Lecture Note: “Good Teaching Practices In Ayurveda” (Part-2)


  Good Teaching Practices In Ayurveda (Part-2)  

  Prof Sanjeev Rastogi  
State Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Lucknow

Transcript done by
 Abhivedgya Mishra 
Dr Prachi Jain, Jr 1 Dept. of Rachana Sharir, Faculty of Ayurveda, IMS, BHU
Dr Varsha More

based on the lecture available at
Good Teaching Practices In Ayurveda

What are you about to share? Great teachers share more than the facts

These are certain tips which can be adopted while becoming a teacher. What thing you are going to share to your students? Great teachers share more than the facts, they share values. There are three things which you can share. You can share information by presenting material available in the textbook, essentially repeating what is already there. This constitutes information sharing and is considered level one teaching. Alternatively, students can extract the information directly from the textbook. The second approach involves knowledge sharing. In this case, you provide your own understanding of the material from the textbook. This is classified as level two teaching. The third approach is wisdom sharing, representing level three teaching. Here, the sharing goes beyond information and knowledge. Wisdom involves borrowing insights from various sources, exploring and churning this knowledge for contextual understanding.

It is crucial to discern the type of content being shared with students — whether it is information, knowledge, or wisdom. An example illustrating the progression from information to wisdom can further clarify these levels.

Key points:

  1. Information Sharing:

   – Repeating textbook material.

   – Basic level teaching.

   – Students can find information in the textbook.

  1. Knowledge Sharing:

   – Providing personal understanding of the material.

   – Intermediate level teaching.

   – Goes beyond textbook content.

  1. Wisdom Sharing:

   – Sharing contextual understanding.

   – Advanced level teaching.

   – Involves knowledge borrowed from various sources.

   – Transcends information and knowledge by exploring and churning insights.

   – Represents level three teaching.

From Information to Wisdom: A journey of self-growth and evolution

You can evolve as a teacher by sharing information, knowledge, or wisdom. This journey progresses from basic information-sharing to a deeper level of wisdom. To illustrate, let’s consider an example:

In the initial stage of sharing information, you might explain the theories of Ayurveda, mentioning the Panchamahabhuta theory. As you advance to the level of knowledge, you delve into the evolution of this theory, elucidating how it gradually gave rise to the concept of Tridosha. Tridosha essentially serves as a physiological explanation of the Panchamahabhuta.

When reaching the level of wisdom, your understanding goes beyond the surface. In this stage, you recognize that Tridosha is intricately linked to the foundational Panchamahabhuta, forming a holistic perspective in the context of Ayurveda.

                                              सर्वं द्रव्यं पाञ्चभौतिकमस्मिन्नर्थे (Ch.Su 26/10)

 You can come to the scientific logic of this through churning of evidences from other streams of knowledge.

Revisiting Ayurvedic Fundamentals

You might know these gentlemen, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey. In 1952, they conducted a remarkable experiment known as the primordial soup theory. In this experiment, they collected methane, ammonia, water vapours, and hydrogen in a vacuum flask. After igniting it with electric sparks, the resulting mixture was collected in another vessel. What they found was a kind of organic substance containing primary amino acids essential for generating living cells. So, from the combination and ignition of methane, ammonia, water vapours, and hydrogen, they obtained an organic substance with amino acids crucial for building a living cell. My understanding is that these four basic substances—carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen—used in the experiment could create a living cell. These elements, carbon representing earth, nitrogen representing air (given the air’s predominant nitrogen component), oxygen associated with fire, and hydrogen linked to water, are the primary elements responsible for generating life. In Ayurveda, you can interpret these elements as the Panchamahabhuta. Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen correspond to the understanding of earth, air, fire, and water, respectively. The fifth element, space, is omnipresent. This journey progresses from Pancha Tanmatra to Panchamahabhuta, representing the understanding of the five basic elements.

Linking this scientific explanation with Ayurveda, one can reach the level of wisdom in understanding the interconnectedness of science and Ayurveda. This journey moves from Panchamahabhuta to wisdom, demonstrating how science can explain Ayurveda, providing a comprehensive and insightful explanation.

From where the Formative elements have come?

