Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA -198

Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA  

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Galloway Township, NJ

 BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
713 South 2nd Avenue,
Galloway Township, NJ 08205. USA
Tel: (1-609) 748 6368
Fax: (1-609) 748 6368

Daily Schedule
Daily Aarti:
7:00 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.
Darshan Timings:
Monday - Friday:

7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Saturday - Sunday:
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Weekly Schedule
Bal / Balika Shabha:
Monday: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Kishore Sabha:
Saturday: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Kishori Sabha:
Sunday: 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Mahila Sabha:
Monday: 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Satsang Sabha:
Monday: 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Bal Gujarati Classes:
Sunday: 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Balika Gujarati Classes
Sunday: 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Events - 2012
Day - Date
Monday, Jan 09
Makar Sankranti - Jholi
Monday, Jan 30
Vasant Panchami
March 21
Holi - Fuldol
April 11
Swaminarayan Jayanti / Ram Navmi
May 30
Yogi Jayanti
July 18
Guru Purnima
August 22
September 12
Jal Jhilani
October 10
Sharad Punamima
October 27
Diwali - Annakut
November 25
Pramukh Swami Janma Jayanti
November 7

How Festivals Enrich Society :
India is a land of a thousand holy festivals and rituals. Its colorful panorama reflect the religion, culture and custom of one of the most ancient and richest of civilizations. Hinduism worships and celebrates the birth and victories of its deities and holy men through festivals and rituals.
Through colors, sounds and profound sentiments it elevates and motivates the inner core of individuals. Its festive ambience invigorates and enthuses the individual from the monotony of daily life.
This special section provides a window to the history, significance and experience of a selected number of annual festivals, rituals and customs in Indian culture. Like the golden sun, festivals refresh and recharge humanity in more than one way.
Aesthetically : Festivals are a poetry of arts and crafts, and encourage the latent talents of people.
Emotionally : Festivals lend joy and zest to the monotony of life, providing entertainment and enrichment through discourses and seminars, music and melodies, dances and rhythms of a meaningful life.
Socially : festivals bring man closer to man in peaceful understanding. Social harmony is nourished as people of different nationalities, races, religions and backgrounds come together to share their joys and delights.
Morally : Festivals promote higher and better life. Guiding masses away from drugs and addictions, hatred and violence, they nourish the values of service, sacrifice, discipline, unity and cooperation - restoring man's moral dignity.
Culturally : Festivals retrace old traditions and strengthen our cultural roots by providing deeper insights.
Spiritually : Festivals inspire and consolidate faith in God. An atmosphere of purity and prayers elevate the soul and helps generate a feeling of universal brotherhood, inter-religious harmony and personal piety.

The Guru Tradition In Hinduism (Part 1)
The following is an excerpt from the
PhD thesis accomplished by Dr Brian Hutchinson in 1988, titled ‘The Guru-Devotee Relationship in the Experience of Members of the Akshar-Purushottam
Swaminarayan Sampradaya’.
In its general sense the term guru has been applied to any person, even one’s father, who is in a position to provide some aspect of the education of the individual in Hindu society (McMullen, 1976:13). A more specific meaning applies in the case of the traditional family guru to whom a boy would be given for training in the Vedic lore once he had reached the age of twelve.
According to Ramesh Dave, a prominent householder scholar of the movement, in conversation with the writer, the family guru who acts more in terms of the priest is fast disappearing, whereas the guru-sampradaya tradition is continuing at greater intensity.
The guru, independent of the subject matter being communicated, is seemingly always ‘more’ than the message which he communicates. In other words, he enters into the process to such a degree that he himself becomes part of the message. Cenkner (1983:184) uses the image of the ‘catalyst’ [aiding change in other bodies without undergoing change in itself] for the guru. He says, “He is not only the teacher of doctrine but also the sacred center of a socio-religious institution, around which people gather to worship the gods and pursue liberation paths. Faith experience is engendered within the context of the sampradaya; this always occurs, however, in direct relationship to the living guru [that is, the individual relates not so much to the group as to the guru himself].”

