What is Ojas? How To Increase Ojas During Health And Disease? Ayurveda

Happyguy, a regular reader of my articles asks –
I would like to know about the connection between ojas and diabetes from the point of view of the diet, a diabetic person can take in. As I know, Sattvic food is very important for building ojas. But, doesn’t sattvic food in general have a sweet vipaka? If yes, will sweet vipaka affect blood sugar levels? If yes, do diabetics have no way of building up ojas? Please enlighten me on this topic. ”
I haven’t heard such intelligently and diligently formulated question since a very long time. (seriously. No pun intended.) Many thanks for asking this question.  Let us analyze a few factors before we come to a few conclusions. 

Ojas

What is Ojus?
Ojus is a quantifiable liquid in the body, responsible for overall health, energy and liveliness. It is both a mental and physical factor.
It is responsible for
– Health maintenance and health promotion
– Fight disease
– prevent disease

Ojus is the essence part of all the body tissues.

Though it can be quantified, it can not be seen or compared to any elements in the body. Some compare Ojas to white blood cells. At the best, it can be said as a partial comparison.

Definition of Ojas as per Charaka The one which dwells in the heart and is predominantly white, yellowish and reddish in color is known as Ojas of the body:
If the Ojas is destroyed, the human being will also perish. The form in which the Ojas is produced in the body of the human  beings for the first time has the color of ghee; taste of honey and smell of fried paddy (Laja).
As the bees collect honey from the fruits and flowers, so the Ojas is collected in the body, by the actions, qualities, habits and diet of human being. Reference: Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 17/76 

Heart, the Seat of Ojas:
यद्धितत्स्पर्शविज्ञानंधारितत्तत्रसंश्रितम्||६||
तत्परस्यौजसःस्थानंतत्रचैतन्यसङ्ग्रहः|
हृदयंमहदर्थश्चतस्मादुक्तंचिकित्सकैः ||७||
yaddhi tat sparśavijñānaṃ dhāri tattatra saṃśritam||6||
tat parasyaujasaḥ sthānaṃ tatra caitanyasaṅgrahaḥ|
hṛdayaṃ mahadarthaśca tasmāduktaṃ cikitsakaiḥ ||7|| Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 30

The heart is indispensable for all the normal mental and physical activities. In the heart, resides Para Ojas – the superior Ojas, which controls the mind. This is why, the physicians have designated the heart as ‘Hridaya’, ‘Mahat’ and ‘Artha’

Qualities of Ojas –
Snigdha – unctuous, oily
Somatmaka – watery
Shuddha – clear (transparent),
Ishat Lohita Peetakam – slight reddish yellow in colour;

Examples:
Say, someone has got pancreatitis. Doctor gives medicines and patient takes it. Ojas is that factor of the body that digests the medicines, takes it to the target organ, and does the healing, with the help of medicines.
A person with good quantity of Ojas is lesser prone to cold, cough, fever etc when compared to another, with lesser Ojas.
A person with good control of mind, who follows stringent Brahmacharya.
A person with good memory and concentration has more Ojas.
A person with spiritual believes and practice has more Ojas.
A person who  eats in limited quantities, who has good control over anger, jealous etc has more Ojus.
A person who exercises and has a well built body has more ojas.

How to increase Ojas? 
Regular intake of ghee, milk, and such other nutrition rich food.
Yoga, Pranayama, exercises, physical activities.
Mental exercises to improve concentration.
Prayer, Homa, Pooja and such other spiritual practices.
Being pious, righteous.
Medicines like Saraswatarishta

Food and medicine that might decrease Ojas –
Anger, grief, negative attitude
Excessively salty, pungent and bitter diet.
Ayurvedic medicines containing Kshara. Of course Kshara is required in some cases, but intake of such medicine over a long period of time would cause Ojas depletion. (reference: Ashtanga Hridayam)
One who takes very less quantity of food over a long period of time, will have depleted ojas. But that does not mean that over-eating will increase ojas.  Proper quantity of food, that digests easily, neither more nor less, increases ojas.

I hope that by this time, you have got an idea that Ojus is contributed with mental, physical and spiritual factors. Let us take up the questions.

