Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (AY) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Rasayana therapy is part of preventive Ayurvedic healthcare. It helps to delay the process of aging and thus helps to live longer with good strength and immunity. It is achieved by maintaining good digestion, metabolism, cardiac and mental health.
Rasayana is defined as those medicines (and non-medicines including conduct, lifestyle changes, behavior etc) which are helpful in gaining high quality dhatus (tissues) in optimum and desired quantity. Dhatus in good quality and quantity form the foundation of a good immunity and paves way for leading disease free life.
Benefits of Rasayana Therapy
Important features and benefits of Rasayana Chikitsa:
Rasayana forms an integral part of Jara Chikitsa and one eighth of Ashtanga Ayurveda –
Rasayana forms an integral part of Jara Chikitsa or anti-ageing treatment (geriatrics). Jara Chikitsa forms one eighth of Ashtanga Ayurveda or 8 elite branches of Ayurveda. Thus, Rasayana too forms one eighth of Ashtanga Ayurveda and the most important one too.
Rasayanas help in formation of best quality tissues –
Rasayanas help in the formation of best quality dhatus or tissues and also supports the srotases (channels or duct system) which help in the formation and transportation of tissues and also the materials (nutrition) needed to form these tissues from one place of the body to the other.
Rasayana treatment nourish the tissues –
The medicines which help in maintenance of optimum tissue health (dhatu swasthya and dhatu samya) are called Rasayanas. Rasayanas accomplish this task by regularly nourishing and fortifying the tissues. Rasayanas enrich the tissues in terms of quality and quantity.
Rasayana Chikitsa is a part of Jara Chikitsa –
Rasayanas are included under Jara Chikitsa category of Ashtanga Ayurveda, but form essential members needed for comprehensive body-mind healing in each of the eight branches of Ayurveda. They are broad spectrum medicines.
Rasayanas belong to Swasthasya Urjaskara type of Bheshaja –
Rasayana is included in the ‘Swasthasya Urjaskaram’ or ‘Swasthasya Ojaskaram’ category of Bheshaja (medicine).
Swasthasya Urjaskaram means ‘that which enhances or fortifies or enriches the quality and quantity of health to the optimum levels in an already healthy individual’. Thus Rasayanas are beneficial for healthy individuals also and are given with an intention of maintenance of good and optimum health and also to prevent the impending diseases by enhancing immunity. The other member of Swasthasya Urjaskaram type of medicines is Vrushya or Vajikarana (aphrodisiacs, sex medicines).
Read related: Rasayana Paribhasha – Definition of Rasayana Chikitsa
Rasayanas help in the formation of the best quality essence of tissues i.e. Ojus –
Rasayanas are also called Swasthasya Ojaskara. Oja is the essence of all the tissues and reflects (represents) the optimum health and immunity of an individual. By helping in proper formation of dhatus or tissues (in terms of quality and quantity), Rasayanas (and Vrushyas) also help in forming the ojus in proper terms. Proper quality and optimum quantity of ojus reflects the availability of healthy and fortified tissues in the body. This in turn reflects the immunity and health of an individual. The terms Oorjaskara and Ojaskara are often used interchangeably.
Rasayanas help in supplying the Rasadi Bhavas to the dhatus and help in effective cure –
When a medicine is taken, the rasa (taste of the herb), guna (qualities of the medicines or herbs), veerya (potency of the herb), vipaka (post-digestion effect of the medicine) etc of the herb are transported to each and every part of the body. These Rasa etc will enhance and support ayu, bala etc in the body. Rasayanas are those methods and materials which help in making available the Rasadi gunas present in a medicine (bheshaja) to each and other cell of the body and bringing about enhancement of ayu (lifespan), bala (strength and immunity), veerya (potency, vigor) and vaya sthairya (stability of age, anti-ageing property).
