Agni (Fire) : The Power Of Digestion
“If the doors of perception were cleansed,
Everything would appear to man as it is: infinite”
Before you start reading this article, ask yourself a question “what image does the word fire conjure in your mind? I have asked this question to many people and the answers received were…
- A burning forest
- Fire enlighten on stove
- A firefighter in action
- An erupting volcano
While all of these are perfectly valid answers, my purpose in asking this question was to show you how differently a Vaidya (Ayurveda Doctor/expert, like myself), looks at an element of nature. For a Vaidya, fire is a light in your eye, fire in the belly is more than a metaphor, heat in your body and creative energy in your brain! In Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna says……
Aham vaisvanaro bhutva
praninam deham asritah
pacamy Annam catur-vidham
Meaning “I am the fire of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I with the help of prana & apan, digest the four kinds of foodstuff.” That is Bhaksya, Bhojya, Lehya, and Choshya. Agni, according to Ayurveda, is an important concept for any physician who practices Ayurveda.
Agni is the dragon of the digestive system for every creature. Agni is digestive fire, source of life, a sign of aliveness, a presence of unseen energy. Constitutional fire is responsible for digestion. It is availability of fire that determines the production of gastric juices: hydrochloric acid, bile, enzymes, in short the caustic chemicals thatare required for the breakdown of food and its conversion into micronutrients that
can be assimilated by the body and bulk matter that needs to be eliminated.
When Agni is strong, food is digested properly and you feel harmonious inside out. But whenever this fire is weak, there is not enough digestive power to metabolize food and toxins of various kinds, largely from undigested food particles called ama in Ayurveda which accumulate and breed disease.
Ayurveda views the health of the body as the functioning of a biological fire-governing metabolism. If this essential part is functioning effectively the whole body will be nourished, full of life and vibrancy.
Certain herbs such as ginger, cayenne, and most carminatives (cooking spices) have a medicinal value to keep your Agni lit. I recommend taking these herbs as teas, they may help enkindle Agni which will burn away toxins. Herbs which are pungent and bitter in taste decrease ama (undigested food).
Below are some recommended herbs for your agni: Aloe Vera, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, fennel seeds and ginger root.
As long as Agni is functioning correctly, the processes of breaking down food and absorbing and assimilating it into the body will work effortlessly. An individual with a healthy and active Agni will result in a healthy and vibrant body. Longevity depends upon Agni.
Agni Tea Recipe: (Recipe Source: Dr. Vasant Lad)
- 1 quart Water
- 1 pinch Cayenne
- 2 handfuls Minced ginger root
- 2 tbsp. Sucanat or other sweetener
- 1 to 2 tsp. Rock salt
- Bring all of the above ingredients to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes.
- Take the pot off the burner and cool for a few minutes
- Add the juice of 1/2 lime. Do not boil the lime juice.
- Pour into a thermos and enjoy throughout the day!
Agni Tea is a simple beverage that helps to regulate and stimulate your digestive capacity, improving all the functions of digestive Agni.
Ayurveda spells health as b-a-l-a-n-c-e. Keep your Agni balanced and you will enjoy your life to the fullest! Use your fire energy to know yourself better. A doctor does know the human bodybetter, but they can never know your body better than you! Here, I would like to summarize with Rigveda Mantra, recite the Agni mantra to improve dissimulation in your body, peoper functioning of all
organs and for overall vitality—-
“Om Vaisvanaraya Vidhmahe Lalelaya Dhimahi Tanno Agni Pracodayat” May we realize the Vaiswanar–the fire God! Let us meditate on that seven tonged mystic fire.
May Agni–the fire- God illuminate us!
Hari Om tat sat!