According to Padhye (1946:102), evidence from the Mohenjo-Daro excavations suggests that the institution of the guru is as old, or perhaps older than the Vedas. Mlecko (1982:21) says that the guru-shishya relationship was first recorded in the Vedas, “Here the guru was usually a Brahman, a priest-teacher of the Vedas. At the very least, he was god-like. He embodied the Vedas and was given the same respect as the Vedas perhaps, thereby, laying the foundation for the later, intense devotion directed towards the guru.”
Respondents interviewed occasionally quoted the Vedas and other scriptures in their discussion of the guru-devotee relationship. They do not regard the relationship they experience with their guru as an innovation of the movement – though their guru is considered to be superior to those of other movements – but they understand the relationship to be that which is supported by scripture and tradition, and which is here being experienced in its most pure and true form.
Dasgupta (1927:16), reinforces the importance of this understanding with his comment that, “No change, no new idea could be considered right or could be believed by the people, unless it could also be shown that it had the sanction of the Vedas.”
Here Dasgupta follows the convention of including the Upanishads in the Vedas.

The very term ‘Upanishad’ implies the centrality and existence of the guru in its meaning of ‘sitting down near’. In other words, the term may specifically refer to the method by which spiritual truths were communicated, that is, by a teacher or guru whose pupils gathered around him to receive instruction.
The Upanishads present the guru as essential to the attainment of the higher wisdom, knowledge of the Self, which is the primary goal of the Upanishads, cannot be attained without the guru.
“Only by knowledge received direct from the guru does one attain to the most beneficent. It is only he, in whom that knowledge is alive, that can communicate to the seeker” (Pandit, 1963:388).
The Katha Upanishad 2, (quoted by Pandit, 1963:388), has, “Unless told of Him by another, thou canst not find thy way to Him; for He is subtler than subtlety and that which logic cannot reach. This wisdom is not to be had by reasoning; only when told thee by another, it brings real knowledge.”
Sacrifice is insufficient to attain it, “The highest wisdom, which is the supreme stage, cannot be reached by sacrifice. One must go in a proper manner to a guru and discover from him the imperishable Man, the supreme reality” (Gonda 1965:409).
This belief in the importance of the guru is held so strongly that even the avatars, Bhagwan Swaminarayan included, have conformed to this pattern and have themselves had their own gurus.
The relationship between the devotee and the guru begins in the profound respect felt towards the teacher. Not only on the basis of the knowledge which he is understood to have, but for what he is in himself.
“The esteem given to the guru in the Indian tradition grows out of this initial conception of the teacher as both a knower of Brahman and a dweller in Brahman” (Cenkner, 1983:9).
It seems that such profound respect can easily merge into that of the love that is characteristically felt for the guru, not only in the bhakti movements, but in all guru-devotee situations, even where the teaching matter stresses mainly intellectual attributes.
The grace of the guru receives more emphasis in the later Upanishads, there, according to Cenkner, “liberation is virtually impossible without the knowledge and grace of the guru” (1983:10).
In these Upanishads there is a theistic emphasis, and ultimate reality is seen to consist in personal terms. The idea of impersonal Brahman is superceded. The most prominent of these is the theistic Svetasvatara Upanishad, which served as one of the main sources of the later doctrine of bhakti and to which tradition the movement belongs (Griffiths 1982:79). In the Svetasvatara (VI.23), (Tyagisananda 1964:136) devotion to the guru and to God are placed on an equal level, “These truths, when taught, shine forth only in that high-souled one who has supreme devotion to God, and an equal degree of devotion to the spiritual teacher. They shine forth in that high-souled one only.”

