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.
RECIPE STEAMED DELIGHT
Ingredients: Water: Sufficient quantity
Rice flour: 1/4 cup
Wheat flour: 1/4cup
Jowar flour:1/4 cup
Methi leaves:2 cups
Onions: 2 cups finely chopped
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