Triads of Health(Traya Upastamba)


 The word literally means three sub pillars of health they are Aahara(Diet) Nidra (Sleep), and Bramhacharya(Abstinence). These three sub pillars can   be compared with health behaviour of modern day  And are major contributors of both mortality and morbidity of a number of disease and health issues and their consequences globally.

Ayurveda very frankly give potential stress on FOOD, SLEEP & ABSTINENCE to be used yuktivat (planned manner)  This facilitates a person with benefits of life endowed with strength, complexion,   full life span, provided he/she does not indulge in ahita (wrong activity) and maintains rules prescribed for that.


VEDIC – ERA – in taittireeya Upanishad food is  Known as Brahma  as it’s the supreme, all the living beings originate from food. Its present in form of food sheath (annamayi kosha) in all living beings

SAMHITA – ERA – Kashyapa has called Mahabheshajya. There is no medicine equivalent to food. It is possible to make a person disease free with proper diet.

 In Bhagvadgita it is said that Satvika aahara makes the mind clear and when mind is devoid of blemishes memory power enhances.


1.    Sukadhanya (corns with bristles): Sali, Sashtlka, Yava, Godhuma etc.

2.    Samidhanya (pulses): Mudga, Masha, Adhaki, Charaka, Tila etc.

3.    Mamsa (meat)

4.    Saka (vegetables) consisting of leaves, tubers etc.

5.    Phala (ripe fruits)

6.    Harita (Salads)

7.    Madya (wines).

8.    Jala (water)

9.    Gorasa (milk and milk products).

10 Ikshuvikara (products of sugar cant): jaggery, sugar etc.

11 Kritanna (food preparations): Peya (gruel), vilepi (thick gruel),

Manda.saktu etc.

12 Aharayogi (accessory food articles): oils, condiments, spices, salts etc.


Two  aaharakala -morning and evening is only recommended for the principal meals and food in between is not recommended at all.Food need to be taken only after proper digestion of previous food which can be known from the symptoms like, Clear belching, enthusiasm, proper evacuation of bowels, lightness of body/emptiness of stomach, hunger & thirst which are the features of proper digestion.

The food should not be taken within the yama (3 hours) after the previous meals, because during this period, the  rasa dhatu is still in the process of development. Also one should not   fast for more than 2 yama (6 hours) because it causes depletion of the strength. Therefore, food should be taken after 3 hours of the previous meal  and before the completion of 6 hours.

It is stated earlier that the previous meal should be completely digested before another meal is taken. But  according to charaka, taking the evening meal even though the morning meal has not been completely digested is not injurious. The srotases are also open due to the exertion, movement and mental activity of  daytime. Hence   dhatus in these srotases do not get softened (kleda) in the day. When new food is mixed with the old, which is not softened, it does not get spoilt. But in the night when   hridaya is in a state of diminished action, the srotases including the koshtha are inactive and   dhatus get softened. Therefore, when the food consumed in the night is not fully digested, the wise man, desiring to protect his strength and life, should not take any food.

 Exceptions of the rule-Hunger

Hunger falls in the group of Adhaarneeya vega hence no rule is required to be followed.In  yogratnakara, it is said that If one suppresses the hunger then pachakagni in absence of food, starts digesting doshas, then dhatus & ultimately digests praana and takes away life.

Effect of untimely food

Charka has clearly explained in chikitsa sthan 15/235 that

1,Intake of wholesome & unwholesome(Pathyapathyamhaikatram bhuktam samashanam matam) food together is called samashana.

2,Intake of less or more at irregular time(vishamam bahu vaalpam vapya praptaateet kaalayoh)

3,Intake of food before digestion of previous food(Bhuktam purvannasheshe tu puaradhyashanam)                                               May lead to death or dreadful diseases

Eight factors of diet and dietetics(Ch.Chi.1/21)

•         Prakriti (Natural qualities).

•         Karana (Samskara, preparation).

•         Samyoga (combination).

•         Rasi (Quantum).

•         Desa (Habitat).

•         Kala (Time).

•         Upayoga samstha (Rules of use).

•         Upayokta (user).


