True or false? Ideas and prejudices

AYURVEDA, even if you go to Sri Lanka, Nepal or elsewhere, is completely linked to India, its history, its culture, its philosophies, its way of life.

In this section, we will share our view of some prejudices that have hard skin, and that, if sometimes justified, are only with our Western glasses.

Discovering traditional India from the inside, it is necessarily accept to change glasses, the time of the exploration or more ...

  • Dirt and microbes
  • Castes
  • Death, reincarnation, karma
  • Gurus and spirituality
  • Polytheism
  • Money and poverty
  • Begging
  • Animal cohabitation
  • Kali Yuga and cosmic cycles (kalpas and pralayas)
  • Knowledge, belief, experience: the three facets of Hinduism.




According to the Indian tradition - as taught by Krishna in Arjuna in the Bhagavad Ghita - there are 3 karmas: sanchita, prarabdha and agami, or rather 3 names for the three aspects of karma (tri-karma).

The word karma, whose primary meaning is "action," can be used in many ways.

In Ayurveda, panchakarma means 5 actions, or functions, but when we speak of "karma" in general it refers to the laws of causes and effects that govern the development of any object or creature according to time and space. It is conceivable, philosophically, that this law of causality, successive sequence of causes and effects does not occur only in the temporal mode, and sometimes even in an inverted order, but the concept of tri-karma applies well in the dimension in which we live.

In our Western society, the Sanskrit word karma has become synonymous with destiny, fate, etc., and in fact associated with the memories of the past, whatever their origin.

In fact, how does this concept of karma in India work, that action of samskaras (productions) that nourish and animate samsara (the cycle of cycles), law of causes and effects, law of actions and concordant reactions?

  1. Seen from an individual point of view, sanchita karma is the action that has been done in the past and the consequence of which has not yet been born, it is an action in memory, potential, waiting for manifestation,
  2. The prarabdha karma is the name of karma when it occurs in the present moment. The memory of the action is manifested, it is the consequence of the cause,
  3. and agami karma is the name of karma when our reaction energized the karmic memory, to make it last, ie, revived the "karma pump". Seen from the moment our karma is called then agami, but immediately after will take again its name of sanchita, and one does not know its next manifestation.

For the Indians, it is not very important to know when the sanchita karma goes back, but especially to stop feeding this process and thus to no longer generate agami karma, this is what we call the state anagami (a or year for privative, without). The anagami state produces moksha, the liberation ... among the various techniques to manage "with accuracy" the prarabdha karma, one finds in particular the attention, the meditation, the bhakti, all which will allow a discriminatory vigilance (viveka) off mentalization.

Some will say, however, that no longer producing Agami Karma is certainly a minimum, but how to act on sanchita karma? The answer is Prayascitta (remorse, regret), of which we find a very well-formulated equivalent in the Hawaiian tradition of Ho'oponopono.

The goal of the  Ho'oponopono  is to "make correct correct", ie in the right, and avoid conveying useless memories. It is also based on individual responsibility and interdependence. The methods proposed by the Ho'oponopono are clearly operative and directly applicable for this liberating cleansing and it was worth talking about here, because it is really another access to the health of the "me", and it can be greatly useful for those who expect Ayurveda to regenerate completely.

See :

This notion of regret is also found in Buddhism, especially in the Mahayana (in a context of responsibility related to interdependance, not of sin) and also in Christianity (in a context of guilt and sin).




Reincarnation is a vast subject where everyone goes about their beliefs, their proofs etc ...

And in fact, in India, the situation is not clearer, because each caste has its vision, and in the caste itself there are divergent opinions, etc.

Reincarnation supposes that there is re-incorporation. But reincorporation of what? from whom? of my little self to which I am attached, of course, with my little habits, my little needs, what I like and dislike, in short, the continuity of what I believe to be.

Until then we understand; but it begins to get worse when the Indians differentiate metempsychosis, reincarnation and transmigration, with variants among Buddhists or jains. For it is not only this world (loka), and the individual soul (jivatman) that animates man exists only by the conditions of space and time that host it.

