Ayurveda Made Easy – Science of Spirituality, Health, Disease

Article By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD(Ay)
ॐ नमामि धन्वन्तरि आदिदेवं सुरासुरैर्वन्दित पादपध्मम्।
लोके जरारुक् भयमृत्युनाशनं धातारमीशम् विविधौषधीनां॥

“Om Namaami Dhanwantari Aadi Devam Suraa Suraihi Vandita Pada Padmam.
Loke Jaraa Ruk Bhaya Mrithyu Naashanam, Dhaataarameesham Vividha Aushadheenaam”

Lord Dhanwantari is known as the God of Medicine in Ayurveda. Ayurveda teaching, preaching and practice is incomplete without offering the prayers to his holy feet and seeking his blessings. The above said verse offers prayers to Lord Dhanwantari.

Ayurveda an ancient science

Ayurveda – as old as the creation
Ayurveda is the oldest medical science existing on the planet. It is said that Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe thought about Ayurveda when he saw his subject’s (i.e. human beings) suffering from health disturbances and diseases. Since the science had its origin from the creator himself, it can be said that Ayurveda is as old as the creation. The knowledge was then passed on to Prajapati, Ashwini twins, Indra and so on. Over a period of time and surviving the pathway of evolution, Ayurveda has seen many transformations and updating of knowledge by various Acharyas (teachers, seers, scholars). Ayurveda apart from being a medical science is also a holistic life-science which also teaches us how to live. Both preventive and curative parts of treatment have been elaborately dealt with in Ayurveda.
Read related: How Ayurveda Originated? Detailed Explanation

Ayurveda

Ashtanga Ayurveda

Ayurveda is broadly classified under 8 wings of study. They are as enlisted below:
Kaya Chikitsa General medicine, deals mainly with metabolic correction (correcting agni) and thereby alleviating the diseases
Bala Chikitsa – Pediatrics, deals with care of infants and kids, remedies for diseases manifesting in the children
Graha Chikitsa – Treatment of diseases for which the reasons are actually not known – which were considered as supernatural in olden days (aligns with treatment of infectious diseases of modern day medicine)
Urdhwanga Chikitsa – Diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting head, ear, nose, throat and eye
Shalya Chikitsa – Surgery
Damshtra Chikitsa – Toxicology and Forensic science
Jara Chikitsa (Rasayana) – Anti-ageing medicines / immunity modulators / rejuvenators
Vrisha Chikitsa (Vajikarana) – Aphrodisiacs

Treatment of problems related to women looks like being missed out but Ayurveda has considered child and mother as a single unit and has covered woman care under Bala Chikitsa itself. General diseases of women will be dealt as said in Kaya Chikitsa, Surgery as in Shalya etc.
Read related: What is Ayurveda? 5 dimensions of the ancient Indian health wisdom!

How are we created?
Ayurveda opines that we are created from the permutations and combinations of Pancha Maha Bhoota’s i.e. 5 basic elements of nature i.e.

  • Prithvi (Earth or Mud),
  • Jala (Water)
  • Teja / Agni (Fire),
  • Vayu (Wind) and
  • Aakasha (Space or ether)

Thus we represent a miniature of nature. The association of Aatma (Life element or soul) with the Pancha Maha Bhoota’s initiates the process of life. We die or don’t exist when this Aatma gets separated from the anatomical body. The presence of Aatma differentiates us from the inert elements.

The Pancha Maha Bhoota’s takes part in the formation of different tissues and organs i.e. the structural components of the body. The imbalances of one or the other of these elements lead to qualitative or quantitative depletion of the concerned tissues and also disturb the functions of the concerned tissues, organs or organ systems.

Ex: Imbalance of Water elements can lead to diseases like diarrhea, imbalance of fire element can cause disturbance in digestion and metabolic functions etc. Similarly excess of water elements can lead to disorders caused due to reduced metabolism like obesity, thyroid problems, diabetes, etc and excess of fire activities in the body can lead to Catabolic or destructive process i.e. disorders due to excessive metabolism viz. gastritis, ulcers, inflammatory process, blood pressure etc.

Ayurveda advises us to make use of the elements of nature represented in the form of medicinal plants, minerals etc in the treatment line up so as to compensate the loss of these elements in the body. Ex. When fire element is working sluggishly we may have less digestion. In this case we can use Pepper or Ginger in the form of medicine or their inclusion in the diet. Since both are hot in taste and are predominant in fire element they help in compensating the reduced fire in the body.

Composition of human body

What is the basic composition of our body according to Ayurveda?

Our body according to Ayurveda is mainly made up of 3 components. They are-
Shakti Roopa Dravyas: Components which are in the form of energy (Functional components). They are again of 3 types, i.e.

  • VATA
  • PITTA and
  • KAPHA

They are called Doshas (Shaareerika Doshas).

Shakti Yukta Dravyas: Components which possess and provide energy (Anatomical or structural components). They are:

  • Rasa (Circulatory Fluid)
  • Rakta (Blood cells)
  • Mamsa (Flesh/Muscles)
  • Meda (Fat or adipose tissue)
  • Asthi (Bone)
  • Majja (Bone Marrow)
  • Shukra (Semen/Sperms/Reproductory tissue)

They are called as Dhatu’s or Tissues of the body. These tissues are regularly formed getting their nutrition from the food we take, destroyed in due course of time and once again replaced (Wear and tear phenomenon). The quality and quantity of food, discipline in timing of food, the strength of the fire within (Core metabolism and the tissue metabolism), digestion, absorption, conveyance and transformation of nutrition in the cells….all contribute to the tissue health.

