indian stereotype
that denigrate life, I have already shown some slides, human body is all very filthy,
is full of this, full of pus, full of urine, this kind of constant denigration of the human
body. Vedantists do that; Buddhists do that; create a revulsion to life; this is totally
absent in Ayurveda. The attitude is a cheerful attitude, confident attitude, eagerly welcoming
long life, good health and all the bounty of nature and Charaka states this explicitly
at the beginning of this classic. In fact, he says, what are the basic urges
of life? One is [FL], want to live long, healthy. That is the first thing we want, because if
there is no life, then everything is lost. Second [FL], we need money, because there
is nothing more miserable than living a long life in poverty. And, you must work as a farmer,
you must take up a job, king s job, office, something you must do. And third, he says
[FL], a better after life; and there he adds, there is some doubt about this. And, he gives
a long convoluted argument to convince himself and convince us that, there is indeed some
validity in that. But, that is not what he is, his primary emphasis
is this. So, therefore, the, there is no element of puritanism in Ayurveda classics. Food,
vegetarian, non-vegetarian, no bar on enjoying wine, no obligation on performing rituals;
but all this freedom had to be exercised within the limits of dharma. That is what is good
for you, should be good for others also. It should not be making other people worse; that
is not dharma. So, within that limitation, you should enjoy life. This is Vagbhata. It is the cover of my book,
specially drawn by a very well known artist in Kerala, Namboodiri, because Vagbhata is,
there is a legend that he spent, he was originally from Sindh; it is only a legend, there is
no proof; but it is a fact that Vagbhata [FL], is most popular in Kerala. Out of the commentaries,
I think there are eighteen or twenty commentaries, twelve of them were written in Kerala. And,
almost everybody there knows something about [FL]; because it is a great poetry. But the
story is that, he was actually a Brahmin in Sindh. In those days, all the great physicians
were Buddhists. So, he was so keen to learn medicine. He went
to a Buddhist teacher pretending to be a Buddhist. So, he studied under him for several years
and at some stage he thought, the teacher had realized that this man was not a Buddhist.
So, before the teacher could pronounce a curse on him, he absconded from there. When he came
back to his Brahmin colony, they would have nothing to do with him. They said, no, no,
you are an outcast. You left us; you went to the Buddhist; do not come here. But he
was a great physician. He was so upset by all this, he left Sindh and he travelled all
the way along the west coast. He came to Karnataka, and finally, he reached
Kerala. I am talking about the sixth century and Kerala was not today s Kerala. And, when
he came, these Namboodiris from the north were coming in waves; small, small groups
by the same route and they were all setting up colonies; they would not go to the mountains,
Western Ghats; too frightening. They would not like to go to the ocean, which, they were
not used to that. So, there was a middle strip of Kerala, where people tended to settle down. So, near Thrissur area, it is believed, there
were Namboodiri colonies. When Vagbhata arrived there, he found this very intelligent young
people knowing Sanskrit and they found an extraordinary teacher, a great scholar and
poet, and he had this manuscript with him, ashtanga hrudaya; extraordinary combination
of poetry and medicine. It was an instinctive attraction in both directions. This is the
belief. So, he settled down and he setup his ashtavaidhyas; that is the belief. Anyway,
so this is that Vagbhata with his students. Now, human destiny, very interesting subject.
Now, doctors, vaidyas, physicians, they are always concerned with this, because we are
dealing with illness and you do not know what will happen; patients, relations, want to
know what will happen, that is their question. They are not interested in the diagnosis;
they want to know what will happen to me. Therefore, destiny is pressing on us. It is a compulsive element in medicine and
disease may be curable. Charaka says, in the beginning itself, you must know whether the
disease is curable, curable with difficult or curable, before you start treating; he
says that. And, they should also know, if there is a danger sign, mortality, they must
be able to recognize it. And Charaka says, patient may die; he himself says that; there
are, there is a quartet in the practice of medicine; that is the physician, the patient
and attendant and the medications. These are the four elements and each one of
these has four qualities. So, if all these qualities, sixteen qualities are present,
then the treatment will succeed. This is the dictum; but Charaka himself says, when all
these are excellent, quartet is first class, but still the patient may not survive; like
we see. Naturally, the question of destiny becomes
a very important one for a physician and traditional views in India, one was, nothing can be done;
you cannot change destiny; it is fixed; no use trying to do anything; that is a very
popularly held view even today. But what is not known, India, there was a similarly, equally
strong view called to [FL], which you see in yoga vasista, which says the exact opposite.
