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RITUCHARY ADHYAYA (Ayurveda Seasonal routine)

Ayurveda Seasonal routine or Ritucharya is the 3rd chapter of Ashtanga Hridayam. The word Ritucharya is made of two words – Ritu means seasons and Charya means do’s and don’ts (regimen). In this chapter Shri Vagbhata discusses in detail regarding different seasons and the regimen (routine) to be followed. The last chapter was about daily routines and good conducts  to be followed for a healthy and balanced Ayurvedic lifestyle. 

Kala (Time):

  1. Kala is divinity and it has neither a beginning nor an end. Time follows the accumulated effect of actions of the past.
  2. Based on the time only, the movement of the sun, the moon and other planets and also the transformation of five basic elements take place.
  3. It is also the causative factor for the birth and the death of all the creatures.
  4. Similarly, the increase and decrease of the seasons, tastes and potency of the substances, strength of the dosas and the body depends upon the time only. 

Kala-bheda (Division of time):

Kala is divided into the following 12 divisions:

  1. Matra 
  2. Kastha 
  3. Kala
  4. Nadika 
  5. Muhurta 
  6. Yama
  7. Ahoratra 
  8. Paksa
  9. Masa
  10. Ritu 
  11. Ayana
  12. Varsa

Aksinimesa (time taken for blinking the eyelid)=1 Matra
15 Matra = 1 Kastha
30 Kastha = I Kala
20 1/10 Kala =1 Nadika
2 Nadika = 1 Muhurta (48 minutes)
3 3/4 Muhurta =1 Yama (3 hours)
4 Yama = I Ahah (day) or ratri (night) 
15 Ahoratris = 1 Paksa (fortnight)
2 Paksa = 1 Masa (month)
2 Masa = 1 Season (2 months)
3 Seasons = 1 Ayana (6 months)
2 Ayana = 1 Varsa (one year)

Sadritus (six seasons)

(In the following verses, the six seasons are described along with the Georgian months along with Santana calendar months. Also the two Solstices (Northern and Southern) are explain.)

With every two masa (months) commencing with magha, are the six ritus (seasons) shishira, vasanta, grishma, varsha, and hima (hemanta) successively; the three commencing with shishira (shishira, vasanta, and grishma) form the Uttarayana (northern solstice) also known as Adana kala because the sun takes away the strength of the people daily.

Notes: A season (Ritu) consists of two months (two Masa).

RituMonths (Indian)Months (Western)FeaturesSeason
Shishir RituMagha and PhalgunaMid January – Mid March)Cool in natureWinter, dewy season
Vasanta RituChaitra and VaishakhaMid March – Mid MayFlowering SeasonSpring season
Grishma RituJyeshta and AshadhaMid May to Mid JulyHeat is highSummer season
Varsha RituShravana and BhadrapadaMid July – mid September Rains are heavyRainy Season
Sharath RituAshvina and KartikaMid September to Mid November Moon lightAutumn season
Hemantha RituMargashira and PushyaMid November to Mid January SnowfallWinter season

The first three Ritus form Uttarayana – Northern solstice. Here, fire is dominant. It is also called Adana Kala, wherein the human strength is relatively low

The next three seasons form Dakshinayana – Southern solstice. It is also called Visarga Kala, wherein the human strength will be relatively high.

North solstice – Uttarayana- Adana kala 

Because of the nature of the path, both the sun and wind become very strong (powerful) and dry during this ayana (Uttarayana) and take away all the cooling qualities of the earth. Tikta (bitter), Kasaya (astringent) and katuka (pungent) tastes are more powerful respectively (in the three successive ritus). Hence this Adana kala is agneya (predominantly fire-like in nature).

Notes -Tikta (bitter taste) is powerful in shishira (cold; winter season), Kasaya (astringent) in vasanta (spring) and katu (pungent) in grishma (summer).

  • Since the northward movement of the sun naturally increases the heat of the places it approaches, the cooling properties are weakened.
  • During this period the sun with his severe hot rays and the winds with their sharp velocity and dryness absorb the moisture from the earth.
  • Due to the progressive dryness in the atmosphere during the seasons of sisira, vasanta and grisma, which enhances tikta, kasaya and katu rasas respectively and results in the human beings becoming weak. Therefore adana (agneya) is sweltering by nature.

South solstice-Dakshinayana- Visarga kala

The three ritus commencing with varsha (varsha, Sharad  and hemanta) from the Dakshinayana (southern solstice) and visarga kala-the period in which the sun releases the strength of the people. Because the moon is more powerful and the sun loses his strength, the earth becomes cooled of the heat of sunlight by (the effect of) clouds, rain and cold wind. The unctuous tastes-Amla (sour), Lavana (salt) and Madura (sweet)-are powerful (respectively) during this period. 