For Hinduism as for Buddhism, it is the opportunity that makes the thief, it is the svadharma that is the jivatman - in short: it is the "program of life", the setting in motion of the " function "of life as human, which generates the individual consciousness, (jiva) of the Universal Soul (Atman) - and this program of life is the inheritance of a set of" karmas ", individual, collective, transgenerational or other ...

Individuation is one of Ishwara's means of manifesting its potentialities.


The transmigration of souls is, usually after death, the supposed passage of a soul from a body or certain elements of the soul or body into new forms of existence. These forms of existence may not be in this world where we live, but in other eons, other lokas, other universes.

According to René Guénon traditional doctrines do not confuse transmigration, metempsychosis and reincarnation. Here is his definition of transmigration:

"the transition from being to other states of existence, which are defined by conditions entirely different from those to which human individuality is subject, which says transmigration essentially means a change of state. teach all the traditional doctrines of the East, and we have many reasons to think that this teaching was also that of the "mysteries" of antiquity, even in heterodox doctrines like Buddhism, there is no question of something else, in spite of the reincarnationist interpretation of the Europeans today: it is precisely the true doctrine of transmigration, understood according to the meaning given to it by pure metaphysics, which makes it possible to refute absolutely and definitively the idea of ​​reincarnation, and it is even only on this ground that such a refutation is possible. "

According to Ananda K Coomaraswamy, the Indian tradition speaks only of one transmigrant, it is the Atman, the Self, the Universal Soul, the individual self being only a form (rupa) in the time taken by the Atma under the impulse of karma, a little like the wave, which is only a modification of the ocean under the pressure of the wind (comparable to karma).


Reincarnation (return to the flesh) is often regarded as a doctrine, dogma, superstition, or belief that a certain immaterial and individual principle ("soul", "vital substance", "individual consciousness", "energy" "Or" spirit "in a Christian context) performs successive life passages in different bodies (human, animal or plant according to the theories). According to this doctrine, at the death of the physical body, the "soul" leaves the latter to live, after a new birth, another body.

It has been assimilated in turn to the transmigration of souls, and to the concepts of metempsychosis, palingenesis, and the eternal return.


The metempsychosis (from ancient Greek metempsúkhôsis, displacement of the soul, of psukhá) is the passage, the transfer of a soul into another body, which it will animate. Metempsychosis is the belief that the same soul can animate successively several bodies of humans or animals, as well as plants: the transmigration of souls can intervene not only in the human but also in the non-human, beasts or plants.


Metensomatosis refers to the passage from one body to another, and not from a soul that goes from one body to another. Buddhism believes rather in the metensomatosis, since it is a religion where the soul does not exist, and where the self is only an illusion of the individual identity which is extinguished in emptiness; that said, psychic elements transmigrate, as one might see in certain characters (physical or psychic) from parents to children, in the Lamasist phenomenon of tulku, improperly called "reincarnations" of a llama. Buddhist writings in fact use a concept significantly different from that of reincarnation: punarbhava, which is translated as "re-birth". - The word "metensomatosis" comes from the Greek metensomatosis, which means "displacement of the body".


Palingenesis is the term used by the Stoic philosophers to refer to the reconstitution or apocatastasis of the world after the Fire destroyed it, in an eternal Return. The word used, in Greek, means "birth again", "regeneration". Such is cosmic palingenesis.

But palingenesis is, more simply, the return to life, in nature, of the various elements of nature. Plants feed on minerals, animals feed on plants, men feed on animals or their products; breathing everything alive assimilates germs and dust ... In this way, the elements of life are exchanged, redistributed after death, everywhere, always. This is universal palingenesis. Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed (Anaxagore Clazomenes, fifth century BC).

To conclude :

We have the choice ... some think back in a human form, some non-human, others continue, but in another dimension, others accept the principle of reincorporation memories by parts, without continuum of individuality others think that individuality is not being, and that it is human stasis that generates the notion of individuality, so it disappears, which is borne by karmic laws not no individual order, etc ...

