Dinacharya Series # 3 Personal Hygiene Ancient Greek medicine shares several similarities to Ayurveda concerning the theories related to health. A sneak peek into the history of hygiene takes us back to the time of Hippocrates when medical science achieved a divine and royal status. The term hygiene comes from ‘Hygeia,’ the Goddess of Hygiene in Greek mythology. She was one among the five daughters of Asclepius, who was proclaimed as the God of medicine. When her father was more into the treatment and cure of the diseased, Hygeia was keener on the preventive aspects of illnesses. She was an epitome of cleanliness and wellbeing, and as an honor, the word hygiene was derived from her name. This also signifies the prominence of personal hygiene in the society of ancient civilizations. Fast forward to the year 2021. The term personal hygiene has never been this relevant. Even when we boast of the advancements in medicine and technology, a minute organism that we cannot see with the naked eye is ruling the world. What started as a fever and breathing trouble in one person spread in the blink of an eye and locked down the entire planet. With experiments to discover vaccines against the virus is in full swing, there is one thing that scientists and medical professionals repeatedly say to the common man – “practice personal hygiene”. Ayurveda gives immense importance to personal hygiene and considers it a primary step against disease prevention. Read on to know what Ayurveda says about personal hygiene and innovative ways to implement it on what is considered as your ‘new normal life.’ SHOUCHAKRAMAM / MALOTSARGA VIDHI “If one’s bowels move, one is happy and if they don’t move, one is unhappy. That is all there is to it.” -Lin Yutang Each one of us must have encountered situations in our lives where we had to ignore nature's call owing to our busy lives or due to some other reasons. Ever thought about the consequences? Have you noticed feeling low, the heaviness of the abdomen, or slight headache when you have constipation or when you do not eliminate a day? Attending to natural urges on time and following a daily pattern according to the body’s rhythm contribute to a sound physical and mental state. Ayurveda considers a regular bowel movement every day as a sign of perfect health. The ancient Ayurveda Acharyas must be well aware that our body tends to
History reveals the leaders of ancient times were keen on their oral health to an extent that the teeth of some famous leaders are still conserved. For example, the left canine of Gautama Buddha is still preserved at the “Temple of tooth” in Sri Lanka. But apart from brushing daily, people these days are concerned about oral health only when some dental problem pops up. We brush regularly, flash a smile as a mode of expressing several emotions, munch on several eatables a day. Yet, how many of us are really serious about oral hygiene? Compared to the present era, people of olden times were more conscious of oral health. Ayurveda as a mode of healthy lifestyle gives great importance to oral health and hygiene. This article throws light on the several Ayurveda procedures that can be practiced daily for maintaining oral hygiene. BRUSHING THE TEETH For some reason, there is always an apprehension for both adults and children alike when it comes to dental checkup. It could be the thought about extraction, the injections, the anesthesia that may be required during the process or even the fear for all those equipment and instruments. Whatever the reason be, the fear has forced us to search for healthy preventive options and many are turning the Ayurveda way. So, what Ayurveda says about dental care? Intrigued? Let us find out. शरीरचिन्तां निर्वर्त्य कृतशौचविधिस्ततः अर्कन्यग्रोधखदिरकरञ्जककुभादिजम् प्रातर्भुक्त्वा च मृद्वग्रं कषायकटुतिक्तकम् कनीन्यग्रसमस्थौल्यं प्रगुणं द्वादशाङ्गुलम् भक्षयेद्दन्तपवनं दन्तमांसान्यबाधयन् II (Ashtanga Hridayam Sutra sthanam 2/2-4) As you may be aware, people during ancient times used the twigs of trees for cleaning the teeth. Acharya Vaghbata is very specific about the herbs that should be used for this purpose. He recommends the use of drugs with Kashaya (astringent), Katu (pungent)and Tikta (bitter) predominant tastes such as Arka (Calotropis procera), Nyagroda (Ficus benghalensis), Khadira (Acacia catechu), Karanja (Pongamia pinnata), and Kakubha (Terminalia arjuna). Oral diseases are mainly Kapha dosha predominant and that is why he mentions those three tastes in particular, as they help pacify Kapha. He further mentions, the twig should be straight with a thickness equal to the tip of one’s little finger and length around 12 Angula (approx. 24cm). If you look at this description closely, this is nothing but an ancient model of a toothbrush. Acharya also advises to chew the tip of the twig and while cleaning, one should not hurt
Brahma Muhurta : The Hour of Divinity & Our Health What is that one thing you hated the most as a kid? Undoubtedly (or maybe), it was your mother waking you up early in the morning to study. Little did you know that she was doing right by bringing out the best in you and carving a wonderful future ahead. Our ancestors were keen on waking up in the morning and knew the benefits of being active early. Ayurveda has always given importance to a healthy lifestyle and mentions ‘Brahma muhurta’ as the best time to wake up. If you still hate your Mondays or like to snooze the alarm, read on to know what miraculous effect early mornings can bring into your life and what Ayurveda says about Brahma muhurta. What Is Brahma Muhurta? The word ‘Brahma’ literally means knowledge and ‘Muhurta’ stands for time. Thus, Brahma muhurta is a specific time that is considered best for gaining knowledge. It is the last phase of night, before the dawn when one should give up his/her sleep and gear up for a new day. As a mode of healthy lifestyle, Ashtanga Hridayam describes the importance of Brahma muhurta, the first thing in the chapter Dinacharya: ब्राह्मे मुहूर्त उत्तिष्ठेत्स्वस्थो रक्षार्थमायुषः II (Ashtanga Hridayam Sutrasthana 2/1) Acharya Vaghbata in the above verse says, a person should wake up at Brahma muhurta in the best interest to protect his life and for longevity. Now the question comes as to which time is considered as Brahma muhurta. There is a difference of opinion regarding the time of Brahma muhurta, but the most accepted time period is roughly one and a half hours before sunrise or more precisely 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise. A quick look at this calculation is going to be interesting: According to commentators like Arunadatta, Indu and Hemadri, one Ahorathram (one day and one night) consists of 30 muhurtas in total, which means a day and night consists of 15 muhurtas each. Brahma muhurta is the 14th Muhurtakala of night. 1 muhurta = 48minutes Therefore, 1 night = 15 muhurta = 15*48 = 720 minutes. Since Brahma muhurta is the 14th muhurtakala of night, it comes after the completion of 13 muhurtas. Also, 13*48 = 624 minutes. Thus, Brahma muhurta is 720-624 = 96 minutes or 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise. As the sunrise varies according to seasons and weather changes in different parts of the world, Brahma muhurta also varies
As a science with around 5000-year-old tradition, it is certainly evident that Ayurveda must have undergone developmental changes and status-based impact over the years. It is worth giving a look on how it evolved as one of the mainstream medical systems, overcoming the challenges and continues to enjoy its superficial status with all its glory. The influence of civilizations, religious beliefs and different schools of thoughts in various eras are certainly evident in the literature of ancient times. All such cultural and spiritual influences from various fields rightly contributed to the upliftment of Ayurveda during each period. The period from 5th millennium BC to 3rd century AD witnessed several changes and development in Ayurveda while undergoing tremendous influence from different communities and civilizations.