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Vayas in Samskrit means Age of an individual. Ageing is a continuous process which starts with conception and ends with death. Ageing is the accumulation of changes in a person over time. The phenomenon of ageing is described in Ayurveda as Svabhavika (natural) and is inevitable.

Definition of Vayas

वयस्तश्चेति कालप्रमाणविशेषापेक्षिणी हि शरीरावस्था वयोऽभिधीयते|

तद्वयो यथास्थूलभेदेन त्रिविधं- बालं, मध्यं, जीर्णमिति| (Char. Samh. Vim. 8.122)[1]

Vaya is defined as the state of body corresponding to the length of time that has passed since birth. Vaya (Age) is one of the medium to achieve the knowledge regarding Ayu (span of life) besides other tools[5]. Both Charaka and Sushruta say that before prescribing any therapeutic procedures, physician should examine to obtain knowledge regarding the span of life, strength and intensity of morbidity. (Sush. Samh. Sutr. 35.3)

Ageing in Ayurveda

Ayurveda explains Ageing process starting from birth to death as Vaya (chronological ageing). The chronological age is mainly divided into three stages. i.e., Baalya, Madhyama and Vriddha. Acharyas have also explained the biological changes occurring during these phases

Vaya Praeeksha- (Examination of Age)

C.S. Birth to 30 years 30 – 60 years > 60 years

S.S. Birth – 16 years Ksheerapa – till 1 year Ksheerannada 1 - 2 years Annada – above 2 years 16 – 70 years Vriddhi- 16-20 years Youvana-20-30 years Sampoornata-30-40 years Parihaani -40-70 years > 70 years

A.S. Birth to 16 years Stanyavritti Ubhayavritti Aharavritti 16 – 60 years Youvana- 16-30 years Sampoornatva- 30-40 Aparihani- 40-60 years. >60 years.

  • According to Sushruta Vaya is classified into three stages [11].
  1. Balya (Childhood or early young age) up to 16 Years. It can be subdivided into three i.e., Ksirapa- only milk consumption – up to one year, Ksirannada – milk and solid food –up to two years, Annada- Only solid food –more than two years up to16 years.
  2. Madhya (Middle age or Young age) More than 16 years up to 70 years of age sub divided into : Vriddhi- up to 20 years (Growth phase), Yauvana- up to 30 years (Youth and adolescence), Sampurnata- up to 40 years (Mature Stage), Parihani- More than 40 up to 70 years (degenerative phase) with full growth of tissues, sense, faculties, strength and vitality.
  3. Vriddha (old age)–After 70 years, and, it is witnessed by degeneration of tissues started along with diminution in the tissues, sense faculties, strength, vitality, grey hairs, baldness, suffers from cough, dyspnoea, etc., and inability to perform all activities.

Vriddhavastha may be of two types: timely (if it manifests after the age of 60 – 70 years) or untimely.[15] Untimely aging may result due to aggravation of vata and pitta dosha. Therefore, excessive utilization of all the causes of vata–pitta aggravation may lead to untimely aging. Some instances are causes of Rajayakshma (a syndrome with deficient immunity), carelessness regarding prescribed regimen of tryopsthambha (diet, sleep, and coitus), causes of ojo-kshya (deficient immunity), excessive and single use of Amla, Lavana, Katu, Tikta, and Kashaya rasa in diet.

  • According to Charaka, Age is broadly divided into three stages Bala(childhood), Madhya (middle age) and Jirna (old age).

Childhood is determined up to 16 years. When the Dhatus are immature, sexual characters are not manifested, the body is delicate, unenduring, with incomplete strength and predominant in Kapha. In this stage, Dhatus are in developing stage and unstable mind remains up to 30 years. Mild medicaments may be employed. Middle age is characterized by strength, energy, virility, powers, acquisition of all Dhatus having reached the normal limit associated with proper physical and mental strength, without degeneration in qualities of Dhatus with predominance of Pitta and is up to 60 years. Stronger medicaments may be employed to gain the success at this stage. Old age is up to 100 years. There is diminution of Dhatus(tissue elements), strength of sense organs, energy, manliness, valour, power of understanding, retention, memorizing, speech and analyzing fact. There is gradual diminution in the qualities of Dhatus and dominance of Vata. This period should be handled carefully with mild and moderate medicaments because of delicate nature of the old age. There are persons who live longer or shorter than that, in such cases, one should determine the three divisions of age on the basis of strength of the factors like Prakrti Sara etc., except Vikriti and also characters of different periods of life span.

