Ayurvedic concept of health

Dr. Pranav Bhagwat
E-mail: pranav_ayurveda@yahoo.co.in.


“The patient is no mere collection of signs and symptoms, disordered functions, damaged organs and disturbed emotions. It is human, fearful and hopeful, seeking relief, help and assurance.”

Ayurveda treats the living man. It treats the man as a whole because the man is a psychosomatic entity and his psychic and somatic components cannot be treated in isolation. The DOSHA – DHATUS AND MALAS are the somatic components which are grosser and the ATMA-INDRIYAS AND MANAS are the psychic components which are subtler. In the forthcoming articles we would see the overview of all these components to make our concepts clearer.

Health is wholeness of life. Health is the complete amalgamation and perfect functioning of mind and body. This status is maintained throughout every phase of each activity. For this required is the state of equilibrium of body and mind. This is called as SAMYA or SAMATWA. (BALANCE.) The parameter or objective criteria for the numerical expression of these factors are difficult to assign as they depend upon the constitution of the patient. Even in allopath when we consider 120/80 mm of hg as a normal blood pressure , it is nothing but the average of sample collected and thus there are normal individual variations which are kept in mind before labeling a person hypo or hyper tensive.

Ayurveda advocates yoga for maintaining balance among the physical factors through adherence to the rules of SWASTHAVRITTA (personal and social hygiene.)And among the psychic factors through the execution of rules of SADVRITTA (mental hygiene).the greatest yogi Bhagwan Shrikrishna says in Bhagwadgeeta “samatwam yoga uchyate.”(Yoga is the harmony of body and mind.)

Ayurveda says “samatwam prakrutihi uchyate.”(Health is the harmony of body and mind.)This yoga is the integral part of Ayurveda. Once the harmony is established there will be perfect functioning of body and mind leading to wholeness of life. Thus, Ayurveda gives a very comprehensive and positive definition of health: “The balanced state of the doshas, dhatus, malas and agni and the happy state of atman, manas, and indriyas, is called health.”

We are changed every moment. Everybody dies at each moment and takes a new birth at the same moment and thus the life continues. Each and every cell of the body undergoes a lot of anabolic and katabolic processes every moment. The energy is used for this and again replenished. There is a balance in these events in the state of health. The changes which are called as UTPATTI , STHITI, AND PRALAYA are continuously taking place in the body. We call them regeneration, maintenance and destruction respectively as represented by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha in Hindu dharmashastras. The abbreviation of this Generation (G), Observance (O) and Destruction (D) is the word GOD, interestingly.

These metabolic changes take place in living body and thereby the CHETANA is responsible for them. The body and mind do effect each other but the mind has the upper hand since its in the mind that the first wish originates the thoughts are regulated by the mind and then the action is carried out by the body hence the equilibrium of the mind has upper hand over the body. In case of mind, equilibrium means tranquility. Ayurveda calls healthy person by a word ‘swastha’.The swa means the self and stha implies to stay. The person who listens to its own self is healthy. The self or chetana always drives us to health. We do not hear to it, go astray and violate the rules of nature. The awareness of the nature of the self, the discipline and the correctness in following natural laws are the key points towards basis of the health. The meditation plays a vital role for achievement of deep rest which is essential for tranquility of the mind. Findings, shown by different techniques of meditation, such as the faster recovery of motor neurons after stimulation, increased autonomic balance, increased skin resistance, decreased blood lactate and plasma cortisol levels, increased EEG cohesion indicate towards finer state of tuning of nervous system resulting into natural working of entire physiology.

The texts also describe the quantitative, qualitative and functional normalcy of somatic components of health. The features such as enthusiasm, respiratory normalcy such as effortless breathing, and normal processing of dhatus (normal metabolism), normal elimination of excreta, adequate and timely hunger and thirst, normal vision, luster, cheerfulness, good intellect, unctuousness of the body as revealed on not dry not oily skin, firmness of muscles and joints, strength, restraint and absence of greed are some of the normal functions of the somatic factors. Measurements of the body and its parts are described and any deviation from these is disease.

Hitaayu and Ahitaayu as described in the last article in this column are related to man’s good or bad social behaviour. Man is wonderful collection of life and living. If he is driven to materialism he is involved in Dukhaayu and Ahitaayu (bad life for himself and bad living.) If he is driven to spiritualism, he is lead to Hitaayu and Sukhaayu. Ayurveda favors a strong physique with cool mind and kind heart so that health and happiness prevail through all levels of life: individual, society, nation and world. This is SWASTHA. In the next article we will understand unique features of Ayurveda.