|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 151-153
Ritu Vidyā: A Book Review
Department of Ayurved Samhita Siddhanta, PDEA'S College of Ayurved and Research Centre, Pune, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Submission||22-Nov-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||06-Jul-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||10-Nov-2022|
Dr. K S Divyashree
Department of Ayurved Samhita Siddhanta, PDEA'S College of Ayurved and Research Centre, Nigdi, Pune, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Divyashree K S. Ritu Vidyā: A Book Review. J Appl Conscious Stud 2022;10:151-3
Author : Sinu Joseph
Publisher : Notion Press
Edition : 1st edition
Year of Publication : September 2020
Language : English
Pages : 388
Price : Rs. 400
| About the Author|| |
Ms Sinu Joseph is the cofounder and managing trustee of the Mythri Speaks Trust which was founded in 2014. She has done extensive research across India regarding menstrual practices. She is one of the pioneers of menstrual education in India. She has been working in the field of menstruation since 2009, traveling across rural India interacting with thousands of adolescent girls and women across the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram. This book has been written after her decade long work.
| Structure of the Book|| |
The book is divided in two parts, first part deals with menstruation in science. It contains seven chapters. Second part is dedicated to menstrual practices in different religion. There are six chapters in this section.
This section gives a glimpse of Indian knowledge systems – āyurveda, Shaṭ Darshana, Yoga, and Shat Chakra. This also gives a brief knowledge about origin of āyurveda, differences, and similarities between other Indian system and modern systems, decline of ancient sciences, and the rise of modern science.
Chapter one deals with menarche and the different celebration associated with it. Importance of menstrual memory and its effect on subsequent menstrual cycles are explained with real-life examples. Scientific decoding of various menarche rituals followed in India are given with the concept of free radicals, correlating it to the popular concept of āma in āyurveda. Chapter two is exclusively for decoding menstrual practices through āyurveda. Tridoṣha, Sapta dhātu, Rajaswalā Paricharyā, types and characteristics of Prakriti (body constitution), and menstrual characteristics based on Prakriti is explained. Logical explanation to different rituals is given. Chapter three explains the process of menstruation and its impact on women's health. The process acts as natural detoxification for women with the expulsion of menstrual blood. Correlation to āma, a unique concept of āyurveda is given. Chapter four addresses the practice of menstrual seclusion which is still being practiced by some communities in parts of the country. Firsthand account of difficulties faced by the rural women during menstruation, the pros and cons of menstrual hut are discussed. Chapter five deals with another important aspect – Sports and menstruation and about the difficulties faced by the female athletes and sportswomen during menstruation and how it affects their performance. The difference between traditional (like Kaḷaripayaṭṭu or classical dance trainers) and modern sports/dance practice is highlighted. Traditional sports require the women to take time off during menstruation, whereas, in modern sports, women are told to battle it out and be equal to men, which results in frequent injury, troubled menstruation, difficulty during childbirth, and under performance in chosen sport. This section also throws light on impact of Tridoṣha on performance and Shāririka Prakriti. Chapter six describes a unique topic-celestial influence on menstrual cycles. Here, the author with the help of an astrologer has tried to explain how to predict one's menstrual cycle in advance. Influence of moon's cycle, influence of sun's cycle, and influence of other planets on menstrual patterns were taken into consideration to draw the conclusion. The whole section is based on the knowledge of Jyotiṣha Shāstra. The author has tried to make it simple with basic terminologies of Indian Astrology such as, Rāshi, Graha, Nakṣhatra, and Lagna and has given detailed step-wise directions to calculate the menstrual date. Chapter seven describes the stages in menstrual cycle as per āyurveda. Rajasrava Kāla, Ritu Kāla, and Ritu vyatīta Kāla are explained in detail and the effects it does on each individual. In this section, a detailed Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) as prescribed in āyurveda Saṃhita are also given in the form of a table.
This section is dedicated to the perception of menstruation in different religions, temples related to menstruation, mantras, and their effect on menstruation, and menstrual practices in Christianity and Islam.
