Acupuncture — its Origin in India
Awarded “Best Paper” in 4th International Conference of Oriental Medicine in Kyoto, Japan -1985, Co-sponsored by World Health Organization, and published in British Journal of Acupuncture , 1985-Volume 8, No. 2
It may sound rather astonishing and a very eye opening fact that Acupuncture and its Five Element theory which is fast gaining popularity around the globe as an art of healing for a variety of ailments did, in fact, originate in India, where through Buddhism monks it spread through out the East in countries like China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Sri- Lanka. It is also interesting to observe that Acupuncture gained popularity in those regions where Buddhism is practiced as a form of religion. Due to many reasons Buddhism could not flourish in India, and neither could Acupuncture, which is mentioned in the Vedas 7000 years back, not only as an art of healing but also as a potent anaesthetic tool during surgical procedures. The path of man’s self-discovery transformed into Yoga, which later gave birth to Acupuncture as a form of maintaining the vital energy in health and disease. Yoga needs a lot of devotion, dedication, discipline, and practice under the strict guidance of a guru, and can prove somewhat challenging, so our ancestors developed a system of Srotan, Nadi, and Murma synonymous with acupuncture meridians and points, so that an expert could help by checking the entire harmony of the body by Nadi Vigyan or pulse diagnosis.
History and Development
About 7000 years ago the ancient Indians, Iranians and Greeks formed the Aryan nation and lived on the plains of central Asia as nomadic tribes. They used languages which were a mixture of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Persian and German. The Aryan civilization and culture spread to India, China, Tibet and Persia. It is believed that the ten thousands verses of the Vedas were also brought by Aryans to India and later became the foundation of Indian philosophy and culture.
Due to unknown reasons such as sudden climatic changes or under pressure from certain tribes the Aryans migrated to the north, east and west. Whereever they went they not only carried their own traditions and culture, but also adapted the local customs and cultures, giving birth to a new civilization. They spread to the Indian continent and the Iranian plateau, China and Tibet in the East, Europe, Armenia and Turkey in the West, and some gravitated to Siberia in the North.
As per another theory Aryans never invaded India but infact they always lived in Indian continent and formed the backbone of India culture, traditions, and civilization. They were God fearing Hindus. Some Aryans with demonic activities and shamanic beliefs were not accepted in then civilized Indian society and were chased out from the Indian continent and were forced to migrate towards Iranian plateau, Turkey and Armenia.
As per recent Indian Archaeological survey there was no Aryan invasion in India but this invasion theory was put forward by British historians. As per latest research there is no evidence suggesting Aryan invasion. As per this theory there were two different type of people with opposite instincts, who were decedents of two sisters, one with more civilized, caring, loving, sharing, agricultural, and live and let live philosophy. They developed cultivation of wheat, barley, and other agriculture products in Indus Valley and Indo-Gagenetic plains (Trivani, Allahabad), while other were more self centered, cruel, greedy, revenging, animal hunting, destructive and hawkish in nature. Due to different ideologies and idiosyncrasy later were forced to migrate from Indian continent.
As per Bhupendra Theory in Southern part of India due to hot climate most of the people are dark with black eyes, still maintaining their ancient culture and traditions and they don’t have the Aryan profile, while in Northern India and as we go further up in Kashmir valley people are more fair with blue eyes as Caucasian. Probably Caucasian world is drived from Kashmiri Asian ( Cashmir + Asian = Caucasian - "Bhupendra"). That is why some Indian God such as Vishnu, Brahma, and Indra are portrait fair while others such as Shiva, Krishna, and Ram are portrait in darker complexion. Most of the Gods and Goddess are portrait with some or the other ammunition such as Bow and Arrow, and sword, which was to protect non-violence pious Hindu farmers from local tyrants, robbers, outlaws, and invaders. In fact they were good people who were always ready to protect innocent rule bound citizens who were devoted to meditation, art, literature, research, farming and other humanitarian work.
The race which lived in and around the Indus Valley was known as the Indus. Later they were called Hindus. During their huge and long historic migrations they developed many new cultures, traditions, and rituals based on local trends, habitat, and environmental conditions in regions such as the Iranian plateau, Turkey, Armenia, and Europe. These rituals and ceremonies later developed into different religious beliefs and distinguished one community from the other based on their lifestyle and religious beliefs. For example, those who opted for Islam had to go under circumcision and others were converted to Christian faith and beliefs by under going Baptism. Probably Islam and Christianity are both derived from Judaism. The origin of Judaism may be connected to Zoroastrianism, based on the Prophet Zoroaster philosophy and teachings. Hinduism remained a separate entity based on a certain lifestyle and beliefs system. Even in Hindus distinctions were made among different communities and people opted for Jainism, Sikhism, Brahmanism, Buddhism etc, as per their instincts and beliefs, and had to undergo a process of so-called purification through certain rituals, and ceremonies to be accepted into the community.
But all these are the hypothesis regarding the development of yoga, as there were no boundaries and territories of the countries that time. But one fact remains that yoga originated and developed in Central Asia probably more in the region of Indian continent and Iranian Plateau.
