The Inside Story of an Authentic Ayurvedic Rasayana
The story of the origins of Amrit Kalash, the queen of all Maharishi Ayurvedic Rasayanas, is fascinating.
This isn't an ordinary Rasayana.
Amrit Kalash is a masterful synergy of embodied intelligence of many herbs, all promoting perfect health, bliss, longevity and the development of full human potential — enlightenment. This blend of herbs has been tested through the centuries and shown to work, and neither the herbs nor the level of care involved in selecting, picking and preparing these ancient foods is anything less than extraordinary.
There is a beautiful narration in Indian mythology that serves as the perfect analogy for how Amrit Kalash came into being. The story is called Samudra Manthan — The Churning of the Ocean.
Once, in ancient times, humanity was steeped in suffering. The Devas and the Asuras, the gods and the demons, got together and made a solemn resolve in the deepest level of their consciousness to find a solution for the suffering. Together they churned the mighty ocean, from where they had been told relief would appear. And when they churned the waters, Amrit Kalash — known as the Nectar of Immortality — appeared. With this precious gift of Amrit Kalash, all of humanity recovered its health and happiness.
Many millennia later, in the 1980s, when the stresses of the modern lifestyle were beginning to seriously impact the well-being of people everywhere — stress from the environment, stress from time pressures, emotional stress, mental stress, physical exhaustion — Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation® program, gathered together the most eminent ayurvedic scholars and physicians of the time to see what could be done to alleviate people's suffering. One of the first things to emerge from these collective deliberations was a powerful Rasayana to nourish mind, body and spirit in a very holistic and balanced way. Appropriately, Maharishi decided to name this Rasayana Amrit Kalash. Amrit Kalash represents the essence of the supreme knowledge in the ancient ayurvedic texts.
One of the primary goals of Ayurveda is Swaasthasya Rakshanam — preserving health — and Rasayanas are considered the primary method for maintaining health and vigor. Literally translated, a Rasayana is "that which enters the essence" — in other words, that which promotes health and longevity. The Sanskrit definition for a Rasayana is Yat Jara Vyadhi Nashanam Tat Rasayanam — "that which negates old age and disease is called a Rasayana.
There are many individual fruits, herbs and spices in ayurveda that are considered Rasayanas. For example, the main two fruit ingredients in Amrit Kalash, Indian Gooseberry and Indian Gallnut, are both deemed premier Rasayanas in the category of fruit. The ayurvedic texts make it clear that these two fruits support a long, happy, healthy and blissful life. They promote bliss in body, mind, spirit and senses. Turmeric and Long Pepper (Pippali) are Rasayanas in the category of spices, well known for their healing properties. We have another entire group of Rasayana herbs called Medhya Rasayanas. "Medhya" refers to the mind and intellect. The Medhya group of herbs helps enhance the ability to learn, retain and recall information. One such herb in Amrit Kalash is Indian Pennywort or Gotu Kola, which we sometimes call Brahmi. Shankapushpi, or Aloeweed, which is also an ingredient in Amrit Kalash, is another Medhya Rasayana. What makes this combination of powerhouse herbs special is that it is actually a Rasayana of Rasayanas — what could be called a "super" Rasayana. It incorporates all the best qualities of the best herbs in ayurveda, in a synergistic way that delivers all of the benefits that researchers are beginning to tabulate.
Conventional medicine is often about the "one-cause-one-cure" or "magic bullet" effect, whereas ayurvedic Rasayanas are considered holistic, integrated, and preventive, causing a positive impact on the physiology with no side effects.
The difference is essentially in approach. Ayurveda is based on the principles of wholeness and balance, and traditional Rasayanas are formulated to account for both aspects. There are many different kinds of herbs that go into a Rasayana, each chosen and blended carefully in a precise proportion. Amrit Nectar, for example, contains thirty-eight herbs and fruits in combination. This principle or science of herb combination is called Sanyog, and this is one of the most significant offerings of Maharishi Ayurveda.
Some herbs in a formulation are chosen only to balance the effects of other herbs in the formulation. Others are put in because they help the main herbs be better assimilated by the physiology. In Maharishi Ayurveda, single herbs are not typically recommended, because even though an herb may have powerful qualities, it may not be balanced or equally efficacious for everyone who takes it. The incorporation of supporting and balancing herbs helps create a Rasayana capable of wider application — across people of different doshic combinations, for example.
