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Forms of Water

Forms of Water

For modern science water is just H2O. t is either potable or contaminated. But Ayurveda has a lot to say about water, and its effect on health. The qualities of water, based on its source, time of collection and so on, are explained in great detail.

The purest water, according to Ayurveda, is rain water that has been collected after the first two showers of the rainy season. This is to avoid the impurities suspended in the air before the rain.

Water is also reverentially known as Gangambu because the water of the river Ganga which originates in the Himalaya is said to be the purest and holiest. According to the Hindu mythology, the Ganga is pure because it is believed to have originated from the heavens.

Among water frim the running sources, the water from the Ganga is considered the best, for it is sweet to taste and aids digestion. Ganga water balances the doshas. It is because of such qualities that the Ganga is reckoned to be divine.

People think that water in any form- cold, luke warm, warm and hot- has the same effect on the body. Ayurveda categorises water into different types. Warm water is easy to digest. It can bring down temperature, improve digestion and remove toxins from the body by enhancing the excretory process. For certain of types of fever, warm water is the only remedy for three days. Drinking just warm water with light food brings the temperature down.

Warm water spiked with a little dry ginger makes it carminative and digestive. People who lack appetite should drink a cup of warm water with dry ginger every day. Warm water taken with one spoon of triphala powder everyday at dawn and at bedtime helps to bring down obesity and ease bowel movement. Drinking water regularly in the morning on an empty stomach and at bedtime works as a Rasayana- a rejuvenator of body tissues.

Seventy- five per cent of our body mass consists of water. It is hence a very important factor in maintaining the body’s dynamic equilibrium. Ayurveda says water consumed before food makes you lean, water consumed after food makes you obese and drinking water while eating is good for health generally. Water is the only substance that has never been prescribed in any condition. Water is life saviour.

Bhojanakutuhalam, a 14th century treatise on dietetics by Sri Raghunatha Suri, extensively discusses different varieties of water: from a well, a pond, lake, the river and falls. The treatise states that the physiological actions of water from various sources affect the body differently.

So water from saline earth, or from clay and marshy areas, from rainfed areas, act differently on the body.

Many of you might have noticed that when you drink water from another source in another place, you get a sore throat, indigestion, headache or a feeling of heaviness in the chest. This effect has nothing to do with infestation but with the source of water.

Water collected when dew is still falling generates [phlegm in the body. Water collected after it has basked in the sun is lighter and easily digestible. Water collected at night is heavy and difficult to digest.

The depths to which our scientists of yore went to understand and document the things they saw and observed can be noticed in a simple substance like water.

Water has been so extensively understood in Ayurveda that many new ideas emerging in modern science on water today were already known in Ayurveda. The best example that I can recollect from memory is a study on Gangetic water published in an International peer reviewed journal. It was found that there is an inherent mechanism in Ganga water that purifies it. This is why the water of the Ganga was believed to be the purest, but in vain, as this quality of the Ganga has been eroded by industrial and human waste.


Methi Kadubu

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                              Water: Sufficient quantity
Rice flour: 1/4 cup
Wheat flour: 1/4cup
Jowar flour:1/4 cup
Ragi flour:1/4cup
Salt: 1/2tsp
Green chillies:4
Methi leaves:2 cups
Onions: 2 cups finely chopped
Coconut: 1tbsp
Oil: To grease steamer

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and knead in soft dough, using a little water. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, shape into rounds and flatten by pressing between palms. Place in steamer and steam cook for 5-8 minutes or bake in a preheated greased baking dish at 200degree centigrade for 7-8 minutes. Serve hot with some tasty coconut/ mint chutney.

Benefits:                                                                                                                                                                                    Multigrain flour: Benefit from nutritive values of a mix. Methi (fenugreek) is good for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation and inflammation of stomach. It is also used for conditions that affect the heart such as hardening of arteries and for high blood levels of certain fats including cholesterol and triglycerides. Since the dish is steamed and very little oil is used, it is good for health.

Written by Prof Dr G G Gangadharan


Three Pillars Of Health

Three Pillars Of Health

Ayurveda touches all aspects of life – the mundane and those beyond physical existence. It perceives the gross and subtle at different junctures and proffers advice according to one’s propensity to align with them. To the seeker, Ayurveda makes available a comprehensive worldview for enriching one’s life. If one wants to limit oneself to the physical existence , the person is entitled too, knowledge available in Ayurveda is an ocean that can be accessed by the user according to his or her need and ability-sparsely or copiously.

Ayurveda perceives there human being as a combination of the body, mind and soul existing in a given space and time. Actually, this body communicates through the five sense organs that are representatives of the five great elements in nature- pruthvi, ap, tejas, vayu, and akasha. The human body is in fact, a combination of these five elements plus mind, soul, time and space. This totals nine elements that are the basis of the whole universe according to vaisesika philosophy. This also states the nexus between the living being (microcosm) and cosmos (macrocosm).

The body, which is the seat of the mind and soul, maintains its optimum health by regulating ahara (diet), svapna(sleep) and abrahmacharya (conjugal life). These are the three pillars of health according to Ayurveda which regulate the body by virtue of their actions in the body. Ayurveda delineates each of these elements elaborately.

  • Ahara: The food we take is important not just for the body’s health but also for a sound mind. The gross part of food becomes the tissues and the subtle part becomes the mind. So from a non-physiological point of view, food can be classified as Satvik, Rajasik, and Tamasik. The Bhagvad Gita explains the qualities, characteristics and attributes of these three types of food which are especially important for people who pursue the spiritual path. Physiologically, food can be divided into six tastes (savdu, amla, lavana, tikta, usna(katu) and kasahya. And according to digestibility into two (guru and laghu-heavy and easy to digest). According to potentiality, food can be categorized into two (usna and sita- hot and cold). Some foods are tissue building and some are body depleting.

Food ingredients have been labeled as Sakavarga (leafy), Phalavarga(fruits), Dhanyavarhga (liquids like milk etc ), and Mamsavarga (non-vegetarian).

It is very interesting to see how meticulously our ancestors reflected on different food types. They have developed seven types of processes for changing food qualities which include heat application, pulverizing, retaining food raw with preservatives etc, food is also classified according to its action on the organs of human body. Some of these are hrudya(for heart), chaksusya(for eyes), tvacya(for skin), varnya (for colour of skin) etc.

The characteristics of the six seasons and foods suitable for consumption in those seasons are well established in Ayurveda tradition. In summer light food is preferred as the agni(digestive fire), is low. In winter heavy food can be ingested as the agni gets rejuvenated and can digest higher quantities of food.

  • Svapna: Like food, proper sleep at the proper time and in a proper posture is very important for good health. Like dinacharya, Ayurveda also speaks of raatricharya. Raatricharya includes proper sleep of seven to eight hours continuously without any dreams.
  • Abrahmacharya : Proper conjugal life is the basis of healthy living. Ayurveda explains how sex has to be consummated, the ideal time, the frequency, the age factor etc. this itself is a great subject for learning. According to Ayurveda, a male at 25 and a female at 18 are at for marriage. Of the six seasons except winter, sexual conjugation should be regulated to the limits of one’s strength. In winter, no limit is prescribed. Sex with proper rejuvenating agents is advised. Nights, excluding sunset and sunrise, are the preferred time for sexual union. Sex should not be indulged in sacred places, public places and unfamiliar places.

The above brief information about the three pillars of mundane life are given just to educate the common man about how elaborate and meticulous our ancestors have been in reflecting about every aspect of daily life. You can read more from a well-written book by Dr. M.S. Valiathan- “Introduction to Ayurveda”.

Written By: Prof.Dr.G.G.GANGADHARAN