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The Issue of Suitability (Satmya) in Ayurveda

By Durgadas, R.A.P, A.Y.T, Ved Kovid.

(C) Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham 2017. All Rights Reserved.
No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any manner, except by direct permission from the author.


[Experted from upcoming book “The Complexity of Charaka’s Ayurveda: Looking at Ayurveda Beyond New-Age Eyes“]

Today, Ayurveda is seen as being a predominantly vegan or vegetarian system resting on ahimsa of non-violence. While this is important, we must first take note of dehika ahimsa or non-violence relative to our own bodies, which requires eating suitable foods as per our diseases, constitutions and also relative to genetic and social satmya or suitability. Here, there is a difference between taking meats (which were traditionally ritualistically sacrificed and taken when needed) for certain purposes as per their requirement and mercilessly killing in excess as today’s abattoirs.

According to the classical texts, we must examine and treat people according to their cultural satmya or suitability of ahara or accustomed foods and intake relative to their desha or location and climate – which isn’t the same as, or even across India!

On satymaSushruta (sutrasthana, XXXV.39-40) notes that various substances and foods that don’t cause any vitiation, despite their contrary nature to ones biological constitution, the region, season and even exercise regimes, are suitable, as one becomes accustomed to such. Good examples are royal families that habitually take alcohol and meats as also rich foods and yet don’t suffer from diseases of excesses due to suitability of these through various generations – compared to non-aristocrats that could not historically afford such and being not used to these, can suffer from excesses when taking such.

Samtya or suitability is also mentioned by Charaka in greater detail (Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa, XXX, 315-19), especially relative to Chinese, Persians, Central Asians and Greeks habitually eating meats and taking wine and thus becoming accustomed to them, and of southern Indians with lighter foods as tubers, roots and fruits and variations such as suitability of fish as in eastern India (Bengal etc.); in the Sindhi region, the liberal use of milk-products is noted and grains as wheat and barley with milk in the central region of India, and that despite being unhealthy, such accustomed or suitable (satmya) foods should be given to these patients along with medicines for better health, rather than changing it and forcing a localised diet upon them!

This is mentioned in Charaka in ancient times – yet today, we see the same people as the Europeans and others (Greeks and Persians mentioned in the classics along with Chinese) being administered a south-Indian style vegetarian staple along with various herbs for their conditions, opposed to their (local and genetic) suitable foods, when even a native Indian of Bengal or Sindh wouldn’t be customised to such diets!

In more recent times, the south-Indian vegetarian staple that Charaka mentions (suitable to the pittogenic climate of south Indian Brahmins due to it being hot and damp or humid), has come to replace many dietary regimes in India as “sattvic”, due to the influence of historical acharyas or teachers coming from the south in ancient times as south-Indian Brahmins (Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Vallabhacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Madhavacharya) and modern Gurus coming from there, including Sri Ramana Maharishi, Satya Sai Baba, Bhagavan Nityananda, Swami Sivananda etc. Yet, these diets are not suitable to non-pitta people in non-pitta climates – just as Hatha-Yoga also aimed it’s yoga at the pitta and rajasic Gurkhawarriors, not for the average person of northern India outside this constitution, aggressive kshatriya nature, or climate. They were also required to fight in the hot, dry desert regions in Sindh to the Middle-East, which is why high intake of dairy, raw foods etc. worked well for them alone.

This of course doesn’t mean we give meats for all diseases! It simply means adopting the foods one is accustomed to and also tailoring such as per their disease, which sometimes means reducing or complete cutting out these or placing one on a bland diet at times.

This contradicts the view of New-Age Ayurveda which argues (on moral grounds) that one and all must adopt the Indian vegetarian diets for health and in diseased cases! It is in fact a clear violation of Ayurvedic principles and tenets as per the classics and would appear to cause more difficulty long-term, especially considering the strange diets of today such as veganism that don’t even agree with ancient lacto-vegetarian models!

In continuing this discussion, Charaka Samhita (Chikitsasthana, XXX.320) states that a physician that doesn’t take these local suitable considerations relative to desha (location, geographical suitability etc.), age, strength of the patient and their body into account and simply prescribes therapies alone is a failure.

He continues (ibid, 321 – 325) giving examples of, just as how the diets of Chinese, Europeans etc. doesn’t affect them, though sometimes contrary to disease, so sometimes like qualities of the doshas can alleviate them, as pitta deep within the tissues can be brought out by heat as in poultices or hot application and that excreta from a fly, though causing vomiting sensations, can also cure it (things which are normally contrary, but in certain cases help the disorder)!

These are perhaps some of the more important aspects relative to use of meats in Ayurveda we need to take note of, relative to historical and true traditional Ayurveda accounts.

It hence also calls into question the reasoning for adopting such dietary regimes as being so-called sattvic (pure) for such modern ‘American Ayurveda’ protagonists and their brethren, when they ignore the Ayurvedic guidelines in which what is sattvic or pure for one person, is not suitable for the constitution of another – and may even cause health-issues (meats for example can be heavy and tamasic, but vata being light, requires such heavier substances to calm its rajasic and ethereal sattvic nature; heavy spices are rajasic but required to get kapha‘s sluggish nature moving).

Moreover, the modern American Ayurveda system has been somewhat antagonistic towards the BAMS system and syllabus in India, which indeed  has some limitations, but still studies the classic texts and concerns in their more expanded, not pasteurised nature and fuses such with modern-science, as the ancient acharyas did with the ancient shad darshanas, not simply inventing their own philosophy bereft of these traditional concerns and systems!

Here, the New-Age and pseudo-Yoga diets can quite dangerous when they ignore local aspects of desha satmya or local suitability and customisation.

The Issue of Prakriti in Ayurveda

Many Ayurvedic practitioners and the lay public have often been confused over their so-called Prakriti or biological natural constitution as per Ayurveda. There are many books and quizzes, and many people fill these out, but often feel they are something else. Others have a preconceived idea.

First of all, we must understand that we must not seek to fall into the trap of stereo-phenotyping as a result of our own opinions and preconceptions of ourselves, or the predominating factors of the mind (manas), such as anxiety, anger or calmness representing the three humours of vata, pitta and kapha respectively. There are numerous factors involved here, which are sometimes beyond the scope of even sparshana (palpation), darshana (physical inspection) and prashna (questioning) of the patient, such as what lies within their astrological chart as factors (as karmic and supernatural or adhyatmika factors). One may be a kapha person, but has anger and irritability issues that causes pitta to become excessive as a life-long mental trait (not simply transiently), as a result of say, a Sun, Ketu or mars aspect upon the Ascendant, Ascendant Lord or especially the Moon, which causes heat in the head and psyche and Martian-type mental traits that can cause abnormal physical issues, but not necessarily always relative to the bodily constitution overall. Rahu-Moon, Ketu-Moon etc. can cause vata-type (and also VP, P) psychological derangements and sensitivities as well in any type as life-long psychic factors, again not as per vikriti or disease and transient factors.

Everyone has mixed factors or elemental combinations, and many quizzes today, even lengthy ones often serve to confuse people more, due to temporal factors. As noted, we have preconceptions about ourselves and it is best that a friend, close family member, partner etc. fill out forms for us relative to certain qualities to give us a better opinion. Children for example will have variable ideas about themselves, which parents can fill the blanks in with – what may be temporal factors of vitiation (vikriti) against one’s natural constitution or predominating traits life-long (prakriti).

