Did you know??
The other day I mentioned that Ayurveda approaches herbs through a science of energetics. I also mentioned how the properties of herbs are related systematically according to their taste, elements, heating or cooling effects, effect after digestion and other special potencies they may possess… As promised, this week, I will elaborate on this!
Lets talk about taste.
Taste (Rasa): The Sanskrit word for taste, rasa, has many meanings. All of them help us understand the importance of taste in ayurveda. Rasa means “essence.” Taste thus indicates the essence of a plant, and so is perhaps the prime factor in understanding its qualities. Rasa means “sap,” so that the taste of an herb reflects the properties of the sap which invigorates it.
Rasa means “appreciation,” “artistic delight,” a “musical note.” Thus taste communicates feelings, which again is the essence of the plant. Through it the beauty and power of the plant can be perceived. Rasa means “circulation,” “to feel lively,” “to dance,” all of which is reflected in the energizing power of taste.
Ayurveda states that the taste of an herb is not incidental, but is an indication of its properties. Different tastes possess different effects. Usually we do not connect taste with therapeutic property. With foods we consider taste for enjoyment value. Taste directly affects our nervous system through the Prana, the life-force in the mouth, which is connected to the Prana in the brain. Taste stimulates nerves, awakens mind and senses to make us lively. Thus taste sets our own rasa or vital fluid in motion. Through stimulating Prana, particularly the gastric nerves, taste affects agni and enhances the power of digestion. It is the good taste of food that is necessary to awaken our agni for proper digestion.
For this reason, bland food may not be nourishing in spite of its vitamin or mineral content. Without stimulation of agni, there is no real power of digestion. Ayurvedic medicine has, therefore, always included the science of cooking with the right spices.