Dosha dominance in different age groups

Shlesma enhances greatly in young age, Pitta increases greatly in middle age and Vata increases greatly in old age. This should be kept in mind before planning any therapy. Use of Ksara (alkali preparations) and purgation therapy should be avoided in children and old age in diseases curable by above therapeutics. If it is necessary then it should be done moderately and slowly [12].

Role of Vayas in diagnosis and treatment as per Ayurveda

Ayurvedic text describes how to attain longevity and also mentioned verities of longevity through Ayu Pareeksha. Ayurveda explains certain signs and symptoms to decide the life span (Manam of Ayu) of a patient. Ayu Pariksha has been broadly classified into three broad headings, namely, Dhirghayu, Madhyamayu and Alpayu and these are described by Sushruta [2]. He says that before prescribing any therapeutic procedure, physician should examine life span of the patients and if they have residual life span then his Vyadhi (disease), Ritu (season), Agni(digestive power), Vaya (age), Deha (body build), Bala (strength), Sattva (mind), Satmya(conducive factors), Prakriti (constitution), Bhesaja (drug) and Desa (habitat) should be examined [3]. Tenfold examination are the tools described in Charaka to obtain knowledge regarding the span of life, strength and intensity of morbidity and these are Prakriti (constitution), Vikriti (morbidity), Sara (excellence of Dhatus), Samhanana(compactness of organs), Pramana (measurements of the organs of the body), Satmya(suitability), Sattva (psychic conditions), Aahara Sakti (power of intake and digestion of food), Vyayama Sakti (power of performing exercise) and Vayas (ageing) [4]. The basic purpose of these examinations is to understand the overall condition of the person in order to prescribe meticulous and systematically planned therapeutic treatment to get desirable and satisfying successful results.

Jara as Svabhavika Vyadhi

Swabhavika Vyadhis are the naturally occuring diseases from which nobody can avoid. Kshudha, Nidra, Pipasa, Jara and Mrityu are explained as Svabhavika Vyadhis. 5 These Svabhavika Vyadhis are Nishpratikriya (irrremediable). Chakrapani explains that Svabhavika Vyadhis can’t be treated by any other therapeutic devices except Rasayana. Even Rasayana can’t cure or prevent these Vyadhis. Rasayana can only delay these diseases. This suggests that after sometime they will relapse. Hence, these are considered Nishpratikriya. (Meera E. Et:Al; A Review On Ageing And Anti-Ageing Measures In Ayurveda IAMJ: Volume 2; Issue 4; July- August- 2014)

Vayasthapana Dashemani

Acharya has explained ten Vayasthapana drugs which can be used for anti-ageing purpose.13 They are Amruta (Tinospora cardifolia), Abhaya (Terminalia chebula), Dhaatri (Embilica officinalis) etc.

Prevention of aging

Due to limitations of space, only the principles are described here. As previously stated, the process of aging is totally dependent on diet and lifestyle. Aging can be prevented by:

  1. Including some important principles of Dincharya (daily regimen) in the daily routine, for example, Anjana (a type of eye treatment); Abhayanga (body massage),[21] especially Shiro-Abhayanga (head massage);[22] nasya (oily nasal drops);[23] Sneha-Gandusha (retaining of oil in the mouth);[24] cleansing of feet and external orifices;[25] exercise;[26] and so on.
  2. By following the other principles of Swasthavritta such as utilization of Tryopastambha (diet, sleep, and coitus) according to the rules;[27] to bear suppressible urges (i.e., mental fluctuations) and to expel unsuppressible urges (i.e., natural urges);[28,29] regular removal of aggravated Dosha according to Ritu(season) by Panchakarma;[30] regular utilization of Rasayana (rejuvenating treatment) and Vaajikarana (aphrodisiacs);[31] following the principles of Sadvritta (social and personal ethics) and Achara Rasayana (ethics having effects of Rasayana), and so on.[32]
  3. Taking a diet strictly in accordance with the prescribed rules.

Devi D, Srivastava R, Dwivedi BK. A critical review of concept of aging in Ayurveda. Ayu. 2010;31(4):516–519. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.82030

  1. http://niimh.nic.in/ebooks/ecaraka/?mod=read