The goal of Yoga is achieved by many methods, such as the chanting of Mantras (certain phrases and words), attaining different Postures, Meditation,(Pranayam), Dancing and Styles ( Mudras). All these were collected from different regions and gave birth to the present form of Yoga. Aryans used to chant certain mantras during some of their rituals and ceremonies for the purpose of concentrating the mind at the time of meditation, and used some special words with long wavelengths to stimulate certain body Chakras or Murmas. Some Siberian tribes in the North believed in shamanic activities and developed Hypnotism, Meditation and Telepathy. They penetrated deep into the human psyche by meditation. In Indian temples dancing was a regular practice to please the God and as an appreciation for life. It was also used for maintaining good health which gave birth to many Mudras (Postures). Yogic breathing techniques (Pranayam) closer to Taoism were developed in Tibet and China.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yog” meaning union or oneness. It is a process of self- discipline, with the aim of bring harmony and awareness within oneself and between oneself and Mother Nature or God, leading to unity, and integrity with the conscious and sub-conscious level which connects connecting with the entire universe. It is the art of moving in peace and stillness. Similar to Hinduism, it is not a religion but a way of life based on experience, knowledge, study of two equal, opposite, but complementary forces “Zara” (Yin) and “Chetna” (Yang), and rhythmic circulation of vital and universal energy, with its macrocosmic and microcosmic path and changing forms.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a systematic approach to becoming one with life and is a meditational discipline that generates the desire to help humans to achieve their highest potential in life. Since yoga is a very ancient discipline many different forms have been developed over the centuries. Raja Yoga is probably the oldest and was meant for Royal families. Karma Yoga is a form of service in action and encourages service to others. Hatha Yoga deals with health through mastery of the body. Bhakti Yoga is a path of devotion and love. Mantra yoga is concerned predominantly with vibration and radiation of life. Layakriya Yoga is concerned with the path of sexual relationship to achieve fulfillment. All these yoga techniques, in some way or the other, help to stimulate certain body points or murma to bring about harmony in health and mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Over many centuries the intricacies of breathing and posture have been deeply studied to produce certain conscious movements and postures to help prevent and cure many diseases and contribute to a perfect state of mental, physical, sexual, and spiritual, health resulting in a long life.
Lord Sadashiva is believed to be the first individual who practiced yoga. As per Hindu mythology, Shiva is “Adipurush” who has no beginning or end. He has always been there before anything existed. “Sada” means timeless and everywhere, while Shiva means nature. Shiva is also known as Ardhnarishwar, and symbolizes the male aspect on the right side of the body and the female aspect on the left. As there is no male (Chetna or Yang) without female (Zara or Yin) so there always is Chetna within Zara and Zara within Chetna. There is the presence of testosterone and progesterone in both sexes. The symbol of Shiva, the Shivalinga also projects the male and female genitals together, which is the origin of life. As a matter of fact there are many portraits of Shiva in different forms representing art, culture, and science. Ardhnarishwar is not only the symbol of origin and the medical profession in India, but the snake which always resides around the neck of Lord Shiva has also been accepted as a symbol of healing in the western medical model.
Yoga was mentioned in the Vedas about 7000 years back. Patanjali, the distinguished yogi
(Devrishi) and Indian sage wrote one of the most important books on Yoga about 4000 years ago which mentions the art of controlling mind waves. As this was mainly practiced in royal families to keep their mind relaxed while undertaking many important decisions, it was called Raja Yoga. It was exclusively for the royal families and forbidden for the general public. Later many forms of Yoga developed. Karma Yoga was mentioned in the Bhagwatgita derived from the Vedantas.
As per Indian philosophy Shiva (consciousness) and Shakti (energy) are two corresponding equal but opposite forces. Prana Shakti or vital energy is defined to be the basis of life. It has two components, one with which we are born and the other which we receive by inhaling fresh air. In its primordial state consciousness is united with prana like water and salt in the ocean. When they become separated they play different roles in the various realm of creation. Shiva is consciousness and corresponds to mind, while Shakti is responsible for all the movements and activities of the body, which is, in fact, governed by the mind. But at the same time there is no mental activity without Shakti. So both are interdependent and one cannot exist without the other.
Matter is a gross form of energy. The inherent energy in matter can be liberated, but it cannot be the final product. At the highest and most subtle level of vibration, energy manifests as pure consciousness. As the rate of vibration decreases, it appears as pure energy, and finally it solidifies into matter. It is a reversible process, as matter can be transformed into energy, and energy into consciousness. The main objective of yoga is to experience the inherent energy in matter which leads to consciousness by discipline, meditation, dedication, and practice.
In the ultimate analysis matter is only one state of energy. In another state of manifestation, matter can be transformed into energy or light. Yoga applies the same principle to mind. Mind is considered as a form of matter which operates as a higher energy level by changing the rate of vibration. The more the mind is absorbed in the physical and materialistic world, the grosser it becomes and the less the consciousness or awareness can function as there is no space left for the spiritual process. Just as a computer becomes slow if overloaded, so do our minds.
In fact matter, energy, and consciousness are convertible. This is a basic scientific principle and is based on the modern concept of particles, molecules, and atoms. The difference between each mass is the arrangement of the molecules and the vibration of the particles. Any change in the arrangement of the molecular structure will change the form of matter. So our body gives different appearances based on our energy pattern and DNA structure.
In a piece of ice the particles are closely packed together because the vibration is low. By heating it changes into a liquid and the particles move away and the vibration increases. On applying more heat the water becomes vapour and the particles move further apart, vibrating at a greater speed. Though the ice changes its forms, the basic element of the chemical still remains the same. In the same way, yoga considers pure consciousness to be the basic element, which manifests in the various forms of creation.