Rasayanas are predominantly preventive and partially curative in nature and action –
Bheshaja or medicines are of two types i.e. Swasthasya Urjaskara or preventive medicine (Rasayana and Vajikarana are part of Swasthasya Urjaskara) and Artasya Roganut or curative medicine. According to Chakrapani, the commentator of Charaka Samhita treatise, Swasthasya Urjaskara is predominantly preventive and Artasya Roganut is predominantly curative in nature. In this context, Rasayana which belongs to Swasthasya Urjaskara category is predominantly preventive in nature. It is also partially curative in nature.
Rasayana is predominantly curative in action –
Gangadhara, another commentator of Charaka Samhita gives a different opinion. According to him, Swasthasya Urjaskara type of Bheshaja is of two types i.e. Vrushya (Vajikarana) and Rasayana. Among them, Rasayana predominantly pacifies the diseases and cures them. He considers both Vajikarana and Rasayana as Swasthasya Urjaskara, but among both, Rasayana is predominantly curative in nature. Therefore any medicine which is Swasthasya Urjaskara and predominantly curative in action is Rasayana. (Vrushya is also Swasthasya Urjaskara, but is comparatively less curative in nature in comparison to Rasayana).
Rasayanas predominantly destroy Jara and Vyadhi –
Rasayanas are all those methods and materials (medicines and non-medicines) which destroy Jara (ageing process, delays ageing, anti-ageing) and Vyadhi (disease, disease process). By doing so, Rasayana establishes an enjoyable lifespan (enhances lifespan of each and every cell of the body, their functioning capacity and immunity) and provides longevity. They also help in eradicating the diseases. Rasayanas form essential part of prescription in the follow up of most diseases; they hasten recovery and strengthen the body.
Rasayana is good for body and mind health –
Rasayanas form a comprehensive cure for both body and mind diseases. They strengthen both body and mind and hence establish health and immunity in the body apart from nourishing the tissues and providing longevity.
Rasayanas are not just ‘old age remedies’ –
It would be wrong to limit the meaning and utility of Rasayanas to ‘just old age’. The concept of Rasayana is a broad spectrum science and is applicable at all ages. They are predominantly preventive and also curative in nature. Looking at the phala shruti of Rasayanas (recommendations, appraisals and utility of Rasayanas as explained in Ayurvedic treatises), the concept of Rasayana has elaborate meaning, multiple meanings too. Their areas of utility are also multi-dimensional and broad spectrum.
Rasayana is a broad spectrum topic and covers one or more of the below mentioned fields –
- Immunity modulators
- Preventive care
- Disease modifiers
- Medicines for Convalescence care
- Tissue strengtheners and rejuvenators
- Longevity enhancers
Rasayanas are beyond medicines –
Rasayana is not just an oral medication, there are many measures which are not medicines and yet act as Rasayanas, the category of ‘adravya rasayana’.
Thus Rasayanas are of two forms –
- Dravya Rasayana – Dravya Rasayanas include the Rasayanas in the form of food and medicines. The medicines included under Rasayana may be in the form of a single herb or formulations made up of many herbs.
- Adravya Rasayana – Adravya Rasayanas are those which do not have the form of food or medicine (absence of physical form) but still act as Rasayanas and provide all the benefits bestowed by Dravya Rasayanas. Certain activities of life and conducts of life which enhance comprehensive health and provide good immunity, as explained in Achara Rasayana can be considered as Adravya Rasayanas.
Jara Chikitsa deals with measures, medicines, treatments and formulations which bring about delay in ageing process and also helps in maintenance of health in old age, apart from providing strength and immunity at the dusk of age and also curing the diseases manifested at senility. Most of the measures and medicines used in Jara Chikitsa can be clubbed under the category of Rasayana. Thus Rasayanas are the medicines (and non-medicines including lifestyle practices, behavior patterns etc) which form the bulk of Jara Chikitsa and are comprehensively used in prevention and cure of many ailments.
Jara Chikitsa can also be considered as Ayurvedic part of Geriatrics. Rasayana being a broader area, Geriatrics can be said to be a part of Rasayana.