If the tissues are healthy we will have a good in built immunity and we don’t suffer from metabolic disorders. Ojus is said to be the essence of all the healthy tissues. This can be compared to the immune components within us.

Shakti Heena Dravyas: Components which are devoid of energy or metabolic wastes. They too are important components because they keep us healthy by regularly being formed and eliminated naturally. They are:

  • Pureesha (Stools),
  • Mootra (Urine) and
  • Sweda (Sweat)

To sum up:

  • We are made up of Doshas, Dhatus and Malas.
  • The Dhatus being structural components take part in our construction. An increase or decrease in their quantity indicates metabolic or nutritional errors. Both conditions are abnormal. Increase in quantity leads to metabolic disorders and decrease in quantity leads to lowering of immunity. This will also lead to qualitative defects in the tissues. Similarly the qualitative defects which are inherited already through the genes might lead to quantitative errors.
  • The Dosha’s take a lead in monitoring and controlling all the activities taking place not only in the body but also in the mind. Increase or decrease in quality and quantity of dosha’s will lead to excessive or lowered functions in the related tissues or organs. This sets up the disease process.
  • Mala’s are waste products or end products which include the metabolites (tissue toxins) formed by tissues. Metabolism is a chemical process taking place in the cells ending in liberation of heat, energy and waste products (toxins) Ayurveda believes that the cells empty their toxins (dhatu mala) into stools or urine or sweat and thus purify themselves. If we can discharge our stools, urine and sweat regularly and if the cells don’t empty their toxins, we can still land up with the disease process initiated by the toxins held up in the cells. This also reflects the inability of the cells to purify selves; which also means that the cellular metabolism is disturbed.

If you can eat fine, digest fine, excrete fine, sleep fine and still feel low in energy and enthusiasm…your cellular intelligence of converting nutrition into energy has failed. The cells are storing the things supplied to them not knowing what to do. These intermediate products of digestion get converted into dangerous toxins in due course of time and start damaging the tissues. Thus, when most of the tissue damage occurs, their essence (ojus) is depleted.  Our immunity becomes less and we land up suffering from many disorders. Small problems start appearing big. The recovery is either slow or nil in spite of taking prolonged medication.  Increased or decreased production or discharge of Mala’s can cause serious disorders leading to health disturbances.

Doshas and Prakriti

What are Dosha’s and what is Prakriti (Dosha body type)?

As already mentioned, Dosha’s are the functional components of our body. They determine our physical composition or constitution i.e. PRAKRUTI.

prakriti - Dosha body type

Our Prakriti gets determined when we are conceived in our mother’s womb and does not change till our last breath. We have all the dosha’s operating within us but we are predominant by any one, following the law of dominance. Thus we are either VATA predominant or PITTA predominant or KAPHA predominant. Thus we are either known as Vata pradhana Prakriti or Pitta Pradhana Prakriti or Kapha Pradhana Prakriti.

Each of us are born with some or the other physical and mental peculiarities which will remain with us throughout the life. Such features which are acquired by birth are called Prakriti.

Prakriti is defined as “Group of characters inherited by an individual from the Shukra(sperm) and Shonita(ovum) of the parents depending upon the predominance of Doshas prevailing at the time of sexual intercourse”

Factors influencing Prakriti

Factors which influence Dosha body type – Prakruti:

  • Shukra Shonita Prakriti: Characters inherited from Shukra (sperm of father) and Shonita (ovum of mother)
  • Kala Garbhasaya Prakriti: Characters formed during the intra-uterine life. This may be due to 1) Kala- Dosha predominance during Dharana kala of Garbha (i.e during pregnancy) 2) Garbhashaya- The condition of the Uterus during pregnancy.
  • Maatru Aahara Vihara Prakriti: The diet and behavior of the mother during pregnancy. If the desires of the pregnant woman are not fulfilled, the child will develop untoward characters right from the birth onwards.
  • Mahabhoota Vikara Prakriti: The Mahabhootas which are predominantly present during the pregnancy will give rise to their respective prakritis. Eg: If Prithwi and Jala Bhootas are predominant in the parents at the time of their union in coitus, and during pregnancy in the mother – a KAPHA prakriti child is likely to be born. If Vayu and Aakasha Mahabhootas are dominating a VATA Prakriti child will be born and if Agni and Jala Bhootas are on a high, a PITTA prakriti child will be born.
  • Jaati Prasakta Prakriti: Racial Peculiarities
  • Kula Prasakta Prakriti: Familial Peculiarities
  • Dosha Anupaatinee Prakriti: Natural variation of Doshas
  • Vayo Anupaatini Prakriti: Natural changes according to age. Though the entire Prakriti is not changed, the age will bring about some natural changes. An old person originally belonging to Kapha Prakriti will look like a Vata Prakriti person due to the predominance of Vata in the old age.

Kapha Prakriti is known as Pravara Prakriti or the best constitution. Pitta Prakriti is known as Madhyama Prakriti or moderate constitution and Vata Prakriti is called Avara or Heena Prakriti i.e  Prakriti of a lower quality…in comparison.

Kapha Dosha and Prakriti

KAPHA DOSHA: We need a good cementing between the stones or bricks so as to have a good construction of a building which is not subjected to easy destruction or collapse. Similarly if we consider that our body is a house, we need a good cementing substance to hold our cells together in integration throughout our life. This cementing is provided by KAPHA. The Prithvi (Earth/mud) and Jala (water) combine to form this cementing substance called Kapha.

