Tasyashiteeya Adhyaya

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Sutra Sthana Chapter 6. Seasonal regimen of diet and lifestyle

Abstract

This chapter describes seasonal regimen of diet and lifestyle for preservation of health. The year is divided into seasons based upon the changes in environmental conditions, temperature, day-night cycle and circadian rhythm. Being an integral unit of the nature, these seasonal changes in nature affect human physiology too. Therefore, one must follow the specific regimen for maintaining the equilibrium of body components in harmony with nature. The seasonal regimen is designed on the basis of changes in the dosha, bala (strength), and agni (digestive power). This chapter continues the study of dietary regimen from the preceding chapters by adding the dimension of time and seasonal variations to it.

Keywords: Adana kala, seasonal diet and lifestyle, regimen, ritu(season), satmya(adaptability), seasonal regimen, bala, strength in seasons, immunity, visarga kala,ecology,bio-physical environment.

Tasyashiteeya Adhyaya
Section/Chapter Sutra Sthana Chapter 6
Tetrad/Sub-section Swastha Chatushka
Preceding Chapter Matrashiteeya Adhyaya
Succeeding Chapter Naveganadharaniya Adhyaya
Other Sections Nidana Sthana, Vimana Sthana, Sharira Sthana, Indriya Sthana, Chikitsa Sthana, Kalpa Sthana, Siddhi Sthana

Contents

Introduction

The primary objective of Ayurveda is to maintain good health. Ahara (diet) is the main basis of life, which should be taken in proper quantity and quality to maintain equilibrium and to promote strength, lustre and healthy long life. It has been observed that a person taking food even in proper quantity may suffer from diseases in different seasons. This implies that apart from the quantity of ahara (diet), the knowledge of regimen for different seasons also plays a significant role in the maintenance of health and prevention of diseases.

A person who has the knowledge of appropriate food articles and activities applicable to specific seasons and also the discipline and inclination to practice them (in accordance with those seasons) stays healthy. Whereas a person without knowledge (or with limited knowledge) of wholesome regimen for different seasons or without the discipline or temperament of following these seasonal practices is likely to suffer from various diseases. Seeking this objective, the chapter describes ahara (diet) and vihara (lifestyle) to be followed in different seasons. The way we eat, exercise, rest, sleep, think, plan, carry out our routine work, and behave with others - are collectively termed 'Lifestyle'. In Indian subcontinent, there are six seasons in the year on the basis of the position of the Sun with respect to the Earth. The qualities of different seasons need to be understood in three aspects viz. masa (month), rashi (stellar constellations) and characteristic features pertaining to the season. While prescribing regimen for different seasons, importance should be given first to the appearance of characteristic features in the prevailing season, then to the rashi and finally to the masa.

Health is a state of dynamic equilibrium between man and his environment. The moment this Loka-Purusha Samya gets disturbed, dosha get imbalanced to cause diseases. The basic concept of prevention and cure of diseases is based on the tridosha (collective term for vata, pitta, and kapha dosha) theory. A particular rhythmic pattern of the three dosha i.e. sanchaya (accumulation), prakopa (aggravation) and prashama (alleviation) occur in relation to six seasons, when the Sun changes from one rashi to the other. Six different rasa present in our food have direct effect on three dosha. Ritusatmya (seasonal adaptation) is described under ritucharya (seasonal regimen), which is the variation in ahara and vihara to balance rhythmic seasonal variations of dosha, bala, agni, and rasa etc. through the concept of samanya and vishesha. Knowledge and regular observance of suitable ritucharya (ahara and vihara for different seasons) is mainly for the maintenance of health and prevention of diseases. For diseased persons ritucharya need to be modified accordingly.

Adana kala or uttarayana (northward movement of the Sun) includes shishira (late winter), vasanta (spring) and grishma (summer) seasons . visarga kala or dakshinayana (southward movement of the Sun) includes varsha (rainy), sharad (autumn) and hemanta (early winter) seasons. In these seasons, there are specific changes in atmospheric conditions which influence changes in dosha, bala (strength) and agni (digestive power). These atmospheric changes affect all living beings in the universe. Due to changes in the external environment, the tridosha pass through three different phases i.e. sanchaya (accumulation), prakopa (aggravation) and prashama (alleviation). The period of change in season is termed as ritusandhi. In this period, gradual decrease in diet and lifestyle of earlier season and gradual adaptation of the diet and lifestyle regimen of next season is advised to prevent the disorders due to change in season.

The concepts of satmya and okasatmya have been explained with respect to the adaptability. Any naturally suitable food or behavior beneficial to the self is considered as satmya. Okasatmya is anything unnatural, unacceptable and acquired habituation to food and lifestyle. Even though, it has become a habit, it should be stopped gradually.

In this fast moving era of science and technology, lifestyle change in the form of non-observance of ritucharya (seasonal regimen) is a major risk factor for increasing prevalence of various diseases. The concept of ritucharya (seasonal regimen), in terms of self-management of lifestyle should be promoted universally for health and prevention of diseases in all individuals.

Sanskrit text, Transliteration and English Translation

अथातस्तस्याशितीयमध्यायं व्याख्यास्यामः||१|| इति ह स्माह भगवानात्रेयः||२||

Athātastasyāśitīyamadhyāyaṁ vyākhyāsyāmaḥ||1|| Iti ha smāha bhagavānātrēyaḥ||2||

athAtastasyAshitIyamadhyAyaM vyAkhyAsyAmaH||1|| iti ha smAha bhagavAnAtreyaH||2||

Now I shall expound the chapter on Seasonal regimen of diet and lifestyle. Thus, said Lord Atreya. [1-2]

Benefits of following seasonal regimen

तस्याशिताद्यादाहाराद्बलं वर्णश्च वर्धते| यस्यर्तुसात्म्यं विदितं चेष्टाहारव्यपाश्रयम्||३||

Tasyāśitādyādāhārādbalaṁ varṇaśca vardhatē| yasyartusātmyaṁ viditaṁ cēṣṭāhāravyapāśrayam||3||

tasyAshitAdyAdAhArAdbalaM varNashca vardhate| yasyartusAtmyaM viditaM ceShTAhAravyapAshrayam||3||

A person who knows the ritusatmya (seasonal adaptations), i.e., getting accustomed to suitable changes in diet and lifestyle according to seasons, and practices such habits accordingly, and whose diet consists of various types of food articles (with properties such as ashita ,khadita, pita and lidha), has his strength and lustre enhanced, and he leads a healthy, long life.[3]

Six seasons according to (the position of the) Sun

इह खलु संवत्सरं षडङ्गमृतुविभागेन विद्यात्| तत्रादित्यस्योदगयनमादानं च त्रीनृतूञ्छिशिरादीन् ग्रीष्मान्तान् व्यवस्येत्, वर्षादीन् पुनर्हेमन्तान्तान् दक्षिणायनं विसर्गं च||४||

Iha khalu saṁvatsaraṁ ṣaḍaṅgamr̥tuvibhāgēna vidyāt| tatrādityasyōdagayanamādānaṁ ca trīnr̥tūñchiśirādīn grīṣmāntān vyavasyēt, varṣādīn punarhēmantāntāndakṣiṇāyanaṁ visargaṁ ca||4||

iha khalu saMvatsaraM ShaDa~ggamRutuvibhAgena vidyAt| tatrAdityasyodagayanamAdAnaM ca trInRutU~jchishirAdIn grIShmAntAn vyavasyet, varShAdIn punarhemantAntAn dakShiNAyanaM visargaM ca||4||

A year (samvatsara) is divided into six parts (by seasons). Among them, when the Sun is in a position of uttarayana (northward to the Earth), that part of the year is called adana kala and includes three ritu starting from shishira to grishma (shishira, vasanta and grishma). When the Sun is in a position of dakshinayana (southwards of the Earth), the period is called visarga kala and includes three ritu starting from varsha to hemanta (varsha, sharad and hemanta). This segmentation of the year (by seasons) is for the purpose of swasthavritta (healthy regimen) in different seasons.[4]

Adana kala (the period with lesser strength) and visarga kala (the period with good strength)

विसर्गे पुनर्वायवो नातिरूक्षाः प्रवान्ति, इतरे पुनरादाने; सोमश्चाव्याहतबलः शिशिराभिर्भाभिरापूरयञ्जगदाप्याययति शश्वत्, अतो विसर्गः सौम्यः| आदानं पुनराग्नेयं; तावेतावर्कवायू सोमश्च कालस्वभावमार्गपरिगृहीताः कालर्तुरसदोषदेहबलनिर्वृत्तिप्रत्ययभूताःसमुपदिश्यन्ते||५||

Visargē punarvāyavō nātirūkṣāḥ pravānti, itarē punarādānē; sōmaścāvyāhatabalaḥśiśirābhirbhābhirāpūrayañjagadāpyāyayati śaśvat, atō visargaḥ saumyaḥ| Adānaṁ punarāgnēyaṁ; tāvētāvarkavāyū sōmaśca kālasvabhāvamārgaparigr̥hītāḥkālarturasadōṣadēhabalanirvr̥ttipratyayabhūtāḥ samupadiśyantē||5||

visarge punarvAyavo nAtirUkShAH pravAnti, itare punarAdAne; somashcAvyAhatabalaH shishirAbhirbhAbhirApUraya~jjagadApyAyayati shashvat, ato visargaHsaumyaH| AdAnaM punarAgneyaM; tAvetAvarkavAyU somashca kAlasvabhAvamArgaparigRuhItAH kAlarturasadoShadehabalanirvRuttipratyayabhUtAH samupadishyante||5||

In visarga kala (period of emission) the wind is not as dry as it is in adana kala. In this visarga kala the power of moon is dominant (as it is nearer to the earth), and it continuously replenishes/delights the world with its cooling rays. Hence, visarga kala is inherently saumya (soothing).