Sattvic food is very important for building Ojas.
Yes. But it applies to a healthy person only. Sattvic refers to light. Tamasik refers to darkness. 
From a spiritual perspective, non veg, fish garlic and onion are considered to be Tamasik. (opposite to Sattvik.) But in few diseases, non veg food / medicines with non veg ingredient, garlic, onion etc are used as medicine. In such a condition, for such a patient, these do help in improving her Ojas.

But, doesn’t sattvic food in general have a sweet vipaka?
Yes. many food that are Sattvic are sweet in nature.

If yes, will sweet vipaka affect blood sugar levels? If yes, do diabetics have no way of building up ojas?
If a food tends to increase ojas, it should always be understood that it does so, only when it is taken in a limited quantity.
It does not mean that the same food in higher quantities will improve Ojas. Any type of food in more quantity than required tends to vitiate Tridosha and the disease process. It becomes more a cause for disease, than cause for health (or ojus).

In diabetes, which is a disease condition as per Ayurveda, herbs like Guduchi, Neem, Triphala etc are Sattvic. They help to improve Ojas. So, a diabetic person can improve ojas by taking many such herbs. Amla is another great food ingredient for diabetic people to increase Ojas. Many of Ayurvedic formulations like Mehari Choornam, Nishamalaki Choornam etc contain Amla as the main ingredient. So, apart from promoting health and immunity, Amla also helps control blood sugar levels.

Like I said before, Ojas is the essence of all the body tissues. So, exercise would improve muscle and body strength and will also cause increase of Ojas.

Hence, exercise is an excellent means to improve Ojas for a diabetic patient.

Cause for decrease of Ojas 
Ojas undergoes decrease in quantity by anger, hunger (starvation), worry, grief, exertion.
Too much exercise
Fasting for long periods of time
Eating less quantities of food
Intake of alcoholic beverages which cause dryness,
Intake of mixture of good and bad foods,
Fear
Waking up at night, skipping night sleep,
Injury,
Assault by evil spirits; micro organisms like bacteria, virus etc,
Depletion of tissues such as by haemorrhage,
Too much of elimination of Kapha,blood, semen and waste products,
Ingestion of  poison.

Increase of Ojas makes for contentment, nourishment of the body and increase of strength.

Symptoms of Ojas decrease –
The person becomes fretful, fear complex,
debilitated, constant weakness,
repeatedly worries without any reason, feels discomfort in sense organs, develops bad complexion, negative thoughts and dryness;
Vyathita Indriya – affliction of sense organs with pain,
Dushchaya – loss of complexion,
Durmana -cheerless, depressed mood,
Rooksha – dryness, roughness and
Kshaama – emaciation.

Another reader asks – Home remedy to improve ojas for Vata Pitta person?
For Vata Pitta person, there is nothing better than ghee to increase Ojas. As per Ayurveda, cow ghee balances Vata and Pitta and it also improves Ojas. So, for people with such body type, regular (but limited) use of ghee in diet is recommended. Amla is also good to control Vata and Pitta.

Ojas and its importance:
येनौजसावर्तयन्तिप्रीणिताःसर्वदेहिनः |
यदृतेसर्वभूतानांजीवितंनावतिष्ठते||९||
यत्सारमादौगर्भस्ययत्तद्गर्भरसाद्रसः |
संवर्तमानं  हृदयंसमाविशतियत्पुरा ||१०||
यस्य   नाशात्तुनाशोऽस्तिधारियद्धृदयाश्रितम् |
यच्छरीररसस्नेहःप्राणायत्रप्रतिष्ठिताः||११||
तत्फलाबहुधा  वाताःफलन्तीव(ति) महाफलाः|१२|
yenaujasā vartayanti prīṇitāḥ sarvadehinaḥ |
yadṛte sarvabhūtānāṃ jīvitaṃ nāvatiṣṭhate||9||
yat sāramādau garbhasya yattadgarbharasādrasaḥ |
saṃvartamānaṃ  hṛdayaṃ samāviśati yat purā ||10||
yasya  nāśāttu nāśo’sti dhāri yaddhṛdayāśritam |
yaccharīrarasasnehaḥ prāṇā yatra pratiṣṭhitāḥ||11||
tatphalā bahudhā  vā tāḥ phalantīva(ti) mahāphalāḥ|12|

It is the Ojas which keeps all the living begins nourished and refreshed.
There can be no life without Ojas.
Ojas marks the beginning of the formation of embryo. It is the nourishing fluid from the embryo. It enters the heart right at the stage of the embryo’s initial formation.
Loss of Ojas amounts to the loss of life itself.
It sustains the life and is located in the heart.
It constitutes the essence of all the Dhatus (tissues).
The Elan Vital owes its existence to it. But all this action of Ojas manifests itself in different ways, by flowing through the 10 vessels (channels) attached to it. Hence, these 10 channels attached to the heart is also very important.

