New Age Ayurveda vs Classical Ayurveda - Ayurveda | Everyday Ayurveda

New Age Ayurveda vs Classical Ayurveda

By on June 28, 2016
New Age Ayurveda


New Age Ayurveda looks at employing palliative (shamana) techniques for Panchakarma (the five detoxification actions in Ayurveda) and primarily Spa therapies alone.

Traditional Ayurveda employs specific and detailed methods of Panchakarma beyond palliative care for treating disease. Specific massages according to various complex preliminary therapies are administered beforehand. Specialized massage techniques and therapies are prepared accordingly. These massages are given along with specific laxatives to remove toxins from the body and with selected oils (where required) for treating various disorders locally. Other preliminary therapies such as internal oleation are also administered.  Strict and bland diets (as kichari or peya) are traditionally consume during panchakarma.


New Age Ayurveda rejects surgery and sees it as a modern invention and technique to be avoided. Ayurvedic Practitioners instead go for the spiritual methods, which often contradict the classical texts, which stress when surgery is required.

Traditionally, in Ayurveda, surgery is recommended in severe conditions that include:

  • Vascular surgery
  • Fistulas hemorrhoids
  • Brain surgery (as in Bhoja Prabandha)
  • Amputations
  • Dentistry
  • Cataracts
  • Kidney stones
  • C-sections
  • Cancers
  • Facial reconstruction (plastic surgery) etc.

Physician Charaka notes six methods of surgical procedure (Chikitsasthana, XXV.55) –

  1. Incision
  2. Puncturing
  3. Excision
  4. Scraping
  5. Scarification
  6. Suturing

Charaka notes (56-60) according to various diseases, thus pointing out the role of surgery (shastrakarma) even in his treatise, often considered as merely one on “internal medicine” alone as stated by expounders of American, or New Age Ayurveda.

The great physician Sushruta (Sushruta Samhita, Sutrasthana, I.17-21) also notes the importance of Shalyatantra (surgery) and it’s antiquity in Indian mythology as being used as the method to heal even the gods themselves from whence it came.

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New Age Ayurveda views Marmas (vital spots) as energy centres for activation and healing through acupressure or stimulation. Healing also includes other methods such as Reiki and Pranic healing by laying the hands on the patient.

Traditionally, Marmas are vulnerable and require varma (armour / protection). Sushruta Samhita (Sharirasthana, VI, 41-43) states marmas should not be damaged in any way, which also means no use of acupressure nor acupuncture on them traditionally, as these cause damage and aggravate the doshas (and organs they relate to). This includes cutting, hitting, fire even near them causes issues (Sushruta Samhita, Sharirasthana, 35 & 41).

The commentator on the Sushruta Samhita, Dalhana himself states the definition of Marma is “Marayanti iti marmani”, which means that a Marma is one which causes death (if damaged). Yogic Healing of Marmas was done via various Pranayamas (breathing techniques) that had specific effects to reduce the aggravation doshas in the body, not by energy-methods of healing. Pastes and oils are also used to heal them as gentle massages (not acupressure).

Spiritual Therapies

In New Age Ayurveda, Pujas (offerings) etc. are seen as magical healing processes and Deities as Cosmic Energies with supernatural powers. Daiva Chikitsa and Sattvavajaya (Spiritual therapies and Psychological therapies) seen as primary methods of “faith healing” systems and as magical methods of supernatural methods of healing the psyche in terms of energies and powers.

In Traditional Ayurveda, Deities correspond to a series of bhutas (elemental forces) and also indriyas (senses) and organs of the body (Shatapatha Brahmana, XII.9.1.1-17; Sushruta Samhita, Sharirasthana, I.7). They are also bacteria, viruses etc. caused by elements and poisoned air causing bhutonmada (elemental-caused insanity). (Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XI.45).

In Traditional Ayurveda, Pujas etc. are seen as psychological tools for healing, understanding mental effects and environmental effects scientifically. Daiva Chikitsa (Divine therapies – ritualism) form a part of Sattvavajaya (psychological healing for restoring purity to the mind – placebo effects) for healing psychological disorders. It is understood in its specifics for various forms of psychosis and also Yukti-vyapashraya (rational therapies – viz. surgical methods, herbs and formulas, diet etc.) employed for healing (Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XI.46, 54). They impart sattvas (purity) to the mind and senses and also help reduce negative samskaras (karmic residue) behind the diseases by nature of their good / positive actions.

Traditional Ayurveda states that opposite therapies according to the mental disorder should be adopted (Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XI.46), showing “spiritual therapies” are mental distractions / psychological tools for also providing detachment of the mind, and for mental disorders, etc.

In New Age Ayurveda, Schizophrenia and Insanity are said to be caused by psychic possession alone aggravating the doshas.

Traditional Ayurveda (Charaka, Sushruta, Sutrasthana, I.25) states that such psychic disorders are caused by anger, grief, fear, exhilaration, sadness, lust, greed etc. Madhava Nidana (XX.14-15) states insanity is brought on by fright, loss of wealth, death of family members, excessive sexual desire etc. as well as bhutas (elemental bacteria, viruses and impairment to organs as previous stated).

View of Meats

In New Age Ayurveda, Vegetarian and Vegan Diets as per Yoga (sattvic) applied to all, whether they are suitable or not.

Traditionally, meats as well as vegetable substances given various therapeutic actions according to constitutions, doshas and also diseases. Vegetarian, or purely sattvic diets, indicated in some cases where they cause issues according to their chemical reactions in the mind-body complex, such as in psychological disorders (Charaka Samhita, Chikitsasthana, IX.96) and also in excess can cause cancer or tumours of the muscle (Bhava Prakasha, Madhya Khanda, III.44.22-23 / Madhava Nidana, XXXVIII.22-23)

Diagnosis and Disease

New Age approach:

  • Diagnosis by questioning with emphasis on pulse, tongue etc. as also auras and basic psychology of the person and doshas
  • Predominant doshas as per charts or questions determines one’s Prakriti or biological constitution (superficially), which is then given emphasis alone
  • Diseases are classified according to the three doshas alone, ignoring traditional concerns and deeper causes and treated generically

Traditional approach:

  • Diagnosis by full medical history, questioning, palpitation of various parts of the body, which includes pulse rhythms, looking at skin, tongue, eyes, diet, lifestyle, age, sex, etc.
  • Psychological typing is seen specifically and separately
  • Biological types (Prakriti) is differentiated and tailored as per one’s psychology, age, sex, climate, seasons, digestive and exercise strengths, tissue and other examinations and abilities, weaknesses of the individual etc. as well as vyadhi (disease) and treated accordingly
  • Diseases are classified into various forms according to genetic, karmic, accidental / external causes etc. and derive from a variety of forms including dual-doshic, triple-doshic, raktaja (blood) etc. and several other forms treated differently and other causes are noted and also treated specifically according to these, not generically


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About Durgadas

Durgadas (Rodney) Lingham is a Yoga and Ayurveda Teacher, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Veda Kovid and author of over twenty books on Ayurveda, Yoga and other Vedic sciences and director of the Academy of Traditional Ayurveda and Arogya Ayurvedic Health Ltd in New Zealand. He comes from a traditional Vedic lineage deriving from Northern India and is a student of Acharya David Frawley in Vedic sciences.

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  1. Pingback: The Ego of Sattvas – Ved Kovid, Durgadas

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