Contrary to this, adana kala is inherently agneya (heating). The Sun, wind and the Moon all are governed by time, and the path they follow in a year is responsible for different variations of kala (time), ritu (seasons), rasa (tastes), dosha and deha bala (body strength).[5]

Effect of adana kala

तत्र रविर्भाभिराददानो जगतः स्नेहं वायवस्तीव्ररूक्षाश्चोपशोषयन्तः शिशिरवसन्तग्रीष्मेषु यथाक्रमं रौक्ष्यमुत्पादयन्तो रूक्षान् रसांस्तिक्तकषायकटुकांश्चाभिवर्धयन्तो नृणां दौर्बल्यमावहन्ति||६||

Tatra ravirbhābhirādadānō jagataḥ snēhaṁ vāyavastīvrarūkṣāścōpaśōṣayantaḥ śiśiravasantagrīṣmēṣuyathākramaṁ raukṣyamutpādayantō rūkṣān rasāṁstiktakaṣāyakaṭukāṁścābhivardhayantō nr̥ṇāṁdaurbalyamāvahanti||6||

tatra ravirbhAbhirAdadAno jagataH snehaM vAyavastIvrarUkShAshcopashoShayantaH shishiravasantagrIShmeShu yathAkramaM raukShyamutpAdayanto rUkShAnrasAMstiktakaShAyakaTukAMshcAbhivardhayanto nRuNAM daurbalyamAvahanti||6||

In adana kala the Sun with its hot rays absorbs moisture from the environment. The excessively dry wind by virtue of its absorbing quality further causes dryness in shishira, vasanta, and grishma seasons progressively, leading to the predominance of tikta, kashaya, and katu rasa respectively and gradual increase of weakness in human beings during these three seasons. [6]

Effect of visarga kala

वर्षाशरद्धेमन्तेषु तु दक्षिणाभिमुखेऽर्के कालमार्गमेघवातवर्षाभिहतप्रतापे, शशिनि चाव्याहतबले, माहेन्द्रसलिलप्रशान्तसन्तापे जगति, अरूक्षा रसाः प्रवर्धन्तेऽम्ललवणमधुरा यथाक्रमं तत्र बलमुपचीयते नृणामिति||७||

Varṣāśaraddhēmantēṣu tu dakṣiṇābhimukhē'rkē kālamārgamēghavātavarṣābhihatapratāpē, śaśinicāvyāhatabalē, māhēndrasalilapraśāntasantāpē jagati, arūkṣā rasāḥ pravardhantē'mlalavaṇamadhurāyathākramaṁ tatra balamupacīyatē nr̥ṇāmiti||7||

varShAsharaddhemanteShu tu dakShiNAbhimukhe~arke kAlamArgameghavAtavarShAbhihatapratApe, shashini cAvyAhatabale, mAhendrasalilaprashAntasantApejagati, arUkShA rasAH pravardhante~amlalavaNamadhurA yathAkramaM tatra balamupacIyate nRuNAmiti||7||

In varsha, sharad and hemanta ritu, the Sun is situated in southwards position and its heat slackens due to the effect of time, its position with respect to the Earth, clouds, wind and rain. The power of the Moon is predominant. Rainwater diminishes the heating effect of nature. All of these lead to the predominance of non-dry, amla (sour), lavana (salty), and madhura (sweet) rasa respectively and gradual increase of body strength in human beings during these three seasons. [7]

Seasonal variation in strength

भवन्ति चात्र- आदावन्ते च दौर्बल्यं विसर्गादानयोर्नृणाम्| मध्ये मध्यबलं, त्वन्ते श्रेष्ठमग्रे च निर्दिशेत्||८||

Bhavanti cātra- ādāvantē ca daurbalyaṁ visargādānayōrnr̥ṇām| madhyē madhyabalaṁ, tvantē śrēṣṭhamagrē ca nirdiśēt||8||

bhavanti cAtra- AdAvante ca daurbalyaM visargAdAnayornRuNAm| madhye madhyabalaM, tvante shreShThamagre ca nirdishet||8||

In the beginning of visarga kala and at the end of adana kala, human beings on the Earth experience weakness. In the middle of these two periods, humans possess medium strength. At the end of the visarga kala and at the beginning of adana kala the strength in human beings is maximum. [8]

Diet and lifestyle guidelines in Hemanta ritu (Winter season)

Status of agni

शीते शीतानिलस्पर्शसंरुद्धो बलिनां बली| पक्ता भवति हेमन्ते मात्राद्रव्यगुरुक्षमः||९||

śītē śītānilasparśasaṁruddhō balināṁ balī| paktā bhavati hēmantē mātrādravyagurukṣamaḥ||9||

shIte shItAnilasparshasaMruddho balinAM balI| paktA bhavati hemante mAtrAdravyagurukShamaH||9||

During sheeta kala (hemanta) due to the contact of cold wind, the agni (digestive power) of strong/healthy individuals gets trapped in the body (like in a closed chamber) and becomes strong or powerful enough to digest food that is inherently heavy and excess in quantity. [9]

स यदा नेन्धनं युक्तं लभते देहजं तदा| रसं हिनस्त्यतो वायुः शीतः शीते प्रकुप्यति||१०||

sa yadā nēndhanaṁ yuktaṁ labhatē dēhajaṁ tadā| rasaṁ hinastyatō vāyuḥ śītaḥ śītē prakupyati||10||

sa yadA nendhanaM yuktaM labhate dehajaM tadA| rasaM hinastyato vAyuH shItaH shIte prakupyati||10||

If adequate food is not made available to the body, then this increased agni consumes/absorbs the rasa(the intrinsic fluids of the body). Vata having sheeta (cold) property gets vitiated in this cold season.[10]

Diet and beverages in winter season

तस्मात्तुषारसमये स्निग्धाम्ललवणान् रसान्| औदकानूपमांसानां मेद्यानामुपयोजयेत्||११||

बिलेशयानां मांसानि प्रसहानां भृतानि च| भक्षयेन्मदिरां शीधुं मधु चानुपिबेन्नरः||१२||

Tasmāttuṣārasamayē snigdhāmlalavaṇān rasān| audakānūpamāṁsānāṁ mēdyānāmupayōjayēt||11||

bilēśayānāṁ māṁsāni prasahānāṁ bhr̥tāni ca| bhakṣayēnmadirāṁ śīdhuṁ madhu cānupibēnnaraḥ||12||

tasmAttuShArasamaye snigdhAmlalavaNAn
rasAn| audakAnUpamAMsAnAM medyAnAmupayojayet||11||

bileshayAnAM mAMsAni prasahAnAM bhRutAni ca| bhakShayenmadirAM shIdhuM madhu cAnupibennaraH||12||

In the period of snowfall, unctuous, sour and salty food items should be consumed predominantly. Meat of fatty, aquatic and marshy animals should be taken. Meat of burrowing animals and roasted meat of animals that eat by snatching the prey should be consumed and after that drinking of madira and sidhu type of wines and honey is advised. [11-12]

गोरसानिक्षुविकृतीर्वसां तैलं नवौदनम्| हेमन्तेऽभ्यस्यतस्तोयमुष्णं चायुर्न हीयते||१३||

gōrasānikṣuvikr̥tīrvasāṁ tailaṁ navaudanam| hēmantē'bhyasyatastōyamuṣṇaṁ cāyurna hīyatē||13||

gorasAnikShuvikRutIrvasAM tailaM navaudanam| hemante~abhyasyatastoyamuShNaM cAyurna hIyate||13||