In practice, in the Indo-Buddhist world, there are devas who incarnate, avatars, bodhisattvas, tulkus, phenomena of living reincarnations (also in the West, like Bridey Murphy, Om Seti, Edgar Cayce) but that does not presume causes of the process, even if it is observable.

There are also transgenerational presumptive memories that can be actualized, and one can understand (after all, the little Wolfgang was he not the son of Leopold?), But also reminiscences curiously inexplicable if not by the presence an exo-genetic heritage.

In Ayurveda, only the taking into account by a vaidya jyotish can lead to a pan-karmic analysis. It is usually limited to the state of equilibrium (prakruti) as it manifests itself in this life.




This is a subject of great concern to our compatriots, the division of society into castes.

In fact, it is necessary to differentiate the traditional castes (varnas) from the modern castes which are a multiplication of the four traditional castes, and sometimes well beyond. There are also the jatis, castes of craft, castes of social position, clans, etc ... in fact everything that constitutes a hierarchy, a classification by power and wealth. We are far from the original caste system, which has been completely distorted.

What was the caste system before it became hereditary and degenerates?

The caste system historically introduced in the Rig Veda, then subsequently integrated into the laws of Manou, is therefore in solidarity with the Brahmanic tradition; it is abundantly justified and explained in the sacred writings and their comments.

Varna means color, and so each caste is associated with a color

  • to Brahmins comes Knowledge, jnana (color: white)
  • to the kshatriyas the protection of religion (rites, temples) and the population, bhakti (color: red)
  • to the Vaishyas the responsibility of economy and trade, karma (color: yellow)
  • and to shudras the availability to other castes to serve them in the performance of their duties. (black color)

It was a system based on state duties, not on rights.

(NB: the terms jnana, bhakti and karma are associated with the tri-marga, the triple way that leads to moksha, the liberation of the chains of samsara)

Symbolically, these four castes divide the space like the cardinal points, but there are in fact 3 castes of "twice-born" (dwija) and a caste, the shudras, which has not yet "acquired" the qualities of the other three castes.

For those who know the work of Bandler and Grinder on Neuro Linguistic Programming, we can make a very interesting comparison here. They noticed, statistically, that the population could be segmented according to the sensory dominants: 40% visual, 30% auditory and 20% kinesthetic, 10% indefinite. (we find here surprisingly the Pythagorean tetratkys ...)

  • The Brahmans have the function of knowing, seeing (vid / vidya), (visual predominance?)
  • The Kshatriyas have the function of listening to the Brahmans, the rites, to love and protect, bhakti, karuna, (auditory dominance?)
  • The Vaishyas have the function of touching, feeling, tasting the material and circulating it. (kinesthetic predominance?)

These three two-born castes have characteristics close to what naturally differentiates humans in their behavioral potentialities. Is this really a coincidence?

Very often, the vaidyas belonged to the Brahman caste. Nowadays, Ayurveda is taught indifferently of belonging to a caste or religion.

Concerning the "jatis", which are the factual castes, as they have been organized outside the symbolic and traditional framework, there have been thousands of them for centuries. They constitute a hermetic partitioning of society into autonomous subassemblies and have a strong influence on the organization of marriages, business, social solidarity, etc. They are contradictory to the democratic spirit of the new India. but also to the traditional and orthodox view of castes.




... it is a foolish presumption to go disdainful and condemn for forgery what does not seem likely to us.

MONTAIGNE, "Essais", Chapitre XVI




The gurukula is a mode of transmission of knowledge that reminds us of what preceptors were in past centuries. The guru (the one who transmits knowledge) has himself been trained by a guru. The object of transmission can be practical, intellectual or spiritual, knowing that the three orders in the Indian tradition are inseparable.

Unlike modern education, which can give a pupil the right to teach with an average of more than 10 out of 20, in the gurukula, this is only possible if one reaches 20 out of 20. This level of Extreme demand has thus made it possible to transmit living and intact knowledge for generations.

The counterpart of this mutual commitment to knowledge is the guarantee of a multilevel exchange, physical, psychic and spiritual, without seeking financial quantification. An authentic guru is not paid, an authentic student will seek to serve to show his motivation. There is indeed no gurukula without deep motivation. This apparent devotion to the guru has been interpreted as a submission, but is in fact a mark of respect, esteem and trust in the one who lights the way.