Here, factors such as one’s predominating and stable (life-long common factors) of jatharagni (digestive strength) or metabolism and characteristics, one’s build at youth to adulthood  (constants) or how one has maintained it (relative to exercise etc. and having difficulty or rapid fluctuations in weight, weight being moderate or having issues keeping slim) as also size and structure of arms, legs, muscles, face in addition provide us with keys as to the constitution, as well as factors as pulse, tongue and most of all, disease tendencies and food intolerance (these changes as per age, sex of the person and also location, however, which provide additional variables to be considered outside the examination of body, but included in them as well for differential diagnosis).

There are also weak, moderate and strong forms of each type. A strong vata person may exhibit great strength and heath, adaptability and a strong digestion, with some issues with lighter foods and issues only in some climates, but be harder to tell. Women after menopause and entering into vata age can often start putting on weight or losing it suddenly due to hormonal changes or even emotional-eating, as females being lunar, are more emotional. Yet, there can still be other factors, as noted. One may be physically a vata person of thin build, but suffer from phlegmatic issues as well and doesn’t exhibit other kapha disorders or features in their prakriti. Such can be due to an excess of dairy and sugars and a hypersensitivity as a result of so-called “unknown” (physical) factors seen in the karmic-Prakriti of the person as in astrology as noted previously. As an example, the Moon in Taurus (exalted) or in it’s own sign, especially in the 5th house can cause congestive issues for some types, or say Jupiter is in Pisces in the Ascendant (his own sign) along with the Moon in it’s own sign (Cancer) in the 5th house, can cause congestive issues; Moon in Pisces can cause a hyper-emotional person of any type and so on. We may have congenital disorders (vikriti) opposite that of our constitution also, as seen in the charts. One living in tropical southern India, prone to stomatitis and bloodshot eyes, especially in pitta age (16 – 60) may have these pitta characteristics, but simply as a result of local dietary and climatic factors as excessive intake of curry leaves  and chilies, combined to the heat that might otherwise disappear elsewhere, or if one gave up spicy foods in a hot climate! Vata types have dry skin, but also thin skin that also burns easier when weather is excessively hot and dry (as in the Mojave desert and high-altitude regions) and peels quickly owing to this lighter, more sensitive layer. Thus, our constitutions shouldn’t be based on superficialised stereotyping and don’t always display their natural selves if we have been exposed adverse external and dietary factors – which for anyone, would cause issues (as also the seasons!). Likewise, not all redheads are Pitta-types (they may have yellowish teeth, fairer skin as a racial type, but not be pitta in prakriti – many sensitive vata traits as hypersensitivity to pain, erratic anger and other hypsersensitivities) as not all think and darker types are vata types, either and not all larger-framed taller types (as blonde, well-built Teutons) are kapha! Racial variations exist here, and other factors, which can be due to genetic mutations, climate and geographical changes over thousands of years or acclimatization. Some races are also naturally more aggressive than others, due to historical concerns (high meat and alcohol intake, war etc.) and thus as a people, be predisposed to such mental or other traits that cannot be neatly placed into the stereotyping models of prakriti.

Hence, there are many factors to consider here, but also not getting too caught up in the stereotypes is the main key and especially not mental  (psychic) typologies. Pitta types will have a natural disposition towards anger, aggression and drive, but they can also have other emotions as well that may predominate as per their karma. Caste-wise, people of a business or kshatriya (militant) background of any constitution will have more rajas or drive and tejas (heat) than most people that can result in quick tempers and excessive drive – what is more a social trait (social rajas + tejas) as a result of upbringing over constitutional also, and must be discerned apart from the Prakriti as well. Sometimes these, as noted can affect the body, but is not always one’s natural PrakritiRoga (disease) and arogya (health) are the real two main states of a person in Ayurveda – other factors simply reveal which predisposition (or combination thereof) one will be more likely to suffer from as is the normal nature (prakriti) for them.

Traditional Ayurveda considers three prakritis or natures in its examination: dehika-prakriti (nature or predominating factors of the body as per vata, pitta, kapha and their combinations), manasika-prakriti (nature or predominating factors of the psyche as per sixteen base personality types) and karmika prakriti (nature or predominating factors of the karma-purusha of the individual or karmic aspects that form the current psyche and also can bring out deviations from these states or vikriti, either congenital in the modern-day [and subtle causative factors behind congenital disorders and features] or otherwise; the subtle factors behind a person’s entire complex).

We should hence be careful doing “mind-body” type quizzes, such as become almost the norm with online quizzes, those in books etc. and relying on these alone. The psyche itself should be and always is assessed separately and as noted, other factors are also at play and various psychological vikritis or deviations from the natural state, as also genetic factors, such as say krodha may be at play as well. Take a premature or weak child for example, that will almost always naturally be, as a result of this, of vata-predisposition (dehika-prakriti) as a result of mother’s actions etc. and at time of conception (any foods, actions or deviating behaviour of mother can vitiate vata and cause such), as well as from parent’s side (say both parents are both vata-pitta or vata-kapha etc.) – if say here the father was vata-pitta and he had more of a rajasic temperament and much krodha or anger and aggression, as also a military person, the child, even with such a vata frame, will be predisposed to krodha due to (a) his vata pushing it, (b) social upbringing and physical manasikahara (mental impressions) in the home and also (c) congenital factors, apart from factors as age, sex, climate and foods that play a role here in the vikriti that shouldn’t be confused with it (alcoholic families and those consuming more spicy foods will be psychologically more aggressive, even if bodily features don’t display obvious pitta features). Here, the karmic prakriti can help shine light on where these factors arise from – genetic, socially etc. and through which parent and in what times of his life they will be most apparent.

These are mere examples of course and numerous factors have to be taken into consideration beyond the mere easy “dosha quiz” and stereotyping alone. Self-assessment can also be dangerous as one can easily have preconceptions about themselves, especially in this superficial age of “boxes” and cultural stereotyping. Practitioners themselves develop various levels of sensitivity and insight relative to assessment due to seeing thousands of patients and examining people, not simply filling out a few forms without considering all the variable factors! This is also much the same as in assessing diseases and differential diagnosis in Ayurveda and any medical system, which is done by trained professionals alone, not Joe Public, after he’s googled his symptoms alone and concludes his own diagnosis!

Once again, it is different to watch a video of, or use a flight simulator and quite another to try and fly and land a Boeing 777 commercial airliner – actually operate it and also know the safety procedures and protocols as also emergency protocols and put them into place in practice when required, over a little theory alone, without even knowing what the buttons actually do and saying “it doesn’t matter, as I know the basics”! Yet, this is what people are now doing with Ayurveda, thanks to the notion of it as a”Self-healing” system!

Note my article here that deals with the scope of Ayurvedic Pariksha and Nidana or examination and pathology.

There are also other variables beyond the Seven-Prakriti model as noted in my article here on the Trayodashi Types that I have constructed as per the classics and employ. Hopefully, this gives people a bit more understanding as per their Prakriti and variables.

Who can practice Ayurveda?

By Durgadas, Veda Kovid, AYT
Ayu. Clin, Ayu. Pharm, AMPKT, AMBT, ALC

(c) Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham / Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd.

All Rights reserved.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any manner, except by direct permission from the author.


