My tryst with Ayurveda, Yoga and Menstrual Cycles

When I first read these series, I almost did a tango. THIS has been my experience for years and was pleased to see well written, researched series on it.
(http://indiafacts.org/hindu-view-menstruation-ii-menstruation-ashaucha/)

When I hit puberty was the time I stepped into the world of spirituality and Ayurveda. Indeed, it was a boon else I would have another lost cause in the world of liberals.

When I first heard Trupti Desai protest about temple entry, I thought – again, another failed feminist. These were reasons apart from India’s daughter documentary wherein I learned how and what 3rd wave feminists think.

No woman who calls herself a feminist has taken steps to address real issues women face.

When I think of menstrual cycle all I can think of is how important it is for a woman.
One man by the name Arunachalam Muruganantham took efforts to make sanitary napkins available to the poor. He could be a role model for these feminists. Not a woman jumping over barricades to claim ‘ownership’ and ‘rights’.

My teenage years’ cycles were painful to say the least. I am sure many women reading this must have experienced that.
What I observed is our body is wonderful mechanism. Truly nature’s gift and it gives us signals from time to time when something disrupts.

Women are double blessed because menstrual cycle is a key to understand body better.

I sadly did not find a good ayurveda vaidya in my early teenage days but eventually found a vaidya who gave me wonderful wisdom point: Resting during a cycle ensures smooth cycle in the next cycle. Which is very true given the kind of stressful world we live in.

Let us look at how our grandmothers were ‘treated’ during menstrual cycle. Foremost, they took rest. Women slogged doubly more than men did. They still do. Those 4-5 days’ rest ,  away from chaos was a blessing. Staying away from temples and poojais maybe constructs of humans.
These women were healthy till their last breath unless they met with an accident.
They did not eat junk, adulterated food, breathed fresh air, simple local meals, and slept in time.

No, No god will be angry if you enter temples. But, temples are not beautifully carved structures alone. Every God and Goddess represents an energy and temples are storehouses of those energies.
Lastly, I wouldn’t want to hurt sentiments of believers.

Based on body prakritti if I observe my diet then it again keeps the cycle smooth. Whenever I long for tangy and spicy food I understand that it is in fact to be restricted. My body prakritti is vatta-pitta. It is no surprise that such bolts to eat spicy food increases during that phase. What is commonly called PMS. Vaddu manga and manga thokku are my weaknesses. 🙂

You are what you eat and a woman is lucky to see those signs regularly. Which is why women are less susceptible to heart diseases before she attains menopause. Estrogen is one of the factors.
Estrogen protects women from developing certain types of heart disease. Refer to school biology books. You’ll understand progesterone and estrogen’s importance.

Can anybody tell me if any feminist has taken efforts to address growing PCOD problem in cities?
It is worrisome! The kind of junk we eat, the air we breathe, the pressure we undergo are factors in this.  Wearing red lipstick could be liberating for many. Has anyone taken efforts to tell women to remain healthy in body, mind and emotions?

Yoga, classical dance, meditation and sadhana aid and ensure pain free smooth menstrual cycle. 🙂

I am not a Dr to claim these as truths or facts. These are based on my experiences and observing others for the last 14 years.
Little focus inwards , few minutes of silence and gyaana can help us understand ourselves better. Only then we can understand another human.
A woman does not have to be empowered. She only needs to be reminded that she is complete and full the way she is. Else, the prachaar is nothing but mudslinging exercise.

Misplaced Sharanagati: The British attitude of not reasoning

Other than those who go to agama schools , gurukulams and those who do not go to school at all, most of us are products of British model of education.
That means all of us learned baba black sheep and rote learned a lot of unnecessary information and writing speeches like this in English.

Enough has been discussed on how bad it is.
What we increasingly hear is – I will not accept Hindu rituals blindly; I do not believe in auspicious hours of the day; why should I bow down.

Without faith in oneself one cannot move two steps forward and without faith in the Guru there can be no ‘gati’.
When you go to a Dr you go with the trust that he will be able to guide you and help you in curing that disease. Commonly known as placebo. Works in allopathy and not just in AYUSH.
Likewise, if we do not trust the Guru then how can we learn the technique?
A Guru does not force or thrust it onto the shishya.