Its capacity to integrate the body substances determines our health, strength, energy, working capacity and immunity. Immaterial of the Prakriti, Kapha is predominantly active during the developmental phase. Right from our birth we grow consistently w.r.t height and weight until the process takes a halt at a particular age beyond which we don’t grow. This phase is ruled by Kapha.

  • Kapha is mainly predominant during our childhood (teenage and early adolescence) and takes care of our growth and development.
  • It is mainly located in the upper part of the body.
  • It is predominant early in the morning.
  • It dominates the first part of digestion wherein it integrates the food into a bolus

Kapha is of 5 sub types. The main centre of Kapha is located in the Chest.

  • Avalambaka Kapha: The Kapha located in the chest is called Avalambaka Kapha. It controls the other Kapha’s and also supports the functions of the chest organs viz. heart and lungs.
  • Kledaka Kapha: It is located in stomach and helps in integration of the food and prepares it for the digestion. It protects the stomach and intestines from the action of acids.
  • Shleshaka Kapha: It is located in the cellular joints and bony joints. It helps in movements and stability.
  • Tarpaka Kapha: It is located in the head. It nourishes the brain and prevents degeneration. Thus it helps in free working of higher functions, thought, memory, concentration etc and also nourishes the sense organs.
  • Bodhaka Kapha: It is located in tongue or oral cavity. It helps in perception of taste and initiates the process of craving of food on seeing it.

The tissues belonging to Kapha are Rasa, Mamsa, Meda,Majja, Shukra and Pureesha and Mootra.

Character features of a Kapha Prakriti Person:

  • Smooth and Glistening body.
  • Smooth and fine body parts.
  • Attractive, tender and charming skin, organs and musculature.
  • Will have abundant semen, sexual power and number of children.
  • Will have strong, sturdy and steady organs and muscles.
  • Well formed and fully developed organs and muscles.
  • Slow and steady in their eating and behavior.
  • Do not take hasty steps in their works and will not get disheartened or perverted when the things do not go in their way.
  • Their start, progression and finish of any work is slow, stable and perfect.
  • Firm and strong in their movements.
  • Controlled hunger, sweat and Doshas.
  • Nicely integrated, strong joints and ligaments.
  • Lustrous and attractive eyes and face.
  • Charming and pleasant color and complexion.
  • Melodious voice.
  • Blessed with best wealth, education, vitality, immunity and longevity and they will be of peaceful nature.

Pitta Dosha and Prakriti

PITTA DOSHA:  Pitta is formed by the combination of Fire and Water components. It is an element which takes an active part in the metabolism and does all the work of the fire. It is said that the fire is present in the body in the form of Pitta. Feeling of hunger, digestion of food, its assimilation, absorption, transformation of food into heat and energy required for life process are all under the control of Pitta.

Agni or Fire: It is in the body in the form of Pitta. Agni is present at various levels and is of 13 types.

Jataragni or belly fire: It is located in the gut in the form of Pachaka Pitta. It is responsible to carry out the smooth functioning of core metabolism. The initial part of digestion takes place with the active involvement of Jataragni. This can be compared to the action of enzymes and acids over the food in the gut. Once the food is digested properly by this agni, the food is converted into Aahara rasa or chyle i.e. the first nutritional component of digestion in gut. This is the main centre of Agni and Pitta and all other Agni’s are controlled from here. Excessive or diminished functions here will create a similar impact on the other agni’s as well.

Bhootagni: They are the Agni’s present in the 5 basic elements. They further act upon the circulating Aahara Rasa (Nutritional fluid) and selectively take up the components required for their nutrition and enrichment. Thus the Mahabhootas are nourished. They are of 5 types.

  • Prithvi agni (Parthiva agni)
  • Apya agni
  • Taijasa Agni (Agneya agni)
  • Vayaveeya Agni
  • Akasheeya Agni

Dhatwagni’s: The fire components present in the tissues taking part in the tissue metabolism are called Dhatwagni’s. They are of 7 types.

  • Rasagni (fire in Rasa dhatu – lymph or chyle)
  • Raktagni (fire in Rakta dhatu – blood tissue)
  • Mamsagni (fire in Mamsa dhatu – Flesh or muscle tissue)
  • Medagni (fire in Medo dhati – fat tissue)
  • Asthyagni (fire in Asthi dhatu – bone tissue)
  • Majjagni (fire in Majja dhatu – bone marrow tissue)
  • Shukragni (fire in Shukra dhatu – semen or reproductive tissue)

They selectively take the nutrition reaching them through the circulating nutritional fluid and nourish themselves. At the end of the cellular metabolism heat and energy is produced which is essential for day to day activities and energy. A pathological increase in tissue fire can lead to destruction of tissues and diminished tissue fire causes increase of tissues as the weakened fire cannot convert the nutrition into energy and there is a subsequent accumulation of metabolites. The unconverted or intermediate products thus formed are called ‘ama’ – endotoxin’s or cellular poisons. The activities of Dhatwagni’s are monitored by the normalcy of Jataragni and are inter dependant.

These pathological manifestations of Agni i.e. increase or decrease of Agni leading to metabolic and nutritional errors and disorders reflect the disturbance of Pitta.
Read related: Understanding Digestion Process From An Ayurveda View

It is further said “Sarvepi Rogaaha Mande Agnou” i.e. almost all the diseases and disorders we suffer during our life time are mostly caused as an effect of defective functioning of Agni unless proved otherwise. Thus the status of fire and the Pitta within defines our well being.