Historically ancient sciences have been shared around the globe and as the modernisation of socialistic movements took place such as Jainism and Buddhism, there have been an abundant number of people wishing to franchise and open up the ancient teachings to the world, claiming such as “traditional” on one hand, but ignoring the actual classics’ word on such and personal qualities on the other.

These sciences when applied in a generic model can be useful. But as for the greater scope of claiming traditional lineages and applied teachings with respect to such, these fall into another matter. Here the spiritual Ayurvedic aspects and the rational aspects must be understood in their entirety, not simply pertaining to the physical applications; the methodical karmic methods that require skill in training of the Brahmana and others in the fields of astrology and ritualism here play an important part classically as well, which also connected with the sciences (i.e. knowledge of all shad darshanas in their integral aspects).

While the science of Ayurveda was taught to many in the ancient world such as the Persians, Chinese and notably the Arabs who translated the ancient texts where they reached the Latin world, such occurred in later times under Buddhistic influences in India, the ancient form of liberal socialism, which caused much distress to traditional Brahmanical teachings due to their [incorrect] dissemination.

The question here arises, should non-Hindus, as in those not born Hindus, really be practising Ayurveda as per tradition? Here, they would fall into the traditional category of chandalas or out-castes, existing outside the varna of caste-system of Hindus – possessing not even basic qualities that are even required for initiation into Ayurvedic study of the shudras (lowest labouring class) as per tradition (Sushruta Samhita, Sutrasthana, II.5); such should also be of proper qualities, mentally and physically (ibid, II.3), not simply as per the open-ended non-Hindu aspects of later Buddhistic interpretations.

Related sciences (inferring jyotisha, yoga etc.) are also stated to be learnt by the physician or practitioner traditionally from reputed and qualified people in these respective fields; here also those proficient in only one field of expertise alone or Vedic science is said to be unable to be qualified to deduce anything correctly, as one muts be proficient in many sciences, not simply one (as Ayurveda) alone – Sushruta, Sutrasthana, IV.6-9.

This brings into question those who qualify from [generic regime] Indian systems and others, and rigidly apply these systems or the New-Age style in the west to the pseudo-systems that fall in between these as a culmination of B.A.M.S graduates posing as “traditionalists”, wishing to superimpose their own systems, but ignoring these ancient injunctions where it suits in a Buddhist-style.

Historically this has caused problems in the traditional system of teaching – especially outside of Hinduism. The misinterpretation of the texts as warned by Sushruta and others outside Hindu lineages lead to the systems such as marmapuncture and marmapressure in southern India as a result of Buddhism and Jainism – notably seen today as practised by the thiyya caste of southern India that became kalari physicians of other castes and over time influenced them – themselves originating from Sinhalese Buddhists who due to the orthodoxy of southern India (hence the preservation of Sanskrit learning, older Vedic systems, Dhanurveda and Ayurveda etc. there) as far back as with Shankaracharya who sought to reform these practices) were not allowed into the Hindu fold due to their impure (ashuddhi) characteristics and being seen as chandalas or anarya (not-noble), i.e. outside the Hindu caste system. While they were still South Asians and connected to Hindu systems via derivations such as Buddhism and Jainism, it still didn’t allow them to be included into the traditional Ayurvedic systems or Hindu fold (to keep it pure and untainted) – which raises the question today of those practicing Ayurveda and (ironically) taking up these non-original tainted systems of marma manipulation and such, arising from people outside tradition as them [Europeans and non-Hindus].

On this note, Charaka (Sutrasthana, XI.9-10) lays stress on avoiding the divergent teachings and texts due to their contradictions [relative to tradition] .While some here may interpolate their non-Vedic stance, Charaka follows up (ibid, 28), stating that the Vedas are the accepted or authorised texts and any others that are not contradictory to the Vedas are hence accepted alone.

Here the characteristics of the Vaidya (physician or practitioner) should be likened to shaucha (purity) in Yoga, which means of the mind, body and also genetic heritage (jati or varna) for retaining the knowledge.

While historically there have been [exceptionally rare] examples of chandalas or those outside the mainstream systems that have been accepted, these are exceptions beyond the normal case – just as Yogis and Rishis such as Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana Maharishi and their unique realisations were themselves rare examples, even of Brahmana castes that attained lofty states.

The modern liberal age however seeks to over-simplify and seek justification for deviations of the ancient traditions, in which here the shastras or classical texts appear to both warn against and also note of proper qualities for practitioners which where, as rare notable cases existed – these cannot be applied to nor correlated with the modern-day acceptance of the masses to justify the existence of their practice of sacred doctrines such as Ayurveda.

If we apply such logic, then anyone can do a course, pass a test and change their DNA to become a Brahmana or even a Deva or celestial. The truth however, is otherwise!

Ayurveda and the Seasons

By Durgadas, Veda Kovid, AYT
Ayu. Clin, Ayu. Pharm, AMPKT, AMBT, ALC

(c) Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham / Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd.
All Rights reserved.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any manner, except by direct permission from the author.


While I am all for tradition, I also for logical Ayurveda and Vedic sciences as per the original and expanded systems of knowledge – not simply rigidly applying concepts out of context as is commonly done in the western world and of which Ayurveda, like the science of yoga, undergoing numerous evolutionary transformations, constantly allows as with any science, to be adapted by using it’s basic or core principles.

According to the traditional six-season model in India, vata accumulates in the summer-time and aggravates in the early rainy-season; pitta accumulates in the rainy or monsoon season and aggravates in the autumn and kapha accumulates in pre-winter and aggravates in the spring.

Today there are many that claim to use the classical six-season system of the classics of Ayurveda (introducing shishira or late-winter / cold season and varsha or rainy / monsoon season) and apply them to western and other environments. Yet, the reality is that that we cannot use the six-season model of Ayurveda as in India, as we don’t have six seasons! Moreover, the seasons also differ in the Northern and Southern hemisphere! Here in Australasia for example, we celebrate Christmas in the summer-time, not in the cool winter as in the Northern Hemisphere and hence the same regimens and times cannot be superimposed. India is also a tropical nation, whereas others are not and change accordingly.

Moreover, these differ as per nation as per specific climates and cycles also, especially in relation to the North and South pole, which Ayurveda understands well with desha etc. which all of this also comes into.

The climates across the US alone can change quite dramatically, especially the South closer to the equator and the North which is closer to the North Pole! This reveals that different models are here required as seasons have different properties even in the North American continent, let alone between continents themselves and localised variations of weather patterns. Land-locked regions of the south are also different in the desert to those bordering coastlines etc.

Even ecologists today employ four-seasonal systems in temperate and sub-polar regions, but employ a six-season system for more temperate or tropical regions. Kerala for example has to be treated as a kind of “rainy season / monsoon” (varsha season) climate due to having the highest rainfall of India. Hence, such issues need to be addressed relative to these sciences, as such again doesn’t apply to the rest of the world – just as the consumption of turkey, chilies, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, avacados etc. native to the Americas is suitable for those habitually used to other foodstuffs in their diets for thousands of years (as Europeans) – whereas such are anti-doted with spices to aid in their digestions in the orient where they were introduced through trade in the past 400 years – what is known as satmya or suitability in Ayurveda, as per cultural and social norms in dietary, lifestyle and other habits that are not always the same. Not all nations eat curries or spiced foods as India does for example and thus may not be able to handle the hotter, more pungent spices (such as Indian long pepper, ginger and garlic) traditionally used in South Asia.

