Dinacharya (दिनचर्या)

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Dinacharya (दिनचर्या) refers to the daily regimen of an individual recommended by ancient Ayurveda scholars so as to preserve and promote health and well-being. Ayurveda acharyas have provided the guideline on what activities should one perform throughout the day, their sequence and the exact time when these should be performed in order to maintain the balance of body energies. Ayurveda recommends that, in order to be optimally healthy we should tune the bodies to the nature's master cycle which in turn regulates the various other rhythms. Briefly, it is the disciplined daily routine of an individual which ensures ptimum health, fitness and also prevention of lifestyle related disorders.

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

Dinacharya is the unique concept elaborated in Ayurveda under the section of Svasthavrtta (स्वस्थवृत्तम् । preventive healthcare). Even before 2000 years ago, ancient Ayurveda scholars had recognized the significance of following a specific daily regimen in order to preserve the good health. It is believed that, ‘Kala’ (कालः। time) is always changing and it is that one causative factor of diseases which is beyond the control of Purusha (पुरुषः). Changing times of the day also affect the internal environment of the human body. The physiological levels of Doshas (दोषाः), which are considered as the controlling forces of various functions of the body, is disturbed even because of the minute changes in the external environment. One needs to bring the equilibrium of their natural state back in the system in order to maintain the normal functioning of the life which is a complex union of body, mind and life energy. By establishing a routine that "goes with the flow " of these elemental energies, we are able to more easily support the body 's natural rhythms and healing potential. Thus, one should follow a specific regimen daily, to restore the balance of doshas which are disturbed due to the day and night cycle. This regimen should be followed on the daily basis. Therefore, Ayurveda acharyas have put forward the list of activities which should be the part of one’s daily regime. These activities have been described in detail under the topic of Dinacharya in Ayurveda scriptures.

॥ Which food or regimen could be a part of anyone’s ‘Daily’ lifestyle?

Ayurveda acharyas were prudent enough to analyse and appraise the effect of anything (food or activity) that is adopted by an individual as a part of his/her daily regime. Thus, they laid high importance on selection of appropriate diet and activities for one’s lifestyle. Acharya Charaka has described the properties and desired effect which one should look for in any component (Food & lifestyle) before adopting it a pat of one’s daily regime. Acharya Charaka said,

तच्च नित्यं प्रयुञ्जीत स्वास्थ्यं येनानुवर्तते| अजातानां विकाराणामनुत्पत्तिकरं च यत्|| (Char. Samh. 5.13)[1]

Tacca nityaṁ prayuñjīta svāsthyaṁ yēnānuvartatē| ajātānāṁ vikārāṇāmanutpattikaraṁ ca yat||

Meaning: One should take those as a daily routine, which maintains the health as well as prevents the onset of diseases.

And after saying that proposed the ready-made list of such daily regimen to preserve health of an individual which is known as Dinacharya. This daily regime includes specially designed activities which have the capacity to neutralize the deleterious effects of various times of the day and night cycle and regular acts followed to achieve Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

स्वशरीर॥ Importance of vigilance in daily self care

Acharya Charaka has given a simile to highlight the importance of vigilant self care on daily basis. He states that, Like the lord of a city in the affairs of his city, and a charioteer in the management of his chariot, so should a wise man be ever vigilant in the caring of his own body.

नगरी नगरस्येव रथस्येव रथी यथा| स्वशरीरस्य मेधावी कृत्येष्ववहितो भवेत्|| (Char. Samh. 7.103)

