Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Pathya is one of the synonyms of Bheshaja or medicine. Since Rasayana is also a Bheshaja, Swasthasya Urjaskara (preventive medicine) type of Bheshaja to be precise all synonyms of Bheshaja are applicable for Rasayana. Therefore Pathya is a synonym of Rasayana. The terms can be used interchangeably.
Not only do the terms Pathya and Rasayana are synonyms of each other, they also serve the same purpose and do the same functions in the body.
In this context, let us see what the similarities between Rasayana and Pathya are!
Similarities between Rasayana and Pathya
The word Rasayana is made up of two terms i.e. Rasa and Ayana.
Rasa – The meaning of Rasa is –
The Ahara Rasa – or the essence of nutrition or digestive juice which forms the nutrition in circulation, made available to all the tissues of the body. This ahara rasa is formed after the digestion of the food in stomach and intestines.
The Rasa Dhatu – or the first tissue formed in the chronology of tissue formation according to Ayurveda i.e. Dhatu utpatti krama. This rasa dhatu is formed from the ahara rasa or nutritive juice.
In this context, while discussing Rasayana, the term Rasa is used to denote not only the first tissue i.e. rasa dhatu, but also denotes all the seven tissues formed in the chronology. Thus, the term ‘Rasa’ used in Rasayana means Rasadi Dhatus i.e. all the 7 dhatus. The Sapta Dhatus or 7 tissues of the body according to Ayurveda are –
- Rasa – lymph, plasma
- Rakta – blood, cellular part of blood
- Mamsa – muscles
- Meda – fat
- Asthi – bone
- Majja – bone marrow and
- Shukra – semen or reproductive tissue
Ayana – Ayana means channels or passage ways or tracts of the body, they form the transport system of the body. The term Ayana is synonymous with Srotas (which also means channels and duct system of the body). Therefore, the terms ayana and srotas are used interchangeably (synonyms).
‘That which is beneficial for the Rasadi Dhatus (all the tissues) and also good for the ayanas or passageways through which these tissues flow from one part of the body to the other (passageways through which the nutrients to these tissues are transported) is called Rasayana’
All materials and methods which are helpful in providing best quality and quantity of dhatus or tissues are called Rasayanas. Rasayanas can be dravya (material, medicines, food etc) or adravya (not having form, like lifestyle activities, behavior etc).
In short, the medicines beneficial to the rasadi dhatus and their ayanas are called Rasayanas.
Read related: Rasayana Therapy (Anti Ageing, Rejuvenation) Meaning, Derivation
Pathya is a word which is often used to describe a wholesome diet or food pattern. That which is beneficial for Patha is called Pathya.
Patha means pathway i.e. srotases or ayanas, which is nothing but the channels and duct systems (transport systems) of the body. Anything which is beneficial, supportive and wholesome to the patha or srotas is called Pathya.
Srotases – body channels carry the nutrition to different tissues in the body. They also carry the essential ingredients needed for the makeup of the tissues (dhatus) and help in their formation, maintenance and sustenance of their health. They also convey the dhatus (tissues) which are in the process of transformation (formation) from one place of the body to the other (from place of manufacture to the place of need). Th
us Srotas helps in proper formation and maintenance of good quality and quantity tissues. They are themselves made up of the tissues which they convey. Ayana is a synonym of Srotas.
Read related: Is Pathya (Diet Rules) Only For Ayurvedic Medicines?
To sum up –
From the above said contexts of Rasayana and Pathya and by seeing their meanings and purpose (functions) which they serve in the body, we can conclude that –
Rasayanas, being Bheshajas or medicines, help in formation of good quality and quantity of dhatus or tissues apart from being beneficial to the ayanas (patha) or srotas. Similarly, the pathya is also beneficial to the patha (ayana) or srotas and help in providing nutrition to the tissues and enriching them with wholesome qualities while optimizing the quality and quantity of dhatus in the body.
With this we can conclude that the terms Rasayana and Pathya are identical in meaning and functions.
Therefore the synonym ‘Pathya’ is apt to describe Rasayana. On the other hand, Rasayanas are also wholesome diet and food materials, apart from being medicines.
Just Before Finish –
In this article I have explained the similarity between the meanings and functions of the terms Rasayana and Pathya which are synonymous of each other and are also used interchangeably.
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