All the particles of every object are interconnected with the particles of the surrounding environment. Thus every variety of manifestation is interconnected and forms part of a never-ending field matrix of particles. The atoms, electrons, protons, and photons composing our bodies, and everything which is connected with our lives such as cloths, food, air, etc. are arranged in different densities, combinations, and vibrations, but at a certain point these atoms all interact and interlink. In the continual process of nature, all these particles interact and vibrate unceasingly. The field is thus in a constant state of motion, and yet as a whole is not moving anywhere. This is exactly what is explained in the vedantas, in reference to the nature of consciousness: "It moves, it doesn’t move, it is far, it is near, it is within, and it is outside”.
Techniques and Mechanism.
The posture of yoga varies from sitting postures to movement aimed at toning the body which stimulates certain Chakras and Nadis for gaining full vitality. Each posture can be divided into three main categories:
- Body movements
- Control of mental activities
- Respiratory techniques
The greatest emphasis is on right breathing process, since breathing is the center of our whole life, not only because it provides oxygen, but also it vitalizes the autonomic nervous system. When a person is tense his breathing is rather irregular, uncontrolled, and shallow. The diaphragm plays a great role in slowing and controlling the breathing process, helping body and mind to relax. During the learning process of yoga, control of diaphragm and anal sphincter become the primary impotence. Raising the diaphragm, which has been confirmed by repeated x-rays during the yogic practice, also helps the transverse colon to rise instead of sagging, and it may actually arch upwards. This process helps in reducing intra-abdominal pressure, thus providing better conditions for the functions of the abdominal organs.
The circulatory system can greatly be benefited by yoga. The”Peacock asan” helps increase the blood flow to the pancreas, thus helping diabetic patients. The” Sheers asan” helps blood to pool in the head and neck region due to gravity helping the pituitary gland and endocrine system. By regular practice of yoga it has been observed that the heart rate and blood pressure normalize. Many yogis have complete control of their metabolic system, cardio-vascular system, and digestive system. This needs very dedicated practice under the guidance of a guru. Simply by controlling breathing yogis can produce alpha rhythms when they desire to alter their state of mind. Many great yogis can induce theta waves 75% of the time. These are the waves not normally seen during normal activity and sleeping, but may be sometime seen during periods of high creativity. During this time our ancestors realised that the body communicates with the outside world and cosmic energy throuhg certain windows and charkas, which lead to the birth of Suchi-Bhaden.
“Suchi-Bhaden” (Suchi-needle, Bhaden-puncture or “Shira-bhad”) a synonym acupuncture has been in practice in India as a traditional art of healing for the last 7000 years. In fact, it originated beyond the Himalayas, where “Ayurveda” or herbal medicines were not available. Different types of instruments made of stone, bone, or metal were used to puncture certain parts of the body in order to cure various ailments.Vadas, the ancient Indian texts written more than 7000 years ago mention acupuncture treatment. Murma words were used as acupuncture points in Ayurveda books.
Besides this, many Indian traditions were employed in religions and cultures such as “Choti” (a tuft of long hair tied on the head), “Kardhani” (a bunch of thread tied around the waist of children), “Janau” (a bunch of thick threads across the body), nose and ear rings, tattooing, bare-foot walks on the grass, and Kundalini yoga to stimulate many vital acu-points to keep the body and mind healthy. The secret of the healthy long life of Indian yogis is that they strictly observe these Indian traditions and practice “Kundalini- Yoga”.
In remote Indian villages many such bare-foot doctors can be seen even now who extract teeth without any pain or bleeding by acupressure and cure many diseases by puncturing different parts of the body especially the ear. Sometimes they also do cauterization or tattooing on certain points.
The origin and spread of Buddhism
The great Indian Emperor Ashoka who was very ambitious and wanted to conquer the whole world, was emotionally and morally devastated after witnessing a human massacre after the Kalinga war. Though he won the war, he was totally disgusted as a result of witnessing the killings and human suffering on the battlefield. This brought a sudden and complete change of heart and personality, which persuaded him to adopt Buddhism. He was so entranced by Buddhism that he wanted to spread it to the whole world to bring peace and reduce human suffering. Buddhism spread in India and Fareast countries in 563 BC and many learning centers and Universities were established by the order of the great Emperor Ashoka. Many international students came to India to learn Sanskrit especially in Takshashila and they also gained knowledge of acupuncture. Later China built a especial monastery at Shaoshih Peak of Sungshan Mountains in Hunan province to provide facilities for the monks traveling to China from India, later this which was built 300 AD named Shaolin Temple and later became a centre for Buddhism, medicine and martial arts. In order to spread the message of Buddha he sent his only son and daughter to Far Eastern countries to build many Temples and rehabilitation centers where many types of rehabilitation exercises and massage techniques were practiced and preached.
As per recent research, Buddha was born in Kapileswar near Bhubaneswar in Orissa, India, not in Kapilavastu in Nepal, as believed. A rock inscription of the great king Ashoka, now at Ashutosh museum in Kolkata mentions that the king Ashoka conducted workshops at Kapileswar where Buddha was born. This rock inscription was discovered in 1802 at Kapileswar but was later shifted to Kolkata via Puri. As per this inscription the great king Ashoka visited Kapileswar in 240 BC and built a “stupa” there. It has also been revealed by some researchers that Buddha visited Kosala which is now located at Maraguda Valley in the Nuapada district of Orissa. Since it is quite a sensitive issue further explanation is required, and research is under progress in collaboration with the Japan Foundation for Asia center.
