Gramya Ahara (ग्राम्य आहारः)

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Gramya Ahara (ग्राम्य आहारः।) is a special category of such dietary habits and food stuffs, that adversely and directly affect one's strength, immunity, health and well-being. Ayurveda scholars were able to identify those dietary factors as well as lifestyle components which when consumed and practiced over time, can lead to all types of illnesses due to their direct effect of Dhatus (धातवः। vital body tissues). such dietary factors are known as Gramya Ahara while such lifestyle factors are called as Gramya vihara (ग्राम्य विहारः।). Ayurveda acharyas have advised each and every individual to refrain from such practices if one wants to achieve the best possible life.

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

Gramya Ahara refers to certain kind of dietary factors responsible for making individual prone to diseases and reduce one’s fitness as well as wellness. This specific term ‘Gramya’ has been used in association with diet as well as lifestyle factors to indicate similarity of effect of both of these on one’s life. This concept has been described by Acharya Charaka while describing Rasayana (रसायनम्। Rejuvenation treatments) treatment in Charaka Samhita. Thus, it Gramya ahara indicates denote those specific dietary and lifestyle patterns in individual’s life which disturb the balance of Dosha, Dhatu and Malas and necessitate use of Rasayanas in treatment so as to bring back the natural state of equilibrium of life energies.

व्युत्पत्तिः ॥ Etymology

Gramya is the term derived from root word Grama (ग्रामम्।) . In ancient times Grama was considered the civilized domestic part of area where people started residing in a group to form community in order to achieve the stability of life. Today, the term 'Grama' also refers to village.[citation needed]

Ahara (आहारः।) denotes Food[citation needed]

Vihara (विहारः।) refers to all types of activities other than diet which form the part of one's lifestyle.[citation needed]

Thus, when the term Gramya is used in conjunction with Ahara and Vihara, it suggests the specific type of diet and lifestyle that is prevalent or found predominantly in individuals residing in Grama. Domestic food and lifestyle is another alternative term used to explain Gramya ahara and vihara.

ग्राम्य आहारस्य परिणामः॥ Significance of Gramya Ahara and Gramya vihara

These factors play important role as causative agents in making one’s life weak on the front of energy, strength, vigor, vitality and other wellness parameters. Diet and lifestyle of this type render Dhatus weak and fragile which are considered the building blocks of the body, thus reducing immunity and increasing the chances of easy capture of various diseases.

Acharya Charaka has made a clear statement that, any type of ill health can be rooted in use of Gramya ahara and vihara.

सर्वे शरीरदोषा भवन्ति ग्राम्याहारात्। (Char. Samh. 1.2.3)[1]

sarve śarīradoṣā bhavanti grāmyāhārāt।

Meaning: Gramya Ahara can be responsible for all types of detrimental effects in body.

ग्राम्य आहारस्य सूची ॥ Gramya Ahara (List of unwholesome diet)

After highlighting its significance and serious nature Ayurveda samhitas have described properties and examples of food stuffs that are included under the category of Gramya Ahara. Listed following are such food stuffs and practices that are considered to be Gramya aharas according to Acharya Charaka,

  1. Food stuffs that are sour, salty, pungent and highly alkaline in nature.
  2. Dried vegetables
  3. Dried meat
  4. Sesame paste
  5. Preparations of (rice) flour, processed food
  6. Germinated (sprouted) or fresh, leguminous cereals,
  7. Incompatible (विरुद्ध आहारः) ,
  8. Unsuitable,
  9. Dry and rough in attributes,
  10. Excessively Alkaline in nature
  11. Regular and excessive intake of substances having peculiar channel blocking substances (e.g Curd, pickles)
  12. Putrefied or decomposed during processing or at the time of consumption
  13. Substances that are heavy
  14. Stale food items
  15. Indulging in irregular diet or over-eating while the previous food is undigested

ग्राम्य विहार॥ Lifestyle factors included under Gramya Vihara

Acharya Charaka has also stated the lifestyle factors that can cause similar damage as Gramya ahara in one's body, making one prone to various diseases and low in life energies.

  1. Daytime sleep (दिवास्वापः)
  2. Overindulgence in women and alcohol (One should abide by the rules and follow the guidelines given regarding how, what, when, where and when of carnal pleasures and use of alcohol described in Ayurveda)
  3. Performing irregular and excessive physical exercise causing agitation in the body,
  4. Loss of control over emotions of fear, anger, grief, greed, indecisiveness and
  5. Indulging in activities leading to over exhaustion

ग्राम्य आहार तथा ग्राम्य विहारस्य दोषाः ॥ Effects of Gramya Ahara and Gramya Vihara

Gramya Ahara and vihara i.e this type of unhealthy dietary and lifestyle factors are believed to vitiate almost all the Dhatus (Body tissues) required to achieve optimum health and wellness. Once vitiated by external factors these tissues become liable for further damage, degeneration and become host for variety of diseases owing to their poor immunity. In this phase such individual may complain of variety of symptoms that are commonly observed these days.

  • Experiences general feeling of Malaise and lassitude
  • Feeling of constant Fatigue and depressed mood
  • Untimely and excessive sleepiness, sluggishness and lethargy
  • lack of enthusiasm
  • Expresses incapacity of physical activities and also finds oneself unable to perform activities that involve mental strength
  • Complains of memory loss
  • Intellectual weakness
  • loss of luster
  • Easily gets tired
  • Becomes prone to various diseases due to lack of immunity

Thus, ultimately such individual can not enjoy the normal life with health, well-being and satisfaction. Those individuals who resort to such unhealthy practices can not achieve the maximum life span with fulfillment of life goals.