Immaterial of our Prakriti, the Pitta predominates during the mid-phase of our life i.e. during teens and middle age. That is why we are very active ‘like fire’ during this phase. We are more demanding and are possessive about various things and exhibit many emotions. Our energy levels peaks up and also our determination to do and achieve things. Pitta is predominant in the middle (central) part of our body wherein we have our setup of digestive system…the hot zone.

  • Pitta predominates during our middle part of our life (later part of adolescence and adult life)
  • It is located in the mid-part of our body
  • It predominates in the noon and
  • It dominates during the second part of digestion and helps in breaking down the food components and digesting them so as to convert them into nutritional fluid.

Pitta too is of 5 types.

  • Pachaka Pitta: located in the intestines is the main centre of Pitta. All the sub types are governed and monitored from this point. This pitta helps in reception, bifurcation, digestion and assimilation of the food.
  • Ranjaka Pitta: It is located in the Liver, stomach and spleen. They are helpful in the formation and maturation of blood.
  • Saadhaka Pitta: It is located in the Heart and Brain. It helps in control of emotions and thoughts. It is also responsible for our determination, concentration, memory, courage, decision taking capacity etc.
  • Bhrajaka Pitta: It is located in the skin and contributes towards the color and complexion.
  • Aalochaka Pitta: It is located in Eyes and helps in normal vision. Blood and Sweat are the components wherein Pitta is adequately present and works in concurrence.

The tissue belonging to Pitta is Rakta. Sweda too belongs to Rakta.

Characteristic features of a Pitta Prakriti Person:

  • They are of moderate built.
  • Cannot withstand heat, over anxious and delicate.
  • Frequently suffer from small boils, discoloration, skin eruptions etc.
  • Will have excessive hunger and thirst.
  • Will get old age symptoms like wrinkles on skin, grey hair at an early age and also baldness.
  • Have tender, soft and copper colored hair, copper colored nails and moustache.
  • Brave and aggressive mentally.
  • Physically weak.
  • Have voracious hunger, gluttonous eaters and will eat continuously throughout the day.
  • Cannot withstand any strain.
  • Have loose and soft musculature with loose joints.
  • Will be suffering from excessive and watery perspiration, urine, stools and secretions.
  • Will emit offensive odors from their axillae (arm-pits), face, groins, and other joints.
  • Very less Shukra (semen) and sexual power.
  • Moderate strength, longevity, wealth, knowledge, wisdom.

Vata Dosha and Prakriti

VATA DOSHA: Vata is formed by the combination of Vayu and Aakasha (WIND AND SPACE) Mahabhootas. It is said to be the master of the orchestra of the life and governs all the life activities. It is the formulation which runs the machinery of life. Nothing in the body can move about or function without the motivation, influence or permission from the principal of the body classroom i.e. VAYU or VATA. It also controls the mental activities and those functions related to sense organs. A push from the Vayu initiates all the processes. Walking, sitting, running, blinking eyes, talking, swallowing food, sleeping, getting up naturally in the morning etc all the activities are possible only after the motivation caused by Vata. The functions of all the tissues and organs like circulation, breathing, digestion, discharge of stools, urine, semen etc are under the control of Vata.

Immaterial of our Prakriti, Vata predominates in the old age or terminal part of life wherein the constructive functions are dominated by destructive functions leading to loss of tissues, strength and energy. The mental functions too naturally regress.

  • Vata predominates towards our old age
  • It is predominant towards evening,
  • It is located in the lower portion of our body
  • It is predominant at the end part of digestion (after digestion) wherein the final absorption of fluids and salts and excretion of stools take place and in the lower portion of the body.

Vata is also of 5 types.

  • Prana Vayu: It is located in the Head, the place of brain and sense organs. This location is the main centre of Vata, from where the other Vayu’s are monitored and controlled.

The sensory and motor functions of the nervous system are contributory to this vayu in association with Vyana Vayu. The higher functions like memory, concentration, judgment etc are monitored by Prana Vayu along with the help of Sadhaka Pitta and Tarpaka Kapha.

  • Vyana Vayu: It circulates all over the body and is responsible for uniform distribution of nutrients, nerve impulses, oxygen and blood to the periphery and also to bring back the blood to the heart.
  • Udana Vayu: It is located in the Chest and works in concurrence with Avalambaka Kapha and Sadhaka Pitta. Speech, efforts, energy, strength and immunity, color and complexion, memory etc are governed by Udana Vayu.
  • Samana Vayu: It is located in the Gut and works in concurrence with Pachaka Pitta. It monitors all the digestive functions carried by Jataragni.
  • Apana Vayu: It is located in the lower portion of the body and carries out the functions of excretion, ejaculation, movements of the lower limbs like walking, conception, delivery, menstruation etc.

Vayu is predominantly located in the bones and related soft tissues.

Character features of a Vata Prakriti person:

  • Thin built.
  • Dry and emaciated.
  • Voice will be rough and dull with obstructed and shivering tone.
  • Pathetic appearance.
  • Will not get proper sleep.
  • Their actions, eating and movements will be weak and unsteady.
  • Their joints, eyes, eye brows, jaws, lips, tongue, head, scapular region, hands and feet will be unsteady and shaking.
  • Over talkative.
  • Blood vessels and ligaments look on surface and prominent and bulged.
  • Actions will be hasty and ill organized.
  • Will get perturbed even by slightest obstruction or disturbance.
  • Cannot withstand cold. Will suffer from chills, rigors and rigidity on exposure to cold.
  • Will have brittle and coarse hairs, moustache, skin, nails, teeth, face, hands and feet.
  • Will have cracked and scaly skin
  • Joints will make sounds while walking.
  • They will have poor strength, life span, progeny, amenities and wealth.