The Role of Buddhism in the Spread of Acupuncture and the Martial Arts
As Buddhism does not allow any type of killing and Monks were not allowed to carry any weapons, they were also trained in martial arts to protect themselves from opponents of their new religion and robbers during their far travels. During their long travels they built many temples, Buddhist statues and even beautiful carvings and paintings where they stayed for relatively long periods for preaching and helping people. After leaving these places they left behind a priest, educator, or ambassador to help the needy and maintain the place. These temples, caves, and beautiful paintings and carvings can be seen in many Far Eastern countries, including India, and in the many sculptures and paintings in the Ajanta and Ellora caves, acupuncture meridians and points can still be seen. Kalaki, an ancient Indian martial art was practiced and preached in the temples and brought to China from India by Bodhidharma and taught in the Shaolin temples, as mentioned in Milindapanha –a scripture written in the form of questions and answers between the king Milinda and monk superior, Nagasena.
This knowledge of unarmed self defence even against weapons was employed during the fast spread of Buddhism, not only throughout India but also in most oriental countries.
China built a special monastery at Shaoshih peak in the Sungshan mountains in Hunan province to provide facilities for monks to stay during their travels to China. The monastery built in 300 A.D was known as the Shaoline temple, and over the course of time became well known for its specialization in Buddhist preaching, martial arts, acupuncture, and herbal medicines.
The medical system which spread with Buddhism not only helped cure certain conditions but also, rather more importantly, helped keep body and mind healthy by adopting a healthy life-style. It included many martial arts, massage techniques, rehabilitation exercises, different types of herbal application on the body, yoga postures, breathing techniques, and many dances performed in temples. Herbal medicines are still being regularly used in countries such as China, Tibet, Japan, Nepal, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Bangkok, and Sri Lanka etc.
Ayurveda and Acupuncture
In India the Vedic therapeutic methods date back to the prehistoric era. Many Chinese travelers who came to India for the spice trade or to learn Sanskrit at Nalanda and Takshashila Universities have written extensively about the local treatment techniques including acupuncture, pulse diagnosis, and the five element theory, which were not only practiced in India but also taught to foreigners. The acupuncture or needling therapy has been described as Marma chikitsa in ancient Ayurvedic books. Many historical texts are available in the University of Leningrad library (USSR) regarding the Indian origins of Acupuncture.
There is detailed description of acupuncture being used as an art of healing and surgery in Vedic literatures. During the invasion of Moguls when many temples and sacred scriptures were under the process of destruction many Buddhist monks ran towards hilly remote areas with many original manuscripts and hide them in temples, difficult to be reached easily. Many such original manuscripts are still preserved in many Buddhism temples closely guarded by monks. Hemis Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh, near Leh, is another such place where thousands of manuscripts are still safely kept under strict guard of Buddhist monks which mentions not only about acupuncture but also describes the presence of Christ in India where he learned Vedic culture, art of healing lepers in Puri temple, and lessons of love, care, compassion, forgiveness, and many other Sanatan life style and Hindu believe system which he later propagated in the West. Dhwantric and Patanjali literatures clearly mentioned that acupuncture was used in India more than 7000 years ago by many famous physicians and surgeons of their time.
Ayurveda, Yoga, and Acupuncture in India
Unfortunately, Ayurveda and other Vedic systems in India have been preserved as oral knowledge in family traditions, and as a rule, do not share their secrets openly. This means that of the knowledge available about Ayurveda in books, even in the Indian languages of which few have been translated into English, represents only a fraction of what is kept hidden. Such secrets of Ayurvedic acupuncture or pressure point therapy can be found in family traditions in India today.
Yoga, Ayurveda, and Acupuncture were practiced in ancient India more than 7000 years back and much of the knowledge of advanced civilization of that time was partially shadowed and suddenly disappeared because of the invading Aryan civilization. This fact become evident during the archaeological discoveries of Harappa and Mohan Jodaro.
It was well known to the ancient Indian physicians Susutra and Charak that there are many acupressure points which are very dangerous, and were known as lethal murma. These points were often used by the martial art experts and also by physician to save patients and also for other purposes such as surgical operations. Many warriors knew and were well aware of these lethal murma, that when they are stimulated by pressure, heat, or arrows, can cause sudden death of the person, paralyze him, or even cause a lingering death. Some lethal points related to the fire element could cause sudden death, while if related to water, as per its characteristic could cause a slow death. The points related to wind can cause a sudden death when an arrow or spear is removed from this point. It was mandatory for all physicians to know these lethal murma once they were in the healing profession. Probably Bruce Lee was a victim of such a lethal murma resulting in delayed death, while probably the world famous boxer, Mohammad Ali, who is suffering from paralysis agitanace (Parkinson’s) is also a victim of these lethal murma.
The meridian or energy channel system such as Dhamini (Artery) Sira (vein), Resayani (Lymphatics) Srotan (Main Meridians) and Nadi (Collaterals and Ducts) has also been described in great detail in Ayurevedic medical system. Nadi penetrate the body and run from toe to head distributing vital energy or Qi all over the body. According to Indian philosophy, the acupuncture points are hollow depressions just beneath the skin surface where all the five elements are found in traces. These points regulate the flow of vital energy throughout the body, and act as step up transmitters, maintaining the right flow of energy without any fluctuation or drop in voltage. It is very unfortunate that the teachings and knowledge of Rishi Augast, which was in about 72 volumes written by his 18 favorite students, has been lost and only 40 volumes could be available.
Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Acupuncture and Moxibustion treatments are well described in Ayurvedic texts. Many of the ancient texts are not available in all forms epecially the great trio of Charak, Sushutra, and Vagbhata . One of the Vedas – Suchi Veda, has been translated as “the art of piercing with needle” deals entirely with the art of acupuncture, was written about 3000 years ago. The ancient Ayurvedic physician, Charak, used acupuncture not only in curing ailments, but also during surgical procedures.
The Buddha has written many texts on Indian medicines which are totally preserved and guarded by Buddhist monks in Tibet. One of the texts clearly mentions that acupuncture and herbal medicines were taught in Tibet. As mentioned by Dr. Yeshi Donden, former physician to the Dalai Lama in his book:
“The Tibetan system, mainly derived from Indian Buddhist medicine centers around restoring and maintaining balance between the three humors called Wind (Vata), Bile (Pitta) and Phlegm (Kapha). Experienced Tibetan physicians have used the system for more than a thousand years.” And “Last (in the Fourth Shastra) is a section dealing with accessory therapy, these include Moxibustion, Acupuncture, Surgery and so forth.”
The acupuncture system does not mean merely putting needles in the body, but it has many more components which were well studied and experienced by many Ayurvedic physicians in India, including surgery. Surgery or dissecting human body was totally prohibited in China due to the religious beliefs as per Confucius, that the human body is a sacred gift from God and should not be dissected. So China did not have any traditional form of surgery, while in India it was in an advanced stage at the time of Sushutra. As Jugen Thorwald has written :
“The vast variety of Indian surgical instruments which have come down to us from the first millennium A.D. suggest that surgery had developed to an extraordinary extent in early India. The sutures and needles described in the Sushutra texts of several thousand years earlier looked no different (to those used during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries). Straight and bent needles of bone and bronze were used.”
Acupuncture was practiced in India under the name of Suchi Bhaden, Shira Bhaden and Bhaden Karma, as per the needling techniques and the techniques were usually referred as Marma (vital or pressure points) -Chikitsa (treatment ) and it has also been known in many other countries such as Egypt, Persia, and Brazilian and African tribes. It has also been found that Eskimos used acupuncture techniques using fish bones.
Sushutra, the ancient renowned Ayurvedic surgeon described marma as a very high concentration of vital energy. According to Sushutra, marma (reflex points) iare a seat of prana (life energy) and are termed acupuncture points. Prana is energy permeating the universe at all levels. It is physical, mental, sexual, spiritual and cosmic energy and is the prime mover of all activities. This is the energy which creates, protects and destroys the vigor, power, and vitality of all other manifestations of vital energy.
It is mentioned in many ancient texts that in India acupuncture was practiced several millennia before Christ. Ear needling was always in practice in India more than 3000 years.
The Acheological studies done in Manajodaro and Harappa give clues of the highly developed and sophisticated civilization and medical system in pre-Aryan India.
Indian philosophy of Five Elements and Prana
The five-element theory is the underling basis of all existence in the entire universe, including life and prana. The theoretical concepts of Indian medicine are based on the explanation of the cosmos in terms of the universalistic Indian philosophy of Zara and Chetna. According to the philosophy of Ayurveda, the body comprises of five elements, i.e. sky, air, fire, water, and earth. Earth includes wood and metal. Nature is of two types- Jara (Yin) and Chetna (Yang). The acupuncture meridians are described as invisible pathways of energy and the acupuncture points are the hollows or depressions where all the five elements are lying underneath the skin and from where the flow of vital energy is regulated.
According to this philosophy there is a dynamic struggle in the Universe between opposing and unifying forces. Man, being part of the Universe, whatever applies to the Universe must also apply to him, and his health is determined by the fluctuations of these forces. Basically the five-element theory is a homeostatic or regulatory concept of health and disease. In the healthy state, where two opposite and complementary forces are in balance, normal vital energy (“Prana Shakti”) flows through the Nadis of the body. An excess or deficiency of these forces, influenced by the five elements, produces an imbalance of this vital energy and therefore disease. Since time immemorial, Auyrvedic physicians used the concept of the five elements, which was missing from Chinese medicine until the late third century BC.
Prof. P. Huard, a professor in the medical faculty at university of Paris, the expert in oriental medicine and its history, and Dr. Ming Wong of the medical faculty in Rennes are members of the International Academy of the History of Medicine and are leading authorities in Eastern Medicine have noted in their book “Chinese medicine”:
“From this period onwards (circa 300 B.C.) China borrowed from India and Iran. This Tsou Yen (c. 305-240 B.C.) introduced to the Far East the idea of the five elements, their mutual genesis and destruction, after which the Chinese medical system was built upon the doctrine of the elements.”
It was also mentioned that before the concept of the five elements, which was imported from India, Chinese medicine functioned mainly on the basis of two opposite forces, is known as yin and yang. This concept was also known in India and Egypt, since they recognize the natural concept of the sun and moon, light and dark, and male and female. In India, this inter-relationship between two equal and opposite forces was termed “Dvandva” (duality), which has been integrated part into Ayurveda.
According to Chinese experts, the earliest records in China mentioning acupuncture and the five element concept originated around the period of Tsou Yen. This was brought to China through Buddhism in 563 B.C. The earliest Chinese medical classic on which most of Chinese medicine is based, was compiled between 500-300 B.C. This famous classic is known as Huang Ti Ne Jing, and is composed of two parts “Shu-wen” and “Ling-shu”. This book is also in the form of questions and answers, as the yellow Emperor asks questions about nature and health from his prime minister Chi-po. This book was probably written and compiled by many authors, but in order to give a seal of authenticity, it was attributed to the Yellow Emperors. It is obvious that the whole concept and idea of not only yin and yang and five-element theory, but also the questions and answers form, was imported from India. For over the past 2000 years, Chinese have the concept of Ayurveda into their concept of medicine. No doubt that Chinese have worked hard to preserve, document, and spread the whole idea and concept of oriental ancient medicine to the world and therefore they must be credited and congratulated for their most successful efforts. Their efforts in popularizing these concepts, not only in far eastern countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, but also to the West, is remarkable and admirable just as it is with their popularizing of with Zen Buddhism.
