Pathya (पथ्यम्)

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Pathya (Samskrit : पथ्यम्) refers to the food regimen to be practiced for a healthy living directed by principles laid down in Ayurveda shashtra for samagra jivana vidhana (holistic lifestyle). Our science which stresses more on prevention rather than cure of diseases, obviously emphasizes on the ideal food to be consumed to attain and sustain good health. If consumed inappropriately food becomes the root cause of many diseases. So, proper knowledge about various foods and their importance should be known by all human beings to have a healthy life. Food itself is said to be Mahabheshaja (महाभेषजम्। great drug) by Acharya Kashyapa.


Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine has been making a healthy resurgence over the last few decades. This holistic ancient science has two objectives, viz., to maintain the health of healthy person, and to treat the sick person. As a holistic health practice, Ayurveda seeks to maintain a balance between a person's physical, mental and adhyatmik aspects. When this balance is disturbed the person gets afflicted with diseases and health disorders.

In spite of recent advancements of science, in this world, man is unable to sail himself in the boat of happy, healthy and prosperous life. Our deep rooted traditions and customs have loosened their hold with the emergence of globalization. It has left back its footprints at every sphere of life. Changed life style, increased population and moreover world of machines has created unlimited desires in human mind on the one hand, while on the other hand, it has originated anxiety, anger, hostility and grief directly or indirectly leading to many diseases. When we analyze this rich culture with the globalization point of view, we can find many punch holes of westernization and mixing of other traits and cultures into our beautifully woven ayurvedic blanket. As a result, “Health is spent to gain some Wealth, afterwards they would like to share their wealth with you to regain their Health” which is not always possible.


Apte defines पथ्य as wholesome diet, suitable, fit, proper. Shabdakalpadruma explains it as चिकित्सादौ हित-कारकम् meaning useful in treatment.

पथ्यं-पथो अनपेतं यध्यच्चोक्तं मनसःप्रियम॥ [च.सू.२५/४५]

pathyaṁ pathō'napētaṁ yadyaccōktaṁ manasaḥ priyam|

Meaning: The dietary articles and activities that do not adversely affect the body systems and are liked by the mind are regarded as pathya (wholesome).

The root term for Pathya is ‘Patha’ which means various channels in the body & ‘Anapetam’ means not causing any harm to the human body and mind. So, any food which is not harmful for body channels and on the contrary which is wholesome - soothing for body can be labelled as Pathya. Which is basic but most important concept in Ayurveda which seems to be practical and must be practiced clinically in today’s era.


Art and science of preparing and dispensing food as medicine in the practice of healing is Pathya. “Nidan parivarjan=Treatment” which means removal of cause by Pathya-Apathya regarding disease is considered as first step towards treatment.

It is possible if one uses diet considering the tridosa, prakriti, satmya of person as well as panchabhautika penta composition of dietary substances. It covers all the nutritive values as it provides healthy food having all the six tastes thus help in maintaining the Panchabhautika (penta elemental) constitution of body along with mind. The equilibrium of these five elements in the body denotes health while their imbalance or disturbance denotes disease. Panchabhautik Chikitsa is a branch of Ayurveda which bases the analysis and treatment based upon this principle. It is also quoted that “No amount of medication can do any good to patient who does not observe Pathya, likewise no amount of medication is needed to a patient if he follows Pathya".[citation needed]

  • Pathya used in Panchakarma to boost the fatigued Annavaha Srotas (digestive system) and Purishavaha Srotas (excretory system) to regain the healthy stage from weakened one.
  • Pathya helps the patients maintain their dhatus (basic elements) in a healthy state preventing fluctuations due to doshas.
  • Pathya in healthy individuals allows them to stay fit, and in the patients it is prescribed to keep their channels in a healthy stage.

Samskara or Food Processing

An important step in the preparation of Pathya is Samskara. It involves the processing of raw food to a suitable form (cooked etc) to alter its properties and make it suitable for acceptance inside the patients body. Pathya prescribed to one person may not be the same for another person. It changes in individuals also depending upon various components (Age-season, disease, psychological status, habits, dominance of doshas). Sometimes the change in a process changes the properties to a completely opposite nature.

