Ritucharya is the 3rd chapter of Ashtanga Hrudayam. The word Ritucharya is made of two words – Ritu means seasons, Charya means do’s and don’ts (regimen). This important chapter discusses in detail regarding different seasons and the regimen to be followed.
Six Seasons of India – The Hindu Calendar –
A season (Ritu) is comprised of two months (two Masa).
Shishira Ritu (winter, dewy season) – Magha and Phalguna (Mid January – Mid March)
Vasanta Ritu (Spring season) – Chaitra and Vaishakha (Mid March – Mid May)
Greeshma Ritu (Summer season) – Jyeshta and Ashadha (Mid May to Mid July)
The above three Ritus form Uttarayana – Northern solstice. Here, fire is dominant. It is also called as Adana Kala, wherein the human strength is relatively low.
Varsha Ritu (Rainy Season) – Shravana and Bhadrapada – Mid July – mid September
Sharath Ritu (Autumn season) – Ashvayuja and Karthika – Mid September to Mid November
Hemantha Ritu (Winter season) – Margashira and Pushya – Mid November to Mid January
These three seasons form Dakshinayana – Southern solstice. It is also called as Visarga Kala, wherein the human strength will be relatively high.
Northern solstice – Uttarayana
Uttarayana – Adana kala – Northern Solstice – mid January – mid July
Because of the nature of the path, both the Sun and wind becomes very strong, powerful and dry during this half of the year. It takes away all the cooling qualities of the earth. Bitter, Astringent and Pungent tastes (Tikta, kashaya and Katu Rasas) will be more powerful, respectively, in the successive Ritus. Hence Adana Kala is dominated by fire.
Southern solstice – Dakshinayana
Dakshinayana – Visarga Kala – Southern Solstice – mid July – mid January
During this period, the Sun releases strength to the people. Here moon is more powerful, earth is cooled down due to clouds, rain and cold wind. Sour, Salt and sweet (Amla, Lavana and Madhura) tastes are dominant respectively during the three seasons of this period.
Variation in strength as per season
शीते अग्र्यं, वृष्ति घर्मे अल्पं बलं, मध्यं तु शेषयो: ।
śīte agryaṃ, vṛṣti gharme alpaṃ balaṃ, madhyaṃ tu śeṣayo: |
Winter – Hemantha and Shishira – mid November – mid March – Highest strength
Summer and rainy seasons – mid May – mid September – Lowest strength
Spring and Autumn – Medium strength.
1. Hemanta Ritucharya – Ayurveda Winter regimen: Mid November – Mid January
During Hemantha, the people are strong, digestive fire becomes powerful, because it gets obstructed from flowing outward due to external winter. Like fuel consumes the things that it comes in contact with, digestive fire may cause emaciation of body tissues. Hence, in this period, one should consume food predominant in sweet, sour and salt tastes.
As the nights are longer, the person feels hungry early in the morning. So, after attending to oblations, one should resort to Abhaynga (oil massage) with oils that have Vata balancing properties. Massage should be done especially to the scalp and forehead. Mild massaging, wrestling till one’s half strength and trampling of the body is recommended.
After this, the oil is washed off with astringent powders and bathing. Then a fine powder of Saffron and kasthuri (musk) is applied. The body is exposed to the fumes of aguru (Aquilaria agallocha)
Since the digestion power is high, heavy-to-digest food such as meat soup mixed with fats, meat of well nourished animals, wine prepared with jaggery, supernatant part of wine (Sura) should be consumed more.
Food prepared with wheat flour, black gram, products of sugarcane and of milk, food prepared from freshly harvested corn, muscles, fat and edible oils should be partaken as food.
Warm water should be used for oblations, thick sheet made of cotton, leather, silk, wool or bark of trees that are light in weight should be used during sleep. Exposure to sunlight and fire should be resorted to, judiciously. Foot wear should be worn always.
One may have sex as per his liking.
