Vaidya S. C. Chaturvedi is a highly qualified medical practitioner of the Indian system of Ayurveda. He teaches at Ayurveda medical colleges, is attached to the Bombay Hospital and has written several books on the subject of Ayurveda. The following are the questions and answers as recorded by the interviewer.
Q. Ayurveda takes care of those who are sick. In yoga we believe that a person ultimately suffers because of personal ignorance or Avidya. Has Ayurveda anything to offer by way of preventing disease ?
A. Aturveda is a total science of health and prevention definitely has a place in it. Ayurveda emphasizes care in terms of food, Ahara, and an adequate amount of activities, Vihara. It takes care of both curative and preventing aspects of health.
Q. Has Ayurveda anything specific to offer?
A. Yes, the right daily routine, Dinacarya, and the right seasonal discipline, Ratucarya. But in India many of the healthy habits of life have been integrated into religion. Preventive habits have, therefore, become a part of our way of life.
Q. What does Ratucrya mean ?
A. To understand what is meant by seasonal discipline, one has to know that our body is made up of the same five elements as the universe is, i.e. earth, fire, water, air nd ether. If there is a change in the universe or season, there is a change in our body, too. If we are not aware of this and carry on our old routines, we might suffer.
Q. What role do seasonal changes play ?
A. They can disturb the physiological balance of the body through great fluctuations in temperature or extreme heat or cold. Insufficient cold during the cold season can also cause disease.
Q. What do you recommend during weather fluctuations ?
A. In India we say that there are six seasons, but actually there are only three: summer, winter and the rainy season. The blast week of a season and the first of the following one, i.e. 15 days, are called Rtu – sandhi. This is a period of disease where the body suffers the most. One should therefore rest more and make some changes in diet and daily routine.
There should be more of purgation and cleansing because congestion or blockage or tension will affect the system immediately. Release of tension is possible through conscious relaxation. As far as diet is concerned, vegetable and fruit help to clear up the system, and one should gradually change over to the diet best suited for the coming season.
Q. What do you suggest for the cold season ?
A. In this season the water and air elements are in excess. This should be balanced by hot food containing more fire elements. Dry fruits with milk , different milk preparations, jaggery and honey, some spices like pepper, jeera, cardamom and plenty of vegetables should be part of the daily diet. Cold drinks or ice-cream should be avoided. Likewise, swimming, getting wet or cold or exposure to the breeze. In winter one should never sleep during the day. One should have more exercise. Yogic asanas twice a day plus some recreation activities like games would be good. Of course one should also wear warm clothes.
Q. What are the usual causes of disease, according to Ayurveda?
A. Disease arises due to deficiency, excess or vitiation either in metabolic components, Dosas or in vital components, Dhatus. They have to be kept in an equilibrium, which is done by means of diet, medicines and patient’s own deeds.
Q. Does Ayurveda believe that time is the final reality?
A. Since time preserves us, cares for us and destroys us, we are all affected by it. Time is the ultimate; in other words, we have to do the right things at the right time.
Published in the September 2010 edition of Yoga & Total Health Magazine