Natural qualities are the innate properties of substances. The

presence of qualities like heaviness etc., if the natural property of substances used as diet or drug. Thus heaviness is the nature of black gram and pork and lightness of green gram and venison.


Preparation is the process performed to modify the natural

properties of substances. That which modifies radically the

properties of substances is transformation. This modification is

brought about by application of water or heat, cleaning, churning, storing, maturing, flavoring, impregnation, preservation and the material of receptacle.


•         The property of rice is heaviness. This property is lost by washing with water and cooking and the rice acquires the property of lightness.

•         Curd causes sopha. -But after churning, buttermilk destroys sopha.


Combination is the combining together of two or more substances.This combination exhibits special properties which none of the constituents ever possessed separately.


•         The combination of honey and ghee. Honey and ghee taken alone is wholesome to the body but combined in equal quantities, they become toxic.

•         Similarly the combination of honey, fish and milk has a toxic effect.


The quantum is of 2 varieties:

•         Sarvagraha—total measurement of the entire meal as a whole i. e. the combined quantity of the rice, meat, pulse, condiments etc.

•         Parigraha—detailed measurement of each article of diet separately. This determines the effects of the right and wrong doses.



•         Habitat is a geographic region. It indicates variations in the qualities of substances, due to difference in soil, use and climate. Substance grown in the region of Himalayas are heavy in property while those grown in desert or sandy region are light. Similarly the living beings who consume light articles of food, or live in desert or sandy regions or indulge in many activities are also light in nature. Deshasatmya is that having opposite qualities to those of the region. Substances having the qualities of ushna, rooksha etc. are homologous to the watery or marshy region, and the substances having the qualities of sheeta, snigdha etc. for the desert or sandy regions.


•         Time is used in two senses, time in the general sense i.e.NITYAGA and time in the sense of a stage i.e. AVASTHIKA.

•         Time in the general sense is used in relation to seasonal wholesomeness. The stage is used in relation to disease.

        Upayoga Samstha :

•         The procedure in diet consists of the dietetic rules. They are determined by the strength of digestion.


•         The user is he who makes use of food. These eight different factors give rise to good and evil effects and are helpful for one another. The physician should try to know them, and having known them he should make use of the wholesome only. Either out of ignorance or negligence, he should not make use of any article of diet or any other thing which is pleasant but unwholesome and fraught with unhappy consequences.

Rules for taking food

•         1. Hot

•         2. Unctuous

•         3. In due measure

•         4. After full digestion of the previous meal

•         5. Non-antagonistic in potency

•         6. In the congenial place

•         7. Provided with all the favourite accessories

•         8. Neither too hurriedly nor too leisurely

•         9. Without talking or laughing

•         10.With full concentration

•         11.Having proper regard to oneself

Nitya sevaneeya Ahara(Regularly Usable Food materials)

1 shali (Variety of rice)

2 Godhooma(Wheat)

3 Yava(Barley)

4 Shashtika(Variety of rice grown in sixty days)

5 Jangala (Meat of animals of desert like lands)

6 Sunishnaka(Marssilea minuta linn.)

7 Jivanti (Leptadenia reticilata W&A)

8 bala mulaka(Tender radish)

9 Pathya (Haritaki)

10 Mridwika( Grapes-Vitis vinifera linn.)

11 patoli (Trichosanthus dioica Roxb.)

12 Mudga(Moong-Vigna radiate)

13 sharkara (sugar)

14 Ghrita(clarified butter)

15 Divyodaka(Rain water or purified water)

16 ksheera(Milk)

17 Kshoudra(Honey)

18 Dadima (Pomegranate-Punica granatum Linn.)

19 Saindhava(Rock salt)



Nitya Asevaneeya Ahare(Regularly Unusable Food  materials)

1 Kilata(inspissated mixture of  buttermilk and milk)

2 Dadhi (Yoghurt,Curd)

3 Kuchika(solid portion of curd)

4 Kshara(Alkalies)

5 Sukta(Fermented gruel)

6 Aama mulaka(Uncoocked radish)

7 Mans(Meat of emaciated animals,Dry meat,Meat of

    boar,sheep,cow,fish and buffalo)

8 Masha(Black gram-Phaseolus mungo Linn.)

9 Nishpav(Flat bean- Dolichos lablab Linn.)

10 Shaluka(Edible lotus root)

11 Visa(Lotus bulb/Fibre)

12 Pishta(Powdery,Pasted starch)

13 veerudhaka(Germinated grains)

14 Shushka shaaka(Dried vegetables)

15 Yavaka(Small barley)

16 Phanita(Half coocked molasses)






Sequence of Rasa during consumption of  food

Consume food with full concentration.