दिनचर्यापालनस्य लाभः॥ Importance of Dinacharya in today's world

(Needs to be edited) Principle of dinacharya is more relevant in current era because everybody is in rush and running according to fast life-style of present time. Even nobody has time for himself also. So, result is emergence of epidemic due to life-style disorders both communicable and non-communicable. Although modern medical science has been very much developed with latest technologies and antibiotics, etc. and prevalence of communicable diseases has also been reduced very much. On the other hand non-communicable diseases are emerging very rapidly both in developed and developing countries. Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are at present the leading causes of death in developed countries e.g. Europe and North America accounting for 70-75 percent of total deaths . The prevalence of noncommunicable diseases has been increased in recent some years in India also due to blindly following of western culture. Two important reasons for emergence of non-communicable diseases are accepted; one is increasing life expectancy and second is rapid changes in life-style and behavioral patterns of people. Life-style changes and stress factor are included among the six key sets of risk factors responsible for the major share of adult non-communicable diseases . This trend of present time cannot be changed as it is demand of this era but life-style can be modified by simple interventions through procedures of dincharya. Dincharya prevents both types of diseases mentioned above. In the case of communicable diseases it not only prevents the communication of diseases but also strengthen the immunity of the individual. On the other hand in the case of non-communicable diseases it maintains the agni (digestive power) and thus metabolism. This results in removal of toxins from the channels and proper nutrition of all the cells and tissues. This fact not only maintains homeostasis of each cell but also slow down the decaying and degenerative changes carried out in every cell due to time. All these positive things can be achieved by very low expense. There is only need of time management according to individual’s own current life-style. Even modern medical science also recommends this fact that people should go close to their traditional life-style patterns. [2]

दिनचर्या॥ Dinacharya (Daily regimen)

  1. प्रातरुत्थानम्॥ Brahmamuhurta-jagarana (Wake-up just before sun-rise)
  2. शौचविधिः॥ Malotsarga (Defecation and urination)
  3. आचमनम्॥ Achamana (Washing of hands)
  4. दन्तधावनम्॥ Danta-dhavana (Tooth-brushing)
  5. जिव्हानिर्लेखनम्॥ Jihva-nirlekhana (Tongue-cleaning)
  6. गण्डूष॥ Sneha gandusha-dharana (Retaining oil in mouth)
  7. मुख-नेत्र प्रक्षालनम्॥ Mukha-netra prakshalana (Washing of face and eyes)
  8. सुगन्धित द्रव्यधारणम् तथा ताम्बूलसेवनम्॥ Sugandhita dravya dharana and tambula sevana (Use of mouth freshener and betel leaves)
  9. अञ्जनम्॥ Anjana (Application of collyrium)
  10. नस्यम्॥ Nasya (Oily nasal drops)
  11. धूमपानम्॥ Dhumapana (Inhalation of medicated smoke)
  12. व्यायामः॥ Vyayama (Physical exercise)
  13. क्षौरकर्मम्॥ Kshaura-karma (Regular cutting of hair, nail, etc)
  14. अभ्यङ्गः॥ Abhayanga (Body massage with oil)
  15. शरीर परिमार्जनम्॥ Sharir-parimarjana (Body cleansing)
  16. स्नानम्॥ Snana (Bathing)
  17. वस्त्रधारणम्॥ Vastra-dharana (Dressing)
  18. अनुलेपनम्॥ Anulepana (Deodorants, perfumes, face-pack, etc)
  19. गन्धमालाधारणम्॥ Gandhamala-dharana (Garlanding)
  20. रत्नधारणम्॥ Ratna and abhushana dharana (Use of precious stones and metals in the form of jewellery)
  21. Sandhyopasana (Worship and prayer with surya-namaskar)
  22. पादुका-छत्रधारणम्॥ Paduka-chhatra-dandadi dharana (Use of shoes, umbrella, stick, etc)
  23. जीविकोपार्जन उपायाः॥ Jivikoparjana upaya (To indulge in occupation)

This is the ideal regimen in dinacharya[2] and rarely followed by individuals in present time due to fast paced competitive life-style as well as due to some kind of ignorance towards health. Result is emergence of various diseases and emergence of life-style disorders which are considered as the epidemic of current era.