Dvandva and Sama Prakriti

Dwandwa Prakriti:  The prakriti may be a combination of features belonging to 2 doshas. Such cases are called Dual constitutions or Dwandwa Prakriti. Eg: If a person has few features of Pitta and few of Kapha, with predominant qualities and features of Pitta we call him Pitta-Kapha Prakriti.

Sama Prakriti: If all the 3 Dosha’s are present in equal proportions in the constitution, we call it as Sama Prakriti…which indicates a perfect health. Such constitutions are not found.

Tridoshas

“DOOSHAYANTI  ITI  DOSHAAHA” {Those which have a tendency to contaminate or to produce a disturbance are called Dosha’s}

Seeing this definition we can get a feel that we are created and governed by the components which are harmful by nature or we are being created and monitored by bad elements or our own enemies. This is a tricky concept. God has created us using the materials which are basically harmful and can destroy us. God has created us by planting the Dosha’s in us which basically tend to destroy. But their memory has been changed. They have been implanted with a false memory wherein the Dosha’s do all the normal functions and creative activities. But we alter this mechanism and disturb the Dosha’s to such an extent that they start remembering that they need to destroy something. Our defective life style, bad food choices, Emotional conflicts, stressful life, environmental and geographic variations, unethical way of living, lowered morals of life….all contribute towards altering the mechanism of Dosha’s.

These disturbed Dosha’s create havoc in our body and mind disturbing and destroying anything which comes in their way. The doshas fail in their duties because they are now identifying the tissues of the body as their enemies. Ex. When we feel hungry our system demands food. If we keep working neglecting the hunger, the gut will learn to tolerate as the time goes on. Thus we may land up with severe digestive disturbances leading to need of a doctor to correct our digestion and appetite which actually should have been a natural phenomenon. On the other side the pitta generated during appetite will satisfy itself by feeding on the tissues of the stomach. This will lead to gastritis, ulcers in stomach etc. Here we have disturbed the natural functioning of Kledaka Kapha, Samana Vayu and Pachaka Pitta, which turn around and attack our system.

This concept of Dosha was the earliest explanation of Auto-immune disorders where in our own immune system which is meant to protect us will start destroying us. This happens because the immune system fails in discriminating between self and non self. This loss of intelligence of the protective system leads to destructive process. We thus have a lot of disorders encountered in many people wherein no treatment gives a good solution, though the best doctors and best medications have intervened a pretty long period of time. The disease process starts when aggravated Doshas attack weaker tissues and produce damage. If proper intervention is done at proper time the damage may be reversed. Any delay in approach may lead to an irreversible damage.

Cause for disease

According to Ayurveda, how do we get diseases?

Disease or disorder occurs when:

  • There is severe vitiation of Dosha’s
  • Severe debility of tissues(leading to lowering of immunity)
  • Stagnation of metabolic wastes (ama) which block the pathways and inhibit normal functions
  • Excessive discharge of the essential components of body
  • Disturbance in Agni (metabolic errors)

In the presence of all these factors, the aggravated Dosha’s should invade and injure the weak Dhathu’s for the disease process to start.

Contributory factors:

  • Asatmya Aahaara Vihara: Improper food habits and erratic life style
  • Viruddha Ahara: Mutually incompatable foods. Eg Taking ice cream  and hot coffee in short intervals.
  • Asatmya Indriyartha Sannikarsha: Excessive, Deficit or Perverted contact of sense organs with their objects.
  • Prajnaparadha: Committing sins or mistakes in conscious/knowingly doing the mistakes.
  • Kala Parinama: Effect of changing time(includes geographic and climatic variations)
  • Poorvaja Karma: Sins committed in previous birth.
  • Vega Dharana: Withholding the natural urges created by body.
  • Vega Udheerana: Forcibly creating urges when body doesn’t want to eliminate something.
  • Anigraha: No control over self…Possessiveness.
  • Nidra Maithuna Viparyaya: Abuse of sex and sleep.
  • Abrahmacharya: Unethical living devoid of morals…..etc

Disease diagnosis

How does Ayurveda diagnose the disease conditions?

Ayurveda has a detailed format of diagnosis. To tell in brief:
Roga Pareeksha: The disease is examined by-

  • Nidana (Causative factors)
  • Poorvaroopa’s (Pre monitory symptoms which occur before manifestation of a disease)
  • Roopa (Clinical symptoms)
  • Upashaya Anupashaya (Trial and error method to rule out the other possible conditions or differential diagnosis)
  • Samprapthi (Steps in which a disease is formed or Pathogenesis)

By this the quality strength and intensity of disease is studied.
Arishta lakshanas – These are the symptoms indicating bad or worst prognosis (curability and incurability of disease). Any patient who is not having Arishta Lakshanas are eligible for treatment.
Rogi Pareeksha: Examination of diseased or patient is done in various methods. Viz-

Dwividha Pareeksha or 2 fold diagnosis:
a. Pratyaksha (as seen and perceived by doctor directly) &
b. Anumana (Inference)

Trividha Pareeksha or 3 fold diagnosis:
a. Darshana (Inspection)
b. Sparshana (Palpation/Percussion/Auscultation or by feeling the diseased area) &
c. Prashna (Questioning or interrogation)