Persons who spend their time residing in houses kept warm by fire, in inner most apartment encircled with others, or in underground chambers, will not be affected by diseases due to cold and dryness.
Overall, in Hemantha Ritu, the strength and digestion power are more. Hence one can exercise, undergo oil massage, eat heavy foods and may have sex.
2. Sisira Rutu charya – Ayurveda winter regimen – Mid January – Mid March:
अयमेव विधि: कार्य: श्शिरेऽपि विशेषत: । तदा हि शीतमधिकं रौक्ष्यं चादानकालजम् ॥
ayameva vidhi: kārya: śśire’pi viśeṣata: | tadā hi śītamadhikaṃ raukṣyaṃ cādānakālajam ||
Even in shishira Ritu, the same regimen, as described above should be adopted with more intensity. During this period cold is severe and dryness is more.
3. Vasanta Rutucharya (Ayurveda Spring regimen) – Mid March – Mid May
Kapha which has undergone increase in Shishira (cold season) becomes liquefied by the heat of the Sun in Vasanta (spring). It diminishes the digestive fire (Agni) and gives rise to many diseases. Hence Kapha should be controlled quickly, by resorting to strong emesis therapy (Vamana Panchakarma procedure), Nasya (nasal medication) and other therapies.
Food should also be chosen to mitigate Kapha, that are easily digestible and dry (moisture-free, fat-free).
Physical exercises, dry massage and mild trampling should be done.
Having thus mitigated the kapha, the person should take bath, anoint the body with a paste of karpura (camphor), candana (sandalwood), aguru (Aquilaria agallocha), and kumkuma (saffron).
Have one year old barley, wheat and honey, meat of animals of desert-like land, and meat roasted in fire as food;
Drink the juice of mango fruit mixed with fragrant substances, in the company of friends, getting it served by the beloved; the drink, thereby producing satisfaction.
Beverages such as asava (fermented infusion), arista (fermented decoction), sidhu (fermented infusion), mardvika (fermented grape juice), or sarambu (extract of trees such as asana, candana etc.) or water mixed with honey, or water boiled with jalada (musta – Nut grass). 18-22
The person should spend his midday in the company of friends engaged in pleasant games, pastimes, story telling etc., in forests (or gardens). The gardens should have cool breeze from south direction, with plenty of reservoirs of water all around, invisible or poor sunlight, the land covered with shining crystals, with the cuckoo everywhere making pleasant sounds and engaged in love-play, with trees and different kinds of beautiful and sweet smelling flowers.
Avoid foods that are hard to-digest and cold, sleeping at day time, foods which are fatty, sour and sweet as all these will increase Kapha.
4. Greeshma Ritucharya (Ayurveda Summer Regimen) Mid May – Mid July
In Greesma (summer) the sun rays become powerful and appear to be destructive. Kapha decreases day by day and Vata increases consequently, hence avoid use of salt, pungent and sour foods, heavy physical exercises and exposure to sunlight, during this season. 26-27
Food which are sweet, light (easy to digest), fatty, cold and liquid should be taken, take cornflour mixed with cold water and sugar after taking bath in cold water.
Indication for limited use of wine during summer
मद्यं न पेयं, पेयं वा स्वल्पं, सुबहुवारि वा । अन्यथा शोफ शैथिल्य दाह मोहान् करोति तत् ॥ २९
madyaṃ na peyaṃ, peyaṃ vā svalpaṃ, subahuvāri vā | anyathā śopha śaithilya dāha mohān karoti tat || 29
Madya (wine) should not be taken; If very necessary, taken in very little quantity or diluted with more quantity of water; If wine is taken in large doses, it will cause inflammatory conditions, it will make the body fragile and weak, increases burning sensation and causes delusion.
During summer, boiled rice, which is white in color, (like full moon) should be eaten along with meat of animals of desert.
