by International Ayurvedic Authority, Dr. Robert E. Svoboda
"There is really nothing like a good chuckle, particularly when traveling in India, which I was when I first read Ayurvedic Nutrition. Laughter makes such annoyances as traffic jams, train delays, and the depredations of monkeys easier to bear, while stimulating the circulation, encouraging good breathing, improving immune function, and generally promoting all the while active, positive states of health in the mirthful.
Humor is particularly valuable when trying to advise or teach, for it lightens subjects like Ayurveda that may otherwise sit heavily on their recipients. As recently as twenty years ago Ayurveda was practically unknown in the West, and even now the majority has yet to hear its name. Many folk have however begun to slowly adapt to thinking and speaking Ayurvedically, and some of these are attempting to present their findings in print.
But one can learn a lingo without being able to teach it, and mere study of the language of health and healing that is Ayurveda does nothing to prepare the student to be able to edify others. Wrongly concocted, Ayurveda becomes a dense, nearly-indigestible study; to present it accurately is to walk the tightrope between what should be and what is, between tradition and innovation. Ayurvedic theory can be abstruse, with its complex proclamations, and its arcane references to Indian cultural tropes. Its practice can be equally mystifying, for all its rules are subordinated to the dictates of common sense. What cures the patient is always the right medicine, whether it reinforces the theory or violates it, and one of the most difficult things to convey to a student of Ayurveda is how to know when to embrace theory, and when to ignore it.
This is particularly the case when one is attempting to translate Ayurveda from its natal Indian idiom into a tongue that Westerners will find lucid and topical. The West differs so dramatically from the East that I often wonder how the two can share the same planet. The water and air, flora and fauna, customs and rituals of the one often have so little in common with those of the other that it becomes no mean task to extract from the details of an Ayurveda that developed in India a system that will function well in Canada, Italy, Argentina or Australia.
Even when the process of translation proceeds well, there is no guarantee that the final product will be readable. Which is why it is always a pleasure for me to find a work on Ayurveda that eschews pomposity, and seasons its prescriptions with the levity of wit. I enjoyed Ayurvedic Nutrition for its topicality, for its focus on providing readers with tools for transformation, and above all for its tone. Even on topics where his convictions are decided and deeply held, such as the wisdom of eliminating meat from one’s daily diet (a view that I endorse heartily), Atreya’s tone remains measured and clear. Even serious matters, like the "expectation of violence as normal" that has contaminated our society, he introduces without bludgeoning the reader with them. He advocates without preaching, suggests without insisting, and garnishes his arguments with refreshing drollness.
Atreya turns his subject into a light, delectable confection, into an info soufflé that goes down easy, digests agreeably, and leaves its consumers well-fed but hungry for more. Read his words, and try them out in your own life. Experiment with his suggestions, and find which ones agree with your body and mind. Make small changes, and let them accumulate into life-enhancing reorganizations. Let the book’s playfulness awaken in you the spirit of rejuvenation, that it may return to you some of the vigor and lightheartedness that you had as a child.
Sample the treats that Ayurvedic Nutrition has to offer, and taste the difference that Ayurveda can make in your life and your living."
Foreword Copyright © 2001 Robert Edwin Svoboda
Copyright © 2019 EIVS GmbH
Other books by Vaidya Atreya Smith
Ayurvedic Medicine for Westerners series of textbooks
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