AYURVEDA VIEW ON A PERSONS LIFE
The Ayurvedic system of classifying one’s psycho-physiological constitution according to the predominance of elements gives an interesting insight into our unique sexual behaviour. Our body-type can be determined by completing an Ayurvedic questionnaire or through consultation with an Ayurvedic physician. The three main body-types and their sexual characteristics are as follows.
Vata (air & ether)
A Vata lover tends to be erratic and romantic. Mental foreplay such as flowery poetry or stimulating discussion is the best aphrodisiac for Vata. Touch and sensuality is very soothing and relaxing for highly-strung Vata types. An oil massage combined with soothing music is the ultimate therapy to set the mood. Since Vata people suffer from dramatically fluctuating energy levels they are only interesting in making love when they have the energy, more often in the morning rather than the evening.
Vata types should avoid sexual excess as it depletes their energy and strains their nervous system. Since their body’s are drier than the other constitutions Vata types are advised to take regular reproductive tonics and rejuvenative drinks after fluid loss.
The best partner for a Vata Body -Type : Kapha Pitta or Pitta Kapha
Pitta (fire & water)
Pitta can personify the archetypical hot Latin lovers. They have a natural passion and gusto for making love. Their ego- centred desire for strong gratification and stimulation can result in a lack of sensitivity and tenderness with their partner. Sex can turn into a competitive display of prowess for Pitta as well as a vent for suppressed hostility. Pitta have to consciously tune into the needs of their partner and avoid dominating or rushing them. Pitta types always appreciate visual stimulation hence gentle lighting, nice garments and flowers will heighten their arousal. Pitta are the body-type most prone to impotence due to over-excess. They can avoid burn- out by channelling sexual energy into creative pursuits and taking cooling rejuvenatives and a cool shower after sex. Pitta needs to learn to redirect their emotions through their heart rather than through their genitals.
The ideal partner for a Pitta Body-Type: Kapha, Kapha- Pitta or Pitta- Kapha
Kapha (water & earth)
Ancient figures of the fertility goddess exemplify the qualities of a Kapha lover. These body-types are made for love. Embodying the ideal qualities of endurance, affection, sensuality and sensitivity, Kaphas can be both mother and lover to spouse. They have abundant fertility, making them “good breeders.” This explains why in India the chubbier body build of a kapha is a desirable feature in a partner. Calm, gentle and romantic lovers they can become boring and lazy if unmotivated. Kaphas are also the most likely type to become co-dependant and clingy. They need constant encouragement to develop their own interests, exploring new avenues of self-development.
The preferable partner for a Kapha Body- Type: Anyone with enthusiasm, passion and motivation
PHASES OF SEX THROUGH LIFE
Ayurveda divides life into four main phases during which the role of sex changes. The purpose of these phases is to bring an individual fulfilment and satiation of their material desires so they may then transcend material attachments and ultimately attain spiritual enlightenment.
The typical phases of life are as follows:
1) Youth Brahmacharyam > Birth up to 25 years, > celibate student phase
2) Prime Gaarhasthyam > 25 years to 50 years, > family life
3) Maturity Vaanaprastham > 50 years to 65 years, > retire from worldly duties
4) Sunset years Sanyasam > 65 years until death, > renunciation
BRAHMACHARYAM Birth - 25 yrs
Brahma means the knowledge leading to self-realisation and charya means regimen. This is the stage of life where one learns to control one's senses in order to focus on study and attain a ripened understanding about life. Brahmacharya is also the third rule of social conduct (Yama) advised in the eight-limbed path of yoga.
Control of sexual energy is of special significance in teenage years when the libido hormone testosterone is at its peak. Sexual stimulation at this time will promote testosterone which is linked with hostility and agitation. Reducing sexual stimulus will help to stabilise testosterone and re-direct sexual energy to develop the mind and body. Physical, mental and spiritual maturity is developing during this time. It is the time to build one's character, establish positive habits and develop insight into one's role in society. This is a period of concentrated learning in order to gain wisdom that will enable one to navigate through life's stormy weather.
Ayurveda advises complete sexual abstinence during this period so that one can channel sexual energy into pursuits of mental and physical development. Emotionally one is deemed too immature to deal with the psychological implications and responsibilities entailed by a sexual relationship.
GAARHASTHYAM 25 - 50 yrs
" Love doesn't consist of gazing at each other but in looking together in the same direction." - St. Francis of Xupery
When one feels emotionally and physically mature enough for the responsibilities of marriage it's the right time to seek out a partner. Traditionally this is the only context for sexual relations. Through the sanctity of marriage one obtains blessings from divine forces, family and friends. Indian Saint, Swami Sivananda warns that anyone we wilfully have sex with will one day be our spouse, either in this life or future lives. He says we will have to continue this relationship until a harmonious relationship is established. This may be one of the reasons that divorce rates are very low in India, there is a feeling that unresolved problems with one’s spouse will simply come in another form.
There are many different ways of meeting a suitable partner described in Vatsayana's "Kama Sutra ". The conclusion is that the marriage based on love called the gandharva marriage brings the most happiness to a couple.