The Guru Tradition In Hinduism (Part 2)
The relationship between teacher and pupil is partly determined by the type of knowledge sought. The law books reflect a basic parental relationship between teacher and student because obedience to the laws is the basic orientation. In the earlier Upanishads, where knowledge of Brahman or knowledge of the Self is the aim, then a more intimate personal association between the guru and devotee comes about. It is the epics, Puranas and the early bhakti literature which establish the basis for the refined love relationship between guru and shisya (Cenkner, 1983:27), and which belongs to the understanding of the guru-devotee relationship in the movement.
According to Mlecko (1982:40), the epics highlight “another response to the guru besides propriety and obedience; namely, devotion, the paramount dimension of bhakti. The Epics record the attempt to move away from the Brahmanic tradition in two areas: away from ritualistic (Vedic) and philosophical (Upanishadic) forms of worship to divine-human gods, the avataras, with emphasis on their human dimension.”
Spiritual progress in the devotee is seen in all instances of the relationship to be dependent upon assistance from the guru. Even the gods in human form, the avatars, conform to the system, and they themselves become devotees of a guru. In so doing, in addition to effecting their spiritual development within the human order, (again, their need for a guru for this purpose is a matter upon which persons hold differing views), they legitimise the guru-devotee relationship and reveal it as belonging not only to the human but to the divine order. A sadhu explained to the writer, “This is the traditional way that he [Swaminarayan] has accepted…. This is Hindu tradition; the belief that everyone must have a guru. Rama had a guru. The Lord having a guru helps to stress the desirable state of affairs. If the Lord himself had a guru then I too must have a guru.”
The classical model for the guru-devotee relationship occurs in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna appears to Arjuna in the guise of a charioteer. In guiding and advising him on the right way to think and act, he functions in the role of guru for Arjuna. Krishna is addressed as father, Lord and most venerable guru. Here devotion to the guru becomes indistinguishable from devotion to the Lord (Mlecko, 1982:21).
The Gita’s model, though representing the avatar-human encounter, is also accepted as the divinely ordained model for the guru-devotee relationship.
A leaf, a flower, a fruit or water,
Who presents to Me with devotion
That offering of devotion I
Accept from the devout-souled.
Be Me-minded, devoted to Me,
Worshipping Me, pay homage to Me.
Just to Me shalt thou go, having thus disciplined
Thyself fully, intent on Me.
- Gita IX: 26 & 34, Edgerton 1964:48
In the Gita, Krishna, as avatar-guru, commends this relationship of obedience and devotion not only to himself but also to the human guru (Gita IV.34. Edgerton, 1964:26), “Learn to know this by obeisance (to those who can teach it), By questioning (them) by serving (them).”
That is, the attitude of loving devotion (bhakti), here being encouraged from Arjuna towards Krishna as God-incarnate, is understood to be the attitude which a devotee should show to his guru as the personal and immediate manifestation of the deity.
This humanizing of the concept of God which is strongly evident in the epics (Mlecko 1982:44) was continued in the Puranas and strongly influenced the understanding of the guru. Increasingly, devotion to the guru and devotion to God become indistinguishable. This identification of guru and God at least in the experiential area can also be seen in the Puranas, according to Mlecko (1982:44), “In the comparatively late portions of the Puranas, the devotional attitude towards the deity is shared by the guru. Even more, the guru is often identified with the highest deity of the sect.”
This attitude towards the guru has been a characteristic of bhakti movements in general.