Rasayana meaning, derivation
Meaning and Word Derivation of the term Rasayana (Nirukti)
The word Rasayana can be split into two components i.e. Rasa and Ayana.
Rasa – Rasa actually means the essence of nutrition (ahara rasa) or the first tissue formed in the chronology of tissue formation (dhatu utpatti krama) from the nutritive juice i.e. Rasa Dhatu. In this context, Rasa means Rasadi Dhatus i.e. all the 7 dhatus. They are Rasa (lymph, plasma), Rakta (blood, cellular part of blood), Mamsa (muscles), Meda (fat), Asthi (bone), Majja (bone marrow) and Shukra (semen).
Ayana – Ayana means channels or passage ways or tracts of the body.
‘That which is beneficial for the Rasadi Dhatus (all the tissues) and also good for the ayanas or passageways through which these tissues flow from one part of the body to the other (passageways through which the nutrients to these tissues are transported) is called Rasayana’
In short, the medicines beneficial to the rasadi dhatus and their ayanas are called Rasayanas.
The medicines which will destroy Jara (ageing) and Vyadhi (disease) are called Rasayanas.
Read related: Right Method Of Rasayana Therapy – Dr CR Agnives
Rasayanas – materials and methods of conducting Rasa, Veerya etc principles of the medicine into the body
The materials and methods which form the passageways (ayana) for the Rasa (taste), Veerya (potency, strength), Vipaka (post digestion effect) and Prabhava (impact, effect of herb or medicine) located in a bheshaja (medicine) to gain entry into our body and enhance our Ayu (life span), Bala (strength), Veerya (vigour) and Vaya Sthairya (longevity of life) are called Rasayanas.
Any herb or medicine that we take will possess rasa, guna, veerya, vipaka and prabhava. The medicines act on the virtue of one or more of these qualities. When a medicine or herb is taken, the rasa veerya etc of the herb are conducted and transported to each and every part of the body or made available at their site of action (target tissue or organ). These Rasa etc will enhance and support ayu, bala etc in the body. Rasayanas are those methods and materials which help in making available the Rasadi gunas present in a medicine (bheshaja) to each and other cell of the body and bringing about enhancement of ayu, bala, veerya and vaya sthairya.
Rasayana as preventive and curative
Rasayana therapies are both preventive and curative medicines
Rasayana is a subject which belongs to both swastha (healthy) and atura (diseased), i.e. Rasayana can be taken both by healthy and diseased individuals. In healthy people Rasayana helps in maintenance of health and in the diseased it helps in curing the diseases.
That which has the capacity to destroy Jara (ageing process) and Vyadhi (disease) is called Rasayana.
Tatva chandrika defines Rasayana as that which halts the manifestation of disease in the form of ageing or senility. If Jara is a vyadhi, Rasayana prevents or delays its manifestation. Rasayanas produce vishishta rasa (or specialized or high quality rasa or rasadi dhatus) and thus have the capability to abort or delay the ageing process.
Rasayana therapy – sources for best quality dhatus or tissues
According to Arunadatta, the commentator of Ashtanga Hridaya, Rasayana is defined as all those methods and measures which help in begetting the best quality tissues.
Yogendranath is also of the same opinion as that of Arunadatta.
Rasayana Paribhasha – Definition of Rasayana Chikitsa
Rasayana is an important branch of Ayurveda which falls under the category of Jara Chikitsa (old age care and treatment, treatment of age induced disorders, anti-ageing treatment). Jara Chikitsa forms 1/8th of Ashtanga Ayurveda, i.e. 8 elite branches of Ayurveda. Rasayana can be coined as ‘Ayurvedic Geriatric Care System’.
Rasayana is a word which covers many meanings. Rasayanas are the medicines which help in formation of best quality tissues (dhatus) and also support the srotases (channels, duct system) related to specific dhatus. Rasayanas help in distribution of qualities of a herb or formulation including rasa, veerya, guna etc and makes them available to all the tissues.
