Originally published in BRANCHES Magazine
Twelve summers ago I studied pulse diagnosis with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his ashram outside New Delhi. Every night students gathered in his garden under the stars to meditate and absorb the wisdom of Vedic knowledge. Maharishi was joined by Balraj Maharishi, an expert on Ayur-Vedic herbs, and Brihaspati Dev Triguna, an expert on pulse diagnosis and herbal preparations.
All of the course participants soon discovered that taking a tiny spoonful of a mysterious sweet-tasting herbal powder before meditations made our experiences deeper and more blissful. This was my first taste of rasaynas, herbal preparations said to promote "longevity, memory, freedom disorders, youthfulness, excellence of luster, complexion and voice, and optimum strength of physique and sense organs."
Rasayna means "that which supports Rasa." Rasa corresponds to plasma and nourishes the whole body. Rasaynas stimulate produces of Ojas, a subtle substance that links the physiology with consciousness and confers strength, immunity and happiness.
Our "meditation powder" came from an ancient formula handed down in secret and given by Balraj to Maharishi. To produce it, Balraj and Triguna replicated the exact technology of the ancient Ayur-Vedic texts. Each of the dozens of herbs are harvested in the right stage of the life cycle, at the correct time of the moon. They are dried naturally, mixed and grounded repeatedly in a specific sequence. The herbs are never heated or subjected to harsh solvents, which would destroy their intelligence.
The result is Maharishi Amrit Kalash or MAK. It is an excellent free radical scavenger more powerful than vitamins C or E.
Researchers have discovered that MAK enhances immunity, protects the cardiovascular system, helps the body fight cancer and protects it from the side effects of chemotherapy and other toxins. It has anti-aging and rejuvenation properties, no side effects and produces a general state of well-being.
Through Western pharmacology is based on medicinal plants, it has focused on isolating an "active ingredient" and then synthesizing different forms of it. This expensive, time-consuming process is good for the pharmaceutical companies because it yields a patentable substance. but these single active ingredients have side effects.
"Plants, which have the Soma for your king,
who are scattered over the earth ... give vigor to this infirm body.
Let not the digger hurt you, nor the sick person for who I dig you up..."
- Rig Veda, 10th Mandala (97)
Ayur-Veda, along with other comprehensive indigenous medical systems, recognizes that is the intelligence of the whole herb that is most effects. Maharishi Ayur-Veda makes the analogy that an herb like a tuning fork with a certain frequency. When we are sick, some sequence of the creation of our physiology from DNA is out of balance. That sequence needs to be reset by the presence of the proper frequency that is present in the right herb.
Where single herbs can be dangerous, rasayanas are complex combinations that include natural antidotes and herbs that "best friends." The result is synergistic combination much more powerful than the sum of the effects of the individual herb.
One night toward the end of my course we were sitting in the garden. The moon was nearing full again we sank into deep meditation. Balraj, who seldom spoke, told us through Maharishi that our collective silence inspired him to reveal a message from the king of all medicinal herbs, the Soma plant. The Soma had come to him in a recent meditation to say that all the medicinal plants of the world were eager to help create world peace.
As the silence grew even deeper, a gentle breeze brought the scent of night flowers. It seems to me that the ancient Vedic civilization had come to life again in that garden. I could almost hear the intelligent herbs whispering their secrets to us.
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