Mental Illness

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An Ayurvedic and Yogic Perspective of Mental Illness An Overview of Theory and Practice

By Gauri Eleanora Trainor April 30, 2009

A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist


California College of Ayurveda 1117 A East Main Street Grass Valley, California

Table of Contents

Introduction……………………………………………………………………..1 Definition of Health……………………………………………………………..2 The Disease Process…………………………………………………………..2 Theory………………………………………………………………………… 4 Mental Illness…………………………………………………………………. .5 An Overview of Theory and Practice The Three Bodies and Five Koshas……………………….. .8 The Nadis ……………………………………………………. .12 The Chakras…………………………………………………. .14 Prana, Tejas, and Ojas…………………………………….. .15 Medicinal Properties of Herbs…………………………….. .17 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………. .18 References……………………………………………………………………. .19


Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old Vedic Science and Mother of holistic and totalistic healthcare, has its roots in India. Ayurveda is considered to be the Upaveda of the Arthava Veda and Rig Veda having its origins in the Vedas. The Vedas are rich with the extensive knowledge and wisdom of India’s spiritual and philosophical traditions, obtained through the meditation practice of the ancient Rishi. Swami Sivananda describes Ayurveda, as the fifth and distinct Veda: “It is even superior to the other Vedas because it gives life which is the basis of all enjoyments, study, meditation and Yoga Sadhana.” [1] p. 20. Derived from the Sanskrit words, Ayur or life, and Veda or knowledge of science, it advocates the total health of an individual through preventative, restorative and curative measures. Specifically through the application of wholesome foods, herbs, meditation, Yoga, mantras, Pancha Karma, aroma therapy, color therapy, music and a healthy lifestyle, one can live in harmony with nature. The vast scope of the knowledge of classical Ayurveda are found in six classical medical texts. The three most important texts, the Brihat Treya, include the Caraka Samhita, the Sushruta Samhita and the Astanga Hirdayam. The three supplemental books, the Laghu Treya, consist of the Ashtanga Samgraha, the Madhava Nidanam and the Sarangadhara Samhita. The greatest classical text of Ayurveda, the Caraka Samhita, written by Caraka, divides Ayurveda into eight major specialties: Kaya Cikitsa (general medicine), Salya Tantra (surgery), Salakya Tantra (diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat), Kaumarabhritya (pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology), Rasayana Tantra (nutrition, rejuvenation, and geriatrics), Vajikarana (sexology), Bhuta Vidya (psychiatry), and Agada Tantra (toxicology). The classical texts have laid the fundamental ground work for the theory and the practice of Ayurveda. It continues to remain a model for establishing perfect health in modern man. [2] Ayurveda addresses the importance uncovering and treating the root cause of illness. It takes into consideration the physical, mental and spiritual bodies inherent in humankind, and how the disease process can affect all three aspects of the individual. As cited by Shukla, “All living creatures are composed of three main components: the Sarira (the body), the Satva (the mind), and the Atman (the spirit or the soul). The Samyoga (combination or unification) of all three aspects is called Puman or Cetana (consciousness).” [3] p. 64. This paper, an overview of the theory and practice of Ayurvedic Psychology and combined with the Yogic perspective, which aides in pacifying the mind and the understanding of Self. It will explore the relationship between the body, senses, mind and Self. It is not possible to manage the disease process simply in physical or mental terms, since they affect the body which is a combination of all these factors. Any disturbance in one of these aspects will disturb the others. “This principle is called the Adhikarana (main foundation) of Ayurveda.” [3] p. 64


Definition of Health Swastha (perfect health) is understood to be a state of the body free of diseases, with equanimity within the mind, or shanti (peace of mind); and is perceived in Ayurvedic philosophy, to be the natural outcome of living in harmony with nature. Dr. Halpern defines, “Perfect health in Sanskrit is Swastha, “swa “meaning self and “stha” meaning established in self.” [4] p. 4 According to Dr. Halpern, Vedic literature describes “two selves,” one being the higher “Self” connected to God, the lower “self” connected to the Ahamkara (ego). “It is the ego…responsible for producing the body…Hence; it must be healthy to produce a healthy body.” [4] p. 4 The relationship between the mind and body are expressed in the words of Sri Swami Sivananda, “The mind has a very intimate connection with the body. When the body suffers, the mind also suffers. When the mind suffers, there is reaction in the body as well. Therefore one who knows the secret of keeping the mind in a healthy state; one can keep his body also in a sound condition. Health is an equilibrium of three Doshas.” [1] p. 81, p. 22 Singh refers to Sushruta to define swastha, “as a state of Sama (balance) of the 3 doshas, the 13 agnis (digestive or metabolic factors) the 7 dhatus (bodily tissue groups) and the malas (impurities).” Singh elaborates, “A Swastha (healthy individual) is in a state of total biological equilibrium, as well as Prasana (a state of sensorial, mental and emotional well being). Thus, Ayurveda presents a complete definition of health.” [2] p. 5 The Disease Process The disease process within the body and psyche is a complex process. Dr. Halpern discusses the fundamental and primordial cause of disease, “Disease begins when we forget our nature as Spirit. In loosing this awareness, we forget a part of God resides in us. This piece of God is the principle Atman in Sankhya philosophy.” [4] p. 6 In the process of forgetfulness, one becomes absorbed in the drama of the physical world, creating disturbances or “vrittis” in the mind. This further exacerbates the mind, creating emotional turmoil and indulgences in the senses, resulting in a vitiation of the doshas and causing disease. [4] p. 6 Dr. Halpern goes further to explain, “The vitiations of the doshas causes weakness in the digestion, producing the formation of Ama (toxins) which…coat the cells and clog the channel systems, interfering with normal biological processes and functioning.” [4] p. 6 In addition to the Primordial cause of disease, the Caraka Samhita considers three important factors in the causation of disease as cited by Praveen and Dr. Halpern: “Asatmyendriyartha Samyoga (unwholesome contact of sense organs, with objects of incompatible physical, verbal, or mental activities), the unwholesome conjunction with the objects