Concept of Qi
According to Indian philosophy, “Prana Shakti” (Chi or vital energy)is the basis of life. This vital energy is also known as “Kundalini”. This is the serpent power. This power is in a coiled form. When stimulated or evoked by yoga or “Sadhana,” it gets uncoiled and in effect begins to retrace its path to its parental source Prana and mind which depend on the two opposite charges of yin and yang operating on different levels on the physical, astral, and psychic. When these opposite charges unite on a particular plane, it results in another set of duality of charges on the next subsequent level.
When Kundalini, which resides between the perineum and the anus, is stimulated it commences its upward journey through its meridian or nadi. All kundalini charakas or plexuses are situated at the same place where acupuncture points are described.
All the six symptoms of awakening Kundalini or Vedhamayee are similar to the sensation a patient feels after acupuncture. These include feeling of well being, trembling of the whole body, a newborn energy, tranquility of mind, sedation, and awareness of self and its surroundings.
The Kundalini shakti is closely related to the Governing Vessel and is controlled by the coccygeal plexus below the sacrum where the second energy center is situated. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth energy centers are situated in the prostate plexus, lumbar plexus, cardiac plexus, and oesophageal plexus respectively. The seventh and last is situated in the cavernous plexus, the posterior part of the glabela. From these centers energy or all meridians of nadis are controlled.
According to ancient Indian philosophy the pelvic plexus relates to the earth element and in the heart of this plexus lies the serpent fire and there it sleeps throughout the ages until the time is ripe for it to be aroused. The time it is aroused is initiated by the person who knows the art of breathing and has conquered the breath by Sadhana. When this serpent fire is aroused, it passes up the spine, it energises in turn each plexus, which include the hypogastric plexus (water element), the epigastric plexus (fire element), the cardiac plexus (air element), and the carotid plexus (sky element). This opens the centers and channels which transform from the supra physical to the physical worlds, so providing conductors for supra physical vibrations when the kundalini is aroused. All the psychic powers are fully unfolded and become available for use when man becomes concious in the physical body. With regard to the Five Element’s plexuses, they are the force centers in the human body, and are so-called because, to clairvoyant sight, they have the appearance of spinning vortices. They are the five plexuses of the human body.
These centers are stimulated by mudra (style), asanas (postures), pranayam (breathing exercises) i.e. yoga, or acupuncture in order to maintain the balanced flow of the pranashakti or vital energy. With the help of these yogic exercises the vital force starts flowing in a proper way and is directed to particular chakras and blocked or diseased points.This can also be achieved by acupuncturing these points. The famous Indian surgeon, “Sushutra,” also performed operations under “Suchi-Bhaden” anesthesia.
Prana or life force is a universal energy which supports life energy. It is analogous to electricity running in a cable system which is set by five elements. Energy and matter are interchangeable as well described by Einstein in his equation E = MC2 . Matter is the most compressed and compact form of energy which vibrates at infinite levels with different frequencies. But in fact, both have the same origin.
Five Elements and the Origin of Life
At the time of fertilization during coitus, the movement is represented by Wind, leading to friction (orgasm), resulting in sweating, heat or Fire, causing ejaculation of semen or Water which fertilizes the ovum forming a zygote leading to solidification, and that represents Earth, and earth gives the birth. Embryonic development, which is growth represents Wood and Apoptosis (programmed cell death) leads to shape, form and features is due to craftsmanship and that is Metal. ( Ptosis – tosis = dropping off) During this process Prana, the positive energy (male), joins with negative energy (Female) or Ether. The human body is a by product of the Life force or Prana, and any imbalance in the proper and rhythmic flow of this energy disturbed by any of the five elements will manifest in dis-ease or discomfort. In fact any kind of life on earth is a result of constant process of coitus between heaven and earth, and earth gives the birth to the entire living kingdom, including plants.
Prana and soul relationship in the foetus
Prana, which is life energy, must be present at the time of birth, and makes the foetus move and others aware of its activity and presence, but the soul enters the body at the fifth month of pregnancy. So Soul (Consciousness) and Prana (Bio-energy) are no doubt different, but related entities. Soul including Prana, first unites with Ether (Akash or sky or heaven) before uniting with the other five elements. So Prana is the positive side of the equation as it is like the electricity that flows through the body. This also means that there are in fact six elements, Ether, Fire, Water, Earth, Wind and Prana. According to Ayureveda the five physical elements act as a receptacle for the life force or Prana and later for the conscious aspect or soul, which enters the body at the fifth month of life. Ether enters the body along with Prana, and contains a negative force. This is how the circle is completed, having both negative and positive forces.