Balancing herbs perform the saatmya function. Loosely translated, that means they make the resulting formulation acceptable or "friendly" to the physiology — no side effects, relatively easy to digest and assimilate. Because the herbs are used whole, and used in combination, the result is balance, and when there is balance, side effects are not an issue. Modern pharmaceutical drugs, and even some nutritional supplements, are the result of taking the so-called "active" ingredient from a natural substance and working with it in a laboratory. Ayurvedic Rasayanas, on the other hand, rely on the healing prowess of nature's own intelligence. Amrit Kalash, for example, has both a nurturing effect and a detoxifying effect on the physiology. But because it is a perfectly balanced formulation, it nourishes so perfectly that it creates no ama, or toxins, in the shrotas, or channels of the body, and it cleanses so subtly that the body's ability to draw sustenance from nourishment is left undisturbed. That is the beauty of a holistic, balanced formulation like Amrit Kalash.
This is especially important for aging baby boomers, because we do not want to age like our parents did. Over a hundred million Americans — 40% of the population — have a degenerative disease, and we have few answers in allopathic medicine for such problems. The magic bullet approach does not work well there, and that is precisely where systems like Maharishi Ayurveda have much to contribute.
Ayurveda seeks to address the root cause — imbalance in the physiology — rather than the symptoms, which are like the tip of an iceberg. If one goes through all the benefits a Rasayana such as Amrit Kalash offers, as they are laid down in ayurvedic texts, they include enhancing longevity, enhancing the intellect, making one's complexion radiant and lustrous, and enhancing the understanding of deeper, spiritual knowledge. A Rasayana such as Amrit Kalash helps make the senses, the body and the mind more coordinated. As a physician, you probably realize that Amrit Kalash is the ideal Rasayana to offer baby boomers if they are seeking a holistic, natural nutritional formulation to help keep them healthy as they age.
When nature perceives a need, nature provides the answer.
According to ayurveda, optimum health is achieved when your heart, mind, body, senses and spirit are all healthy. All these aspects should be 100% coordinated, and only then can one truly say that an individual enjoys perfect health or total health.
There are what are called Medhya herbs in Amrit Kalash. One of the research studies on Amrit Kalash Ambrosia indicated that it enhances mental alertness and attention, so modern science appears to be validating the old texts.
Amrit Kalash has a powerful positive influence on mental health because of the synergistic action of so many powerful herbs. Gotu Kola and Shankapushpi are both Medhya Rasayanas. According to Ayurveda, mental ability is at its optimum when the three aspects of dhi, dhriti and smriti — learning, retention and recall — are working well individually and are perfectly coordinated with one another. Medhya Rasayanas are good for enhancing each individual aspect of mental ability, and for enhancing coordination among them also. They promote mental clarity, because they enhance coordination among cells; between mind and body; and among senses. Plus, Ashwagandha or Winter Cherry, which is also one of the ingredients in Amrit Kalash, is a powerful adaptogenic — it helps balance and stabilize the mind so it performs optimally even under situations involving day-to-day stress. As you know only too well, being a psychiatrist yourself, life today can be extremely stressful, whether you are a student, a professional, a parent. The combination of energy-enhancing herbs, herbs that boost mental ability and herbs that help withstand day-to-day stress — it is this well-thought-out combination in Amrit Kalash that is so powerful in its effect on the mind and nervous system.
This Rasayana influences many areas of the physiology. For example, research studies have shown that Amrit Kalash also helps maintain cardiovascular health.
In ayurveda, there is a specific term for Rasayanas or herbs that help support the heart and the cardiovascular system. Just as Medhya herbs enhance mental and intellectual ability, Hridya herbs are those that offer holistic support to the cardiovascular system by enhancing the ability to tolerate physical and emotional stress on the heart. Ayurveda does not treat the heart as only a pump — ayurvedic formulations seek to address both the physical and the emotional heart in a holistic way, flushing out toxins that block the physical and mental channels. Amrit Kalash has this Hridya effect.
