Pulse Diagnosis –

Excerpts from Maharishi Ayurveda and Vedic Technology: Creating Ideal Health for the Individual and World,

Revised and Updated from The Physiology of Consciousness: Part 2 by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016 available at Amazon Click Here

One of the greatest experts in Maharishi Ayurveda was the late Dr. B. D. Triguna, past president of the All India Ayurveda Congress and member of the Indian government’s Ayurveda research council. Revered throughout India and the entire world, he was a very great vaidya (Ayurvedic physician), and a master of the subtle and sophisticated method of Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis. He was honored by the president of India with a special award for his long and distinguished career of devoted service to the health of the whole population.

Many times, I have been both surprised and impressed with Dr. Triguna’s remarkable ability to diagnose disease through the pulse alone. Again and again he diagnosed obscure conditions without any prior indication of the problem. On one occasion, a person was introduced and simply sat down. Dr. Triguna took his pulse and said, “This patient is colorblind.” The man had indeed been colorblind since birth.

What does the physician detect in pulse diagnosis? It is certainly true that the pulse gives an overall indication of our heart and circulatory system. In Western medicine, one of the first diagnostic steps is to analyze the heart and circulatory system by measuring the pulse and taking the blood pressure. However, in Maharishi Ayurveda the diagnosis is far subtler and more comprehensive. When the physician puts his fingers on the radial pulse, he is not merely counting the number of pulses per minute as in Western medicine; he is determining the state of balance of the fine layers of the patient’s physiology of matter.

The pulse in Maharishi Ayurveda is taken with three fingers: each finger is used to feel the state of one of the three doshas. The index finger, which is closest to the wrist, determines the state of balance of Vata, the middle finger determines the state of Pitta, and the “ring” finger, which is furthest from the wrist, determines the state of kapha. The physician also feels the quality of the pulse—its strength, regularity, and rhythm—with all three fingers. By analyzing the state of balance of each dosha, the physician gathers important information about the patient and his state of health.

The simplest thing the physician determines is the patient’s Ayurvedic body type. We know that everyone falls into such broad classifications as big, small, thin, muscular, fat, nervous, calm, etc.—yet modern medicine’s knowledge of body or psychophysiological types is only rudimentary. If we go back to the historical roots of Western medicine, however, we will find a long tradition of body typing. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, and Galen, the great Roman physician, classified the temperament of patients according to the proportion of four basic bodily fluids— blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm—the so-called four fundamental humors. Variations of this and other approaches were used by many famous physicians from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.

The first comprehensive and scientific approach to body typing in modern times was undertaken by W. H. Sheldon at Harvard University. In the 1930s and 1940s Dr. Sheldon surveyed a large group of people and classified them into three main body types, with many possible intermediate categories. These were named after the three main types of embryonic tissue from which all other tissues and organs eventually develop: the ectoderm, from which comes skin and nervous tissue; the mesoderm, from which muscle and connective tissue are derived; and the endoderm, from which most of our internal organs develop. Dr. Sheldon called the three basic types the ectomorph, the mesomorph, and the endomorph. The ectomorph was generally tall and skinny, the mesomorph compact and muscular, and the endomorph large and fat. Dr. Sheldon also developed a very extensive scheme, involving many physical and psychological variables, for analyzing an individual according to the predominance or proportion of these three basic types. However, very little of practical value has come from his research.

More recent attempts at classification are generally based on exclusively psychological characteristics. For example, the British psychologist Dr. Michael Eysenck developed the idea that people could be classified as either introverts or extroverts. Perhaps the most successful modem psychosomatic typing is “Type A” coronary-prone behavior. Type A’s often display the negative behavioral characteristics of hostility, competitiveness, and a tendency to hurry, and have been found in some studies to be more prone to heart disease.

Unfortunately none of these more recent attempts has taken advantage of the extensive knowledge and practical experience of Maharishi Ayurveda. The Ayurvedic system of health care contains extremely detailed knowledge of individual body types. Actually, they are more accurately called “mind-body” types, and by taking the pulse, the physician determines the natural psychophysiological makeup of an individual—the prakriti—which literally means “nature.” An individual’s prakriti represents the natural state of balance of the finer levels of the physiology of matter—the natural state of balance of the doshas (that is, the relative proportion of vata, pitta, and kapaa).

Once the doctor knows the person’s prakriti he can determine many factors. Most importantly he knows that each particular prakriti is susceptible to specific mental and physical disorders. From reading the pulse, and if necessary, by physical examination, the doctor can then determine what is known as the vikriti. The vikriti is the deviation of the doshas from their ideal state of balance. Further, each dosha has five subdivisions, or subdoshas, within it. A physician skilled in Maharishi Ayurveda can determine which doshas and subdoshas are imbalanced and thereby give a precise analysis of the patient’s particular disorder. Determining the vikriti is of great value even if no serious disorders are present, because in the very subtle imbalances in the pulse the physician is able to determine the seeds of future health problems long before they manifest. Once the diagnosis is made, the Ayurvedic physician prescribes therapeutic and preventive strategies. Many of these are highly individualized, based on the patient’s prakriti and vikriti.

From the viewpoint of Maharishi’s Vedic Science, the ideal of Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis is when the vaidya feels the pulse, using a highly refined sense of touch, from the level of perfect balance and orderliness in his own highly developed awareness—from the level of his own self-interacting dynamics of consciousness. Starting from this level, his awareness precisely penetrates to the inner Self of the patient, fathoming the level where the infinite field of pure consciousness is becoming matter. From this level, he can thus feel the fluctuations of consciousness in the whole body.

Maharishi commented on Dr. Triguna’s great skill in the art of pulse diagnosis, noting that it was a consequence of precisely this highly developed functioning of the great vaidya’s awareness: “The miracle Dr. Triguna creates is that he just puts his fingers on that pulse where one is three. There, in the pulse, are those three values of observer, observed, and their relationship in the absolute unity of the three. This is how they diagnose which part of the system has become imbalanced. The heart, the brain, or whatever part is imbalanced is detected from the kind of pulse that a man has. Dr. Triguna has only to feel the pulse for two minutes and he can say, ‘Your kidneys seem to be a little bit affected,’ or, ‘Your heart seems to be a little bit affected.’ This sounds miraculous, but it is just the habit of measuring the quality of the pulse. It goes back to that transcendental, absolute level of the unified field where one is three.”

From Maharishi’s perspective it is the orderly awareness of the vaidya that enlivens orderliness within the disorder, or imbalance, present in the patient’s doshas. In his view a great vaidya such as Dr. Triguna is functioning from this supreme level of diagnostic ability. This is clearly a completely new standard of medical performance to which any Western doctor would be wise to aspire. In fact, in the past few years many Western medical doctors have become trained in Maharishi Ayurveda and are learning to master the finer points of Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis as they apply it in their medical practices.

Maharishi’s comments about Dr. Triguna and pulse diagnosis are taken from Maharishi Vedic University Inauguration. He also discusses these topics in Life Supported by Natural Law.

  Excerpts from Maharishi Ayurveda and Vedic Technology: Creating Ideal Health for the Individual and World,

Revised and Updated from The Physiology of Consciousness: Part 2 by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016 available at Amazon Click Here