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Charaka's 10 Ways to Live a Happy and Healthy Life

Sometimes called ‘The Father of Medicine’, Charaka was the Kashmiri sage who gathered ancient wisdom in the Charaka Samhita, which became a founding text of Ayurveda, the Hindu alternative medicine still practiced today. What would his top tips for a heathy life be?

1. Be at one with nature

Every person is a microcosm of the universe. In order to fulfil the purpose of your life – the liberation of your soul – you must attain unity with the world around you. Spend some time with the trees in a park, look at them, touch them and take pleasure in the wonder of their ability to stand tall even in the wind, rooted deep in the earth.

2. Keep your balance

Like all of nature, the human body is formed of six elements. Five are physical (earth, water, fire, air and ether) and one, the soul, is spiritual. A healthy world and a healthy human must contain a perfect balance of them all. Or just try eating more lentils.

3. Don’t provoke your humours

In Ayurveda there are also three humours in the body: the dosha. They are vata (wind), kapha (mucus) and pitta (biliousness) and all diseases of the body and mind are caused by eating food that provokes one of them. All people lean towards one type of dosha - vata types are active and agitated, kaphas slow but composed, pittas are sociable but short tempered. A mix of personality types make for the best relationships.

4. Go with the flow

If you do end up filling up with the wrong matter then you just need to let it go. So for inner peace, just release!

5. Don’t be evil

Live a moral life: bad behaviour will come back to bite you. It’s just good karma.

6. Keep it clean

Personal hygiene is an important part of Ayurveda. Charaka says brush your teeth twice a day, use eye drops and massage your scalp daily, apply medicated oils to your nostrils, bath your hair and body, and drain your ear passages with oils to prevent deafness.

7. The drugs do work

The Charaka Samhita detailed many early medicines, such as suppositories, tampons and douches for relieving congestion. It even advised the use of rectal and vaginal enemas for the treatment of wasting diseases, debility and fractures.

8. Sweat the technique

Charaka believed that impurities absorbed from the surrounding environment should be cleansed through sweating. He advised making yourself perspire, via sun-bathing or steaming, to purify yourself.

9. If in doubt, cut it out

Surgery was pioneered in Ayurvedic medicine, so hack out that pain. The Charaka Samhita details many surgeries, including one for a burst abdomen which states that large black ants should be applied to the perforated intestines, that their bodies should be separated from their heads after they have firmly bitten the perforated parts with their claws. The intestines should be rinsed with grass, blood and dust, washed with milk and lubricated with clarified butter and gently pushed back into the cavity…

10. Sleep at night, lying down, on a full stomach

According to Charaka, sexual intercourse enjoyed by a man at noon or when he’s hungry, thirsty or even standing up, brings on an excessive loss of semen. So lie down in bed, at bedtime, and have a snack beforehand.