Inner Banner
Lecture Abstracts
About us
Contact Us
14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1
Lecture Series in Ancient Indian Sciences
Lecture 33
Turmeric - The Magic Ingredient Of The Indian Kitchen
Dr.Kamala Krishnaswamy
Former Director, National Institute of Nutrition,
President, Nutrition Society of India
Mounting health care costs and the consumer desire to maintain health and quality of life have focused the biomedical researchers and public health scientists' attention on diet and disease prevention. Asians in general use more spices and the fame of Indian spices is perhaps older than the recorded history. India is recognized all over the world as “Home of spices”.

The story of Indian spices dates back to over 7000 years into the past and spice box is an intrinsic part of the Indian kitchen. Turmeric, a common spice known in Asia as the poor man's saffron is currently the focus of attention of biomedical scientists for its pleiotropic actions for several diseases of chronic nature. From time immemorial, turmeric has its place in Indian systems of medicine as well as in Indian cuisine. The root and rhizome (underground stem) are used as medicaments. Further, several unique properties make it an ideal choice as a food flavor, colorant, preservative and a cosmetic. Oleoresins extracted from turmeric are in great demand by the food and pharmaceutical industries abroad.

Spices used as food adjuncts enhance the quality of food. They exhibit a wide range of physiological and pharmacological properties due to their bioactive phytonutrients. Current literature accords great importance to the long history of human use, as they are likely to yield novel drug prototypes for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular (heart attack) and cerebrovascular (stroke), neurodegenerative problems (Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis), cancer, inflammatory problems such as arthritis, cataract and toxicity due to drugs and toxins. Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine from India , has eulogized spices as wonder foods. In this connection turmeric and its active principles - curcuminoids have received considerable attention among biomedical scientists, medical profession, pharmacologists, food scientists and nutritionists all over the world. Literature is replete with mounting evidences that agents such as turmeric or its constituents curcuminoids, promote health and prevent diseases. It exhibits several molecular targets and is similar to many other phenolic compounds found in other spices, fruits, vegetables and beverages such as tea and wine.

Traditionally turmeric has been used as a food preservative as it protects and preserves foods against spoilage and infestations. It masks off flavor and protects against decomposition and bacterial spoilage. These traditional practices are now supported by new scientific evidence and apparently the constituents which protect the plant and food also protect several biomolecules of the body preventing degenerative disorders which result in chronic diseases. Turmeric therefore has kaleidoscopic properties and uses.

Traditionally turmeric has been used as a general tonic, for skin ailments, wound healing, gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, as anti-infective and for arthritis and several viral disorders. As on date we have evidence that it is a potent anti-inflammatory-anti-oxidant with anti-atherosclerotic and anti-cancer effects. Curcumin promotes wound healing and tissue repair. It controls over reactive inflammatory reactions and improves inflammatory bowel disorder, peptic ulcer and gall stones. Turmeric/Curcumin/derivatives impact blood lipid and platelet aggregation. The emerging scenario suggests that curcumin due to its multiple effects such as arrest of cell cycle, inhibition of signal transduction cascade and transcription factors, growth response gene and growth factors and oncogenes control cancer and metastasis. In keeping with its anticancer effects, it reduces, inhibits or delays tumors in skin, oral cavity, forestomach, duodenum, stomach, colon, breast, prostate, blood cancer (leukemia), liver, lung and ovary. Thus curcumin is a potent chemo preventing and possibly a treating agent as it targets several mechanisms of cancer.

Curcumin has been shown to offer protection against ischemic injury to heart, chronic inflammatory lung diseases, radiation damage, hyaline membrane disease in pre-term infants, pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, toxicity due to pesticides and aflatoxin, renal injury due to drugs and toxins, scleroderma, hepatotoxicity and fibrosis. It even counteracts muscle injury and stress responses. Oxidative damage to lenses resulting in cataract is ameliorated. Diabetes and its complications are also reduced. The various effects of curcumin are mainly due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative and antifibrotic effects It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral (AIDS & HPV) activity However most of the studies are either in vitro or in vivo in animals.

Thus its use in traditional practice for many ailments is based on scientific logic. Curcumin/turmeric are relatively safe and gram quantities have been used for clinical trials and as part of diet regularly. It has been used for arthritis, post surgical wounds, gall stones, pre-cancer and cancers and peptic ulcer in clinical trials.

Turmeric has a plethora of beneficial biological functions and thus appears to be a versatile spice, which is a natural way to health-a spice of life indeed and a key to chronic diseases prevention through a wide sweep of molecular actions. While more vigorous clinical trials are required, it can be used as an add on or adjuvant therapy for all chronic diseases and degenerative disorders or as food based approach at least in cultures where it has been a part of everyday cuisine as in India, Indonesia, China, Malaysia etc.