Male and Female Energies
Males are supposed to contain more positive energy and tend to suffer problems such as myocardial infarction and strokes, while females who posses more negative energy tend to suffer with nervous disorders such as nervous breakdown, hysteria, depression and migraine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in China
It was in the sixth century that knowledge of acupuncture spread to West when wilhelam Ten Rhyme of the East India Company wrote a book on acupuncture. It is also said that acupuncture or “Suchi-Bhedan” was taught by Indian Ayurveda teachers in many ancient universities, one of them being Nalanda (Bihar), even to Chinese scholars, who later developed acupuncture in China during the time Ayurveda was flrousing in India. Just as Buddhism originated from India, but it is now flourishing in countries like China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea, etc, rather than in India, so this happened with acupuncture also. Buddhism played a great role in the spread of acupuncture. The three legendary emperors, Shen Nung, Huang Di and Fu Shi are traditionally believed to be the originators of Chinese medicine in China. Huang Di Nei Jing or “The Yellow Emperors lassic of internal medicine” is the most famous book on traditional Chinese Medicine.” The book is ascribed to Huang Di (Yellow Emperors) who lived about 2697-2596 BC. It is most likely a collective work written about the 3rd century BC and antedated to enhance its value and to give it a stamp of authority. The book is in dialogue form between the emperor and his prime minister physician, Chi Po. The book contains two sections “Su-Wen”, principle of traditional Chinese medicine and “Ling Shu” which describes the various therapeutic methods.
It is obvious now that acupuncture has been used by Indians in some form or other, not only to cure diseases, but also to keep the body and mind in a healthy state. The basic principle behind all Indian traditions is to stimulate the various acu-points of the body. The Chinese scholar of Sanskrit, Taszin, who came to India in 736 AD during Harsha’s rule and studied at the University of Nalanda for many years, has said that acupuncture and its pulse diagnosis not only originated in India, but was also taught to foreigners by Indian Ayurveda physicians in ancient Indian universities. In the ancient Indian epic “MAHABHARAT”, Bhisma Pitamah, who was mortally wounded by arrows, was kept alive for fifty eight days whilst lying on a bed made out of a set pattern of arrow points, which continuously stimulated the “Back-Shu” and “Mu-Front” points.
There is a lot of resemblance between Indian and Chinese schools of treatment, for example, the five element theory, pulse diagnosis, and Indian nadis and Chinese meridians. There are believed to be 72,000 nadis, some of these can be compared to the Chinese meridians.
Comparison of Indian Nadi and Chinese Meridians
|1. Kuhu Nadi
||1. Lungs Meridian
|2. Alambusha Nadi
||2. Large Intestine Meridian
|3. Gandhari Nadi
||3. Stomach Meridian
|4. Hastijivha Nadi
||4. Spleen Meridian
|5. Yashwini Nadi
||5. Heart Meridian
|6. Payuswini Nadi
||6. Small Intestine Meridian
|7. Varuni Nadi
||7. Urinary Bladder Meridian
|8. Vishodara Nadi
||8. Kidney Meridian
|9. Saraswati Nadi
||9. Pericardium Meridian
|10. Shusumana Nadi
||10. Triple--Heater Meridian
|11. Shakhini Nadi
||11. Gall Bladder Meridian
|12. Pusha Nadi
||12. Liver Meridian
|13. Ingla Nadi
||13. Conception Meridian
|14. Pingla Nadi
||14. Governing Meridian
Chakras – centre of acupuncture points, science, and spirituality
Literally, the word“chakra” means cycle or a wheel that rotates. These are energetic wheels located at various strategic places in the body, which act as transmitters or energy centres to maintain the proper flow of energy in the body without any fluctuation. The chakras connect to their own system of meridians or channels, as described in the acupuncture system, and are quite similar in many ways, yet different. The chakra system correlates beautifully to the nervous system, its plexuses, ganglions, dermatomes, myotomes and sclerotomes.
There are a total of seven major chakras in the body, of which two are located on the head, while five are along the middle of the trunk. There are many other minor chakras located on the wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.
Awakening the kundilini is a universal experience. This knowledge of the kundalini system was obtained over thousands of years of dedicated research, thinking, experience, and meditation of many great Indian Yogis. The idea of kundalini yoga is to awaken, cultivate and channel the dormant and changeable powers of kundalini. It does exist in the material body and resides in the lower chakras, yet it still exists in the physical body. Through the practice of yoga, kundilini may become awakened. The right and safe kundalini awakening, however, leads to chakra awakening, resulting in the removal of prana shakti blockages, thus providing heavenly peace, tranquility of mind, awareness of soundings, and perfect physical, spiritual, and mental health, accompanied by a newborn energy. All these feelings are generated by the awakening of Kundalini, also called Vedhyamai, and are very similar to the feeling one gets after an acupuncture treatment.
Thus the process of purification of karma and awareness begins, and the trail of individualization leads to higher evolution. The ultimate destination of yoga is when prana shakti reaches the sahasaraar, the highest chakra at crown, leading to Vedhyamai or even samadhi, where the awareness meets the energy and all become one.
Kundalini Chakras and Acupuncture Points
1. Mooladhar Chakras (Foundation)
The energy from this chakara flows downwards and keep us grounded, attached to worldly life. By meditation, Kundalini unfolds its energy and travels upwards through other chakras reaching its destination sahasaraar, producing intense peace, tranquility and a newborn energy.
- Male: It is located in the perineal area between the anus and scrotum.
- Female: In the case of the female it is located on the posterior side of the cervix between the anus and labia commisure.
- This chakra corresponds to the point Ren.1 (Hui yin). It is the meeting point of the entire Yin (Kidney yin). Kidney belongs to the water element. The energy connection is with the earth as water flows down to the fertile earth.