Here we must remember that regions nearer the equator will have different kinds of seasonal effects to those nearer the poles, especially relative to summer and winter. India as a more tropical climate has its system centered more upon this system which differs from many other nations here and thus such properties must be assessed in a more unique manner – just as one should differentiate between predominating doshic factors in a patient, as also their vayas (age) in which doshic predominating factors are high, as also relative to their ethnicity also, as such variations exist. Smaller eyes for example are not always a sign of a vata person, just as a larger nose is not a sign of a kapha person when it comes to race. India possesses various racial types from caucasoid, mongoloid, australoid and negrito. We have to allow for differences here, just as we do for seasonal changes and changes in climatic factors and properties relative to them.

Other examples exist in Ayurveda relative to these, such as the different properties, therapeutic uses ad effects of the doshas of different types of madhu (honey), lavana (salt) and jala (water) depending on their region of collection and types that have variations in their properties – not all being the same (like seasons relative to geography). A good example is the mineral pitch [asphaltum] or shilajit which has different properties depending on it’s collection (Charaka Samhita, Chikitsasthana, I, 55-61), while given common properties in most texts and traditions (as per coming from Himalayan rocks). The classics hence infer but do not discuss every continent and their properties, being relative to India, but give various other examples and keys with which to ascertain these locally.

Other examples such as the effects of various winds (while wind itself is said to be mainly vataprakopika or vata-aggravating also alter from the norm and the classics give such finely-tuned examples, such as in my article here, which also notes their varying properties specific to them:

 http://everydayayurveda.org/changing-winds-how-they-affect-your-dosha/

Here, we must also not forget that Ayurveda works on the basis of the system of gunas or attributes and predominant mahabhutas or elements as per the desha or geographical location as also relative to climate, derivative of the cosmological samkhya system as TCM does Taoism. Here Sushruta (Sutrasthana, VI.26-28) notes of various properties of normal seasons, noting that abnormalities (as in other regions) can arise also – naturally due to ecological factors and also geographic differences across the globe. This is why some herbs described in the texts were native to the northern Himalayan regions which experienced different climatic changes as per the seasons than mainland India and thus some were best collected in these native regions compared to being cultivated locally in non-native habitats.

Charaka himself (Vimanasthana, VIII.13) states relating to desha or geographical location that such relates to both the medicine and also the patient as well, relating to the various habits of such people in that region as also does Sushruta (Sutrasthana, XXXV.42-45). Meats suit some people, while not others and such were specific. My article on meats in Ayurveda and satmya (suitability) for types can be noted for further interest along these lines.

There can be differences. The classics would state that a rakta-keshava or one having red hair would be of a pitta nature. Yet, such is not always true. Many redheads are lacking lustre and even when blushing, do not have a glowing face and can be somewhat depressed and hypersensitive, what we may call a weaker pitta or vata-pitta person (majjaka or nervous pitta type). People more sensitive to pain appear to be redheads [1], relating to the sparsha-tanmatra or increased vayu (wind) in the body as per Ayurveda or what is a more vata symptom of a person having a higher air (vayu mahabhuta) content in their biology or prakriti.

Likewise, just as a person of say a pitta constitution is said to have a tikshagni or sharp-natured digestive fire as also a krodhika or bad-tempered persona, it is not always so. This is why aharashakti or power to assimilate impressions of food and digestion or metabolic strength as well as manasika prakriti or psychological personality as per one’s own in-born nature are discussed as separate examinations in the classics, not to be simply superimposed upon the basic prakriti itself o stereotype the bodily makeup.

There are also similar systems to Ayurveda that have many correlates, but do not use the three-dosha model. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), for example employs five elements: Metal, Wood, Fire, Water and Earth. Metal corresponds to Ether (Akasha) of the Ayurvedic elements and Wood to Air (Vayu) in the Ayurvedic system, just as Vata, Pitta and Kapha connect at a more cosmic level in their forms as Prana (life-force), Tejas (radiance and light) and Ojas (vitality) to the TCM concepts of Qi (Vata / Prana), Yang (Pitta / Tejas)  and Yin (Kapha / Ojas) respectively. Old Greek and Unani medicine add Ayurveda’s fourth dosha of rakta or blood.

A comparison between TCM and Ayurveda can be found in my article here.

While expressing the dual-elemental (dosha) system, Ayurveda agrees that man himself is nothing but the expression of the five elements (Sushruta, Sutrasthana, I.22). Sushruta also further elaborates on other systems of Ayurveda that relate the different Prakriti types as arising from the pancha-mahabhutas – one each from  Pavana (air),
Dahana (fire), Toya (water Prithivi (earth) with a large and stable or strong body and Nabha (ether) of a clean and long-life (Sushruta, Sharirasthana, IV.80), which further shows differences in Ayurvedic schools of opinion, yet still following the same basic tenets.

The classics (Sushruta,Sharirasthana, IV.6 6, 81, 86; Ashtanga Hridaya, Sharirasthana, III. 89, 95, 103) also state that the various animal natures of the prakriti types; here the sarpa or serpent is a characteristic animal of a pitta nature – perhaps relating to its venomous (vishaja) nature which is heating like pitta or bile and is also seen as an angry animal. Yet, in later Ayurveda, the sarpa or serpent comes to represent a more vata-type animal as a nervous and irregular one with irregular movements like a serpent, as is well-known via sarpagati or snake type pulse-rhythm.

It hence cannot be taken in the same linear manner as the texts state, which they give warnings by examination of locations and such, as also hinting relative to climate based on the twenty guna or properties. We also find other differences. Some Ayurveda scholars note that there are two viryas (potencies) such as ushna (hot) and shita (cold). Others state that there are eight potencies, viz. mrdu (mild), tikshna (sharp), guru (heavy), laghu (light),
snigdha (unctuous), uksha (dry), shita (cold), ushna (hot) – Charaka, Sutrasthana, XXVI.64-65.

There are also other differences. The Charaka school lists two types of bastis or enema therapies for panchakarma (kashaya or medicated decoctions and sneha or oil-based) whereas the fifth according to Sushruta is raktamoksha or blood-letting. These here reveal the scope and depth of Ayurveda relative to classification of the various gunas or properties as also mahabhutas or great elements and their predominate factors as also varying systems that existed at the time of the classics and how these were adapted and cannot simply be literally applied in the same manner as today we cannot in all nations use the older six-seasonal system of ancient India, that applies to India alone!

We must use the classics to ascertain the variations in the climates and locations as the texts themselves explain – a point often ignored by many modern Ayurveda “traditionalists” who sometimes forget that tradition is also about using all of the fundamental keys of Ayurveda, such as the gunas and proper examinations of climate, seasons and such relative to Desha or geographical locations, just as we cannot stereotype people based on the prakriti systems when examples are given in the texts – but also keys to assessing the other elements outside the prakriti that are not to be confused with them – being purely for educational or supplementary example usage alone!

We must not lose sight of the fact that Ayurveda (the wisdom of life’s essence) itself is a science, not simply a rigid philosophy, and within any science, logic and reason are employed utilising keys, which makes it an evolving science that is tailored in a non-linear manner (i.e. subject to change and context).