Meat juice (Mamsarasa) which is not very thick,
Rasala (curds churned and mixed with pepper powder and sugar),
Raga (syrup which is sweet, sour and salty) and
Khandava (syrup which has all the tastes, prepared with many substances),
Panaka panchasara, (syrup prepared with raisins (draksha), madhuka, dates (karjura), kasmarya, and parushaka fruits all in equal quantities, cooled and added with powder of cinnamon leaves, cinnamon and cardamom etc) and kept inside a fresh mud pot, along with leaves of plantain and coconut trees, and made sour (fermented) should be drunk in mugs of mud or shell;
Very cool water kept in mud pot along with flowers of patala and karpura (camphor) should be used for drinking.
Food articles like sasanka kirana (hollow, finger-like, fried pastry made of corn flour) should be taken at night;
Buffalo milk mixed with sugar and cooled by moonlight and the stars should be used for drinking. 33-36
Day time should be spent in forests having tall trees reaching the sky such as shala (shorea robusta, Tala – Borassus flabellifera etc, which obstruct the hot rays of the sun, or in houses around which bunches of flowers and grapes are hanging from their creepers.
Sheets of cloth spreading sweet scented water, are arranged (to fan the air) , all around.
Sleep on soft bed prepared with flowers of banana, kalbara, lotus etc. with fully blossomed flowers placed all over.
Spend the day remaining inside the house cooled by water fountains, water being scented with usheera (Cus Cus grass), and thereby relieve yourself from the heat of the sun.
Night regimen: At nights, one should sleep on the terrace, facing moonlight. Exhaustion due to heat of the day is relieved by, anointing the body with the paste of sandalwood, wearing garlands, avoidance of sexual activities, wearing of very light and thin dresses, by fanning with fans made of leaves of Tala or large leaves of padmini (lily) made wet; syringes sprinkling cool water softly, garlands of flowers of camphor, jasmine and of pearls and beads of white sandal paste, children, sarika (mynah bird) and shuka (parrot) talking pleasantly; beautiful woman wearing bangles of soft lotus stalk, blossoms of lotus in their hair, moving about nearby.
Varsha Ritu carya- (Ayurveda seasonal regimen for rainy season) – Mid July – Mid September
In rainy season, the agni (digestive activity) is weak. It is already debilitated by summer, it undergoes further decrease and gets vitiated by the Doshas. The Doshas get aggravated by the effect of thick clouds full of water, cold wind having snow, dirty water because of rain, warmth of the earth and sourness.
Due to the poor strength of digestive fire, the Doshas start vitiating one another and leads to many diseases.
Hence all general measures to mitigate imbalanced Doshas and to improve digestive activity should be adopted. 42-44
One should undergo Panchakarma therapies.
After that the person should also be administered asthapana basti (decoction enema therapy).
He should use old grains for food, meat juice processed with spices etc.
Meat of animals of desert-like lands, soup of pulses, wine prepared from grapes and fermented decoctions, which are old or mastu (whey, thin water or curds) processed with more of Sochal salt and powder of panchakola, should be used. Rain water or water from deep wells, well boiled should be used for drinking. On days of no sunlight at all, the food should predominantly be sour, salty and unctuous, dry, mixed with honey and easily digestible. 45-46 ½
Person should not move about on foot (move only on vehicles) should use perfumes, expose his clothes to fragrant fumes, dwell in upper stories of the house, devoid of heat, cold and snow.