The Swaminarayan sect, the ‘old’ and the Akshar-Purushottam branch, provide evidence to support this statement. Swaminarayan, during his ‘earthly’ lifetime, (1781-1830 A.D.), was apparently regarded as a sadguru. He evidently evoked an adulation and devotion in his devotees which elevated him in their understanding to the level of God himself. After his death, this conviction remained as the central moving force in the ‘old’ movement, focused on the murti of Swaminarayan and on his teaching. In the Akshar-Purushottam branch this continuing presence of Swaminarayan is also experienced as residing in his murti, and in his teaching, but in particular his presence is considered to reside in the guru. Thus for members of the movement the guru provides the most dynamic evidence of the presence of Swaminarayan.
The name ‘Swaminarayan’ itself carries the conviction of the whole sect that their founder was the holy man, the ‘Swami’, in whom the ultimate divinity, Narayan, was manifested. Members chant the name as a mantra in public and private worship, and at other times in the life of the temple, notably at meal times before commencing to eat. The chanting affirms the belief that their founder was the human manifestation of the divine, and, as is the purpose of mantras, is believed to induce consciousness of God.
In the Akshar-Purushottam group the name has an additional meaning. It indicates that their guru is the ‘abode’ of God. Swami indicates the guru and Narayan the Lord. The guru is Akshar in whom Purushottam manifests, the Swami in whom Narayan is encountered.
A further similarity of the guru of the movement to the guru of the Puranas, is that the guru is not required to belong to any particular caste. The emphasis is upon the spiritual level of the individual rather than a traditional caste role. According to Mlecko (1982:44), in the period of the Puranas, “Religious authority was significantly shifting from orthodox Brahmans who knew the Vedas to the guru whose devotion and knowledge of Tantra led him to liberation.”
Pandit (1963:388) emphasizes the influence of the Tantra in the guru tradition. He says, “It is the Tantra that has given firm shape to the tradition and worked out in minute detail the dynamics of the guru-sishya operation… In the tradition of the Tantra, the guru is the central pivot on which every movement in spiritual life turns. He is not just a learned man who can teach. It is profane to look upon him as human. He is much more; in fact, he is looked upon as the Divine, even the very Divine Himself.”
Mlecko (1982:57) makes the observation that in the Tantra the personalization of the deity moves to another level. He points out that there is a change in emphasis from the avatara, ‘god descending’, to the guru as ‘man ascending’ into divinity. Here, the guru, as jivanmukta, has attained freedom from karma and its limitations whilst still living physically. However, the belief in the movement is that the guru, as Akshar, has not needed to ‘attain’ the state of jivanmukta in order to grant release. With him, as one sadhu explained, “There is no question of development.” The belief is that he is, by his very nature, ‘eternally beyond maya’.
The association of guru and deity appears to reach its height in the Tantras. McMullen (1976:22), extracts the following statements showing the understanding of the guru from a number of Tantric sources, “There is no god higher than the Guru…. He walks on the earth, concealed for bestowing grace on the good disciples…. The worship of the Guru yields infinitely more merit than any number of observances, gifts, rituals, sacrifices, pilgrimages, mantra, japa, etc…. In this world all holy actions are rooted in the Guru…. Even when god Shiva is angry, the Guru is the saviour, but when the Guru himself is angered there is none to save. Ruin follows from the anger of the Guru, bad death from the criticism of the Guru, catastrophes from the displeasure of the Guru.”
The guru has here become the dominating influence in spiritual life. All activity, book learning, ritual, must be “energized by the personality of the guru. It is only those acts that are inspired by the guru that yield bhakti and mukti” (Pandit 1963:388).
In the movement it is only obedience to the ‘agna’, the command and will of the guru that constitutes liberating action. Things which seem good in themselves are necessarily beneficial for the devotee; they need to receive the sanction of the guru’s command.