The published scientific research on Amrit Kalash shows that it reduces the oxidation of LDL, low density lipoproteins, that contributes to clogged arteries or atherosclerosis, which is an underlying cause of heart disease.
That is one aspect of Hridya — to keep clear those vital channels which carry prana, or life, in the cardiovascular area. The other aspect is to pacify Sadhaka Pitta and enhance emotional strength to withstand the effects of day-to-day emotional trauma better.
Pitta, as you know, is the ayurvedic governing force responsible for all transformation, even the metabolizing of knowledge or sensory perceptions. It applies to transformation of thought also. Sadhaka Pitta is the sub-dosha of Pitta that relates to the emotions and senses. When Sadhaka Pitta is in balance, one is positively motivated in thought and emotion; when it is out of balance, emotions tend toward the negative — sadness, anger, discontent, irritability. Hridya formulations like Amrit Kalash help keep Sadhaka Pitta in balance, contributing to stable emotions.
That is the role of Sadhaka Pitta — metabolizing thought, both good and bad thought. Also, when Sadhaka Pitta is balanced, there is excellent coordination between the heart and the mind. The heart cannot be looked at individually, and neither can the mind. They must constantly check with each other and be coordinated. Amrit Kalash, because it has both Medhya and Hridya properties, strengthens the mind and strengthens the heart individually, and also enhances the coordination between them. Interaction between the heart and the mind therefore becomes smooth, seamless and cohesive.
Modern medical science correlates with ayurvedic science. As you know, the vagus nerve, which is one of the twelve cranial nerves coming out of the brain and spinal cord, impacts the heart as well as the digestive system. When the vagus nerve is over-stimulated, which is Pitta aggravation, you can get all kinds of digestive problems linked with the excess emotional fire going on in the brain. There are studies in allopathic medicine of stimulating the vagus nerve as a possible new treatment for depression. Again, it is an isolated effect, whereas the more holistic, ayurvedic effect is what you are describing — that we can bring not just the vagus nerve but everything related to the brain, the heart and digestion into balance.
Amrit Kalash has a positive influence on immunity as well. The immune system is very well described in Ayurveda. Bala, the ayurvedic term for immunity, encompasses not just physical resistance but also mental, emotional and psychological immunity. So again the concept is holistic. Three types of immunity are discussed in ayurveda. The first is Sahaj, which is genetic or hereditary — the level of immunity you were born with. The second is Kalaj, seasonal immunity, which varies based on the seasons, the stage of life and planetary cycles. This would be the type of immunity, for example, one would seek to address in cases of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where people have their moods drop down completely, affecting their health and physiology.
The third is Yuktikrit, or established immunity — a balanced, permanent level of immunity that is the objective of the ayurvedic approach to well-being. Ayurvedic Rasayanas, diet and lifestyle are the three main aspects to Yuktikrit, or planned immunity enhancement. Amrit Kalash definitely helps strengthen natural levels of immunity at every stage of life, and provides balance to offset the impact of changing seasons on the physiology.
One herb in Amrit Kalash is particularly known for boosting immunity — Tinospora cordifolia or Guduchi.
Many ayurvedic herbs have interesting stories associated with them, and the mythological description of the origin of Guduchi is fascinating. There is a legend about this herb in India. Rama, the hero of the Indian epic Ramayana, lost many of his army of monkeys during his war with Ravana, the demon-king. He prayed for help, and the heavens rained nectar on the battlefield to bring the creatures back to life. Some of the drops fell to the earth, and wherever the nectar touched the earth, the herb Guduchi sprang up. That is why another name for this herb is Amrita — immortal. This plant is quite indestructible — if you cut a vine off the main plant, it grows aerial roots and keeps growing, without water or soil.
Indian Gallnut, another major ingredient in Amrit Kalash, is also designated "Amrita." This fruit helps flush out toxins from the body, helping to prevent the build-up of ama, and aiding in keeping the microcirculatory channels clear. So, with at least two such powerful immunity enhancers, and with other supporting and balancing herbs, the overall impact of Amrit Kalash is to enhance the immune system. Modern research focuses on the immunity-enhancing effect of Tinospora cordifolia as a single herb, but from the ayurvedic perspective it is a part of the whole. Amrit Kalash provides holistic balanced support to our immune system, not just isolated support to any one aspect of the immune system.
