Traditional and Spiritual Ayurveda

At Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd, Durgadas’s approach to Ayurveda is unique, in that it encompasses a Traditional Ayurveda approach that one finds in India and in classical Ayurveda texts, not the distortions by American Ayurveda or ‘New Age Ayurveda’, which deviates from Tradition.

As a Hindu in a Vedic lineage, Durgadas 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.

Spiritual Ayurveda forms a part of the Integral Ayurveda and has been a part of Ayurvedic Healing since the oldest texts – the Vedas.

Spiritual Ayurveda brings in special mantras (sacred chants and sounds) for diseases along with special Devatas or deities of whom they are directed as also special yajnas and poojas or religious offerings to appease these various deities that correlate to different types of people and diseases – especially if of a more karmic nature – for example genetic and juvenile diseases.

This science also employs Ayurvedic Jyotish or Medical Astrology which looks at specific karmic factors behind diseases and their cures. Unlike Western astrology which is based on the Tropical Zodiac of the Seasons and generic in nature – Vedic Astrology assesses the person by time, date and place and is based on the Lunar or Sidereal Zodiac, which is the actual position of the stars as per the science of Astronomy.

It also assesses the persons gocharas or transits, specific timing for their favourable practices, the mahadashas or planetary periods they are running and the planetary influences for them – representing the supernatural effects on the doshas in their body at any one given time and also remedies for this – especially upon the mind (subtle factors or karmic factors behind even our genetic predispositions).

The science of Spiritual Ayurveda forms a part of the Tantric tradition of which was merely the ritualistic application of the Vedic teachings we see in texts such as the Brahmanas and the Krishna Yajur Veda, composed well over 5000 years ago or more and are extremely ancient and elaborate.

The science of Yoga is also connected with this also, as in Yoga, the breaths are related to planetary cycles, movements and the mind. Special breathing techniques went along with mantras and various deities were sought before such mantras were used in rituals and Yoga practices along more advanced levels for healing and also for Self-realisation.

Modern New-Age Movements have oversimplified and distorted the spiritual side of Yoga and Ayurveda – their obsession with chakras for example, which the modern western mind misunderstands. Chakras dealt with physically are simply related to physical organs and regions of the body and spiritually have certain powers and levels within each, denoting stages of consciousness – mental, higher and physical that even few advanced Indian Yogis have been able to access – let alone the masses of the New Age culture which understands their workings superficially.

There are not seven for example, but twenty-one greater chakras or states of awareness in all beings – of which most are actually in levels below the Earth or Root (Muladhara) chakra – especially those who profess to know about them in New Age, Yoga and Spiritualist circles today and make and mockery of tradition! There are also seven higher spiritual chakras denoting higher Para-consciousness above the Crown Chakra or Sahasrara.

Sadly, the modern Yoga and New Age Movements have actually given these sciences bad names and reputations as they fail to understand the deeper Psychological and Integral aspects of these systems and the Traditional connotations and terms implied and have turned them into something that one raises the brow at, rather than as stages of evolutionary and psychic Consciousness, as they are in traditional Yoga, with several levels!

Yoga itself is largely a Psychological system aimed at transforming the consciousness beyond the mind and ego and into the higher Atman or Self and of that, its union with the Paramatman or Supreme Soul – if we like, Supreme Consciousness or what Buddha termed as sunyata or void, non-entity. In Hinduism, this is known as the state or Nirguna – devoid of all material qualities.

In Traditional Yoga, one was first required to learn to work with the Rishi or Seer of the mantras or Yoga practices before attaining the grace of the Deity of the mantra or Yoga practices and seeking their grace. The same was for meditations also which were applied and given only after years of the aspiring Yogi being able to calm his mind – something that cannot be done by Western teachers with little training in Traditional Yoga outside Hinduism, nor in a mass classroom without proper sadhana or spiritual discipline!

Many get into trouble today through Kundalini and also use of mantras and meditations as they are not prepared for it and several Gurus have themselves not been trained in the specific use of these by their own lineages (many Gurus live in Ashrams and receive generic teachings of which they impart to the West who see them as correct).

For many, this stirs up vasanas or mental impressions and also samskaras or past karmic traits which resurface and many cannot handle them or do not know how to work with them at a deeper level. This also requires working with the Shakti – the force or power behind all aspects of Yoga as manifestations of the Goddess.

In the Dasha Mahavidya system in which Durgadas himself follows, this requires starting off with the first of the Ten Goddesses – Goddess Kali, representing the primal awakening of our karmas and working with them naturally and through her Saturnian power first – itself taking several years by advanced Yogis to master, before progressing to the other forms of the Goddess and their respectices sadhanas or spiritual disciplines.

Without this and following the correct path – requiring first energising mantras and practices by the blessing not just of the physical Guru, but of the higher Gurus and Rishis they came from and then the Deity – one cannot go far – if at all beyond the superficial level of Yoga at all!

One hence gets into difficultly. Even today’s Yoga is mainly Hatha-Yoga, an exercise limb of Yoga that was suited specifically for strong warrior-caste (kshatriya) types in India fighting Muslims as ‘Warrior-Yogis’ living pure, simple lifestyles and took years to master along with other disciplines – the exercise aspect taken as Yoga today was merely to keep their bodies pure and fit for fighting.

This Yoga actually produced the Gurkhas, the warrior-peoples of Northern India and Nepal, named after their Guru, the warrior-Saint, Gorakshanatha. His name means ‘Protector of cattle’, since the Muslim Invaders gave no care to the sacred cow in India of the Hindus and hence his movement sought to restore dharma or righteousness as a result.

In New Age Ayurveda, Vegetarian and Vegan Diets as per Yoga (sattvic) applied to all, whether they are suitable or not, when such were for specific warrior types.

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)

Ayurveda was employed in this Yoga also for healing and Hatha-Yoga itself was under the greater Tantric umbrella of practices and as noted, not really a Yoga in itself so far as physical exercises alone went and also required specific discipline on behalf of the individual. 

The higher Ayurveda also emphasises methods to realise the Atman or the Self, the true reality of our being or Consciousness in which we can transcend all diseases and is the path known as Jnana-Yoga or the Yoga of Wisdom – a path that can be accessed only after the lower paths of Karma-Yoga – the Yoga of Action or Service (what works are conducive to our personality and past karmas or samskaras – traits) and Bhakti-Yoga, the Yoga of Devotion, which as a science itself, brings in special aspects as well.

Just as nothing applied generically works, so also in Spiritual Ayurveda, special mantras can be used only after gaining diksha or initiation into the mantras (of which there are several levels in themselves!) and also working with the deities, such as Durgadas recommends where required.

Special herbs and formulas are also potentialised and certain practices may be recommended for people in order for their healing process to begin, which may include certain fasts, austerities or working with various deities, mundane activities or offerings and such to work through their karmas causing their psychological and physical conditions.

For those receptive to this path, there are many specific practices beyond the mundane Yoga and Ayurveda taught of which Durgadas has grown up with and learnt as well as expanded himself which is imparted and taught to those who are sincere enough to follow such teachings and guard then carefully in their journey of inner and outer healing.