1st.               Sweet,  which pacify increased vata.

2nd.              Sour & salt which increases agni for easy                                             digestion.

3rd.                 Bitter & astringent which reduces excessive                                                 pitta.            

Bhojana karma-sequence of food

•        Hard food should be taken with ghee, water is to be taken at the end of the meals.

•        Fruits like amalaki can be consumed before, during & after meals

Lotus stalk(mrinaala, bisa, shaluka, kanekshu) and variety of grass should be consumed before meals.

•        Milk is good after meals but not curd.

As  pitta aggravated by sour,salt, pungent food, will be pacified by madhura aahara at the end of meals.

Saatmya, Asatmya and Oksatmya

Saatmya is the one which is conducive to oneself.

Asatmya is non- conducive to oneself

Oksatmya is that which became conducive due to consistent use.

For datails refer

Viruddha Ahara (Incompatible food)

•        Food, drinks & medicines which dislodges   dosha from its site , but does not expel it out

•        They vitiates rasaadi dhatu & produces diseases

•        Viruddahara is unwholesome to body & it may act as acute & chronic poison


Influenciable Factors  of Viruddha Ahara


Place                  Processing                  Cooking

Time                   Potency                     Combination

Agni                    Bowel                        Wholesomeness

Quantity           State of health                  Quality

Conduciveness   Order of intake       Rules of intake

Dosha                   Psychological factors

Some of the examples given in the text with explanation-

 · One should not take fish along with milk because this combination is Abhishyandi (great obstructer for channels), it vitiates blood.

 · After eating radish, garlic, basil one should not take milk because of the risk of skin disorders.

 · All sour liquids are incompatible to milk.

 · Hot honey taken by a person induces toxicity and lead to death. Likewise honey and ghee in equal quantity, hot water after taking honey are incompatible.

 · Virya Viruddha (Potency incompatibility) – Fish + milk

 · Sanskara Viruddha(Processing incompatibility) Heated Honey · Matra Viruddha(Dose incompatibility) – Honey + Cow’s ghee mixed in equal proportion.

· Krama Viruddha – Hot water after taking honey

· Kala Viruddha (Time incompatibility)- Pungent substance in summer & cold substances in winter

· Krama Viruddha(Order incompatibility) - Consuming curd at night.

· Samyoga Viruddha (Combination incompatibility)  Fruit salad/  Banana +Milk

· Parihara Viruddha (contraindication incompatibility) -Consuming cold water immediately after having hot tea or coffee.


 Diseases  caused due to viruddahara  

Etiology of various diseases like Sterility, Blindness,Erysipelas, Herpes, Ascites, Eruptions, Insanity, Anal fissure/fistula, Fainting, Intoxication,Tympanitis,Gaseous distension, Spasmodic obstruction in throat, Anaemia ,Poisoning due to Ama , Types of skin disease , Sprue syndrome , Oedema, Hyper acidity, Fever, Rhinitis, Congenital anomalies and even death.  Among this  Erysipelas and Herpes, Eruptions, Fainting , intoxication, Gaseous Distension, Spasmodic Obstruction in throat, Poisoning due to Ama are Aashukari(  acute in nature).  Anaemia,Types of skin disease, Sprue Syndrome, Oedema, Hyper acidity, Fever, Rhinitis, Congenital anomalies and Death are to be considered as Chirkari (Chronic diseases)


•         One among Trayopasthamba, as important as food and one of the adharneeya vega. Gramatically the word nidra constitutes as Ni + Dra + Rak + Ta”in Amarkosha the term nidra is defined as  ‘A state of nature which causes encapsulation to the consciousness of the person’.

   What  is Nidra ?

