Year : 2021 | Volume
: 9 | Issue : 3 | Page : 161--165
A review article on Ahara Vidhi Vidhana (Rules for consuming food) in consonance with Charaka Samhita
Raveendran Nair Kumari Lekha Jinu Sankar, Lalchand Harjpal, Rupendra Chandrakar, Shrikant Naik
Department of Samhita Siddhant Evum Sanskrit, Shri Narayan Prasad Awasthi Government Ayurvedic College, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India
Dr. Raveendran Nair Kumari Lekha Jinu Sankar
Ayurveda Samhita Evum Siddhant, Shri Narayan Prasad Awasthi Government Ayurvedic College, Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
Introduction: It is not just the quantity or quality of food that determines the maintenance of health but also the way of consuming food. The digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food are complex procedures where physical, physiological, social, and emotional factors play a critical role. For achieving complete benefits of food, one should also follow certain rules as told in Ayurveda regarding what, when, where, and how the food should be consumed. Objectives: To evaluate and prepare data regarding various dietary and dining rules (Ahara Vidhi Vidhana) recorded in Ayurveda texts, along with their design and utility under the purview of Charaka Samhita. Materials and Methods: For this Ayurveda books such as Charaka Samhita, Susrutha Samhita, Ashtanga Sangraha, Ashtanga Hridaya, Sharangadhara Samhita, Bhavaprakasha, and Yogaratnakara were reviewed for gaining information regarding dietetic rules said in Ayurveda and the concept has been presented while keeping the view of Charaka Samhita at the center. Observations: The rules are divided into dietary rules and dining rules. The first one explains what food should be consumed depending on the quality of the food and the condition of the person. The latter one deals with the way the food should be consumed, which has direct effects on hygiene of the food and the condition of the mind. Conclusion: The findings from the review suggests that by not following these rules, it is understood that tan individual may land up in a sea of many diseases and following them will benefit the overall health.
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Jinu Sankar RK, Harjpal L, Chandrakar R, Naik S. A review article on Ahara Vidhi Vidhana (Rules for consuming food) in consonance with Charaka Samhita.J Indian Sys Medicine 2021;9:161-165
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Jinu Sankar RK, Harjpal L, Chandrakar R, Naik S. A review article on Ahara Vidhi Vidhana (Rules for consuming food) in consonance with Charaka Samhita. J Indian Sys Medicine [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 4 ];9:161-165
Available from: https://www.joinsysmed.com/text.asp?2021/9/3/161/326837
Anna or Ahara (Food) is considered as precious gem from the Vedic period itself. In Mahabharata, it is said that all living beings are formed out of Ahara and it helps in the growth and existence of all living things; it is considered as Lord Brahma by Upanishads.
Ahara is given prime importance and is said to be the first among the three subpillars that support life. The growth, nourishment, procreation, and dissolution of living beings are the result of food according to Ayurveda. All the things that help to lead a quality life such as strength, intellect, complexion, cheerfulness, good voice, happiness, contentment, intellect etc. are dependent on Ahara. Food is the one thing that promotes health in both diseased and normal people, so it is considered as Mahabhaishajya (Ultimate Medicine).
Ayurveda had classified food according to seasons, age, purpose, benefits, constitution, daily usable, and not usable, aimed at giving the best and balanced diet to the body regarding age, season etc. However, the complete utilization of food takes place only with these rules for consuming food and is known as Aharavidhividhana. Although most Acharyas talk about the rules, the one that is said by Charaka appears to be more practical as he says what are to be followed, what not, and who should follow this rule.
Aims and Objectives
To evaluate and prepare data regarding various dietary and dining rules (Ahara Vidhi Vidhana) recorded in Ayurvedic texts, along with their design and utility under the purview of Charaka Samhita.
Materials and Methods
The review data were collected mainly from Ayurveda Samhitas such as Charaka Samhita, Susrutha Samhita, Ashtanga Sangraha, Ashtanga Hridaya, Sharangadhara Samhita, Bhavaprakasha, Yogaratnakara, and Ayurveda: The Science of Healthy Living by Dr. Akhilesh Sukla
The general rules that have to be followed are described below.
Ushnam Bhunjita (Consuming hot food)
One should consume food that is warm. Consuming warm food helps in retaining the taste of food, stimulates the digestive fire, and undergoes digestion very easily. It will also help in Anulomana (normalize proper movement) of Vata because of Ushnaguna (hot potency), which is an antagonist to the aggravating factor of Vata. Warm food also helps in reducing increased Kapha in the body, which is why Sharangadhara used Ushna Jala (Hot water) as an example of Lekhana (Scraping) karma (Action).
