By Dr. Janardhana V Hebbar, Askveda Expert
In recent days, Ayurveda is more and more being associated with spirituality, hence a notion is there among people that, if you are on Ayurvedic medicines, then you should follow a vegetarian diet. If one is a firm follower of practical spirituality, and if one considers Ayurveda as a serious medical system, then here is the answer with detailed explanation to the question – Is Ayurveda vegetarian? can be explored.
In ancient Indian period, the concept of total vegetarianism was non existent. In Vedas, and Puranas, there is mentioning of non vegetarian diet and its qualities etc. The famous “Vatapi Jeerno bhava” incident in Agastya Maharishi is a classical example for prevalence of non vegetarian diet in those times.
Is Ayurveda vegetarian ?
Ayurveda is not totally vegetarian by any stretch of imagination. Mamsarasa – the meat soup is explained in all the classical texts as the best medicine for extreme emaciation. It reduces tiredness due to Pitta imbalance (for example working under Sun for long hours), ideal for those who do daily exercise, improves voice strength, skin quality, immunity etc. (Reference: Charaka samhita Sutra sthana 27/312-325).
Aswagandhadi leham, also known as Ajaswagandhadi lehyam conains meat as an ingredient, along with other herbs. [Some companies manufacture it without meat as an ingredient]
Varients of meat soup are explained as Vesavara in Bhavaprakasha, another classical Ayurvedic text.
Meat soup and other non veg diet has been prescribed along with certain medications. Eg: Meat soup is a co -drink for the medicine Punarnvadyarishta.
Ayurveda does not say that one should follow total vegetarianism.
The non vegetarian diet has its own medicinal significance in Ayurveda.
It does not mean that everybody should have non vegetarian diet. One who is accustomed to it, can have it and one who is not, may not have it.
One of the reasons why total vegetarian diet is encouraged is because non veg is claimed to increase Tamas. Which, according to spirituality, is true.
Following non vegetarian diet will not have any bad effects on herbal Ayurvedic pills that one might be taking. One can have non veg, during his Ayurvedic medication period. There is no rule that non veg should not be taken while one is on Ayurvedic medicines.