Ojas and Rasayana
The qualities of ojas have been described by the ancient redactors (see side bar) of Ayurvedic wisdom. Caraka lists them as heavy, cool, soft, smooth, viscous, sweet, stable, clear, unctuous, sticky or cohesive. Caraka describes ojas as having the color of ghee, the taste of honey, and the smell of laja (dry fried rice). Foods such as ghee, milk, dates, almonds, basmati rice and avocados help replenish ojas. Herbs such as ashvagandha, shatavari, amalaki and herbal formulas such as Shakti Prana and Chyavanaprash are also useful to nourish ojas. Behaviors which are sattvic--such as yoga, meditation, reading the Vedic literature, keeping the company of the wise, right thinking also promote the formation and flow of ojas.
Ayurveda gives understanding of the causal relationship implied by these facts in the Law of Similarity and Dissimilarity. It states that any quality applied to a substance will increase that quality in that substance. If a substance is exposed to qualities such as those embodied in ojas then that substance will become more ojas-like. Therefore, the foods listed above must be high in those ojas qualities and they are. Similarly, the herbs and the behaviors have those ojas qualities and when one is exposed to them one automatically increases ojas. Looking at this in another way we can say that these substances are anabolic (promote growth).
When ojas is diminished the symptoms of fear, worry, weakness, loss of complexion, emaciation, roughness, cheerlessness, pain in the sense organs, decreased immunity, etc., may manifest. These symptoms may be caused by persistent emotional distress such as anger, worry, fear, grief, by prolonged wasting diseases, by prolonged fasting, extreme exertion, excessive sex, excessive elimination of bodily fluids--blood, mucus, semen etc., excessive exposure to sun and wind, excessively staying awake, diet of cold, dry and rough quality, and by old age and seasonally dry periods. Also, drugs/substances such as alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, etc., are detrimental to physiology. The understanding of this relates to the law of cause and effect described above--Law of Similarity and Dissimilarity. The qualities of alcohol, for example, are exactly opposite to those qualities of ojas. Ingesting these substances brings these qualities into the body and depletes or decreases those ojas qualities. By avoiding these causative factors one protects ojas.
Ojas is the essence of life and the supreme expression of that flow of unifying intelligence we call Consciousness. Life is a process--a flow of intelligence, of energy and consciousness, which is experienced as bliss so long as the flow is continuous.
AMALAKI Emblica officinalis
Vata - , Pitta - , Kapha and Ama + if used in excess
Tastes: Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Pungent, Astringent
Vipaka (the heating or cooling property of a substance when it is swallowed): Cooling
Virya (post digestive effect of food etc.): Sweet
One of the three herbs contained in triphala and the main ingredient in Chyavanprash, Amalaki is a powerful rejuvenative that is particularly effective as a rasayana for Pitta, the blood, bones, liver and heart. Its predominantly sour taste improves the digestive fire without increasing Pitta because it is energetically cool and has a sweet post digestive effect. The fruit contains twenty times the amount of vitamin C as in one orange in a form that is said to be heat stable and not disturbed by processing. It is a nutritive tonic that builds and maintains the tissues, stimulates the production of red blood cells, enhances cellular regeneration and increases lean body mass. Amalaki strengthens the teeth, and causes hair and nails to grow. It cleans the mouth, stops the bleeding of gums, improves eyesight, and relieves inflammation of the stomach and colleen. In addition, it improves the appetite while helping to regulate blood sugar. The tree itself is long-living and sattvic in nature. As such it is said to bring good fortune, love, and longevity.
Amalaki may be indicated in the following: hyperacidity, bleeding disorders, hemorrhoids, anemia, diabetes, gout, vertigo, gastritis, colitis, hepatitis, osteoporosis, constipation, biliousness, weakness of liver or spleen, premature greying or hair loss, general debility, tissue loss, palpitation and convalescence from fever.
Ashvagandha Winter Cherry; Withania somnifera
Vata -, Pitta +, Kapha -, Ama + (in excessive use)
Tastes: Bitter, Astringent, Sweet
Ashvagandha is a rasayana and a rejuvenative used primarily to treat debility due to old age, nervous exhaustion and simple overwork. It has a strengthening effect on both the body and mind. As a rebuilder of tissues, it is particularly useful for deficiencies or weakness of muscle, bone and fat. Sattvic in nature, it acts as a nervine and sedative to clarify the mind and promote sound, restful sleep. Said to give the vitality and sexual energy of a horse, ashvagandha is an aphrodisiac that builds ojas and prana.
Ashvagandha is useful in conditions such as; rheumatism, emaciation, sexual debility, infertility, edema, tuberculosis, worms, asthma, spermatorrhea, diseases of the nerves, poor or mal nutrition, and pneumonia. It may also be helpful for Vata and Kapha type schizophrenia and as an anti-epileptic for grand mal seizures.
Shatavari Asparagus root; Asparagus racemosus
Vata -, Pitta -, Kapha or Ama + (with excessive use)
Tastes: Sweet, Astringent
It's name means she who possess a hundred husbands because of its tonifying and rejuvenating actions on the female reproductive organs. As a rasayana it increases milk, semen, and sexual secretions. It nourishes the ovum and increases fertility. Shatavari supplies many female hormones, making it useful during menopause or for women who have had hysterectomies. In addition to being the main Ayurvedic rejuvenative for females, �atavari is a rasayana for pitta and cleanses the blood. It strengthens the immune system, improves the intellect, digestion and physical strength. Shatavari also acts to soothe, protect and nurture inflamed membranes of the lungs, stomach, kidneys, and sexual organs. Though it is sattvic in nature, shatavari also promotes love and devotion.
Shatavari is indicated in the following: debility of the female organs, general sexual debility, infertility, impotence, menopause, diarrhea, dysentery, stomach ulcers, hyperacidity, dehydration, lung abscess, hematemesis, cough, convalescence, cancer, herpes, leukorrhea, chronic fevers, and urinary tract disorders.
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