Namaste. We hope that this article will inspire readers to consider how vaccination can be viewed from an Ayurvedic and yogic perspective.
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India for over 5000 years. It is the precursor of all medicines, including allopathic, naturopathic, herbal, food based, conscious-lifestyle based, preventative, rehabilitative, and restorative. There are even entire ancient Ayurvedic texts devoted to surgery and other complicated matters.
Ancient Ayurvedic doctors were cutting-edge scientists, doctors, and healers of their time. They studied and experimented, noting results on both their failures and successes. They had great commitment to the alleviation of suffering from disease, which is a core ethic in Ayurveda and yoga. Modern researchers and doctors continue to be motivated by this intention.
Ayurveda and yoga teach that our body’s natural tendency is to foster ease and harmony. This is called homeostasis in the west. We lean into this intelligence first and foremost when we apply any medicine to heal ourselves. Homeostasis is the guiding principle of the inner self (Self). Because of this and other core spiritual principles contained in the wisdom of Ayurveda, we can cultivate faith in ourselves to:
Adhere to the laws of nature.
Heal the best we can given environmental influences and internal beliefs and dialogue.
Ayurveda has always taught (and science confirms), that when faith is disrupted and negative influences outweigh positive ones, disease can occur. Disease is considered evidence of imbalance, weakness and vulnerability in the individual. Therefore, cultivating strength is one approach to countering the presence and impact of disease.
The creation of strength to fight disease is clearly discussed in the ancient Ayurvedic text called the Charaka Samhita. Bala (strength) refers to the development of our body's resistance against diseases. Balas include: intake of nutritious food, physical exercise, rest, seasonal rejuvenation therapies, herbs, and medicines. Bala increases our sustainable energy (ojas), consciousness, immunity, and creativity. It enhances the quality of the plasma, lymph, and mucus/waters in the body (rasa dhatu).
There are three types of bala (strength): sahaj, kalaj, and yuktikrit. Sahaj bala is passed down from mother to child, kalaj bala is strength that develops over time, and yuktikrit bala is gained by specific measures like food, exercise and medicines. The "medicines" ancient Ayurveda texts recommend for yuktikrit bala may use non-plant-based ingredients made from minerals, soils, metals, gems, and ash during critical times of disease. The concept of vaccination is rooted in the yuktikrit bala,
Yoga & Right Conduct
There are many texts in yoga, and many interpretations of those texts. The Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali, details the ethics of the yogic path in great depth. In the Yoga Sutra, the yamas and niyamas are described. They are the ten precepts of right conduct, and are the foundational practices in cultivating peace, self-awareness, and spiritual awakening. Right conduct is enacted by our willingness to support beings who are suffering, no matter what the cause. Right conduct is evidenced by our actions- particularly the ones that cause no harm, are truthful, and based in awareness.
The first yama is non-harm (ahimsa). It is the soil of all yogic lifestyle. Ahimsa a vow to do no harm to self or others. Not only do yogis take a vow of non-harm, doctors do too. "First do no harm" (Latin: Primum non nocere) is a part of the original Hippocratic oath. Every religion and spiritual tradition in the world has a tenet that can be described as non-harming and that is viewed as a necessary quality to cultivate for health and wholeness.
In addition to the yamas and niyamas, Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2:16 states Heyam-Dukham-Anagatam, which translates as: “The pain that is yet to come can be avoided.” This sutra suggests to us that we have responsibility to be responsive and preventative to dire situations. This is what vaccinations do. They intend to protect us from the future suffering associated with major diseases and difficult illnesses.
Truth, Faith and Understanding
Ayurveda espouses the efficacy of all medicine as dependent on faith and understanding to achieve the best healing result. Some people choose to trust only their body’s non-vaccinated healing intelligence to combat illness and disease.. This is a personal and valid choice for those who don't have faith in the concept of vaccination, consciously choose to face Covid-19 without vaccination, or who have weaknesses and can't tolerate strong medicines.
As yogis and Ayurvedic enthusiasts it is our duty to practice truthfulness (satya). The truth is, in the case of a world pandemic like Covid-19, our healing power is exponentially expanded when we align with our duty (dharma) of non-harming, considering community health and wellness, and the spiritual responsibility of alleviating suffering.
Agni implies fire, particularly inner fire, in Sanskrit. According to Ayurveda, agni is responsible for all digestive and metabolic processes in human beings. Agnis (cellular metabolism) is a reflection and expression of natural intelligence and is also referred to as the light of consciousness (tejas).