There are many other spices of medicinal value used in the Indian kitchens from times immemorial. The food based approaches with selected medicinal botanical or neutraceuticals or dietary supplements may favorably influence the pathogenesis of chronic disorders. Man is what he eats and therefore not only nature and nurture but also nutrition is an important lifestyle modification to live a healthy, happy and productive life.
Lecture 32
Ancient Indian Concepts of Personal Health, Public Health And Planet Health
Dr T.S.Ramakrishna
Founder and Secretary ESWARA
The wisdom of Vedas and Vedic culture have percolated from generation to generation into the life and blood of average Indian, since times immemorial. Faith driven by super scientific concepts and not superstitions, has guided the lives of the people through millennia. However, foreign invasions during the last thousand years and industrial revolution through the last three hundred years have completely metamorphosed lives of the Indians that to day there is very little of that great ancient Indian wisdom left in people's lifestyle, food and culture.

While earth, from which we are born and into which we vanish, is revered as the mother, the Sun who is the source of energy and with out whom life is impossible on this planet, is considered as the father. A complex set of disciplined actions based on shastras that provide happiness and prosperity to all living organisms including people, flora and fauna on earth is defined as Dharma , the code of a conduct.

Considering the extreme sophistication and complexity the ancient Indians equated the awesome human body to a temple. Regarding health, they believed more in prevention of disease than cure. Health is essentially of two fold nature, one is physical health and the other is mental health, both of which are inter-related. While physical health is sense related and is dependent on the quality of air, water and food that are fed to the body, mental health depends on various thoughts that are fed to the mind.

Breath is life or Prana and systematic breathing is called Pranayama, which can make a phenomenal difference to a man's health . Man, when provoked, angry or excited breathes faster compared to a cool and calm person who breathes rather slowly, which increases the longevity. Drinking eight handfuls of water per day is supposed free a person from vata, pitta and kapha (the three principal disorders in health according to Ayurveda) and enables him to live for 100 years. Untimely, deficient or excess food is considered equal to poison. The type of food to be taken should be commensurate with the nature of one's work.

Gita describes the good and bad effects of various foods, Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasik types. While Sattvik foods promote longevity, intelligence, vigor, wealth, happiness and cheerfulness, Rajasik foods cause suffering, grief and sickness and Tamasik foods cause error and inertia. Thus interestingly even the thoughts that are generated in the mind also have a bearing on the food we eat. Much can also be learnt from sage Patanjali's yoga sutras about mental health, the enormous powers of the mind including the adverse effects due to negative emotions.

In the past Public Health was nothing more than the sanitary inspector spraying some bleaching powder on the roadsides, chlorinating the drinking water and controlling the spread of cholera etc. Modern civilization is creating tremendous amounts of toxic wastes, leading to complex public health problems and the cumulative effect of thousands of urban centers of the world is threatening the earth as a whole. Air, water and earth, three of the five basic building materials or Pancha Bhutas of life on earth are under serious attack in the name of development. Such vandalism is never permitted in Vedic culture, according to which, drawing the resources from the earth should be done as painlessly as we draw milk from a cow. “Oh mother Earth, when we dig you and put a plant please allow it grow well. In the process may we not trespass or hurt you” - such is the humility and respect towards Mother Earth. The man's quest has always been for peace as evidenced in the prayer : “Let there be peace on earth, peace in the space, peace in the skies, peace with medicinal herbs, peace with flora, peace in the universe, peace with all gods, peace, peace and peace everywhere ”!!!. And that is possible only if simple and natural living becomes mandatory for every body in place of the present day greed. Needless to say that the lead should come from the intellectual and the scientist.

But while it is near impossible to stop the so called development and consequent environmental degradation in the world due to the very high stakes involved, only India backed by the unique Vedic culture, has the necessary wisdom to provide the right direction and enlightenment to the world and save it from an impending disaster.
Lecture 31
Gurajada Suryanarayana Murty

Human civilization may be considered to have been built up on three pillars- science, philosophy and religion (or spirituality). A philosopher would consider these three disciplines as vector forces directed towards the same goal, which is the welfare of humanity.

This lecture is an attempt to bring out clearly the intimate link existing between mathematical and metaphysical truths .The chief motivation for this study came from the Sanskrit aphorisms and commentary in a book called Purnamimamsadarsanam ? written by Sri Jagadguru Kalyanananda Bharati. Among these aphorisms, there are two that actually formed the foundation on which the whole edifice of the author's book PARA TATTVA GANITA DARSANAM stands. These two aphorisms are:

1. Pada Beeja Samkhya Rekhanam Uttarotttaram Baliyah 2. Vruttameeswarah

The first of these two aphorisms discloses a universal principle of profound significance. It states that there are four means of grasping metaphysical truths: Word ( PADA ), Mystical letter ( BEEJA ), Number ( SAMKHYA )?? and Line ( REKHA ) and that each succeeding one is superior to the former. Therefore, of these four means, the one that depends on Line (Geometry) is the best.