So incorporation of “Pathya” makes our food healthy and pleasurable with accomplishing basic objective of Ayurveda. It stresses Ayurveda’s approach that the digestive capability of the patients is equally important to that of the properties of the drugs. Acharya Sushruta has dealt with four major preparations of Pathya[citation needed]

  1. Manda
  2. Peya
  3. Yavagu
  4. Vilepi

Kalpanas of Takra (buttermilk) are also made used for different clinical indications.[1]


There are many foods mentioned many centuries ago in Ayurveda which require patenting as a part food therapeutics. All these food recipes are even though practiced by the practitioners, the ideal methodology is still obscure, it remains one of the baffling enigmas for dietetics.

Ayurveda is based on the principle "Let your food be your medicine and not to make medicine be your food." Ayurveda emphasizes much more on diet, regimen which is beneficial to the body and gives the happiness to the mind. Any eating habits known to produce results harmful to the body is known as Apathya. (Add a proper sloka and explanation of it for Apathya). Vaidya Lolimbraj in his book "Vaidya-jeevanam" has given a very important principal regarding pathya-apathya

Pathye Sati Gadartasya Kimaushadh Nishevanaihi \\

यच्चाप्रियमपथ्यं च नियतं तन्न लक्षयेत्||४५||

yaccāpriyamapathyaṁ ca niyataṁ tanna lakṣayēt||45||

Meaning: Likewise, dietary articles and activities that adversely affect the body system and are disliked by the mind are regarded as unwholesome.

Pathya and Apathya Foods

The following table describes different foods and their suitability for Pathya. Their names according to Ayurveda and english references are given for easy understanding.[citation needed]

Varga Pathya Apathya
ShukaDhanya Rakta shali, Shastika and types of

Shastika,Godhuma, Yava

Shami Dhanya Mudga, Masura Chanaka,Aadhaki Masha
Mansa Varga Ajameda, Ena (antelope), Godha, Rohit Matshya, Chuluki, VasaJangala

Mansa etc.

Go mansa, Kankapota mansa (young

dove), frog, Chilchim fish, fat of Kumbhir, Kakamudga, and Chatak

Shaka Varga Vastuka, Patha,

Sunishnaka, Jeevanti,Tanduliyaka,

Mandukaparni, Kushmanda,


KakmacRajakshawaka, Nadi


Sarshapa Shaka, Kusumbha

Shaaka etc.

Phala Varga Dadima,

Aamlaka, Haritaki, bibhitaki, Mridvika,


Harita Varga Sringawera, Baal moolak,

Sursa, Haridra,

Dhanyaka,Yavani, Methika

Madya Varga Purana Madya, Madhwika,

Matravata Pana

Jala Eindra Jala, Shrita Sheeta jala, Kalushita Jala
Gorasa varga Go dugdha, Aja dugha,

Mahisha Dugdha, Go-Ghee, Takra, Navneet

Avi Dugdha, Ghrita
Ikshu Varga Guda, Sharkara, Madhu Phanita (treacle)
Kritanna Varga Manda, Peya, krishara, Audana,

Yusha, Saktu

Aharayogina Varga Tail, Vasa, Hingu, Pippali, Saindhava


Vihara Brahmcharya, Nivatashyana,

Ushnodaka Snana, NishaSwapana,

Vyaayaama, Vegavidhaarna,

Maatraavata Asana, Kaala bhojana,


Pathya Regimen

Pathya kalpana is suggested both for use in Dinacharya (daily routine) and as Rutucharya (6 seasonal routines). Rutucharya constitutes the general Pathya regimen to be followed during different seasons and is briefly described below. However, these are guidelines and should be followed based on the constitution (vata, pitta, khapha) while the things to be avoided are to be as per the consultation of the physician.[2]

Regimen in Hemanta (Dewy or Prewinter season)

Hemanta rutu is the time between October to December. In this rutu the atmosphere is cold, the days are chilly, nights are longer than the days. To prevent heat loss of the body, the blood vessals get constricted and so the internal body heat increases. This results in increase in appetite, digestion and thereby the strength and power of the body. As the nights are longer, persons get hungry early in the morning.

