The book " Elements of Rasayana Therapy in Ayurveda" written by the well known author Professor Ajay Kumar Sharma is a complete and comprehensive treatise on the subject. This is the first book in English which deals with the subject in all completeness and clarity covering all aspects of "Rasayana Therapy" as described in various treatises of Ayurveda. The entire text is richly supported with original references from Ayurvedic classics. Latest information regarding various aspects of Rasayana Therapy (Geriatrics) have been incorporated with the objective of providing basic knowledge to readers especially to Ayurvedic students, physicians and teachers for creating awareness among masses about the important possible role which Rasayana Therapy (Geriatrics) may play for preventing various Disorders & improving the total health of mases.
The author of the book being a senior Professor of Ayurvedic Medicine in National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur and being a reputed physician and researcher, this book has been richly benefited by his scholarship and professional experience. It is expected that this book will be useful for prospective readers.
Born on May 31st, 1954 Professor AJAY KUMAR SHARMA graduated in Ayurveda with Medicine and Surgery from A. & U. Tibbia College, New Delhi in 1976 with throughout top rank career. He received many awards and prizes for his outstanding career. He did his M.D. (Ay.) and Ph. D. from B. H. U. under the guidance of his illustrious mentor Professor R.H.Singh.
Prof. Sharma is now the senior most Professor and Head of the P. G. Department of Kayacikitsa and Deputy Medical Superintendent of the Hospitals atNational Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur. He is the Chief Ayurvedic Physician in the Institute. In the capacity of a reputed Ayurvedic Physician, a capable teacher and an outstanding researcher, Professor Sharma has published several standard books on Ayurveda and over 110 research papers in various Journals of National and International reputation. He has contributed a chapter to the prestigious book" Scientific Basis for Ayurvedic Therapies" published by CRC Press, USA. He has produced 35 M. Ds and 5 Ph. Ds under his dynamic supervision. He is the expert member of several committees and learned societies in India. Prof. Sharma has been short listed as an Ayurvedic expert for short term deputation to University of Natal, South Africa to help them in drawing course curriculum and setting up faculty for starting diploma/graduate degree course in Ayurveda.
It was a pleasure to go through the press script of the book "Elements of Rasayana Therapy in Ayurveda" authored by Prof. A.K. Sharma. The book has made a good attempt to review the classical concepts and contemporary status of Rasayana therapy in a simplified style making a good reading for readers of today. The book, besides. general introduction, deliberates scholarly on the historical aspects of the subject, Basic concepts of Rasayana therapy and its applications, Biological effects of Rasayana remedies, concept of Aging in Ayurveda and Anti-Aging impact of Rasayana besides specific descriptions of Rasayana in Brihattrayi texts. The book provides a comprehensive bibliography and opens avenues for further reading. I have gathered the impression that the able author has done a good piece of work and has succeeded to make a notable addition to the contemporary Ayurvedic literature.
I have known the author Prof. A. K. Sharma as a scholar and an activist in the field of Ayurveda with scientific temper for many years besides reading his other books specially the one on Panca Karma therapy written on similar style which has already been accepted well by the contemporary readers. I wish a good success for the present publication too.
Rasayana Therapy is one of the most prominent components of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda, the Science of Life, has two fold objectives, 1. To preserve and promote the health of the healthy and 2. To alleviate the illness of the sick. Thus it has a dual role encompassing both "the health" and "the disease". Out of the two the former has been given greater significance than the latter. Ayurveda deliberates extensively on the approaches and the methods of preventive and promotive health care. The entire range of Swastha Yritta, Sada Vritta, Acara, Ahara- Yihara and the rejuvenative measures of Rasayana Tantra have been developed since antiquity for promotion of health and prevention of diseases. Periodical bio-purification through Panca Karma therapy and multi-dimensional promotion of health through Rasayana therapy form the central theme of promotive health care in Ayurveda. The present monograph deals with the subject, which is of paramount importance.
The Rasayana therapy has been described in all classical texts of Ayurveda, both in Brihattrayis and Laghuttrayis. The Carak Samhita which is the foremost among the Ayurvedic classics describes Rasayana Tantra in its very first chapter of Cikitsa Sthana elaborately devided into four Padas, where a detailed account of the fundamental concepts of Rasayana therapy, its variants and methodologies of use are described alongwith the mention of a range of Rasayana remedies, both single and compound including the popular recipe Cyawanprasa. Susruta Samhita which is the second most important classical treatise, does not describe Rastiyana therapy in the beginning of Cikitsa Sthana, rather it postpones the subject towards the end of Cikitsa Sthana while Yagbhatta minimizes the description only in a one small chapter that too, towards the end of the Samhita i.e. in the last but one chapter of Uttara Tantra. Such a placing of the sequence of descriptions may be because of many other reasons but it could also reflect the fact that probably the importance of this great science had started declining in its significance even in the Samhita period itself probably because of growing supremacy of curative medicine over preventive medicine.