A prayer is our communication with God. We pray to him for many things – for peace,
for happiness, for health …
We pray to him for ourselves, for our family and friends, for others, for our Guru …
We pray to him during our daily puja, in arti, or in our daily routine …
Here is a chance to offer prayers to the holy place of Akshar Deri in Gondal.



 Annually over 483,600 patients are treated at BAPS medical institutions.
For information about Medical activities in North America, please visit www.bapscharities.org

      29 BAPS educational institutes annually educate over 6,000 students.

      From water management to waste recycling, BAPS has succeeded in many projects.

      Over 10,000 women volunteers manage parallel social & spiritual activities.

      Special social campaigns have resulted in mass transformation of society.
For information about Walkathons in North America, please visit www.bapscharities.org

      In natural calamities BAPS volunteers offer selfless services.
For information about Relief activities in North America, please visit www.bapscharities.org

    Hundreds of tribal villages have been freed fromaddictions, superstitions and poverty.


Ayurveda: An Overview
“Science is a light that illuminates. One’s own intellect is vision. One who applies both seldom errs.”
To understand this holistic therapy let’s answer a few questions.
  • What Is Ayurveda?
    Ayurveda comprises of two words:
    Ayur = Life
    Veda = Compiled science (produced by ancestors)
Thus, Ayurveda is a science of life, touching every aspect of human health, for example, preventive, curative, social, spiritual.
  • Where Did It Originate and How Has It Progressed?
Ayurveda originated from Lord Brahma, who revealed this knowledge in the form of the Brahma Samhita.
Since then its development can be classified into four phases:

  1. Vedic Period (4000 BCE to 1st Century CE)
    The knowledge revealed by Lord Brahma was compiled to form the Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and Atharva Veda. The Rig Veda is recognized to be over 6,000 years old and is the most ancient literature in the history of humankind. It contains a brief outline of Ayurveda. Description of supplements along with spiritual approach to healing is found in considerable amount in the Rig Veda. In the Atharva Veda, from which Ayurveda is believed to have evolved. Ayurveda is the Upveda of Atharva Veda.
  2. Samhita Period (1st to 6th Century CE)
    This period is described as the golden period of Ayurveda, since the two great medical treatises, Charak Samhita and Sushrut Samhita, were written.
  3. Samgraha Period (6th to 16th Century)
    This third phase was greatly influenced by a few other alternative therapies, especially Siddha (Indian Alchemy). This new revolutionary therapy introduced use of various metals and minerals in homogenous form to treat diseases which were difficult to cure in that period of time.
  4. Modern period (16th Century to Present)
    This fourth phase starts from the writing of the Bhavaprakash Samhita by Pandit Bhavprakash. In this era, many books providing details of various herbal and herbo-mineral formulations were produced.

