Charaka is a text on Ayurveda, "life-knowledge". It is a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. Modernised practices derived from Ayurveda traditions are included among complementary or alternative medicine. Balancing the mind and body and keeping attuned with the natural world and its outlets is a primary focus; rejuvenation another, and attempts at preventing disease to avoid the need for cure are also into much of it. (Cf. Wikipedia, "Ayurveda")
Maharishi Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine founded in the mid-1980s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It gives more weight to the role of consciousness and positive emotions. (Wikipedia, "Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health")
Little is scientifically proven so far as to effects of treatments. As for Ayurvedic medicines, beware of toxic levels of heavy metals in many.
Give yourself the benefit of doubt for the sake of not jeopardising your health, dear life or belongings. That could be good for you and work well too. Yet it depends. In matters of health and adjustment attempts, deeper Ayurveda teachings may be a bit difficult to learn and master if unaided. But there are many self-help books on Ayurveda for those who want to learn the Ayurvedic concepts and Ayurvedic cooking, for example. I list some books at the bottom of the page, so you can learn more about it than from Wikipedia articles . . . There are other ways of help than self-help too - and many Ayurveda practitioners with traditional repertoire of diagnosis and treatments and of varying skills.
Charak(a) (born ca. 300 BCE) was one of the principal contributors to the ancient Ayurveda, a system of medicine and lifestyle developed in Ancient India.
Health may be improved and life may be prolonged by human effort and attention to lifestyle. Prevention of diseases should weigh more than treatment, and aligning the life style somehow to the flow of nature and the seasons can work well too. Compare: "If one regulates life in accordance with the rules of the seasons, then longevity increases and the body remains free from disease." - Lahiri Mahasaya [205)
What a glorious promise - or prospect. However, ask yourself just how to regulate your life for ample benefits, and if this is all it takes to remain free from disease. It is not. Just be aware there are many tactless claims around, and from many quarters. Some among them try to sell you things too.
Modulated sayings from tenets that are attributed to Acharya Charaka: "Physician, enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding for the sake of treating diseases. First study all the factors - including environment - that influence a patient's disease and then prescribe treatment."
Charaka was the first known physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity. He teaches that a body contains three dosha or principles, namely movement (vata), transformation (pitta) and lubrication and stability (kapha). The doshas are also sometimes called humours, namely, bile, phlegm and wind. In Ayurvedic Medicine, it is held that illness is caused when the balance among the three dosha in a human body is disturbed. To restore the balance he prescribed some things based on these outlooks and supplemented by many more, relating them to selected herbs and so on.
Of all types of evidence the most dependable ones are those that are directly observed by the eyes. Further, successful treatment depends on these four: the physician, substances (drugs or diets), nurse and patient.
The physician needs a clear grasp of what he is into, including theoretical knowledge, practical skills, cleanliness, and having a range of substances available.
The nurse should know her work too, its skills, methods, cleanliness and care.
The patient should be able to remember the instructions his doctor has told him, do as informed, and be able to describe his symptoms, also embarrassing ones. (Wikipedia, s.v. "Charaka")
Charaka's famous Ayurvedic treatise Charaka Samhita contains many such remarks. They are held in high honour even today. The extant Charaka Samhita text has eight sections and 120 chapters.
Currently, Charaka Samhita has been used as the basis for a modern Western textbook: Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Textbook of Traditional Indian Medicine for the West (Praeger Press, 2008) by the Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist, Frank John Ninivaggi MD. (Wikipedia, s.v. "Charaka Samhita")
Lahiri Mahasaya's Charaka Commentary
Now for Lahiri Mahasaya remarks he somehow connected to the Charaka. The first publisher of the commentary, Panchanon Bhattacharya, introduces the commentary thus:
People become ill or die due to the indisposition of the Prana. (p 173)
Is that to say that all you read is false if you do kriya at the same time? Lahiri:
The Sages said, "If one does not hold onto the Truth, one is in falsitude." In other words, everything is false except practicing Kriya. (p 173)
He also tells,
Truthful words regarding Brahma[n], or the ultimate Self, are the advice." (p 1829
Brahman is the Great Reality. It is to be experienced although words about the Self are figurative, like hints, and thus truthful-ish - not better. They are for getting an inkling.