Notes :—Amla (sour) is powerful during varhsa (rainy season), Lavana (salt) during Sharad (autumn season) and Madura (sweet) during hemanta (winter season).

  • All the living beings gain strength during this period.
  • Visargaissaumya.Moonisdominatinginthisperiodandthepowerofthesunisbecoming weak.
  • Due to clouds, cold breeze and rain, the power of the sun reduces and the moon occupies the driving seat.
  • Due to the power of the moon with its cold rays, unctuousness increases gradually in the nature during the seasons of varsha, sarad and hemanta. The amla, lavana and madhura rasas enhances respectively and results in the human beings becoming strong and potent.

Differences between adana kala and visarga kala:

Adana kalaVisarga kala
Decreased digestive power.Increased digestive power.
Sun moving towards north.Sun moving towards south
Debilitating Period.Strengthening Period.
Agni pradhanya kala.Soumyakala
Ruksa-guna.Snigdha guna.

Variation in strength as per the seasons:

Seasons Strength of peopleRitu
ShitakalaMaximumHemant and shishira ( winter and Dewey seasons)
Summer and rainyLowestGrishma and Varsha 
Spring and autumn Mid strength Vasant and Sharda


Hemanta ritucharya (Ayurveda seasonal routine during winter)

Ayurveda Seasonal Regimen
  • In hemanta ritu, the people are strong, so the digestive fire (fire in the alimentary tract vis a vis digestive activity) becomes powerful. Because it gets obstructed (from spreading out) by the cold (in the atmosphere). 
  • It begins to digest the tissues (of the body) supported (helped) by Vayu (vata in the body). In this hemanta (winter), consumption of food having sweet, sour and salt tastes is recommended.   
  • As the nights are longer, persons feel hungry in the (early) morning itself. After attending to oblations (natures calls),they should eat food substance containing Madhura (sweet), Amla (sour), lavana (salty) rasa.
  • They should resort to the regimen as enumerated in Abhyanga (oil-bath over the head and body) procedure with medicated oil with vata alleviating (balancing) property; murdha-taila (massaging the head with more of oil), mild massaging of the body, wrestling with the skilled (wrestlers) to half of his strength and judicious trampling of the body (by experts in that art).
  • After these, the oil (covering the head and body) should be removed by washing with astringent (decoctions, powders etc.) and bathing.
  • Then  fine paste/powder of kumkuma (kesara) and darpa (kasturi) should be applied, the body exposed to the fumes of aguru (aquilaria agallocha). 
  • Since the digestive activity is high heavy food such as meat soup mixed with fats, meat of fattened (well nourished) animals, wine prepared with jaggery (molasses) supernatant portion of sura and sura as such, should be consumed 
  • Food prepared from the flour of wheat, black gram, products of sugarcane and of milk, food prepared from freshly harvested corn, muscles, fat and edible oils should be partaken as food. Warm water should be used for  drinking, bathing, and also for washing.
  • Thick sheets made of cotton, leather, silk, wool or bark of trees which are light in weight should be used during sleep; exposure to sunlight, and fire should be resorted to judiciously; foot-wear should be worn always.
  • Women who have well developed thighs, breasts and buttocks, who are enchanting and exhilarated by the use of fragrant fumes, scents and youthfulness and thus made warm in their body, and who are liked, drive away the cold (by their embrace etc.)
  •  Persons who spend their time residing in houses kept warm by fire, in innermost apartments encircled with others, or in underground chambers, will not be affected by the disorders (diseases) due to cold and dryness. 

If we can summarize in short, the strength and digestive activity is strong. Hence one can exercise, undergo oil massage, can consume heavy foods, and may have sex. 

Shishir ritucharya(Ayurveda Seasonal routine during dewy season)

Even in sisira (cold, dewy season) the same routine  (as described above) should be adopted more intensely. During this period the cold is severe and dryness is  more, being the effects of adana kala (the forthcoming semester). 

