Āyurveda is the foundation to understand the body in the study of Tantra and Yoga. Without a good knowledge of Āyurveda, a student often wonders how the Yogis or Tantrics understood the body. In modern times, we have anatomy to understand the framework of the physical body to administer medicines. Āyurveda allows us to deepen our understanding of how we can treat the emotional, mental and physical aspects of the self in an integral, organic sense. While the study of anatomy allows us the perspective of looking into the body from a reductionist point of view, Āyurveda allows us to delve into what the new millennium scientists define as the systems view (the study of how things influence one another within the whole; a “unifying vision” as opposed to a reductionist or materialistic ideology). It is due to this that we teach our students the science of Āyurveda.
In India, it is well known that in order to advance in Tantra or Yoga, one has to have a good foundation in Āyurveda; otherwise, one falls into not understanding Yoga, but readapting the knowledge to suit one’s own beliefs. Shri Kali Ashram introduces one to the theoretical and practical aspects of Āyurveda. Students gain a good grounding in the basics, as dhātus, doṣas, nāḍis, marma points and Āyurvedic anatomy, as well as the practical lifestyle aspects and the practices of pañcakarma.
Bhagavan emphasises that Āyurveda anticipates an organic science and culture. He says, "organic here does not mean the mere anti-chemical culture. Organic means a culture that does not resort to the employment of artificially reduced substances taken out of context with nature."
In Shri Kali, we understand that there are several systems of analogous organic medicinal systems, as the traditional Chinese and Japanese medicinal systems and the Greek and Arabic medicinal systems. However, today only traditional Chinese medicine and Āyurveda survive. The Greek and Arab systems are rare but what is popular is the science of naturopathy of the modern West. This is also a very organic system; however, this is a recent science. Āyurveda is closest to the Greek system and that is extinct. However, the Arabic system of medicine is still extant in India.
By Ācārya Bhagavan Shanmukha Anantha Natha
Why study Āyurveda?
Tantric texts are the metaphysics or science of the Vedas and Āyurveda is derived from these same texts. Tantra explains prāṇa and the Āyurvedic texts elaborate on prāṇa. The comprehension of Āyurveda can therefore deepen your understanding and experience of the tantric principles.
An Āyurvedic lifestyle means that one lives in harmony with the rhythm of nature – the seasons and the circadian rhythm (“24-hour internal body clock”). To have an organic view of the body, it is important to have a vision of an organic living science: Āyurveda, the science (veda) of life (āyuh). It is an essential notion in both Tantra and Āyurveda to optimise, ascend and ultimately transcend the body, mind and soul, which operate as a holistic expression.
Āyurveda differs from allopathic or Western medicine as the approach focuses on the individual’s unique nature or constitution (prakṛti) and perceives any problems as a dynamic imbalance, rather than a concrete disease state. This approach locates and treats the root of the imbalance, rather than just treating the symptoms.
Through learning about Āyurveda you will be able to understand your constitution and the dynamic changes that take place in the body through the doṣas – vata, pitta, and kapha.
(Doṣa definition – that which spoils or impairs the quality of the body when in imbalance / that which in a balanced state provides health to the body.)