Jul 21, 2022

Book Review: Rtu Vidya by Sinu Joseph

 Thanks to a dear reader who recommended me this book. It was such a fabulous and informative read. I'd highly recommend this book to all women (and men too). Keep an open, curious mind and give it a read! You may choose to agree/disagree with the perspectives shared, but it is worthwhile to hear the facts and reasoning before making any conclusions.

Many ancient menstrual practices are blindly dismissed today as superstitious/patriarchal influence/unfriendly to women. In the first section of the book, the author has elaborated in detail, on the context, history, and reasoning behind many practices. And she has substantiated her research with the help of ancient Indian sciences (Ayurveda, Yoga, and Hindu philosophy) to explain the reasoning, which made a lot of sense.

It was fascinating to read about the different systems of medicine being practiced across the world and the similarities in the understanding of physical and subtle energy bodies. As the author dives into the chapter on the first menarche and why it is a celebration in many communities, this point felt like an aha moment.

"The memory of the first period can trigger a similar response in subsequent periods.............If the experience of the first period was negative and stressful, it is likely that every subsequent period throws the body into a subconscious stress response."

Because of oxidative stress during menstruation, antioxidant-rich foods are recommended. In our traditional practices, foods made using sesame seeds, dry coconut, urad dal, jaggery, etc are usually given. The author has explained the nutritive values of these foods and how they are beneficial to a young menstruating girl.

Various menstrual practices are explained through the lens of Ayurveda - the three doshas and the practices to be followed depending on the woman's Prakriti. The following chapter talks about the natural detoxifying process of menstruation - both in terms of body and mind.

While growing up, I used to hate this whole "seclusion" process that I had to follow by remaining in a corner of our 1-BHK apartment. In the past few years, I understood intuitively why this seclusion is necessary for contemplation and looking inward. This book offered a lot more convincing arguments on the reasoning behind seclusion.

The celestial influence on menstruation was so interesting to read, that talks about how moon and sun cycles can impact menstruation. The author has also clearly elaborated on the role of each phase of the cycle - the hormonal changes, the behavior of our body and mind, and the practices to be followed. I could resonate with it so well.

The second section of the book talks about how menstruation is looked at, from a religion point of view. Lots of beautiful connections and references are brought out here.

The few quotes that I'm sharing below do not do complete justice to this amazing book:

"Evidence can also come from within, from direct experience"

"We cannot see ripples on a water surface that is already disturbed"

"The more the ama, the more the menstrual discomfort."

"For too long, we have confused being a feminist with being feminine. The two are vastly different"

"Menstrual cycles are more than an indicator of reproductive ability. Our monthly period dates are our wellness indicators."

"Calling all of it as superstition is actually a new level of superstition since it comes without the curiosity and exploration that religion might have wanted us to cultivate."

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