Updated: Jan 29, 2021
Three thousand years ago, in one of the primary Ayurveda texts, called the Charaka Samhita, the teacher Atreya explained to his young student, the causes of the destruction of community, and the rise of epidemics.
Atreya explains, when contamination and vitiation of the earth, water, air, and the seasons occur, epidemics arise. The contamination of the elemental forces occurs due to adharmic energy rising in the world. This means when actions contrary to the laws of nature are promoted and implemented, the impacts upon the natural world constellate conditions for catastrophe. The seasons become effected, the rains are disturbed, it becomes too hot in summer, too cold in winter, there follows epic fires and floods, herbs no longer have their potency. This breakdown leads to a decline in community values and integrity, a devaluing of the relational world. Chaos, narcissism, and delusion rule. Sound at all familiar?
When the dharma disappears, and righteous acts disappear from the earth, the Charaka Samhita declares, even the gods will have abandoned us. Across the world, now, temples and mosques are closed. Christian Churches have been emptied. This year’s Easter Sunday mass was offered by the Pope before an enormously vacant St Peters Basilica in Rome. The Pope, humbled by emptiness, prayed for a contagion of hope, for a return of the light of the Divine, which streamed live to the planet.
In this quietness of quarantine, can you hear the heartbeat of the world? Every evening in New York at 7 pm, the city erupts into applause for the healthcare workers serving the city, as does the UK every Thursday at 8 pm. In India, Prime Minister Modi begged the people “to challenge the darkness” by drumming, blowing conch shells, ringing bells, or clapping to honor those working to fight this coronavirus. This is reminiscent when in Vedic times the during epidemics, people played the drums as an act of resilience and community (dumdhubi svanita). #clapbecausewecare
At this moment, drumming in these cities around the world, is both an act of gratitude and compassion, and a call to awakening to the dharma. To turn us toward the natural laws that support the healing of the earth, the water, the air, and the seasons. That promotes healing and the eradication of this illness that is ravaging the world. The ritual and ceremony of drumming, beating like the heartbeat of the world, signals our cry for victory over darkness, our resilience, and our voices rising to reclaim our world.
So what does Atreya prescribe to ward off the illness that is claiming so many lives? He prescribes, keeping one’s fire alive. By maintaining strong immunity, keeping digestive fire strong, living a righteous life, practicing dharma, panchakarma cleansing, eating a balanced diet, fasting, spiritual study and prayer, and to surround oneself with good company.
In the seed, the genes whisper: stretch out for the light
And seek the dark
And the tree seeks the light, it stretches out,
For the dark
And the more darkness it finds, the more light it discovers …