A person who is habituated to consuming milk products, cane sugar products, fats and oils, new rice and warm water during hemanta ritu, never sees his lifespan decrease ( i.e. these help in prevention from early aging and diseases). [13]

Lifestyle in winter season

अभ्यङ्गोत्सादनं मूर्ध्नि तैलं जेन्ताकमातपम्| भजेद्भूमिगृहं चोष्णमुष्णं गर्भगृहं तथा||१४||

abhyaṅgōtsādanaṁ mūrdhni tailaṁ jēntākamātapam| bhajēdbhūmigr̥haṁ cōṣṇamuṣṇaṁ garbhagr̥haṁ tathā||14||

abhya~ggotsAdanaM mUrdhni tailaM jentAkamAtapam| bhajedbhUmigRuhaM coShNamuShNaM garbhagRuhaM tathA||14||

In hemanta ritu,abhyanga (massage), utsadana (anointing), murdhni taila (applying oil on the head), fomentation by jentaka (a type of fomentation/sudation) method, sunbath, spending time in hot underground houses and warmer, inner rooms of the house is indicated. [14]

शीतेषु संवृतं सेव्यं यानं शयनमासनम्| प्रावाराजिनकौषेयप्रवेणीकुथकास्तृतम्||१५||

śītēṣu saṁvr̥taṁ sēvyaṁ yānaṁ śayanamāsanam| prāvārājinakauṣēyapravēṇīkuthakāstr̥tam||15||

shIteShu saMvRutaM [2] sevyaM yAnaM shayanamAsanam| prAvArAjinakauSheyapraveNIkuthakAstRutam||15||

In winter season, vehicles, beds and seats should be well covered and spread over with thick quilts, deer or tiger skins, silken sheets, gunny-cloth sheets or blankets. [15]

Guidelines for sexual health

गुरूष्णवासा दिग्धाङ्गो गुरुणाऽगुरुणा सदा| शयने प्रमदां पीनां विशालोपचितस्तनीम्||१६||

आलिङ्ग्यागुरुदिग्धाङ्गीं सुप्यात् समदमन्मथः| प्रकामं च निषेवेत मैथुनं शिशिरागमे||१७||

gurūṣṇavāsā digdhāṅgō guruṇā'guruṇā sadā| śayanē pramadāṁ pīnāṁ viśālōpacitastanīm||16||

āliṅgyāgurudigdhāṅgīṁ supyāt samadamanmathaḥ| prakāmaṁ ca niṣēvēta maithunaṁ śiśirāgamē||17||

gurUShNavAsA digdhA~ggo guruNA~aguruNA sadA| shayane pramadAM pInAM vishAlopacitastanIm||16||

Ali~ggyAgurudigdhA~ggIM supyAt samadamanmathaH| prakAmaM ca niSheveta maithunaM shishirAgame||17||

In the winter season, one should always wear thick and warm clothes and the body should be anointed with thick paste of aguru (Aquilaria agallocha Roxb) (eagle-wood). A man who has strong passion should sleep in the bed at night embracing a healthy woman having well developed, plump breasts and herself anointed with the paste of aguru. One may indeed indulge in sexual intercourse up to full satisfaction. [16-17]

Contra-indications in winter season

वर्जयेदन्नपानानि वातलानि लघूनि च| प्रवातं प्रमिताहारमुदमन्थं हिमागमे||१८||

varjayēdannapānāni vātalāni laghūni ca| pravātaṁ pramitāhāramudamanthaṁ himāgamē||18||

varjayedannapAnAni vAtalAni laghUni ca| pravAtaM pramitAhAramudamanthaM himAgame||18||

At the advent of winter season intake of food and drinks that cause vata vitiation and inherently light to digest in property, (getting exposed to) strong winds, inadequate quantities of food, and intake of diluted gruel are contraindicated. [18]

Diet and lifestyle guidelines in shishira ritu (late winter)

Characteristics of shishira ritu

हेमन्तशिशिरौ तुल्यौ शिशिरेऽल्पं विशेषणम्| रौक्ष्यमादानजं शीतं मेघमारुतवर्षजम्||१९||

hēmantaśiśirau tulyau śiśirē'lpaṁ viśēṣaṇam| raukṣyamādānajaṁ śītaṁ mēghamārutavarṣajam||19||

hemantashishirau tulyau shishire~alpaM visheShaNam| raukShyamAdAnajaM shItaM meghamArutavarShajam||19||

Hemanta and shishira seasons are almost similar in characteristics with some specific features in shishira ritu. In this season, due to the onset of adana kala, dryness increases and due to clouds, winds and rain, cold prevails. [19]

Additional care in late winter season

तस्माद्धैमन्तिकः सर्वः शिशिरे विधिरिष्यते| निवातमुष्णं त्वधिकं शिशिरे गृहमाश्रयेत्||२०||

tasmāddhaimantikaḥ sarvaḥ śiśirē vidhiriṣyatē| nivātamuṣṇaṁ tvadhikaṁ śiśirē gr̥hamāśrayēt||20||

tasmAddhaimantikaH sarvaH shishire vidhiriShyate| nivAtamuShNaM tvadhikaM shishire gRuhamAshrayet||20||

Therefore, the whole regimen advised for hemanta should also be followed in shishira ritu. In addition to that, one should specially stay in less windy and warm shelters (homes). [20]

Contra-indication in late winter

कटुतिक्तकषायाणि वातलानि लघूनि च| वर्जयेदन्नपानानि शिशिरे शीतलानि च||२१||]

kaṭutiktakaṣāyāṇi vātalāni laghūni ca| varjayēdannapānāni śiśirē śītalāni ca||21||

kaTutiktakaShAyANi vAtalAni laghUni ca| varjayedannapAnAni shishire shItalAni ca||21||

In the shishira season, food and drinks that are predominantly pungent, bitter and astringent in taste, vata vitiating, and inherently light to digest and cold in properties should be avoided. [21]

Diet and lifestyle guidelines in vasanta ritu (spring season)

Status of agni in spring

वसन्ते निचितः श्लेष्मा दिनकृद्भाभिरीरितः| कायाग्निं बाधते रोगांस्ततः प्रकुरुते बहून्||२२||

vasantē nicitaḥ ślēṣmā dinakr̥dbhābhirīritaḥ| kāyāgniṁ bādhatē rōgāṁstataḥ prakurutē bahūn||22||

vasante nicitaH shleShmA dinakRudbhAbhirIritaH| kAyAgniM bAdhate rogAMstataH prakurute bahUn||22||

Shleshma accumulated in hemanta ritu gets liquefied by hot rays of the Sun in vasanta ritu, which in turn disturbs/decreases the digestive power and ultimately causes many diseases. [22]

Indications and contra-indications in spring

तस्माद्वसन्ते कर्माणि वमनादीनि कारयेत्| गुर्वम्लस्निग्धमधुरं दिवास्वप्नं च वर्जयेत्||२३||

tasmādvasantē karmāṇi vamanādīni kārayēt| gurvamlasnigdhamadhuraṁ divāsvapnaṁ ca varjayēt||23||

tasmAdvasante karmANi vamanAdIni kArayet| gurvamlasnigdhamadhuraM divAsvapnaM ca varjayet||23||

Therefore in vasanta season the purification procedures like vamana ( therapeutic emesis) and others should be done. One should avoid heavy to digest, sour, unctuous and sweet food items and should not sleep during the daytime. [23]

व्यायामोद्वर्तनं धूमं कवलग्रहमञ्जनम्| सुखाम्बुना शौचविधिं शीलयेत् कुसुमागमे||२४||

vyāyāmōdvartanaṁ dhūmaṁ kavalagrahamañjanam| sukhāmbunā śaucavidhiṁ śīlayēt kusumāgamē||24||

vyAyAmodvartanaM dhUmaM kavalagrahama~jjanam| sukhAmbunA shaucavidhiM shIlayet kusumAgame||24||

In kusumagama kala (at the advent of spring) when flowers blossom (vasanta) one should regularly resort to physical exercise, dry massage, medicated smoking, gargling, and collyrium. Bathing and cleaning of excretory orifices should be done with lukewarm water. [24]

चन्दनागुरुदिग्धाङ्गो यवगोधूमभोजनः| शारभं शाशमैणेयं मांसं लावकपिञ्जलम्||२५||

candanāgurudigdhāṅgō yavagōdhūmabhōjanaḥ| śārabhaṁ śāśamaiṇēyaṁ māṁsaṁ lāvakapiñjalam||25||

candanAgurudigdhA~ggo yavagodhUmabhojanaH| shArabhaM shAshamaiNeyaM mAMsaM lAvakapi~jjalam||25||