- Colour: Red
- Note: ‘C’
- Rhythm: 261.2 cycle/sec
- When Blocked
- Fear of Death, Insecurity, Diminishing survival energies, Money problems, Work struggles, Frustration, Constipation, Haemorrhoids, Colitis, Cancer, Sciatica, Spondelytis.
- When open
- Increases consciousness and awareness of mother earth. Opportunities open for jobs and money.
2. Swadhisthan - (Polarity Chakra)
- This chakra is located at the base of the spinal column at the coccyx level. It has two openings, one forward between Ren.2 and Ren.4 (Guanyuan) and backward to the Sacrum Du.2 to Du. 4 (Mingmen)
- This chakra maintains the balances between Yin and Yang, the inside and the outside and thus provides a harmonious sexuality. The balance between Yin and Yang and between first and second chakra roughly correspond to the kidney and lower Jiao of the pelvic region. The swadhisthan chakra corresponds to the kidney Yang energy of the urinary bladder and large intestine
- Colour: Orange
- Note: “D”
- rhythm: 292.1 cycles/sec
- When Blocked
- Ruled by desire to play victim or to victimise, animal instincts and behaviour, restlessness, shallowness, confusion, irritation
- When open
- Satisfying endless sexual pleasure, creativity, imagination, perception, deep lasting loving relationships.
3. Manipur (Solar or Light Plexus)
- It is located directly behind the navel and backwards at the level of the solar plexus nerve in the spinal cord. It opens forward to the umbilicus and backwards between the level of Du.5 and Du.6.
- This chakra regulates the personal will in the upper part and the emotions in the lower part. It regulates power, anger, and addiction. This chakra corresponds to the spleen and liver and is related to the middle Jiao, so can be regulated by point Ren.8 and Ren. 12 also.
- Colour: Yellow
- Note: “E”
- Rhythm: 329.1 cycles/sec
- When Blocked
- Weakness, lethargy, depression, lack of motivation, Since it is linked with the endocrine and digestion system, person may suffer from Diabetes, Thyroid problem, or Addinson’s disease.
- When Open
- Creativity increases, New born energy , Balanced life, Job satisfaction.
4. Anahat (Heart Chakra) centre of the chest
- This chakra is located in the center of the thorax at heart plexus and opens forward to Ren. 17 and backward to Du.11. It is the central point for balance of energy moving upwards and downwards, and is associated with heart and hymen.
- This chakra regulates friendliness, compassion, sympathetic attitude, understanding, love, inner peace, and perfect harmony. It corresponds to the upper jiao.
- Colour: Green
- Note: “F”
- Rhythm: 349.2 cycles/sec
- When Blocked
- breathing problems, heart problem, isolation, loneliness, intense feeling of hatred
- When Open
- open heart, unconditional love, caring, artistic nature, poetic inspiration, imaginative powers, good in teaching career.
5. Vishuddha (Throat Chakra) Purity, related to the thyroid gland and vocal chords
- It is situated in the cervical plexus in the throat and opens forward to the larynx and backwards to Du.14
- It regulates strength and expressiveness of speech and creativity. It corresponds to the ung and connects with Ren. 22 and Du.14
- Note: “G”
- Rhythm: 392.0 cycles/sec
- When Blocked
- difficulty in expression, circumstantial speechlessness, and throat problems.
- When Open
- Calmness, purity, pleasing and impressive voice, ability to read people, prophecy, poetic ability.
6. Aajnachakra (Third eye) unlimited power at the medulla between the eyebrows
- It is situated at the base of the skull in the brain. It opens forwards to Ex.1 and backwards to Du.15.
- The third eye is related to focus of mind, concentration, understanding, and power of discernment and clairvoyance.
- Colour: Indigo
- Note: “A”
- Rhythm: 440.0 cycle/sec
- Mantra: Ohm
- When Blocked
- Vision problems, headache, heaviness in the region of the head
- When Open
- Intense peace, power of future reading, psychic powers develop.
7. Sahasraara (Crown Chakra)
- It is situated above the body around the head upon the cranium. It corresponds to the point Du. 20 and HN 1 and opens upward like a crown.
- This chakra represents the highest Yang in the body and meeting point of the entire Yin from the base chakra. It regulates the understanding of higher aspects of life and connects with the spiritual world.
- Colour: Violet
- Note: “B”
- Rhythm: 493.0 cycle/sec
- When Blocked
- Excessive ego problem, pride.
- When Open
- God consciousness, Heavenly peace, Tranquility of mind, a newborn energy emerges.
These centres are stimulated by mudra (style), asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercise) i.e. yoga, or acupuncture in order to maintain the balanced flow of the pranashakti (Qi) or vital energy. With the help of these yogic exercises the vital force starts flowing in a proper way and is directed to particular chakras and diseased points in order to bring harmony, which can also be achieved by acupuncturing these points.
- Singh, B.K.: ACCUVACCINATION. Indian Acupuncture Centre, Allahabad, India, 1983.
- Singh, B.K. PULSE DIAGNOSIS. Indian Acupuncture Centre, Allahabad, India, 1981.
- Swami Vishnu Tirtha: DEVATMA SHAKTI. Yoga Shri Peeth, Muni Ki Reti, UP, India.
- Vyas, Ji : MAHABHARAT. Indian epic.
- Huard, P. and Wong, M. CHINESE MEDICINE. World University Library, London 1968
- Feuerstein, George. TEXTBOOK OF YOGA. Rider and Co., London 1975
- Singh, B.K. ACUPUNCTURE- ITS INDIAN ORIGINS. International Academy of Bhupendra Techniques, Vancouver, Canada, waiting publication.