If surrender meant giving up brains then one is WRONG.
When one surrenders one has faith in oneself on the choice he took.
We have to trust our choice. If we doubt the teacher it is as good as doubting oneself because we are doubting our choice.
A Guru makes the journey easier. Goal of every margam is to question the indescribable and experience trupti.
That is why and how we have plethora of scriptures, schools of thought.
Those who had new ideas did not rebel like JNU rudallis.
Creativity blossoms when there is peace inside or emotions run high.
sharanagati led one to reason better.

There are two types of respect- Respect that a person commands because of what he/she is and the other through force.

The Gurus of this land gained it through commitment towards Gyaana.
Forced respect is a British construct and funnily our schools do not teach us any life skills forget reasoning.

When heart is full and mind is empty and remember the ever loving nature of the Prakriti, who cannot bow down? Respect is love in reverence.

Lord-Krishna-preaching-Bhagavad-Gita

Rama Nama

Sri-Sita-Rama-Lakshmana-Han.21885713_std
As children we have all seen those tinted plastic glasses. If the color of the glass was red, the world would appear red. When blue, the world would appear blue. Likewise, when the glass is transparent, the world appears just the way it is when Sun’s rays falls on the objects and reflects colors.
When I wore those tinted glasses, Rama’s deed after slaying Ravana appeared wrong to me.
But, when I dropped my prejudices and read Ramayana again there was a cleansing that I went through. Polishing I could call. Like how one applies polish on furniture after scratching it enough with sandpaper.
Whenever I heard a saint say ‘Dharma is what upholds truth’, I could not fully comprehend it. I still cannot. But I saw a glimpse of it with my small mind when I read Ramayana again with an open mind.
Being conservative has its advantages. The biggest one being you see things the way they are. The way they should be. You then logically deduce and make decisions. Such is the power of keeping principles in line with what scriptures say. When logic supersedes emotions which could be deceptive, the decisions are often correct. Those principles are always and always in line with nature’s laws.
That is what Ramayana is to me. Keeping dharma and truth above emotions that fool me often. How can Ramayana then become mere mythology with no lessons to offer?
A question rationalists often throw is – who gives mandate that what scriptures say is ‘ultimate truth’? only the bhaktas, right?.
True enough. It is the bhakta who brings life. A stone has divinity and so does a human.
As children, while drawing a scenery we brought life to Sun, to the Moon, to waters. They’d have smileys. There was life to everything that the child saw. Ask the girls, their dolls were fed and bathed and clothed.
It is faith that brings life to a form and formless. When millions of such bhaktas gather, then one has to experience oneness without losing centered-ness.
We all express love and have experienced love in various gestures.
When we express life, that is Sanatana Dharma to me.
And in this epic, a hero that I revere and have always revered has been Anjaneyaar.
He symbolizes Bhakti, Shakti that comes from Bhakti, His single minded focus, His lightness, His mettle, and easy in accessibility like प्राण devata ‘Vayu’.
Where there is Prana, there is Rama.
यत्र प्राण: तत्र राम: |
यत्र राम: तत्र धर्म: |
यत्र धर्म: तत्र भारत: |
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी- श्री राम |
1200px-Rama_in_Tirumala

It is time Ayurveda gets credit that it deserves

 

NOTE: THESE ARE MY OPINIONS AND NO SUBSTITUTION FOR A VISIT TO A QUALIFIED DOCTOR.

I am not a doctor, nor am I qualified to comment extensively because I am no Vedic scholar nor I have read our scriptures to be able to write a thesis like this.

A common misconception about Ayurveda is that it is only about ‘ghaas-phus’.
Most western medicine doctors reject Ayurveda on the claims that the effects cannot be verified like chemical medicines can be. There is another myth that the medicines cannot have side effects. It may not harm other organs but a particular medicine may suit one and cannot suit another despite having the same prakritti.

If we reduce Ayurveda merely to medicines it is same as reducing Yoga to asanas ie one of the limbs of yoga.