Amrit Kalash also supports longevity. If you take care of the heart and the immune system, it will have an effect on longevity.
Because Amrit Kalash is a whole formulation, it is the combination of the herbs in Amrit Kalash that produces all the benefits. Indian Gooseberry (Amalaki) is one of the main ingredients in Amrit Kalash. Amalaki alone is considered a super Rasayana in ayurveda. It contains five out of the six tastes — sweet, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent — all except salty, which is a rare and valuable property even among herbs; and it is equally beneficial for all doshas. It is considered such a powerful rejuvenator that it is one of the very few herbs that is sometimes used by itself in Maharishi Ayurveda. It is the richest source of vitamin C in the plant world, and the form of the vitamin C is such that it is resistant to heat and light and able to be easily assimilated by the human body. This herb has multiple positive effects — it is good for the eyes, the digestion, the heart, muscles, and it helps the body absorb iron and calcium from the foods you eat — as you can see, there are good reasons it is considered a leading ayurvedic Rasayana. Other ingredients like Tinospora cordifolia and Gotu Kola also are individually known for their anti-aging properties. We are talking about a whole group of anti-aging herbs. If you take Amrit Kalash regularly, you are detoxifying your body on a day-to-day basis so that ama does not accumulate, and nurturing your brain cells and, indeed, your whole physiology on a day-to-day basis. Is this not going to keep you from aging prematurely? Remember our definition of a Rasayana — and that Amrit Kalash is actually a Rasayana of Rasayanas.
The research on Amrit Kalash shows that it is a powerful scavenger of free radicals, and free radicals have been linked to aging as well as a significant percentage of degenerative disease.
There are different forms of Amrit Kalash. Maharishi Ayurveda has come out with different delivery mechanisms to suit different constitutions. The new Amrit Kalash Nectar tablet, for example, is very easy on the body, relatively easier for the body to assimilate and digest without the traditional carriers — sugar and ghee. This tablet does not put too heavy a load on your digestive system. The tablet is also convenient for people who travel, or those who do not like the taste or the consistency of the Amrit Kalash Nectar paste. Amrit Kalash is a good nutritional tonic for everyone, but I recommend that if a person is under the care of a physician, it is good for him or her to check with the physician. For children also it is a good overall nutritional supplement. I recommend the paste, but if they do not like the taste, they can take the Amrit Kalash Nectar tablet along with the Amrit Kalash Ambrosia tablet. Traditionally, Amrit Kalash is recommended for everyone.
The functions of the different types of herbs in Amrit Kalash are important. There are Medhya and Hridya herbs; herbs that balance the three doshas, like Indian Gooseberry; and there are nourishing herbs such as Indian Asparagus, also an important ingredient in Amrit Kalash. Indian Asparagus is very good for nourishing all the seven types of body tissue, particularly reproductive tissue. It enhances the metabolic processes and thus improves the quality of the body tissues, each of which, as you know, is formed as a result of a series of metabolic processes in the body. The seven tissues are Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Medha, Asthi, Majja and Shukra — nutritional fluid, blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow and reproductive fluid. This herb is especially good for improving the quality and quantity of reproductive fluid (Shukra) in men and women. Shatavari, as this herb is called in Sanskrit, also helps increase the production of ojas.
Ojas is the finest, the most refined by-product of digestion. It is the master coordinator between self, or consciousness, and the functions of the mind and body. It is the subtle substance that maintains life itself. When your physiology produces the optimum quality and quantity of ojas, you are healthy, blissful and vital — your mind and body are getting the sustenance they need to function at optimum levels. Amrit Kalash supports the creation of more ojas in a shorter period of time. It helps the body perform the metabolic processes without creating toxins or ama.
It is said the more ojas your body is producing, the more rapid your spiritual evolution. This is because ojas is the link between self and mind, and then between mind and senses, mind and body, mind and emotions. There are two kinds of ojas: supreme ojas that keeps self and mind coordinated; and supporting ojas, the link between mind and senses, mind and emotions, mind and body. Supporting ojas is what helps attain perfect transformation of food into body tissues.
