Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine which emphasizes principally on prevention of body ailments rather than simply relieving pathological problems or symptoms. Ayurveda considers us responsible for our own health. Ayurveda believes in the treatment of a person as a whole. The main aim of Ayurveda is not only curing the disease of an ailing person but also maintaining the health of a healthy person (svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṃ āturasya vikāra praśamanaṃ ca).
Ancient scholars have described elaborately regarding the daily regime of a person to protect one's health. Ayurveda teaches us how to live a healthy life with simple tools.
Now, let us see the definition of health by WHO and correlate it with Ayurveda.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely absence of a disease or infirmity.”
The Ayurvedic textbook Suśruta Saṃhitā has defined health in a wonderful manner:
“samadoṣaḥ samāgniśca samadhātu-mala-kriyā
prasanna-ātma-indriya-manaḥ svastha ityabhitīyate”
“Śarīramādyaṃ khalu dharma sādhanam”
Health is the means of all deeds.
As the basic principles of Ayurveda is established around doṣa (bio-energies), dhātu (tissues), malāḥ (wastes) and agni (bio-fire), Suśruta explains that physical health is a harmonized state of doṣa , dhātu, agni and malāḥ and the mental health is dependent on the harmony of soul (ātma), sense organs (indriya) and mind (manaḥ). So imbalance of any of these will lead to ill health. Here, sense organs relate to social well being too.
So how can we attain this health through Ayurveda by following basic things?
Ayurveda advocates the following lifestyle regulations:
- Dinacarya (daily health promotional activities)- This is basically an ideal daily schedule for us that takes into account nature's master cycles and suggests certain routines.
- Rthucarya (seasonal regimen)- The doṣas are influenced by seasonal variations. Knowledge of the seasons can help in balancing the doṣas. Hence, ṛtucarya i.e routines to be followed in different seasons which include changes in food habits etc. are of utmost importance.
- Āhāra (special diet regimen)- Balanced diet is essential for good health. Combination of food articles, their quantity, method of preparation, their emotional effect, additions, consideration of climate, place of living, time of food intake should be according to classic text references. Nutritious and sātvika āhāra is mentioned in Ayurveda. Quantity of food consumed is also taken care of. One must include six rasas in food daily.
- Sadvṛtta (code of conduct for healthy life)- This is most important during this period as this includes all the preventive measures which one should follow especially for prevention of communicable diseases.
- Rasāyanam- On a level of daily use, this can be considered as a medicinal regimen to form healthy tissues and thereby increase immunity.
- Yoga- A system of exercise for physical, and mental well being.
- Observance of certain rules regarding suppressible and non suppressible urges also paves way towards positive health
- Trayopasthamba- Sleep (nidra), Food (āhāra) and Sexual etiquette (abrahmacarya) are the three sub-pillars of life. Proper practice of these will lead to a healthy life.
Ayurveda has laid down all the preventive measures which are necessary in the maintenance of health under its section intended for the healthy (svasthavṛtta).
mānavo yena vidhinā svasthasthiṣṭhati sarvadā │
tameva kārayedvaidyo yataḥ svāsthyaṃ sadepsitam │ │
By such a practice an individual always lives healthy, a physician should advocate such practices, because good health is the most desirable object in one's life.