A visit to Ayurvedic Vaidya can be an excellent way to understand one’s body. It relies on a simple principle of ‘ You are what you eat’.
Attention to diet, followed paying attention to activities we undertake, modifying diet based on seasons which nature naturally follows ( you get water melons from May to August/September in a country like ours) are delicate steps to improvise health.
Vatta-Pitta-Kapha imbalance not only impacts body on physical level but mental as well.
Too many negative thoughts, disturbed sleep patterns can be because something is not correct on mental, physical level.

Gunaseelam_Temple01
Gunaseelam-It is said a visit to this temple will cure a mentally challenged person if s/he lives in temple premises for about two months.

Our body is a wonderful nature’s gift and it has its mechanism and gives out signals when we abuse it or ignore it.

Craving for sweets, or spicy food (especially for me considering my prakritti), tiredness, thirst are some signs that tell us – something needs attention.

At a philosophical level too, in our dharma we do not treat ourselves as sinners before God and nature. At bodily level too, we treat it with respect. What fruit may be suitable for me may not be for my own parent.

It is time that Ayurveda gets credit, status and impetus so that our lifestyles are in sync with nature.

 

It is time this land has more Sushrutas. For which we need not bank on claims and credits from the west. Halid dhud became turmeric latte.
do we need more such disasters before we lose more?
We have anyway seen infiltration in Siddha medicine system.
Almost everything in our dharma is connected with nature.
Be it worshipping Varuna or Shakti or Ayurveda.

images
Dhanwantri- God of Health

Aapa Divas..World’s Water Day

I had written a shorter version of this on quora and thought of sharing this on an environmentalists’ favourite day ‘ World Water Day’.

It should be no surprise that our kings and kingdoms valued nature’s elements. Be it water or animal or human. Be it Pandavas or Pandyas. Varuna is our water God.

Q. What can I say to my Hindu friends who eat beef? I have no problems with their personal beliefs, I just want to convey how or why they should care about their religion.

Answer:

  1. Beef (and meat at large) is water intensive industry. The next war they say will be on water. Water is a precious resource and basic necessity too. Water footprint like carbon footprint is taken into account. The next range of agriculture developments focus on usage of minimum usage of water to grow crops.
  2. If one reads Economic survey 2015-16 one can notice how in India, we utilize more water per crop in export. To quote the few parts of the interesting aspect on agriculture [6].

    To adapt to these changes, agriculture requires a new paradigm with the following components: increasing productivity by getting “more from less” especially in relation to water via micro irrigation; prioritizing the cultivation of less water-intensive crops, especially pulses and oil-seeds, supported by a favorable Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime that incorporates the full social benefits of producing such crops and backed by a strengthened procurement system; and re-invigorating agricultural research and extension in these crops.

    Although water is one of India’s most scarce natural resources, India uses 2 to 4 times more water to produce a unit of major food crop than does China and Brazil (Hoekstra and Chapagain [2008]). Hence, it is imperative that the country focus on improving the efficiency of water use in agriculture.

    It is also noteworthy that India, a water – scarce country, has been “exporting water” as a result of distorted incentives.

     

  3. Now, I shall quote from people’s favourite organization called ‘United Nations’.

    Accelerated urbanization and rising living standards, increased demand for water, food (especially meat) and energy from an ever-growing global population will inevitably lead to the creation of jobs in certain sectors (i.e. municipal wastewater treatment) and to the loss of jobs in others. [1].Dietary habits greatly influence the overall water footprint of people. In industrialized countries, the average calorie consumption is about 3,400 kcal/day (FAO, 2011); roughly 30% of that comes from animal products. When we assume that the average daily portion of animal products is a reasonable mix of beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, we can estimate that 1 kcal of animal product requires roughly 2.5 L of water on average. Products of vegetable origin, on the other hand, require roughly 0.5 L of water/kcal, this time assuming a reasonable mix of cereals, pulses, roots, fruits, and vegetables. Under these circumstances, producing the food for 1 d costs 3,600 L of water.” [2].