Study of the scriptures is fruitless as long as Brahman [God] has not been experienced. And when Brahman has been experienced, it is useless to read the scriptures. (Shankara)
"Useless" - that is to say, "useless as a way to Self-realisation. The Self is told to transcend the realms of many words, categories and such stuff. Otherwise, study has its values - as a means towards a living too.
Lahiri: "One should not say anything unworthy, beyond the scriptures, outside the science of medicine, unexamined, unmeditated upon and unknown." (p 221) We should, however, question teachings that on the one hand tell you the Self is not explainable, and on the other hand go on talking about it as if the first statement did not matter, at times adding that only kriya (pranayama) is true, all else is false.
If that be true, the idea that all else is false, is false too (for it is not kriya). Lahiri did not think twice enough.
Be assured that Lahiri's commentary on the Charaka Samhita is not truly the text itself. Lahiri reads kriya into the text in many places.
Considering all that, the following selected abstracts, comments and English translations may not be all out of bounds and discerning reaches, but I may be wrong.
The Performer without a beginning is not for relative knowledge
Purusa (Self) is independent Witness. (181)
One who is above intelligence, sense, mind and meaning - holds Brahma[n], the ultimate Self. (183)
The ultimate Self is not for relative knowledge. ⚶ The individual self is called both consciousness and performer. (191, 186)
🙢. Hm. To perform in this world of ours without relative knowledge, that seems very, very demanding.
Atma has no beginning. The relation between the Field [i.e., body-mind] and Atma is beginningless. (186)
Holding onto the Self when the mind becomes tranquil, there is an immediate connection between self, sense, mind and meaning. (190)
The holder of the body (Dehi) is everywhere. He is called Sarva, or "all." [186)
These are among the modifications of the ultimate Self: desire, sorrow, efforts, consciousness, remembering) and ego. (185)
Ultimate Self has become all beings. This state is called Vijnana, absolute Knowledge. (200)
One gradually practices Kriya to achieve the state of union where the mind and the self merge. (187] ◊
The Self (Atma) is everywhere and great. (186)
Vayu, or breath, is the Lord. (To clarify: Vayu (Bayu), the deity of life, is wind too, and then sometimes known as Prana and breath.] [180)
The undecaying Self is the Ultimate
One who remains attuned to the After-effect-poise of Kriya attains Moksha, or Liberation. (Just to believe in a saying is almost to give up. So learn to ask for good evidence of the claim, and inspect too.] [180)
The Knower is the eternal undecaying Lord. (184)
Brahma, or the ultimate Self, is the world's Power. (198] ◊
Knowledge of Oneness with the ultimate Self generates in the body. From that state of Oneness, or Yoga, the heart is magnetized. (190)
One should protect the body and the atma [soul and being]. (180)
Poise may be good
The Yogi, the aspirant of making progress in Righteousness and realizing the Self, will hold the natural rhythm while maintaining poise in inner Wisdom. (202)
Do not indulge in grave mistakes. What are they?
Act righteously always. ⚶ Do not sit in the shade of trees near water. (203)
Be intelligent and handsome. ⚶ One should pay attention to leading a righteous life. ⚶ Do not indulge in excessive emotionalism. (203, 198, 203)
🙢. Ask yourself the sooner the better, "Righteous, what is that to me, and in my circumstances?"
One who has realized himself does not accept unrighteous things [and] he accepts whatever comes to him. (188)
🙢. Which will it be? It is for you to decide. I suggest that it is well not to accept whatever unrighteous things come to you, and that includes life partners too.