Here we must not forget that many Indian BAMS teachers themselves wish to reinvent themselves as Gurus in the west with an almost Victorian-sense of logic and dogmatism regarding native sciences that go off the deep-end when linearly applied on one end of the spectrum, just as the American New-Age Ayurveda does on the other end of the scale – both often taking the literal side rather than fundamental elements of scientific application too seriously as they did when coming into contact with the Hebrew Bible – creating either a literal-dogmatic or completely out of contextualised New-Age interpretation going back to the Romans – neither of which matched the original and neither employed the traditional logic and fell due to employing Art’s majors’ techniques of literal thought over scientific principles that Ayurveda itself teaches us to apply on a case by case basis, not stereotype or take out of context!

Footnotes:

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1692342/

 

Academy of Traditional Ayurveda

The Academy of Traditional Ayurveda  is something that I have been developing for several years of which has now culminated in several New Courses – online and practical, as well as acting as the Publisher of our many books on Ayurveda and Vedic Sciences.

These Courses follow our books and many are according to the ancient Gurukula system of ancient India, following the traditional path of Teacher and Student dialogues and therefore assesses teachings and practices according to the student’s previous knowledge and areas that need developing.

You can view more at our  website here: Academy_of_traditional_ayurveda

Also be sure to visit us on Facebook

The True Yoga of Tradition

Many today take up and see yoga as a blissful system; one of easy enlightenment and exercise that brings us closer to our goal of eventual Nirvāna.

However, the harsh reality is that true, traditional yoga is a difficult and austere path of personal sacrifice, pain and suffering. It is one of intense tapas (austerities), of swadhyaya (self-study and study of the classics or shastras and tradition) beyond the “Yoga Alliance Bibles” of the Bhagwad Gita as Yoga Sutras, to studying hundreds of texts and their commentaries and of various sciences and mastering them and their systems. It is about working deeply with the higher shaktis (powers) and unfolding our past samskaras (karmic traits) and dealing with them face-to-face, not remotely or in a distanced manner. It place pressure on the psyche and also the somatic structure.

What most envision as “yoga”, “sadhana” (spiritual discipline) and “tapas” (austerities) today, can almost always be equated to Christian atonement. It is simply a “shamanika” or palliative yoga, over the harsh and difficult “shauchika” (cleansing) or “shodhana” (purifying) yoga – just as all in the name of “Panchakarma” (five actions of detoxification in Ayurveda) today represents the superficial, palliative Spa modalities for Beverley Hills housewives, over the abrasive and specific true Panchakarma, as a result of our mondernist culture of aesthetics and enterprise.

We contradict ourselves by misusing yoga and creating “Detachment Workshops” aimed at living non-material lifestyles, but are affordable only to the rich and conducted at Five-Star retreats and surroundings.

We call others “aggressive” and malign them, and point out they’re violating ahimsa  (non-violence) when defending a native tradition we’re not part of, or cannot understand it – as we ourselves are unable them first, not realising our own educational and informational short-comings. We trespass on their properties on Social Media, to put them down and make ourselves feel better, or that were truly exercising “ahimsa“, while violating it in actions, mentality and speech, by simply acting out of an inferiority complex that our 200 hours of Yoga training has failed us, and we cannot be humbled by others’ words, or seek to learn anything new from them. We cannot swallow the ego that yoga seeks to dissolve and evaporate, that prevents us from admitting “perhaps I don’t know as much a I thought”. When faced with this fear, we react in the Christianied manner, taking the “holier than thou” approach and see to constantly project on others.

The true spirit of yoga is actually within the realm of the kshatriya or warrior, not the Brahmin. It is the deeper aspect of our rajasika (egotistical, kinetic) selves that seeks to strive forwards and beyond and not be merely satisfied with the status quo. Many talk about sattvas (purity) on a yogic level, denoting purity and clarity – as if they wish to become or emulate Brahmins or yore and dismiss tamas or darkness and inertia. This is what I call “The Ego of Sattvas“. Yet, physical tamas and rajas is sometimes required for different people. It comes into satmya (suitability) in the science of Ayurveda. For them, that can be “sattvika” – otherwise lineal sattvas can become too much of a self-righteous complex that breeds social stagnation and tamas in itself. Like some Abrahamic faiths and their aggressive concepts of purity and religious rigidity and fundamentalism that becomes physically, purely rajasika and ahankarika (egotistical). This comes into one’s biology and also swadharma or the path that unfolds as per one’s own inner-born actions or nature as per his past samskaras. Acting in a physical rajasika manner here is dharmically sattvika and natural for kshatriyas (warriors), for example. Hyperactive people need tamas to slow and ground them with heaviness or gravity (gurutva), as vayu itself is rajasika, being kinetic in nature.

Our modern yoga, however, doesn’t consider these finer aspects and tenets of the deeper traditional system of yoga. It sees and envisions yoga as opening up a horizon of easy kriyas or practices, by which we can attain the “Kingdom of God”, which is transferred and equated to Sanskritic terms as moksha (liberation), nirvana (enlightenment), atmajnana (self-knowledge) etc. by its modern adherents – when such concepts are not only absent in western Christian or Abrahamic traditions, but also have no connection whatsoever to the Abrahamic goal. In many respects, the modern yoga, even in the name of “Vaidika” (Vedic) to seek to validate itself (in vain) and be seen as pure and original – is actually Christian Yoga. Vedanta itself is often reduced to superficialities, rather than looking and examining the nuances of tradition. Time and time again, I see people taking verses from the Rig Veda and Upanishads and having taken them completely out of any plausible translation as a result of quoting only part of the stanza to which they belong, which contradicts the entire meaning of the verse itself – let alone the abysmal Sanskritic translations, which have no real connection to the topical matter yoga teachers wish to push forward (often again, a Christianised viewpoint based on samaritanism).

To stand on the traditional foundations of yoga is a challenge. Yogis were not peaceful, loving people who would come up and give you a hug or a kiss. They were not Jesus! They were very fiery type people, with fiery tempers to match, as is seen when many in the Puranas and elsewhere try and forcibly wake up and disturb a yogi’s meditation – often ending in them being cursed for doing so! Others such as Parashurama and Krishna were great warriors that took up arms to defend the foundations of dharma and even go so far as to evict people of criminal bent from their homelands or purge it, as a careful surgeon cuts out a tumour and cauterises it, to make sure it doesn’t cause future issues and spread. This is why tradition had it’s often excessive rules and regulations to be adhered to. Those as Vasishtha and Durvasa were known to assert their anger when threatened, as well as even the peaceful bhakti saint, Narada, who wasn’t beyond dishing out curses himself, though on the peaceful path of devotion! Lord Shiva himself, the master of yoga and to Vaishnavas, the greatest devotee of Vishnu, is well-known for his fiery temper, as also that of his wife, Maheshwari in her forms of Uma, Parvati etc. that assumes wrathful forms as Durga, Kali, Bhairavi and others! Lord Vishnu himself, the deity in the mode of sattvas or purity, as manifested in the fiery Narasimha, the man-lion where he disemboweled the father of his devotee, Prahlada, who had taunted the saint – as well as the fiery warrior-Brahmin, Parashurama and also Rama, Krishna and others. Krishna’s own brother, Balarama is known for his own anger, and the two defeated many asurika or wicked people in their youth, as in the Bhagavata Purana. The Nathas or the yogis that established Hatha-Yoga were themselves militant, fiery and wrathful, and through Gorakshanatha, gave rise to the yogi-warriors that would become today’s Gurkhas of Nepal, a deadly people.

