Dinacharya – daily routine for a healthy life

By Sujatha Ramachandran
ArogyaM Program Co-ordinator and Senior Ayurvedic Consultant

Satya Yuga was an era where man was endowed with wisdom to find truth and light and hence were naturally inclined to be free from diseases and suffering. In Treta Yuga, untruth began creeping in and in its wake, diseases started manifesting. During Dwapara Yuga, untruth became a natural way of life leading therefore to more suffering from diseases. With the advent of Kali Yuga, untruth predominated truth, and life became a constant struggle against diseases and suffering, The great Rishis contemplated on a way out of this suffering, as a healthy body and mind were pre-requisites for man to discover the higher dimensions of existence.

The Guru of the Asuras, Shukracharya put forth a suggestion. He requested the Rishis to incorporate a daily routine for men, so that they may lead fairly healthy lives, and live the designated span of a hundred years. The daily routine that he prescribed for the Asuras was what he felt would be ideal in this Yuga of Kali—full of untruth. Thus, the daily routine of the Asuras became the daily routine or “dinacharya” for the humans living in Kali Yuga.

Dinacharya appears as a chapter in the Sutrasthana of the classical texts of Ayurveda called Samhitas. It is derived from the conjunction of two sanskrit words “dina”, or day by day, and “chara”, which means to move. The chapter on daily routines begins with the statement,

“Athato dinacharya namah adhyaya vyakhyasamah
iti ha smahuratreyadayo maharshayah”

Henceforth the chapter called dinacharya is explained, as advised by Maharishis, as Atreya, Bhela, Harita, and so on.

The first routine to be followed is:
“Brahme muhurte uttishte swastho rakshartham ayushah”
Those who are healthy and desirous of a long life, must wake up at Brahma muhurta.

Brahma muhurta is described as the time frame of 90 minutes, an hour and a half before sunrise. So, if sunrise is at 6 am, Brahma muhurta for that day is from 3 am to 4:30 am.

After waking up, one is advised to turn to one’s right, sit up, and then get out of bed.

After elimination of body wastes and washing of one’s hands and feet, the next prescribed routine is “dantadhavanam”, or cleaning of teeth.

Dantadhavanam begins with the description of the toothbrush. It is to be freshly made from the twigs of trees like the Karanja[pongamia], nimba[neem], etc which are bitter, pungent or astringent in taste. Triphala powder mixed with honey is used to brush one’s teeth. Once again, these are of astringent, pungent and bitter taste, indicating that sweet, salty and sour tastes are not to be used for cleaning one’s teeth. This is a far cry from the chloride, fluoride and gel toothpastes we are used to, and makes one ponder whether this contributes to tooth decay. Care has to be taken to not cause injury to the gums. Brushing is advised not only in the morning but also after every meal.

[To be continued]

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