Some words that come from Hinduism or Ayurveda (as guru, reincarnation, mantras, massages) have been added meanings far removed from what they really represent. The word meditation also has its excesses, and you will find below comments on what it is and what it is not (seen from India).

Meditation is concentration

False. Meditation is actually an open state, of de-concentration. Concentration comes from itself when one is in a state of attention and meditation. Concentration requires effort, a will, whereas meditation is a state of presence and relaxation of the mind. It is a letting go, and as the ripe fruit falls from the tree, thoughts fall and give way to full and entire, relaxed attention that it is then quite possible to focus on a specific object.

In fact, according to Patanjali, attention leads to concentration (Dharana), which leads to meditation (Dhyana), which leads to mindfulness (Samadhi), which is pure feeling of being, awareness and joy ( sat-chit-ananda). The common denominator is the attention, dharana, dhyana and samadhi being various states of this attention, from the most individual to the most universal.

NB: the word concentration evokes a notion of forced regrouping, but the word focusing is more accurate, compared to the ocular accomodation.

Meditation is a religious practice

False. In India, meditation and yoga have long been associated with Indian tradition, and thus with Hinduism. But Hinduism can not be considered a religion in the sense of the book religions. There is no proper dogma, and everything is based on Knowledge. The way in which this knowledge dresses in multiple forms in order to reach each one according to its capacity of prehension, intellection, or devotion is its own and creates subdivisions that do not harm in any way to its unity.

To meditate one must be seated in the lotus position.

Patanjali's writings on yoga are so precise that it would be more accurate to consider them as more than poetic scientists. One of the sutras (texts, aphorisms), the Sthira Sukham Asanam is very explicit about the need not to force: Sukha means ease, comfort, pleasant, easy, Sthira firmness, vigilance and Asanam it is the posture.

To be beneficial to meditation, a stable and comfortable posture, whatever it may be, is preferable.

Meditation is the control of the mind

False. Meditation is not the enemy of thought, and does not seek control. In one of its phases, it is even a mode of thinking, but non-verbal.

The Rishi Vyasa wrote: "When the memory is purified of memories that come from the conventional use of words, when the inner knowledge, inherent in concentration (samadhiprajna) is freed from any relation (vikalpa) with the ideas of inference. or of oral tradition, the target object remains as it is in itself and as it is no more, and is then specifically characterized as having its own form and nothing but that form. "

One of the effects of meditation is the disappearance of the influence of the spontaneous movements of thought (cittavrittis), and thus independence from the karmic flows that thought tends to manifest (prarabdhakarma).

Nonverbal thinking (which does not threaten the thinker ...) is the gateway to meditation.


Meditation is an escape

False. Insofar as meditation requires attention, and therefore presence, there can be no escape. On the contrary, there is an integration of present facts, whether external or internal, in the mode of observation, then of assimilation into a perception that transcends rhetorical contradictions.

You have to meditate for hours to come to a result

Yes and no. There can be no search for results as this would be a mental project. But practicing - as an athlete would - can integrate the process with increasing ease. Training is in no way the cause of the state of meditation, but a favorable element.

Meditation is incompatible with modern life

False. To meditate does not move away from the world, on the contrary. Being fully in an action with a right discriminating conscience is a form of meditation. Folklore is not necessary. On the other hand, it must not be a refuge with totemic objects that reassure, a ritual at a fixed time that would be lacking in case of impediment, but rather a way of being spontaneous that releases individual karmic legacies and reveals another life, less dependent, less neurotic, more joyful.

Hindu meditation and Buddhist meditation are very different

False. Only denominations change; samatha bhavana would be closer to dharana and dhyana, and vipassana bhavana to samadhi.

Fo readings : (among others) Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, "Swami Siddheshwarananda's Yoga-Vedanta Meditation" (Hinduism), Buddha's Satipatthana Sutta by Nyanaponika Thera (Buddhism)