of their affection. Prajnaparadha (volitional transgressions), the failure of intellect, or crimes against wisdom. Parinama (time factors, including chronobiological errors, seasonal variations), transformation or decay due to time and motion.” [5] p. 81, [4] p.7 As cited by, Varier, “Caraka says, the root of all diseases are in the mind.” [6] p. 100 Prajnaparadha, (volitional transgression) are actions of the body and mind violating the rules of nature and virtue. Prajnaparadha of the body include: blocking and straining natural urges of the body: belching, farting, defecation, urination, sneezing, thirst, hunger, sleep, coughing, gasping, yawning, crying, vomiting, discharge of semen. Prajnaparadha committed by the mind include: indifference to paying respect to those who deserve it (elders, teachers, religious or spiritual persons), places of worship, immoral acts of stealing, violence, and coveting another’s property. [6] The balance of the three doshas, the seven dhatus, the malas, and the gunas: tamas and rajas (qualities of the mind associated with ignorance and distraction respectively), are an ongoing discussion in Ayurvedic and Vedic Text. “Any deficiency or excess of either Doshas or Dhatus or Malas may induce disease and Ayurveda always aims at keeping an equilibrium in the level of these things. Physical diseases and mental diseases are caused by the irrelevant contacts, intellectual blaspheme and suppression of natural urges.” states Vaidya Chaturvedi. [7] p. 20 Adding to this, Shukla suggests, “The changes in temperature and mood affect the body, and these changes may produce diseases such as psychosomatic disorders. In the same way, the body or physical disorders disturb the mind and produce disorders.” [3] p. 65 There are three additional classifications of diseases mentioned in the Caraka Samhita described by Dr. Halpern. They include: endogenous diseases with origins within the body, due to doshic imbalances, exogenous diseases, with origins outside the body, possessions are placed in this category; and psychic diseases, with origins entirely in the mind. [4] p. 9 Referring the Caraka Samhita, Venkataram describes the disease classifications, “Nija (endogenous) roga are caused by irregular food habits and psycho behavioral excess resulting in the impairment of the Sarira dosha physical element. Agantu (exogenous) rogas are those caused by extraneous factors such as injuries, poison, fire and wind. Manasa (psychological) roga are those which occur due to the gain of undesired objects or losing the desired object/cherished ones, resulting in the impairment of the Manodosha (mental elements).” [8] p. 60 Venkataram describes mental and physical anguish, “Roga (pain) as the imbalanced state of doshas mental or physical;” and believes this definition is applicable to both physical and mental disorders, while “Manovikara (mental disorders) can be defined as the imbalanced state of rajas and tamas.” Included in the Manovikara disorders are, Unmada (psychosis) and Apasmara (epilepsy). [8] p. 58 Venkataram stresses, Manovikara (mental disorders), implies that both the body and the mind “…are involved in all physical and mental disease.” [8] p. 58


Theory The fundamental principles, of Ayurveda, regarding creation, life, health, and disease is based on the Sankyha Philosophy. As described in Singh’s description, it is based on the classical theory of Loka Purusha Samya (macrocosm-microcosm); proclaiming, the Purusha (individual soul) is a miniature replica of the Loka (universe) and both exist as a continuum of each other. Singh further describes, “Ayu is the individual life entity which is four dimensional, composed of physical, sensorial, mental and spiritual attributes.” [9] p. 76 Singh portrays the individual as having both, the manas (mind) and jnana indriyas (sense organs of knowledge), while, the manas (psyche/mind) although highly active, is Acetana (unconscious). The mind receives its state of consciousness through the Atman (soul), which is an extension of the Divine (cosmic or pure) consciousness. [9] Enmeshed in the Sankhya philosophy are the concepts of karma, the effect of actions taken that serve the Ahamkara (ego) and the force that binds an individual to the cycle of Punarjanma (rebirth);and the samskaras, the personality tendencies (subconscious impression). [8] As cited by Singh, these concepts with “…the principle causative factors involved in mental illness are genetic factors, personality makeup and environmental factors.” [9] p. 76 Singh depicts mental health as a state of sensory, mental, intellectual, and spiritual well being, while mental illness is a state brought on about by an unwholesome interaction between the individual and the environment. [9] Samskaras, established by karma, create personality tendencies, which determine the individual’s state of consciousness or gunas (mental quality) and exist deep within the chitta. Dr. Halpern explains, “The three gunas are: sattva, rajas and tamas, meaning clarity, disturbance, and ignorance respectively.” [10] p. 246 “Wisdom arises from sattva. Out of rajas greed. And from tamas comes carelessness, errors in thinking, and ignorance.” Bhagavad Gita Ch 14:17 [11]

Dr. Halpern indicates, “The state of gunas, though present within the consciousness, is reflected in the mind. The dominant guna is a reflection of the evolution of the soul as it grows from ignorance to awareness and from awareness to transcendence. Each expression is an aspect of God” [9] p. 246 p.251 This state of transcendence, is proclaimed in the Bhagavad Gita: “Whoever sees that all actions are done by the forces of nature, which are the gunas and knows the One who is beyond the gunas–surely that person is a seer and rises to my state.” Bhagavad Gita Ch 14:19 [11]

Singh describes the manas (mind/psyche) as three dimensional, referring to the three gunas; sattva the state of pure mind is devoid of desire, while Manasa Rogas (mental illness) is due to the disorder of rajas and tamas. [8] Varier suggests, the mind is the root of all mental and physical disease