Every cell has both pilu and pithara agni. Pilu agni is the digestive fire present in every cell and governs the semi-permeability of the membrane and selection of cellular nutrients. Pithara agni is the fire component in the nuclear membrane inside the cell. It maintains the genetic code and transforms cellular food into consciousness with the 3 qualities sattva, rajas, and tamas. Sattva is goodness, calmness, harmony, rajas is passion, activity and movement, and tamas is ignorance, inertia, laziness.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) is pithara agni. The messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used in the COVID vaccine is a controversial topic. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is in every living cell and in every being on the planet, including those as small as viruses. There is not a single living cell in all the organisms on the planet that does not contain mRNA. It carries messages from the DNA (the body’s guru).
Messenger RNA (mRNA) carries genetic information into the cell. It instructs it in how to make the many proteins and molecules that make up your cells. It is present in every cell in every organism in your microbiome in your gut. It is present in every cell in every organism that lives on your skin and in your hair. Every cell in your body knows how to process and eliminate mRNA.
The small amount of mRNA the vaccine introduces into your body gives it important instruction to protect itself from the disease COVID-19. It is a teacher that educates, protects, and supports your body’s intelligence and capacity for survival against the disease. Once it delivers the message, it rapidly eliminates itself, like all Messenger MRNA (mRNA). It educates, and then dissipates.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) in the COVID-19 vaccine is carefully manufactured in a laboratory. It is not made from stem cells or from aborted fetuses. Remember, yuktikrit bala medicines are sanctioned to be made from non-plant substances in the Charak Samhita, a practice considered necessary in difficult cases.
Our global community is facing separation and division initiated by the controversies around the Covid-19 pandemic. In the Charaka Samhita, epidemics and infectious disease are believed to be a symptom of something gone awry within society- it's beliefs, practices, and condition of the environment. The solutions are also societal. They are changing the quality of food, housing, living situations, and environment....not just for one, but for all of society. Covid-19 is a symptom of a much bigger problem...one that ultimately needs to be addressed at the root.
Vaccines give our bodies special knowledge to build yuktikrit bala against disease. It is ahimsa (non-harm) in the sense that it protects us personally and globally from violent devastation by the disease. It is also a practice of purity (saucha) in that this particular vaccine protects us from the massive cellular and organ destruction that can occur in the Covid-19 disease.
Is there risk? Yes, there is to everything. As the Bhagavad Gita teaches us, we have no control over the outcome. We only have the right to the work at hand, which is hopefully guided by right conduct.
What would you do if you saw a child about to walk in front of a moving car? Would you pull the child back from the road? Perhaps you would feel fear, but your action is based on the truth and knowledge about what damage a moving car could do to the child. It is an intelligent and compassionate response to your understanding of the reality of the situation. Similarly, vaccination is an intelligent and compassionate response to a very dangerous global threat that has already taken 700,000+ lives.
We each can make a choice and commit to the work that is right for our health and heart. There is always healthy concern when using a strong yuktikrit bala, Discuss your concerns with your Ayurvedic practitioner and/or medical doctor.
It is our intention to provide an Ayurvedic perspective on the Covid-19 vaccine that supports truth, faith and understanding. We pray we have honored our intention. Making decisions and taking actions that are for the good of the whole is the basis of all health. This statement is in harmony with the teachings of Ayurveda and Yoga.
Of course, reasons exist for not being vaccinated. Personal decisions are always respected. As a community, we support those who decide to be vaccinated and those who do not. Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people may be following the guidance of Ayurveda. Ayurveda supports vaccination, while acknowledging that reasons do exist that influence individual choice in the matter.
We hope that the reader will come to understand COVID vaccination from this expanded perspective and to support the cultivation of faith in its efficacy. Making decisions and taking actions that are for the good of the whole is the basis of all health. It is congruent with Ayurveda and yoga. Let's continue to cultivate the qualities of faith, honesty, contentment, wisdom, purity, generosity, and joy so together we can avoid future suffering for ourselves and others in the world.
May we all all continue to cultivate the qualities of non-harm so we can work together to protect each other and avoid unnecessary suffering for ourselves and others in the world.
Co-written with love,
Sarita-Linda Rocco, Ayurveda Practitioner/Certified Svaroopa Yoga Teacher
Renay Oshop, Vedic Astrologer
Eileen Press, MD
Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati, PHD, CIAYT, Ayurvedic Health Counselor