Column: Arti Gaur

Sweets: They Are Good

The last article spoke about the six rasas and selection of herbs or diets on the basis of the effect of these rasas. We understand that the qualities opposite to that of the doshas bring that dosha back into a state of balance. Ayurveda prescribes diets and herbs having one taste or combination of several tastes with due regard to the nature of the doshas vitiated, the resultant manifestation of doshas and specific action of herbs, diets etc for the maintenance of health or cure of a disease.

Rasas are six in number—Madhur (sweet), Amla (Sour), Lavan (Saline), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter), Kashaya (Astringent).

According to the ancient physician Charak, the moon is the presiding deity of water. The water in atmosphere, before it comes into contact with the ground, is by nature cold and light and its rasa is not manifested at this stage. The moment it comes in contact with water with the ground, it gets impregnated with the qualities of the five mahabhutas, i.e. prithvi (earth), apas (water), agni (fire), vayu (air), and akash (ether) and nourishes the plant and the animal kingdom. At this stage, six tastes (rasas) manifest themselves.

Of the six tastes, Madhur (sweet) rasa has predominance of water element, Amla (sour) taste of fire and earth, Lavan (saline) of water and fire, Katu (pungent) of fire and air, Tikta (bitter) of fire and ether, and Kashaya (astringent) taste of Vayu and prithvi.

Rasas abounding in the qualities of agni and vayu (fire and air) have a tendency of upward movement because of the lightness and upward mobility of vayu and upward flames of agni. The rasas abounding in qualities of jal and prithvi (water and earth) have tendency of downward movement because of the heaviness of prithvi and downward flow of water.

Herbs and diets having sweet taste are nourishing to the body and add to the growth of the dhatus viz. rasa, rakta, mansa, meda, asthi, majia, sukra. They are soothing to the sense organs, promote strength and complexion, and remove the effects of toxins. They relieve thirst and burning sensation, promote healthy skin, hair, voice, and strength. They are soothing, invigorating, heal emaciation and bring stability and relieve fits. They are also unctuous, cool and heavy. In spite of all these positive qualities, if consumed in excess and isolation they cause vitiation of kapha resulting in obesity, tenderness, laziness, hypersomnia, heaviness, loss of appetite, diminished power of digestion, abnormal growth of muscles in mouth and throat, dysuria, cough , constipation, vomiting, loss of sensation and voice, pharyngitis, elephantiasis, adhesion in bladder , vessels, throat and eye diseases.

To be continued…

—The writer is an ayurved expert from Dhyan Foundation.
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February 2007

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