दिनचर्या-विषयविभागः॥ Guidelines on different aspects of Dinacharya

Each and every component of Dinacharya has been described in detail in classical treatises of Ayurveda. Do's and Dont's about all these aspects are described by Ayurveda acharyas at relevant places. With increasing awareness about health and lifestyle management, today people are more concerned about many of these aspects and willingly approaching Ayurveda to get the right idea of managing their lifestyle. Although many misconceptions are rampant about these aspects in the community, the authentic and standard guidelines regarding all these lifestyle components expounded in Ayurveda can be found below.

प्रातरुत्थानम्॥ Time of getting up in the morning

Ayurveda calls it 'Brahma muhurta'. It denotes the time of early in the morning before sunrise. This practice is rewarding as it facilitates easy and smooth passage of stools and urine due to specific doshas dominance in the body. Further, it helps to avoid dreams which generally appear in the morning when a man is in a condition of half awaking and half sleep. It provides a time when waste by products of digestion and metabolism are thrown out of the body, sufficient relaxation of Shariram and Manas is achieved.

ब्राह्म मुहूर्तम्॥ Brahma muhurta

The exact time of Brahma muhurta varies from region to region as the time of sunrise is not uniform throughout the world. It is approximately two Muhurtas i.e. 96 minutes (almost 1.5 hrs) before the sunrise. Brahma Muhurta is considered as Panchamrutha Vela i.e. Amrutha or essence of Vipula Vayu, Vipula Jala, Vipula Aakasha, Vipula Desha, and Viphula Kala. [3]

उषःकालः॥ Ushakala

Usha is a Sanskrit word, Means "dawn, early morning (sun rise)". Last Muhurta of Ratri that is 4:24 am to 5:12 am (if 6 am taken as the time of sunrise) same as Brahma Muhurtha can be consider as Ushakala. [3]

उषःपानम्॥ Ushapana (Drinking water in the morning)

Bhavaprakasha Samhita describes benefits of drinking water daily after getting up in the morning. Although ample benefits have been described, one must remember the fact that, these benefits can be obtained when water is consumed after getting up on 'Brahma muhurta' and not anytime after getting up in the morning. When consumed in this manner it facilitates free passage of motion and urine. Apart from that various other benefits of Ushapan have been described in the classical treatises. One can find the method, quantity, do's and dont's about Ushapana in the Bhavaprakasha samhita which is one of the 3 treatises from Laghutrayee (the lesser triad).

According to Bhavprakasha, 8 Prasrti (Unit of measurement of liquids, equals to a quantity of liquid contained in a deep cup made by joining the two hands) water should be consumed on Brahma muhurta.[4] Acharya bhavaprakasha says that, the one who does Ushapana in this manner every day at the sunrise time, becomes free from all ailments. He lives for hundred years and the weakness and other problems of old-age do not even touch him.

Further, it is mentioned that, some part of this water can be consumed through the nostrils. Bhavaprakasha opines that, 3 Prasrti of water can be consumed through nostrils which is helpful for prevention of Vali (wrinkles), Palita (gray hair), Pinasa (rhinitis), Swarabhanga (hoarseness of voice), Kasa (Cough), Shotha (edema) and acts as Rasayana and improves eyesight.

शौचविधिः॥ Shoucha vidhi

Shoucha vidhi means excretion of Mala (stools) & Mutra (Urine). It is very necessary to inculcate the habit of easing in the morning. It is the physiological reflex of the body to expel the accumulated waste byproducts of digestion of food known as Purisha or Shakrut mala in Ayurveda. Easy and timely passage of Purisha mala is said to be the sign of a healthy individual. This process cleanses the body and aids in maintaining the the right balance of function of digestion and metabolism. It is counted among the अविधारणीय वेगाः। i.e 13 natural urges of the body which when suppressed lead to multiple disturbances.[5] A tendency of Vega Vidharana (to suppress the natural urges) is the root cause of many diseases. [6] Thus, in the context of Svasthavrtta (preventive healthcare) easy and regular passage of stools at this time of the morning is said to be beneficial.