Chapter eight deals with the impact of Hindu temples on menstruation. This elaborately deals with the science behind construction of temples including Vāstu of a temple, the Chaitanyam of the deity in the form of an idol and how a temple impacts a human body. Shaṭ Chakras and their influence on the body are explained. Chapter nine and chapter 11 are related to two temples in India – Chengannur Bhagavati Temple in Kerala and Kāmākhya Temple in Assam, where menstruation is celebrated as a festival. These chapters discuss in detail about the spiritual aspect of menstruation and the possible impact they have on women and menstruation. Chapter ten is about Mantras and their effect on menstrual cycles. It explains how reciting certain Mantras can impact the menstrual health 25 either positively or negatively. Chapter 12 is related to a mythological story of menstruation as a result of Indra's sin. Here, the author discusses the need to understand the stories told in Purāṇas or Upanishat with reference to context and not just word-to-word translation. Chapter 13 is dedicated to menstrual practices in Christianity and Islam and how their regulations are similar/different to the ones explained in Hinduism.
There is a separate notes section, which consists of information on Darshana shāstra, sapta dhātus, Panchamahābhūtas and sub types of Doṣha, Shaṭ rasa, and Shaṭ Chakra. The author explains Sānkhya, Vaisheṣhika, Nyāya Darshana, and Pātanjala Yoga Sutra in simple yet easily understandable words.
| Discussion|| |
India may be on the verge of becoming a global leader through its economical and technological empowerment, yet menstruation is one topic which is still viewed as taboo. Creating awareness about menstruation and related health issues is a major task in rural area.
This book written after an extensive work and interactions with rural women, visits to temples, and research is an eye opener of sort. The book gives a different approach toward menstruation and related rituals or practices. The book also highlights the necessity of creating awareness about not just menstrual hygiene but the reason behind following menstrual practices. This book is a mixture of science, religion, and spirituality. Menstruation is viewed from all points and author has tried to give the best possible scientific explanation with the help of evidences. When viewed from modern research methodology point, the book may not be termed as scientific enough with hard evidences, but as the author herself states, evidences can be of different types and personal experiences of women she interacted with, forms the main part of this book.
This book creates a platform where one can try to find the answers based on scientific and systemic approach of ancient Indian knowledge. Author has explained logical reasoning for most of the menstrual practices which modern science may call a myth or superstition. For example, Sushruta Saṃhita forbids women during menstruation to indulge in sexual intercourse, excessive talking, excessive laughing, exposure to loud noise, crying, applying collyrium, sleeping during day, combing the hair, paring the nails, taking bath, oil massage etc. Each of these is explained scientifically with the help of relation with Tridoṣha, Dhātu, and Prakriti.
The topic of menstrual seclusion is a very sensitive one. While in India and other developing countries, the practice of menstrual seclusion is considered oppressive and discriminating; in Europe, a movement called Red Tent is gaining popularity where women gather in red-colored tents set up in public spaces to take time out, share their stories, rest, and listen to each other. These meetings are organized around lunar calendar and take place on the new moon or the full moon. Red tents apparently help women honor the menstrual/feminine cycle. Author strongly states that for the modern world that is starved of a cultural acceptance of menstruation, movements like Red Tent are an exotic experience. For the Indian and Nepalese women who actually need it and to whom it belongs, it is a basic right that is snatched away in the name of women empowerment.
Foreseeing one's menstrual date every month may seem like a farfetched idea, but the author has painstakingly explained every single detail of how it is done. With some practice and interest, it can be achieved. This would definitely help a woman to plan her activities accordingly. However, the chapter which deals with celestial influence and menstruation is quite complex and not easily comprehensible unless one is familiar with Jyotiṣha shāstra.
| Conclusion|| |
This book gives a collective idea about menstruation, starting from menarche covering all aspects with religious, spiritual, scientific explanations of rules, and regulations related to menstruation. It is a good read for those who want to find out the true reason behind the many rules and regulations without terming them as superstition or myth. Both students of āyurveda and common people would definitely benefit by reading this book.