आहारः ॥ Ahara

  • Practice to take food in the morning containing Madhura, Amla and Lavana rasas and Guru (heavy diet) snigdha diet.
  • Cereals such as rice, wheat, jowar, all sweet fruits, all milk products (butter, buttermilk, ghee, curds, cheese), hot water, fruit juices. Take preparations of cow milk, cane juice, fat, oil, new rice, hit water.
  • Take the unctuous, sour, salty juices of meat of aquatic and marshy animals which are fatty.
  • Avoid vata vitiating food. For example : The meat of burrow-dwelling animals and bhrushta prepared of animals of prasaha.

विहारः ॥ Vihara

  • One should not expose himself to cold wave. Wear heavy and warm clothes made of wool and leather
  • Abhyanga : Massage, application of oil on the head and body should be done before bath.
  • Underfeeding and intake of gruel, excessive sexual intercourse are to be avoided.
  • Rest - stay indoors, sun baths are advised.
  • Fomentations of jentaka process may be applied as required.

Regimen in Shishira (Cold Winter season)

Shishira rutu corresponds to the cold winter time of January and February months. Climate is similar to that of Hemanta rutu with an important difference being 'rooksha (dryness)' guna increases greatly due to cold. Vata and Kapha doshas increase during this time. One must follow a regimen similar to that of the winter regimen with a few additions

  • Avoid taking the cold drinks, stay warm from strong breezes.
  • Avoid taking foods possessed of tikta (bitter) rasa, kashaya (astringent) , laghu (small diet) and cold diets.

Regimen of Vasanta (Spring Season)

Charming due to natural beauty this season has great attraction corresponding to the months of March and April. Air is clean, sunshine is ample causing the melting of 'kapha' dosha which has increased during hemanta rutu. This causes decrease in appetite and poor digestive power (Agni-mandya). At the advent of spring one should habitually resort to exercise, unction, smoking and gargling.[2]

आहारः ॥ Ahara

  • Cereals such as barley and old wheat, jowar, pulses, meat of goat, and chicken (sharabha, shasha, ena lava and kapinjala).
  • Avoid heavy, unctuous, sour, and sweet diets.
  • Consume plenty of honey, Katu, tikta and Kashaya rasas are accepted freely.
  • Only buttermilk may be consumed.
  • Drinks can include asavas and arishtas, hot drinks, oils and wines.

विहारः ॥ Vihara

  • Sleep during day time is prohibited, afternoon is to be spent with wife in gardens surrounded with flowers.
  • Massage body before bath with chandana, vetiver and aguru dry powders, followed by hot water bath with the application of lepa (scented plaster) to the skin.
  • Hard work and gymnastics is prescribed. Normal sexual activity.

Regimen of Grishma (Summer Season)

Hottest season of the year, corresponds to May and June months, the sun is nearer to the earth, the rays are sharp and hot. Loss of water due to sweat, energy and power. Kapha dosha decreases and vata dosha increases. The atmosphere is dry, stagnant. [2]

आहारः ॥ Ahara

  • Cereals, pulses, a number of vegetables, all watery fruits (water melons, kharbhooj, mangoes, bananas, aamlaki, lemons etc).
  • Curds, milk, buttermilk and ghee are to be consumed.
  • Meats (jangala mamsa rasa without spices), of goat and rabbit. Soups are preferred.
  • All cold drinks prepared from fruits juices (pannes and panakas) with sugar and lemon.
  • Asavas and arishtas are contraindicated and if required to consume it should be in little quantity and along with plenty of water.
  • Honey, go-mutra, madhura (sweet), drava (liquidy) and laghu quality of food is to be taken.
  • Avoid Lavana, Amla and Katu rasas in food.

विहारः ॥ Vihara

  • Bathing with cold water and swimming, after bath application of lepa (paste) of chandana, agaru, udshira (vetiver) and other cool substances.
  • Use thin soft cotton clothes, wear flowers and garlands, pearls as jewellery.
  • Minimal exercise and sexual activity.
  • During day time one should sleep in an air-cooled place in shaded area without sun rays, at night in open calm and cool moon light. Beds may be filled with flowers.
  • One decorated with pearls should be comfortably seated on a chair enjoying fans and the touch of tender hand.

