• Dr. M. Abhijit MD, DYA

Ayurveda Principles: The Philosophy And Its Power




The Indian medical system of Ayurveda has served human society for thousands of years. In last few decades, Ayurveda has gained much more popularity outside of India because of its adaptation and propagation by various scholars. Many Ayurvedic texts that were originally written in sanskrit language have now been translated into various languages. Today you can find Ayurveda practitioners in most countries around the world. What makes Ayurveda so unique and popular? Well, the answer is simple. The principles of Ayurveda differentiate it from other medical systems. They connect human being with the whole universe and emphasize on living in tune with the nature and not against it. In this article, we are going to discuss the basic principles and concepts of Ayurveda.


The philosophy of Ayurveda revolves around these principles. Though thousands of years have gone by, these principles and concept still prove valuable for understanding and treating various illnesses that bother human beings. These underlying principles and a holistic approach to healing is what makes Ayurveda unique and divine.



Lok-Purush Principle:


“Lok” means universe or nature and “purush” refers to human beings. This principle of Ayurveda states that a human body is a universe in its own. A balance between elements in the universe results in peace and an imbalance causes destruction. For example: Just how a flower blossoms in favorable conditions in nature, human body rejuvenates in favorable conditions i.e. when all elements and bio-energies of our body are in balance. However, an imbalance in the elements of nature can create a hurricane which can cause devastation, similarly an imbalance of elements and bio-energies in human body can cause devastation i.e. manifestation of various diseases. This principle also states that just as the year goes through different seasons, human body too goes through different phases such as childhood, youth, adulthood and old age.


Principle of Three Pillars:


This principle of Ayurveda defines human being as a union of body, mind & soul. Presence of all three components is imperative for existence of a human being. Hence they are perceived as three pillars of existence. While body interacts with outside world, soul makes all experiences and it is the mind that acts as a bridge between them and conveys information in both directions. Sight of a beautiful garden generates a pleasant feeling on the other hand watching a horrible road accident leads to uncomfortable feeling. In both these cases, eyes (which are part of body) receive visual information. Mind carries this information to the soul which then experiences pleasant or unpleasant feelings. If there are no eyes, the outside information would not be received. If mind is engaged in some other activity, then it may not convey the information to the soul even if eyes receive it. As a result, outside information would not reach the soul and soul would not have any type of experience. Thus, the three pillars coexist and work in coordination with each other. Hence, a disease may occur in body or mind, but the distress caused by it is felt by the soul.


Principle of Five Elements:


This Ayurveda principle explains our relationship with nature. It states that everything in nature including all living & non-living entities are made up of five elements:


1. Ether

2. Wind

3. Fire

4. Water

5. Earth


The basis of human existence is credited to these five elements. All medicinal and dietary substances are also a composition of these five elements. It is these five elements that connect human beings with the surrounding nature. Proper balance of five elements keeps our body healthy while an imbalance triggers various types of ailments. This imbalance may be corrected by supplying respective type of medicinal and dietary substances as they too are made up of the same five elements. E.g. deficiency of water element in body may be corrected by having food item like milk or medicinal preparation like herbal tea as they both contain high proportion of water element. Likewise, weak fire element in the body can be strengthened by using a food item like ginger or a medicinal preparation of black pepper because both of them have high proportion of fire element. Thus, the principle of five elements directly links living beings with surrounding universe and forms a basis of many other concepts in Ayurveda as well as other Vedic sciences such as Yoga, Astrology and Vastu-shastra.


Principle of Dosh-Dhatu-Mala:


Dosh

Five elements come together in human body to form various structures. Active energies and waste products are generated in body during various physiological activities.

The bio-energies responsible for carrying out body functions like digestion, respiration, locomotion, excretion and so on are called Doshas in Ayurveda. There are 3 Doshas — Vata, Pitta & Kapha.


  • Vata dosha: “Vata” refers to wind in Sanskrit and this bio-energy is dominated by ether & wind elements. It is the only dynamic energy in the body and is responsible for locomotion, excretion, respiration and many other mobile activities. Just as wind keeps flowing in nature, Vata dosh keeps flowing throughout the body.

  • Pitta dosha: “Pitta” refers to heat in Sanskrit and this bio-energy is dominated by fire element. It is the only hot energy in body. Just as fire is essential to cook food, the Pitta dosh carries out function of digestion, assimilation and absorption of ingested food in body.

