Dhanvantari Ayurveda Center  Michael Dick, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Leesburg, Florida    e-mail: md@ayurveda-florida.com

 

 

GLOSSARY OF AYURVEDIC TERMS

 

Agni                The Sanskrit word for fire; its forms are light/electro-magnetic radiation, acids, bases, enzymes, co-enzymes, hormones and so on; it's responsible for burning, digesting, cooking, absorbing, assimilating, discrimination, and for cellular metabolism, etc. There are thirteen forms of which the stomach/intestinal fire is primary and supportive to agnis in the liver (5 element agnis) and 7 tissue agnis (one specifically for each tissue).

Ayurveda        The eternal system of life knowledge from an ancient culture of India.  It defines life as a combination of mind, body, senses and spirit.  Its aims are to heal the sick and prevent disease, sustain quality of and length of life.  Its scope includes knowledge of science, medicine and philosophy.

Dharma          The term commonly is translated as "duty," but I prefer "virtue." Without the context of its spiritual roots this meaning is too vague. It arose in the ancient Vedic culture, in Sanskrit, as a way of expressing that one must do God's will while on earth. This means that every facet of life must express a willingness to accept good and bad with equanimity and indeed a willingness to express one's divinity in all aspects of daily life. One lives in accord with Nature's laws, which are a means for the expression of God's will. Living in accord with Natural Law is holy and healthy, while adharma, its opposite, means pain, suffering, and destruction.

Dhatu              The word means stable or fixed or supporting and connotes the role of the bodily tissues in Ayurveda, of which there are 7: plasma/lymph, red blood cells, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow/nerve tissue, reproductive tissue

Dosha             The fundamental governing principle of life and creation, which in the body serves to execute the blueprint of DNA.  This sustains sentient life during all the vagaries of changing times.  When influence upon this governing agent is overwhelming . . . disease arises.

Element          Ayurveda has named 5 kinds of substance that are responsible for action or effects: space, air, fire, water, earth; these comprise all of the matter of living and non-living things in the creation.

Guna               This term means quality or attribute.  It describes a fundamental stable energy which is the nature and essence of any substance. [qualities &attributes of prana?]  Thoughts, feelings and similar subtle energies are considered as substance as well as actual materiality like foodstuffs.  The gunas are sattva (spiritual), rajas, (worldly), tamas (involutionary or decaying).

Ghee               The clarified essence of butter which obtains from cooking it for about 15 minutes over medium heat.  When cool, accumulated fats on the bottom of the pot are discarded and a pure, golden oil is retrieved.

Kapha             The name of the governing principle of Creation relating to physical forms of energy.  It is responsible for secretions, maintaining lubrication, fluid balance, growth, heaviness, grounding, forgiveness, compassion, potency, understanding.

Karma            The word means action and is synonymous with moral / spiritual law that states one receives / reaps as one sews

Pitta               The name of the governing principle of Creation relating to transformation reactions.  It is responsible for digestion, absorption, assimilation, metabolism, complexion, body temperature, vision, courage and enthusiasm.

Prakriti          This term is used to describe the idea of constitution, especially bodily constitution, and is elaborated in terms of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas

Prana             A subtle essence of all energy forms; hence, the energetic essence of all creation.  The particular prana of foods determines whether and how foodstuffs are used.

Pranayama     Generally, this term refers to controlled breathing for the purpose of controlling the mind. It is a set of practices designed to move energy around the body; health--mental, emotional, physical, spiritual--is its outcome.

Rajas             (Rajasic) The mobilization of energy by Consciousness in such a manner as to produce action, attraction, repulsion, desire and so on.

Sattva            (Sattvic) That style of functioning of Consciousness which embraces balanced use of the mind, body and senses thus promoting wisdom, compassion, clarity, health and long life.

Tamas            (Tamasic) That style of functioning of Consciousness which embraces notions of darkness, inertia, insensitivity, ignorance and so on.

Vaidya            One who knows.  A respectful title of an Ayurvedic medical practitioner, indicating appreciation of the depth and scope of knowledge in the training of this science; note that the title only connotes being a healer indirectly.

Vata                The governing principle of Creation that has the most importance by having the ability to move all things.  It is responsible for respiration, circulation, elimination, speech, motion, locomotion.  It also governs all nervous system functioning, intuition, cheerfulness and creativity. 

 

 


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