Rasayana is a broad spectrum science and covers many aspects of healing and treating. It is predominantly preventive medicine and also a curative medicine to an extent. It is included under Swasthasya Urjaskara type of Bheshaja (medicines) i.e. medicines (and non-medicines) which help in maintenance of health in an already healthy individual.
Anti-ageing medicines, immune-modulators, disease modifying medicines, rejuvenators, health boosting medicines, all these can be clubbed in the category of Rasayana group of medicines.
Rasayana Paribhasha, Definition of Rasayana
- Rasayana defined in terms of being the source of ‘best quality tissues’
Rasayana therapy, the source of best quality tissues
According to Charaka – ‘All the methods and materials which help in begetting the best quality Rasadi Dhatus are called Rasayanas’.
The methods and materials include dravya rasayanas (the rasayanas in the form of consumable medicines, diet etc) and adravya rasayanas (the rasayanas which do not have shape but still serve the purpose of rasayana, example, the conducts and behaviors of life called Achara Rasayana etc).
Therefore, any medicines, non-medicines or food substances which provide the best quality tissues and in turn a comprehensive health and immunity are called Rasayanas.
According to Arunadatta, the commentator of Ashtanga Hridaya – ‘Rasayanas are those methods which help the rasa and rakta to obtain the best qualities (others say that ‘any drug or medicament which eradicated jara and vyadhi is called rasayana’)’.
Rasayana includes all the methods of obtaining the best rasadi dhatus. In this context Rasa Rudhiraanam not only includes rasa and rakta but also includes all the tissues of the body.
Yogendranath Sen Ji has a similar opinion and tells – ‘All those methods which help in acquiring (begetting) the best qualities of rasadi shukranta dhatus (dhatus beginning with rasa and ending with shukra i.e. all the tissues of the body) are called Rasayanas (all those methods which induce the best qualities in the rasadi dhatus)’.
- Rasayana defined as the destroyer of ageing and diseases
Rasayana therapy, delays ageing and destroys disease
According to Sharangadhara, – ‘The Rasayanas are those which destroy Jara (old age, ageing) and Vyadhi (diseases)’.
Among the Ashtanga Ayurveda or 8 limbs (branches) of Ayurveda, Jara Chikitsa (treatment of old aged people, anti-ageing treatment) is an important branch. As the name indicates it is a branch which deals with handling the ‘old age and old age related health issues’. Old age or ageing is an inevitable factor but Rasayana allows graceful ageing. By strengthening the structural components of the body i.e. dhatus, it not only delays ageing process of the tissues it also helps preventing many diseases. This is a preventive dimension of Rasayana.
On the other hand, Rasayana is also curative in nature (Vyadhi Hara Rasayana). Rasayana, being a bheshaja (medicine) is both preventive and curative in nature. By strengthening the dhatus and enhancing the immunity Rasayana helps in preventing as well as curing many ailments. Rasayanas are prescribed as ‘recovery medicines’ in the follow up of treatment protocol of any disease, they help in quick recovery from a disease. Thus, Rasayanas are also immune-modulators; they also promote longevity and rejuvenate the tissues. They are good for balancing body-mind health.
- Rasayanas defined in terms of those which ‘nourish the tissues’ and ‘distributes the active principles of medicines to the tissues’
Rasayanas nourish the tissues & makes the qualities of medicines available to the tissues to optimum levels
According to Dalhana, the commentator of Sushruta Samhita – ‘That which nourishes the passageways (srotases, channels of the body, transport channels and ducts) of the Rasadi Dhatus (all the tissues) and thus help in proper formation and circulation of dhatus is called Rasayana’.
Discussion – The body tissues are carried and conducted from the place of manufacture to the place of need via srotas i.e. channel or duct system of the body. The srotas are present in all parts of the body. The body itself is said to be an abode of millions of srotases. Each corner of the body is connected to each corner through srrotases. These srotases are made of dhatus.