Chaturvidha Pareeksha – 4 fold diagnosis:
a. Pratyaksha – as seen and perceived by the physician
b. Anumana – inference
c. Aptopadesha – application of knowledge learnt through shastra (science) and teachings
d. Yukti – situational application of wisdom and knowledge

Shadvidha Pareeksha – 6 fold diagnosis:

  • Chakshurindriya dwara pareeksha – examination by seeing (inspection)
  • Ghranendriya dwara pareeksha – examination through smelling
  • Shravanendriya dwara pareeksha – examination through hearing (auscultation)
  • Jihvendriya dwara pareeksha – examination through taste
  • Sparshanendriya dwara pareeksha – examination through touch
  • Prashna pareeksha – interrogation
Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis

Ashta Sthana Pareeksha (8 fold diagnosis) includes examination of:

  • Nadi (Pulse),
  • Mala (Stool)
  • Mootra (Urine),
  • Jihwa (Tongue),
  • Shabda (Sounds),
  • Sparsha (Touch),
  • Drik (Eye) ,
  • Akriti (Built, gait, decubits etc)

Dasha Vidha Pariksha (10 FOLD DIAGNOSIS):

  • Prakriti – Examination of constitution of the patient
  • Vikriti – Examination of morbidity
  • Sara – Examination of essence of dhatus (tissues)
  • Samhanana – Examination of compactness
  • Pramana – Examination of measurements of bodily organs (Anthropometry)
  • Satmya – Examination of homologation (suitability)
  • Satva – Examination of psyche (of mental faculties)
  • Ahara shakti – Examination for capacity of food intake
  • Vyayama shakti – Examination for capacity of exercise
  • Vaya – Examination of age

After a thorough examination of the disease and diseased…. The treatment plan up is done according to the strength of Dosha’s, Disease and Diseased.

Body mind relation

What is the body mind relation according to Ayurveda?

spiritual heart


Body and mind are 2 sides of the same coin. Ayurveda has explained the Manasika Prakriti too (Mind constitution). They are Satwa, Raja and Tama. Among these Raja and Tama are called Manasika Dosha’s {We fluctuate between these 2 doshas and show different emotions accordingly}

In Shaareerika Vyadhi’s or Somatic or Physical diseases-first the dosha’s of body are disturbed (vata, pitta or kapha or in combinations) and then disturb the Manasika Doshas(Raja or tama).

In Maanasika Vyadhi’s or mental disorders-first the dosha’s  of mind are disturbed and later they influence on Shaareerika Dosha’s. Thus we neither suffer from pure somatic or pure psychological problem. We exhibit the disturbances of both body and mind in varying proportions.

According to Ayurveda we can perceive the knowledge of the subject or object when the objects of senses, sense organs, mind and the soul are interconnected in a pathway where all are essentially healthy. The unhealthy condition or diversion of either of the four from the equation leads to non perception or deficit perception of knowledge or faulty perception or ignorance.

The Aatma or soul gets the knowledge. The mind stores the knowledge, processed in the form of memory for being evoked for utilization when required.

Treatment of diseases

How does Ayurveda treat the diseases?

Ayurveda has 2 intentions –

  1. Swasthasya Swasthya Rakshanam: Preservation and conservation of health and fortifying the quality of health and life in an already healthy individual. {Preventive medicine}. Theoretically it comprises of 2 big divisions – Rasayana (Rejuvenators / anti-ageing medication) and Vajikarana (Aphrodisiacs)
  2. Aaturasya Vikara Prashamanam: Curing the diseased conditions and re establishing health in an ailing individual. {Curative or Therapeutic medicine}
Ayurveda

Ayurveda as preventive health care

Ayurveda as science of preventive healthcare:
Ayurveda strongly emphasizes on the preventive aspect of health. Health can be maintained and many diseases can be avoided if we follow discipline towards food and lifestyle.

In this Ayurveda explains in detail the rules and regulations for a righteous living. Ayurveda explains the chapters related to prevention of diseases and ways by which we can naturally keep up the health before touching the curative part. Such topics include-

  • Dinacharya: Protocol for daily living. It covers many topics like – Time of awakening in the morning and the rituals to be done thereafter, brushing teeth, taking bath, gargles etc, holistic rituals like Pooja, Pravachana, Sandhyavandana etc(Worshiping God, Chanting holy hymns, Worshiping the dawn etc)

Diet to be taken, activities to be carried out, etc {Recommended reading: Ashtanga Hridaya  Sootra Sthana  by Vagbhata, Ch 2}

  • Ratricharya: Do’s and don’ts at evening and night.
  • Ritucharya: Rules and regulations along with the protocol of diet and living. Modes of avoiding diseases during various seasons{Protocol of seasonal living and adaptation} {Recommended reading: Ashtanga Hridaya Sootra Sthana by Vagbhata, Ch 3}
  • Sadvritta: Good’s to be followed and Bad’s to be avoided for a righteous living including social living and community behaviours. {Recommended reading: Ashtanga Hridaya Sootra Sthana by Vagbhata, Ch 2}
  • Achara Rasayana: Ethics of moral living which enhance the quality and quantity of life and health thus acting as a non medicinal rejuvenator. {Recommended reading: Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana Chapter 1, section 4 }
  • Rogan Utpadaneeya: Body creates some natural urges and gives us the signals that it wants to throw off something which is undesired or something which needs to be put out. We have no business to interfere in the natural mechanism. If we do so, we will land up with serious and chronic disturbing disorders which might need a medical intervention. Thus we have helped the natural phenomenon to get abnormal.