Do not make friends with the elderly, the distressed. ⚶ Do not raise sticks to strike old persons. ⚶ Do not lose the proper time. (205)
🙢. Do not lose the proper time to make friends with nice ones: It could turn out to be a grave mistake to wait till old age somehow.
Causes that lead to regained memory include: Holding onto the ultimate Self, or Brahma; Foreseeing [in between the eyebrows and better]; Hearing [the medley sound of Om]; Inner Realization. (190)
One who knows the peaks and the time [factors] of diseases is able to treat more accurately. (188)
🙢. Diagnosis and cure are two different things, and so are treatment and cure.
Those who do not observe Tapa (austerities), Upabas (fasting), Vedadhyana (study of the Vedas), Brahmacharya (restraint) and Vrata (observation of vows) develop disease.
🙢. The opposite may also hold water: Many who do observe austerities, fasting, hard study, and mortifying vows, develop disease too. Thus, seek and find a congenial gentle middle path there too. The name relates to steering along without succumbing to extremes. (179)
"Pure intelligence" is when one clearly perceives the state of Oneness. (188)
Give up excessive emotionalism because the individual is being. ⚶ Emotional outward involvement is a causes of disease and sin ⚶ Protect the body always. [180, 188, 180)
🙢. Emotional people may imagine they are greatly spiritual for shows of devotion, and not contributing to disease and sin around.
The ignorant receive thirst and attachment within the mother's womb to be bound like the silkworm in desires. (187)
Be attuned to constructive sayings, associates, and outlets and skip ghastly ones
Be one who increases wealth and longevity. Perform everything for the benefit of these two. (180)
🙢. There are more forms of wealth (artha) than material wealth. A good culture is a form of shared wealth too, and then there are spiritual riches. Living long is secondary to living well; get the perspectives in order.
Disease grows [in part] due to false, excessive, and loose connections. (189)
Do not sit on hard substances that press against the genitals. ⚶ Live with tranquil heart. ⚶ Do not pick the nose. ⚶ Give hope to the servants. ⚶ Do not release gas with sound. ⚶ Do not rub the nails together. (203)
🙢. It does not say, "Do not sit on the genitals". Considering how you are built, that is fair to tell.
One can know the cause of indispositions through his own intelligence. (188)
The doctor should treat the pain in past, present and future. The doctor prescribes his treatment on the basis of past, present and future. (187)
🙢. Here is truly a good counsel. It is suggested that the good treatment reaches into the past or the past's repercussions, and manages to build a better future too. It may take some time. And the scope of Lahiri's counsel goes deeper than this, too.
The religion for all beings is Atma, the witness. (187)
🙢. Be attuned to your witnessing Self-core, and there you have it.
All objects of the world are the objects of sorrows which are transitory. (190] ◊
Certain diseases are called "appearing due to the factor of time". (188)
One should not associate with one's wife when she is unfavorable, when she desires another person, if her sex changes, if she has no sex organs, if one is pressured by the urge to urinate or have a stool, or in any public place. ⚶ Do not desire prostitution [204)
🙢. Do not desire something unfavourable -
One should not tell his wife and other women secret things. Nor should he give them power to boss. (204)
🙢. I note that a vice-versa strain is absent.
One should not urinate on the streets. One should not bring mucous from the nose in the midst of many people, while eating, making Japa [chanting], performed Homa [Vedic rituals], during study, while making Puja [worship] and during all other righteous activities. (204)
🙢. To blow your nose in your handkerchief in public, may be deemed a righteous doing anyhow.
If perfect amounts of platitudes help you on and up, find the fair ones. Maybe you do not have to be a politician or guru of seemingly common sense to thrive by such devices
Also be one who eats perfect and measured quantities of food regularly at the right time. (180)
🙢. "Perfect" and "at the right time" are platitudes, also called banalities. They do not say much after all. What are the perfect quantities, and what is meant by "regularly"? Also, it is not just a matter of quantities of food, but also how nourishing and well composed and treated that food is. Is it once a day or six times a day, for example? What is perfect for one man may not be so for another. Needs and capacity changes with age too. Regular, satisfying meals is good.
