Reading: The Miraculous Art & Science of Diagnosis
some of my vivid childhood memories are those of my grandfather,
a vaidya (an ayurvedic doctor) at a village in
Patan district of Gujarat state in Western India.
As a young girl then, I was intrigued by the snaking queues
of villagers who would patiently wait outside our village
home to just have their pulse ‘felt’ by my
grandfather, reverently called vaidji by them.
grandfather—who walks upright at 95 years now, has
all his teeth intact, and doesn’t need the aid of
glasses to read—would sit on his gaddi
(a cotton mattress on the floor) and press his three fingers
on the pulse of the patient close to the wrist and do
nadi pariksha or pulse reading/diagnosis.
is Pulse Diagnosis
diagnosis is the ancient art and science of detecting
the existing status of a person’s body, mind, soul
and spirit. Nadi or pulse is that vital flow
of energy or life that courses through as a subtle channel
all over the body, and enables the vaidya to feel the
way the blood spurts from the heart. This helps an experienced
ayurvedic doctor to diagnose or treat various ailments,
or to prevent their occurrence.
which literally means the ‘Science of Life,’
has bestowed the miraculous science upon us of diagnosing
the imbalances within our body, without the use of any
instruments except fingers. I feel that several problems
that remain undiagnosed even with the aid of sophisticated
diagnostic tests can be accurately judged by examining
reading can be learnt through continuous practice, focus,
awareness, and under the guidance of an experienced guru.
It is like playing the veena, a musical instrument
akin to the violin. On striking, each string produces
a different musical note. Similarly, an expert pulse reader
by touching, pressing, and ‘feeling’ the different
combinations of the pulse, is able to diagnose the imbalances
within a person’s body.
states three barometers of diagnosis: darshana
(see and observe), sparshana (touch), and prashna
(inquire by asking questions). Successful pulse reading
involves touching, feeling, observing, and experiencing
not only the rate, rhythm, and volume of the pulse; but
also its movement, amplitude, temperature, force, and
consistency in the body.
The Vision Unfolds
flows in my veins. I grew up and completed my M.D. in
both the modern and Ayurvedic systems of medicine. I began
my career my practicing in the modern system of medicine,
but soon realized that it did not tackle the root cause
of the disease. Most of the times, my patients felt good
initially, but came back a few months later with the problem
honed my pulse reading skills which I had learned from
Dr. Sane while doing my degree in medicine. Six months
later, I was seeing close to 100 patients in a day, diagnosing
the problem, and treating them successfully. It has been
eight years since then and today I well understand why
there were those serpentine queues of patients at my grandfather’s
Concept of Ayurveda
I share my practical experiences, I would like to state
the basic concept of Ayurveda, which reiterates that all
living beings are the permutation and combination of the
five basic elements—space, ether, air, fire, and
water. These five elements constitute the three major
biological components—the three dosas.
dosas are: vata (air + space), pitta
(fire + water), and kapha (water + ether). Life
and death on the earth is caused by nothing else but the
balance and imbalance of these doshas. Health
follows when the doshas are balanced and disease
when they are imbalanced.
important factor for health or disease is agni
or digestive fire that governs digestion and metabolism.
For example, what happens when we cook rice on a very
very slow fire, it is not cooked properly, and what happens
if the fire is very high, the food is burnt? So, to prepare
well-cooked rice, what is required? The answer is obvious,
a medium or normal fire. In the same way, if our digestive
fire is too low or too high, then the food we consume
remains half digested and forms a sticky mucus-type toxic
substance called aam in ayurveda.
aam, in turn, gets into our blood stream and
obstructs channels within the body, which is the beginning
of disease. If the problem is diagnosed on time, then
it is easy to solve; but if it is not tackled and enough
time is allowed to pass, the disease becomes chronic and
understand the subtle nuances of pulse reading, it is
important to know the above-mentioned basic tenets of
ayurveda. Pulse reading helps to diagnose the problem
at the first stage, when the doshas and aam
just begin to accumulate and much before they spread and
vitiate the entire body; and manifest themselves in the
form of symptoms that finally become chronic and complicated.
if a vaidya is able to do correct pulse reading
before the disease progresses, disease can be reversed
my long years of practice, I have successfully treated
several patients of vata, pitta, and
Pulse Case Study
A 55 year-old woman came for the treatment of obesity.