The urges which we should not miss or avoid are urges for- Passage of stools ,urine and flatus, Hunger, Thirst, Sneeze, Sleep, Cough, Exertional dyspnoea or the condition in which we  gaspe for air after running or prolonged exercise or strenuous work, Yawning, Belching, Tears, Vomiting reflex, Sexual urge or urge to pass out the reproductive fluid etc.

  • Similarly there are some impulses or urges which we need to control / with held when our body and mind are trying to throw it out. They are Anger, Greed, Lust, Envy, Proudness, Fear, Possessiveness, etc {Recommended reading: Ashtanga Hridaya Sootra Sthana by Vagbhata, Ch 4}
  • Ahara Nishta: Golden principles of diet. The explanation of these principles cannot be found at one place in Ayurvedic texts. They lie scattered and have been explained situationally.
    Ex. – Respect your hunger and eat when the system demands for food i.e in the presence of hunger.
    Don’t drink water when you feel hunger and don’t take food when you are thirsty.
    Take food to one third of your capacity.
    Do not do any work or exercise or sexual acts or sleep after food.
    Take food which is fulfilled with all good qualities and give importance to all the 6 tastes i.e Sweet,sour, salt, bitter, astringent and pungent.
    Don’t follow animal instinct but be disciplined in choices of food.
    Eat food according to your suitability and adaptability.
    Making habit of taking some food suddenly or giving up something suddenly, are both harmful.
    A gradual practice or gradual withdrawal is always recommended.
    Choice of quality and quantity of food should follow seasonal principles. All foods are not suitable in all seasons……etc Read related – Ayurvedic rules for eating 
  • Vihaara Nishta: Life style and principles. {Recommended reading: Ashtanga Hridaya  Sootra Sthana  by Vagbhata, Ch 2/3/4}
  • Nithya Upakramas: Small procedures which need to be followed daily or regularly so as to keep up the health in its natural form. Eg: Abhyanga (Massage), Samvahana (Oil smearing), Kavala/Gandoosha (Gargles and mouth wash), Nasya (Nasal medication), Anjana (Colyrium or medicaments for the eye) etc {Recommended reading: Ashtanga Hridaya Sootra Sthana  by Vagbhata, Ch 2}
  • Rasayana and Vajikarana: Rejuvenating and Aphrodisiac medicines
  • Nidra karma: Rules and regulations for sleep
  • Brahmacharya: Noble deeds and following celibacy…..and many more.

Ayurveda as curative medical science

If we do not follow the above said principles we are bound to fall sick or suffer from diseases sooner or later. We also may feel low of energy strength and immunity thus feeling the necessity of intervention. Ayurveda being a holistic science of medicine has given various formulations and treatment procedures to effectively combat the diseases in various stages. This includes:

Deepana Pachana: Ayurveda starts its treatment lineup by attending and correcting the Agni or metabolic fire as a first step. This creates a suitable environment for the medicines and diet to act towards eradication of disease and break the bonds of disease.

Shodhana: Evacuating, cleansing or detoxifying treatments: This includes the Panchakarma or five fold cleansing mechanisms viz-

  • Vamana: Therapeutic Emesis in case of diseases predominant in and caused by Kapha
  • Virechana: Therapeutic Purging in case of diseases predominant in and caused by Pitta
  • Vasti: Therapeutic Enema’s in case of diseases predominant in  and caused by Vata
  • Nasya: Nasal medications for the diseases related to head, nose, ear, nose, throat, tongue, neck, eye
  • Rakta Mokshana: Bloodletting therapy in cases of diseases caused by faulty blood and pittaja disorders.

These treatments removes the morbid dosha’s from the body, cleanse the body, mind and senses, regularize hunger and metabolism, cleanses the channels and passages, aids natural detoxification and excretory procedures, improves health, enhances immunity and prevents recurrence.

Snehana i.e oral metered medication in the form of lipids and Swedana i.e Sudation or steaming procedures are conducted for several days depending on the condition and strength of disease and diseased, before Shodhana and it is called Poorva Karma’s. They help in liquefying and loosening the dosha’s and bringing them from the tissues to the gut, from where they are thrown out in the nearest route. Similarly procedures like Samsarjana i.e. a specialized post shodana diet protocol etc are followed as post operative procedures after the Shodhana procedures. They are called Paschat Karmas.

Shamana Chikitsa: Palliative treatment in the form of herbal powders, decoctions, confectionaries, tablets, oils, ghee, diet, etc is given in conditions where Shodhana is not possible or when patients don’t suit into the Shodhana format. It is also used as prescribed medicines in the follow up of Shodhana procedures.

Rasayana Chikitsa and Balya Chikitsa: Medicines which bring about good immunity, strengthen and fortify tissues, improvise and stabilize health are given after Shodhana procedures to prevent recurrences. They are also prescribed in healthy individuals to boost immunity and keep up good health as preventive medicine.