  • Kapha dosha: “Kapha” refers to “substance that holds together” in Sanskrit. This bio-energy is like a cementing material and is dominated by earth & water elements. Just as cement holds bricks and other structures together in a building, Kapha dosh holds together all body structures and offers the body a definite shape.


According to principles of Ayurveda, a harmonic balance of three Doshas in our body leads to good health and an imbalance leads to manifestation of various types of ailments.


Dhatu


While three Doshas exist mainly in energy form, the actual physical structures of body i.e. systems and body parts are made up of 7 Dhatus. They are as follows:


  • Ras dhatu — The word Ras means juice. Just as a juicy fruit looks fresh and attractive, a body having optimum, healthy Ras dhatu looks healthy and attractive. Ras dhatu is a fluid like milk which keeps flowing in each & every corner of body. This dhatu is responsible for nourishing all other cells & tissues of body. It is compared with the plasma in body.

  • Rakta dhatu — The word Rakta means red colour. Therefore Rakta dhatu is considered as blood. It plays a vital role in keeping the person alive.

  • Mans dhatu — Muscles in body constitute mans dhatu. This dhatu forms a cover around body’s skeleton and is responsible for mobility of joints.

  • Meda dhatu — The word meda means fats. This dhatu lubricates all structures in body including joints and prevents them from wear & tear.

  • Asthi dhatu — Asthi means bones. The skeleton formed by this dhatu provides support to the entire body.

  • Majja dhatu — This dhatu remains inside bone cavities. Hence it is compared with bone marrow cells as well as brain.

  • Shukra dhatu — Shukra dhatu implies reproductive cells in body. Sperms and ova are visual forms of this dhatu.

Having strong dhatus guarantees health while a weak dhatu can easily become a hot spot for disease.


Mala

Different physiological processes lead to production of 3 waste products in body. They are called Malas in Ayurveda. The word Mala means a waste substance. The three main waste products in our body are:

  • Urine (called as Mutra),

  • Stools (called as Purish)

  • Sweat (called as Swed)

Their optimum production and discharge indicates healthy state of body physiology while any abnormality qualitative or quantitative suggests a derangement in body physiology.


Concept of Health & Disease:


Ayurveda perceives health & disease as two sides of a coin and defines them in a variety of ways. As it would be clear from above discussion, a disease essentially means an imbalance. This imbalance may be perceived in terms of five elements or in terms of three Doshas which too consist of five elements.


Another way to perceive this imbalance is in terms of nutritional level. Having optimum nutrients in body is also considered as health in Ayurveda while a disease may arise due to deficiency of nutrients i.e. Apatarpan as well as excess accumulation of nutrients i.e. Samtarpan. For instance, an individual who does a lot of physical activity but fails to get enough nutrition is more likely to suffer from Apatarpan (deficiency of nutrients) on the other hand an individual who follows a sedentary lifestyle is more likely to suffer from Santarpan (excessive accumulation of nutrients). Conditions like weight loss, iron deficiency anaemia are categorized as Apatarpan while conditions such as obesity and hypercholesterolemia are categorized as Santarpan.


Ayurveda Treatment Philosophy:


Based on the nature of disease, Ayurveda follows certain principles of treating diseases. If deficiency of nutrients is responsible for causing a disease, then it is treated by supplying nourishment to body. This is called Bruhan. But if a disease arises due to excess accumulation of nutrients in body, then it is treated by removing those excessive nutrients. This is called Langhan.


Accumulation of toxins too is at times responsible for causing diseases. If this accumulation is small or moderate, then toxins are digested inside the body itself. This treatment is called palliative treatment or Shaman Chikitsa. But if toxins are high in quantity, then they are removed from body by using certain detoxifying methods. This treatment is called purificatory treatment or Shodhan Chikitsa. Five main detoxifying methods used for this purpose are called Panchkarma.


Treatment given for curing a disease is called Rogaghna Chikitsa while treatment given for preventing recurrence of disease is called Apunarbhava Chikitsa or Rasayan Chikitsa.

The philosophy of Ayurveda revolves around these principles. Though thousands of years have gone by, these principles and concept still prove valuable for understanding and treating various illnesses that bother human beings. These underlying principles and a holistic approach to healing is what makes Ayurveda unique and divine.



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Writer: Dr. M. Abhijit |B.A.M.S, MD, DYA

About Us: Mayur Tulum is an Ayurveda healing center based in Tulum, Mexico.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Any information in this article should not be viewed as medical advice. Please seek consultation of a qualified Ayurveda physician in your area. Alternatively, you can also contact us to schedule your online consultation.

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