Naturopathy By Director NIN
It is taught to all Indian naturopathy students about these two complex topics ‘vitality’ and ‘panchamahabhutas’. However, their counterparts in the West may be wondering how these two concepts go together? As vitality is dealt by modern naturopathy and ‘panchamahabhutas’ is specific to Indian thought process. Vitality is ‘life-force-energy’ and the same is referred to as ‘prana’ in yogic lingo. It is the capacity for survival or for continuation of meaningful or purposeful existence. Although it is equated with immunity in the recent times, the meaning of vitality is far deeper and beyond the physical entity of the individual; similar to the expression of ‘prana’.
It is also understood that the vitality is a given thing at the time of birth with a fixed amount, preserving and nurturing it is the only way we can protect ourselves from the disease, there by suffering. Naturopaths aim at restoring and retaining the vitality by returning to nature; elemental therapeutics have an important place in naturopathy practice by embedding water, sun, air, earth and ether/space. It resonates with the panchamahabhutas; pruthvi(earth), aapas(water), tejo/agni(fire/sun), vayu(air) and aakaash(space).
The concept of panchamabhuta needs a bit of dig into its roots starting from Aiteraya Upanishad to the latest quantum physics. The word panchamahabhuta can be divided in to three. 1. pancha –‘five’, 2. maha – ‘great’, and 3. bhuta –‘that which exists’. Accordingly all the living and non-living objects in universe are made up of these five great elements. The Samkhya perspective, the Tantra perspective, the Buddhists perspective, the Jains perspective, the Kashmiri Shaivism’s perspective, the Yoga perspective; have all acknowledged the need to know the importance of panchabhutas, gnanendriyas, karmendriyas, tanmatras, their inter-connectedness and interplay in keeping the balance. Ayurveda sees the balance between them as health and the adversity is considered disease.
Indian Naturopathy explains the panchabhuta concept from the ‘prakruti’ - nature perspective and extensively incorporated in their day-to-day clinical practice as thus: Nature struggles constantly to maintain balance. This is Law of Nature. Since human body is also made of 5 elements and they represent in the body: ‘earth’ element as bones and muscles, ‘water’ element as blood, ‘air’ element as breath, ‘fire’ element as heat, and ‘space’ element as emptiness within/ mind’s activity. They further incorporated treatments derived from these elements to restore the deficiency or to balance the excess to bring back normalcy, i.e. to restore vitalty/prana.