and attributing disease,” When rajas and tamas predominate, inappropriate and excessive desires lead to Pranjnaparadhas (volitional transgressions).” [6] p. 100 Praveen states, “The aim of Satvavajaya Cikitsa (psychotherapy) is to augment the sattva guna in order to correct the imbalanced state of rajas (passion) and tamas (inertia).” [5] p. 83 According to Dr. Halpern, “The spiritual development of a person alters the psychological expression of the doshas. The doshas provide a form through which the energy of the gunas move. The interaction of a person’s dominant guna and his/her prakruti determines a person’s psychological nature and overall personality trait.” [10] p. 251 Table 1 (Table 52): Adjectives Describing the Interaction of the Doshas and the Gunas Vata Sattva Enthusiastic, inspired, artistic, healer Pitta Clearly perceptive spiritual teachers Kapha Unconditionally loving, faithful, nurturing, compassionate, patient Rajas Fear, worry, nervousness, anxiety, insecurity, ungrounded, indecisive, hyperactive Anger, resentment, jealousy, envy; judgmental, critical, willful, aggressive, dominating Tamas Self-destructive, addictive, secretive, paranoid, mentally disturbed Violent, vindictive, hateful Desirous, materialistic, attached, controlling, sentimental, stubborn, conditionally loving, overly emotional Lethargic, apathetic, dull, depressed, manipulative, thievish, severely under active [10] p 256 Mental Illness The major categories of mental diseases are neuroses or Chittodwaga (anxiety disorders), Unmada (psychoses), Apasmara (convulsive disorders, epilepsy) Attattvabhinivesa (and obsessive disorders), while Mada (intoxication), Murcha (syncope) and Sanyasa (coma) are considered to be psychosomatic diseases. “Diseases such as Balagrahas and Bhutas are psychiatric syndromes named symbolically after the name of Graha – planet or deity, or Bhuta – spirit, demon,” states Varier [6] p. 101


The term Bhuta, has been defined as entities that either influence and cause mental illness, or are the equivalent to microscopic organisms or pathogens: viruses, bacteria and fungus. [12] Shukla suggests a clarification in the belief that supernatural elements: demons, gods, ghosts, can enter the body. Shukla refers to Caraka’s description on mental disorders, “neither the gods, grahas (planets or deities), Pishachas (goblins), demons, nor other such elements torment the individual, who is not already tormented (ch.Nid.7).” [3] p. 65. But rather, the individual’s behavior or symptoms personify the particular deity, demon, spirit, etc. and can never enter the individual. [3] Bhavamisra, in the Bhavaprakasa describes Devadikrta Unmada, as insanity due to superhuman spirits. This group of Unmada is due to possessions which manifests in symptoms or signs of special knowledge, great strength, energy or vitality that exceed that of a human being. There are nine classifications, identifying the spirit of each possession and the time of possessing that will occur by each spirit. [13] The Bhavaprakasha in Chapter 22 defines the samprapti of Unmada “as the doshas which have undergone aggravation (increase) getting localized in the upper paths (those present in the head) bring about the abnormalities in the manas causing diseases of the mind.” [13] p. 301 Bhavamisra attributes the disease process to the incompatible foods, spoiled and impure foods, disrespect of teachers, toxic sensory experience, too much fear and joy, abusive relationships and improper activities of the body. [13] Attributing lifestyle causing the aggravation in the doshas, Bhavamisra, describes six types of Unmada: “one for each dosha, one by the combination of all three (samnipattika), the fifth by profound grief and the sixth by poison.” [13] p. 301 The aggravated dosha(s), vitiate the hrdaya (heart), the seat of the buddhi (mind), invading the manovaha srota (channel of the mind) bringing about the inability to make right choices, discriminate between right and wrong, with impairment in cognitive functions. [13] Unmada, “insanity is characterized by the perversion of the mind, intellect, conscience, behavior and conduct,” defined by Caraka, in the Caraka Samhita. [14] p. 12 According to Caraka, there are five types of Unmada: vata, pitta, kapha, samnipatika (combined vitiation of all 3 doshas) and exogenous. Samnipatika is considered incurable. [14] p. 92 Exogenous insanity is different from the insanity caused by vitiated doshas and is believed to be caused by karma and the “…effects of sinful activities in past life. Lord Punarvasu Atreya considers intellectual blasphemy as the Nidana (causative factors of this condition.)” [14] p. 93 Due to Prajnaparadha (volitional transgressions), the god’s cause the insanity due to his inauspicious activities. [14] In Singh discussion of clinical psychiatry he refers to the Caraka in Nidanasthana Chapter 7, and describes the eight essential psychological factors which affect all psychiatric disorders. These psychiatric factors are: “Mana (emotion, mood, affect), Buddhi (thought and discussion), Sanjnajnana (orientation), Smriti (memory and learning), Bhakti (desire), Sila (habits), Cesta (psychomotor function), and Acara (conduct and behavior)” [9] p. 77. Singh goes further to classify the psychiatric conditions described in major text as listed in the following manner:


1. “Primary psychological conditions caused purely by the Manas doshas (mental elements), or the three Gunas (mental qualities), Rajas (passion), Tamas (inertia, lethargy), The Manas Doshas Vikaras (psychological illness) Examples Include: Kama (lust), Krotha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (delusion), Irsya (jealousy), Mana (pride), Cinta (anxiety), Udvega (neurosis), Bhaya (fear), and Harsa (happiness). 2. Psychiatric conditions caused by a mixed samprapti (pathogenesis) including both the Sarira (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and Manas (Rajas, Tamas) doshas. Examples Include: Unmada (psychosis), “It is possible to clinically correlate the subtypes of Unmada with different types of Schizophrenia and other forms of Psychosis such as manic depressive psychosis.” [9] p. 76. Apasmara (convulsive diseases), Apatantraka (hysteria), Atat abhinevesa (obsession), Bhrama (vertigo), Tandra (drowsiness), Klama (neurasthenia), Mada Mureha Sanyas (comas), Madatyaya (alcoholism) and Gadodvega (hypochondrias). 3. Prakritis (personality disorders). There are 16 Manas Prakritis (mental traits) which represent 16 types of behavioral traits. The Prakriti condition results from an overt imbalance of the Manas Prakritis. Accompanied by abnormal behavior and warranting psychiatric care. 4. Buddhi Mandya Mental retardation of varying degrees of primary or secondary origin. 5. Jara Janya Manas Vikara Psychiatric problems of the aged. 6. Manodaihika Vyadis Psychosomatic diseases which the cause of disease is mental and the manifestation is somatic. For example: Sokatisara (diarrhea of psychological origin). 7. Psychiatric syndromes named symbolically after the Grahas (planets or deities): Bhutomada Bhutomada warrants Daivavya Pashraya Chikitsa (divine therapy) when Yutivyapashraya Chikitsa (diet-drug therapy) is not effective.” [9] p .77 Adding to Singh’s description of Manodaihika Vyadis (Psychosomatic diseases), Shukla stresses the relationship between psychology and temperament and how both together impact the body and its function as seen in Psychosomatic diseases. Partial lists of diseases, which are either caused or