A person should apply the paste of chandana (Santalum album Linn) and aguru (Aquilaria agallocha Roxb) (eagle-wood) on the body. One should take food made up of barley and wheat, meat of sharabha (wapiti), shasha (rabbit), ena (antelope), lava (common quail) and kapinjala (grey partridge). [25]

भक्षयेन्निर्गदं सीधुं पिबेन्माध्वीकमेव वा| वसन्तेऽनुभवेत् स्त्रीणां काननानां च यौवनम्||२६||

bhakṣayēnnirgadaṁ sīdhuṁ pibēnmādhvīkamēva vā| vasantē'nubhavēt strīṇāṁ kānanānāṁ ca yauvanam||26||

bhakShayennirgadaM sIdhuM pibenmAdhvIkameva vA| vasante~anubhavet strINAM kAnanAnAM ca yauvanam||26||

One should drink clean alcoholic drinks like sidhu and madhvika (types of wine preparations) in vasanta and enjoy the youthfulness of women and of gardens. [26]

Diet and lifestyle guidelines in grishma ritu (summer season)

Effect of excess Sun-heat in summer

मयूखैर्जगतः स्नेहं ग्रीष्मे पेपीयते रविः| स्वादु शीतं द्रवं स्निग्धमन्नपानं तदा हितम्||२७||

mayūkhairjagataḥ snēhaṁ grīṣmē pēpīyatē raviḥ| svādu śītaṁ dravaṁ snigdhamannapānaṁ tadā hitam||27||

mayUkhairjagataH snehaM grIShme pepIyate raviH| svAdu shItaM dravaM snigdhamannapAnaM tadA hitam||27||

In grishma ritu (summer season), the Sun , by its rays, excessively dries up the environment. So, in this season, food and drinks having sweet, cold, liquid and unctuous qualities are considered wholesome. [27]

Diet and beverages in summer

शीतं सशर्करं मन्थं जाङ्गलान्मृगपक्षिणः| घृतं पयः सशाल्यन्नं भजन् ग्रीष्मे न सीदति||२८||

śītaṁ saśarkaraṁ manthaṁ jāṅgalānmr̥gapakṣiṇaḥ| ghr̥taṁ payaḥ saśālyannaṁ bhajan grīṣmē na sīdati||28||

shItaM sasharkaraM manthaM jA~ggalAnmRugapakShiNaH| ghRutaM payaH sashAlyannaM bhajan grIShme na sIdati||28||

In summer season, any individual taking cold and sweet mantha (a type of liquid diet), meat of wild animals and birds, ghee and milk with shali rice (Oryza sativa Linn) does not become weak (i.e., does not suffer from diseases). [28]

Contra-indications in summer

मद्यमल्पं न वा पेयमथवा सुबहूदकम्| लवणाम्लकटूष्णानि व्यायामं च विवर्जयेत् ||२९||

Madyamalpaṁ na vā pēyamathavā subahūdakam| lavaṇāmlakaṭūṣṇāni vyāyāmaṁ ca vivarjayēt ||29||

madyamalpaM na vA peyamathavA subahUdakam| lavaNAmlakaTUShNAni vyAyAmaM ca vivarjayet ||29||

Alcoholic beverages should be consumed in little quantities or should not be consumed at all, or if taken, should be diluted with plenty of water. One should not consume salty, sour, pungent and hot food, and physical exercise should be avoided. [29]

Lifestyle in summer

दिवा शीतगृहे निद्रां निशि चन्द्रांशुशीतले| भजेच्चन्दनदिग्धाङ्गः प्रवाते हर्म्यमस्तके||३०||

Divā śītagr̥hē nidrāṁ niśi candrāṁśuśītalē| bhajēccandanadigdhāṅgaḥ pravātē harmyamastakē||30||

divA shItagRuhe nidrAM nishi candrAMshushItale| bhajeccandanadigdhA~ggaH pravAte harmyamastake||30||

During daytime, one should sleep in a cool shelter and during night after applying the paste of chandana (Santalum album Linn) on the body sleep in the airy roof/terrace of the house which is cooled by the Moon-rays. [30]

व्यजनैः पाणिसंस्पर्शैश्चन्दनोदकशीतलैः| सेव्यमानो भजेदास्यां मुक्तामणिविभूषितः||३१||

Vyajanaiḥ pāṇisaṁsparśaiścandanōdakaśītalaiḥ| sēvyamānō bhajēdāsyāṁ muktāmaṇivibhūṣitaḥ||31||

vyajanaiH pANisaMsparshaishcandanodakashItalaiH| sevyamAno bhajedAsyAM muktAmaNivibhUShitaH||31||

One should be seated on a surface decorated with pearl and gems and make use of a fan and touching by soft hands, both cooled with sandal water. [31]

काननानि च शीतानि जलानि कुसुमानि च| ग्रीष्मकाले निषेवेत मैथुनाद्विरतो नरः||३२||

Kānanāni ca śītāni jalāni kusumāni ca| grīṣmakālē niṣēvēta maithunādviratō naraḥ||32||

kAnanAni ca shItAni jalAni kusumAni ca| grIShmakAle niSheveta maithunAdvirato naraH||32||

In Summer, one should enjoy the coolness of gardens, cold water and flowers, and should abstain from sexual intercourse. [32]

Diet and lifestyle guidelines in Varsha ritu (rainy season)

Status of agni in rainy season

आदानदुर्बले देहे पक्ता भवति दुर्बलः| स वर्षास्वनिलादीनां दूषणैर्बाध्यते पुनः||३३||

ādānadurbalē dēhē paktā bhavati durbalaḥ| sa varṣāsvanilādīnāṁ dūṣaṇairbādhyatē punaḥ||33||

AdAnadurbale dehe paktA bhavati durbalaH| sa varShAsvanilAdInAM dUShaNairbAdhyate punaH||33||

In a weak body, during the period of dehydration, agni is also weak, and deteriorates further due to vitiated vata and other dosha during rainy season. [33]

भूबाष्पान्मेघनिस्यन्दात् पाकादम्लाज्जलस्य च| वर्षास्वग्निबले क्षीणे कुप्यन्ति पवनादयः||३४||

bhūbāṣpānmēghanisyandāt pākādamlājjalasya ca| varṣāsvagnibalē kṣīṇē kupyanti pavanādayaḥ||34||

bhUbAShpAnmeghanisyandAt pAkAdamlAjjalasya ca| varShAsvagnibale kShINe kupyanti pavanAdayaH||34||

In this season, due to evaporating vapors from the Earth, rainfall and acidic transformation of water, the agni is weakened, thus leading to the further vitiation of vata and other dosha. [34]

Indications and contra-indications in rainy season

तस्मात् साधारणः सर्वो विधिर्वर्षासु शस्यते| उदमन्थं दिवास्वप्नमवश्यायं नदीजलम्||३५||

व्यायाममातपं चैव व्यवायं चात्र वर्जयेत्| पानभोजनसंस्कारान् प्रायः क्षौद्रान्वितान् भजेत्||३६||

tasmāt sādhāraṇaḥ sarvō vidhirvarṣāsu śasyatē| udamanthaṁ divāsvapnamavaśyāyaṁ nadījalam||35||

vyāyāmamātapaṁ caiva vyavāyaṁ cātra varjayēt| pānabhōjanasaṁskārān prāyaḥ kṣaudrānvitān bhajēt||36||

tasmAt sAdhAraNaH sarvo vidhirvarShAsu shasyate| udamanthaM divAsvapnamavashyAyaM nadIjalam||35||

vyAyAmamAtapaM caiva vyavAyaM cAtra varjayet| pAnabhojanasaMskArAn prAyaH kShaudrAnvitAn bhajet||36||

Hence, in rainy season all basic rules regarding diet and lifestyle are advised to balance all three dosha. One should avoid diluted mantha(excess liquid diet) , sleeping during the day, exposure to dew, river water, physical exercise, sun rays and sexual intercourse in this season. One should use food and drinks mostly added with honey in small quantity to pacify the kleda (moisture) of rainy season. [35-36]

Specific diet in rainy season

व्यक्ताम्ललवणस्नेहं वातवर्षाकुलेऽहनि| विशेषशीते भोक्तव्यं वर्षास्वनिलशान्तये||३७||

vyaktāmlalavaṇasnēhaṁ vātavarṣākulē'hani| viśēṣaśītē bhōktavyaṁ varṣāsvanilaśāntayē||37||

vyaktAmlalavaNasnehaM vAtavarShAkule~ahani| visheShashIte bhoktavyaM varShAsvanilashAntaye||37||

In the rainy season when the days are cooler due to wind and rain, one should predominantly take sour, salty and unctuous food to alleviate vata. [37]

