Head of the Ayurveda department at the Habichtswaldklinik Kassel
Ananda Samir Chopra studied medicine and indology at the University of Heidelberg. After his license to practice medicine he spent one year in Kolkata, India, to study Ayurveda. Since 1996 he has been head physician of the Ayurveda Clinic Kassel. 2009 to 2011 research assistant in a research project on the modern history of Ayurveda at the University of Heidelberg. In addition to his clinical work, he is still scientifically active in the history of medicine. Since his childhood he learns and practices classical Indian music (Hindustani Sangit).
The concept of srotas as “flow-channels” within the human body presents an interesting part of classical āyurvedic theory. In the classical description (Caraka-Saṃhitā, Chapter Vi. 5, titled Srotovimāna) Srotas are envisaged as tubular structures carrying various bodily substances, the classical number being that of 11 Srotas-systems with two additional Srotas-systems in women, namely the female genital tract and the female breast. However, a short glance at the characteristics of the respective Srotāṃsi (plural-form of Srotas), especially their diseases, reveals that Srotas are not just structural components but represent a rather comprehensive perspective on structure and function of the human organism. Hence nowadays they are often understood as organ-systems.
Manovaha-srotas (“mind-carrying flow-channels”) are not mentioned among the eleven/ thirteen classical Srotas-systems but occur in the chapters on aetiology and therapy of Unmāda (“Madness”, presently often equated with Psychosis) of the Caraka-Saṃhitā, where they play an important role in the pathophysiological process leading to the manifestation of mental diseases. Here again we find that though the Manovaha-srotas are presented as tubular “structures”, they can only be understood meaningfully if we broaden our perspective. It will be argued that the notion of Manovaha-srotas shows that from ancient times onwards Āyurveda always had a very wide perspective on mental diseases: in this perspective somatic appearances are as important as psychic symptoms, “biological” aspects (which here would mean the more structural aspect of Manovaha-srotas) are taken into account as well as behavioural and social aspects. This comprehensive view of mental diseases then serves as a precondition for a comprehensive, truly holistic, therapy.
Among the manifold symptoms, which can be found after a COVID 19-infection, Fatigue occupies an important position. This phenomenon of deep-seated exhaustion on physical, emotional and cognitive levels is also found in the context of other diseases and is experienced as a profound impairment by patients.
In āyurvedic perspective Fatigue as a consequence or corollary of an different disease is a typical manifestation of the sixth stage (Kriyākāla) in disease-development. An attempt to categorise the symptoms from an āyurvedic perspective, might find symptoms of a Vāta-imbalance (the Suśruta-Saṃhitā’s – Sū. 15.36 - formulation of “reduced vitality in activities” might be mentioned here) as well as signs of a weakness of Agni and an Āma-condition. Therefore, Fatigue as a symptom of a Post-COVID 19-syndrome can be treated by agni-enhancing and vāta-regulating measures. As is always the case in Āyurveda, here, too, the individual therapeutic strategy is to be based on systematic āyurvedic diagnostics.Kriyākāla) in the development of the disease. If one tries to classify the symptoms āyurvedically, one finds symptoms of a Vāta disturbance (here, in particular, the "low vitality in activities" described in the Suśruta-Saṃhitā - Sū. 15.36 - should be mentioned) as well as signs of an Agni weakness and a Āma state. In this sense, then, fatigue can be treated with agni-strengthening and vāta-balancing treatments. As is otherwise the case in Āyurveda, the individual therapeutic procedure must be planned and carried out on the basis of a thorough diagnosis.
Unfulfilled desire for children as well as unwanted pregnancies are a proof that the procreation of a human being is still surrounded by mystery. On the basis of scientific insights modern medicine has developed several methods for planned conception which mainly account for physiological aspects. Āyurveda on the other hand has a much wider perspective: in addition to maternal and paternal factors, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of conception are described. So with regard to planned conception modern medicine and Āyurveda can very well be combined in practice. In this presentation the respective concepts and their practical application in Germany will be discussed.