[FL], why don t you defy destiny ; [FL], exert your will . So, that view is also there. Both these views are there and Vagbhata, Ayurveda
tends towards that direction. Vagbhata actually says, take note; human effort can indeed overcome
fate. It is a very hopeful thing for a doctor, physician to feel. And, several centuries
earlier, Charaka had prepared the ground for this discussion. Now here, Charaka says, he takes a middle
position, which he was always very fond of taking. For acts of enormous sinfulness, children
being raped and killed and so on, acts of enormous cruelty, now, that sort of thing
karma will take its effect; nothing can change that. But for most of us ordinary people,
our doings have very little moral content like this. For example, we know that if we
keep on smoking, we will get lung cancer, or maybe coronary artery disease; there is
no moral content in that, ethical issues. It is something entirely in our, we can control
it and we can prevent; you cannot say that is predetermined. Therefore, a lot of things
of things that, they are within our control; that is what Charaka says. At one extreme,
you cannot prevent; that will act; but a whole lot of things within our control, we can change
our destiny. Then, he says, how free are human beings to
do that, to desist from smoking? Do we have the freedom to do it, that question he raises. Therefore, the good conduct, in the traditional
view, all the suffering of humanities because of false knowledge, or Vedanta, or our six
systems of Indian philosophy, they all say, human beings suffers because of their false
knowledge; false knowledge means what? Temporary, you are mistaking for permanent; untrue, you
are mistaking for true, like that. These are essentially metaphysical concepts, philosophical
concepts. But Charaka say, these are all, we suffer because, not because of false knowledge;
that is the important thing; it is because of erroneous understanding and our erroneous
judgment. These are within our means, whether it is
desisting from smoking, all kinds of things where we can desist, this is within our control;
that erroneous judgment, erroneous activity, those are practical things, not metaphysical
statements. So, according to him, he gives a hopeful view. How we can order our conduct
in such a way, that we can eliminate suffering, and you cannot say, that was also predetermined;
this is what Charaka says. If you say everything is predetermined, he says, where is the need
to have any physicians at all; where is the need for prayer; where is the need for anything;
because everything is predetermined; so, he ridicules that. It is a hopeful message. And habitat, Charaka has a section called
janapadhodhvamsana. He was very conscious of the generosity of nature, all that we have,
nature s bounty, and this all gets destroyed. If there is an epidemic, people die; vata,
pitta, kapha, everything becomes irrelevant. The whole population, fauna and flora, they
are all destroyed, regardless of anything. Now, these things happen, because of essentially
unrighteous conduct. Unrighteous conduct on the part of people, on the part of the rulers,
and he gives all these examples; the ruler who is plundering people, unjust, corruption
everywhere, nobody to look after the administration; there is no governance. So, there is complete anarchy; every man for
himself. When you come to that, righteousness, Gods run away from that place. Now, that is
where famine come, shortages come, epidemics come, lots of people suffer from that. So,
that whole habitat is destroyed. Essentially, you may of course, you should try to prevent
it by diet and medicines and all that, but for this type of destruction, that alone will
not do. The fundamental answer is, unrighteous conduct
must change; whether it is rulers, or whether it is ruled. So, generally, the habitat, he
was very much aware, that righteous living, what we call sustainable living today, a righteous
conduct, all those environmental ethics that we talk about essentially, it is that; that
is, you cannot imagine that, all this is for myself; all this is for humanity; there is
no place for birds, no place for animals; it is all for us and it is all for the present
generation. We do not worry about the grandchildren who will come. So, you have to remember, when you, the moment
you are aware of this, you are conscious of bioethics. It is not for myself; it is not
for human beings alone; it is for everybody, for the plants, for animals, for the next
generations. Now, that awareness if you have, that is righteous living. Now, Charaka says,
that is what he says about habitat, which is environmental ethics, a very profound and
very much alive subject today. It has covered practically every aspect of philosophy and
its relevance to the practice of Ayurveda.

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