This shatters the world many have of the blissful yoga, even of the Brahmanical world. Many look up to the saint Bhrigu in devotional traditions of yoga, the father of Goddess Lakshmi, who even cursed Lord Vishnu himself to take avatar. Yet, the modern Christianised Yoga seldom goes beyond the Yoga Sutras and Bhagwad Gita again, or the Christian Bible, as it is scared to dip its toe into the true traditional yoga beyond – that isn’t for the faint-hearted and is often one roller-coaster of a ride, requiring a strong mind, strong physique and above all, a mentality that expects challenges, accepts them and deals with them and his own karmas and karmic consequences directly – not simply seeking to scapegoat them by projection, as is the western virus!

The true yogi or yogini isn’t merely an adept in chiropractic movements, but has the agility of their mind, which is exercised beyond the human norm. It is for this reason that Heisenberg himself saw that there was nothing strange in Quantum Physics to those familiar with the vedantic Upanishads of India, and who stated:

Quantum theory will not look ridiculous to people who have read Vedanta.” 

The true aspirant of yoga dwells within the cave of the heart (hrit-guha), which is hidden (guha / guhya) or secret from the world at large, and through which on the outer level, through his majestic maya or creative-power of illusory energy, manifests his multiple forms and personalities that he brings out to the physical realm, from the inner-world of Brahman alone, but is also able to sustain, protect and honour the ancient tradition of his forefathers, by which these inner-energies are gained!

 

A Note on ‘Vedic Trolls’

For many in the west, anything “Vedic” (Skt. ‘Vaidika’) and the system of vegetarianism and ahimsa have become systems to make them feel good about themselves. Ahimsa itself is one of the most culturally misappropriated facets of yoga in the west and the world today – that arose not with Hindu yogis, but with the political interests of Mahatma Gandhi – not with true Hindu acharyas as Gorakshanatha, Matsyendranatha, Agastya and others historically, or Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and others in modern times.

Often, there’s little true interest and more of a social interest to improve one’s spiritual resumé. We see this with Facebook groups and posts that misappropriate the entire basis and teaching of the Mahabharata and it’s Bhagavad Gita and try a turn it into a neo-Buddhist system of non-violence (when even Buddhist monks gave us Martial Arts!) -trying to reclaim some sense of a moralistic high-ground for their own purposes of forming a new order of chardonnay socialists!

This has become dangerous for many reasons, as it superimposed ideologies from Christian cultures upon the eastern systems and takes their statements and tenets out of cultural and historical context in a similar heir to how Europeans first interpreted the Vedas, as a result of Eurocentric biases and preconceptions.

Social media today has become a tool for such people as well. It gives their diminutive learning a voice and stamina with which to proselytise their garbled half-truths, hearsays and other misappropriated and hyperbolic statements and views. This doesn’t end there. Many Vaidyas from India have been setting themselves up as Gurus since the ’70s, often having no real learning in yoga, vedanta and such systems back home or in the west. Paraphrasing has become the new “Vedic” and fueled with western blind-faith based naivety, gives rise to a dangerous cocktail.

Often we see articles and posts from Ayurvedic practitioners and yoga teachers that are quite laughable, due to getting basics facts wrong or completely misrepresenting quotes out of philosophical context. Others confuse systems and act as “experts”, which pasteurises the systems and tenets themselves; an example is how we often see “dosha” in Ayurveda as representing a “mind-body type” – which is incorrect and doesn’t even represent the prakriti of a person correctly! Others like to split yoga, ayurveda and tantra up into separate systems, which they are all part of, or buy into the Tantric-Vedic split, which goes along with the Aryan-Dravidian racial divide, that is also not only illogical and scientifically proven to be incorrect, but incorrect as per even the traditional meaning of these within India itself!

Sadly, the maxim “a little knowledge is dangerous” doesn’t seem to resonate with these people. Instead, they see this as in invitation to express their little knowledge as true, gospel and final, and when confronted with complete or integral systems and wisdoms, cannot grasp it and so rather learn, expand and embrace, take to trolling and abusive diatribes! We find little in the way of citations, quotations and references substantiating their claims, beyond their dubious Gurus’ words (which are often in the same contextually incorrect category) – on their websites, blogs and articles or posts, but instead a culture of “I feel so” emotional-isms, that epitomises this modern-age of social media and how it becomes a tool for spiritual sociopaths!

 

Eurocentric Socialistic Self-Entitlement

Background:

The negative shades of socialism today still sadly exist in the fabric of mainstream society as an insidious post-Colonialist-samskaraWe see it permeating everywhere, especially now filtering into native systems as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga and numerous others as Native American traditions, which it does in a disguised manner of an apologetic, but with a very strong Christianised slant to it that it superimposes upon, seeking to replace the original foundations of these systems and also undermine the authority of tradition teachers, education systems and other authorities – just as Christianity did with Jewish rabbis and Jainism and Buddhism did with Hinduism’s Brahmins and the vedas.

Over the years, I’ve seen many even do this with my own writings. If you’re going to plagiarise someone, then refrain from doing so in a verbatim manner with complete passages and sentences, as certain people have done with my books, without citations or even references. When this was brought to their attention, their behaviour was somewhat juvenile, claiming (despite their own copyright on their page etc. and disclaimers) that “all is one” and everyone owns everything. By that logic, I’d go and take this guy’s car without him having an issue, right? I was wrong – it works only in a one-sided manner with the European, still dealing with his ahankarika Eurocentrism that he thinks he’s uniquely qualified to ignore and instead hypnotise himself into believing he’s transcended everything!

Another such person took it upon themselves, after reading my books and articles, to misappropriate and even represent my own Vedic teachings and those of my family Guru’s tradition, which are not only not a part of, nor even related to, coming from a Catholic background, and feels such misappropriation for their “cult” is valid. Narcissists however, as sociopaths and psychopaths, as appear to be the disorders that Catholicism has generated over so many generations – can never actually realise their wrongs. If they even kill someone, it’s somebody else’s fault! It doesn’t take long to see where this arises from – the Catholic complex that itself misappropriated the Hebrew tradition and maligns the Jews, while appearing as the “holier” party – just take a look at the said person’s anti-Semitic subtext and you’ll soon get the gist of it.

Sadly, we are inundated with them coming into native systems, as a means of their ego-transference and also an easier way for them to “transcend away” their personality disorders, or at least, tell themselves they’re doing so in their self-hypnotic delusional manners, rather than seeking proper psychiatric help! These kinds of faux philosophies, neo-vedantic rants and delusional “meditations” are about as useful in actually solving the issue than obscuring or repressing it, as placing a plaster over a malignant tumour and ignoring it, thinking the cancer won’t eventually spread is!

Such people however, come in pairs and share a similar attitude, arising from an inferiority complex. They think they can represent other’s traditions much better than native people. These people are the ones that wish to be Americans, but due to their culturally distant and British Crown allegiance, actually cannot, so act out instead in a condescending Victorian British manner, like spoiled schoolchild! You guessed it – I’m talking about Canadians!

Where there’s a troll, there’s a thousand supporters. Today, where there are criminals and pseudo-Gurus, the masses will support them over the victims or real tradition.