दन्तधावनम् तथा जिव्हानिर्लेखनम्॥ Cleaning the teeth and tongue

The next step in the daily regimen is named as Dantadhavana and Jivhanirlekhana. Dantadhavana refers to the cleaning of teeth while Jivhanirlekhana suggests cleaning of tongue and mouth. Ancient Ayurveda acharyas have described in detail materials and methods of Dantadhavana. [7] Ayurveda advocates use of sticks of various medicinal herbs for cleaning of teeth and tongue. The knowledge and wisdom of Ayurveda scholars was so exceptionally well that they recommended specific herbs for specific Prakrti individuals for cleaning teeth and tongue. Scrapping of tongue has been advised with metallic tools to clean accumulated wastes on tongue.[6][7]

अञ्जनविधिः॥ Anjana vidhi

Anjana vidhi refers to the act of applying collyrium in eyes daily after all the accumulated impurities in body are washed out via excretion and brushing. It is advised that one must use Souviranjana (a type of collyrium ) for daily application. when practiced daily, collyrium provides health and strength to the eyes.

Nasyam॥ नस्यम्

Also called as Navanam. This is one of the 5 main procedures in Panchakarmas. Nasyam refers to the nasal instillation of medicated oil or any suitable liquid. This particular Panchakarma therapy is believed to cleanse the channels located in head and neck. Thus this procedure is employed in Ayurveda treatments when the individual is suffering from diseases of head and neck. However, one form of it is recommended to be adopted as a part of one's daily routine in the morning regimen so as to keep this vital part of the body devoid of impurities accumulated on daily basis. The choice of the oil or medicated liquid should be decided after complete evaluation of one's Prakrti by a learned vaidya.

गण्डूष धारणम्॥ Oil pulling

Although oil pulling is attracting the attention of many healthcare professionals in recent times, one must know that this method is recommended as a part of daily routine by ancient Ayurveda scholars. This procedure is known as Gandusha (गण्डूष) and is advised for maintaining the best functioning of organs above neck and parts of oral cavity like lips, teeth, tongue and throat. It is also believed to be enhancing the quality of voice. The details on the method of oil pulling, ingredients etc are described in various classical Ayurveda treatises. One can learn it from a learned Vaidya.

Dhumapanam॥ धूमपानम्

Dhumapana literally means smoking. Smoking medicated cigarettes is recommended as a part of daily morning routine after Nasyam and Gandusha. The herbal cigarettes are known as Dhumavartis that are prepared using combinations of various herbs selected on the basis of desired action on doshas and rogas. The detailed procedure of dhumapana including the choice of herbs, length of cigarette, route of smoke inhalation, time and other do's and dont's are found in classical Ayurveda literature.

Dhumapana is believed to be the best procedure to keep check on Kapaha and Vata dosha specifically located in head and neck region. Methodical dhumapana is said to beneficial in alleviating heaviness in head, headache, migraine, pain and various affections of ear, throat, nose, teeth, eyes, neck, voice, hair and intellect. It effectively enhances the strength of Shiras (head and organs situated inside head), hair, Indriyani (sensory and motor organs) and improves the quality of voice. (Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 5 Sutra 27-32)

Tambulsevanam॥ ताम्बूलसेवनम्

Tambula is the sanskrit term used for the betel leaf. Either a natural mouth freshener like Jatiphalam (Nutmeg) or Lavanagam (clove) or a mixture of these wrapped in a betel leaf should be taken by those who wish to have clear and fresh breath. This regime is described as Tambulasevanam.

However, there are certain contraindications. Individuals suffering from hemorrhagic disorders, certain eye problems, poisoning etc should adopt Nasyam, Gandusham, Dhumapanam and Tambulsevanam only after consulting Vaidya or otherwise it is better to avoid these regimes.

अभ्यङ्‍गः॥ Abhyanga

Abhyanga is the sanskrit term for oil massage. By default, it refers to the whole body massage with oil. This forms an integral part of many Panchakarma procedures. Ayurveda acharyas have included this in Dinacharya as well. Ayurveda recommends whole body oil massage on daily basis. Further oil massage of head, feet and ears has been specifically stressed upon. For a healthy person, plain sesame oil is recommended for daily abhyanga. Medicated oil can also be used after consulting a vaidya.

