Ayurveda Ayurveda has been in vogue in Tamil Nadu for thousands of years and is the world’s oldest surviving medical system. It has been the authentic medical treatment discipline for the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas who ruled this part of the world.
Ayurveda’s ancient eminence is reflected in the fact that great saints like Agastya and Pulastya were proponents of its system. Agastya 2000 is an ancient ayurvedic text written by the great Tamil sage and contains 2000 verses in the form of prose about this system and its efficacy. The Agastya Haritaki Rasayana is a very famous medicine for respiratory problems. It is very useful in the treatment of asthma and is also used to cure common cold, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, hiccups etc. Most of the ingredients in this rasayana have Tikta, Kashyaya, Madhura Rasa, Laghu, Ruksha, Tikshna Guna, Katu Vipaka, Ushna Veerya and have Kaphavata Shamaka properties.
Agastya is one of the seven or eight most exalted rishis in ancient Vedic texts, and is revered as one of the Siddhars who invented the early grammar of Tamil language. Ayurveda works on the principle that the five basic elements, known as the Pancha-mahabhutas (space, air, fire, water and earth) manifest in the human body as three basic humours known as Tri-doshas (Vata, Pitta & Kapha), which are basically three forms of energy. These govern the creation, maintenance and destruction of bodily tissues and are responsible for all the physiological and psychological processes within the body and mind – dynamic forces that determine growth and decay. Every physical characteristic, mental capacity and the emotional tendency of a human being can therefore be explained in terms of the Tri-doshas.
Most of the physical phenomena ascribed to the nervous system by modern physiology for example, can be identified with Vata. The entire chemical process operating in the human body can be attributed to Pitta, including enzymes, hormones and the complete nutritional system. And the activities of the skeletal and the anabolic system, actually the entire physical volume of an organism, can be considered as Kapha.
Taste as an indicator of health
In Ayurveda, food is classified as rasa and there are 6 major tastes associated with it – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. There are primary and secondary qualities as well, classified as Guna, that affect the property of every material. Further, its potency (Virya), post digestive effect (Vipaka) and therapeutic action (Karma) has a bearing too. And these classifications are not confined to the effect of food alone, but also the effect of medicines on the body and is dealt with under Dravya Guna Sastra (the science of a material’s properties), which falls under Ayurvedic pharmacology.
Food and mood
What’s interesting about Ayurveda is that it establishes the link between the manifestation of a disease and the 6 psychological expressions in the individual – lust, anger, greed, desire, attachment and ego. These states are said to be linked to food as well and are connected to the three states of the being – Sattva (contented), Rajas (excited) and Tamas (lethargic) which are induced by food.
According to Ayurveda the doshas present in the body, the Vata, Pitta & Kapha, must be in a balanced state to keep a person healthy and active.