We hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of spring and are finding time
to appreciate these pleasant changes in the seasons. In this issue of Patrika
we have another wonderful recipe that is good for all seasons. We will also
be discussing one of the foundation principles of Ayurveda; how like substances
influence our health and the doshas.
Sarvada sarvabhavanam samanyam vruddhi karanam / Rhasahetur
“Substances of like properties will cause increase of the same attributes, substances of opposite properties will cause decrease.”
- Charaka Samita
One of the basic principles of the Universe, which was first brought forth in early India, comes from the Vaisheshika philosophical system. It is the concept of like substances having an affinity for each other and thereby causing an increase of these qualities in the individual. This principle applies to Ayurveda in explaining why certain aspects of our environment will cause imbalances in our doshas. Each one of the doshas has specific qualities, known as gunas, which are associated with it. Vata has the qualities of rough, dry, cold, mobile, light, porous and refined. Pitta’s gunas are hot, penetrating, liquid, spreading, light, oily and sour. And Kapha’s qualities are heavy, cold, soft, sweet, steady, oily, slimy and moderate.
Our prakruti, or basic constitution, has a predominance of some of these qualities, which determines whether we are vata, pitta or kapha. For example, an individual with more of the light, mobile and dry qualities will have more vata in their prakruti. Because of the law of like substances having an affinity for each other, people with vata constitutions will be naturally attracted to those same things in their surrounding environment. And because these certain gunas are already more predominant in that individual, they will be especially prone to that particular dosha becoming vitiated. If you know which gunas are predominant in your constitution, you can be more aware of those qualities, in order to keep your doshas in balance. Whenever these gunas become excessive they will cause the doshas to increase and get out of balance. One of the primary areas where we can work with these gunas is in our nutritional choices. Start to look at food differently, as a mixture of tastes and qualities and you will notice foods that are dry, cold, and rough will increase your vata. Hot, oily, sour food elevates pitta and heavy, oily, sweet food causes kapha to increase.
By understanding the relationship between the gunas and the doshas, we can begin to make choices from our external environment that will counter the effects of the gunas. Substances with opposite properties will decrease the effect on the doshas and help to keep them in balance. So if you are having a kapha imbalance, stay away from ice cream and focus on foods that are light, dry and warm with a small amount of pungent spices. Pitta challenged individuals have to stay away from hot, oily, spicy food and eat more cooling foods like salads, green vegetables and rice. And vata predominant people have to stay away from dry, light food and eat a warm, moist diet consisting of more soups and stews.
These simple principles are the beauty of Ayurveda. They offer easy guidelines
for making adjustments in our diet and lifestyle. By reducing the amount of
like substances that tend to aggravate the doshas, we will find that balancing
the doshas and staying healthy is much easier. Try using foods with opposing
gunas to help mitigate your elevated doshas and return balance to your mind
and body. Incorporating this principle into daily life will improve your overall
health and make your life experiences more enriching.
Creamy Vegetable Subji
Here is a nice variation for a vegetable dish that goes great with rice or pasta. This basic recipe works well in all seasons and with all doshas. You may wish to vary some of the vegetables to accommodate your climate or specific protocol needs. First prepare the following vegetables by cleaning and slicing in small pieces.
1 small peeled butternut squash
1 large peeled potato
2 peeled carrots
½ red bell pepper
¼ head of green cabbage
In a large pot combine the following freshly ground spices and saute.
2 tsp. ghee
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
½ tsp. fennel
½ tsp. finely chopped ginger
Add the vegetables and 3 cups of water and cook until the vegetables are soft.
Stir the veggies until they break up and start to become thicker and creamy.
The more you stir, the creamier it will become. You may enjoy this dish served
alone or on top of rice or pasta. Serves four.