Food consumed cold will result in anorexia, decreased digestive fire, nausea, distension of the abdomen, etc. And when the food is extremely cold, it results in the vitiation of Vatakapha along with a cough and hiccup. Foods that are extremely hot are also not advisable. If consumed, they cause Mada (Intoxication), Daha (Burning Sensation), Trishna (Thirst), loss of strength, giddiness, and Raktapitta (Bleeding disorders). Another category is the food that is again made hot, after preparation. This is also not advisable because even water that is reheated is contraindicated for use, so using reheated food is definitely not indicated.
Even though it is advised to take Ushna Ahara, it should not be consumed by people who are suffering from severe Pittaja diseases as it is said in the context of fever that Shadangapaniya (Medicated Cold Infusion) is given instead of Ushnajala in people suffering from Pittaja disease, Kshataksheena (Exhausted), and Raktapitta; otherwise, it may cause complications such as burning sensation, unconsciousness, loose stools etc.
Snigdham Bhunjita (Consuming food that is Unctuous)
Unctuous food is advised, because it will be delicious, and it will increase the subdued power of digestion in a similar manner that ghee ignites fire. The food will get digested quickly and Anulomana of Vata occurs due to the softness imparted by Snigdha Guna. It will strengthen the sense organs and will enhance growth, strength, and complexion of the body.
The food consumed dry without getting moistened remains as a hard mass, causing improper digestion and results in the formation of Vidagdha (Indigestion due to Pitta Dosha) type of Ajirna., Dry food diminishes the color and strength of the body; causes dryness, constipation, tiredness, and retention of urine; and vitiates Vata, resulting in its upward movement., Consuming excessive unctuous food make the person to suffer from drowsiness, thirst, indigestion, excessive salivation, loss of taste, heaviness of heart, and disease of the abdomen and throat, along with other diseases due to Kapha and Meda.,
Even though Snigdha food is advised, people having pure Kaphamedaja diseases, obesity, Kaphajagulma (Phantom tumor), Prameha (diabetes), Raktapitta, Kushta (Skin disorders), Udara (Ascites) etc. should consume Snigdha Ahara with caution, because they may serve as causative or aggravating factors of the same.
Maatraavat Bhunjita (Consuming food in proper quantity)
Food consumed in proper quantity keeps Tridosha (Three bodily humors) in normalcy, thereby increasing the lifespan of a person. Proper quantity does not impair the power of digestion and ensures proper peristalsis and comfortable passage of food toward the rectum after being properly digested before being expelled out. Chakrapani clears that food consumed in a proper quantity stays in its place and thus not disturb other Dosha.
The quantity of food taken that gets digested in proper time without affecting the normalcy of the body is called as Maatra or the measure of proper quantity. Foods that are heavy for digestion should be consumed in half satiety or less than that, and foods that are light and easy to digest should not exceeds one’s satiety level. The intake of food must be according to the level of one’s digestive fire. One should always eat either half or one third of the stomach and leave the rest for liquid and other bodily humors.
Consuming food in less quantity results in all types of Vataroga; the depletion of strength, color, and valor of body, on the other hand, when taken in excess will cause instant Tridoshakopa and result in Amapradosha (Diseases of ama), which may further lead to many other metabolic diseases.
Jirne Bhunjita (Consuming food after digestion of previously consumed food)
The next diet should be taken only after the proper digestion of previous food. If taken otherwise, the improperly digested Ahararasa (primary product of digestion) of the previous meal gets mixed up with Ahararasa of the newly taken food and instantaneously aggravates all Doshas.
One should consume food after digestion of the previous meal, when the digestive fire is excited, when an appetite has developed, and post-attending the urges of passing flatus, urine, and feces. This time eructation is felt pure and Doshas are situated in their proper locations. As the Srotas (channels) will be opened in this period, Vata moves in its normal course and aids in proper digestion and assimilation of food. The food thus ingested will always promote the life span, without causing problems to Dhatus of the body.
A healthy person is advised to consume food only twice a day, that is morning and evening; taking food between this time is contraindicated in order to allow proper digestion. Food should not be taken within 3h after the previous meal because the production of Rasadhatu (Primary product of digested food) takes place during this time and if food is consumed, it hinders this process and causes many diseases.