provoked by impaired mental state include: hypertension, digestive disorders: indigestion, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, gallstones, and sexual disorders. [2] p. 66 Shukla, refers to the Shad-Ripu (six mental conditions) as the main causes of mental disturbances: Kama (desires), Krodha (anger, irritability), Lobha (greed), Moha (infatuations, likes and dislikes), Mada (ego or arrogance), and Matsava (jealousy); which coincides with Singh’s classification of primary psychological conditions caused purely by the Mana doshas [2] p. 65 [7] p. 77 Shukla emphasizes, “Kama (desire) or Upadha (different types of desires) are the greatest cause of Manasa Rogas.” [3] p. 65 Therefore, non-detachment and Tyaga (renunciation) is indicated to remove physical and mental disturbances. “Thus, the main cause of the majority of mental and psychological diseases is non-fulfillment of one’s own desires.” states Shukla. [3] According to the Caraka Samhita in Chapter 7, on Unmada, “One of the criteria for the disease process to rapidly manifest, occurs in these circumstances:” When his mind is afflicted over and over again by passion, greed, excitement, fear, attachment, exertion, and grief. In the circumstances… the mind gets seriously affected and the intellect loses its balance. So the doshas aggravated and vitiated enter the cardiac region, obstruct the channels of the mind resulting in Insanity.” [14] p. 89. An Overview of Theory and Practice: The Three Bodies and Five Koshas

Dr. Frawley describes the three bodies as having “…various densities of matter, from the gross elements to the most subtle layers of the mind. Behind these bodies resides our true Self that is beyond all manifestations, mental or physical. The three bodies, therefore, are not bodies in the ordinary state, but rather different types of encasements of the soul.” [15] p. 67 The Sarira or gross physical body is also known as the Annamaya Kosha or food sheath, is governed by apana vayu. Composed of the Pancha Maha Bhutus ( five great elements), is born, grows, changes, decays and dies. ”Birth and death are the attributes of the Annamaya Kosha”. 1003 Taittiriya Upanishads [16] p. 106 “All beings that exist on earth are born of food. Then they live by food: then, again, to food (earth) they go to the end. So, verily food is the eldest of all creatures. Therefore it is called the medicament to all. All those who worship food as Brahma obtain all food. From food all things are born, they, grow by food. Food is eaten by beings and also it eats them. Therefore it is called Anna (food)…” 992 Taittirya Upanishads [16] p.104 On the cellular level, the three doshas, vata (air and ether), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth and water) are the biological humors which govern the functions of the physical body, which is dominated by the earth element. Contained within this sheath, the annagni (agni which metabolizes food), the subdoshas, the thirteen basic agnis, the seven dhatus (tissues), the seven kalas (membranes), the gross


srotas (channels), ojas, the three malas (excretory components): mala (stool), mutra (urine) and sveda (sweat). [4] As cited by Dr. Conte, it is tamas, defined as a state of inertia, darkness, confusion and ignorance, at the universal level, is the creator of the Pancha Maha Bhutas, and therefore the body. [17] Dr. Halpern describes, “Ignorance, generated by Ahamkara (ego), is required for the production the physical body.” [10] p. 257 The subtle or astral body is a template of the sarira (physical body), in a subtle realm, containing the same components of the physical body, and operating at a higher frequency which cannot be perceived by the physical senses. [10] Dr. Frawley states, “The subtle (astral) body is built up from the impressions derived through the mind and senses.” [15] p. 307 Contained within this sheath are the Pranamaya Kosha (breath sheath), the Manomaya Kosha (mind sheath) and the Vijnamaya Kosha (intelligence sheath).[10] The bridge between the Annamaya Kosha and the subtle or astral body is the Pranamaya Kosha (breath sheath), derived from the Sanskrit word, meaning breath. Within this sheath hunger, thirst, cold and heat are experienced. It is governed by the five pranas, and the five karma indriya (motor organs), the organs of actions: hands, feet, speech, elimination and reproduction. The nadis (the astral tubes which through prana flows), coincide with the kundalini energy: the ida nadi, pingala nadi and sushumna nadi. The seven chakras are strung along the sushumna. Pranagni, the agni responsible for the metabolism of water releases the prana, as water is the container of prana within the body through meditation and contemplation. Dr. Halpern recommends Yogic pranayama to heal the imbalances, which contribute to both physical and mental disease. [10] It is through the dual nature of the pranic sheath that both the physical aspects of the body and higher aspects of the body manifest. The pranic sheath, in the lower aspect, generates life into the Annamaya Kosha and the doshas, bringing life into the senses and motor organs and physical body. In the higher aspect, the pranic sheath generates the Manomaya Kosha or outer mind, while through its inner aspect it is able to manifest and express itself through the sense and motor organs. [15] The primary astral body is the Manomaya Kosha (mind sheath). Within this sheath, thoughts, emotions, doubts, depression and opinions are experienced. [18] It contains the jnana indriyas (five organs of knowledge): ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin, and carries out the automatic functions of our daily lives. Within this field various impressions, both sensory and motor are contained. These either allow access to the intelligence sheath or if not digested or understood, or obstructed, one remains in the physical or outer enjoyments. [18] According to Dr. Halpern, Managni is responsible for the digestion of impressions brought in through the senses, through interpretation and conclusions, and finally in the form of thoughts. When the metabolism becomes faulty it creates mental disease, manifested through thought disturbances, paranoia, delusions, confusion, insanity, violence and emotional imbalances including depression, anxiety, intense heated emotions and loss of mental stability. [10] p. 262