On examining her pulse, I found that it was full of swelling
and moving like a snake. The vata pulse was jumping
more with low circulation, and it was difficult to feel.
I asked her if she had ever had an abortion, and she said
twice. I then asked her if she had a caesarean, and she
said yes. She went on to tell me how she had progressively
started putting on weight after her cesarean.
lose weight, she had tried several diets on her own. She
began her day with a black tea followed by salads, had
only sandwiches and coffee for lunch, and ate two slices
of bread and vegetables for dinner, in spite of it she
continued to add on the kilos.
Wrong diet, over fasting and sedentary lifestyle was aggravating
her vata pulse, resulting in bloating. Salads
are strictly not recommended to people having vata.
She was put on a diet of whole or split mung,
mung soup, rice, vegetable soup with ghee
(clarified butter) to be taken at four hourly intervals,
with basti (medicated enema) treatments familiar
to panchakarma (the age-old science of purifying
a fortnight, her pulse began to feel light and the vata
level began to reduce. After the complete basti
course spreading over a year, she lost 8 kilos. After
three years, today her weight stands at 55 kgs and her
pulse is healthy and steady.
also taught her how to ‘feel’ her own pulse
and now, whenever there is a slight rise in vata,
she immediately embarks on a vata-pacifying diet
that includes drinking 1 tsp of castor oil at bedtime
with a glass of warm water, cooked rice, dates, vegetables,
and sesame oil massage.
client actually bounced back to health because of the
correct diagnosis of a vata type of pulse. More
importantly, she became self educated in diagnosing her
own problem. Ayurveda is truly the ‘Science of life.’
Pitta Pulse Case Study
A 25-year-old medical representative, with a history of
asthma since childhood, came for a cure to his severe
migraine problem. He had tried a variety of painkillers
to combat the disease, but to no avail.
On examining the client’s pulse, I found that it
was hot, fast, strong, and heavy to feel due to aam
(toxins) created by indigestion and the pitta
pulse was jumping more.
His job involved walking in the hot sun the whole day
without fixed hours for eating meals. Besides, he was
fond of spicy, fermented, sour foods, tomatoes, pizzas,
yogurt, and alcohol.
only this, he was taking inhalers, antibiotics, bronchodialators,
and steroids at frequent intervals for asthma, resulting
in his immunity level being very low. His diet, lifestyle,
and asthma medicines were pitta increasing. Hence,
he was suffering from migraines.
I advised him to take 2 teaspoons of cow ghee
first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to control
pitta and a teaspoon of Triphala at
night as a mild virechan to remove pitta.
about a month-and-a-half, he reported a 50 percent reduction
in the intensity of migraine and even his asthma attacks
had reduced. Slowly, his asthma medicines were reduced.
After six months, his pulse was free from aam
and was very light to feel. With the heat in the body
controlled, the client’s pitta pulse was
not jumping more; it was healthy, light, and steady.
Pulse Case Study
A 30-year-old businessman once came to me for treatment
of diabetes and obesity.
After checking his pulse, I immediately told him, “This
is not you.” He replied that he was very slim until
he started his business six years ago. Next, I asked him,
“Are you diabetic?” because his pulse was
very humid, with the kapha pulse very prominent.
I am on insulin and my blood sugar is not under control
even after medication.” He pleaded that he wanted
to get rid of the insulin injections.
pulse was very heavy to feel because he had aam.
The sedentary lifestyle, stress and fondness for fried
foods and sweet with no exercise had caused slow digestion
and formation of mucous and kapha, which blocked
his channels of pancreas, lungs, and intestines. This
had resulted in increase in the blood sugar level, in
cough, congestion in chest with respiratory problems,
and severe constipation.
I advised him to walk for an hour daily. To begin with,
he was put on a diet of mung soup, and mung
with spices like dry ginger, oregano, asafoetida, black
pepper, rock salt, onion, garlic, and coriander. Then,
vegetables and rice was included in the menu.
was asked to take a teaspoon of a mixture of turmeric
and amla (gooseberry) powder on an empty stomach
in the morning. At night, he was asked to take a teaspoon
of castor oil with warm water. He successfully did virechan
and enema treatment of panchakarma as well. Side
by side, his insulin dosage was reduced every week.
a year of adopting this lifestyle, his insulin was stopped
and he regained his slim look once more. Today, his pulse
is without aam (very light to feel) and the kapha
pulse is feeble but prominent.
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