    The last century, known as the ‘New Age Ayurveda’ period, has seen the use of modern science and technology to enhance Ayurvedic science for the benefit of mankind.
Aims of Ayurveda:
There are two major aims of Ayurveda which are nowhere found in any other therapeutic systems.
“Svasthasya svasthya rakshanam aaturasya vikar prashamanam cha I”
    • To maintain the normal health of healthy ones
Ayurveda is a holistic system of human health which provides great scientific contributions as a medical science in the form of prevention and treatment of diseases. It teaches how to maintain healthy body throughout life.
“Dhatusamya kriya cha ukta tantrasyasya prayojanam II”
    • To treat illness
Ayurveda describes dhatus as the ultimate responsible factors for disease. So, the second object is to restore their balance by uprooting the root cause of disease rather than merely symptomatic treatment.
Brief introduction of Doshas, Dhatus, Mala, Agni, Panch-mahabhuta:
Three Doshas
There are three doshas (humors): vata, pitta and kapha. In a balanced condition these three doshas maintain health, but when this equilibrium is disturbed, the normal functions of the body are hampered and this eventually manifests as disease. This imbalance may be in the form of a decrease or increase of one, two or all three doshas.
Vata usually means air, wind or gas, but in the body, as a dosha, it is representative of the vayu (air) and akash (space) mahabhuts (basic elements). It is the principle kinetic energy responsible for all bodily movements and nervous system functions.
The properties of vata are dryness, cold, lightness, mobility, roughness and penetrable to most minute space of the body.
Pitta is composed of the basic elements tej (fire) and jal (water) and governs the enzymatic and hormonal activities of the body. It is responsible for digestion, pigmentation, body temperature, thirst, hunger, sight, courage and mental activities.
The properties of pitta are hot, light, intense, fluid, putrid, pungent and acrid. It is able to digest and transform the substance into different forms suitable to the body.
Kapha is phlegm, which is made up of the basic elements of prithvi (earth) and jal (water). It is responsible for the cohesion and stability of the body. It lubricates joints, maintains sexual power and strength, and controls patience.
The properties of kapha are heavy, viscous, cold, stable, dense, soft and smooth. It provides the body mass and firmness, and immune protection.
Seven Dhatus
The seven dhatus, or tissues, are responsible for sustaining the body. Each dhatu is the source from which the next dhatu is formed and nourished.
    • Rasa (Sap): comes from digested food. Takes the form of lymph, tissue fluid, chyle and plasma, through which it provides nourishment to the entire body.
    • Rakta (Blood): includes red blood cells and functions to invigorate the body.
    • Mansa (Flesh): includes muscles and ligaments, and functions to support and stabilize the body structure.
    • Meda (Fat): comprises fatty tissues, and reduces friction at the interfaces of body tissues.
    • Asthi (Bone): consists of bones and cartilage and functions as support.
    • Majja (Marrow): includes red and yellow bone marrow and functions as a filling for bones.
    • Shukra (Sexual fluid): includes male and female sexual fluids and functions in reproduction and immunity.
Three Malas
These are the waste products of digested food and drink. Ayurveda delineates three principal malas: feces, urine and sweat. Regular elimination of these malas cleanses the body and maintains proper functioning of body systems.
There are three categories of agni:
The major type is jatharagni (digestive enzymes of GI system) that assists in digestion and assimilation of food; it is active in the mouth, stomach and gastrointestinal tract.
The second type is bhutagni, which comprises five subtypes, which are located in the liver. They effect the molecular transformation of digested food into usable form, which is then released into the blood to be circulated in all dhatus (body tissues).
The third type isdhatwagni, which comprises seven subtypes, one for each of the seven dhatus. Each has its own dhatwagni to convert the earlier dhatu material into its functional form.
Ayurveda proposes that the cosmos is composed of five basic elements: space (akash), air (vayu), fire (agni or tejas), water (jala), earth (prithvi). Human beings are miniature representations of the universe and contain within them everything that makes up the surrounding world. Dosha, dhatu, mala and agni also arise from these basic elements.
All aspects of nature, including different phases of day-night and geographical locations are expressed in terms of these five elements. These elements are in a balanced state in the human body. Any imbalance in these elements results in various health disorders.
Ayurveda believes that these five elements exist in different proportions in all forms of matter. The state and properties of matter depends on the proportions of these basic elements.
The panch-mahabhutas can be defined in a material as well as a subtle sense. These basic elements constantly change and interact with each other resulting in a dynamic world.
In the case of a complex human body, earth provides structure to the cell as it manifests in the solid structure of the body.
The basic element of water is present in all body fluids, such as, plasma, saliva, digestive juices and enzymes. Water has the property of flowing and holding the things together.
The basic element of fire is the universal force in nature that produces heat and radiates light. It regulates the metabolic processes regulating the cell by controlling the functioning of various enzymes.
The element of air consists of the movement present in the body. This element sets the universe in motion. It is an invisible kinetic force that moves the blood through vessels, wastes from the body and thoughts through the mind. It also denotes the muscular movements of the body.
The basic element of space is present in all cells. It is everywhere and generally touches everything. It also corresponds to spaces within the body like mouth, nostrils and abdomen.
In summary:
    • Everything solid is the earth. In the body it provides definite mass to the human body.
    • All liquid is water which is responsible for binding all structures with each other in body.
    • Fire is the transformer of one thing into another and within the body it provides definite color, brightness and performs the process of digestion.
    • Air provides definite motion in the body’s internal environment.
    • Space is the field upon which everything rests, like structural organs of the body.
Ayurveda views every person as a unique individual made up of these five elements. All these elements have the ability to combine with each other to perform various physiological functions. These five elements when joined in different combinations form three biological humors or doshas that form the nature of an individual, known as the body’s composition or prakriti. This is why Ayurveda treats each person as an independent unit.
The combination of air and space forms vata or the kinetic biological mode. Vata is responsible for all in and out movements of the system.
The combination of fire and water forms pitta or the transformative biological mode. It transforms the outer non-acceptable elements directly into the inner acceptable elements of the body.
The combination of earth and water forms kapha or the constructive biological mode. It is responsible for lubrication and providing structure to the body.
Each individual is a combination of two modes, of which one is primary and the other is secondary. The primary mode represents the characteristics of an individual and treatment is based on that.