अग्निसंरक्षणवता यवगोधूमशालयः| पुराणा जाङ्गलैर्मांसैर्भोज्या यूषैश्च संस्कृतैः||३८||

agnisaṁrakṣaṇavatā yavagōdhūmaśālayaḥ| purāṇā jāṅgalairmāṁsairbhōjyā yūṣaiśca saṁskr̥taiḥ||38||

agnisaMrakShaNavatA yavagodhUmashAlayaH| purANA jA~ggalairmAMsairbhojyA yUShaishca saMskRutaiH||38||

A person taking care of his agni should consume old barley; wheat and shali rice (Oryza sativa Linn) along with meat of wild animals and processed soup. [38]

पिबेत् क्षौद्रान्वितं चाल्पं माध्वीकारिष्टमम्बु वा| माहेन्द्रं तप्तशीतं वा कौपं सारसमेव वा||३९||

pibēt kṣaudrānvitaṁ cālpaṁ mādhvīkāriṣṭamambu vā| māhēndraṁ taptaśītaṁ vā kaupaṁ sārasamēva vā||39||

pibet kShaudrAnvitaM cAlpaM mAdhvIkAriShTamambu vA| mAhendraM taptashItaM vA kaupaM sArasameva vA||39||

Whenever madhvika or other fermented liquors and water are consumed, they should be mixed with a little amount of honey. Rain water or water from wells or ponds should be properly boiled and cooled. [39]

Lifestyle in rainy season

प्रघर्षोद्वर्तनस्नानगन्धमाल्यपरो भवेत्| लघुशुद्धाम्बरः स्थानं भजेदक्लेदि वार्षिकम्||४०||

pragharṣōdvartanasnānagandhamālyaparō bhavēt| laghuśuddhāmbaraḥ sthānaṁ bhajēdaklēdi vārṣikam||40||

pragharShodvartanasnAnagandhamAlyaparo bhavet| laghushuddhAmbaraH sthAnaM bhajedakledi vArShikam||40||

In the rainy season, one should practice pragharsha (friction massage), udwartana (dry massage), snana (bath), use of fragrance, garlands, wearing light and clean clothes and should reside in the place which is free from humidity. [40]

Diet and lifestyle guidelines in sharada ritu (autumn season)

Status of pitta dosha in autumn season

वर्षाशीतोचिताङ्गानां सहसैवार्करश्मिभिः| तप्तानामाचितं पित्तं प्रायः शरदि कुप्यति||४१||

varṣāśītōcitāṅgānāṁ sahasaivārkaraśmibhiḥ| taptānāmācitaṁ pittaṁ prāyaḥ śaradi kupyati||41||

varShAshItocitA~ggAnAM sahasaivArkarashmibhiH| taptAnAmAcitaM pittaM prAyaH sharadi kupyati||41||

When a body habituated to cold and rain is suddenly subjected to the heat of sun-rays in the sharada (autumn) season, the accumulated pitta dosha in the body often gets aggravated. [41]

Specific diet for pacification of pitta dosha

तत्रान्नपानं मधुरं लघु शीतं सतिक्तकम्| पित्तप्रशमनं सेव्यं मात्रया सुप्रकाङ्क्षितैः||४२||

tatrānnapānaṁ madhuraṁ laghu śītaṁ satiktakam| pittapraśamanaṁ sēvyaṁ mātrayā suprakāṅkṣitaiḥ||42||

tatrAnnapAnaM madhuraM laghu shItaM satiktakam| pittaprashamanaM sevyaM mAtrayA suprakA~gkShitaiH||42||

In this season food and drinks predominantly of sweet, light, cold and slightly bitter qualities and having pitta alleviating properties should be taken in proper quantity, only when there is good appetite. [42]

लावान् कपिञ्जलानेणानुरभ्राञ्छरभान् शशान्| शालीन् सयवगोधूमान् सेव्यानाहुर्घनात्यये||४३||

lāvān kapiñjalānēṇānurabhrāñcharabhān śaśān| śālīn sayavagōdhūmān sēvyānāhurghanātyayē||43||

lAvAn kapi~jjalAneNAnurabhrA~jcharabhAn shashAn| shAlIn sayavagodhUmAn sevyAnAhurghanAtyaye||43||

In ghanatyaya (sharada ritu), the meat of lava (common quail), kapinjala (grey partridge), ena (antelope), urabhra (sheep), sharabha (wapiti) and shasha (rabbit), shali rice (Oryza sativa Linn), barley and wheat should be taken. [43]

तिक्तस्य सर्पिषः पानं विरेको रक्तमोक्षणम्| धाराधरात्यये कार्यमातपस्य च वर्जनम्||४४||

tiktasya sarpiṣaḥ pānaṁ virēkō raktamōkṣaṇam| dhārādharātyayē kāryamātapasya ca varjanam||44||

tiktasya sarpiShaH pAnaM vireko raktamokShaNam| dhArAdharAtyaye kAryamAtapasya ca varjanam||44||

In sharada, whenever the rain clouds disappear, the intake of tikta ghee (ghee medicated with bitter items), use of purgatives, and blood-letting are indicated. [44]

Contra-indications in autumn season

वसां तैलमवश्यायमौदकानूपमामिषम्| क्षारं दधि दिवास्वप्नं प्राग्वातं चात्र वर्जयेत्||४५||

vasāṁ tailamavaśyāyamaudakānūpamāmiṣam| kṣāraṁ dadhi divāsvapnaṁ prāgvātaṁ cātra varjayēt||45||

vasAM tailamavashyAyamaudakAnUpamAmiSham| kShAraM dadhi divAsvapnaM prAgvAtaM cAtra varjayet||45||

In this season exposure to Sun, intake of muscle fats and oils, exposure to dew, meat of aquatic and marshy animals, alkaline preparations, and curd are contraindicated. One should not sleep during daytime and restrict exposure to easterly wind. [45]

Hamsodaka (pure water)

दिवा सूर्यांशुसन्तप्तं निशि चन्द्रांशुशीतलम्| कालेन पक्वं निर्दोषमगस्त्येनाविषीकृतम्||४६||

हंसोदकमिति ख्यातं शारदं विमलं शुचि| स्नानपानावगाहेषु हितमम्बु यथाऽमृतम् ||४७|

Divā sūryāṁśusantaptaṁ niśi candrāṁśuśītalam| kālēna pakvaṁ nirdōṣamagastyēnāviṣīkr̥tam||46||

haṁsōdakamiti khyātaṁ śāradaṁ vimalaṁ śuci| snānapānāvagāhēṣu hitamambu yathā'mr̥tam ||47||

divA sUryAMshusantaptaM nishi candrAMshushItalam| kAlena pakvaM nirdoShamagastyenAviShIkRutam||46||

haMsodakamiti khyAtaM shAradaM vimalaM shuci| snAnapAnAvagAheShu hitamambu yathA~amRutam ||47||

Water naturally heated with sunrays during daytime and cooled with moon rays during night, well purified by the course of time and detoxified by the effects of Agastya (the star Canopus) is called Hamsodaka.This is available during sharada and is clean and clear. This water is beneficial as nectar when used for the purpose of bathing and drinking. [46-47]

Lifestyle during autumn season

शारदानि च माल्यानि वासांसि विमलानि च| शरत्काले प्रशस्यन्ते प्रदोषे चेन्दुरश्मयः||४८||

śāradāni ca mālyāni vāsāṁsi vimalāni ca| śaratkālē praśasyantē pradōṣē cēnduraśmayaḥ||48||

shAradAni ca mAlyAni vAsAMsi vimalAni ca| sharatkAle prashasyante pradoShe cendurashmayaH||48||

In sharada ritu, garlands of seasonal flowers, clean clothes (apparels), and exposure to moon-rays in early nights are very beneficial. [48]

Okasatmya(acquired adaptation or habituation)

इत्युक्तमृतुसात्म्यं यच्चेष्टाहारव्यपाश्रयम्| उपशेते यदौचित्यादोकःसात्म्यं तदुच्यते||४९||

ityuktamr̥tusātmyaṁ yaccēṣṭāhāravyapāśrayam| upaśētē yadaucityādōkaḥsātmyaṁtaducyatē||49||

ityuktamRutusAtmyaM yacceShTAhAravyapAshrayam| upashete yadaucityAdokaHsAtmyaM taducyate||49||

In this way, we discussed about seasonal adaptations with respect to activities and diet.