Amrit Kalash is often called "herbs for enlightenment." You spoke earlier about Sanyog, the science of herb combination. The meticulous combination of many different kinds of herbs in very precise proportions to achieve synergy and balance — that is what makes an ayurvedic Rasayana like Amrit Kalash so powerful in the many diverse positive benefits it imparts to the physiology.
The actual preparation of the formula is involved, and follows precisely the traditional methods that preserve the embodied intelligence of the herbs.
The processing is as important as the formulation itself, for the full efficacy of Amrit Kalash to be felt. In some ways, the processing is even more crucial, especially for complex formulations like Amrit Kalash, which have so many different types of ingredients with different ways to process each. How to mix what, when to mix what, how much to cook, how to compress, extract, etc.
The Sanskrit term I use to describe proper processing is Sanskar. Loosely translated, Sanskar means following the steps for proper preparation laid down in the texts, taking care to ensure that the healing properties of the herbs are preserved intact in the final product. Remember that the ayurvedic approach relies on the healing intelligence of the herbs. So the processing has to ensure that the innate intelligence, which we call chetana, is preserved very carefully in the ultimate formulation. As part of the discussions that occurred when Amrit Kalash was introduced, in order to manufacture and package Amrit Kalash for the present-day consumer, and to take into account aspects like hygiene, quality control and consistency, the Vaidyas (ayurvedic experts) consulted top food technologists and manufacturing engineers to develop specialized machinery and the systems to process and produce Amrit Kalash exactly in the way explained in the texts. Processing is done at state-of-the-art facilities to make sure that world-class standards for quality are not just met, but exceeded. MAPI actually practices dual quality control — one stream of checks to ensure that traditional integrity is maintained, and a second stream of checks to ensure standards of manufacturing and hygiene.
Amrit Kalash is produced in 250 meticulous steps. There are quality checks at every stage of processing from selection of raw material to packaging. The herbs have to be harvested at precise times to ensure maximum potency; the fruits picked at exactly the right degree of maturity. Each ingredient is carefully identified, sorted and prepared for processing. The fruits are cooked at specific temperatures to eliminate degeneration of the essential intelligence of the herbs. The several different parts of the formulation are prepared independently in a meticulous manner as designed by the Vaidyas, and the different parts are blended in at specific stages, maintaining the appropriate temperatures and mixing times necessary to preserve the integrity of the formulation. At no time during the processing is Amrit Kalash exposed to the outside atmosphere until it is packaged. Packaging occurs in hygienic conditions free from atmospheric contamination. Each batch is carefully checked at multiple stages in the process. The controls are stringent. The production process and the formulation both are crucial to the ultimate value of the product.
People are constantly comparing Amrit Kalash with Chavanprash, but the differences are substantial. They compare them because Chavanprash looks somewhat like Amrit Kalash Nectar. They are both dark-colored pastes. But Chavanprash and Amrit Kalash are completely different formulations, and they have completely different purposes.
They may have a few ingredients in common, such as Amalaki, but that's about it. Chavanprash is traditionally taken in the winter months in India if you have colds or coughs — it's a formulation targeted more towards the respiratory system. Amrit Kalash has a much more "global" or holistic impact on the entire physiology, and many of its wide-ranging benefits have been validated by independent research. Taking Chavanprash as a substitute for Amrit Kalash would mean that you do not really get the benefits Amrit Kalash provides to the physiology as a whole. As ayurvedic Rasayanas, each of the two has its place and its role. The role of Amrit Kalash is far wider — to nourish every cell in the body. It is not targeted towards any one system in the physiology. So there is no comparison. In addition, what I said earlier about the processing being so important to the results one gets from Amrit Kalash holds true for Chavanprash also. Unfortunately, many companies do not go to the trouble of meticulously following the different steps required to produce Chavanprash that has traditional integrity, so even for its targeted area of effectiveness many of the brands of Chavanprash available may not be entirely effective.
Both the ancient knowledge from where the formulation and the processes were developed, and modern research seem to be saying the same thing — taking Amrit Kalash regularly can have a diverse, cumulative positive influence on all aspects of health — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. By providing balance and nourishment from the cell up, Amrit Kalash helps you build better health.
Disclaimer: Individual results with Amrit Kalash may vary. Neither the information nor this product is intended to treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Information is provided for educational purposes only. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.