Ayurveda designs treatment, lifestyle and nutritional guidelines depending on the three modes (doshas).
There are five sense organs in the human body and each of the senses is associated with a specific basic element.
The sense of touch is associated with air, smell with earth, hearing with space, seeing with fire and taste with water.
Ayurveda describes six types of taste: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each of these is comprised of at least two basic elements.
Sweet is produced by earth and water, sour by earth and fire, salty by water and fire, pungent by fire and air, bitter by air and space, and astringent by air and earth.
Thus, the panch-mahabhutas form the basis of all diagnoses and treatments in Ayurveda. Balancing these panch-mahabhutas is essential for maintaining health and curing diseases from any cause.                     
Diagnosis: 10 Investigatory Steps
15.       Prakriti: Physical and Mental constitution
    1. Vikriti: Pathology
    2. Sara: Strength of Systems
    3. Samhanan: Body strength
    4. Pramana: Organic anomalies
    5. Satmya: Homologation
    6. Sattva: Mental state
    7. Ahar Shakti: Food intake and digestive capacity
    8. Vyayam Shakti: Physical strength of body
    9. Vaya: Age
This age-old science of purifying the body is an important branch of Ayurveda. Treatment in Ayurveda consists of two main types.
One is Shaman Chikitsa, used to subdue the vitiated doshas, due to which any ailments may be produced. It is administered by using various medicinal herbo-mineral preparations.
However, if the doshas are spoilt beyond a particular level, they give rise to various endotoxins, which have a tendency to accumulate in the minute body channels. These are harmful and hence need to be eliminated from the body. In such cases, the second type of treatment, which is called Shodhan Chikitsa, or cleansing therapy, is prescribed.
Panchakarma is a combination of two Sanskrit words panch, meaning ‘five’, and karma, meaning ‘action’. It means ‘five actions’ or ‘fivetreatments’. It is generally performed as part of a treatment regime.
Panchakarma is the cornerstone of the Ayurvedic management of disease. It is the process which targets the root cause of the problem and corrects the essential balance of three doshas in the body. Panchakarma is not only good for alleviating disease, but is also a useful tool in maintaining excellent health. Ayurveda advises undergoing panchakarma at the transitions of the seasons to cleanse the body, improve digestion and improve the metabolic processes.
Panchakarma has been given a special place in all ancient Ayurvedic texts. Acharya Charak, the author of the most important ancient text on internal supplement, Charak Samhita, has described a wide use of panchakarma therapy for almost all the major diseases.
Two separate sections, Kalpa Sthanam, and Siddhi Sthanam in Charak Samhita describe the details of special decoctions and other preparations used for panchakarma therapy.
Panchakarma involves three phases:
25.       Purva Karma (Preparatory Methods):
      • Pachan – Digestion
      • Snehan – Internal and external oleation (i.e., ingestion and external application of oils)
      • Svedan – Fomentation
    1. Pradhan Karma (Main Methods):
      • Vaman – Induced vomiting
      • Virechan – Induced purgation
      • Basti – Medicated enema
      • Nasya – Nasal supplement
      • Rakta Mokshan – Artificial bloodletting
    2. Pashchat Karma (Post-Therapeutic Measures):
This includes sansarjan kram (specific diets), dhum pan (smoking of medicinal cigars) and some general rules to follow specific activities.
Purva Karma (Pre-purification Measures):
Before the actual process of purification begins, there is a need to prepare the body by the prescribed methods to encourage it to let go of the toxins. This is done by two procedures: snehan and svedan.
Snehan is oil massage. Oil is applied to the entire body with a particular type of massage which helps the toxins to move towards the gastrointestinal tract. Oil massage also makes the superficial and deep tissues soft and supple. Snehan is given daily for three to seven days, as indicated.
Svedan is sudation or sweating and is given every day immediately following the snehan. A herbal concoction may be added to the steam to further loosen the toxins from the individual. Svedan liquefies the toxins and increases the movement of toxins into the gastro-intestinal tract. After three to seven days of snehan and svedan, the doshas become well ripened and then ready to exit out of the body from their residing centre. A particular panchakarma method is then given according to the individual’s constitution and disorder, prakriti and vikriti, respectively.
Five Basic Shodhans: (Cleansing Methods)
Vaman: Emesis Therapy
When there is congestion in the lungs causing repeated attacks of bronchitis, colds, cough or asthma, the Ayurvedic treatment is therapeutic vomiting, vaman, to eliminate the kapha causing the excess mucus.
First, after the snehan and svedan, three to four glasses of licorice or saltwater is administered. Then vomiting is stimulated by gently rubbing the posterior part of the tongue. Alternatively, one may take two to three glasses of saltwater, which will also aggravate kapha, and then rub the tongue to induce vomiting. Once the mucus is released the patient will feel instant relief. It is likely that congestion, wheezing and breathlessness will disappear and that the sinuses will become clear. Therapeutic vomiting is also indicated in chronic asthma, diabetes, chronic cold, lymphatic congestion, chronic indigestion and edema.
Virechan: Purgation Therapy
When excess bile, pitta, is secreted and accumulated in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine, it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, bilious vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Ayurveda recommends the administration of therapeutic purgation or a therapeutic laxative. Virechan is facilitated with senna leaves, flax seeds, psyllium husks or triphala in a combination that is appropriate for the individual person.
In cases of blood impurities and skin diseases, too, virechan is recommended.
Basti: Enema Therapy