If any diet and lifestyle become suitable to the body by its regular/habitual use then it is called okasatmya (acquired adaptation or habituation). [49]

देशानामामयानां च विपरीतगुणं गुणैः| सात्म्यमिच्छन्ति सात्म्यज्ञाश्चेष्टितं चाद्यमेव च||५०||

dēśānāmāmayānāṁ ca viparītaguṇaṁ guṇaiḥ| sātmyamicchanti sātmyajñāścēṣṭitaṁ cādyamēva ca||50||

deshAnAmAmayAnAM ca viparItaguNaM guNaiH| sAtmyamicchanti sAtmyaj~jAshceShTitaM cAdyameva ca||50||

Experts of the principles of satmya (adaptation) consider that diet and lifestyle opposite to the qualities of the habitat of the individual and of the causative factors of the diseases prevalent in the location, can be adapted to (preserve health). [50]

Summary

तत्र श्लोकः-

ऋतावृतौ नृभिः सेव्यमसेव्यं यच्च किञ्चन| तस्याशितीये निर्दिष्टं हेतुमत् सात्म्यमेव च||५१||

tatra ślōkaḥ- Rtāvr̥tau nr̥bhiḥ sēvyamasēvyaṁ yacca kiñcana| tasyāśitīyē nirdiṣṭaṁ hētumat sātmyamēva ca||51||

tatra shlokaH- RutAvRutau nRubhiH sevyamasevyaM yacca ki~jcana| tasyAshitIye nirdiShTaM hetumat sAtmyameva ca||51||

There is the verse: In this chapter of seasonal regimen of diet and lifestyle, general principles with respect to dietary habits and activities suitable to specific seasons, along with the principles of satmya (adaptation) have been described. [51]

इत्यग्निवेशकृते तन्त्रे चरकप्रतिसंस्कृते श्लोकस्थाने तस्याशितीयो नाम षष्ठोऽध्यायः||६||

Ityagnivēśakr̥tē tantrē carakapratisaṁskr̥tē ślōkasthānē tasyāśitīyō nāma ṣaṣṭhō'dhyāyaḥ||6||

Thus the sixth chapter entitled Tasyashiteeya (Seasonal regimen of diet and lifestyle) of Sutra Sthana is completed, in the treatise compiled by Agnivesha and revised by Charak.

Tattva Vimarsha / Fundamental Principles

  • The strength of a person varies according to seasonal changes. The dosha undergo physiological variations as per change in season and surroundings. In order to maintain equilibrium and sustain health, a person should change his diet and lifestyle according to the season.
  • Human beings function like a microcosm of the universe and the physiological changes are predominantly affected by the changes in macrocosm e.g, geothermal changes due to the Sun or the effects of the Moon and other celestial bodies. The rotation of the Earth around the Sun and rotation of Moon around the Earth result in changes in season. The Sun is responsible for temperature variations on Earth and this leads to changes in the physical and mental strength of microcosm.

The effect of seasonal variations on an individual’s physiological strength are as follows:

Ayana Ritu Indian Months English Months Strength
Samvatsara Uttarayana Shishira (Late Winter) Magha(Tapa) and Phalguna(Tapasya) Mid-January to Mid-March Good
Vasanta (Spring) Chaitra(Madhu) and Vaishakha(Madhava) Mid-March to Mid-May Medium
Grishma (Summer) Jaishtha(Shuchi) and Ashadha(Shukra) Mid-May to Mid-July Weak
Dakshinayana Varsha (Rainy Season) Shravana(Nabha) and Bhadrapada(Nabhasya) Mid-July to Mid-September Weak
Sharada (Autumn) Ashvina(Isha) and Kartika(Urja) Mid-September to Mid-November Medium
Hemanta (Early Winter) Margashirsha(Saha) and Pausha(Sahasya) Mid-November to Mid-January Good

These effects of seasonal variations on bala should be factored in while planning any dietary or preventive healthcare program for any individual.

  • The states of dosha as per seasonal changes are as follows:
Dosha Sanchaya(Accumulation) Prakopa(Aggravation) Prashamana(Pacification to Normalcy)
Vata Grishma (Summer) Varsha (Monsoon/Rainy) Sharada (Autumn)
Pitta Varsha (Monsoon/Rainy) Sharada (Autumn) Hemanta (Early Winter)
Kapha Shishira (Late Winter) Vasanta (Spring) Grishma (Summer)
  • One should follow the diet and lifestyle with opposite properties of the place of residence and seasons in order to preserve health and prevent diseases.

Vidhi vimarsha / Applied Inferences

Division of samvatsara (year) and ritu

The Samvatsara is divided into two ayana or solstices, depending upon the position of the Sun with respect to the Earth i.e. Uttarayana or adana kala and dakshinayana or visarga kala. Each ayana includes three ritu. This is known as rituchakra (cyclic rhythm) of six seasons. Six ritu are divided on the basis of the predominant effect of Sun and Moon. Air motivates the Sun and the Moon. Vata is responsible for differentiation of ritu(Cha.Su.12).The uttarayana or northward position of the Sun and its act of dehydration/undernourishment brings about three seasons, including shishira, vasanta and grishma. The dakshinayana or southward position of the Sun and its act of hydration/nourishment gives rise to other three seasons, including varsha, sharada and hemanta.

Per Ayurvedic literature, taking the river Ganga as a baseline, the whole region (Indian subcontinent) is divided on the basis of intensity of cold and rain into two parts. In regions south of Ganga, rain being more, tworitu i.e. pravrita (early rains) and varsha (late heavy rainy season) have been mentioned separately by the sages. In the regions north of Ganga, with a prevalence of snowfall factored in, two ritu namely hemanta and shishira (dewy season and cold season) have been mentioned separately. In the Gangetic plains (Eastern U.P. and Bihar), all the seasons can be found since it is the belt of Sadharana desha.

Thus in Ayurveda, a year is divided in two ways on the basis of the following:

Division of year, ayana, months, rashi
Ayana & Bala Ritu Indian Months Influential Rashi English Months
Samvatsara Uttarayana Adana Kala Bala-Less Shishira (Late Winter) Magha(Tapa) and Phalguna(Tapasya) Makara and Kumbha Mid-January to Mid-March
Vasanta (Spring) Chaitra(Madhu) and Vaishakha(Madhava) Meena and Mesha Mid-March to Mid-May
Grishma (Summer) Jaishtha(Shuchi) and Ashadha(Shukra) Vrishabha and Mithuna Mid-May to Mid-July
Dakshinayana Visarga Kala Bala-Good Varsha (Rainy Season) Shravana(Nabha) and Bhadrapada(Nabhasya) Karka and Simha Mid-July to Mid-September
Sharada (Autumn) Ashvina(Isha) and Kartika(Urja) Kanya and Tula Mid-September to Mid-November
Hemanta (Early Winter) Margasirsha(Saha) and Pausha(Sahasya) Vrishchika and Dhanu Mid-November to Mid-January
Formation of Seasons

The Earth and all other celestial bodies in the Solar System are constantly moving. Rotation, precession and revolution of Earth are directly responsible for seasonal variations in a year. The term ‘Earth Rotation’ refers to the spinning of our planet on its axis, with an equatorial speed of 1040 miles per hour (about 465 meter per second or slightly over 1675 km per hour). One rotation takes twenty-four hours (23.93 hour) and is called a mean solar day. The Earth’s rotation is responsible for the daily cycles of day and night. At any moment in time, one half of the Earth is in sunlight, while the other half is in darkness. The Earth's rotation axis is not fixed in the space. The direction of the rotation axis executes a slow ‘Precession’, caused by the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon on the Earth. Through each 26000-year cycle, the direction in the sky to which the axis points goes around a big circle, the radius of which covers an angle of about 23.50. This precession also has an effect on the seasons. The orbit of the Earth around the Sun is called an ‘Earth Revolution’. This celestial motion takes 365.26 days to complete one cycle. Further, the Earth's orbit around the Sun is not circular, but oval or elliptical. An elliptical orbit causes the Earth's distance from the Sun to vary over a year.

The solstices, together with the equinox, are connected with the seasons. They are considered to start or separate the seasons, or fall nearer the middle. A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun’s apparent position in the sky, as viewed from Earth, reaches its northernmost or southernmost extremes. This usually happens around June 21st and December 21st. An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator. Around the equinox, the night and day have approximately equal length and the rays of the Sun shine directly on the equator. This happens on approximately March 20th and September 22nd. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) designates four different seasons – winter, summer or pre-monsoon, monsoon or rainy season, and post-monsoon season.

Qualities of seasons

The qualities of different seasons are to be understood in three aspects viz. masa (month), rashi (stellar constellations) and svarupa (characteristic features). The regimen prescribed for each season should be followed in mild, moderate or full degree in the succeeding order of strength of seasons. Importance is given first to the appearance of svarupa in reckoning season, then to the rashi and last to the masa. The regimen prescribed for the season should be mild or part, if only masa has commenced without commencement of rashi or svarupa; it should be moderate, if rashi has commenced, but svarupa has not yet; and regimen should in full measure if svarupa has commenced ever without rashi.

