Updated: Sep 29
One of the striking thing when you first start studying Ayurveda is that good health or ‘Swastha’ is defined with a lot of precision.
This concept of health goes beyond the simple absence of disease, which is prevalent in most ‘healthcare’ systems.
“sama dosha sama agnishcha
samadhatu mala kriyaaha| Prasanna atma mana indriyaha
swastha iti abhidheeyate ||”
This sloka or Sanskrit verse is quoted from one of Ayurveda’s ancient texts, Sushruta Samhita, which was written by India’s
first surgeon in 600 B.C.
Health is viewed from a philosophical context as someone who is “established in the self”.
The sanskrit word for health is Swastha. ‘Swa’ means self and ‘Stha’ is situated, located or anchored. Therefore, when we are ”Swastha”
we are anchored and connected to our healthy happy self.
On a physical level, it defines a healthy person as someone whose doshas (mind-body constitution) are all in equilibrium, the (digestive) fire (agni) is in a balanced state, in addition to the body’s tissues (dhatus) and waste products (mala) being in balance. The quote also Inclides mental & spiritual wellbeing as it states that the mind (mana), sense organs (indriyas), and the person’s soul (atma) must be also in a pleasant state (prasanna).
When a person is balanced in all of those areas, he or she is considered healthy by Ayurvedic standards.
Let’s understand all the elements of the definition of health in detail.
‘Sama‘ means balanced or in equilibrium.
Sama Dosha: The doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), must be in a balanced state in order to keep a person healthy. When the balance of the doshas is disturbed, either aggravated or decreased (vitiated) it provides the stage for the development of disease.
Ayurveda believes that the imbalance in digestive fire (Agni) is the root cause for most of the diseases. Ayurvedic experts analyse Agni not only as digestive fire, but energy behind all the metabolic processes of the body (There are 13 types of fires in Ayurveda).
Sama dhatu mala kriya:
Balanced state of dhatus (tissues) and malas (waste)
According to Ayurveda there are seven Dhatus or tissues
Rasa - nutritive fluid
Rakta - blood
Mamsa - muscle
Meda - fat
Asthi - bones
Majja - bone marrow
Shukra - ovum & sperm
And the waste System or Malas including purisa (stools), Mutra (urine), Sweda (sweat) should function properly.
Prasanna Atma, Indriya, Mana:
Prasanna - satisfied or content
Atma- the individual soul (jiv atma) part of the divine soul ( parmatma)
Indriya - sense organs, through which we can connect and experience the world we live in
Mana - the mind. The mind is thought of as an incredible tool given in this life that is meant to be sharpened.
This refers to mental but also spiritual wellbeing.
The senses and the mind should be in a state of satisfaction, joy and peace. The soul should be in a state of complete ‘ananda’ or bliss.
Yoga, in its true meaning as ‘union’ and ‘harmony’ is a major tool to access inner wellbeing.
It’s amazing to note that health is global state of balance in all aspects of our being, and seemingly little things such as eliminations (which is actually a big thing) can throw us off balance.
Definition of health
This shloka confirms that Ayurveda is definitely oriented towards HEALTH and proposes a holistic vision of an individual including an essential aspect, the mind & the soul, which is often forgotten in today’s world.
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