The mind, mobile in nature, cannot function without motion. It has three functions: chitta (consciousness), buddhi (intellect) and manas (mind). It is dualistic in nature: love/hate, likes/dislikes, joy/despair and the inability to control the mind causes sorrow and the disease process. [15] Dr. Halpern recommends healing the mind through the practice of meditation and higher thought forms: thoughts of peace, love and harmony through healthy lifestyles, balancing the subtle energies of prana, tejas and ojas, practicing the Namas and Niyamas of Yoga, increasing sattva through meditation, increasing time in nature, avoiding the influence of the media and eating a sattvic diet. [10] p. 263 Reverend Jaganath Carrera, in his discussion on how to establish, practice and maintain nirodha through the practice of Yoga, explains, “By adopting sacred standards as our guidelines for living we create an inner universe where fears, anxieties and restlessness are diminished by faith, compassion and clear steady focus.” [20] p. 173 The Vijnanamaya Kosha, also known as the sheath of intelligence is derived from the Sanskrit jnana (knowledge or wisdom) and is the bridge between the astral and causal body. This is the site of vrittis (mental activities) where deeper knowledge and discrimination of discerning truth and reality occurs. [18] The vijnagni metabolizes air, or the knowledge and organization in the mind. [19] Faulty function results in poor judgment, poor discrimination, confusion and disorganization, and when deranged, symptoms of mental illness and Pragnaparadha (making poor choices) will occur. The implementation of decreasing stimuli, through Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), studying scriptures, trataka (candle gazingwithdrawal from stimuli) and balancing prana, tejas, and ojas (subtle energies) are indicated to heal the imbalances are Dr. Halpern’s recommendations for faulty functions in the Vijnanamaya Kosha. [10].p.263 Within this sheath, the buddhi (intellect) resides. It is the selective, discriminatory ability of the mind, which interacts with the Ahamkara (ego) and determines if the lower buddhi, will connect with the Manamaya Kosha for lower purposes and gains; or if the higher buddhi, will separate from the senses, communicate with the soul (bridge to the causal body), and rise above lower desires, connecting it to the Anandamaya Kosha (bliss sheath). [4] According to Shukla, “Sadhaka pitta is responsible for mental and nerve functions…and for Buddhi (intelligence), Medha (remembrance), Abhimana (ego-super, ego and performance of function for achieving goal).” [3] p. 65 Buddhir Vaisheshika (internal perception) and Chakshur Vaisheshika (physical observation) are the two components of Alochaka Pitta, allowing the mind to make decisions and having extrasensory perception [3] The brain, mind and emotional heart are also related to the intellect or buddhi. The heart is understood to be the seat of consciousness and is governed by sadhaka pitta, residing in the brain and mind. In this regard, what occurs in the buddhi will affect the Annamaya Kosha or physical body. Dr. Halpern explains, Sadhaka pitta, is responsible for digesting sensory impression received from the five senses for the intellect to use. Vitiation of sadhaka pitta, results in retention loss, pitta type heart disease,


nerve pain and infections, headaches, intensity and critical thinking due to buildup of heat in the mind. [10] The Anandamaya Kosha (bliss sheath) is the vessel for the Karmic Body or Karana Shariram, known also as the seed body. It is the blueprint or subtle form of karma, and is responsible for forming the subtle impressions of the other bodies (physical and subtle or astral).Dr. Halpern conveys “All creation occurs from subtle to gross, there is a root or seed energy that begins in the causal (Karmic body).” [10] p. 303 It is believed in Yogic Text, both the causal and astral bodies (which remain together); separate from the physical body at the time of death. [20] The Anandamaya Kosha contains the deepest emotions of joy and sorrow, karma (effects of past action, includes previous birth) and the samskaras (deep seated conditioning, motivation and tendencies), which are imprinted in the gunas. [10] p. 264 Imbalances in the anandagni cause the inability to experience a sense of pure joy, resulting in symptoms of spiritual origin: depression, disparity, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, depersonalization, fragmentation of the mind, and separation from God. Dr. Halpern recommends, meditation, cultivating sattva and building ojas as a part of the treatment modalities of these symptoms. [10] The additional two layers of existence and most subtle, “sat” (absolute existence) and “chit” (pure consciousness) are not called koshas, because they are beyond all manifestation, and exist beyond the illusion of creation. When “sat” and “chit” connect to an individual’s Anandamaya kosha, the combination of the three layers manifest into “sat – chit- ananda;” the three fold reality of Purusha (inner spirit or Self). [10] “There is a veil of ignorance between the individual soul and Brahma. The Jiva cannot attain knowledge of Brahma, as long as the veil is not pierced through.” 966 Mandukyopanishas [16] p. 99 Table 2 The Seven Layers of the Universe Matter Energy Emotions Intelligence Bliss Consciousness Being Anna Prana Manas Vijnana Ananda Chit Sat [18] p. 31


Table 3 (Table 52): Summary of the Koshas Kosha Annamaya Vayu Apana Agni Annagni Element Earth Body Physical Metabolizes Food Therapy Diet, herbs, five senses and building ojas Pranayama, neti, nasya Yamas and niyamas, prana, tejas and ojas Trataka, pratyahara, prana, tejas and ojas, and scriptural study Meditation, cultivation of sattva and ojas. [10] p. 266 The Nadis There are 72,000 nadis, of these, fourteen are significant. The sushumna (chitta-nadi), the ida (left-lunar nadi), and pingala (“red” right-solar nadi) are the three most important in yogic practices. [18] The nadis are subtle energies that carry prana (energy) which permeate the entire or subtle or astral body and are templates of the nervous system. Nadis energize the subtle body; the nervous system energizes the physical body. Dr. Halpern describes, “The mind as the astral template of the brain…the brain as the initiator of energy carried by the nerves, the mind (mana) and higher faculties such as the buddhi (intellect), are the initiators of the energy carried by the nadis in the subtle body.” Dr. Halpern refers to the mind as being the initiator of pranic movement, and also stresses, altered flow through the nadis will affect the mind. “Hence, the diseases of the mind, emotions and intellect may originate either in the mind or the nadis.” [10] p. 267 In his discussion, “when any dosha enters the mind, flow through the nadis is altered, altered flow or movement can be understood in terms of the elemental qualities the prana is carrying. Prana carries fire, water and ether through the three major nadis.” [10] p. 268

