‘Swasthya swasthya samrakshnam, Aathurasya vikara prashamanam’: when roughly translated this Sanskrit verse means it isn’t about curing someone’s illness but also in keeping oneself fit and healthy. Kerala Ayurveda practitioners religiously follow this rule and give importance to Karkkidaka therapy.
Ayurveda is a branch of science that has roots all over India. But Karkkidaka therapy has the copyright of Kerala Ayurveda practitioners.
‘Baladishtanam arogyam arogyartham kriya kramam’: a person’s health can be gauged from his stamina. According to Ayurveda, in order to have this natural health, it is important to do the necessary rituals and practices. It is from this principle that Ayurvedic treatment becomes more important in the month of Karkkidaka when health is generally inadequate.
The month of Karkkidaka is the 30 days that come in the middle of July-August of the six seasons (winter, Spring, Summer, monsoon, Autumn, and pre-winter).
After summer the sudden decline in temperature results in Agni (fire) imbalance in the body leading to slow digestion as well as other contagious diseases. Ayurveda helps in uplifting our physical and mental health during this period.
And it goes without saying that at a time when unhealthy lifestyles have made people prone to many diseases, it’s ironic to see them indulge in various rituals and practices solely during the month of Karkkidaka.
Importance of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is defined as the Veda of Life. Ayurveda's relevance and popularity are increasing day by day at a time when alternative medicines aren’t effective in curing many diseases. The cause of disease in this body, which combines the Panchabhutas (five elements), Tridoshas (vata, pitta, kapha), Sapta Dhatus (seven bodily tissues) and sources, is due to the depletion of the Agni force mentioned earlier. By depleting Agni, the tridoshas become imbalanced and thereby result in diseases. So the aim of the treatment is to bring the tridoshas into balance by stabilizing the debilitated fire.
Let's look at some of the things that Ayurveda suggests for this purpose.
Get up early in the morning and perform the morning ablutions cleansing your body and mind in the process. There is a reason why the mind is specified as you are declared fully fit only if you have sound physical and mental health.
Consume light food and drinks - Avoid hard-to-digest foods and eat light, warm and fresh food during this month since the Agni is weak. Kanji is highly recommended. Best kanji would be the ones cooked in medicinal herbs and Navara rice.
Medicinal Porridge- Porridge is very easy for digestion and also beneficial for the body as it provides the necessary starch and nutrients and keeps you hydrated. For that consume Navara rice, panchakolam, indup, dasamoolam, and Dasha flower according to your body type. Coconut milk, jaggery, etc can be added for taste.
In Ayurveda Panchakarma is the main treatment where you cleanse the body of all the unwanted waste after loosening it. Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Therapeutic purgation), Vasti (Therapeutic enema), Nasya (Nasal medication) and Rakta Moksha (Therapeutic blood-letting) are the 5 karmas that help in cleansing the body
These should be done rationally under the supervision of a knowledgeable physician considering the body type and disease condition. Or else you can expect the opposite effect. It is mandatory to perform some preliminary actions before these important actions.
Snehanam (oil application) and svedanam (sweating) are only different variations of what we see as Abhyanga (Uzhichil), Pizhichil (oil bath), and Navara Kizhi, and Ela Kizhi for panchakarma.
These treatments are more popular during the month of Karkkidaka as these preliminary rituals which accelerate blood circulation and strengthen the muscles are beneficial only if done with a diet.
The Dashapushpas are Cherula, Tiruthali, Karuka, Mukutti, Vishnukranti, Poovankurunnila, Muyalchevian, Nilapana, Kayonnyam and Uzhinja. There is a belief that deities reside in these 10 medicinally rich leaves. It remains one of the high points of Ayurveda that the swarasam (pounded juice) of these leaves are served and used to make porridge to promote longevity and health.
All these things are said for human good and can be practiced by any person who wants good health. Ayurveda is not something to be seen only in the month of Karkkidaka. A healthy nation can be molded in the future if the diet prescribed by the Vedas is practiced at all times.
The time has come for us to give more attention to the concept of healthy life through lifestyle changes than through the thought of practicing lifelong Oushadha Seva.
(Writer is Director & Chief Physician, Narayaniyam Arya Ayurveda, Kottayam)