Vasanta ritucharya-(Ayurveda Seasonal routine during spring)

Ayurveda Seasonal Regimen for vasant ritu
  • Kapha which has undergone increase in shishira (cold seasons) becomes liquefied by the heat of the sun in vasanta (spring), diminishes the Agni (digestive activity in the alimentary tract), and gives rise to many diseases.
  •  Hence it (kapha) should be controlled quickly, by resorting to strong emesis (vamana panchakarma procedures), nasal medication and other therapies, and also foods which are easily digestible and dry (moisture free, fat free) must be consumed. 
  • Physical exercises, (dry) massage and mild trampling should be done. Having thus vanquished (mitigated) the kapha, the person should take bath, anoint the body with the paste of karpura(camphor), chandana (Sandalwood), aguru, and kumkuma (saffron). 
  • Food should consist of old yava (barley) godhuma (wheat), ksaudra (honey), meat of animals of desert-like land, and meat roasted in fire. 
  • Drink the juice of mango fruit mixed with fragrant substances, in the company of friends, getting it served by the beloved (women) which has been made more pleasant by the sweet scent of their body and the grace of their lily-like eyes; the drink, thereby producing satisfaction to the mind and heart. 
  • He should also make use of unspoiled beverages such as asava (fermented infusion), arista (fermented decoction), sidhu (fermented sugarcane juice), mardvika (fermented grape juice), madhava (honey water) or water boiled with srngavera or sarambu (extract of trees such as asana, chandana etc,) or water mixed with honey, or water boiled with jalada (musta).
  • The person should spend his midday happily in the company of friends engaged in pleasant games, pastimes, storytelling etc., in forests (or gardens) which have cool breeze from south direction, with plenty of reservoirs of water all around, invisible or poor sunlight, the land covered with shining crystals, with the cuckoo everywhere making pleasant sounds and engaged in love-play, with trees of different kinds of beautiful and sweet smelling flowers, 
  • Foods which are hard to digest and cold, sleeping at daytime, foods which are fatty, sour and sweet should be avoided, because all these foods increase kapha in the body. 

Grishma ritucharya (Ayurveda Seasonal routine during summer) mid May to mid July

  • In grishma (summer) the sun rays become powerful, day after day and appears to be destructive (of all things); kapha decreases day by day and vayu (vata) increases consequently, hence in this season use of foods which are salt, pungent, and sour (in taste), physical exercises and exposure to sunlight, should be avoided.
  • Foods which are sweet, light (easy to digest), fatty, cold and liquid should be taken; partake corn flour mixed with very cold water and sugar after taking bath in cold water.
  • Madya (wine) should not be taken; if very necessary, taken in very little quantity, or diluted with more quantity of water; otherwise, (taken in large doses) it will cause emaciation (inflammatory condition), debility, burning sensation and delusion,
  • White Rice (boiled)which are  like kunda flowers (white color)(full moon) should be eaten along with meat of animals of desert-like land.
  • Rasa (meat juice) which is not very thick, rasala (curds churned and mixed with pepper powder and sugar), raga (syrup which is sweet, sour and salty) and khandava (syrup which has all the tastes, prepared with many substances), panaka pancasara, (syrup prepared with draksa, madhuka, kharjura, kasmarya, and parusaka fruits all in equal quantities, cooled and added with powder of patra, tvak, ela etc.) and kept inside a fresh mud pot, along with leaves of plantain and coconut trees, and made sour (fermented) should be drunk in jugs of mud or shell; very cool water kept in mud pot along with flowers of patala and karpura should be used for drinking.
  • Eatables known as sasanka kirana (hollow, finger-like, fried pastry made of corn flour) should be taken at night; buffaloes milk mixed with sugar and cooled by moonlight and the stars should be used for drinking.
  • Daytime should be spent in forests having tall trees reaching the sky such as sala (pines), tala (palms) etc. which obstruct the hot rays of the sun, in house around which bunches of flowers and grapes are hanging from their creepers; sheets of cloth spreading sweet scented water, are arranged (to fan the air), bunches of tender leaves and fruits of cuta (mango) hanging all around; 
  • One should sleep on soft bed prepared with petals of flowers of kadali, kalhara, mrnala, etc. with fully bloomed flowers suspended at all places, or spend the day remaining inside the house cooled by water fountains, water being scented with userra, coming out from the well-shaped breasts, hands and mouth (of statues) and thereby get rid of the heat of the sun.
  • At night, a person should sleep on the terrace having good moonlight. Exhaustion (due to heat of the day) of the person, who is of balanced mind will be relieved by, anointing the body with paste of chandana, wearing garlands, avoidance of sexual activities, wearing of very light and thin dress, by fanning with fans made of leaves of tala or large leaves of padmini (lily) made wet; syringes sprinkling cool water softly, garlands of flowers of karpura, mallika, and of pearls and beads of harichandana (white sandal paste), children, sarika (mynah bird) and suka (parrot) talking pleasantly; beautiful women wearing bangles of soft lotus stalk, blossoms of lotus in their hair, moving about nearby.

