Concept of Longevity in Ayurveda

Prof.Em. Subhash Ranade Dr. Sunanda Ranade
Chairman Vice-Chairman International Academy of Ayurveda
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What is Longevity?

Longevity means long healthy life. Vedic philosophy says that the long life should be used to achieve spirituality and not for material enjoyment. Generally it is said to be 100 years of life, although very few attain this limit. However proper concept of longevity is long life must be without any diseases and suffering. Hence the saying ‘Do not add years to life but life to years.’ If we see the life expectancy list of all countries, Japan is number one with 83.07 while India has 68.03 years of life. Health for Longevity Only healthy people can achieve longevity. For maintaining physical and physiological health, regular exercises and yoga according one’s own constitution is necessary. For Pitta constitution swimming and vipareetakarani is good for Kapha running and masyendrasana, are good and for Vata constitution squatting exercises and yoga postures like sukhasana are good.

For psychological health, regular meditation practice is necessary. The most important is to control our sense organs. Our sense organs are constantly focused on the outside world. To focus them inwards is the best method of controlling them. Ayurveda and Yoga (Pratyahara) have stressed the importance of this to avoid the diseases. Chitta vritti nirodha. Pranayama or breathing exercises are beneficial for this. Life span The average life span or life expectancy of the individual varies according to availability of food, environment as well as his race, cast, nation, etc. However we can say that it is around 60 to 70 years. Charak the great physician has mentioned that, proper life style and good nutrition offers you 100 years of long healthy life. But there is not mentioned the difference between male and female life span. All body tissues, organs and channels are gifted with immunity, strength or reserve force. The total effect of all this is the Life span of that individual. If every individual observes rules and regulations (described in Swasthavritta) – daily regimen, seasonal regimen and ethical regimen, takes proper food, sleep and enjoys controlled sexual activity, he can enjoy long and healthy life. Praneshana (desire for good and long life) is one of the basic instincts of every individual, which has also been explained in Vedas and Upanishads.

Factors for Longevity Genetics, environment, food and life style choices are major factors for longevity. Food can be divided in three types –Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Out of which Sattvic food helps to increase longevity. Sattvic food is the one which is fresh, organic, mild sweet, full of prana. If such food is consumed according to the constitution, age, time and season then it is very useful for this. Our food must be having six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent). Fresh fruits available in the season, fresh butter milk, and tender coconut water add beauty to your skin complexion. Stay away from Coke, Pepsi and other artificial drinks which have lot of sugar and toxins for your body. Need for Rejuvenation Our life style has become very hectic. This is due to over exertion – physical as well as mental. Day by day people are feeling insecure which increase stress. The diet has also become faulty as many people are using fast food items. The timing of eating has become irregular due to change in the duties and more and more persons are using stale foods with preservatives. Due to availability of various gadgets in the kitchen, use of television, mobile phones and computers has resulted in lack of exercise.

More and more people are becoming addicted to alcohol, smoking, excessive sex, too much sleep and drugs. This all leads to low dhatu bala, low ojas, vitiation of all doshas; resulting in – premature aging, fatigue, debility, inability to adopt to stress, recurrent illness and depression. What is Rasayana The word Rasayana is a combination of two separate words Rasa and Ayana. The word Rasa is first liquid tissue which nourishes all the tissues in the body and Ayana is the method by which Rasa is carried to all the body tissues for biochemical metamorphosis (Rasakriya). Rasayana also means the purification of all tissues from Rasa to Shukra. Purification of all Annamaya and Pranamaya kosha. It also aims at giving strength to senses, mind and intellect. Hence Rasayana is such a form of treatment in which all the tissues are nourished (metabolism) and enhanced and delays ageing. It improves prana and agni and ojas. Thus it is useful for enhancement of qualities of life, increased intellect and enhanced physical strength. It also enhances the immunity of an individual leading to health. It also helps to cure the diseases.
After mild panchakarma -proper purification- if rasayana is taken it gives maximum benefits.
1.Rasayan herbs for Vata Constitution- Bala (sida cordifolia) and Ashvagandha (Withania somnifera) are the best herbs.
2.Rasayana herbs for Pitta constitution- Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica) fruit and Shatavari (Asperagus racemosus) Roots are used as rasayana.
3. Rasayana Herbs for Kapha constitution - Haritaki (Terminaliachebula)

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