The srotas also carry the tissues in the stage of transformation (parinamam aapadhyamaanaanaam dhaatoonam abhivaahini bhavanti) from one place of the body to the other. Thus, the srotas not only transport the dhatus but also help in their formation and transformation. For the dhatus to be at the best of their health and protect the body, they should be present in optimum quality and desired quantity. For this to happen they need to be nourished and enriched from time to time through the srotases.
This indicates that the health of dhatus is dependent on their respective srotases. Rasayanas are those methods and materials (medicines and non-medicines) which support and nourish the dhatus and their srotases and help in formation of best quality dhatus. In short, the medicines beneficial to the rasadi dhatus and their ayanas (ducts, srotases) are called Rasayanas.
Dalhana also defines Rasayana as – ‘That which nourishes the passageways through which the rasa, veerya, vipaka etc of an herb or medicine are made available to the body tissues is called Rasayana’. (This part has been discussed in the context of Nirukti in the above said passages).
Thus, Rasayana is good for each ayana (each cell, each channel), it nourishes the sroto mula (origin of srotas or place of manufacture of dhatus) and srotases (the conduction system in the body, channels, ducts), enables the cells of the body to indentify the nutrition available to them, selectively intake them and make use of it. Similarly it helps the cells to identify, intake and make use of the medicines and their rasa, verya etc properties to the maximum possible extent.
Acharya Shiva Das Sen Ji also has a similar opinion as that of Dalhana –
Rasa is said to be the Karana (causative factor, origin) for the Karya Rupi (effect) Raktadi Dhatus. Therefore the term Rasa indicates and includes all the dhatus (tissues) beginning with the rasa and ending with shukra dhatu.
The pathways or methods of begetting the best quality and quantity of rasadi dhatus are called Rasayana.
Alternatively, the methods of obtaining rasa, veerya, vipaka etc of the bheshaja or the methods or passageways through which the best quality of rasa, veerya etc of bheshaja are made available to the rasadi dhatus is called Rasayana.
- Rasayana defined as preventive and curative medicine, that which prevents the disease in the form of ‘senility’
Rasayana therapy is preventive as well as curative medicine, prevents the disease in the form of Jara or senility
According to Shiva Dasa Sen – ‘Rasayana is a subject which is related to both Swastha (healthy individual) and Atura (diseased, patient)’. Rasayana is beneficial to both sectors of people. Rasayana helps in eradication of Jara (old age, ageing) in Swastha (healthy individuals) and destroys Vyadhi (diseases) in Atura (patients).
Jara (old age, senility) is also a Vyadhi (naturally occurring disease, inevitable disease).
According to Tattva Chandrika – ‘Rasayana is that which prevents a disease called Jara from manifesting. This happens because Rasayana enables the formation of a special type of enriched and fortified Rasa which further nourishes and enables in the qualitative and quantitative formation of Rasadi Dhatus’.
The whole equation is responsible for eradicating or halting the jara or ageing process. Thus, Rasayana helps in preventing or postponing the ageing factor and makes one look and feel young (though it doesn’t alter the biological age). It also keeps the person healthy and immune, prevents many diseases which might occur towards the dusk of life and enables one to enjoy a disease free and healthy old age, i.e. graceful ageing.
Thus, Rasayana can be considered as ‘Ayurvedic Geriatrics’.
- Rasayana defined in terms of that which ‘stabilizes the lifespan, strength and vigor, fortifies them’
Rasayana therapy fortifies and stabilizes the lifespan, strength and vigor
That which nourishes the Rasadi Dhatus is called Rasayana. The pathways or methods through which the Ayu (life span), Bala (strength, immunity), Verya (potency, vigor) etc are stabilized, strengthened and fortified through the rasa, verya, vipaka and prabhava of a bheshaja (herb, medicament) are called Rasayana (Dalhana).
