Ayurveda aims at a life in harmony with Cosmic Intelligence, whereby our own intelligence is perfected so through it we can return to unity with nature, and through nature to our true self and spirit the ‘Purusha’. This is spiritual background of Ayurveda & Yoga both have in common and is the basis of Ayurvedic psychology. The ego is the basis of all deviation from nature. Health is Natural, Prakruti. Disease is artificial, Vikruti. Hence most diseases, with the exception of those natural to the course of time, are from the psychological imbalances born of unnecessary self-consciousness.
Each of these qualities of nature is necessary, while sattva is the real nature of a balanced mind and Rajas and Tamas in mind weaken our power of perception.
Sattva predominant individuals give value to truth, honesty and humility for the betterment of all mankind. Those with Rajas have strong sense of power, prestige, authority and control. Those with Tamasic qualities remain trapped in fear, ignorance and are subject to forces of negativity.
Hence Ayurveda & Yoga wisdom propagates a life-style that is predominantly Sattvic. As these qualities are in all nature, it is important to use foods and herbs that are primarily Sattvic in nature. Ayurveda wisdom helps a Yogi to instil in them the finer qualities of nature. But this does not mean rajasic or tamasic nature should not be used. In this light Ayurveda classified herbs and foods according to these three gunas. The knowledge innate in the three qualities applies to foods, mind and as well as personalities.
Sattva is perfect balance state of all three states with-in. But sattvic foods have value in themselves for promoting the proper development of the mind. And Rajasic foods are used to correct the tamasic conditions.
From the three gunas arise the five elements. From Sattva consisting of clarity, comes the element of ether (the subtlest). From rajas, consisting of energy comes the element of fire. From tamas consisting of inertia, comes the element of earth (the grossest). Between Sattva and Rajas arises the subtle but mobile element of air. And between Rajas and Tamas arises water, which combines both mobility and inertia. These elements are five states of matter; solid, liquid, radiant, gaseous and ethereal. They have psychological components that indicate state of mind and qualities of emotions.
The five parts of plants in Ayurveda, pancangam, show how plant structure is related to five elements. The root corresponds to earth, as the densest and lowest part, connected to earth. The stem and branches corresponds to water, as they convey the water or sap of the plant. The flowers correspond to fire element, which manifests light and color. The leaves correspond to air, since through them the wind moves and exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the plant take place. The fruit corresponds to ether, the subtle essence of the plant. The seed contains all five elements containing the entire potential plant within itself.
Embracing subtle knowledge of Ayurveda widens the scope of Yoga practices. They work to support and widen each other.
Article contributor: Renu Chaurdhary, Ayurveda Practitioner
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