Take for example how westerners as John Douillard, Melanie Sachs, Lisa Coffey, Marc Halpern and New-Age Indians such as Deepak Chopra etc. are seen as an Ayurvedic authorities over true Ayurvedic physicians as Dr. Vasant Lad and his BAMS graduate student, Robert Svoboda or others such as Jessica Vellela that have completed the Indian Ayurvedic BAMS systems and adhere to a more authentic Ayurveda as per classical tradition, opposed to the westernised New-Age hyperbolised versions that are the mere narcotic-inspired misappropriated fetishes of the hippie-era! Vellala and others do represent a different style of Ayurveda from the classics, as even as Dr. Lad does to some degree. In India, Bhagwan Dash, Prof. Srikanthamurthy, P.H. Kulkarni, PV Sharma and others have become almost household Ayurveda names in true Ayurveda communities with their in-depth scholarship on the matter, that make the western hybrid of the hippie-era look like they’re not even skimming the top of Ayurvedic vidya!

My family comes from a lineage where we use the authority of shruti or the Veda samhitas alone. I find it insulting that post Vedic texts have been labelled as “Vedic” and markets by Hindu Swamis as such as some kind of spiritual currency.

For thousands of years, Hinduism’s sacred Vedic texts (viz. four vedas, upanishads and brahmanas) have been guarded with utmost respect. There has been no need to convert people across the globe or to spread their message as in Christianity! In fact, few were ever born with the knowledge to decipher them, which is why these systems existed. Few are people like Arthur Avalon, Aleister Crowley, Paul Brunton, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and others that really immersed themselves in the in-depth study of Hindu traditions!

Today however, Hinduism and Vedic have become social labels for the elite, Hollywood stars and others that don’t want to use LGBT titles to be seen as popular or having a point of difference. Thus, “Vedic” today has become sort of “Vedic Club for white people and their opinions“, rather than actually Vaidika. They commonly quote the post-Vedic literature for a start, in addition to being perpetually stoned or on meth or other narcotic substance for their “knowledge”, over traditional learning. The reject any traditional native systems, their pramanasshastras and their bhashyas etc. in favour of their myopic self-born views, such as we see.

The white subliminal culture doesn’t end there. African Americans will often look down at African people from the Caribbean or the African mainland, as often their culture and features are different. Hence, while claiming the victims of “racism” on one hand, they dish it out, on the other. The behaviour of not only white Americans, but also African Americans towards Asian communities and Latino minorities is also not a harmonious and socially conducive one honouring cultural acceptance and assimilation, either! Here, such people, while claiming to be victims, have actually themselves fallen prey to the Eurocentric racist gene and superiority complex.

The same exists in all minority groups, claiming to be historical “victims” and taking their awareness of acceptance too far. The LGBT communities for example. How often do we see white same-sex couples on TV shows, sitcoms and movies, compared to interracial or even ethnic same-sex couples? It is a rarity compared to the white majority, which obviously the LGBT community itself wishes to promote, while again claiming “equal rights” in a hypocritical manner! How are trans-people accepted in the mainstream gay communities? This is another issue.

Just as we support these people and groups however that themselves continue to carry colonialist bigotries and dogmas internally, we ignore the majority that are still being hurt by these groups and people. Another example is Islamic apologetics, who would completely wipe out the continuous bloodshed and dominating destructive psyche that Islam has generated since the 7th Century AD onwards, to the present day (only with more dangerous weaponry) – however, their victims as Hindus, Buddhists and others, we crucify when they dare to (a) expose historical facts (b) defend themselves against centuries-old Islamic attacks and slander! So much for ‘human rights’ and ‘equality’, socialists!

Most socialists today however are either of, or are members of the lower socioeconomic ‘aspiring bourgeoisie’ classes, far from the haute bourgoisie at the upper end of the social spectrum. We see this with the lower socioeconomic demographic trying to emulate Hipters that has become a pop-culture sensation as a result, but divorced from the original foundations of which it was generated by the upper middle-classes as a means to appear “toned down”! Similarly, the plethora of oversexed, menstruating females from the lower social demographics and their male peers are usually those who wish to reinvent themselves as some kind of quasi-Druid Priestesses and Priests, emulating even the Brahmanical classes and hypocritically even trying to become vegetarian and self-righteous like a Hindu monk on one hand – but on the other, are married and continue to engage in their less-than-Brahmanical and brahmachari / brahmacharini behavior as would befit traditional values as a whole! This cultural selectivity is also seen by Christians who, on one hand argue that the New Testament overrides the Old Testament God and laws – but select and chose which of these they’d keep. Their homophobia for example is driven from the Old Testament, but they ignore the taboo of eating pork, also from the Old Testament – and ignore the fact that Jesus and the New Testament for them stands as a new tradition, not of the old ways they wish to carefully select from to enslave others into their irrational and non-lineal social substructures!

Yoga has similarly been misappropriated in the west and reduced down to rigid stereotyping as being vyayama and asana or exercises and poses alone, while Tantra has become all about magical rituals and rights and sexual practices – forgetting that real tantragama shastra was simply the updated Vedic ritualism, as scholars such as Swami Vivekananda and Arthur Avalon had also stated, as also others as Sri Aurobindo, Ganapati Muni etc., as is also evident from the Rigveda, Brahmanas, Upanishads and their commentaries, in which tantra, yoga etc. are all part of the one Raja-Yoga system, as even Shankaracharya promoted across India! Yet, even he is reduced down as a vedanta teacher alone, by the uneducated plebeian masses  becoming “wiki-quote” self-professed authorities and scholars, misinterpreting things out of context (as even half-verses and stanzas, like Baptist preacher does) – without even understanding the crux and deeper side of Shankaracharya’s Advaita system, which isn’t as simply and non-complex as these fools make it out to be!

This also brings us to the main issue here of our western yogic sub-culture: vegetarianism and it’s aggressive proselytisation by its western adherents in an almost Baptist-zeal, rather than one of equality, rational and medical understanding and acceptance, that vegans and vegetarians demand from others, but (like a true Christian superimposing their Christocentric puritanism upon others), labels others as inferiors – a modern notion that simply stands as the contemporary updated-slander cognates for “heathen / satanist / witch / infidel / atheist / non-believer” of the Abrahamic traditions.

As with atheists and Jews however, the meat-eater doesn’t seek to convert you to meat-eating as the vegan and vegetarian does through psychopathic insults and ridicule, rather than peaceful logic, as is the facade of their ways, as a Christian preaches “Christ’s love for humanity”, while burning down a village, or a Muslim preaches Islam is a “religion of peace” as he slices open your throat! Sociopaths, psychopaths, schizophrenics and others are hence attracted to these systems, not due to moral causes, to simply to be seen to be standing on a higher moral ground and code of ethics of which they can laud over others. It is the ago and culture of egotism alone that even has naught to do with historical vegetarianism within the south Asian traditions!

The Moral Vegetarian Issue:

Vegetarianism was for the Brahmin caste predominantly and also brahmacharis (celibates) to keep their minds pure, especially in southern India. Hence, before deciding to adopt vegetarianism as per Hinduism, we have to ask ourselves three main questions:

  1. Is this satmya (suitable) for me as per by prakriti and also genetic background? Different groups of people even in India and across the globe are stated in the classical texts to have a kind of immunity to eating meats and shouldn’t simply stop this, as such may otherwise cause diseases – similar to how one not used to taking hit, spicy foods as chilies will suffer from ulcers and issues as a result of non-suitability.
  2. Am I a Brahmin that performs daily rituals as pujas, yajnas etc. for the benefit of others in temples or am I a single, celibate monk living in a monastery and keeping away from all rajasic aspects of society, including the use of TV, internet, tea, coffee, refined sugars and processed foods etc.?