Regimen of Varsha (Rainy Season)

Rainy season starts with the onset of monsoons corresponding to the months of July and August. Due to rains, water bodies are full and muddy. Greenery everywhere, the atmosphere is damp and cool. Agni mandya is seen even during this season with an increase in vata dosha due to sheeta guna. The new rain water is muddy and cool and is 'Amla vipaki' which is responsible for accumulation of Pitta dosha. Diseases are more during this season and hence there is an absolute necessity of keeping the Agni normal at any cost.[2]

आहारः ॥ Ahara

  • Cereals should include old wheat and rice, jowar and yava. Pulses reduced to Mung (green gram) and Masoor. Cocunut and ground nut oils are to be preferred.
  • Milk, fresh buttermilk, butter and ghee are to be consumed. Honey may be used in preparing diets, drinks.
  • Meats of goat, sheep, rabbits and fish without or little spices. Soups to be preferred.
  • Fruits such as Amlaki, grapes, pomogranates etc.
  • Boiled strained water (Shruta sheeta), lemon juice. Asavas and arishtas are contraindicated and if required to consume it should be in little quantity and along with plenty of water.

विहारः ॥ Vihara

  • Bath with warm water, massage with perfume and scented powders. Not to remain in sunshine for a long time.
  • Clothes must be dried with fumes of the scented wood.
  • Daytime sleep and sleeping outside in open air is to be avoided.
  • It is advisable to rub the body, apply unction, take bath and wear fragrant garlands during the season.
  • Exercise, indulgence in sexual intercourse should be minimal.

Regimen of Sharad (Autumn)

During the Sharad rutu, the sun is very hot during the day and nights are cooler and skies are clearer. Pitta dosha which is high in Varsha rutu is provoked by the hot and penetrating sun leading to a further Pitta prakopa (increase). Agni mandya is also seen. With the winds of damp nature increasing the vata vyadhi, one should use sweet, astringent and bitter rasas in diet.

आहारः ॥ Ahara

  • Cereals of old variety should be used. Pulses can be increased.
  • Fruits of dry type, dried grapes, chikkoo, amlaki, apples etc may be consumed.
  • Butter milk and milk with sugar are to be consumed. Curds are contra-indicated.
  • Use Hanshodaka, water exposed to moon-light.
  • Avoid taking sun bath.
  • Meats of Goat, rabbit, chicken, Pigeon, fishes from streams. (Lava, Kapinjala, Ena, Urabhra, Sharbha and Shasa), Vasa, Tail, Meat of aquatic and marshy land animals.
  • Intake of ghee prepared with bitter medicines, purgation and bloodletting.
  • Wines of sugarcane, honey and cool drinks may be consumed.

विहारः ॥ Vihara

  • Cold water bath with vetiver is advised.
  • Avoid the sleep during day time, avoid sun heat and eastern winds. Sleeping in open air is advised.
  • Avoid excessive exercise, higher sexual activity is advised.

Most of the health problems develop due to the faulty eating habits, regimen. Ayurveda deals with the pathya in a very scientific way.

Aahar vidhi

      ‘We are what we eat’ is the well known fact which clearly indicates the importance of food in every aspect of our health. Everyone is conscious about what should eat and what should not. But beyond this, there is another factor which also affects the health is ‘how we eat’. The method of eating also makes a huge effect on the body. All Ayurvedic samhitas explain the scientific methods regarding how to eat. In charaka samhita, He explains the ahara vidhi vidhan (Cha.Vi.1/24) which gives the guideline about how to eat

Ushna(hot)-In the era of preserved and packed food, One should always eat fresh and completely cooked,hot food.Ushna guna increases the jatharagni by samanya-vishesh nyay(A.H.Su 1/14).It helps in opening of strotasa(channels) which accelerates the process of digestion and absorption. Hot and fresh food will maintain the gati and function of vaat and destroys the excessive kapha in the strotasas, as it reduces sheeta guna.

Snigdha-Every meal should contain snigdha guna.Snigdha guna is one of the important guna required for maintaining the agni.In our daily practice,we all use oil or ghee in order to maintain the bonfire, Similarly the snigdha guna helps in the digestion. This snigdha guna lubricates strotasas.Lubriation plays an important role in maintaining the strength to body parts and empowers all indriyas too. Gati of the vaat dosha is easily get maintained in the lubricated body and thus it prevents the provocation of vaat (Cha.Su.12/7).

