Healing of all beings in the Vedic tradition has existed and continues through bodies of wisdom in the form of Karma-kanda, Ayurveda, and Jyotisha.
Your mother massaging your scalp with oil on a lazy Sunday morning in childhood,
doing Pranayama as a part of one’s puja,
performing surya namaskaara to a chant,
an elder looking at the Panchanga to check for Ekadashi, the 11th day of the new or full moon,
herbal concoctions made by your grandmother for an upset stomach,
the spices that must be added to balance out the different ingredients in khichdi,
elders frowning if you speak while eating,
checking with the family astrologer if horoscopes match,
the six necessary flavours included in the complete thali of food,
wearing gemstones on your fingers,
going for annual darshan to your kuladevata…
These and many other practices based on Ayurveda, Karma-kanda and Jyotisham are embedded into our ways of living and culture. These have contributed to the healing and well-being of our civilisation while only a select few took to the pursuit of Vedanta.
Healing is seen as a holistic process that does not just mean an absence of disease but a restoration of emotional and spiritual well-being of the person.
Healing is inextricably connected with the Law of Karma pervading one’s life and that is influenced by the presence of daivam, grace of devatas.
For all of us who thump our chest and proclaim that we are self-made or who wallow in pity and desolateness about you know what I did last summer, Bhagavan Krishna pricks our balloon of I, me and myself.
अधिष्ठानं तथा कर्ता करणं च पृथग्विधम्।
विविधाश्च पृथक्चेष्टा दैवं चैवात्र पञ्चमम्।।18.14।।
(The five causes for doing any karma) are 1. the physical body, 2. the agent, 3.the manifold means (of action), 4. the distinct and diverse activities (of the pranas) and indeed, 5. daiva (presiding deities)
The corollary of this is that one cannot do any karma, proper or improper without all these 5. I want to draw our attention to the presence of daivam, deities that preside over different life processes that are not visible. We know about the presence of the devatas and the ways to invoke them through the Vedas, which are a means of knowledge to reveal to us that which cannot be known through perception and inference.
Logically, we can appreciate that every process has someone who presides over it.
Who are these deities and what do they preside over? We get an idea from Laghu Nyaasam, the preliminary portion before chanting Sri Rudram.
After chanting the dhyana shloka, we do nyaasa, seek the grace of different presiding deities by visually placing them on different parts of our body. It is better to learn this chant.
Prajanane brahma tishthatu, Let Brahmaji reside in my genitals organs
Padayor visnustishthatu, Let Vishnu sanctify my movement through my feet
Hastayor harastishthatu, Let Hari be present in my hands. They are Hari’s hands.
Bahvor indrastishthatu, In the two arms, let Indra of great strength be present.
Jathare agnistishthatu, Let Agni be present in the stomach as the digestive fire .
Hrdaye shivastishthatu, Let Shiva, Mangalam, auspiciousness be placed in the heart.
Kanthe vasavastishtantu, Let the eight Vasus abide in the throat and neck, connecting the head and the heart.
Vaktre Saravasti tishthatu, Let Saraswati abide in the speech and the mouth
Nasikayor vayustishthatu, In the two nostrils, let Vayu devata, abide and move.
Nayanayoh scandra dityau tishthetam, Let Chandra, the moon and the sun abide in the eyes.
Karnayor asvinau tishthetaam, May the Ashvini devatas abide in the ears.
Lalate rudrastistantu, Let the 11 Rudras abide in my forehead
Murdhny adityas tishthatu, Let the 12 Adityas be present in the back of the forehead
Shirasi mahadevas tishthatu, Let Mahadeva be present at the very top of the head.
Shikhayam vamadevas tishthatu, Let Vamadeva abide in the portion of the back of the head.
Prshte pinaki tishthatu, Let Shiva holding the bow abide in the back.
Puratah shuli tishthatu, Let Shiva bearing the trishula be present in the front portion of the body
Parshvayoh siva sankarau tishthetam, On both sides of the body may Siva Sankara be present.
Sarvato vayustishthatu, Let Vayu (in the form of prana) be present everywhere.
Tato bahih sarvato agnir jvalamala parivrtastishthatu, Let Agni and all flames of Agni (light and heat) be present outside and everywhere else
Sarveshva angeshu sarva devata yathaasthaanam tishthantu, May all the devatas be present and abide in their respective places.
Ishvara is present as different devatas performing different functions.
Maam rakshantu, May all protect me. How do they protect me? By seeing all these devatas as Ishvarah, I do not take them for granted.
Sarvamahaanjanaan rakshantu – May all the Mahatmas who uphold dharma and are free be protected.
When you invoke the grace of all these devatas can you ever feel alone and disconnected?
Their blessings are always available to us.
We acknowledge their presence, express our gratitude to the devatas and seek their blessings through prayers, mantras, pujas, teerthayatras and other religious disciplines.
There are many siddhas, highly accomplished people who are believed to possess healing powers due to their mantra sadhana or purva janma punya, merits of previous lifetimes. These siddhas are often sought out by the people for their blessings and healing. In the presence of some gurus, the mind is naturally calm and is stilled.
Ayurveda, the wisdom of life is the natural healing system of India. The first verse of Ashtanga Hridaya one of the key texts in Ayurveda, invokes the grace of Bhagavan Dhanvantari.
रागादि रोगान् सततानुषक्तानशेषकायप्रसृतानशेषान्
औत्सुक्यमोहारतिदाञ्जघान योपूर्ववैध्याय नमोस्तु तस्मै
Salutation to The Unique and Rare Physician, who has destroyed, without any residue all the diseases like raga (binding desire, anger, greed, arrogance, jealousy, selfishness, ego), which are constantly associated with the body, which is spread all over the body, gives rise to disease, delusion and restlessness.
As may be obvious, Ayurveda does not look upon the human being as a limited set of biochemical processes. It looks upon the physical body as a crystallisation of deep seated mental tendencies carried over from previous lives.
The question is, why have a long life? The second verse gives an answer.
आयु: कामायमानेन धर्मार्थ सुखसाधनम् ।
आयुर्वेदोपदेशेषु विधेय: परमादर:
One should have a long life to achieve the four fold pursuit –
Dharma – Guiding framework of values such as ahimsa, satyam etc , 2. Artha – acquiring wealth, 3. Kama – seeking of all pleasure and 4. Moksha through self-knowledge while living.