Tips for preservation of Ojas:
तन्महत्तामहामूलास्तच्चोजःपरिरक्षता|
परिहार्याविशेषेणमनसोदुःखहेतवः||१३||
हृद्यंयत्स्याद्यदौजस्यंस्रोतसांयत्प्रसादनम्|
तत्तत्सेव्यंप्रयत्नेनप्रशमोज्ञानमेवच||१४||
tanmahat tā mahāmūlāstaccojaḥ parirakṣatā|
parihāryā viśeṣeṇa manaso duḥkhahetavaḥ||13||
hṛdyaṃ yat syādyadaujasyaṃ srotasāṃ yat prasādanam|
tattat sevyaṃ prayatnena praśamo jñānameva ca||14||

Those who want to preserve Ojas and maintain heart and the vessels in good condition, should avoid such factors that lead to unhappiness (worries, stress).
Diets and medicine which are conducive to the heart (Hrudya) should be taken.
The herbs that maintain good health of Srotas (body channels) should be taken.

Dr JV Hebbar is an Ayurveda Doctor, Assistant Professor, From Mangalore, India. Click here to consult Dr Hebbar
Subscribe and get Dr Hebbar's ebook "Blueprint For A Healthy Lifestyle" for free

Comments

  1. happyguy77 says:

    Thank You, Dr. Hebbar for a very informative article on such a crucial subject which is the essence of health.

    Your analysis about ojas, who typically has more ojas and who has less ojas, makes sense. We come across some such people in our families, friends or at office. It is also good to know about the herbs for increasing ojas in diabetics.

    I’m sure people will find it helpful. Thanks.

    Best wishes….

  2. A very informative article. How to improve oja’s in a kapha person and also a person who is suffering from cancer?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      A very good question.
      There is a reference stating that Kapha in its normal state, itself acts as Bala (immune power). Kapha person is usually better nourished when compared to Vata or Pitta person. So, his overall body built, nourishment rates are relatively good. Best way for him to improve Ojas is to maintain his Kapha dosha in the right balance. As he is already Kapha body type, he tends to get more Kapha accumulated. He needs to control it. If it goes out of control, it may lead to Kapha disorders like over-nourishment, obesity, respiratory disorders etc. He can control it by
      – regular exercise
      – Limited diet / diet control.
      – Active lifestyle
      – Seasonal Vamana Panchakarma treatment (Emesis therapy)
      – Use of Tulasi, Long pepper and such other Kapha balancing herbs, which he can chose in consultation with a doctor.

      For a cancer patient,
      Things have already gone quite out of control in him and disease process has set in. In him, measures to improve immunity with product like Brahma Rasayana along with specific treatment to cancer can be of some use to improve Ojas.
      Stress is a known cause of cancer. Hence, as a preventive measure to stress needs to be retaliated in healthy individuals with massage, anti oxidant therapy, Pranayama, meditation etc.
      Read more about cancer prevention here – http://easyayurveda.com/2011/12/09/improving-lifestyle-habits-is-very-important-to-prevent-cancer/
      Hope it helps. :)

  3. patricia chandrashekhar says:

    Interesting and informative article. could you explain about kshara? what is it? thanks.

  4. Subhash Chandra Khirbat says:

    It added to my knowledge about OJUS. Eight years back I have been regular reader of NIROG DHAM magzine. Many thanks.

  5. Thank you for all this wonderful info. Cow ghee balances vata and improves ojas. I have good appetite. How can ghee help put on weight? Like 15 lbs? Is one tsp with milk enough? I also read worry causes emaciation. Can you explain Dr Hebbar please.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      One teaspoon with hot milk in the morning would help.
      Worry just takes away the ability of gut to absorb nutrients, hence emaciation.

Write your opinion about this article