Since ancient times there is a special discipline in Ayurveda which aims at giving humans a long, healthy and youthful life. Rasayana, literally the science of "rejuvenating elixirs“, includes the application of medicinal preparations, specific in-patient-cures and especially health-promoting behaviour. Hence Ayurveda offers a concept for a long and healthy life that is far more comprehensive than current ideas of "Anti-aging“ or "well-aging“. The Caraka-Saṃhita, an ancient authoritative treatise of Ayurveda, offers a detailed account of such concepts. In this presentation it will be shown that even today a practical Rasayana-concept can be developed on the basis of the wise teachings of Caraka.
Why the Caraka Samhita (k)is a guide for practice
Ananda Chopra MD
"The textbook is a light that creates brightness, the eye is one's own mind" - Why the Caraka-Saṃhitā (k)is a guide for practice.
The Caraka-Saṃhitā is without doubt one of the most important texts of the Āyurveda. In the current curriculum for the study of Āyurveda in India, the Caraka-Saṃhitā is the only traditional text that students are to study in its entirety. However, a cursory glance at this work makes it clear that the Caraka-Saṃhitā is a many-voiced and complex work. The 120 chapters, spread over eight books, form anything but a systematic textbook or even a practical handbook. Rather, this work is full of redundancies and occasionally also contradictions; in addition to concrete prescriptions for medicines, there are also philosophical discussions, for example on the training and practice of doctors. No wonder, then, that for centuries Caraka-Saṃhitā has by no means served as a textbook for beginners. Those who wanted to learn the basics of Āyurveda or were looking for a work for diagnosis and therapy in practice used other books. Only specific cultural processes, the emergence of a "Renaissance ideology", in India in the 19th and 20th centuries, led to the Caraka-Saṃhitā obtaining its current position in Āyurveda. But if one then thinks about what medicine actually is, that medicine is first and foremost a practical science and neither natural nor spiritual science, then the Caraka-Saṃhitā offers a true treasure of inspiration and instruction especially for those who practice Āyurveda today. Starting from the form and content of the present Caraka-Saṃhitā, all these aspects will be briefly discussed.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is now being diagnosed with increasing frequency in Central Europe. According to some estimates, about 5% of the population are affected by this disease. However, the clinical picture of Hashimoto's thyroiditis is very diverse, ranging from complete freedom from symptoms to symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. For an āyurvedische assessment of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a thorough examination of the Agni is particularly useful. In most cases this disease is accompanied by Agni weakness of varying degrees. In addition, basic constitution, age and other āyurvedische criteria must of course always be taken into account in the diagnosis. On this basis, meaningful recommendations for āyurvedische therapy can then be made. As usual in Āyurveda, one starts with recommendations on nutrition and general lifestyle. In addition, there is an individually planned drug therapy and, if necessary, Pañcakarma therapy.
The tongue diagnosis (Jihvā-parīkṣā) has been a part of āyurvedischen diagnostics for several centuries. It is usually listed as a part of the so-called "Diagnosis of the eight localizations" (aṣṭasthāna-parīkṣā). The diagnostic evaluation of the tongue is carried out within the framework of the systematics of āyurvedischen science. Within this framework, a thorough examination of the tongue helps to diagnose both the Doṣa constitution (Doṣa-Prakṛti) and a possible imbalance (Vikṛti). In addition, the tongue diagnosis provides valuable information on the state of the metabolic force (Agni) and a possible strain on the metabolism (Āma strain). Tongue diagnosis is also quite easy to perform and has little adverse effect on patients. The practical procedure for tongue diagnosis as well as the evaluation of typical findings are presented in this paper. In a short outlook the tongue diagnosis is then classified into the overall complex of āyurvedischen diagnostics.
The "diagnosis of the tongue" (Jihvā-parīkṣā) has for several centuries been part of āyurvedic diagnostics. It is mostly enumerated as one criterion of the so-called "diagnosis of eight localisations" (aṣṭasthāna-parīkṣā). The diagnostic evaluation of the tongue takes, of course, place within the framework of the āyurvedic system. A thorough examination of the tongue in this context helps to diagnose the constitution (Doṣa-prakṛti) as well as a potential imbalance (Vikṛti). In addition, the diagnosis of the tongue supplies information on metabolic strength (Agni) and possible accumulation of undigested metabolites (Āma). Furthermore, the tongue-diagnosis is easy to perform and hardly incommoding for the patient. The practical procedure of tongue-diagnosis and typical features will be discussed in this presentation; a short perspective shall place tongue-diagnosis in the larger context of āyurvedic diagnostics.