Matra(Quantity)- Quantity of food differs from person to person and it also differs as prakruti,rutu,disease,mental stress,profession etc.The quantity also depend on the food.This  food which is heavy to digest should be taken half of the appetite while the light  food should be taken as per your appetite. In this contest our acharya given a guideline which says that one should divide his stomach into 4 parts

In those parts 2 parts should be filled with the solid food and 1 part should be filled with fluid and the remaining 1 should keep empty for the doshas to perform their function(A.H.Su.8/46).so basically one should consciously observe their appetite and eat slight less than his actual appetite.

One should always eat only when the previous meal is completely get digested. Now days, we eat according to our convenient and not according to convenience of the body. You can assess whether the previous meal is digested or not by following symptoms (A.H.Su-8/55, Yogratnakar).

·     Clear belching(burping)

·     Proper excretion of both urine and stool

·     Feeling of freshness/energetic

·     Lightness in the body

·     Thrust and hunger

Once you feel these symptoms then only u can have the next meal.

Veerya-Aviruddha- Veerya is the most important characteristic of the dravya through which it works. All dravyas are divided into 2 groups according to Veerya i.e. Ushna and sheeta. One should not eat the food containing dravyas of opposite veerya.Sanskaar (process on the ingredient in order to make a food) plays important role in order to bring them together without having any harmful effects. This will cause effects which are similar to virrudha ahara.

One should always eat food at proper, clean place and utensils too. This inhibits the contamination of the food by dust or insects. Ayurvedic samhitas also mention utensils from various metals, leaves in which particular food should be taken (Yogratnakar-nitya pravrutti prakar-116)

One should neither eat slowly nor fast. Eating should be conscious process. One should only focus on what he is eating and enjoy every bite of the food.

              Rapid eating will cause nausea and discomfort in the abdomen which hampers the process of digestion. And slow eating will delay the process of digestion and also it does not satisfy appetite.

One should not speak/laugh/check there phone while having the meal. It will distract the mind too. One should always treat food just like god as it is maintaining our life cycle so one should pray that the food he is eating became the most useful for his/her body and mind too.

Along with that samhitas also give the order of the food according to guna and rasa (taste) of food (A.H.Su-8/45)

·     One should eat heavy, sweet, solid food in the beginning of the meal.

·     Light,bitter,liquid food should be taken at the end of the meal

·     Salty and sour items should taken in between.

In Short we can summarise the dos and don’ts while eating as follow-

Do’s Don’ts
Fresh, Hot food Preserved food
Food containing Sneha(Snigdha guna) Laughing/crying/speaking/watching phone or T.V.
Particular Quantity Eating before the previous food is digested
Prayer Veerya-viruddha ahara
Clean and proper place and utensils Too slow or too fast

These are some basic rules and regulations that one should follow while eating the food

Also search for

1. Viruddha Ahara

2. Veerya

These are some basic rules and regulations that one should follow while eating the food.


  1. Slides on Internet
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bhagawat, Bhalchandra Krishnaji. (1987) Ph. D Thesis Titled : Patya apatya vichar in ayurveda. Savitribai Phule Pune University. See Chapter 11 Comparision of the old ( Ayurvedic ) and modern behaviour - Daily and Seasonal for Pathya Regimens

1. Charaka samhita. Commentary by Chakrapanidatta. Hindi commentary by kashinath shastry. 8th Edition. Varanasi:Chaukambha Sanskrit Samsthana;2004.

2. Acharya Kashyapa. Kashyapa samhita.Edited by P.V.Tewari.1st Edition. Varanasi: Chaukambha Vishwabharati;1996.

3. Sushrutha samhita.Nibhandasangraha commentary of Dalhana acharya and Nyapanjika commentary of Gayadasa. Edited by Yadavaji Trikamaji Acharya. 8th edition. Varanasi:chaukambha Sanskrit samsthana;2005.

4. Sharangadhara samhita. Annoted with Deepika commentary by Dr.Brahmananda Tripathi. 3rd edition. Varanasi :chaukambha subharati prakashan. Madhyama khanda.