Sleep is the mental operation having the cognition of absence for its grasp  (P. Y. S. P)

Sleep is nothing but temporary loss of contact with jnanendriya and karmendriya    (Su. Su. 15/40)

Physiology of Sleep

•         According to charaka when the man including   indryas are exhausted and they dissociate themselves from their objects, then the individual sleeps.         

•         When   Man as well as   soul get exhausted or become inactive and the gyanendria and karmendria become inactive then the individual gets sleep.

Sleep is nothing but the location of the man in a place unconnected with the gyanendria or karmendria organs.

•         In the event of the exhaustion of the mind, the individual is dependent on that of the mind; so when mind dissociates itself from its objects, individual also dissociates themselves from their objects. The gyanendria and karmendria organs are not active because of the inaction of individuals.


         Hridaya – Tamas – Sleep (Su. Sha. 4/34)

         Higher psychic centers – Tamas – Sleep  (Ah. Su. 9/28)

Eyebrows – Tamas – Sleep (Hareeta samhita)

Doshic theory

•         Sanjavaha srotas – kapha – indriya – sleep (Su. Sha. 4/6)

•         Sensory channels – kapha with tamas – sleep

Fatigue theory

•         Shrama of indriya and manas – sleep (As. Su. 9/7)

   Swabhava – natural instinct

General principles of sleep

•         When tamas increases person sleeps

•         When satva increases person wakes up

•         Tamas & satva qualities alternatively are responsible for sleep and awakening   ( 5)

•         Classification

•         Tamobhava

•         Sleshmasamudbhava

•         Manashrama sambhava

•         Shareera shrama sambhava

•         Agantuki

•         Vyadhyanuvarthini

•         Ratriswabhava

Yogya nidra(Suitable sleep)

•         Ratriswabhavaja nidra is excellent

•         This kind of sleep keeps person lively & nourishes like mother. Hence called as Bhutadhaatri. ( )


Proper way to sleep

•         Swastirna sayana

•         Veshma sukham

•         Kalastham       ( )

•         Effects of less sleep on the body:

•         Dukha(unhappiness)

•         Karshyata(emaciation),

•         Abala(weakness),

•         Kleebata(impotent)

•         Ajnana(impaired knowledge or unwise)

•         Destroys the life.

Indications for day sleep

One who is tired due to

·         singing(geeta),

·         Studing(adhyayana),

·         alcohol(madya),

·         sexual intercourse(stree),

·         purification procedures(karma),

·         weightlifting(bhaara),

·         Ajeerni(indigestion)

·         kshata(injured)

·         Ksheena(weak)

·         Vriddha(old aged)

·         Bala(child),

·         Abala(weak)

·         trishna(suffering from thirst)

·         Atisara(loose and excess stools)

·         shoola(suffering from pain in the abdomen)

·         Shwasa(breathing difficulty)

·         Hikka(hiccough)

·         krusha(emaciated)

·         Patita(fallen)

·         Abhihata(injured)

·         unmatta(intoxicated)

·         klanta(fatigued)

·         yana(travelling)

·         Prajagara(awake at night)

·         Who is affected by krodha(anger), shoka(grief), bhaya(fear)

·         In greeshma ritu. This ritu being the part of adana kala there will be predominance of rookshata(dryness) and vata dosha. Nights are short in this season. So day sleep is advised.

·         Bala(children)

·         Vriddha(old aged people)

·         kshata ksheena(weak due to injury)

·         Madya nitya(one who takes alcoholic drinks daily)

·         Yana(travelling), vahana(travelling by vehicle)

·         Adhwakarma parishranta(who is tired due to walking)

·         Abhuktavatam(who doesnot take food on time)

·         Ksheena meda(who has less fat)

·         Ksheena sweda(less sweat)

·         Kseena Kapha(less kapha)

·         Ksheena rakta(less blood)

·         Ksheena rasa(less rasa)


In these cases sleeping in the day time for one muhurta kala is advised.




Day sleep in above mentioned conditions leads to

  • dhaatu saamya(balance of body tissues)
  • Bala(strength)
  • sleshma pushnati changani(the phlem nourishes the body parts)
  • Stabilises the ayushya(life span).