Pranamaya Manomaya

Udana Samana

Pranagni Managni

Water Fire

Physical/ Subtle Subtle

Breath Sensory impressions














The sushumna nadi (dominant element ether) is given the highest importance, located or rising from the first chakra, the muludahara, and from it all the chakras are strung upon it upon it like lotuses. [18] Dr. Frawley stresses the importance of a proper foundation of Yamas and Niyamas first, before attempting to place breath, sense and mind into the sushumna, the channel of deeper consciousness. “It should never be attempted willfully or forcefully, but as a part of the process of deepening inner peace and equanimity.” [18] p. 274 Dr. Halpern expands theory and practice, “When the nadis are clear of impurities, the prana flows freely through both channels and a natural pull towards the center of the sushumna nadi. … Yogic pranayama allows the flow between right and left nadis, allowing the kundalini to flow into the sushumna nadi, interacting with the chakras permanently transforming consciousness.” [10] p. 269 In table 4, Dr. Halpern, describes the effects of the four major types of pranayama in relationship to the flow of three nadis and the effect on the subtle doshas: prana, tejas and ojas. Along with pranayama, a light pure organic diet, spices according to the constitution and purifying herbs contribute to the purification of the nadis. [10] Table 4 (Table 57): Summary of the effects of the four major types of Pranayama Alternate Nostril Pranayama Effect on Nadi Flow Lunar Pranayama Solar Pranayama Increases flow through the pingala Increases tejas and prana, decreases ojas Kapalabhati

Mild increase of flow Increases flow through through the ida, pingala, the ida and sushumna Increases prana and tejas while being neutral to ojas Increases prana and slightly increases ojas decreases tejas,

Increases flow through all nadis, especially the sushumna Increases prana a and tejas decreases ojas [10] p. 279

Effect on the Subtle Dosha

Imbalances within the nadis have different features depending on the flow of prana. Decreased flow requires building ojas, while blocked flow requires purification to remove obstruction through the cultivation of silence, the practices of pranayama and a sattvic lifestyle. [10] p. 276. Excessive pranayama is contraindicated in an individual with low ojas, due to its drying nature, except for lunar pranayama, due to the water quality it may be used in moderation. [10] Past life karma, present karma, and samskaras of the soul contribute to the disturbances in the nadis, and alterations reflect the consciousness of an individual. [10] The use of stimulants and drugs contribute to the disturbances of the flow. Stimulants increase flow through the sushumna nadi; while psychedelic drugs increase flow through the sushumna nadi, increasing awareness in the astral realm. Crank and crack increase flow through the pingala nadi [10] p.274. Table 5 illustrates the imbalances in the flow through the nadis.


Table 5 (Table 55): Summary of Imbalances in the Flow Through the Nadis Nadi Ida Excess Attachment, strong conditional love, melancholy and sadness Deficient Hardness, rigidity, difficulty forming attachments. Possible excess flow through pingala Blocked Severe lack of deep feeling and attachment Flow Out Great swings of uncontrollable emotion ranging from severe attachment to the physical world to disassociation from the physical world Great swings of passionate, intense heated emotion from a false sense of perception. Can lead to violence Hallucinations, paranoia, insanity, and extreme uncontrollable interaction with the psychic environment [10] p. 273


Critical, cynical, extremely logical, highly judgmental

Unreasonable, gullible, lack of clarity and difficulty with decisions. Possible excess flow through ida Dull senses and decreased awareness of the psychic environment

Severe lack of clarity leading to great confusion


Overly sensitive to stimuli and the psychic environment

Severe dullness and gross ignorance

The Chakras The chakras are energy centers of the astral body, which govern the physical body through the nerve plexus. Each energy field corresponds to the elements, the jnana indriyas (physical sense organs) and karma indriyas (organs of actions). [18] The level of consciousness is related to the quality and quantity of prana passing through the chakras, due to kundalini energy rising through the sushumna, while its frequency is related to the guna of the mind. [10] p. 280 As cited by Dr. Halpern, “The primordial cause of disease is forgetting ones true nature as spirit…incarnation itself is the primal cause of disease,” resulting in disturbances within the mind or astral body, and ultimately the physical body. [10] p. 301 Dr. Halpern states, “Faulty functions of the chakras results in vrittis (mental disturbances).” [10] p. 301 Negative feelings and thought or mental disturbances cause the doshas to become vitiated causing physical illness. Thus, the disease process, and energetic imbalances within the chakras and nadis manifest in the physical body, with their roots in the samskaras within the causal body, which are imprinted in the gunas. Dr. Halpern outlines the doshic disturbances which occur as a result of increased flow, decreased flow, or heightened flow of prana; describing each chakra, along with their location,


related tissues, physical functions, psychological functions, heightened spiritual functions, bija mantra, affected sense and color in the Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. [10] p. 279-303 Chanting bija mantras increase the prana moving through the chakra, and heightens their function. Persons with low ojas should chant internally. Dr. Halpern indicates: “Vata becomes disturbed when there is excess prana flowing through the fourth through seventh chakra; pitta becomes disturbed when there is excess prana flowing through the third chakra; kapha becomes disturbed when there is excess prana flowing through the first and second chakras.” Improper preparation by yogis of the kundalini energy, results in flow out. [10] p. 301 Prana, Tejas, and Ojas The three subtle energies or subtle doshas: prana, tejas, ojas, have their roots in the seed energy of the causal (Karmic) body and govern the function of the subtle body (biophysical forces), therefore the mind, and are the subtle forms of the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha, respectively. [10] Dr. Frawley, describes prana tejas and ojas as the “three vital essences” All three are essential in promoting health, well being and vitality. [15] p. 87 Prana, tejas and ojas give energy to the immune and endocrine system. Tejas govern metabolism and digestion, converted into heat and gives the immune system the ability to mobilize the immune system force; prana activates and mobilizes the immune system. All three aspect are nourished and transformed into shukra (reproductive fluids), all three are essential in providing energy to the immune system. Deficiencies in all three aspects create the disease process. [15] Within the Annamaya Kosha (physical body), prana manifests as life force with in every cell, and resides in the five Vayus, having qualities of the air element. Dr. Halpern describes the role of prana, “In the mind, prana is responsible for movement and coordination of thought.” [10] p. 304 One can observe the state of mind, through the quality of prana exhibited; the breath is full, deep, calm and the speech is calm, sweet and joyful. When prana is excessive, speech is rapid, excitable and excessive; when prana is deficient there is depression, lethargy, dullness of mind and lack of enthusiasm for life. [10] “Prana is not breath. Prana is vital energy. Breath is only one of the various manifestations of Prana. The function of Prana is connected with the breath.” 449 Kathopanishad [16] p. 43