Synonyms of Rasayana
Actually the synonyms of Rasayana have not been specified in Ayurvedic treatises. But as already said, Rasayana is a Swasthasya Urjaskara type of Bheshaja (medicine). There are many synonyms for Bheshaja (which describe bheshaja or give multidimensional meaning of the same). So by mathematical equation, the synonyms of Bheshaja are also the synonyms of Rasayana, since Rasayana is also a Bheshaja.
The paryayas or synonyms of Rasayana (Bheshaja) are as below mentioned –
Synonyms of Rasayana
- Prakruti sthaapanam
- Read related: Rasayana Paribhasha – Definition of Rasayana Chikitsa
Rasayana explained in terms of being methods and materials used to eradicate the diseases
Chikitsita is a word which explains Rasayana or Bheshaja as ‘materials and methods capable enough to root out the disease and disease process’ (i.e. Rogapanayana Sadhanam).
All the materials and methods (karana) which get involved (indulged, used, administered) in the activities (treatment) leading to eradication of diseases are called Rasayanas (i.e. Roga Nivrutti Janaka Vyapara Karanam).
Read related: 13 Important Benefits Of Rasayana Treatment
Rasayana explained in terms of ‘destroyer of disease’
That which destroys (hara) or eradicates or expels a disease (vyadhi) from the body is called Vyadhi Hara.
Rasayana explained in terms of being ‘wholesome and supportive to the channels of the body
Pathya means wholesome diet or food. Pathya is that which is beneficial for Patha or srotas (channels of the body which transport tissues and nutrients). Rasayanas are also wholesome to the ayana or srotas i.e. channels carrying rasadi dhatus (tissues of the body or nutrients to the tissues). Therefore Rasayanas can be called and considered as Pathya.
Rasayana explained in terms of tools or weapons of ‘disease destruction’
Saadhana means tools, weapons or equipments. Since Rasayanas are used to destroy or eradicate the diseases, they can be considered as Sadhana or tools for ‘disease destruction’.
Rasayana explained in terms of being a ‘medicine’
Medicines are needed to treat the diseases. The diseases comprehensively treated with medicine will get expelled from the body and will no longer bother the individual. All medicines or oushadhas are the tools of effective disease removal.
Thus all the Chikitsitas (materials and methods used to destroy the disease process) can be called as Oushadhas or medicines. Rasayana is a Chikitsita (as mentioned earlier) and is also used for disease destruction. Therefore Rasayana is a medicine or Oushadha.
Rasayana explained in terms of that which ‘burns the troubles’
That (those) which act as agni (fire) in the conditions of dukha (grief, troubles, diseases, discomfort) is called as Prayaschityam. Here, dukha is a word which denotes both physical and mental discomfort, i.e. physical and mental diseases or disturbances. Rasayana, in this context acts like a fire which burns all the physical and mental diseases and makes one healthy and strong. The term Chitya in Prayaschitya denotes agni or fire.
Rasayana explained in terms of being a pacifier of diseases
Rasayana helps in pacifying the diseases and or morbidity of the doshas. Therefore Rasayana is also called Prashamanam (Prashamana = to pacify).
8. Prakriti Sthapanam
Rasayana explained in terms of that which ‘establishes normalcy’
Prakriti means normalcy or harmony or equilibrium. Sthapanam means to establish. That which establishes the normalcy or equilibrium of tissues in the body, stabilizes them, strengthens them, fortifies them and build up the strength and immunity of the body is called Rasayana.
Rasayana explained in terms of being beneficial as a nutrient
Hitam means beneficial. Since Rasayana is a nutrient and nourishes all the tissues of the body, it is said to be beneficial for the body.
Rasayana explained in terms of that which eradicates the diseases
Since Rasayana eradicates (expels) the disease (rogapanayana) it is a Bheshaja or medicine since both Rasayana and Bheshaja does the same thing. Rasayana is a Swasthasya Urjaskara type of Bheshaja.