What is Ayurveda
The word “Ayurveda” is a combination of 2 Sanskrit root words – “Ayu” which means “Life” and “Veda” which means “Science, knowledge or learning”. Ayurveda therefore covers the entire Knowledge and Science of Life (including mineral, plant and animal life). Ayurveda’s philosophy of well-being in steeped in the prevention of disease and promotion of the health through diet, lifestyle and harmonious living. The curative and maintenance aspect of disease is also discussed in-depth but preventive medicine is seen as the ultimate key to healthy living.
Ayurvedic Definition of Health
So how does Ayurveda work? In order to understand this, we need to understand the Ayurvedic definition of health which states:
“Sama dosha sama agnischa sama dhatu mala kriya
prasanna atma indriya mana swastha iti abideyate”
Sama means balance, equilibrium or homeostasis and the word Dosha does not have any English translation however I will explain the functions of dosha below which will give you an understanding of them. To put it simply Dosha is a group of attributes that are inherent in a substance and can be easily imbalanced due to internal or external factors. Ayurveda classifies 3 types of dosha known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha which I will explain further below.
Agni refers to the body’s transformation capacity while dhatu refers to the body tissues and Mala kriya the excretion. This first part of the definition covers the physical aspect of the body while the second part covers the non-physical aspect ie. the healthy state of soul (atma, True Self ), the sense organs and organs of actions (indriya) and the mind (manas). Ayurveda’s healthcare system therefore covers both the tangible, seen, gross as well as the intangible unseen subtle aspect of life itself. Ayurveda clearly states that if and only if there is a balance in the physical (gross, seen; body) and mental (subtle, unseen; energy) can a person be considered to be truly healthy.
In the next article I will focus on the Pachamahabuta which forms the foundation of Vata, Pitta and Kapha dosha.