The vital energy of tejas, a quality of the fire element, can be defined as light, or illumination in the mind and the desire to know the truth. Within the physical body (Annamaya Kosha) all aspects of agni are governed by the pitta dosha. Dr, Halpern defines: “Pitta is the container, agni is the fire, and tejas is the light.” [10] p. 306 Prana strengthens the buddhi (intellect) and is responsible for the digestion of sensory impressions. In a healthy state, the mind desires to know the truth, understand complex ideas and has strong reasoning capacities. The speech expresses wisdom. In excess, one becomes overly critical, overly discriminating,


intense, judgmental, hateful and angry. Deficient tejas result in poor judgment and discrimination, and in extreme cases, disease manifests in disturbances of psychosis, delusions and hallucinations. [10] Ojas, having the quality of the water element, it is the subtle aspect and purest form of kapha. Within the physical body (Annamaya Kosha) it is the force behind the immune system preventing the disease process and aging, and it is the positive force behind all subdoshas. It is the the refined results of digestion, metabolism, absorption, and assimilation. “When healthy, ojas provide psychological and physical strength. The individual is content and protected from the forces of excessive prana and tejas,” states Dr. Halpern [10] p. 314 Caraka, in the Sutrasthana, of the Caraka Samhita defines ojas as two types: Para Ojas, or superior ojas are located in the heart and is equal to eight drops. Apara Ojas, or ordinary ojas, affects the immune system and when depleted, disease develops. [21]p. 594 Bhavamisra, in the Bhavaprakasa, in his discussion of the properties of wine (madya guna) destroying the qualities of ojas and disturbing the mind states, “Hrdaya (heart) is the main seat of the channels of rasa, vata, other doshas, Satva (mind) sense organs, and also the chief seat of ojas.” [13] p. 288 When all three energies, prana, tejas and ojas become depleted, the most serious forms of mental illness manifest: paranoia, schizophrenia and psychosis, becoming difficult to treat and result in hospitalization. [10] p. 314 In table 6, Dr. Halpern outlines the states of prana, tejas and ojas and their symptomatic features, while in Table 7, depression is illustrated in the three dosha and the level of each subtle energy. Table 6 (Table 78): The States of Prana, Tejas and Ojas and their Symptomatic Presentation

Prana High High High Low Low Low Low High

Tejas Low High Low High Low High Low High

Ojas Low Low High High High Low Low High

Symptoms Excitability, over-enthusiasm Fragile and volatile heated emotions Gullible, good natured Depressed, low enthusiasm Complacent, low motivation Angry, critical, cynical Severe emotional disease Expanding consciousness
[10] p. 316

Table 7: Depression: Subtle Pathology Vata Prana: Low Tejas: Low Ojas: Low Pitta Prana: Low Tejas: High Ojas: Low Kapha Prana: Low Tejas: low Ojas: Higher
[22] p. 9


Medicinal Properties of Herbs Herbs have traditionally been used to nourish and repair both the body and mind. Nervine tonics and Rasayanas (builds ojas, the rasa and seven dhatus) have a tonifying affect on the Majja dhatu (nervous system) and are indicated for tremors, insomnia, nerve pain and hypersensitivity. These tonics include ashwagandha, Brahmi, gotu kola, and kappikacchu. Nervine sedatives which have an effect on Manovaha Srota (channel of the mind) include valarian root, jatamamsi, skullcap, chamomile, ashwagandha, shanka pushpi, gotu kola, and passion flower. [10] Soma, the sap in plants, is defined as a powerful life essence which enhances the rasa (plasma) and rejuvenates tissue, and builds ojas. Tonic and nervine herbs contain soma type ingredients, and are found in the high altitudes by streams and lakes in the Upper Indus and Tibet. Dr. Frawley lists the following herbs as tonics, which build the mind and nervous tissues: shanka pushpi, Brahmi, gotu kola, ashwagandha, haritaki, shatavari, bala, kappikacchu, arjuna, lotus seeds and shilajit. [15] p. 192 Both Dr. Frawley and Dr. Halpern refer to significant therapeutic effects of jatamamsi and brahmi in their texts. jatamamsi, (VPK=), used as a calmative herb, is related to valerian, but does not obstruct the Samjnavaha Srota (channel of consciousness). Other channel clearing and anti convulsive herbs include calamus and holy basil. [15] p. 197 Dr. Halpern refers to the Journal of Medicinal Food, 2006, in a jatamamsi study, in which results show, “significantly improved learning and memory in young mice – reversal the amnesia of natural aging in mice.” [23] p. 9 In the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 102, Issue 3, 2005, a study conducted with rats showed, jatamamsi, “demonstrated a significant increase in the seizure threshold against maximal electroshock seizure.” [24] Brahmi, a revered herb in India, has the following properties: sedative, calmative, muscle relaxer, pain relieving, and rasayana. [15] p. 196 Dr. Halpern refers to Brahmi research, in the Alternative Medicine Review 1999, 4 [3]: 144, “with results statistically significant positive improvement compared to placebo with maximum benefit gained after 12 weeks.” [23] p. 6 Vata type anxiety, depression, and insanity requires warming, sedative and tonifying herbs, due to low ojas and accompanying disassociation from the physical realm and physical body. Along with oil enemas, herbs included are valerian, guggul, jatamamsi, calamus, ashwagandha, and sarpungadha.[25] Pitta type anger, depression, and insanity benefits from strong purgatives: rhubarb root, senna, aloe vera and nervines: gotu kola, passion flower, skullcap, and coconut or Brahmi oil to the head. Sweet fragrances such as rose, jasmine, lilac and sandalwood cultivate tranquility and peace. While kapha type depression and insanity requires stimulating herbs along with expectorants to clear obstructed channels. Herbs include pippali, guggul, trikatu, calamus ghee and bayberry. [25] p. 330



