Vibrant immunity requires a robust Agni. Here’s how to know when your agni may be struggling, and how to support it.
In her book, The Human Advantage, neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel points to the invention of cooking as the singular advancement that led to humans developing the largest primate brain. “Cooking is essentially the act of using fire to pre-digest food, and thus to get more energy out of the same amount of food,” Herculano-Houzel writes. “This is what allowed our brains to get bigger in a relatively short period of time. Cooking also allowed us to support this large cerebral cortex, which in turn supports complex thought.”
We take it for granted now, but the discovery of fire was a game-changer. Fire gave warmth, the fire gave light, and fire gave protection from wild animals. People gathered together around a fire, cultivating the social bonds essential to survival. Fire consumes waste—it is cleansing and purifying. Ancient people considered fire to be a god. That god, Agni, is a force of nurturance, sustenance, and, potentially, destruction.
Is God In Your Gut?
Over time, people came to understand that we have an internal agni. That agni within is also a power that warms, protects, purifies, and transforms, binding what is beneficial and supportive, while destroying waste and non-essentials.
Our principle agni is our digestive fire, but we also have metabolic fires, synaptic fires, optic fires, and temperature-regulating fires. These fires of conversion help us turn food, information, and experiences into nourishment for our bodies, minds, and lives. Many believe that every time we sit down for a meal, we are feeding our bodies and minds—and even a divine fire that resides within us as an aspect, or a reflection, of the original fire of creation.
What Does It Mean to Be Healthy?
Ayurveda says that health is more than the absence of disease. Vibrant health is balance, nourishment, and contentment in body, mind, senses, and soul. The Ayurvedic definition of health can be translated as:
- Balanced digestive fire (digestion, assimilation, and metabolism)
- Balanced conversion of food into the body’s tissue layers
- Proper waste elimination
- Blissful soul, senses, and mind
Health is attained when all these things are present.