One here should also ask themselves if they’re well-versed in these food-types and have studied all of the available ancient Ayurvedic texts on food articles and their properties, as also ahara or dietary intake. Here, no sadhana can commence unless the body itself is operating at the state of normalcy in arogya or healthy state, not vitiated due to some social-concern etc. that could affect the mind and thereby the body, or vice versa.

Here, adopting vegetarianism as a moralistic or social-concern alone and ignoring the classical opinion and thinking one is “Hindu” is hypocritical – as these same people reject the notions as the Aryan Invasion Theory of India, which is also on the grounds of historical texts or shastra as well, or arguing the karmic facet of vegetarianism alone (without even udnerstanding karma‘s doctrine – a philosophy in itself), is as bad as reducing yoga down to mere exercise or tantra down to sex alone! Both again that rest on the classics. It shows a very selective culture that we have generated in the west – one of superiority complexes resulting in down-right narcissism!

  1. Do I understand that while karma is involved in killing animals, that these are (a) part of the food chain when required (just as it is the dharma of a kshatriya to take up arms and even kill others – even his own family if necessary for the greater benefit of all, as in the Gita’s message) (b) that animal sacrifices were a part of Vedic society and Hindu society that helped this and (c) that as with the use of sex, that vegetarianism in India was primarily of concern relative to how not only meats, but also even some vegetable substances (garlic, onions etc.) affected the mind?

Relative to (3), western vegetarianism itself often misappropriates the Brahmanical shades of purity of south Indian orthodoxy. Here, such regimes were due to the south being pitta-kapha (hot and humid) tropical climates, where vegetable dishes are more suitable than heating and fatty meats for logical purposes, as discussed in Ayurvedic texts, that also double as the Vedic food rationale.

The Vedic Brahmanas and Yajurvedas also mention numerous kinds of meats in sacrifices as well (some symbolic). True Hindu vegetarian Brahmins won’t eat various root-vegetables at all – such also stems from even various vegetable classes being higher life-forms and due to their properties upon the mind – much as noted is also a geographic issue that later became a part of superstition, over the original rational and logic Vedic systems as we see with the shad darshanas and ayurveda etc. Due to cooler climates in northern India for example, sarson ka tel (mustard oil) and til tel (sesame oil) are often used over nariyal tel and nariyal (coconut oil and coconut) in the southern preparations, but in the desert Sindhi-regions of the Thar desert where there is excessive dryness, dairy is used with foods (the Ayurvedic texts also mentioned this also).

In addition, I often see many people trying to cover up their own insecurities and lack of learning by stating that yoga, vedanta, ayurvedahatha-yoga and tantra were different traditions. While posing as teachers or even “traditional authorities”, their mindset is actually clearly one white Colonialist Masters with self-entitled superiority complexes and reminiscent of the likes of Max Muller and his Aryan Invasion Theory and racial divisions and other European distortions (including their Indian counterparts entertaining such, as Romila Tharpar) that adhere to one set of teachings alone – whether it be the concise Bhagavad Gita + Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or one text of Adi Shankaracharya on vedanta, taken out of spiritual and cultural context and seen through the lens of a Christcentric mind bereft of true Hindu vidya and insight! This is what I call a ‘Christian samskara’ – not necessarily religious, but a myopic culture centered on monotones that permeates all facets of what it seeks to learn and pasteurise in an autonomous fashion!

The other issue here is that many come into these traditions with poor mental and physical health. Ashrams in the west and India are a breeding-ground for the mentally unstable, physically weak or ill, schizophrenics to psychopaths and sociopaths on the other – that all need true psychological help and counselling, not simply to drown and deny their issues under a veil of ‘spiritual’ -isms and Self-healing, Self-diagnostic / assessing hyperbole! Original yogis and great health, mentally and physically – which is what both Patanjali’s and the later Hatha Yoga system both aim at – developing ojas or vitality and also purifying the body of unwanted wastes – regardless of the plethora of chubby and anorexic rogi (diseased)-apologetics and their (flawed) rhetoric that dominate the Vedo-sphere today! It ruins it for those who want to learn or do need actual help and are receptive to it, traditionally!

The issue with the west today is that it quickly appropriates something – a mantra, a yoga or technique (kriya) or diet, but improperly without the full system, and thinks that eastern systems are safe enough to be seen as “self-managed” systems, without any proper training, study or depth. This in itself is due to a residual colonialist arrogance that (subtly) undermines and reduces these eastern systems down to simplistic systems – opposite to what they are. Vedanta alone, even of the advaita variety takes several years to master and numerous texts to understand the depth of it and reflection – not simply reading a few Ramana Maharishi quotes, or pulling half-quotes from the Upnishads out of context as many do.

This kind of uneducated narcissistic self-entitled, self-righteous motivated appropriation is exactly what reduces down all native faiths, and such blatant ignorance can be compared to the historical missionaries’ view towards Hindus and Native Americans or even Caribbean pan-African Voudon [1] traditions, rather than immersing themselves in these foreign cultures, philosophies and systems and understanding the complete picture first, rather than superimposing their own biases and interpretations upon them.

Such people constantly seek to be validated, which is precisely why all ancient cultures and even the modern such as the British, not simply those of India and Asia, had their social classes and substructures. One cannot merely ‘fast-track’ as an ‘intuitive pilot’ – one has to have the skills for that and also background. Today, we have those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, the ‘aspiring bourgeoisie‘ to the ‘aspiring haute bourgoisie‘ (or wannabes) becoming educated, taking up positions that were historically meant for certain aristocratic classes that could both handle the power, work and responsibility and ethics that went with it and endure these with the vigour they were born with! The same cannot be said of the menial classes – mutton dressed as lamb, always remains mutton, as leopards never change their spots!

If philosophy in India or ancient Greece, was never about actual learning before one debates – and instead interpolating the excuse ‘Holy Spirit / God / Universe guides me’ when one doesn’t know to try and win an argument – then even rabid barking dogs would be allowed to debate and there’d be no need of pramanas, such as Islam and Christianity have both done away with!

Footnotes:

1. In a similar heir to how people in the west argue that yoga and tantra are not related and are simply asana or posture and sexual-rituals alone, so also the missionaries in the Caribbean superimposed the European dogma upon so-called effigies as “Voodoo dolls”, that in Africa traditions were meant for healing, not nefarious purposes; the culture of using effigies were cursing by inserting pins and needles is part of the European culture and acts as a good example of how these Eurocentric biases were superimposed upon other cultures with similar practices – but the technique and purpose was wholly different!

Today sadly, just as the mainstream think of Voudon in this manner thanks to the Eurocentric biases dating back to Colonial times, so also people have become indoctrinated into what tantra and yoga is, and even Indians cannot accept the classical opinions about these, due to European education.

Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe) in his Shakti and Shakta text in the 18th Century brings attention to this:

It is this reiterated claim to superiority that has hypnotized many persons amongst Eastern races into the belief that the European is, amongst other things, always a safe and learned critic even of their own beliefs and practices…”