  4. Where did Article 48 like that of the constitution of the Weimar Republic of Germany (1919–1933) come into Constitution of India, especially when we had liberator and reformist like Ambedkar?
    When cow slaughter ban article was proposed , under the ambit of ‘secular’ India they placed that article in the Directive principles for state policy. The very purpose of introducing this was because the bovine population dropped back then thanks to the British who devoured beef/steak and also because our agriculture was not mechanised enough. [3] [4].
  5. These are few strong reasons why one must avoid beef at all costs. Red meat, in the medical world too is not very healthy.[ 6].
  6. In the Anusasana Parva of Mahabharata, Bhishma tells Yudishtra the merits of building ponds: “He whose tank is full of water in summer and is used by human beings, animals and birds to slake their thirst, acquires the merits of an Aswamedha yaga. The gift of water is superior to every other gift.” While the Mahabharata emphasises the importance of the gift of water, inscriptions show that those who plundered natural resources were looked upon as sinners. [7].
    There are references in the puranas and inscriptions on temple walls that tell us how important it was to maintain clean water in temple ponds.  It was राजा’s dharma.

    S Ramachandran, noted epigraphist mentions a story in Tiruvilaiyadal Puranam as an example. The rains fail, and the Pandya king imprisons clouds. In the battle that ensues, Indra is defeated. Ramachandran says that there is an inscription approximately of 12th to 13th century, in a place called Irunchirai near Aruppukottai. The inscription refers to Irunchiraiyaana Indira samaananallur. So we have the name of Indra in the inscription.Engineer S. Rajendran says that Rajendra I, did not erect a jaya stambha — pillar of victory, when he defeated the king of Bengal, but had a lake cut instead, establishing a jala stambha!In second article epigraphist Kudavayil Balasubramanian explains in depth about its structure, dimensions and how water from temple ponds were taken to nearby village for agriculture. Violation of nature’s rules were offensive adharmic acts.

    Our kings didn’t pull arrows or raise an army haphazardly. Every प्राणी was respected. Every drop of water counted. The two articles are worth reading and also debunks ‘invasion’ theories.

  7. A Hindu who has bhakti will need very little evidence why he or she must not consume beef. Reason is simple for such folks, gau is our mata, we worship her and there are several such evidence that point why she was and has been worshiped. I am not going to cherry pick those because losers will try to quote me otherwise.
    Beef is water intensive and that is why people avoid it.
    In case of meat back then it was not a formal industry. Running hens would be caught and people would eat. This is still the case in villages unlike cities where Venky’s provides endless supply of meat. You catch it, slaughter it and eat it. As simple as that. And, ask that secular Hindu if he’d be happy to slaughter his pet dog. Will he? No. He won’t but cow being ‘worshiped’ is a problem and just to make a point they’d eat beef. Do not argue hard. throw facts. if they do not buy it, let it go. There is nothing you can do beyond that. Because one can run behind chicken and catch it.
    We do not want to sling mud on ourselves fighting with animals who love mud.

[1] http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002439/243938e.pdf
[2] http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Hoekstra-2012-Water-Meat-Dairy.pdf
[3] Crimes Against India: and the Need to Protect its Ancient Vedic Tradition
(https://books.google.co.in/books?id=7wqH__QPbBUC&pg=PA101&lpg=PA101&dq=first+slaughterhouse+India+in+1760&source=bl&ots=DTINKS-MRK&sig=BFSEQ1X6Eo8-tOUxApp5cU1a72U&hl=en&sa=X&ei=z3d9UvKbJYazrgftz4HoBw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=first%20slaughterhouse%20India%20in%201760&f=false)

[4] http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/vol11p1.htm
[5] http://indiabudget.nic.in/budget2016-2017/es2015-16/echapvol1-04.pdf
[6] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/risk-red-meat
[7] http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/temple-tanks-are-vanishing-due-to-urbanisation/article8393383.ece
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/much-water-has-flowed/article8417860.ece

 

 