Avoid – River water, udamantha (beverage prepared with flour of corns mixed with ghee), sleeping at daytime, exertion and exposure to Sun. 48
Sharath Ritucharya – (Ayurveda autumn regimen) – Mid September – Mid November
The person becomes accustomed to the cold of rainy season. When he suddenly gets exposed to the warm rays of Sun, the Pitta, which has undergone increase in Varsha (rainy season) becomes greatly aggravated during sharath (autumn). In order to get over it, Tikta ghrita (medicated ghee recipe described in the treatment of Kustha chapter 19 of Chikitsa sthana),purgation therapy and blood letting should be resorted to. 49 ½
When hungry, the person should take foods which are of bitter, sweet and astringent tastes, and easily digestible such as Rice, green gram, sugar, Amla, Patola, honey and meat of animals of desert-like lands. 50 ½
तप्तं तप्तांशुकिरणै: शीतं शीतांशु रश्मिभि: ॥ समन्तात् अप्यहोरात्रं अगस्त्योदय निर्विषम् ।
शुचि हंसोदकं नाम निर्मलं मलजिज्जलम् ॥ नाभिष्यन्दि न वा रूक्षं पानादिषु अमृतोपमम् ।
taptaṃ taptāṃśukiraṇai: śītaṃ śītāṃśu raśmibhi: || samantāt apyahorātraṃ agastyodaya nirviṣam |
śuci haṃsodakaṃ nāma nirmalaṃ malajijjalam || nābhiṣyandi na vā rūkṣaṃ pānādiṣu amṛtopamam |
The water which gets heated by the hot rays of the sun during day cooled by the cool rays of the moon during night, for many days continuously, which has been de-poisoned (detoxified) by the rise of the star Agatya, which is pure, uncontaminated and capable of mitigating the malas (dosas) is known as Hamsodaka. It is neither abhisyandi (producing more secretion or moisture inside the minute channels so as to block them) nor dry, such water is like Amrita (nectar) for drinking and other purpose. 51-52
Evening should be spent on the terraces of houses which are white (by painting), anointing the body with the paste of Sandalwood, Cus Cus grass, Camphor, wearing garlands of pearls and shining dress and enjoying the moonlight.
Avoid exposure to snow (mist), indulgence in alkaline substances, satiation with hearty meal, use of curds, oil, muscle fat, exposure to sunlight, strong liquors, sleeping at day time and the eastern breeze. 54 ½
Use of taste as per season
During winters, (Hemanta and Shishira) and varsa (rainy season), Sweet, Sour and salt tastes should be especially used.
Bitter, pungent and astringent tastes should be used more during vasanta (spring season),
Sweet taste should be used more during Nidagha (summer); and
Sweet, bitter and astringent tastes should be used during Sharath (autumn).
Qualities of food as per season
The food and drink should be dry (moisture less, fat-less) during Sharat and Vasanta (autumn and spring) and
Food should be cold during gharma (summer) and ghnanta (end of rainy season) and
Food should be hot in other seasons. 55-56.
नित्यं सर्वरसाभ्यास: स्वस्वाधिक्यमृतावृतौ ॥
nityaṃ sarvarasābhyāsa: svasvādhikyamṛtāvṛtau ||
The habit of using all the six tastes every day is ideal for maintenance of health. However, during particular seasons, the particular tastes should be given special emphasis. 57.
Ritusandhi- (inter-seasonal period)
ऋत्वो: अन्त्यादि सप्ताहौ ऋतुसन्धिरिति स्मृत: । तत्र पूर्वो विधिस्त्याज्य: सेवनीयो अपरळ् क्रमात् ॥
असात्म्यजा हि रोगा: स्यु: सहसा त्यागशीलनात् ॥
ṛtvo: antyādi saptāhau ṛtusandhiriti smṛta: | tatra pūrvo vidhistyājya: sevanīyo aparaḻ kramāt ||
asātmyajā hi rogā: syu: sahasā tyāgaśīlanāt ||
The seven days at the end and commencement of a season is known as Rtusandhi (inter seasonal period). During this period, the regimen of the preceding season should be discontinued gradually and that of the succeeding season should be gradually adopted; sudden discontinuance or sudden adoption gives rise to diseases caused by asatmya (non-habituation)58-59 ½
Thus ends the chapter- named Ritucharya, the third of Sutrasthana of Astanga Hridaya samhita composed by Srimad Vagbhata, Son of Sri Vaidyapati Simhagupta.