Another thing, if you look at the theory of organogenesis or theory of the origin of life in Ayurveda, you see that what Ayurveda says and what modern medicine says, Ayurvedic theory can very well be explained by this saying from the Bhagavad Gita which says that

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सत:|
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभि: ||
(Bhagavad Gita2/16).

This statement asserts that truth is perpetual, unable to cease, and untruth cannot come into existence. It implies that existence may alter its appearance but can never become non-existent – representing the eternal presence of truth or the formative element. Considering the origin of these formative elements – carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen – the Bhagavad Gita explains that they are eternal truths already in existence. Ayurveda aligns with this perspective, asserting that these formative elements have always been available. It suggests that, in the presence of a suitable environment, possibly due to suitable inductions, these elements initiated the generation or the origin of life, marking the beginning of life.

Presentation skills
Now, consider how you will present knowledge. When presenting knowledge or introducing yourself, you have the opportunity to set the tone. Begin by introducing yourself and the subject, and establish momentum by explaining the significance of this knowledge from the students’ perspective. Soft skills, in addition to hardcore knowledge, are crucial. Often, we focus on delivering information available in textbooks without utilizing soft skills. Soft skills encompass appropriate punctuation usage, voice modulation, pauses, and gestures.

Maintain eye contact with your audience to engage them effectively. Observe students’ responses while speaking; this is crucial in a classroom setting. Swiftly grasp the meaning of their responses and adjust your approach accordingly. If, for instance, you notice a student in the back sleeping or engaging in distracting activities, it signals that your message may not be reaching them effectively. Promptly sense this and make adjustments to ensure your message reaches the audience appropriately. Swiftly amend your approach by being attuned to the responses of your audience.

Get connected and stay connected
Get connected; getting connected is important, and staying connected is equally vital. Feeling the students’ level is crucial, as mentioned before. Understand your students’ level and prepare yourself accordingly. Start with simple concepts to set the momentum, allowing them to ease into the subject. Ensure that they can sense the upcoming learning experience in the next few minutes or hours. It’s not about showcasing your knowledge or communication skills but about reaching your audience effectively.

Teaching is not just displaying your knowledge; it’s about how you connect with your students. Make the subject meaningful to them in real life, as unless they perceive its relevance to their lives, it might not be well-received.

Avoid solely focusing on passing examinations; a good teacher’s focus should go beyond that. Incorporate real-life examples, possibly from your students’ experiences, to create a connection. Keep a watchful eye on the class to gauge how well the subject is received, not just by the good students but by everyone. Identify and address the concerns of troublemakers in the class, understanding what may be troubling them.

Conclude the session with a take-home message. Rather than ending abruptly, provide a message that students can carry with them. This ensures a thoughtful conclusion to the teaching session.

Add value to the traditional thoughts
There are number of traditional thoughts which are there in Ayurveda but unless or until you add your own wisdom or your own value to those thoughts they won’t be understood or they won’t be taken back home. You can take an example. This is this is the shloka which is there in relation to the Apta.

रजस्तमोभ्यां निर्मुक्तास्तपोज्ञानबलेन ये|
येषां त्रिकालममलं ज्ञानमव्याहतं सदा||
आप्ताः शिष्टा विबुद्धास्ते तेषां वाक्यमसंशयम्|
सत्यं, वक्ष्यन्ति ते कस्मादसत्यं नीरजस्तमाः ||
(Ch.Su. 1/18-19)

This is how Ayurveda explains it. When explaining it to my students, I simply say that Apta refers to perfect knowledge available in any scientific text. Apta, in this context, means knowledge that is free from errors and biases (raj and tam). This knowledge is achieved through perseverance and significant effort, not easily obtained. Apta shishta vibhuddhaste tesham vakyam asanshyam implies that this knowledge holds true across all three time periods—past, present, and future, making it perfect and absolute.

Amalam – it is not subject to any dent or imperfection. Gyanam avyahatam sada signifies that it will always remain perfect in the future. Tesham vakyam asanshyam means this knowledge is beyond any doubt; there is no room for scepticism. This type of knowledge is acquired through rigorous research methods, reflecting the standards of modern scientific approaches. If obtained through such methods, it can be termed as Apta knowledge. This interpretation aligns the text of Ayurveda with current understanding, emphasizing its status as knowledge beyond doubt.

