Ayurved is the part of Atharv Ved Samhita (the “knowledge storehouse of atharvāṇas, the procedures for everyday life”). The principles of Ayurved are immortal. Ayurved originates from two Sanskrit words – ‘ayu’ denotes life and ‘veda’ denotes knowledge. Ayurved means ‘knowledge of life’.
The Ayurvedic Way
- One’s constitution (the unique combination of three doshas – Vata, Pitta, Kapha).
- The effects of weather, food, herbs, habits, etc., on one’s constitution (that is, how they aggravate or ameliorate the three doshas).
Understanding these principles of Ayurved and living life according to them are the secrets to a long and disease-free life.
The three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – are the fundamental forces in our body that determine the harmony and equilibrium in the body. If the balance between these forces is maintained, good health is maintained; if the balance is disturbed, unfavourable conditions are triggered in the body and this invites disease.
Everything that we do in our daily life and everything that surrounds us in the world affect these three doshas in varying degrees. The effects can be in terms of the quantity of the doshas, the quality of the doshas and the ‘place’ of the doshas. When the balance is disturbed the body normally compensates for the changes automatically.
Some examples of this automatic compensation:
- If the Vayu gets aggravated, the desire arises to eat something sweet, and the vayu gets pacified by fulfilling this desire.
- When toxins build up, the body gets rid of them in the form of urine, stool and perspiration.
- Old, faulty and immature cells are continuously replenished by new and mature cells.
- The body’s immune system continuously kills and removes invaders like bacteria, viruses, etc.
- All bodily functions like respiration, digestion, maintenance of body temperature, etc, run non-stop, automatically.
Most importantly, all these activities carry on automatically, without any intervention from us.:
The sages understood all these bodily functions and made meticulous and subtle observations about the factors that help these functions and the factors that disturb them. They realised that all these factors – like one’s constitution, the weather, our food, our habits, our medicines, etc. – are closely linked to our daily life. They therefore integrated the knowledge of Ayurved with our daily routines in such a way that maintaining good health does not become an ‘extra’ task, but just becomes an easy part of our everyday life. The prevention of disease thus happens naturally, as an automatic result of living according to the Ayurvedic way of life.
Some examples of the integration of Ayurvedic concepts in daily living:
- During uttarayan it is common for Vata to get aggravated, so it is customary to eat food items prepared from sesame seeds, which pacify the aggravated Vata
- In meals, it is customary to serve specific food items with other specific items so that the items complement each other and balance the aggravation of Doshas caused by each individual item.
- During the festival of Holi it is common for Kapha dosh to get aggravated, so it is customary to eat food items prepared from corn, which pacifies the aggravated Kapha.
When you understand the simple concepts of Ayurved, you can find many such examples in the Indian subcontinent.
The two objectives of Ayurved are:
- To prolong life and promote perfect health (add years to life and add life to years).
- To completely eradicate disease and dysfunction from the body
The Ayurvedic definition of a healthy individual is:
- He whose doshas are in balance,
- whose appetite is good,
- whose bodily tissues are functioning normally,
- whose excretory functions are in balance,
- and whose self, mind and senses remain full of bliss.