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Loss - An Ayurvedic Perspective
Author: Jean Clark

Distraught with grief over the loss of her grandson and only remaining family, a 70-year old Indian lady and devotee of Lord Buddha, sought the audience of Lord Buddha to bring her grandson back to life. The grandson had been young, healthy, and deeply loved by the old woman, yet in one instant his life was brought to an abrupt end with the bite of a poisonous snake.

Knowing that Lord Buddha was all powerful, she had her grandson's body brought to the feet of the master, imploring him to chant a powerful mantra and return the beloved grandson to her side. Lord Buddha smiled compassionately and said, "I know your loss is great and I will try to help you, but first I need you to do something for me. I will need to chant a very powerful mantra to the gods and require some special water for the ceremony. You must find a home where there has been no history of death, retrieve water from that house and bring it back to me. Only then will my mantra be successful." The old woman told Lord Buddha she would comply with this request, thinking it an easy task.

She then ran to the nearest village and started asking the villagers to direct her to a household where there had been no history of death. After knocking on over 20 different homes with no success, she understood the real message of Lord Buddha - no one is beyond death and that death of the physical body is a necessary part of life. She returned to Lord Buddha, wept at his feet and said, now I understand that none of us are beyond death, but dear Lord Buddha, tell me how to deal with my grief. Then Lord Buddha, in his wisdom, recited a verse from the Bhagavad-Gita.

Certain indeed is death for the born And certain is birth for the dead; Therefore over the inevitable You shall not grieve.

Bhagavad-Gita

Lord Buddha then explained, "You must know dear one that change is inevitable as it is going on even in the present and has been in the past and will be in the future. Therefore birth and death are natural events about which one should not feel much concern."

This story was related to me by my friend and mentor, Vaidya Rama Kanta Mishra, shortly after my mother's passing last March. "This knowledge is all important in your acceptance of the inevitable," he said. "The story of the old woman and Lord Buddha was told to me twice by my father. The first time I was 15 years old and experienced the death of my grandmother. I was very close to her and not prepared for her death. The family brought her body to the Ganges River, where the body was bathed and then cremated. The ashes were scattered to the winds over the Ganges and then we all bathed. As I was grieving, my father told me this story. Then again in 1983, I received a letter from my father. The letter began with the same story of the old woman and Lord Buddha and then in the next paragraph, I learned that my mother had died instantly of a snake bite."

According to Vaidy Mishra, Ayurveda teaches that knowledge of the eternal nature of man is the basis for healing from loss. You can then work to bring Sadhaka Pitta back into balance. Sadhaka Pitta is the law of nature, echoed in our physiology, that has to do with the emotions and their affect on the heart, and is an aspect of Pitta that governs heat, digestion and metabolism. The experience of loss can trigger sadness, anger, anxiety and resentment.

Ayurveda suggests nurturing yourself by seeking the support of loved ones, enjoying activities such as taking walks in nature, daily self-massage with a cooling, relaxing oil or aroma blend that includes the esence of rose (abhyanga) and reading uplifting books. Dietary recommendations include ahdering to a Pitta pacifying diet where you would reduce spicy, sour and salty foods and favor astringent, bitter and sweet foods to cool the body and improve digestion. Another simple recommendation is to soothe the heart and emotions with the beauty, fragrance and taste of rose petals. Roses have long been used to alleviate depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and memory loss. "The rose is cooling, yet it enhances agni, the digestive fire," says Vaidya Mishra. "This is a unique quality which makes it balancing for all three doshas if taken in moderate amounts."

I thank Vaidya Mishra for imparting the wisdom of Ayurveda.

The material presented in this article is for education purposes only and is not to be used to treat, cure or mitigate any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.








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Jean Clark is a student of ayurveda and Manager of Store Operations at Maharishi Ayurveda Products. Learn more about Vaidy Mishra at http://www.mapi.com.

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