Big picture

Abhi: Where have you brought me, Ramu?
Ramu:  Musical concert.
Abhi: Is it classical?
Ramu: Yes.
Abhi: Urgghhh.. What? Classical? Dei, you know this does not interest me
Ramu: Just sit. Sleep if you feel like.
Abhi: okay, sure. I did not need that directive!
The concert began with raga Hamsadhwani. Mandolin and violin jugalbandhi. Mrindangam and table jugalbandhi and morsing notes that filled the voids.
Abhi felt quite ecstatic. He listened half attentively though. His eyes shut in between. Ramu smiled. He was glad that his friend did not run away.
It seemed as if Abhi was asleep and ragams reached his ears one after the other.  His eyes would shut when he tried to open. Never he had appreciated mandolin, violin, ghatam, morsing, tabla and mridangam. When Sahana ragam was played on venu, he experienced what Samadhi could possibly be. He had a glimpse of  it.
The concert ended with a thillana which was the only vocal piece of the evening.
When the programme ended Abhi joined Ramu and applauded.

At the dinner table Ramu broke the silence which the programme had left in their minds.
Ramu: So, how did you find the programme?
Abhi:  I must admit that I was in a different world. Never felt like this ever before!
Ramu:  Glad to know. But do you know that at some places ‘arohanam’ was messed up by the flautist?
Abhi:  what? I don’t understand all that. That solo flute piece was the best! What are you blabbering?
Ramu:  you’ve just begun listening. You are looking at the big picture alone. Intricacies matter. The science needs to be mastered. Only then you can connect with the audience.
Abhi:  In that case, I do not mind being where I am. Knowing the science of the art too much kills the joy. Ignorance is bliss. I call myself a dumb rasika. The flautist touched my heart.
Ramu : That matters a lot. You’ll know with time how important it is to end the ragam.
Abhi: The big picture today made me feel good. I think that the best part of being in this place is that I need not picture how it could be better than before.

Why do we need Yoga Day?

This is a small step to let the world know the birth place of Yoga.
Yoga is intrinsically Hindu.I doubt the success in letting the world know this though through UN Yoga Day celebrations.
Let alone world, Government of India (GoI) made chanting ‘Om’ optional.

I have been practicing yoga asana since i was 13 years old. back then it was not mainstreamed as much as it is now because yoga asana is seen as a tool to lose weight. And, it ends there. Needless to say i was called ‘baba’.

If you read Patanjali Yoga sutras, yoga asana is one of the 8 limbs of yoga.
Even today, when the GoI introduced celebration of Yoga day it has been reduced to mere asanas. Chanting is a problem for our secular folks!
I read the first government press release for ths year’s yoga day celebrations. we were supposed to have pranayama, a satsang in the end. I doubt if this the position now. ‘OM’ chanting itself is optional. Stupidity of the highest order.
This is pulling off a Leela Samson in yoga.

Going further on benefit and purpose:
Follow major pages of yoga they will be mostly run by Americans.
With movie stars taking to yoga and also due to huge widespread practice of Transcendental meditation (TM), yoga asana, meditation spread far and wide in the states.
what eventually happened was Hinduism aspect was dropped.
Today, more yoga asana products are available outside than in India. China leads the market in yoga mats. The props that once were introduced by B.K.S. Iyengar now have been westernized and commercialized.

We hear mindfulness meditation, PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) meditation sessions and they are all from India.
follow Huffington post you will notice ZERO acknowledgment made to India. Hinduism hurts the Abrahamic yoga propagators.

What the end result should be? Reverse baptism of Yoga.
We as people of the country should take pride that this was the birthplace of Yoga.
Yoga and Hinduism cannot be separated.

I used to take pride in the fact that i can pull off 108 Surya namaskaras. But, i have now begun to take other limbs of Yoga seriously.
A good yoga session should be a stress buster not a booster on seeing someone doing a head stand effortlessly.
In fact each time you push to get that asana right, you challenge your boundaries. Same can be applied to mundane life activities.

There is no point in rolling over yoga mats if one is feverish over getting an asana right or attaining enlightenment. Something that happens in yoga classes and spiritual outfits.

Yoga is not merely asana, it is one of the ways of life in Hinduism to connect with yourself. 🙂