Contraindications of day sleep

  • Other ritus except greeshma ritu as it will vitiate kapha and pitta in these seasons.
  •  Medaswi(obese)
  • Kapha prakriti
  • Snehnitya
  • Kaphavyadhi
  • Dushee visha

Diseases caused by divaswapna(Day sleep):

  • Haleemaka(advanced stage of jaundice)
  • Shirashoola(headache)
  • Staimitya(stiffness)
  • Guru gatrata(heaviness in the body)
  • Angamarda(body pain)
  • Agni nasha(destroys agni)
  • Pralepo hridayasya(feeling as if something is applied around the chest)
  • Shopha(swelling)
  • Arochaka(tastelesness)
  • Hrillasa(excessive salivation)
  • peenasa(coryza)
  • Ardhavabhedaka(migraine)
  • Kotha
  • Pidaka(rashes)
  • kandu(itching)
  • Tandra(sleepiness or sluggishness)
  • Kasa(cough)
  • Galamaya(diseases of throat)
  • Pramoha of smruti and buddhi(infatuated memory and intelligence)
  • Srotorodha(obstruction in the channels)
  • Jwara(fever)
  • Indriyanam asaamarthyam(inefficiency of the sense organs)
  • Visha vega pravartana(increases the speed of the poison spread

Benefits of sleep

A good restful sleep has multiple benefits. Feeling of happiness, strength, nourishment, longevity and vigour.

Sleep inducing food and activities:

  • Abhyanga(oil application on the body)
  • Utsadana(rubbing the body with powders)
  • snana(bath)
  • Gramya, anupa, audaka rasa(meat soup of animals of dry land, marshy land,and aquatic animals)
  • Shalyanna(rice)
  • Dadhi(curd)
  • Ksheera(milk)
  • Sneha(unctous substance)
  • Madya(alcoholic drinks)
  • mana sukha(happiness of mind)
  • Akshi tarpana(filling unctous substance in a dam built around the eyes)
  • Lepa on head and vadana(Use of medicated paste on head and body)
  • sukha shayya(comfortable mattress)
  • Yathochita kala(proper timing)
  • Sleep reducing factors:
  • kaya virechana(inducing purgation through bowel)
  • Shirovirechana(excretion from head with specified procedure)
  • Chardana(inducing vomiting)
  • Bhaya(fear)
  • chinta(sadness)
  • Krodha(anger)
  • dhoomapana(smoke inhalation of medicinal plants)
  • vyayama(physical exercise)
  • raktamokshana(blood letting)
  • upavasa(fasting)
  • Asuhkashya(weight reducing measures)
  • Karya(engaged in some important work)
  • Kala(time) Like old age and other than routine sleeping hours.
  • Vikara(diseases)
  • Vata prakopa(virulence of vata dosha)
  • Improving the satwa guna or victory over the tamo guna.


·         When the bhootatma of the sleeping body perceives the good and bad events of the past body through the rajo guna in predominant mana is called as swapna or dreams.

Reasons for nidra nasha(Insomnia)

  • Vata and pitta prakopa
  • Manastapa(mental agony)
  • Kshaya due to abhighata(weakness due to injury)

Treatments for nidra nasha(Insomnia)

  • Abhyanga(oil application on body)
  • Moordhni thaila( medicated oil application on head)
  • Gatrasya udwartana(rubbing the body with medicated powders)
  • Hitam samvahana(gentle rubbing of the body)
  • Shali(rice)
  • Godhooma(wheat)
  • Pistanna(foods prepared by pasted flours)
  • Foods prepared with ikshu( foods processed with sugarcane)
  • Madhura, snigdha bhojana(sweet and unctous foods)
  • Ksheera(milk)
  • mamsa rasa of vileshaya and vishkira animals(meat soup of the animals living in burrows)
  • Draksha(grapes)
  • Sita(candy sugar)
  • Ikshu(sugarcane) and its various preparations at night.

Atinidra chikitsa(Treatment for excess sleep):

  • Vamana etc samshodhana therapy(vomiting etc purification procedures)
  • Langhana(fasting)
  • rakta mokshana(blood letting)
  • Manovyakulata (sadness of the mind)



Indication for ratri jagarana(Indication for staying awake at night):

  • Kaphaja vikara
  • Meda vikara(Obesity)
  • Vishaarta (one who is affected by visha)


Abstinence refers to refraining one’s mind and body in indulgence of sex and sex related matters. At the outset, it appears as if it covers only physical aspect. But it also covers the mental aspect. If you indulge in sex, there is lack of abstinence at the same time, if you imagine about having sex, then also there is lack of abstinence.

