We hope this issue of Ayurveda Patrika finds all of you in good health and spirits, especially in light of the events that have re-shaped the world this past September. We offer our heart-felt sympathy for those of you who were personally affected by this tragedy.
In this issue of Patrika we have another great recipe that offers a nice variation
to dahl soup. Also included is an informative article on Vedic philosophy that
illustrates ancient India’s perspective on who we are and why we’re
here. We encourage all of you to take good care of yourselves right now and
please do what you can to help heal the planet. Perhaps the ancient wisdom of
Ayurveda can help heal us as individuals and thereby benefit the world as well.
Sharir indriye satva atma samyoge dhari jivitam iti
“Life is the conjunction of the soul, mind, senses and body.”
- Charaka Samita
Ayurveda comes from a lineage of knowledge that developed in India over 4,000 years ago. This knowledge was recorded in a series of texts known as the Vedas, which were designed to explain all of the aspects of the Universe. The ancient seers of India had observed and postulated universal law to incorporate systems of knowledge that defined who we are. In Ayurveda, we define life as the combination of the soul, mind, senses and body. Whereas it was relatively easy to explain through observation the qualities of the senses and the physical body, it required a more philosophical approach to explain the nature of the mind and soul.
To express this understanding of Nature’s universal laws and how they pertain to the soul, seven philosophical systems evolved to better explain how our souls connect to the Universe. The Nyaya system uses logical proof to delve into the true nature of the soul by discerning what is real from what is illusion. Vaishesika explains the relationship between the qualities of the physical world and how they affect each other. By knowing these qualities we can perceive reality more clearly. Samkhya philosophy explains how we manifest from two forms of energy into the soul, mind, senses and finally, the physical body. Yoga was developed as a system to explain the union of the individual spirit with the Universal spirit by removing the diseases and defects of the mind and body.
The Mimamsa system derives its knowledge from the Vedas and believes all life is a result of right action. The basic premise of Mimamsa is that action, or karma, is the very essence of human existence. Vedanta addresses the teachings of the Vedas through the interpretation of a branch of the Vedas called the Upanisads, concerning the relationship of God, the world and the soul. And Kasmir Saivism explains cosmic evolution as originating from one source, pure consciousness.
Ayurveda borrows from all of these systems, but predominantly is influenced by the knowledge of Vaishesika, Samkhya, Yoga and Mimamsa. Vaishesika gives us the model of physical law and how we manifest from the panchamahabhutas: space, air, fire, water, and earth. We use this in Ayurveda to recognize which qualities of the doshas are imbalanced and what measures are necessary to correct the imbalances. In modern science the principles of thermodynamics are akin to the Vaishesika principles of how for every action or property there is a corresponding reaction or opposite quality. Samkhya explains how cosmic energy forms to create our souls and how the mind, senses and body are manifestations of the soul. Ayurveda derives the majority of its foundation principles from Samkhya. The essence of the Universe and how we are part and parcel of nature come from this understanding. Samkhya offers the definition of life. It explains how our souls are a combination of male and female energy, which with the help of our ego create the mind. In order for the mind to perceive the outside world, the senses manifest and from there the physical body develops so that the desires of the soul, as expressed through the mind, can be carried out. The whole understanding of how the mind and body coordinate comes from Samkhya. Yoga addresses the need to unite our individual souls, known as jiva atma with the Universal self or param atma. Yoga is a series of practices, which allow our minds to connect with higher consciousness by increasing our body awareness. By maintaining our physiology using Yoga, we can experience a healthier body, which in turn creates a healthier mind. Mimamsa philosophy explains how our path in life or dharma is nothing but a series of actions known as karma. The goal in life is to practice right action. When individuals indulge in good karma they can ease their own suffering. When enough individuals are practicing right action it is possible to also ease the suffering of others. Of course participating in wrong action will prolong the suffering of the individual. This understanding accounts for why there is disease and suffering in the world and offers a model for the importance of realizing how our actions influence events, both on an individual and global level.
All of these systems of thought evolved to better explain the complexity of
where we come from and who we are. By recognizing the relationship of the Universe
to the individual we hopefully will attempt to realize our true nature, which
is to live in health and in peace with our fellow humans, our earth and our
souls. We are living in interesting times that require a tremendous amount of
compassion and tolerance toward each other. Perhaps understanding the laws of
the Universe that explain who we are will help unite us under one umbrella,
where we recognize our divine nature and the ramifications of our actions.
Creamy Greens on Rice
This is a great dish that adds a nice variation to mung dahl soup. It requires a little more preparation, but it’s well worth it. First prepare a thick dahl sauce by combining the following spices:
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp grated ginger
2 bay leaves
1 pinch of hing (asafoetida)
Saute the spices in 2 tsp. of ghee. In a pressure cooker, combine the sauteed spices with 1 cup of washed mung dahl and 2 cups of water. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, then cook the dahl in a saucepan until creamy, about 2 hours. While the dahl sauce is cooking you can prepare the vegetables. Finely chop the following vegetables:
1 large carrot
2 stalks of celery
½ bunch of fresh spinach
½ bunch of fresh chard or beet greens
1 peeled potato (optional)
Steam the veggies until tender. Make sure the greens are cooked well for easy
digestion. When the vegetables are fully cooked, strain off the water and add
enough of the cooked dahl to make a creamy soup. This combination of dahl and
veggies goes well on a bed of basmati rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and
toasted coconut and season with Bragg’s Liquid Amino or mineral salt.