The Elixir of life: RASAYANAVaidya Moninder kaur
It’s spring time. The grass looks greener today. Almost all the snow has melted. The days will be longer now. The flowers will bloom. The sun will shine brighter taking away with it the cold winter blues. Nature has so much to offer. Each day brings with it new avenues to be explored. Old will make way for new. Growing and ageing is part of life. To enjoy bountiful offerings made by the ever changing world, we need to be healthy and happy. We often wish to have control over degeneration and disease. There has to be something that can withhold ageing, increase life span, promote intelligence, improve strength and prevent disease. This has to be an ‘elixir’. Something used by alchemists to change metal into gold… A magical potion that has the ability to bestow health and prolong life!
An eleventh century Persian chemist and physician, Abu Rayhan Biruni wrote in his accounts about India, “They have a science similar to alchemy, quite distinctive to them. They call it Rasayana; an ability which incorporates certain procedures, medications and compounds which are derived from plants. The main principle is to restore the health of unhealthy and bestow youth to ageing.”
He has aptly summarized the essence of Rasaynas. The Ayurveda texts do have detailed description of these ‘alchemy procedures’ under the name of ‘Rasayana’. The term Rasayana is a combination of two words: Rasa (essence or juice) and Ayana (path). Thus the literal meaning of this Sanskrit term is path of essence, which is mainly concerned with rejuvenation, conservation and revitalization of body as a whole. In classical texts, rasayanas have been defined as something that obliterates old age and disease (Yat jaravyadhi nashnam tat rasayanam)
Rasayana therapy is one of the eight branches of Ayurveda. It enjoys a very special place in the Ayurveda texts. The importance can be understood from the fact that in the classical text Charaka Samhita (chikitsa sthana), it has been clearly said: “As rasayanas provide longevity, prevent ageing and other diseases, they are more important. Thus, they will be described before the specific medicines for disease can be discussed.”
Types of Rasayana
Rasayanas can be classified in multifarious ways:
- According to purpose :
– Naimittika Rasayana (promote specific vitality in specific disease)
– Kamaya Rasayana (promote normal health)
• Prankamaya (promote vitality and longevity)
• Medhakamaya (promote intelligence)
• Srikamaya (Promote beauty and complexion)
- According to place of therapy:
– Kutipraveshik Rasayana (indoor regimen)
– Vatatapik Rasayana (outdoor regimen)
- According to diet and lifestyle:
-Aushada Rasayana (drug based regimen)
-Ahara Rasayana (diet based regimen)
-Achaar Rasayana (lifestyle based regimen)
Benefits of Rasayana
Rasayana chikitsa (treatment) is a specialized section of ayurveda. It mainly promotes good health by encouraging the resurgence of metabolism and enhancement of immunity. It has the power to slow down the ageing process. It increases the life span of the individual by improving resistance to diseases. Rasayana procedures nourish the body, prevent degenerative changes and illnesses. It has been mentioned in ancient ayurveda texts that rasayanas enhance intelligence, memory, strength, youthfulness, sheen, vigor and vitality. The procedures also ensure optimal physical stamina, calming and relaxing the mind. Several studies done on rasayana medications have confirmed their antioxidant, hepato-protective and immunomodulator effects.
Plant sources: Embelica officinalis (Amla), Terminalia chebula (Haritaki), Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi) etc.
Natural sources: Iron, gold, pearl copper etc.
Food sources: Honey, cow’s milk, clarified butter etc.
Ayurveda formulations: Chayavanprash avleh, Brahma rasayana etc.
Today in our rapid paced, demanding life we have realized the need to shift our focus towards relaxation and rejuvenation. For an emerging generation of health conscious people whom desire a calmer and healthier lifestyle; the rasayana therapy can restore and upgrade their health status. In times where natural health, happiness and wellbeing are veiled by the buildup of toxins because of a busy daily life, the need for a comprehensive discipline like ‘Rasayana chikitsa’ is important. Rasayana therapy is a multifaceted approach of taking care of the body, mind and spirit. It has positive effect on the overall wellbeing of an individual by nourishing the body, boosting immunity, building strength, enhancing resistance, restoring vitality and stamina; thereby inducing longevity and good health.