The term Rasayana (Rasa + Ayana) essentially refers to nutrition and nourishment. More specifically it refers to bioavailability of nutrition. There can be many mechanisms through which a Rasayana remedy may accelerate the phenomenon of nourishment. Logically it seems that a Rasayana may act at three levels of bio- system to promote nutrition such as 1. At the level of Agni by promoting the digestion and metabolism, 2. At the level of Srotasa by promoting the microcirculation and tissue perfusion and 3. At the level of Rasa itself by acting as direct nutrition. Thus the Rasayana remedies act essentially on nutrition dynamics and rejuvenate the body and psyche. They are the powerful means of promotion of health, longevity and prevention of diseases. They sustain the Ojas Status and Rata in the body and promote vyadhiksamatva i.e. Immunity. Many Rasayana drugs of Ayurveda have been recently demonstrated to possess immuno-enhancer activity when tested on scientific parameters.
In this context it cannot be overemphasized that Genetics and Immunology were highly developed branches of knowledge in ancient times which is evident from descriptions available in Ayurvedic classics which appear not only strikingly similar to latest modern knowledge on the subject today, rather many ancient concepts display significant supremacy and open newer vistas for future development.
Ayurveda is one of the world's oldest system of health. It is not just a health care system but a complex approach to healthy living. Ayurveda is the science of life which has two objectives, to maintain & promote the positive health of healthy individuals and to cure the disease of diseased ones. Ayurveda is practiced in the form of Astanga Ayurveda (Eight Fold Ayurveda; which includes Satya (Surgery), Saldkya (E. N . T.), Kayacikitsa (General Medicine), Kaumara Bhrtya (Pediatrics), Agada Tantra (Juriceprudence & Toxicology), Bhutavidya (science dealing with Devils), Rasayana (Geriatrics) and Yajikarana (Virity promoters) .
More emphasis is laid down on health promotive measures i.e. preventive aspects of a disease in Ayurveda . . This is possible by improving the resistance of the body against the diseases i.e. by improving Immunity of the body. This could be achieved with the administration of "Rasiiyana" i.e. Geriatrics or Immunomodulator drugs. The term H Rasayana " means the ways of attaining excellent Rasa Dhatu which rejuvenates all body tissues and prevents premature aging and diseases. Healthful longevity has ever been cherished desire of man. Rasayana is one of the eight clinical specialties of classical Ayurveda. Rasayana is not only a drug therapy but a specialized procedure practiced in the form of rejuvenating recipe, dietary regimen and special health promoting conduct and behaviour i.e. Actira Rasayana.
While describing the properties of Rasayana, Actirya Caraka has mentioned that on administration of Rasayana one attains longevity, memory, intelligence, freedom from diseases, youthful age, excellence of lusture, complexion and voice, respectability and brilliance. Actirya Susruta has clearly stated that Rasayana drugs are "Urjaskara" in nature and they prevent diseases and old age.
Actirya Caraka has given great importance to Rasayana Tantra by devoting first chapter of Cikitsa Sthana to Rasayana which has four Padas (Subchapters) describing various principles of Rasayana Therapy. While in Susruta Samhita, it is described in chapters 27-29 of Cikitsa Sthana and in Astanga Hrdya of Yagabhatta it is not described in Cikitsa Sthana but is described briefly in the last but one chapter of Uttarsthana. This reflects on the declining impact of Rasayana Therapy in Samhita period. But lately Rasayana Therapy is attracting lot of attention globally in the form of rejuvenation and geriatric care. It has been proved scientifically that most of the Rasayana drugs are antistress and adaptogenic in nature besides having Immunomodulating effects. These drugs promote quality of life and reduce the rate of aging.
"My post graduate students have been inspiring me to bring out a book on Rasayana Therapy in English covering all literary review along with latest developments in the concerned field. I am happy to present this book on "Elements of Rasiiyana Therapy in Ayurveda" to the prospective readers. It is hoped that this book will interest the Students, Teachers, Researchers and practitioners of Ayurveda. In this book the author has tried to compile the Classical Concepts about Rasayana Therapy available in various Ayurvedic Texts by rearranging the subject matter systematically in more practicable form. The book reviews the ancient classical concepts and recent advances made in this important field of Gerontology.
The book contains nine chapters. First two chapters deal with the general introduction and Historical review of Rasayana Therapy in various Treaties of Ayurveda. Third chapter deals with the exhaustive description of Rastiyana •Tantra in various Samhitas of Ayurveda. Biological effects of Rasayana Drugs are described in fourth chapter. Ayurvedic Concept of Aging (Jara) and its prevention with Rasayana is described in fifth chapter. Chapter Nos. Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth deal with description of Rasayana in Caraka, Susruta, Astanga Sangraha and Astanga Hrdya respectively. A bibliography of references is appended in the end in chapter no. 10. All the topics have been written with emphasis on the uniqueness and distinction of Ayurvedic concepts with an attempt to evaluate the relevance and validity of the same in modern times. The author has utilized his professional experience with clinical Medicine of Ayurveda in compiling the present work.
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