(Maharshi Vedvyas writes in the Mahabharata)
Naktamacaryam Diwaswapnamalasyam Paishunammadama |
Ati yoga ma yoga mca Shreyasoarthi Parityajet ||
Meaning: One who cares for his wellbeing should avoid keeping awake at night, sleeping in daytime, lethargy, intoxication, habits of criticizing or complaining about others, extremities in eating and other activities. What is sleep? " Yoga sutra" gives its precise definition as "Abhava Pratyayavalambana Vratti Nidra" the state of mind in which its (extrovert) tendency to experience the gross material existence disappears. Acharya Charak regards sleep as one of the three essential prerequisites for the health of physical body. "Traya Upastambha Ityaharah Swapnau Brahmcharyamiti" Proper food (and eating habits), good sleep and continence. We observe none of these three and so it is natural that we largely remain deprived of good health , vital energy and vigor. The number of patients suffering from acute insomnia is in crores today; much larger is the number of those who somehow sleep with the help of tranquilizers. Many more have troubles of not getting good, sound sleep. Starting with general dullness and drowsiness, the disorders of sleep often result in varieties of other mental or physical ailments. Ayurvedic scriptures have given significant importance to good sleep at proper times in the night and have affirmed it as a sign and source of health y life .
"Kavya Mimansa" quotes " Samyak Swapo Vapushah Paramarogyaya " Here "Samyak Swapah" implies sound sleep (without any dreams) at right times for proper duration. "Paramarogyaya" implies that which ensures a state of enduring good health and immunity against disease. The poet further states the same in other words as "Ardharogahari Nidra" (Good sleep does at least half the remedial work of natural recovery from sickness).
While talking of sleep, Ayurvedic scriptures further provide some practical guidelines. For instance, putting anjan (collyrium or lamp-black eye-lotion prepared from ghee of cow's milk or specific herbal oil) in the eyes before going to bed is said to induce soothing effects on the eyes. Eyes are sensors and processors of light and related functions and hence regarded as functionally constituted of the agni tatva (one of the five basic elements) and are thus prone to diseases caused by kapha dosha (one of the three tridoshas described in Ayurveda ). As the latter is supposed to mainly manifest as shleshma (origin of phlegm, which grows with chill, moisture and impurities, on the base of jala tatva), it is advisable to protect the eyes from it. The substances like anjan are supposed to be suppressors of the kapha dosha in the eyes and are therefore considered efficacious in protecting the natural health (and radiance) of the eyes and as inducers of sound sleep. Surama, which seems to have been popularized in the Middle East and India by the Greeks, is also a type of anjan. Putting few drops of rosewater in the eyes also cleans the eyes and gives a soothing sensation and helps in inducing good sleep. Ayurveda mentions of applying pure honey on the pores (inner edges) of eyes; it gives burning sensations initially, but it is supposed to be a natural preventive medicine against cataract. However it should be used only upon (Ayurvedic) doctor's advice, after ensuring the purity of honey.
Anjans: Ayurvedic scriptures describe several methods of preparing anjans for specific purposes. The most common and suitable for most of us is the following. Lit a lamp of pure caster-oil using a clean cotton wick to get consistent yellow flame. Collect the lamp-black by keeping a clean pot of bronze on the tip of the burning flame while taking care that the flame should remain yellow. Mix ghee of cow's milk in appropriate proportion and small quantity of good quality, finely powdered camphor in the lampblack. The anjan is ready to be used as an eye-lotion. In view of the sensitivity of the eyes, it is recommended that one prepares it in the presence of an expert. Quality of the collyrium or lamp-black should also be tested. It should not be used for more than six months. Needless to say that extra care should be taken for the hygiene of fingers while using them to apply this eye-lotion inside the eyes. As most of us are aware, we must clean the eyes (before putting the anjan or even otherwise) and teeth before going to bed. As we had discussed in one of the earlier articles on morning routine , Ayurveda advises the use of natural herbs (especially neem-dataun) for cleansing the teeth. These are some simple but excellent tips for natural protection of our health . More points concerning ratricharya in the next section.