Shadvidha Upakrama

Shadvidhopakrama – Six forms of treatment
Langhana – Lighting therapies, this again includes 10 sub-types of treatments which includes 5 treatments procedures explained in Panchakarma (Shodana), Upavasa (Fasting), Pipasa (Withholding thirst), Atapa sevana (Exposure to sunlight), Maruta sevana (Exposure to wind), Vyayama (Exercise) etc. These treatments produce lightness in the body. Read more about Langhana therapy

Brumhana – Bulk promoting treatments, they will help in increasing the body mass and volume. Ex. In Karshya (emaciation and tissue depletion) etc. Read more about Brimhana therapy

Snehana – Oleation treatment, in this the body is saturated with medicated oils and ghee (internal snehana). Snehana is also done externally in different forms like Abhyanga (massage), Seka (stream pouring of oils etc over the head and body) etc Read more about Snehana therapy

Rukshana – Drying therapies, in this the oily, sticky and fatty constituents of the body are dried up and reduced and which eliminates excess mucus, fat and water from the tissues and organs. This is done in the form of internal rukshana (with medicines bringing about dryness) and external rukshana (administering treatments like Udwarthana – herbal powder massages etc.) Read more about Rooksana therapy

Swedana – Sweating treatments / fomentation / sudation. This again is of 2 types Sagni sweda (steaming with the help of procedures involving the use of fire) and Niragni Sweda (sweating therapies done without using the fire, ex. Sleeping covered with thick blankets so as to sweat). Sagni sweda is of 13 sub-types and Niragni sweda is of 10 sub-types Read more about sweating treatment

Stambhana – Stopping or blocking treatments in diseases where there is excessive flow of fluids etc from the body as in diarrhea. Read more about Sthambhan therapy

Santarpana Apatarpana

Santarpana – Apatarpana Chikitsa
Santarpana Chikitsa – Nourishing treatments or medications (used in diseases like emaciation etc)
Apatarpana Chikitsa – Depleting treatments or medications (used in diseases like obesity etc)

Sarvanga dhara

Anya Chikitsa {Other treatments}:
Bahir Parimarjana Chikitsa: External treatments like-

  • Abhyanga: Massage – as a daily procedure, relaxation technique and in therapeutic form {in conditions like Arthritis, body pains, Degenerative and Nervous disorders etc} and as Poorva karma in Shodhana.
  • Udwarthana: Powder massages – in metabolic diseases like Obesity etc
  • Pada Abhyanga and Shiro Abhyanga: Foot and Head massages in related conditions. Read more about foot massage – how to do? Benefits
  • Dhara: Pouring of medicated oils (Taila dhara), Decoctions (Kashaya Dhara), Milk (Ksheera dhara), Fermented fluids (Kanji dhara), Buttermilk (Takra dhara) etc on the whole body with or without mild massage or head or local afflicted parts. Ex. Taila dhara or takra dhara on head is done in neurological conditions, headache, scalp psoriasis, stress, depression, insomnia etc. The same are poured on the body in conditions like Degenerative or inflammatory arthritis, neurological disorders like Paralysis etc, for relaxation etc. Kashaya or Ksheera dhara on ankle joint works wonders in sprains and spur.
  • Moordni Taila: Retention of oils on head: in many diseases related to head, sense organs, neurological problems, hair fall, sleeplessness etc.
  • Sthanika Vastis: Oil pooling in different areas viz- Kati Vasti (Oil pooling around Lumbo sacral region in cases of low back ache, sciatica, slipped disc etc), Greeva Vasti (Around Neck in conditions like cervical spondylosis, frozen shoulder etc), Janu Vasti (Around Knee joints in cases of arthritis etc), Uro Vasti (Around chest in diseases related to heart) etc
  • Pinda Sweda’s (Bolus fomentation): Medicaments are tied in the cloth in the form of bolus(pottali). They are heated on pans either dry or soaked in warm oils or milk etc as the conditions demands and the heat is provided on the areas of the body afflicted. Eg: Sand bolus fomentation- in Rheumatoid arthritis, Rice/Grain fomentation in degenerative and nervous disorders including poliomyelitis etc, Leaf bolus fomentation in Arthritis etc.
  • Pancha Bhoutika Chikitsa: Treatment using Basic elements of nature like Mud therapy,Water therapy
  • Bandhana and Upalepa Chikitsa: Bandaging and application of medicinal pastes, anointment’s and poultices.

Daiva Vyapashraya Chikitsa: Treatment done to please the Dieties and Gods like Yagna and Homa (Fire sacrifices, Pooja (Worship), Japa (Enchanting), Mani dharana (wearing rings and beads, tying threads etc after worshiping), Upavasa (fasting), Prayaschitta (confessing) etc
Satvavajaya: Psychiatric counselling and treatment.

Shastra Pranidhana: Ancient surgical procedures like Kshara Sutra i.e Alkaline thread treatment in Hemorrhoids, fistula in ano, anal fissures etc………………………………………….and many more

jogging

Health according to Ayurveda

What is Perfect Health according to Ayurveda?
“Sama Dosha Sama Agnischa Sama Dhatu Mala Kriya
Prasanna Aatma Indriya Manaha Swastha Iti Abhidheeyate”

We are said to enjoy a condition of perfect health when the below said prevail-

  • Sama Dosha: Equilibrium and normal functioning of Dosha’s. There should not be any interference of each other in others activities nor block the other dosha.
  • Sama Agni: The core and cellular metabolism should be intact and active.
  • Sama Dhatu: The quality and quantity of tissues and their strength should be intact.
  • Sama Mala Kriya: Proper and timely excretion of metabolic wastes and toxins.
  • Aatma prasannata: Pleasantness of soul (Condition of being unconditionally happy and devoid of stress)
  • Prasanna Indriyatwa: The sense organs and their capacity to perceive should be intact with pleasant and undisturbed mind
  • Sarve Janaaha Sukhino Bhavantu – Sarve Santu Niramayaah”

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