Ayurveda is a science of life, it is just not a system of medicine but it is beyond that, it tells us about the ideal lifestyle with a healthy daily regime (dincharya) and seasonal regime (ritucharya). It apprises us about the perfect ways to lead a healthy and prosperous life. The concept of ayurveda not just teaches us about how to stay physically fit but some topics such as ‘achaar rasayana'(rejuvenating behavioral therapy) helps us to attain sound mental well being. Similarly like this numerous numbers of unique topics had been mentioned in our ancient texts one such very paramount topic is of three pillars in ayurveda. This topic stockpiles all the aspects and treatment modalities of ayurveda. So let’s just start discussing in detail about the three pillars of ayurveda!!
Pillars means the main holding strength of ayurveda, these are the main base or triad of health in ayurveda. When a person leads a life by considering these triad of health, it helps us in sustaining a healthy lifestyle.
What are those three pillars?
- Ahara (food)
- Nidra (sleep)
- Brahmacharya (celibacy)
Acharya charaka in sutra sthana 11/35 had clearly mentioned the topic of three pillars and it states that when a body is supported well by these pillars, that person will lead a healthy life with well endowed amount of strength, complexion and development till the completion of life cycle. But the one thing that needs to be considered in mind is to abtains themselves from harmful practices.
Food has been given prime importance in our life since vedic era. Every living organism requires food to continue their life. It is considered as ‘brahma’ in our classical texts. Acharya Kashyapa called it “maha bhaishajya” (best medicine) as it plays a major role in the growth, development and enhancement of ojas or immunity power. Acharya charaka said that our bodies as well as diseases are formed by food. The diet we consume is either wholesome or unwholesome and it is responsible for happiness and distress respectively. The disease can be cured without any medication or therapeutic approach by just following the ideal dietary regimen. It is also believed that even thousands of medicines cannot cure an ailment if there is an abstinence of a healthy diet. It is possible to make a person disease free by just following a proper dietary regime.
The above verse states that-
Anna’ (food) is the best among things that are helpful in sustenance of life. It plays a key role in providing essential nutrients to every individual.
Healthy food articles to be eaten daily:
As per shloka (charaka sutra 5/13)
In Ayurveda, there is a detailed explanation of healthy foods needed to be taken regularly to stay healthy and disease free, they are known as “Nitya prayog dravya” (daily use food products). Those food compounds which prevent the growth of disease we should intake them regularly and timely to enhance the healthy living of a person. According to charaka sutra 5/12 they are as follow
- Shashtika chawal (a type of rice)
- Shali chawal (a type of rice)
- Mudag (moong dal/ green lentil)
- Saindhav (rock salt)
- Amla (Emblica officinalis)
- Yava (barley)
- Antriksh paya (rain water)
- Paya (milk)
- Sarpi (ghee)
- Flesh of animals found in jangal desh (presently north-west and north eastern states)
- Madhu (honey)
Ideal Dietary Rules
In our ancient text, detailed references of diet related rules were available and are known as “ahara vidhi vidhana” (ideal diet related rules).
- Ushana ashniyat – One should eat warm food.
- Sanidha ashniyat – Eat unctuous food items.
- Matravat ashniyat – Consume food in proper quantity
- Jirane ashniyat – Intake food when the previous meal is digested.
- Avridudh virya ashan – One should take food consisting of non- antagonistic items.
- Eshta deshe eshta upkarna ashniyat -One should eat in a favorable place with their favorite accessories.
- Natidruttam ashniyat – Do not eat very fastly.
- Nativilambit ashniyat– Do not eat too slowly.
- Ajalapan ahasan tanmanabhunjita– Do not talk or laugh while eating food.
- Atmanam abhisamiksya bhunjita– One should eat after due consideration to his/her self.
How ahara helps us in leading a healthy lifestyle?
The following below listed verse tells us about the answer to above question:
Acharya charaka said that intake of food at proper time, helps in maintenance of positive and sound health in the body.