The predominant site of vata is the colon. Ayurvedic basti involves the introduction into the rectum of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and certain herbal preparations in a liquid medium.
Basti is the most effective treatment for vata disorders, although many enemas over a prescribed period of time are usually required. It relieves constipation, distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache, sciatica and other joint pains. Many other vata disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with basti.
Vata is a very active principle in pathogenesis. If we can control vata through the use of basti, we have gone a long way in going to the root cause of the vast majority of diseases.
Vata is the main etiological factor in the manifestation of diseases. It is the motive force behind the elimination and retention of feces, urine, bile and other excreta.
There are eight main types of basti, according to traditional texts, each with their own indications and contra-indications as listed below:
28.       Anuvasan (oil enema) is used in pure vata disorders and when a person has excess hunger or dryness related to vata imbalances.
    1. Niruh-Asthapan (decoction enema) is used in, among other conditions, nervous diseases, gastrointestinal vata conditions, gout, certain fevers, syncope, certain urinary conditions,  pain, hyperacidity and heart diseases.
    2. Uttar Basti (through the urethra in men or vagina in women) is used for selected semen and ovulation disorders and for some problems involving painful urination or bladder infections. This is not to be used for someone with diabetes.
    3. Matra Basti (daily oil enema) is used by someone emaciated by overwork, too much exercise, too much heavy lifting, walking too long a distance, too much sexual activity or someone with chronic vata disorders. It does not need to be accompanied by any strict dietary restriction or daily routine and can be administered, in appropriate cases, in all seasons. It gives strength, promotes weight and helps elimination of waste products.
    4. Karm Basti (schedule of 30 bastis).
    5. Kal Basti (schedule of 15 bastis; 10 oil and 5 decoction).
    6. Yog Basti (schedule of 8 bastis; 5 oil and 3 decoction).
    7. Bruhan Basti (nutritional enema) is used for providing deep nutrition in selected conditions. Traditionally, highly nutritive substances have been used, such as warm milk and herbs like shatavari or ashwagandha.
Nasya: Nasal Administration
The nose is the doorway to the brain and it is also the doorway to consciousness. The nasal administration of medication is called nasya. An excess of bodily humors accumulated in the sinus, throat, nose or head areas is eliminated by means of the nearest possible opening, the nose.
Prana, a life force as nerve energy, enters the body through the breath taken into the nose. Prana is primarily stays in the brain and maintains sensory and motor functions. Prana also governs mental activities, memory, concentration and intellectual activities. Deranged prana creates defective functioning of all these activities and produces headaches, convulsions, loss of memory and reduced sensory perception. Thus, nasal administration, nasya, is indicated for prana disorders, sinus congestion, migraine headaches, convulsions and certain eye and ear problems.
There are six main types of nasya, as listed below:
36.       Pradhaman (virechan) Nasya (cleansing nasya) uses dry powders (rather than oils) that are blown into the nose with a tube. Pradhaman nasya is mainly used for kapha disorders involving headaches, heaviness in the head, cold, nasal congestion, sticky eyes, hoarseness of voice due to sticky kapha, sinusitis, cervical lymphadenitis, tumors, worms, some skin diseases, epilepsy, drowsiness, Parkinsonism, inflammation of the nasal mucosa. Traditionally, powders such as brahmi are used.
    1. Bruhan Nasya (nutrition nasya) uses ghee, oils, salt, shatavari ghee, ashwagandha ghee and medicated milk and is used mainly for vata disorders. It is said to benefit conditions resulting from vata imbalances such as vata-type headaches, migraine headaches, dryness of voice, dry nose, nervousness, anxiety, fear, dizziness, heaviness of eyelids, bursitis, stiffness in the neck, dry sinuses and loss of sense of smell.
    2. Shaman Nasya (sedative nasya) is used according to which dosha is aggravated but mainly for pitta-type disorders such as thinning of hair, conjunctivitis and ringing in the ears. Generally, certain herbal medicated decoctions, teas and medicated oils are used.
    3. Navan Nasya (decoction nasya) is used in vata-pitta or kapha-pitta disorders and is made from decoctions and oils together.
    4. Marshya Nasya (ghee or oil nasya).
    5. Prati Marshya (daily oil nasya). This helps to open deep tissues and can be done every day and at any time to release stress.
Raktamokshan: Traditional Ayurvedic method for purification and cleansing of the bloodToxins present in the gastrointestinal tract are absorbed into the blood and circulated throughout the body. This condition is called toxemia, which is the basic cause of repeated infections, hypertension and certain other circulatory conditions. This includes repeated attacks of skin disorders such as urticaria, rashes, herpes, eczema, acne, leukoderma, chronic itching or hives. In such conditions, along with internal medication, elimination of the toxins and purification of the blood is necessary. Raktamoksha is also indicated for cases of enlarged liver or spleen, and in gout.
Extracting a small amount of blood from a vein relieves the tension created by the pitta-genic toxins in the blood. Bloodletting also stimulates the spleen to produce antitoxic substances which helps to stimulate the immune system. Toxins are neutralized enabling radical cures in many blood-borne disorders.
Bloodletting is contraindicated in cases of anemia, edema, extreme weakness, diabetes, and in children and elderly persons.
Today, Ayurveda has become accepted as a safe system for the holistic treatment of disease and maintenance of health. It is a therapy which teaches us to keep our physical, mental and spiritual health in balance to live a long, happy and healthy life.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )




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