The Dinacharya Series # 1″Brahma Muhurta:The Hour of Divinity”
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 between 3 30 AM to 6 AM. For a person who knows the exact time of sunrise, Brahma muhurta can be calculated as 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise. This is the ambrosial time and is considered an auspicious time to wake up and begin the day’s activities. There is also an opinion that it begins 2 muhurtas (approximately 1.5 hours) before sunrise and ends 1 muhurta (48 minutes) before sunrise.
Enough with the number game, as it goes, if you are able to wake up in the hour before sunrise, Ayurveda believes that to be a great start for the day & a healthy rouitne. This might be also because of certain health habits Ayurveda advises to follow in the morning which needs time. A lot of people vouch that getting up early is a key to efficiency, google successful & happy people who get up early & we promise you the list is huge.
Significance Of Brahma Muhurta
The ancient Acharyas are not much elaborative when it comes to their treatises. But that is exactly the beauty of those scriptures where one must search for the in-depth astuteness behind those expressions. No Acharyas described the significance of Brahma muhurta in detail but the way they inscribed it comprehends the entire gist it should convey. For instance, Acharya Charaka never used the word Brahma muhurta anywhere in his text. Instead he says one should wake up during Upavyusha – that is, when there is still a part of night left, and it is nothing but Brahma muhurta. In the 8th Adhyaya of Vimana sthana where he describes the qualities of Shishya (student), he says the disciple should get up early in the morning or in the last quarter of night for Adhyayana.
तत्रायमध्ययनविधिः-कल्यःकृतक्षणःप्रातरुत्थायोपव्यूषंवाकृत्वा….(Charaka Samhita Vimana sthana 8/7)
Acharya Susrutha describes Brahma muhurta as ‘Panchamruta vela’ – means, when there is the ample presence of the five elements – Prithvi, Ap, Thejus, Vayu and Akasa. If you think about it, Brahma muhurta is the time when these five elements are present in its purest form without much external hindrance. So, there is no other perfect time to wake up and begin a day’s activities.
The variation in dosha predominance in the human body is in accordance with the 24-hour cycle. The last part of night is dominated by vata dosha and hence waking up during this time will bestow you with vata advantage. Vata dosha is responsible for all types of external and internal body movements. Thus, getting up during this vata time helps in easy evacuation of bowel, more mental clarity, more flexibility of body parts and hence good time for exercise, and yoga asanas. It also helps in recalling and understanding subtler aspects of what you learn. A balanced vata dosha state helps in focussing and keeps the physical and emotional wellbeing stable.
Brahma muhurta is a time when the environment around you remains purest and calm. The air will be fresh, the atmosphere devoid of sound and pollution, and it is just the right time before the world wakes up into a new day. Since there is nothing much to distract, whatever you practice during this time gets imprinted in your mind and brain. It is an excellent time for analyzing yourself and to worship the Brahma inside you. Meditation during this time is the most beneficial as you can concentrate the best on your mental energy without any external interference. Your spirit and soul merges with your life purpose and provides clarity of thoughts and a motivation to achieve your goals.
Science Behind Brahma Muhurta
Many scientific researches have been carried out to determine the biological changes happening in the body during Brahma muhurta. Considering the beneficial effects, every study concluded it as the best time to begin a day. The Oxygen levels in the atmosphere during these early hours is around 41% which is very much favorable to the lungs. Practicing breath techniques during this time thus comes with its own benefits, with the purest air flowing in and out of the system.
Human body is engineered with its own biological clock. This determines the “circadian rhythm” – that is the wake up and sleep cycle during day and night times respectively. There is a specialized area called SupraChiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus of the brain. With the first ray of light entering through the retina of the eyes, this part gets stimulated and secretes cortisol, the stress reducing hormone. SCN also delays the secretion of melatonin, responsible for adjusting the sleep-wake cycle which in turn helps to stay active during the daytime. Thus, waking up during Brahma muhurta is beneficial in insomnia, depression and anxiety related issues. Recent studies also established that people who wake up during Brahma muhurta are at lesser risk of developing lifestyle diseases including diabetes and obesity. Early morning hours reduces the oxidative stress in the body and thus slows down the ageing process.
The International journal of Yoga and Allied sciences claims that early morning hours are abundant in nascent oxygen. This nascent oxygen can easily mix with Haemoglobin in the blood, producing Oxyhaemoglobin. It helps maintain normal blood pH and boosts up your overall energy levels.
Who should avoid waking up during Brahma muhurta?
Ashtanga Hridayam gives relaxation to certain categories of people from waking up during Brahma muhurta. According to the author Acharya Vaghbata, only healthy persons should stay awake during this auspicious hour. Pregnant ladies, small children and aged individuals who are not habituated to waking up early are exempted from this. Similarly, those who suffer from any kind of physical or mental illnesses and whose previous meal has not been digested are also allowed to sleep more till they recover completely.
What if you are not an early bird?
If you are someone who is habituated to late night sleep since childhood or if your job demands staying vigilant during night hours, it may not be possible to follow the Brahma muhurta rule. But worry not, Ayurveda has a solution for anything and everything. According to Kaiyyadeva Nighantu, such a person is allowed to sleep during day time provided, at least half the amount of time of the lost hours of sleep of the previous night is compensated. So if you have lost 6 hours of night sleep, you can do 3 hours of compensatory day sleep. Ideally, this compensatory sleep should be carried out in an empty stomach.
दिवा स्वप्नो हितोऽन्यस्मिन् कफपित्तकरो हि सः || असात्म्याज्जागरादर्ध प्रातः सुप्यादभुक्तवान् |(Kaiyyadeva nighantu viharavarga sutra 357)
Alternatively, if you have an option or is desirous of changing your late night habit, then slowly modify your wake up time day by day or week by week, until you feel comfortable to wake up during Brahma muhurta. Changing the sleep schedule all of a sudden can have adverse effects on your health and hence not recommended.
Brahma muhurta is an ambrosial time that improves your physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. Making it a daily routine to wake up during this time can work magic in your lives. As someone wisely said, “Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with dreams or wake up and chase your dreams. The choice is yours.”