The second of the above two aphorisms states that VRUTTAM - a Circle represents ESWARA - translated as Godhead. Normally, the word VRUTTAM denotes the figure that we know as a Circle, which for ordinary purposes of study is the same as any other geometrical object. How does a Circle become qualified to represent God? Sri Jagadguru?? Kalyanananda Bharati gave cogent arguments based on Upanishads to justify the statement that Circle ?represents ESWARA. Before we understand this statement, we must stress on a special feature of a Circle. And that is “a Circle represents roots of unity”. Further we are taught that v1, the square root of 1, has two values, 1 and also ?1. Why should we accept both positive one and negative one as correct answers? Answers to both these questions are given through the 108 aphorisms in Paratattva Ganita Darshanam.

On the basis of mathematical truths, we can ponder on the metaphysical implication of the second aphorism, namely, VRUTTAMEESWARAH . If any small part of a circle is equal to the whole circle, is it not true that every part of ESWARA ?? is indeed ESWARA ? ? In fact the message of ADVAITA VEDANTA is precisely this truth, namely BRAHMAN ? is indivisible ( AKHANDAM ). The path to comprehend the answers to these questions is in the domain of complex numbers, familiar to mathematicians, which are nothing but points on circle of radius 1.

Thus, Purnamimamsadarsanam has enlarged the meaning of circle and thereby established a new way to negotiate through the complex concepts of JIVA, ESWARA, AVIDYA ? and MITHYA, and finally to comprehend the philosophy of VEDANTA . In Para Tattva Ganita Darshanam , the subject is presented in the form of a dialogue between two imaginary characters – a Mathematician and a Vedantin.

In the lecture some examples like SRI CHAKRAM are also discussed as to how geometrical imagery is used for metaphysical meditations by the students of spiritual pursuits.
Lecture 30
The ‘Scientific' Aspects of Ganita Hora And Samhita Divisions of Jyotisha Sastra
Vidya Vachaspati, Joutish Sarvabhouma
Sri C. B. V. Subrahmnya Sastry
Jyoti is light and Jyotisha Shastra is the science of light emitting (both self luminescent and reflected) heavenly bodies. Ancient Indian Astrology recognizes nine celestial bodies called ‘Grihas' (loosely translated as planets) that include Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn besides two imaginary intersection points in the celestial sphere called Rahu and Ketu. This is in contrast to modern astronomy, according to which there are nine planets in the Solar system out of which only Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are common in both systems. It may be noted that recently Pluto is removed from the list of nine planets. While astronomy is the science of the heavenly bodies, Astrology is originally understood as practical astronomy but is now almost confined to the once supposed art or science of the influence of the heavenly bodies on human and terrestrial affairs.

Jyotisha shastra cannot be understood by people who do not believe in God, re-birth, and law of karma. In addition, according to Ancient Indian philosophy, every body is supposed to follow the path of righteousness (Dharma) to acquire money (Ardha) to fulfill his just desires ( Kama ) and liberate (Moksha) himself. These are called the four Purushardhas or goals of man. The course of life a man is believed to be directly controlled by the law of his Karma and indirectly reflected in the positions of various Grihas.

Jyotisha Shastra is mainly meant for guiding people in choosing the most suitable time for undertaking various scriptural practices. Jyotisha Shastra cannot be understood by people who do not believe in god, re-birth, and law of karma. Ganitha, Hora and Samhita are the three divisions of Jyotisha shatra. While Ganitha is the theoretical aspect, Hora and Samhita deal with predictions for the individual and society respectively. Samhita covers general predictions for all people like rainfall, crops, natural disasters, earthquakes etc. As such it is in the Hora and Samhita divisions that astrologers may differ from each other. It is here that the intellect and spark in the man that matters and leads to success or failure in the predictions. Interestingly there are certain conditions to be satisfied for a man to practice Astrology, which are generally flouted. An astrologer is supposed to be free from hatred, ever contented, knowledgeable and a man who follows austerity and does sacrifices regularly, based on scriptures.

There are as many as 18 Shastras or Siddhantas in Jyotisha Shastra out of which only five are available presently, namely 1.Surya Siddhanta, 2. Paitamaha Siddhanta, 3. Vasishta Siddhanta, 4. Paulisa Siddhanta and 5. Romaka Siddhanta, out of which Surya Siddhanta is the most popular. It deals with all the theoretical aspects of the planets and asterisms, lunar and solar eclipses, planetary conjunctions, the precise rising and setting of Sun, Moon and other heavenly bodies, different modes of reckoning time etc. Western authors have shown great interest in Indian Astronomy and there are several translations into English language from the original Sanskrit works.

It is interesting that the treatment of Ayurveda some times takes the help of Astrology to identify seemingly incurable and fatal diseases.
14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1
© 2001-2016 Eswara India. All Rights Reserved.   Website Design, Development, Maintenance & Powered by BitraNet Pvt. Ltd.,