Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
The Rasayana Chikitsa is a big entity in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a science by itself and also a healing system. Rasayana forms a comprehensive package of healing, preventive and maintenance medicine.
Rasayana forms a part of Swasthasya Oorjaskara (medicines which are used to enrich and fortify the health of an already healthy individual) or Swasthasya Ojaskara type of Bheshaja (medicine). Vajikarana or the Aphrodisiac group of medicines and formulations explained in Ayurveda forms another part of Swasthasya Oorjaskara type of Bheshaja.
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.
Read related: Rasayana Therapy (Anti Ageing, Rejuvenation) Meaning, Derivation
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.
Just Before Finish –
Rasayana is an important topic in Ayurvedic medicine. In this article I have covered about the important points regarding Rasayana which needs to be remembered. This would help in better understanding of the term and its dimensions of usage which in turn will help in a comprehensive medical practice and also to prescribe the Rasayanas by knowing their limitations and areas of use.
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