Use modern biology wisely

नस्तःकर्म च कुर्वीत शिरोरोगेषु शास्त्रविद्||
द्वारं हि शिरसो नासा तेन तद् व्याप्य हन्ति तान्|| (Ch.Si. 9/88)

प्राक्सूर्ये मध्यसूर्ये वा प्राक्कृतावश्यकस्य च||९८||
उत्तानस्य शयानस्य शयने स्वास्तृते सुखम्|

प्रलम्बशिरसः किञ्चित् किञ्चित् पादोन्नतस्य च||९९||
दद्यान्नासापुटे स्नेहं तर्पणं बुद्धिमान् भिषक्|

अनवाक्शिरसो नस्यं न शिरः प्रतिपद्यते||१००||
अत्यवाक्शिरसो नस्यं मस्तुलुङ्गेऽवतिष्ठति|

अत एवंशयानस्य शुद्ध्यर्थं स्वेदयेच्छिरः||१०१||
संस्वेद्य नासामुन्नम्य वामेनाङ्गुष्ठपर्वणा|

हस्तेन दक्षिणेनाथ कुर्यादुभयतः समम्||१०२||
प्रणाड्या पिचुना वाऽपि नस्तःस्नेहं यथाविधि|

कृते च स्वेदयेद्भूय आकर्षेच्च पुनः पुनः||१०३|
तं स्नेहं श्लेष्मणा साकं तथा स्नेहो न तिष्ठति |(C.Si 9/98 to 103)

 This this text is about Nasya.When I was studying Ayurveda during my BAMS and PG, initially, I struggled to grasp the concepts. However, now I can appreciate it better. There is extensive explanation in the Charak Samhita regarding the Nasya procedure, and surprisingly, it correlates significantly with modern biology, physiology, and anatomy of the nose.

The recommendations in Charak Samhita for Nasya include instructions such as “uttanasya shayanasya” and “pralambashi rasya kinchita kinchita padon natasya cha.” They suggest that the head should be lowered, legs should be slightly elevated, and the patient should be lying down. The rationale behind this is stated as “dwaram hishiruso nasa,” suggesting that this positioning allows the medicine to reach the brain tissue directly. For ailments related to the head, Nasya is recommended as the most effective method of drug application.

Examining the anatomy and physiology of the nose, it becomes clear that placing the drug in the nostrils in this specific manner ensures direct access to the interior of the nose. Understanding modern physiology, it’s evident that the upper one-third of the nasal cavity consists of olfactory mucosa, while the lower two-thirds comprise respiratory mucosa. To reach the brain, the drug needs to be applied to the olfactory mucosa, as putting it in the respiratory mucosa would result in elimination due to ciliary movements.

Making the drug reach the olfactory mucosa, particularly the upper one-third of the nose, establishes a direct connection with the brain through the olfactory nerve. This connection facilitates the drug’s direct access to the brain. Thus, Ayurveda provides specific instructions to ensure the drug reaches the brain effectively, highlighting the importance of applying it to the olfactory mucosa. This alignment with modern understanding underscores the sophistication of Ayurvedic practices.

Furthermore, Charak advises that during Nasya, the patient should be repeatedly asked to cough out and spit out any medicine that comes through. This recommendation prompts an evaluation of the reasons behind this instruction. Charak suggests that during Nasya or normal inhalation, patients should cough and spit out any medicine reaching the pharynx or mouth. The rationale for this is linked to the targeted application of the drug for head diseases or to reach the brain tissue exclusively.

In Nasya, there is a risk that some drug may reach the olfactory mucosa, while others may reach the respiratory mucosa. If the drug reaches the respiratory mucosa, it could be absorbed systemically, reaching the gastrointestinal tract and getting absorbed from there. Charak clarifies that to avoid systemic absorption, any drug reaching the respiratory mucosa should be continuously spit out. This ensures that only the portion of the drug reaching the olfactory mucosa remains active.

Charak’s meticulous explanation in the Charak Samhita reflects a classical description of the Nasya procedure. This demonstrates how modern biology can be wisely applied to understand Ayurvedic science. At times, it appears that a comprehensive understanding of Ayurveda may be challenging without a solid knowledge of modern biology. In essence, a nuanced grasp of modern biological concepts seems crucial for a deeper comprehension of Ayurveda.


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