Everyone cannot think and decide the perfect time for taking food considering all the earlier cited factors such as Kaala (Time), Prakruti (Constitution) etc., but at least one can easily assess their “Jirna” (Digested) stage for deciding when to eat. It is said that hunger occurs when Ahararasa, Doshas, and Malas completely undergo Paaka (Complete metabolism), so one can take food when he feels hungry irrespective of Kaala.
Viryaavirudham Bhunjita (Consuming food that is not contraindicated in Potency)
One should consume food that is noncontradictory in Virya (potency). On consuming noncontradictory food, a person is not affected by diseases such as Kushta, Andhya (Blindness), Visarpa (Erysipelas disease) etc., which were considered complications of Virudha (incompatible foods).,, Consuming food contrary in potency is also mentioned as the most important reason in causing Kushta and Shwitra (Leukoderma).
Virya is the power by which an action takes place, nothing can be done in the absence of Virya, and every action is the result of it. Components in the diet that are contrary to the body elements (Dosha and Dhatus) and tend to disagree with the system are termed as Virudha Ahara. Some articles are naturally incompatible on account of their qualities such as poison; some become incompatible when combined, such as taking milk with sour fruits; some by the mode of preparation; and some by factors such as place, time, dose etc. The substances having opposite Viryas when used in combination are known as Virya Viruddham. Charaka specifies that when a substance having Shita Virya (cold potency) is consumed with a substance having Ushna Virya (hot potency), it is called as Virya Virudha.
Even though the food items which are contrary in potency like combined use of milk and prawn were told to avoid here, it is better to avoid all types of Virudha to prevent diseases that are caused due to VirudhaAhara.
Ishte Deshe Ishta Sarvopakaranam Bhunjita (Consuming food in places that are pleasant to mind and with required cookery)
One should dine at one’s favorite places, which are equipped with desired accessories. While eating at one’s favorite place with the desired accessories, one is not afflicted with psychological trauma. Having food in uncomfortable places without proper accessories may lead to some psychic agitation and result in complications that are caused by an inflicted mind. Even though food is taken in proper quantity, the mind that is inflicted due to factors such as fear, anger, shyness, and jealousy will make a person to misinterpret good hygienic food as unhygienic and results in Ajirna (indigestion).,
Susrutha had given some specific guidelines regarding the place and methods for having food. He had advised to consume food in a beautiful and auspicious place that is devoid of Vaastu Dosha (Unpropitious land) and unwanted people, having a pleasant smell, and that is well covered in order to provide protection from dust and other organisms. He gives a large list of utensils required for preparation, serving, storage, and dining for specific kinds of food, such as milk in a copper vessel, alcohol in earthen pots etc.
One should not eat in a place without any shelter that is not below any tree, not on the bed, not in the hot sunlight, nor in a dark place and one should also not consume food in a broken or soiled utensil. All these factors influence the psyche as well as affect the hygiene of the place. The mind gets diverted from food as well as food can be contaminated by foreign factors, so one should always consume food in a proper place with proper equipment.
Naatidrutam Bhunjita (Not consuming food too fast)
One should not consume food hurriedly. If one consumes food in a hurry, it will enter the wrong passage, will not move properly, and will get located at improper places; that is, the asphyxiation of food may be possible. Besides this, the person consuming food will not be able to appreciate the good quality of it or identify any defects of food, including hair or any other foreign materials mixed with the food.
Due to haste, Vata will be aggravated and it will mislead the food into other places, producing symptoms such as hiccup, Avasada (Low placed) etc. Avasada can be applied to both food and Agni, because food consumed in a hurry can obviously affect the power of digestion due to increased Vata. Proper placement of food, at a proper time, for a proper duration is required for optimum digestion. However, when food is consumed in a hurry, it bypasses all places within a shorter duration and the functions that are expected to happen at that particular region cannot take place in a proper manner; this again leads to disturbances in digestion and absorption.
Psychologically, for good digestion the appreciation of the qualities of food such as smell, taste, and sight is needed, which helps in inciting appetite. In a hurry, good qualities are unnoticed, which leads to the absence of an interest in eating. Physiologically, the salivation and secretion of enzymes is hampered; also, the food is not chewed properly and remains as large particles, so they do not undergo the action of digestive juices due to their larger size.