It is almost near to impossible for common people to practice abstinence at the highest level but it is possible to follow abstinence at certain levels based on one’s own capacity and comfort.

Benefits of abstinence: Why abstinence?

Brahmacharya is told as one among the three pillars of life. (other two are – food and sleep). The Ojas – the essence of immunity is said to be by product of Shukra (the hormones, semen and other components of sex). Hence, preserving Shukra leads to improvement in immunity.

Brahmacharya (Controlled Sex)

·         Brahmacharya means a balanced sex and worldly life. Besides ahara and nidra, brahmacharya is the third component of upastambha-traya. It essentially negates over-indulgence in sex and similar worldly acts.

·         The practice of brahmacharya promotes life and preserves health and as such is an important practice.

·         Carnal desires and their timely satisfaction play a very important role in maintaining good health and promoting longevity in adult individuals.

·         Ayurveda has never been in favour of voluntarily suppressing this urge (thereby inviting diseases) but much emphasis has been on the controlled indulgence of sex.

·         Although the sexual maturity starts by 12th year in girls and in 21st year in boys, it is advisable for them to avoid sex, marriage and conception till the 16 and 25 years of age, respectively, since the internal organs till the above mentioned ages are not fully matured

Generally the frequency of indulgence depends on

  • The age.
  • Moods.
  • Surroundings.
  • Nutrition.
  • Willingness of the other partner.

Indulgence is advised in

  • Winter and spring season.
  • One can have sex as much as he wants or as much as his physical capacity and age permits.

Indulgence is less advised during

  • Monsoons,do not exceed twice a week.
  • Summers, to the extent of once in a fortnight.

Benefits of following the rules advised in indulgence

  • To save the vital powers from draining out of the body and
  • To avoid physical over-exertion.

Who should avoid the sex

 Even a normal person is asked to avoid sex if he is:

  • Physically over-stressed.
  • Mentally not prepared.
  • Worried or tense.
  • Suffering from fever.
  • Suffering from prolonged systemic disease.
  • Having a venereal disease.
  • Surroundings are not good.
  • Partner is not willing.
  • All these factors may lead to one or the other physical or sexual problem.

Women should avoid sex

  • During menstruation.
  • In very early or late pregnancy.
  • After menopause.

Males should avoid

  • Frequency of sex after 50 years of age.

·         Swamy Vivekananda was able to memorize whatever he used to glance, in a book. By reading a few lines of a paragraph, he used to get the meaning of the rest of the paragraph. He used to say that if one practices absolute abstinence for a period of 12 years, continuous, a special Nadi (nerve power) called Medha Nadi (Medha = intelligence) develops in one’s brain, which leads to tremendous memory and concentration.

·         Abstinence leads to multi-fold improvement in concentration, memory and courage.

·         For students, teenagers and children, abstinence is highly recommended.

·         Abstinence leads to character building.

·         Abstinence imbibes reliability, strength in character and trust worthiness.

·         Abstinence is the fuel for spiritual journey. No spirituality without abstinence.

How to practice abstinence

·         At the outset, it looks almost impossible to follow absolute abstinence. It depends upon one’s mind strength, practice and perseverance.

·         If not full abstinence, teenagers can at least resolve to avoid sexual activities at least till a particular point of time in their lives.

·         For married people, abstinence can be practiced at any available occasions, as in case of pregnancy, menstrual periods, being distant to each other etc.

·         Keeping oneself away from stimulations such as TV, wrong company etc helps follow abstinence.

·         Pranayama helps to keep the mind cool, calm and concentrated.

So, follow abstinence and be abstinent up to your capacity and till the time your mind is capable and enjoy its benefits.









  • PUBLISHED DATE : Nov 19, 2015
  • PUBLISHED BY : Zahid
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Janardan Panday
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Nov 19, 2015


Write your comments

This question is for preventing automated spam submissions