This verse states that
Most of the incurable diseases are produced due to intake of improper food. So an intelligent man should consume healthy food in the proper quantity (do not eat less or more, eat adequate) and at the right time to save themselves from any ailment.
Acharya charaka explains that food helps in sustenance of the life of living beings. All living beings in the world require food. It helps in providing life to every organism. Our varan (color complexion), Prasad (clarity of texture), voice, knowledge, happiness, strength and intellect power all depend upon the food. In-fact our each and every karma (work) depends on the food. All professional and vedic activities that lead to our path towards heaven and observance of truth all these are dependent on food.
- It enhances the strength of the body and makes it fit, fine and makes it disease free. Consumption of pure food that is “satvika ahara” makes the mind clear and it will enhance the functioning of the nervous system of our body.
- It is the only source that provides essential minerals, micro and macronutrients to our body and that helps in promoting healthy functioning of different systems of our body.
Nidra is the second pillar out of the triad of health. It plays an equal role as that of ahara in attaining a healthy mindset and body. It is also considered as one of the adharneeya vega (non suppression urges).
Definition of Nidra
As explained in charaka sutra 21/ 35- when the mind (mana) and indriya (five senses of the body) get exhausted, they withdraw themselves from their main functions and thus the individual sleeps. Sleep is nothing but a time period of relaxation of the body.
What factors induces sleep
Acharya sushruta in sushrut. Sutra 5/35- states that when tamas guna increases in a person it will induce sleep and abundance of sattva guna makes a person stay awake. So basically the both tamas and sattva qualities are alternately responsible for sleep and awakening.
Effect of improper sleep on the health
Use of improper sleep will lead to generate various disorders such as halimaka (type of jaundice), stiffness in the head region, heaviness in the body, fever, dizziness, obstruction of body channels, digestive fire will get diminish, swelling, loss of taste sensation, nausea, rhinitis, headache in the half side of brain, itching, urticaria, cough and diseases of throat region.
How does sound sleep (nidra) promote health?
As explained by acharya charaka in charaka sutra 21/ 36- 38 everything such as happiness, misery, body nourishment, emaciation, strength, weakness, sexual strength, virility, knowledge, lack of knowledge even life and death all depends on proper and improper sleep. Thus sleep plays a major role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Out of three pillars of ayurveda the last one is celibacy. The meaning of celibacy here is having control over the genital organ that leads to pleasant mind; it is nothing but having control over the sex organs. It means refraining our mind and body from the indulgence of sexual activity and sexual matters.
List of some food items that helps in preservation of shukra dhatu
- Powder of wheat along with ghee, honey and sugar.
- Black gram
How the use of celibacy helps us to lead a healthy life?
- As per the shloka charaka. Nidan 6/ 8-10, food is transformed into shukra dhatu (seminal fluid and sexual hormones) so one should prevent the loss of shukra in excess amounts. As it may lead to emaciation and many other diseases or even death.
- Acharya charaka had already mentioned that celibacy is one among the best enhancers of longevity, if used properly it helps in enhancing the lifespan of an individual.
- It doesn’t mean voluntarily suppressing this urge as if we do so it means we are inviting various disorders but it emphasizes the controlled indulgence of sexual activities.
Thus now we can conclude that the prime aim of ayurveda is to attain an optimal state of health that can only be achieved or fulfilled when there is a proper balance of the “three pillars of life”. Ailments arise whenever there is a disturbance in the functioning of these three prime pillars of life. The basic principles of ayurveda such as tridosha theory (three principle energies of our body- vata, pitta and kapha) and panchamahabhuta theory [five basic elements for life- akash (sky), vayu (Air), agni (fire), jal (water) and prithvi (mother earth)] along with use of ideal daily regime (dincharya) and seasonal regime (ritucharya) helps us in leading a healthy life. In case of any query kindly visit www.PlanetAyurveda.com
Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an Expert Ayurveda Consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. He researched age old formulas from ancient Ayurvedic text books to restore health and save human beings from the worst side-effects of chemical-based treatments.