Varsha rituchary-(Ayurveda Seasonal routine during rainy season)

  • In varsha ritu (rainy season) the Agni (digestive activity) though weak in persons, debilitated by the adankala (summer) undergoes further decrease and gets vitiated by the doshas. 
  • They (doshas) get aggravated by the (effect of) hanging, thick clouds full of water, cold wind having snow, blowing suddenly; water getting dirty because of rain, warmth of the earth and sourness, and the poor strength of digestive activity the doshas start vitiating one another (and cause many diseases). 
  • Hence all general methods (which mitigate the doshas) and measures to enhance the digestive activity should be adopted.
  • After undergoing purification therapies (vamana, virecana) the person should also be administered asthapana (decoction enema therapy). 
  • He should use old grains for food, meat juice processed with spices etc., meat of animals of desert-like lands, soup of pulses, wine prepared from grapes and fermented decoctions, which are old or mastu (whey, thin water of curds) processed with more sochal salt and powder of panchakola, should be used. Rain water or water from deep wells, well boiled should be used for drinking. 
  • On days of no sunlight at all, the food should be predominantly sour, salty and fatty, dry, mixed with honey and easily digestible.
  • Persons should not move about on foot (move only on vehicles), use perfumes, and expose his clothes to fragrant fumes, dwell in upper stories of the house, devoid of heat, cold and snow.
  • River water, udamantha (beverage prepared with flour of corn mixed with ghee), sleeping at daytime, exertion and exposure to sun should be avoided.

Sharad ritu (Ayurveda Seasonal routine during autumn):

  • In persons who have become accustomed to the cold of varsha (rainy season), getting exposed suddenly to the warm rays of the sun, the pitta, which has undergone increase in their bodies during varsa (rainy season) becomes greatly aggravated (increased) during sharad (autumn).
  •  In order to get over it, tikta ghrita (medicated ghee recipe described in the “treatment of kustha chapter 19 of Chikitsa sthana),virecana karma ( purgation therapy) and raktamoksana (bloodletting) should be resorted to.
  • When hungry (greatly) the person should take foods which are of bitter, sweet arid astringent tastes, and easily digestible such as sali (rice), mudga (green-gram), sita (sugar), Indian gooseberry (amalaka), patola, madhu (honey), and meat of animals of desert-like lands.
  • The water which gets heated by the hot rays of the sun during day and gets cooled by the cool rays of the moon during night, for many days continuously, which has been de-poisoned (detoxicated) by the rise of the star Agastya, which is pure, uncontaminated and capable of mitigating the malas (doshas) is known as Hamsodaka, It is neither abhisyandi (producing more secretions or moisture inside the minute channels so as to block them) nor dry (causing dryness by non-production of sufficient moistness in the channels), such water is like amrita (nectar) for drinking and other purposes.
  • Evenings should be spent on the terraces of houses which are white (by painting), anointing the body with the paste of chandana(sandalwood), usira( cuscus grass), and karpura(camphor), wearing garlands of pearls and shining dress and enjoying the moonlight.
  • Exposure to snow (mist), indulgence in alkaline substances, and satiation with hearty meal, use of dadhi (curds), taila (oil), vasa (muscle fat), exposure to sunlight, strong liquors, sleeping at day time and the eastern breeze-should be avoided (in this season).

Rasa (Taste) to be comsume in different season.

  • During winters, (Hemanta and Shishira) and varsa (rainy season), Sweet, Sour and salt tastes should be especially used.
  • Bitter, pungent and astringent tastes should be used more during vasanta (spring season), 
  • Sweet taste should be used more during Nidagha (summer); and
  • Sweet, bitter and astringent tastes should be used during Sharath (autumn).

The food and drink should be dry (moistureless, fatless) during Sharad and vasanta (autumn and spring), and cold during gharma (summer) and ghananta (end of rainy season) and hot in other (seasons).

The habit of using all the (six) tastes every day is ideal (for maintenance of health) except during special seasons, when particular tastes suitable to the respective season should be used more

Ritu sandhi (Ayurveda Seasonal routine for inter seasonal period):

The seven days at the end and commencement of ritus (seasons) is known as Ritu sandhi (inter seasonal period). During that period, the regimen of the preceding season should be discontinued gradually and that of the succeeding season should be adopted (gradually); sudden discontinuance or sudden adoption gives rise to diseases caused by asatmya (non-habituation).

Thus ends the chapter-named Ritucharya, the third of sutras Thana of Ashtanga hridyam samhita composed by srimad Vagbhata son of Shri vidyapati Simha Gupta.

 To summarize this  Chapter Ayurveda Seasonal routine (ritucharya ) Acharya Vagbhata explains the definition of Adana Kala and Visarga Kala and their features. Six seasons and their different features along with the dietetics and routines are also explained in detail. Inter seasonal period and its importance in preventing diseases etc, have been discussed also.

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