The characteristics of normal seasons have been described in terms of various environmental factors. Knowledge of these characteristics is important to differentiate between deranged (abnormal) and normal seasons so that precautions can be taken to prevent the adverse effect of abnormal season.[1]

Importance of ritucharya(seasonal regimen)

One’s various type of diet leads to promotion of strength and luster only when he knows the wholesomeness according to different seasons dependent on behavior and diet.(Cha.Su.6/3)

If one follows the regimen as described for different seasons, he never suffers from diseases due to the aggravated dosha under the seasonal impact.[2] [3]

A man always becomes healthy only when he properly follows dinacharya (daily regimen), nishacharya (night regimen) and ritucharya (seasonal regimen), otherwise he will have disease.[4]

Basic principles of ritucharya
  1. While passing through six seasons our body is bound to face different variations and accordingly it is likely to get affected if the same regimen is followed in all seasons.
  2. The basic principle of ritucharya is to preserve the equilibrium of dosha through the concept of samanya and vishesha.
  3. Knowledge and regular observance of suitable ritucharya (ahara and vihara for different seasons) is mainly for the maintenance of health and prevention of diseases. For diseased persons ritucharya has to be modified accordingly.
  4. The seasons are differentiated according to month, rashi and characteristics. More importance has been given to the appearance of characteristics.
  5. Every person should take diet including all the six rasa (tastes), in each and every season; however, the indicated rasa should be taken in predominant quantity in particular season. Regular intake of all rasa is best strength promoter and regular use of any one rasa debilitates strength.
  6. Follow the regimen carefully during ritusandhi and yamadamshtra period to live healthy.
Concept of ritu sandhi

The last seven days of preceding ritu and first seven days of following ritu are together known as ritusandhi (meeting of two seasons). During this period the regimen of the previous season should be discontinued gradually and those of the succeeding season adopted slowly. Particular padamshika krama (sequential regimen) has to be adopted i.e. Unhealthy things which one has become accustomed should be discontinued gradually. Similarly healthy things (food etc.) should be made use of (gradually) with intervals of one, two or three days.(Cha.Su. 7/36-37) On the other hand, if they are discontinued or adopted suddenly, diseases due to unaccustomed foods and activities develop.[5] It is a significant advice, as the changeover of external environment from one season to other is very rapid, but our endogenous system needs some time for smooth change over.

Yamadamshtra (period of increased mortality)

The duration of last eight days of Kartika month and first eight days of Margashirsha month is termed as yamadamshtra. It is advised to take little food during this period for healthy living otherwise it may be fatal.[6]

Concept of satmya and okasatmya

Satmya means any substance or behavior which is suitable and beneficial to the self. Satmya being used constantly has wholesome effect. It is divided into two types:

  1. Prakritisatmya
  2. Abhyasasatmya
    1. Prakritisatmya is also called as ajanmasatmya[7] i.e. the satmya since birth, like madhura rasa.
    2. Abhyasasatmya includes four types of satmya, i.e. vyadhisatmya, deshasatmya, okasatmya and ritusatmya.
      1. Vyadhisatmya: Adaptation to a disease. There are things which cannot be taken in normal health but have to be tolerated during the period when a person falls sick. It is also called amayasatmya or rogasatmya.
      2. Deshasatmya: Adaptation to locality or country. There are many things which may be used constantly at a particular place in a particular time but may not be in practice at a different place in same time.
      3. Okasatmya (Acquired adaptation): Anything such as a poisonous or an intoxicating thing or habit which if resorted to is capable of producing deleterious or injurious effect upon ones health. If taken bit by bit, by an individual continuously it loses its grip to produce deleterious or injurious effect and keeps the individual in normal health, it then becomes okasatmya to the user. This is not only true for poisonous things. Sometimes particular way of living is injurious to one’s health in a particular season but if continues that habit it will lose its power to produce harmful effect. This is one of the reason why all the individuals not affected by seasonal diseases in spite of not following seasonal regimen.
      4. Ritusatmya: Seasonal adaptation has been described in the ritucharya (seasonal regimen), which is dependent upon ahara (food articles) and vihara (lifestyle).

Seasonal Regimens

Hemanta ritucharya (Regimen for Early winter)
Ahara (diet) Vihara (lifestyle)
Indicated Amla(sour), Lavana(salty), Madhura(sweet), Guru (heavy in digestion) and Snigdha dravya(unctuous food), new rice and wheat, fats and oils, black gram and its products, milk and its products, sugarcane products, warm water, honey, anupa (meat of animals of marshy land) and audaka mamsa (meat of aquatic animals), liquor protection from cold by warm clothes and beddings, Living in warm house, regular use of shoes, bathing with warm water, abhyanga (therapeutic massage), utsadana (powder massage), vyayama ( physical exercise), atapa sevana(exposing body to sun light), intercourse
Contraindicated Laghu (light in digestion) and vata provoking dravya, pramitahara(food in proper quantity), udamantha( groat) Divasvapna (sleeping in day time), direct air
Shishira ritucharya (Regimen for Late winter)

Hemanta and shishira are similar with the slight difference in that the latter has more roughness due to beginning of Adana and cold due to clouds, winds and rains. Hence the entire routine of living prescribed for Hemanta is to be followed in Shishira also. During Shishira, one should specially live in warmer settings and protect oneself from direct air. Avoid katu(pungent), tikta (bitter), kashaya(astringent), laghu(light to digest), sheeta (cold) and vata provoking food and drinks.

Vasanta ritucharya (Regimen for Spring)
Ahara (diet) Vihara (lifestyle)
Indicated food articles having taste like katu(pungent), tikta(bitter) and kasaya(astringent), ruksha(ununctous), laghu (light in digestion) and ushna dravya(hot substances) , old wheat, rice and barley, water medicated with ginger, khadira(acacia catechu,Linn), Musta(cyperus rotundus Linn) and Honey; Jangala Mamsa( meat of terrestrial animals), Liquor kavala (medicated gargling), anjana(application of collyrium), dhumapana(medicated smoking), vyayama, udvartana, application of chandana and aguru , sexual intercourse, vamana( therapeutic emesis) and nasya(nasal errhines)
Contra-indicated Madhura(sweet), amla(sour), guru( heavy in digestion), snigdha and sheeta(cold) dravya, curd direct sunlight, divasvapna( day sleep), sleeping under dew
Grishma ritucharya (Regimen for Summer)
Ahara (diet) Vihara (regimen)
Indicated madhura, drava, sheeta, laghu and snigdha [[dravya, mantha with sugar, rice, ghee, milk, shali rice, Jangala Mamsa (meat of terrestrial animals) divasvapna, living and sleeping in cold place, protection from heat, bathing with cold water, local application of chandana , wearing of light clothes
Contra-indicated lavana, amla, katu and ushna dravya, curd, liquor vyayama, atapa sevana, sexual intercourse
Varsha ritucharya (Regimen for Rainy season)
Ahara (diet) Vihara (regimen)
Indicated madhura, amla, lavana, snigdha and ushna dravya, old wheat, rice and barley, gruel prepared with pulses, Food and drinks with honey, boiled and cold water, jangala mamsa, liquor living in dry place, wearing of light clothes, pragharshana, udvartana, basti, virechana, vamana, Use of flowers and perfume
Contra-indicated ruksha and ati-drava dravya (excessive water), udamantha (groat), river water divasvapna (day sleep), vyayama (physical exercise) living under dew, eastern wind, excessive sunlight exposure, intercourse
Sharada ritucharya (Regimen for Autumn)
Ahara (diet) Vihara (regimen)
Indicated madhura(sweet), tikta(pungent) and kashaya(astringent) dravya, laghu (light for digestion), ruksha(rough) and sheeta(cold) dravya, wheat, rice, barley and mudga (green gram), milk, sugar and sugarcane, tikta sarpi (ghee prepared out of bitter drugs), river water, Hamsodaka, Jangala mamsa(meat of arid animals) virechana( therapeutic purgation), raktamokshana (blood letting), living under moon light, wearing of flowers, pearls, clean clothes
Contra-indicated amla(sour), katu (pungent), tikshana(sharp) and ushna(hot dry) dravya, kshara(alkaline preparations), oils and fat, curd, ginger, anupa (animals of marshy land) and audaka mamsa (aquatic animals), liquor divasvapna (day sleep), vyayama (physical exercise), eastern wind, living in dew, atapa sevana(exposing body to sun light)

Common diseases due to non-observance of ritucharya

Many diseases described in Ayurveda have their own peculiar causes to develop in particular season, like jwara, tamaka shvasa, pratishyaya, amlapitta, shirahshula, sandhi-shula, atisara, sheetapitta, kushtha etc.

