Ritucharya (seasonal guidelines for living) and Dinacharya (daily living guidelines) are two cornerstones of ayurvedic health. The Ayurvedic acharyas practiced the concept of “preventive health care” . This means that a great deal of work is given to the end user to practice and follow to ensure that the body remains in a state of balance.
At Krya, we put a strong emphasis on educating our consumers on the health guidelines prescribed by the acharyas for both Dinacharya and Ritucharya. We and our customers have seen appreciable benefits occurring, the more these guidelines are practiced and implemented in the family.
We have been regularly putting up Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) for various seasons from Hemanta / Shishira last year. We have so far progressed through Hemanta, Shishira, Vasanta, and are now in Greeshma (summer). We are shortly going to go into Varsha (Monsoon) in a few weeks.
Officially Varsha is supposed to start around July 20th-21st , and goes on until mid September, by which time Sharad Ritu (autumn) starts. These dates can have a variation of nearly a month across India depending upon climatic zone and also climate change. So many of us may have already seen Varsha Ritu beginning in our city and some of us may be waiting for this Ritu to start.
Before we share Ritucharya guidelines for Varsha Ritu, we wanted to do an introductory post on why Ritucharya must be followed at all, and the benefits that incur if we do. So , read on.
Adana Kala vs Visarga Kala: An Ayurvedic concept:
Depending upon the movement of the Sun, the Ayurvedic Acharyas have divided the year into 2 parts of 6 months each. Each of these 6 month periods have 3 seasons of 2 months each.
Shishira (late Winter), Vasantha (Spring) and Greeshma (Summer) are the 3 seasons that fall in the Uttarayana period, when the Sun is seen to move in a Northern direction. The Acharyas term this period, “Adana kala” .
Adana kala means “time phase / period” of “extraction / lessening”. During Uttarayana, the sun travels towards the North of the equator. As its heat becomes intense and piercing, it starts to evaporate the moisture of the earth and the organisms on earth. Therefore everything has less moisture content and the air is drier. All these changes affect the health and strength of all living organisms – so Adana kala is considered a period when “strength is decreased or taken away”.
Greeshma (Summer) is the last season in Adana Kala. Hence in Greeshma, our strength is at our most depleted as we have gone through 3 seasons of decreasing body strength in this period.
During Visarga kala , the Sun moves in a direction south of the equator (hence away from us living in India). This direction of the Sun is called Dakshinayana. As the Sun moves away from us, the Moon assumes greater importance in our life. The Moon’s saumeya / gentle properties weaken the agneya (fiery) properties of the sun. The coolness of clouds, strong winds and cold rains further cool the Earth which has been fiery until Greeshma ritu (summer).
Hence , unlike Adana Kala , all organisms gain strength gradually in Visarga Kala. This strength gaining period starts in Varsha Ritu (Monsoon) which is the first season in Visarga Kala. This strength gradually builds up until it reaches its peak in Hemanta Season (early Winter).
The natural variation of Doshas in each season & the importance of Ritucharya
Just like the influence of the Sun , Moon , Clouds, Air and Space cause the seasons and affect all organisms externally, internally our bodies are also influenced by the change in seasons. Our Doshas do not remain still and in the same volume within our body throughout the year. They respond to external inputs like age, lifestage, stress levels, humidity, geography, day part, and most importantly to season.
Every season sees large variations in the way the Pancha Mahabuthas behave . For example, in Greeshma Ritu, there is a massive increase in the intensity of the sun’s rays due to the double combination of Adana Kala + the season itself. This piercing sun intensity dries up the atmosphere and earth itself ,depositing heat in every part of the world, including our bodies.
To cool and balance this naturally increased Pitta energy, Ritucharya rules state that we should eat cool, watery , light ahara. This ahara is chosen as digestion is weakened due to excess Agni in the atmosphere. The body is unable to digest heavy, oily foods.
The dryness in the air and the body in Greeshma Ritu due to high , piercing Sun energy further aggravates in Varsha where the atmosphere is cold and windy.
So Vata dosha naturally aggravates in Varsha (monsoon) Ritu. This is also augmented by the wetness and coldness in the body due to the depleted Agni levels, which may have otherwise kept Vata levels in check.
These specific examples are given for us to understand that dosha vitiation is both NORMAL and NATURAL in each season.
To cope with this natural movement in Doshas, the acharyas have suggested Ritucharya – seasonal guidelines for living. When these Ritucharya rules are followed, they help keep the dosha aggravation in check. The Dosha imbalance is not allowed to peak, and it subsides normally and naturally with a change in season.
To reiterate: If we follow the Ritu sanctioned diet + Dinacharya practices, this improves strength and immunity and ability to absorb and metabolise nutrients better. In this strong state, we can cope with seasonal dosha variations without it getting too imbalanced. As we continue to follow daily and seasonal living guidelines, the aggravated dosha naturally comes to balance in the next season. This normal process of aggravated dosha going into a state of balance is called prashamana stage.
Natural Process of Dosha Vitiation – Ritucharya
Dosha vitiation leading to Disease : when Ritucharya is NOT followed
If the body is weak, immunity is low and Dinacharya and Ritucharya practices are not followed, the normal stage of Sanchaya (gradual accumulation of dosha in season 1), followed by Prakopa (normal aggravation of dosha in season 2) and Prashamana (dosha is pacified normally in season 3) is not followed.
Instead of Prashamana (dosha is normally pacified in season 3), the Dosha instead undergoes Prasara stage (spreading stage) in Season 3. Here the aggravated Dosha grows in volume in season 2, as it has not been calmed by adopting Ritucharya measures. In this aggravated stage, it further spreads, until it spills out of its normal seat and spreads to other parts of the body.
Once it begins to spread, if it is still not found and calmed down, it goes into Sthana samshraya stage – where it spreads and attacks a weak organ / tissue. In this Sthana samshrya stage, disease manifestation begins, but is as yet not visible outside.
After Sthana Samshraya stage comes the Vyaktha stage. In the Vykatha stage, the aggravated spreading Dosha which has gone into weak tissue/organ manifested and visible signs appear which are noticed by the patient.
If not treated even at this stage, Disease proceeds to Bheda stage where it is difficult to treat / incurable.
When we read this, we can understand that no symptom of dis-ease is instant / starts overnight. It takes atleast 4-6 months for dosha imbalance to reach the spreading stage. If we then continue to ignore Ritucharya, Dinacharya and Ahara Niyama guidelines, we cant blame anyone else for our symptoms!
Sadly, most of us recognize Disease symptoms only in Stage 5 – Vyakta stage when symptoms start to manifest. On the other hand, if we had simply understood the importance of Ritucharya and Dinacharya, and followed the Ahara guidelines, we could have controlled dosha aggravation right in Stage 2 itself.
To sum up: the importance of Ritucharya:
Ritucharya is a powerful, health giving ayurvedic tool that helps us live according to the changes in season and make internal adjustments so that our doshas are in a state of balance. Ayurvedic health guidelines are extremely powerful and potent. The importance of following Ritucharya is that we are able to stop disease even before it starts.
With health care costs on the rise, high stress lives and weakening immunity, Ritucharya and Dinacharya assume even greater importance to us. It helps us take charge of our health and our families health and gives us simple yet powerful tools to help our body.
This is a part of Krya’s continuing series on ayurvedic education. Our next post will take about Ritucharya guidelines for Varsha Ritu.
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