Ayurvedic Spiritual Therapies: Resources for Health and Healing

Manasa Ayurveda therapies include daivavyapāsraya which is often described as 'spiritual therapies'. Ayurveda is not bound to any religion and is not itself part of religion so its recommendations for health through spiritual practice can benefit those of any or no faith. For example, for Muslims, such an approach may centre around the Quran, whilst Christians can find sources of inspiration for healing within the Bible : 

قُلْ هُوَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هُدًى وَشِفَاء

And declare (O Muhammad) that [the Quran] is a guidance and healing for the believers
— al-Fussilat, 41:44
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
— Proverbs 4:20-22

The Āyurvedic classical text, the Aṣṭāñga Hṛdayam was written by Vāgbhata, an Āyurvedic doctor who happened to be a convert to Buddhism. This foundational classic Ayurvedic text advises the use of specific mantras and dhāraṇīs (recitations) mentioning ‘Avalokita’ and ‘Natha’, referring to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and Acala-Natha (Achalanatha; Lord Immovable) (AH.Utt.V.49-51).

Acalanatha is especially efficient in removing all kinds of obstacles which lie in the way of one’s undertaking, religious or otherwise. His other title is “the great destroyer of hindrances”. The Pali suttas make reference to the Buddha’s ‘unshakable’ liberation and being ‘steadfast’ (e.g. AN.6.45; AN.3.84; AN.3.103; MN.I.357). To further inspire and illustrate this quality of immovability, imagery was used in an early sutta of ‘the pillar in the king's frontier fortress’, with a ‘deep base… securely planted, immobile and unshakable’ (AN.7.67). Use of imagery to represent the quality of immovability seen within the early Nikayas may have provided the basis for the adoption of iconography now associated with Acalanatha, and which is described in the Maha-Vairocana-Abhisambodhi Tantra:

…He holds a sword and a noose, his plaited hair hangs from the left of his head, he is well adorned and one of his eyes squints. He abides amidst his own light, wrathfully seated upon a rock. His face is creased with anger, and he has a robust youthful form
— MVA.II.40

To embody the qualities of Achalanatha, the Maha-Vairocana-Abhisambodhi Tantra advises mental recitation of the mantra of Acalanatha and use of His mudra (as well as other ritual practices) (MVA.XI.85). The Ayurvedic Aṣṭāñga Hṛdayam also mentions the therapeutic use of dhāraṇīs invoking 'Natha' and the popularity of Achalanatha has spread internationally. The video below, made in England, includes contemporary English versions of dhāraṇīs calling upon Achalanatha.