Health and Ayurveda
Ayurveda, which means ‘the science of life’ originated & developed in India. It is said that Lord Brahma created Ayurveda along with the creation of mankind and universe. It is considered as a branch (Upaveda) of Vedas. The origins of Ayurveda are also found in the Atharvaveda, which is said to contain 114 hymns and incantations described as magical cures for diseases.
As a life science, it aims to promote human happiness, health & facilitate the creative growth of an individual. ‘Swasthya’ or health is maintained by keeping the body, mind, spirit and social well being in balance.
The five great elements
Just like the universe (the macrocosm), the individual (microcosm) is made of five elements
This is a fundamental similarity between universe and man. A healthy balance between the microcosm (individual) and the macrocosm (universe) is the basis of health.
Prakriti: Your body constitution
Ayurveda is based on the theory of three humors (tridosha) i.e. vata, pitta and kapha. These are the combinations and permutations of the Panchamahabhoota (the 5 elements) that manifest as patterns present in all creation.
Vata (Air + Space) is the energy associated with movement. A healthy Vata keeps movement in the body flexible and fluid. Excessive empty space or too little space generally leads to stasis or inactivity.
Pitta (Fire + Water) is the energy associated with digestion. A healthy Pitta keeps check of the digestive processes in the body. All the ‘fire’ (the acids) in the body are contained in water. When fire predominates, it can lead to ulcers and when water predominates it can lead to indigestion.
Kapha (Water + Earth) is the energy that forms the body’s structure. A healthy Kapha keeps the body fluids and solids in balance. When the solids predominate it leads to problems such as gallstones. When the liquids predominate, it can lead to disturbances like oedema.
Mind, body and the soul
The health of the individual depends on the interaction between the body, mind & soul. The Mana (mind) is the chief internal organ that organizes all data into a meaningful whole, with its main functions of thought, reason and logic. The three types of mind (Mana) are: Sattva (Purity & Equilibrium); Rajas (Activity & Aggressiveness); Tamas (Inertia). The way that these components interact in each individual determines their Manas Prakriti (mental constitution).
The Sharira (body) is of two types: Sthula Sharira (Gross body), the seat of health constitutes the Panchamahabhoota (the 5 elements) & Sukshma Sharira (Subtle body), the seat of Atma (soul) constitutes the five jnana indriya (sense – organs), five karma indriyas (motor organs), mahat (intellect), ahamkara (ego), manas (mind) and five tanmatras (subtle elements).
The Atma (soul) is connected with Prana (the life force) through the mind. The soul is the owner, the knower and the subconscious. All of life’s process is due to the existence of the soul.
Variations in the health of an individual is due to complex interactions between the mind and the body. According to ayurveda, mental activity significantly influences the functioning of body and soul. Ayurveda advocates high attention in controlling the mind by Sattvik food, good conduct and the practice of Yoga & meditation.