Ayurveda is perceived to be the healing and therapeutic branch of Yogic Science, while Yoga embraces the spiritual aspect of Ayurveda. Fundamentally, both sciences address the care of the body to ensure the development of the soul. Therefore, Ayurveda is a form of Yoga. Any breakdown within both the body and mind are a result of the wrong use of the senses, inherent through past or present karma and samskaras, along with the inability to ingest disturbing stimuli and quieting the mind. Whether the disease process has originated through endogenous or exogenous factors, the mind plays a major role in the ability to transcend physical and mental experiences, difficulties, or disabilities, through the establishment and practice of the eight limbs of Yoga. It is through the connection of the true Self or Atman (soul) that one is able to explore how one has created the disease, and how imbalanced bodily functions has its origin in the mind; the seat of the buddhi and consciousness, residing in the heart, and the primary location of ojas. Yoga is the vehicle for transporting one in changing samskaras, returning to the source, and stilling the mind: “Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodha” The Yoga Sutras 1:2 [26] p. 3

Ayurvedic and Yogic Texts, provide the guidance and systematic structure to implement a sattvic lifestyle of cultivating and preserving ojas. Strong ojas ensure prefect health, love, joy, peace, memory, intelligence and a higher state of consciousness. Destruction of ojas, destroy the mental and physical stability of an individual resulting in a complete breakdown of the manas (mind/psyche), and the immune and nervous system. Remembering one’s connection to God, through practicing and maintaining the eight limbs of Yoga, establishing Dinacharya (daily Ayurvedic hygienic routines and Yoga Sadhana), cultivating sattva, increasing time in nature, and avoiding excessive and disharmonious stimuli results in building ojas; ensuring one a state of health, the equilibrium of the three doshas. All these factors, over time create new and positive samskaras; while providing nourishment to the mind, even if the body has sustained personal injury, a disability or a congenital defect. Ultimately, implementing Ayurveda and Yoga harmoniously affects the individual’s personal soul development and allows one to experience Swastha (perfect health) of the mind, body and spirit; while in some cases of severe chronic disease, it may return an individual to a state of rejuvenation and equilibrium in all three aspects.

Lokaah Samastaah Sukino Bhavantu May the entire universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.



[1] Swami Sivananda, Practice of Ayurveda. .Divine Life Society, 2006. [2] R.H. Singh, Ayurvedic Medicine, It’s Approaches and Principles. Ayurvedic and Allopathic Medicine and Mental Health. Proceedings of Indo-US workshop on Traditional Medicine and Mental Health. Bhavan’s Book University, 2003. [3] C.P. Shukla, Etiology, Classification, Definition of Mental Health. Ayurvedic and Allopathic Medicine and Mental Health. Proceedings of Indo-US workshop on Traditional Medicine and Mental Health. Bhavan’s Book University, 2003. [4] Dr. Marc Halpern, Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. Volume I, 8 ed. Grass Valley, California College of Ayurveda, 2005. [5] A. Praveen, Psychotherapy in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic and Allopathic Medicine and Mental Health. Proceedings of Indo-US workshop on Traditional Medicine and Mental Health. Bhavan’s Book University, 2003. [6] N.V.K. Varier, Ayurvedic Approaches to Mind and Mental Disease. Ayurvedic and Allopathic Medicine and Mental Health. Proceedings of Indo-US workshop on Traditional Medicine and Mental Health. Bhavan’s Book University,2003. [7] Vaidya Prof. Suresh Chaturvedi, Ayurveda for You. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 2003. [8] B.S. Venkataram, Ayurvedic Definitions and Classification of Manovikara. Ayurvedic and Allopathic Medicine and Mental Health. Proceedings of Indo-Us workshop on Traditional Medicine and Mental Health. Bhavan’s Book University, 2003. [9] R.H. Singh, Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis of Mental Diseases in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic and Allopathic Medicine and Mental Health, Proceedings of Indo-US workshop on Traditional medicine and mental health. Bhavan’s Book University, 2003. [10] Dr. Marc Halpern, Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. Volume 2, 8 ed. Grass Valley, California College of Ayurveda, 2005. [11] Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita. Integral Yoga Publications, 2003. [12] htt:// [13] K. R. Srikantha Murthy, trans. Bhavaprakasa of Bhavamisra. Vol.II. Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, 2002. [14] R.K. Sharma Bhagwan Dash, trans. Caraka Samhita. Vol.II. Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, 2003. [15] Dr. David Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda. Lotus Press, 1999. [16] Swami Sivananda, Essence of Principal Upanisads, The Divine Life Society, 1997. [17] Patrick j. Conte, M.D., Ph.D, Converging Paths of Ancient Ayurveda and Modern Medicine: A Western Physicians Perspective. Blitzprint, 2007. [18] Dr. David Frawley, Ayurveda and The Mind. Lotus Press, 1997.
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[19] Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Source Book for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Integral Yoga Publications, 2006. [20] Yoga, Mind and Body. Sivananda Vedanta Center. DK Publishings, Inc., 1996. [21] R.K. Sharmna Bhagwan Dash. Trans. Caraka Samhita. Vol I. Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy,2003. [22] Dr. Marc Halpern, Psychology of Ayurveda. Pathology of Psychological Disorders. California College of Ayurveda, 2006. [23] Dr. Marc Halpern, Psychology of Ayurveda. Treatment of Psychological Conditions. California College of Ayurveda, 2006. [24] Vidya S. Rao, Anjali Rao, and K. Sudharkar Karanth, Anticonvulsant and Neurotoxicity Profile of Nardostachys Jatamansi in Rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology Vol. 102 [3]: 351-356. Dec. 2005. [25] Dr. David Frawley, Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide. Lotus Press,2000. [26] Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Integral Yoga Publications, 2003.


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