At Parijatak Ayurveda clinic the approach to Ayurveda is unique, in that it explores a Traditional Ayurveda approach that one finds in India and in classical Ayurveda Era, not the distortions by American’New Age Ayurveda’, which deviates from Tradition.
As a Hindu in a Vedic lineage, Parijatak has grown up around tradition and seeks to also retain it. As such, this article expresses his views regarding comparisons between Traditional and New Age Ayurveda.
New Age Ayurveda looks at employing shamana (palliative) techniques for Panchakarma (five detoxification actions in Ayurveda) and primarily Spa therapies are done initially for total body detoxification.
Traditional Ayurveda employs specific and detailed methods of Panchakarma beyond palliative care for treating disease. Specific massages are done according to various complex preliminary therapies by hand as specific massage techniques and therapies prepared accordingly and given along with specific decoctions oil to remove toxins from the body. Other preliminary therapies like internal oleation are also administered.
New-Age Ayurveda, rejects surgery and sees it as a modern invention and technique to be avoided. Ayurvedic Practitioners instead go for the spiritual methods, which often contradict the classical texts, which stress when surgery is required.
Traditionally in Ayurveda, surgery recommended in severe conditions that include vascular surgery, fistulas hemorrhoids, brain surgery (as in Bhoja Prabandha), amputations, dentistry, cataracts, kidney stones, C-sections, cancers, facial reconstruction (plastic surgery) etc.
Physician Charaka notes six methods of surgical procedure (Chikitsasthana) – puncturing, excision, scraping, scarification and suturing on which he notes according to various diseases, thus pointing out the role of shastrakarma surgery (surgery) even in his treatise, often considered as merely one on “internal medicine” alone as stated by expounders of New-Age or America Ayurveda.
The great physician Sushruta (Sushruta Samhita, Sutrasthana, I.17-21) also notes the importance of Shalyatantra (surgery) and it’s antiquity in Indian mythology as being used as the method to heal even the gods themselves from whence it came.
Cancer for example in Ayurveda was cut out and cauterized in Ayurveda if it did not go by specific and powerful herbal and alchemical formulas (akin to modern medicines). Alkalis were also used. Cauterization has been replaced by Radiation Therapy today and powerful herbal and other formulas which were done by Chemotherapy which have their place.
New Age Ayurveda views Marmas (vital spots) as energy centres for activation and healing through acupressure or stimulation and also healed by methods such as Reiki and Pranic healing by laying the hands on the patient.
Traditionally, Marmas are vulnerable and require varma (armour / protection). Sushruta Samhita (Sharirasthana, VI, 41-43) states marmas should not be damaged in any way, which also means no use of acupressure nor acupuncture on them traditionally, as these cause damage and aggravate the doshas (and organs they relate to), which includes cutting, hitting, fire even near them causes issues (Sushruta Samhita, Sharirasthana).
The commentator on the Sushruta Samhita, Dalhana himself states the definition of Marma is “Marayanti iti marmani”, which means that a Marma is one which causes death (if damaged). Yogic Healing of Marmas was done via various Pranayamas (breathing techniques) that had specific effects to reduce the aggravation doshas (biological humours) in the body, not by energy-methods of healing. Pastes and oils are also used to heal them as gentle massages are done.
In New-Age Ayurveda, Pujas (offerings) etc. are seen as magical healing processes and Deities as Cosmic Energies with supernatural powers. Daiva Chikitsa and Sattvavajaya (Spiritual therapies and Psychological therapies) are seen as primary methods of “faith healing” systems and as magical methods of supernatural methods of healing the body in terms of energies and powers.
In Traditional Ayurveda, Deities correspond to a series of bhutas (elemental forces) and also indriyas (senses) and organs of the body (Shatapatha Brahmana, XII.9.1.1-17; Sushruta Samhita, Sharirasthana, I.7). They are also bacteria, viruses etc. caused by elements and poisoned air causing bhutonmada (elemental-caused insanity). (Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XI.45).
In Traditional Ayurveda, Pujas etc. are seen as psychological tools for healing understanding mental effects and environment effects they had scientifically. Daiva Chikitsa (Divine therapies – ritualism) form a part of Sattvavajaya (psychological healing for restoring purity to the mind – placebo effects) for healing psychological disorders is understood in its specifics for various forms of psychosis and also Yukti-vyapashraya (rational therapies – viz. surgical methods, herbs and formulas, diet etc.) employed for healing (Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XI.46, 54). They impart sattvas (purity) to the mind and senses and also help reduce negative samskaras (karmic residue) behind the diseases by nature of their good / positive actions.
Traditional Ayurveda states that opposite therapies according to the mental disorder should be adopted (Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XI.46) , showing “spiritual
therapies” are mental distractions / psychological tools for also providing detachment of the mind, mental disorder etc.
In New-Age Ayurveda, Schizophrenia and Insanity are said to be caused by psychic possession alone aggravating the accumulated doshas.
Traditional Ayurveda (Charaka, Sushruta, Sutrasthana, I.25) states that such psychic disorders are caused by anger, grief, fear, exhilaration, sadness, lust, greed etc. Madhava Nidana (XX.14-15) states insanity is brought on by fright, loss of wealth, death of family members, excessive sexual desire etc. as well as bhutas (elemental bacteria, viruses and impairment to organs as previous stated).
View of Meats:
In New Age Ayurveda, Vegetarian and Vegan Diets as per Yoga (sattvic) applied to all, whether they are suitable or not.
Traditionally, meats as well as vegetable substances given various therapeutic actions according to constitutions and also diseases. Vegetarian or purely sattvic diets indicated in some cases where they cause issues according to their chemical reactions in the mind-body complex, such as in psychological disorders (Charaka Samhita, Chikitsasthana, IX.96) and also in excess can cause cancer or tumours of the muscle (Bhava Prakasha, Madhya Khanda, III.44.22-23 / Madhava Nidana, XXXVIII.22-23)
Diagnosis and Disease:
New Age Ayurveda on Diagnosis and Disease:
-Diagnosis by questioning with emphasis on pulse, tongue etc. as also auras and psychology of the person and doshas
-Predominant doshas as per charts or questions determines one’s Prakriti or biological constitution (superficially), which is then given emphasis alone
-Diseases are classified according to the three doshas alone, ignoring traditional concerns and deeper causes and treated generically
Traditional Ayurveda on Diagnosis and Disease:
-Diagnosis by full medical history, questioning, palpitation of various parts of the body, which includes pulse rhythms, looking at skin, tongue, eyes, diet, lifestyle, age, sex etc.
-Biological types (Prakriti) is differentiated and tailored as per one’s psychology, age, sex, climate, seasons, digestive and exercise strengths, tissue and other examinations and abilities, weaknesses of the individual etc. as well as vyadhi (disease) and treated accordingly
-Diseases are classified into various forms according to genetic, karmic, accidental / external causes etc. and derive from a variety of forms including dual-doshic, triple-doshic, raktaja (blood) etc. and several other forms treated differently and other causes are noted and also treated specifically according to these, not generically
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