  1. Jwara (fever) is of two types, viz., prakrita (natural) and vaikrita (unnatural) based on prognosis. On the basis of prakriti (basic constitution) of time the fever is termed as prakrita (natural). Kaphaja jwara occurs in vasanta and pitta dominant in sharada (autumn), are known as [[prakrita (normal) and are easily curable, while vata dominant jwara in prakrita season (pravrita) is not easily curable. Fever occurs in seasons other than that responsible for vitiation of the concerned dosha is known as Vaikrita (unnatural) which is troublesome. (Cha.Chi. 3/42)
  2. Tamaka shvasa (bronchial asthma) is aggravated by cloudy, cold, rainy weather and easterly wind and kapha increasing factors. On the other hand warmth relieves the symptoms.
  3. Pratishyaya (rhinitis): Seasonal irregularity is one of the causative factors of pratishyaya.(Cha.Chi. 26/104) Thus pratishyaya can occur in any season if we do not follow seasonal regimen and especially in exposure to too much of cold.
  4. Amlapitta (acid peptic disorder) is prevalent in rainy season because of natural accumulation of pitta in rainy season. Indulgence in foods which are incompatible, spoiled, very sour, causing burning sensation in epigastrium cause increase of pitta to produce amlapitta, in persons in whom pitta has already increased.[8]
  5. Shirahshula (headache) is a common feature of all types of shiroroga and is of three types:
    1. Vata dominant shiroroga:
      1. Aggravating factors: Cold season; Rainy season and cloudy days
      2. Relieving factors: Hot season, clear and shiny sky i.e. cloud free days
    2. Pitta dominant shiroroga:
      1. Aggravating factors: Hot season, Intake of hot food
      2. Relieving factors: Cold season
    3. Kapha dominant shiroroga:
      1. Aggravating factors: Vasanta season, cold season
      2. Relieving factors: Hot season
  6. Shula (pain)
    1. Vata dominant shula: Vata dominant shula especially gets exacerbated after digestion of food, in the evening time, at the end of night, during cloudy and rainy days, in cold climate, and due to direct and eastern wind exposure.[9] [10] It gets relieved by swedana(sudation), abhyanga(oil massage), mardana(massage), unctuous, and hot food items. On the basis of site of the vata, the different sites are affected.
    2. Pitta dominant shula: It gets exacerbated during mid day, mid night, at the time of digestion of food, and during sharada ritu. It gets relieved by cold season, cold and madhura food.[11]
    3. Kapha dominant shula: This type of pain gets exacerbated just after intake of food, during early morning, at the beginning of night, and during shishira and vasanta seasons.[12]
  7. Atisara (diarrhea): Rituviparyaya (any deviation from seasonal regimen) is an important cause of atisara .[13]
  8. Sheetapitta (urticaria): Exposure to cold air aggravates kapha and vata dosha, and along with pitta cause sheetapitta. It increases during rainy and winter seasons and especially in shishira ritu.[14]
  9. Kushtha (skin diseases): The first important cause of kushtha is viruddha anna-pana (intake of antagonistic food), which includes kala viruddha also for e.g. during hot season intake of katu and hot variety of foods and during cold season ruksha (rough) and sheeta (cold) foods are kala viruddha.[15]

Effect of seasonal changes on health

Various researches have proved the direct relation of seasonal variation on physiological and pathological changes in body:

  • Climate change has a profound effect on human health and well-being. The impact of climate change on human well-being goes beyond mortality; even birth rates and sperm counts appear to be affected by meteorological phenomenon.,[16] [17] [18]
  • Morbidity attributed to pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis, and probably many other illnesses are also weather-related.[19]
  • Medical disorders such as bronchitis, peptic ulcer, adrenal ulcer, glaucoma, goiter, eczema, and herpes zoster are related to seasonal variations in temperature.[20]
  • A Canadian Climate Center study (1981) found that migraines were most likely to occur on days with falling pressure, rising humidity, high winds, and rapid temperature fluctuations.
  • Weather has an important influence on morbidity in the winter because cold, dry air leads to excessive dehydration of nasal passages and upper respiratory tract, and increased chance of microbial and viral infection. In general, total mortality is about 15% higher on an average winter day than on an average summer day, according to National Center for Health Statistics, 1978.
  • Mortality rate during heat waves increases with age.[21] [22] The elderly seem to suffer from impaired physiological responses and often are unable to increase their cardiac output sufficiently during extremely hot weather.[23]
  • It was noted that men who had taken bath in 15oC water for one-half hour over nine consecutive days before a trip to the Arctic showed less signs of cold-induced stress than non-treated men. It indicates that adaptation to cold temperatures can occur through repeated exposures. [24]
  • To a great extent, the seasonal changes in the immune system are controlled by changes in the levels of various hormones, particularly melatonin. Serum levels of melatonin were found to be highest in the winter months in both normal individuals and SLE patients.[25] There is natural increase in bala (strength/immunity) of individuals during winter i.e. hemanta and shishira ritu.
  • Striking seasonal variations have been demonstrated in the plasma and saliva levels of the glucocorticoid, cortisol, which promotes carbohydrate metabolism. The lowest levels of cortisol were found in healthy individuals during spring and summer, while the highest levels were found during autumn and winter seasons.[26]
  • Agni (digestive power) of individuals is strong during winter i.e. hemanta and shishira ritu, and weakest during grishma and varsha ritu.
  • Rheumatic diseases vary in severity by season. The incidence of acute gouty attacks (an inflammatory arthritis) is highest in the spring season.[27] Schlesinger N.et al. (2009) explained in his paper “Seasonal Variation of Rheumatic Diseases” that seasonal variation has been shown in a number of rheumatic diseases.[28]
  • Coronary artery disease shows a winter peak and summer trough in incidence and mortality.[29] Leo Sher also proposed that seasonal mood changes may contribute to the increased incidence and mortality of coronary artery disease in winter. Depression is associated with increased incidence, morbidity, and mortality of coronary artery disease.
  • “Seasonal affective disorder” is a condition where depression in the winter and fall alternate with non-depressive periods in the spring and summer. The degree to which seasonal changes affect mood, energy, sleep, appetite, food preference, or the wish to socialize with other people has been called "seasonality." Recent studies have demonstrated that seasonal mood changes are related to the genetic factors. It means that people may have genetically‐determined sensitivity to seasons.
  • Jaiswal et al, 2011, in a clinical survey[30] found a significant relation between seasonal variation and prevalence of some diseases viz. jwara (viral fever), amlapitta (acid peptic disorders), tamaka shvasa (bronchial asthma), pratishyaya (rhinitis) and shirashula (pitta dominant shirashula and ardhavabhedaka, migraine). They also observed that there is seasonal variation in the state of agni and bala (strength) of the person, as stated by our ancient seers.
  • Nathani et al, 2013, in a clinical research[31] found that maximum number of patients of tamaka shvasa (bronchial asthma) were registered in winter seasons (hemanta and shishira), vasanta and varsha. These seasons were the predominant period of asthma attack in majority of cases. In maximum number of cases the attack of tamaka shvasa gets precipitated by intake of kapha and vata vitiating sheeta, guru, madhura and amla rasa predominant ahara like ice-cream, cold drink, cold water, fruit juices, curd, sweets, rice, pickle, salad with lemon etc. in all seasons.

References

  1. Sushruta Samhita Chapter 6
  2. Sushuta Samhita. Uttar tantra. 64/55
  3. Bhava Prakasha 5/356
  4. Bhava Prakasha 5/13
  5. Ashtanga Samgraha Sutra Sthana 4/61
  6. Sharangadhar Purva khanda 2/30
  7. Ashtanga Hridaya Sutra Sthana 10
  8. Madhav Nidana 51/1
  9. Madhav Nidana 26/4
  10. Sushruta Samhita Sutra Sthana 21/20
  11. Madhav Nidana 26/8
  12. Madhav Nidana 26/10
  13. Sushruta Samhita Uttara Tantra 40/4
  14. Madhav Nidana 50/1
  15. Cha. Chi. 7/4-8
  16. Calot and Blayo, 1982
  17. Tjoa et al, 1982
  18. White and Hertz, 1985
  19. White et al, 1985
  20. Tromp, 1963
  21. Oechsli et al, 1970
  22. Buechley et al, 1972
  23. Sprung C.L., 1979
  24. Radomski and Boutelier, 1982
  25. Nelson et al., 2000
  26. Walker et al, 1997
  27. Schlesinger N et al., 1998
  28. Schlesinger N et al, 2009
  29. Sher L., 2001
  30. Jaiswal Rahul et al, 2011
  31. Nathani Neeru et al, 2013