Indian society was very coy when dealing with matters of the heart. There are many sweet details given concerning the means to attract a prospective partner and entice them into marriage. This usually involved the cunning involvement of the desired partner's family or friends as go-betweens. Once a prospective spouse was found compatibility was scrutinised from all aspects including astrological, familial, physical, mental and spiritual. Often the couple would not have formally met but are attracted to each other by hearing about or seeing each other. If the couple are deemed incompatible by any of these calculations, the union is rarely formed. This is quite different from the basis of many Western unions which are often based on subjective passion and attraction. The Veda has a saying which warns against this: “Relationships commencing in passion’s raging fire often end in the coolest ashes”
The svayamvara marriage of the past was practiced by warrior princesses. When a princess desired to get married her parents would invite all interested suitors to come and apply for their daughter's hand in marriage. Many qualified and attractive suitors would assemble from various regions. They would compete in different tests of physical and mental strength so as to display their qualities to the onlooking princess. When the competitions were over the princess would place a flower garland over the neck of the man she chose as her husband.
The ideal marriage according to Ayurveda is when a woman loves and revers her husband as a guru and in turn he loves and revers her as a goddess. Neither are considered spiritually superior, but that the act of loving is the means to transformation and the purpose of marriage is to help one another to become greater than they could alone. The saintly Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashrama describes marriage :
" To unite your physical existences and your material interests, to associate yourselves so as to face together the difficulties and successes, the defeats and victories of life - this is the very basis of marriage - but you know already that it does not suffice. To be one in aspiration and ascension, to advance to the same step on the spiritual path- such is the secret of a durable union".
VAANAPRASTHAM 50 - 65 yrs.
Retiring from worldly duties and living in a secluded peaceful place, concentrating on spiritual practices is known as Vaanaprastham. Traditionally this is the phase of life when a married couple begin to gradually strip away all their material entanglements, turning to spiritual practices with increased dedication. The Vedic concept of the goal of life is to transcend material suffering and attain a blissful state of self-realisation. In order accept a new spiritual reality in life one must purify the heart of selfish desires such as anger, hate, greed and lust.
Vaanaprastham is the period during which work and family obligations are slowly reduced in preparation for the period of total renunciation or sanyasam. Ideally at this time one's children are mature and independant and one is financially secure. The body is starting to show signs of aging, a reminder that death is inevitable and preparation to face it must begin. The ancient epic "The Mahabharata" illustrates human's unwillingness to face the reality of death when the epic's hero Yuddhistirsa is questioned in order to save his brothers life. The Yaksha asked Yuddhisthira "What is the greatest wonder in the world?" to which Yuddhisthira replies "Day after day and hour after hour, people die and corpses are carried along, yet the onlookers never realise that they are to die one day, but think they will live forever. This is the greatest wonder of the world." Vaanaprastham is the phase of life when one starts to seriously prepare for this reality, a time when one may retire from employment and dedicate one's time to philanthropic pursuits leaving plenty of time for contemplation and meditation.
Any superfluous material possessions may be given away at this time and a couple may choose to move to a simple, peaceful dwelling, keeping possessions to a minimum. During this time interest in sexual activity naturally declines as one has come to a state of sexual satiation and developed a greater attachment for less sensually oriented pursuits. Plato once quoted an old man on this subject who said "In old age you become quite free of passions of this sort and they leave you in peace; and when your desires lose their intensity and relax, you get a release from slavery to your many passions."
Society today is highly suspicious and even panicked at the hint of any weakening of the sexual drive but the opposite is true in Vedic culture. People who have naturally raised their energy and interests above that of sexual pleasure and developed a higher consciousness are revered as the highest models of wisdom. With age, interest in sex naturally declines, despite many deluded people's attempts to retain their sexual drive with the use of endangered animal's parts such as tiger's penis' and rinosaurus’ horns as aphrodisiacs. A constant preoccupation with sex is not healthy; nor is it in humanity's highest interest. Sexuality should never be suppressed or a source of guilt yet as one's passion to enjoy another's body subdues with age one naturally turns to more enduring and enriching ways to relate to one's partner. The lasting union is marked by a shared passion for life, not just for sex. This is the process of Vaanaprastham.
SANYASAM 65 to death
"As advancing age cools his passions he turns to think of his creator, to study religious subjects and to acquire divine knowledge.”- Ananga Ranga by Kalyana Malla
Sanyasam means "selecting the most appropriate path." This is when the inward journey really begins. At this time the husband and wife see each other purely as partners in the journey to self- realisation. They will have minimal contact in physical matters and aim to spend their time whole heartedly propagating and investigating the highest spiritual truths of life. Sometimes they may choose to live separately as they fully absorb themselves in spiritual practices and pilgrimages to holy places. This is the time for burning up one's vasanas or innate material desires.
Not everyone is expected to enter the sanyasa phase of life as it requires a strong dedication and desire to devote oneself fully to spiritual life. Traditionally this path is only taken up by true spiritual warriors, those driven to experience the rare nectar of complete spiritual surrender.