Do not show too much courage in a wild way. ⚶ Be silent - holding onto the state of silence where the Yogi speaks yet does not speak. (203)
🙢. You may be fond of paradoxes, but do not show too much of it in a wild way . . .
Do not waste time. ⚶ One should not study without proper lighting. (205, 204)
🙢. To strive to read by the light of the stars can be studying with proper lightning too, if the starry sky at night is what you study. Otherwise, good light is a boon at one's desk and workplace. Moreover, the need for good light increases with age.
The loss of intelligence, and emotional outward involvement, are causes of disease and sin. (188)
🙢. A typical, often voiced view is that ignorance is the cause of sin. But is it? Not necessarily. It depends alot on how well protected and steered the still ignorant ones are. Not heeding one's conscience is a cause too. Breaking down is another cause of disease, and so on. There is, thus, not just one or two causes.
Truthful words regarding Brahma, or the ultimate Self, are the advice. (182)
Different from the eternal being, Nitya Purusa, is transitory Purusa. Nitya Purusa in His own form and righteousness is beginingless, inexplicable, and unthinkable. (184)
🙢. Now, are these utterly truthful words about the unthinkable and inexplicable?
Stay always an honest man. (202)
While walking, focus attention downwards, six feet ahead. ⚶ Use an umbrella. ⚶ Have a family. ⚶ Be enthusiastic and an expert in actions or performance. (203)
🙢. Getting skilful is justly advocated in Buddhism too. Much depends on skilfulness. And Enlightenment can be had by householder and other lay persons in Buddhism as well, is the teaching.
Give yourself a fresh start by considering who or what you have chosen to join. Do you belong; do you have good fits somehow? Who or what (else) can your heart flow together with as sensitive allies for unions, including Yoga Unions, and by and by reach your own, dear, peaceful and proficient work?
What you do and maintain at home, is as serious matter. That setting may serve a constructive, deep-proving and realistic mind. Home-development and self-development can go hand in hand.
Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Inner Victory: With Lahiri Mahasay's Commentaries. The Sanskrit Classics. San Diego, 1987.
Van Loon, Gabriel, ed. Charaka Samhita: Handbook on Ayurveda, Vol 1 and 2. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Press, 2003.
Books on Ayurveda
Frawley, David, Subhash Ranade and Avinash Lele. Ayurveda and Marma Therapy: Energy Points in Yogic Healing. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press, 2003.
Lad, Usha, and Vasant Lad. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. 2nd ed. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press, 1997.
Lindahl, Olof, and Lars Lindwall. Vetenskap och beprövad erfarenhet (Science and Proven Experience). Copenhagen: Reitzel, 1979. ⍽▢⍽ When definite research findings are not at hand, some may "try and see" for themselves. In this book, the Swedish professor Olov Lindahl explains one way of fit ("longitudal") self-testing and much else. (p. 109-16).
Sharma, Hari. Awakening Nature's Healing Intelligence: Expanding Ayurveda through the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999.
Sharma, Hari, and Christopher Clark. Ayurvedic Healing: Contemporary Maharishi Ayurveda Medicine and Science. 2nd ed. London: Singing Dragon, 2012.
Svoboda, Robert E. Ayurveda: Life, Health, and Longevity. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Ayurvedic Press, 2004. ⍽▢⍽ Dr Svoboda offers useful information for those who seek a first overview.
Thomas, Helen. Effortless Ayurvedic Living: A 21st Century Guide to the 3,000 Year Old Science of Health and Longevity From Ancient India. Santa Rosa CA: Helen Mary Thomas, Nd (2013?). Online. ⍽▢⍽ Dr Thomas has furnished a good introduction the philosophical background and practical handling that marks Ayurveda, such as how to deal with foods as they are categorised into types; lifestyles; and balancing guidelines. Recommended.
Tentative (?) findings: a link: www.mapi.com/ayurvedic-research/index.html
Harvesting the hay
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