Oil massage ensures rejuvenating effects on skin, relaxation, soft and hydrated skin thereby enhancing strength, firmness and smooth functioning of skin and all related body structures. [6]

व्यायामः॥ Vyayama

Vyayama means any kind of physical exercise. This comes after Abhyanga in daily regimen. Ayurveda defines Vyayma as 'a physical activity that brings stability and strength to the body'. Thus, any physical activity that causes only fatigue and not strength or stability is not included under Vyayama. Such strengthening physical activity must be performed daily in proper amount. Excessively heavy exercise that bring fatigue and feeling of tiredness is prohibited.

शरीरचेष्टा या चेष्टा स्थैर्यार्था बलवर्धिनी|

देहव्यायामसङ्ख्याता मात्रया तां समाचरेत्|| (Char. Samh. 7.31) [8]

Regular exercise is essential for perfect health. It brings up strength, stamina and resistance against disease, pacification of aggravated doshas, improves digestive function and thus helps to maintain health.[8] However, one should be careful in selection and extent of exercise when he is suffering from diseases. The signs and symptoms of exercise performed to appropriate limit are described in classical treatises. Further diseases that may develop due to heavy exercise have also been mentioned in Ayurveda treatises.[6]

स्नानम्॥ Snanam

Snanam is the sanskrit term for Bath. This is the next step in daily regimen. One can find effects of bath on various body functions explained in Ayurveda treatises. Ayurveda recommends bath with warm water below shoulders only. Use of hot water for bath above shoulders is strictly prohibited. It is believed that, hot water bath above shoulders is harmful for the health of eyes, hair and other organs situated in this region. Snanam is said to be cleansing, purifying in nature. It helps in relieving fatigue and providing vigor as well as vitality.[9]

आहारः॥ Diet

Diet should be regulated taking into account the Desha, Kala (season) and habit. Diet should be planned to include all six Rasa (taste) i.e. sweet, saltish, sour, bitter, acrid and astringent. Diet should be balanced and the quantity should be according to one’s digestive capacity.[6]

Other components of Dinacharya and their significance

Apart from these there are many other things one adopts as a part of one's daily regime. Those things could be as minor as wearing clothes, footwear, cleaning feet and body parts etc. Despite being a daily activity we never give sufficient attention to these minor componenets of our daily routine when they have ability to impact our health due to their repetitive occurrence in our life. Ancient ayurveda scholars were exceptionally wise to study the health impact of all these activities and describe their significance in one's life. Following are the few such components of one's daily regime and their health impact described by Acharya Charaka.

अम्बरधारणम्॥Clothing

काम्यं यशस्यमायुष्यमलक्ष्मीघ्नं प्रहर्षणम्| श्रीमत् पारिषदं शस्तं निर्मलाम्बरधारणम्||९५||

गन्धमाल्यनिषेवणम्॥Wearing fragrances

वृष्यं सौगन्ध्यमायुष्यं काम्यं पुष्टिबलप्रदम्| सौमनस्यमलक्ष्मीघ्नं गन्धमाल्यनिषेवणम्||९६||

रत्नाभरणधारणम्॥Wearing jewellery or accessories

धन्यं मङ्गल्यमायुष्यं श्रीमद्व्यसनसूदनम्| हर्षणं काम्यमोजस्यं रत्नाभरणधारणम्||९७||

शौचाधानम्॥Cleaning of feet and other body parts / Hygiene

मेध्यं पवित्रमायुष्यमलक्ष्मीकलिनाशनम्| पादयोर्मलमार्गाणां शौचाधानमभीक्ष्णशः||९८||

सम्प्रसाधनम्॥Grooming / Cutting nails and hair

पौष्टिकं वृष्यमायुष्यं शुचि रूपविराजनम्| केशश्मश्रुनखादीनां कल्पनं सम्प्रसाधनम्||९९||