Naativilambitam Bhunjita (Not consuming food too slow)
One should not consume food very slowly. By consuming food very slowly, one does not get satisfaction or satiation, may eat more, and food becomes cold and is irregularly digested due to irregular contact of digestive fire.
Practically people who consume food while watching television, under tension or any worries or who are involved in various thoughts are not aware of their speed of eating. So, they tend to eat more and also there will be less appreciation of good or bad qualities of food, which is similar to consuming food in a hurried manner. So, the earlier mentioned psychological factors regarding food consumed in a hurry can also be applied here. Physiologically, multiple Avasthapaka (Stages of digestion) of food occurs due to delayed intake of each bolus and it will result in the formation of Ama, which is the seed for many other diseases.
So, one should not consume food in an excessive hurried or excessive slow manner.
Ajalpan Ahasan Tanmana Bhunjita (Not speaking or laughing while having food)
One should not consume food while talking or laughing, or without concentration. The food consumed while talking, laughing, or with a distracted mind produces complications just like food taken hurriedly, that is, the movement of food in an abnormal passage etc.
Food nourishes the body and the mind whereas the mind controls the fate of food that we have consumed. The contraindications stated earlier, namely Atidrutam, Ativilambitam, Hasan, and Jalpan, are the result of the vitiated mind and consuming food in Anishtadesha or without proper requirements may serve as a reason for its vitiation.
Aatmaanamabhisameekshya Samyak Bhunjita (Consuming food after due consideration of self)
Food should be always consumed with due consideration to oneself, knowing well about the suitability or the unsuitability of the food components to the self. Thus, one should consume food only after proper self-consideration. The word Atmanam means self and Abhisameekshya means properly assessed. That is individuals can make modifications according to their conditions than blindly following all the rules as told in the text.
Although this is said in the very last part of the sloka, it is applicable to all the earlier stated rules. Whenever a rule is framed regarding anything in Ayurveda, it is done in a manner which tries to fit in almost all the samples in a population. Still, there will be some samples which cannot be incorporated into this generalization. So after explaining all the rules Acharya conclude by saying that even though these rules were said in general, utmost priority should be given to self assessment
Generally, when some rules are told the common things that come to our mind are what, when, where, and how to follow these rules. Charaka divided rules on the basis of these questions. Foremost explanation is regarding what sorts of food are to be taken. The food should be Ushna, Snigdha, Virya Avirudha and Matravat. Among these, first three deals with the quality and latter one deals with the quantity of food to be taken Consuming warm, unctuous, and compatible food delivers a balanced diet to the body and an adequate quantity of food aids in the easy digestion and absorption of food. The next thing said is when to take food. Acharya explains the characteristics of the proper time to consume food, that is, after the proper digestion of a previous meal. The food consumed after the complete digestion of a previous meal helps in the easy digestion of a meal already consumed and the meal to be consumed. Otherwise, it may hinder the proper digestion of both meals and may lead to metabolic disorders if the subject continues this unhealthy lifestyle. From here, the involvement of bodily and mental factors starts in addition to the properties of food. The next explanation is regarding where to consume food, that is, in Ishta Desha etc. Here, their benefits along with the complications on not following them are given. These include concerns about the factors of mind and the cleanliness of the food served. Scientifically, it is proved that microgeographies of the built environment provide a subtle, pervasive, and unconscious influence in food choice, food intake, obesity, and health. Finally, how to consume food is told; that is, food to be consumed not too fast or too slow, without talking or laughing and with proper consideration of self. A person consuming food too slow or fast reported less hunger at a high significant level. In a study, eating intake was significantly enhanced with the presence of familial friends and with watching TV at a high significant level, because both of these will draw attention away from the consumed food and can stimulate food intake.
In the busy schedule of day-to-day life, people find it easy to sacrifice the rules to consume food for saving time or due to the afflicted mind. These are not considered as a reason for causing diseases by common man, but they are the most important and proven factors in causing psychosomatic and metabolic diseases. Thus, from observation and discussion cited earlier in this article, we can conclude that the first two rules Ushna and Snigdha are optional; depending on the condition of the person that one can follow or not follow. The latter are to be properly followed. The most important and ignored thing told by Charaka is Aatmanam Abhisameekshya Samyak, which applies to each and every of the earlier cited rules. That is, these are general rules and changes can be made according to the suitability of the subject and disease condition. But as a whole, following these rules will help a normal person in maintaining and improving his or her health and not following these will gradually result in the manifestation of many lifestyle and metabolic disorders.
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