Season and Seasonal Regimen-Identification and Practical Application in Different parts of GlobeVaidya Meenakshi Gupta
The living system is a miniature of the outer universe. Every natural phenomenon is reflected and represented within individual. Ayurveda understands that the universe is nurtured and governed by three cosmic forces: Soma (Moon), Surya (Sun) and Anila (Air). These three forces are represented by Kapha, Pitta and Vata within living system which nurtures and governs the living system. (Sushruta Samhita Sutra Sthana : 21/8) Soma is responsible for increase in Bala (strength), accumulation of energy and pertains to Sheeta (Cool) character. Surya is responsible for extorting Bala out, utilization of energy and pertains to Ushna (Hot) character. Anila is the carrier of Sheeta and Ushna to reach the sites of function. Therefore, any change in cosmic energy systems Moon, Sun and Air shall influence the status and balance on the three doshas within the living system.
Moon, Sun and Air are not static factors but keeps on changing owing their movement. These changes consequently effectuate changes in the universe and the living systems. The changes in the universe normally follow a definite pattern both within a day and also over a period of time. Though it is a chronological time period but it is the common signs seen during that period define a season.
Classification of Year – Ayan & Ritu (Solstice and Season)
The year is thus classified on basis of the similar changes seen in universe consequent to the rotation and revolution of the cosmic forces. The year according to Ayurveda is divided into two periods Ayana (solstice) depending on the direction of movement of sun. The time between winter and summer Solstice is called Uttarayana (northern solstice) and the time between summer and winter solstice is called Dakshinayana (southern solstice).
Uttarayana -(Winter – Spring – Summer)
Uttarayana indicates the ascent or northward movement of the Sun from Tropic of Capricorn to Tropic of Cancer. This movement can be compared to the gradual movement of earth around the sun to the position, in which the rays of the sun falls perpendicularly at 30 degree meridian of the North Pole on June 21st every year, called as summer solstice.
This period is also known as Aadan Kala (period of year, where nature sucks of energy from living systems) as the Sun takes northern course extorting the unctuous portion (Snehansha) from the earth (due to progressively decreasing distance between earth and sun), the winds are intense, dry and absorbing which dries up unctuousness from earth to produce dryness. This causes debility in human being. There are 3 seasons in this period – Shishira (Winter), Vasant (Spring) and Grishma (Summer). The innate strength of individual reduces progressively from winter to Summer, being lowest in summer. (Ch.Su.6/6)
Dakshinayana -(Rainy – Autumn – Early Winter)
Dakshinayana indicates the descent or southward movement of the Sun from Tropic of Cancer to Tropic of Capricorn. This movement can be compared with the gradual movement of the earth around the sun to the position, in which the rays of the sun fall over 30 degree meridian of the South Pole perpendicularly on December 21st every year, is called as winter solstice.
This period is also called as Visarga Kala (the period of year where the universe gives energy to living systems) as the sun takes southern course. The winds are not very Ruksha (dry) and the moon is having unobstructed strength (due to progressively increasing distance between earth and sun) to replenish the earth continuously with its cold rays. There are 3 seasons in this period – Varsha (Rain), Sharad (autumn) and Hemant (Early Winter). The innate strength of individual increases progressively from Rainy to Early Winter, being highest in early winter. (Ch.Su.6/5)
Importance of Season in Approach to health
As discussed above the living system goes through continuous changes on daily and seasonal basis. Some of these changes are beneficial and some detrimental to health. Thus, a daily and seasonal regimen is needed to be followed to maximize the benefits of favorable changes and to minimize the effects detrimental changes. These regimens are known as Dinacharya (Daily regimen) and Ritucharya (Seasonal Regimen). Extensive details of daily and seasonal life style, dietary and therapeutic regimens are described in Ayurvedic texts.
How to identify Seasons in different parts of Globe
The challenge lies in how to identify the possible changes and respond to them. Though consequent upon normally observed pattern both day and seasons are divided into chronological time frame but the principle states that one must determine the day and season on basis of the features seen in the nature. Therefore, each season has been provided with determinant features in the nature. These features reflect the logical effect of changes in moon, sun and air in nature. Once they are seen in the place where the individual lives, then only the suitable regimen should be followed. It is quite possible due to natural reasons, the features may come early, late or do not come at all. Thus a rigid adherence to daily and seasonal regimen without assessing the features of the nature is not advisable. To explain further, in Ayurveda classics description of six seasons is found. And all the six seasons are not seen even in all parts of India. India extends approximately 3,200 kilometers from north to south. Seasonal variation is observed as the distance from north to south increases. Likewise a considerable seasonal variation is seen in different regions and countries in the world. This poses a challenge in adopting seasonal regiment when season pattern is different than described in texts. It needs understanding of relative orientation of concept of season with region to bring the Ayurveda concept of seasonal regiment into practice as a basic component of health worldwide.
Ayurveda states that the sun, the wind and the moon are responsible for the appearance of time, season, Rasa (taste of substances) , Dosha and Dehabala (innate strength of body) according to the nature and course of time they follow. (Cha.Su.6/5). Ushna – Sheeta (Hot – Cold), Ruksha – Snigdha (Dry – Unctuous) and Tikshna – Manda (Sharp – Dull); these three pairs of Gunas (properties) of the sun, wind and moon along with their permutation-combination play a significant role in the advent of time, season, Rasa (taste of substances) , Dosha and Dehabala (innate strength of body).
Consideration of different seasons in different region in accordance to Ayurveda that too in terms of Doshik involvement is very important for framing the seasonal regiment. These regimens have to be planned according to the status of the Doshas. This status of the Doshas can be understood on the basis of proper acquaintance with seasons and ultimately three factors involving in the seasons:-
1. Appearance of the three pairs of the properties (i.e. Snigdha-Ruksha, Sheeta-Ushna and Manda-Tikshna) with their permutations and combinations in the environment
2. Their order
3. The status of Doshas due to previous seasons.
Combinations of Gunas (properties) in six Rutus are as follows (Ah. Su.12/19, 20, 21)
Status of the Doshas depends upon the combination and order of the properties (Guna) appearing in the different seasons. Main properties (Guna) are Ushna – Sheeta (Hot – Cold), association of other properties like Ruksha – Snigdha (Dry – Unctuous) and Tikshna – Manda (Sharp – Dull) with them due to changes in the seasons effect on the status of the Doshas like Sanchaya (accumulation), Prakopa (aggravation) and Prashama (alleviation).
We can predict the season from the signs seen in a particular place at a particular time and then plan seasonal regimen for that specific time by assessing the properties in different places on the earth on these parameters. In the next article, we will take one few places of globe as example to show how season can be identified.