पादत्रधारणम्॥Use of Footwear

चक्षुष्यं स्पर्शनहितं पादयोर्व्यसनापहम्| बल्यं पराक्रमसुखं वृष्यं पादत्रधारणम्||१००|| ईतेः [१] प्रशमनं बल्यं गुप्त्यावरणशङ्करम्|

छत्रधारणम् तथा दण्डधारणम्॥Use of umbrella and tools for self defense

घर्मानिलरजोम्बुघ्नं छत्रधारणमुच्यते||१०१|| स्खलतः सम्प्रतिष्ठानं शत्रूणां च निषूदनम्| अवष्टम्भनमायुष्यं भयघ्नं दण्डधारणम्||१०२||

निद्रा॥ Sleep

Sleep is most important for maintenance of health and longevity for the human beings. It is appropriately called ‘Jagaddhātri’ because of its mechanism of overcoming wear and tear of the body due to physical work and mental stress and tissue loss.[6]

Tips on sleep[6]

1. One should sleep with head to the east or north.

2.The bed room should be absolutely clean, well ventilated and away from noise and disturbance.

3. The bed must be neat, clean and free from bugs.

4. The bed room should be draught free.

5. One should avoid sleep when the brain is excited e.g after reading, thinking, drinking etc.

6. The mind must be absolutely free from worldly affairs and worries while going to bed. This may be achieved by praying to God at the time of going to bed.

7. Sleeping late at night leads to ill health.

8. A minimum of 7 hours sleep is required in 24 hours to repair the wear and tear of the body.

9. Sleep during the day should be avoided as far as possible. However, if one keeps awake at night, he can take some sleep in the day time. Day-sleep is not contraindicated in summer. But in winter, the day-sleep increases Kapha, thereby causing respiratory and digestive troubles.

10. It is advisable to massage the head, soles and palms with oil before going to bed. By massage dreams can be controlled.

सुरतचर्या॥ Sexual Act

For all creatures, sexual act is a natural urge. Sexual act is also essential for the procreation of the species. Even animals of lower form practice certain amount of restrictions but human beings are prone to over indulgence or abuse of the sexual act. Some regulation on this activity is essential.[6]

Tips on sexual behavior[6]

1. Over indulgence in sexual act is harmful for the body; it may lead to debilitating diseases even Kṣaya (tuberculosis).

2. Sexual act should be performed during night time, preferably first quarter of the night so that after performance of sexual act, one can take rest for the whole night.

3. Though different Āsanas have been shown in Kāma-Śāstra, the one in lithotomy position is the best.

4. Masturbation, sodomy are very injurious to health.

5. Ladies suffering from any venereal diseases should be avoided so that the disease may not be contacted.

6. After sexual act, at least one glass i.e. about 250 ml. of milk should be taken to promote health and energy.

7. During the course of disease or in convalescence sexual act should not be performed otherwise debility will be increased and resistance will be lowered.

References

  1. Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 5 Sutram 13)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Durgawati Devi et al. International journal of ayurvedic & herbal medicine 1(2) sep-oct 2011(39-45)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sharma P, Rao M. USHAPANA: A UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION OF AYURVEDA FOR MAINTENANCE OF HEALTH. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 2014; 3 (10): 299-305
  4. Bhavaprakasha Samhita (Purvakhanda Adhyaya 5 Sutra 317)
  5. Ashtanga Hrdayam (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 4 Sutram 1)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 HAND BOOK OF DOMESTIC MEDICINE AND COMMON AYURVEDIC REMEDIES. Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), New Delhi, Designed and Developed by NIIMH, Hyderabad. Chapter 2 available from http://niimh.nic.in/ebooks/ayuhandbook/chapter2.php
  7. 7.0 7.1 Charaka samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 5 Sutra 71-75)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Charaka samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 7 Sutra 31-34)
  9. Charaka samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 5 Sutra 93-94)