Dr. P. Ram Manohar
The author is a well-known exponent of Ayurveda
and the director of Research at the AVT Institute
for Advanced Research, a division of Arya Vaidya Pharmacy,
Coimbatore. This essay on the foundations of Ayurveda
is reproduced with his permission.
“Ayurveda tells us that life is a
journey and a long one indeed. Body is only the vehicle,
which we use to travel. Life is not a simple journey,
but an adventurous one too, the final destination
of which we have to discover and reach by selecting
a most suitable route… Death is only a pause
to change the vehicle, leave one body and enter another.
Life’s journey is so long that the vehicle wears
out before the destination is reached. Several bodies,
which means, several lifetimes, are required to complete
it.... Ayurveda advises how to make best
use of our body to travel forward in life. How to
discover the final destination, how to select a most
suitable route and how to ensure one gets connecting
vehicles are all part and parcel of Ayurvedic
knowledge that helps us to organize our lives.”
Ayurveda, the health care system indigenous to
India, has an impressive evolutionary history that spans
a period of many thousands of years. With the advent of
biomedicine, Ayurveda was relegated to the background
and there was a time when it looked as though the final
word had been said about it. Recently, Ayurveda
is getting worldwide attention albeit the nature of the
role it can play in contemporary health care scenario is
not well defined.
Many still feel that Ayurveda should rest in the
annals of history or contend that Ayurveda is a
living museum and a promising field for anthropological
inquiry. For ethnopharmacologists, Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia
is a rich source of information that can facilitate drug
development from natural sources. There are people who for
whom Ayurveda can function in the area of Primary
Health Care or as a Medical specialty or even as an independent
medical system. For many thinkers, Ayurveda is
part of an outdated world view common to cultures of the
European and Mid-East Arabian antiquity, but which is still
alive in Asian cultures that was exposed to modern science
There is a viewpoint that progressive research in world
health care must include a consideration to early medico-philosophical
ideas. Indeed, ancient Ayurvedic thinking might
as well provide metaphors that encapsulate templates to
organize information on knowledge of life, health and disease
from varied sources. However, the fact that Ayurveda
still caters to basic health care needs of a significant
number of people, especially in areas where modern medicine
failed to offer solutions, seems to be the major impetus
behind the resurgence of Ayurveda in our times.
Ayurveda - general profile
By definition, Ayurveda
is the knowledge of life.
In the first place, Ayurveda gives us an understanding
of what life is. Reminding us of the transient nature of life,
this body of knowledge encourages us to discover our life
span i.e., to take stock of the time at our disposal. By making
us aware of factors favorable and unfavorable to sustain the
life process, Ayurveda gives us guidelines to carve
an individualized regimen to live one’s life to the
full potential. Ayurveda admits that achievement
of personal happiness is a major goal of life. But it points
out that fulfillment in life comes only when achievement of
personal happiness does not conflict with communal happiness
but also promotes it.
Ayurvedic literature has been decorated with mythological
stories, which ascribe extra human or divine origins to this
knowledge system. Few variations are available on the mythological
origins of Ayurveda. The most popular mythological
story on the origin of Ayurveda is that Lord brahmaa
who taught it to prajApati, who in turn passed it
to azwinIs from whom indra learnt it and
transmitted it to the human beings, recollected this knowledge
These mythological accounts according to many scholars speak
of the rigidity that Ayurveda acquired in the flow
of time, which arrested its further progress and development.
Attributing divine origin to Ayurveda worked as a
powerful contrivance to discourage questioning and inquiry
while it promoted blind worship of authority. The intelligent
person finds the mythological stories on the origin of Ayurveda
quite amusing indeed.
Serious aspirants of Ayurveda have discovered that
such stories are symbolic and when demystified, convey profound
insights on the process of knowledge building. indra,
for instance, is known as the thousand eyed and represents
a powerful state of consciousness, which is attained by rigorous
discipline. Another of indra’s names indicates this,
the performer of a hundred sacrifices. Thus, mythological
accounts only indicate that rigorous training is required
to experience the knowledge of Ayurveda and they
are in no way opposed to open inquiry of truth. The discipline
of mind that Ayurveda demands can be aptly termed
as tapas. tapas literally heats up and transforms
the mind. It awakens not only the rational but also the intuitive
faculty of the mind.
The origins of Ayurveda, and for that matter, Indian
civilization, are shrouded in mystery. While some scholars
have been enthusiastically pushing Ayurveda into
remote antiquity, others are vehemently arguing that most
of the Ayurvedic literature available today have
come into existence only a few centuries before Christ or
even after the beginning of the common era. To add more spice
to the curry, historians have also opened up a debate on the
vedic and extra vedic origins of Ayurveda.
Some swear that Ayurveda is a product of the vedic
tradition while others scoff at such ‘deceptive’
notions pointing out that Ayurveda is in fact, anti-vedic.
The most recent and quite a revolutionary proposition is that
Ayurveda originated from Buddhism.
Anonymity of authors of Ayurvedic literature poses
major difficulties in the study of Ayurvedic history.
Another problem is that great personalities often become institutionalized
and it is difficult to decide whether a name like vAgbhaTa
refers to one individual, a group or institution.
We can definitely state that Ayurveda is a product
of the Indian civilization process. But it is very difficult
to understand how much of Ayurveda has been borrowed
by other medical approaches and how much of Ayurveda
is borrowed from other medical approaches.
It is probable that at least in a certain period of history,
Ayurveda attained the status of cosmopolitan medicine
to some extent and spread from India to the neighboring countries.
While it grew out of its own land of origin, Ayurveda
also adapted itself in a region specific manner creating many
regionally specialized approaches to health care within the
land of its origin.
The Ayurvedic traditions of Northern, Southern, Eastern and
Western regions stand out uniquely in terms of literature,
practice, techniques and pharmacopoeia. On top of it all,
Ayurveda emerged as the refined classical version
of a self-existent folk stream of medical lore in India with
which it established a symbiotic relationship.
It has merged into the very life breath of the people of the
Indian sub-continent and is very much alive in contemporary
Sources of Information
We hear about Ayurveda from the literature
and see it in the living traditions. But, all that is in the
literature is not expressed through the living traditions.
Neither does the literature capture completely what has expressed
through the living traditions. Thus, the literature and living
traditions constitute the sources of information on Ayurveda.
The available Ayurvedic literature spans many thousands
of years representing the evolutionary history of Ayurveda.
Not only is there variety in formats of Ayurvedic
literature, but they are also representative of important
chronological and geographical landmarks in the growth and
development of Ayurveda. Much ground is to be made
in locating, preserving and cataloguing Ayurvedic
manuscripts, not to speak of the efforts that need to be taken
to critically edit and publish them with good translations.
The living traditions of Ayurveda constitute the
key to a modern revival of this ancient healing system. By
‘living traditions’ is meant individuals, families
or establishments who have carried into our times the classical
practice of Ayurveda that existed in the pre-modern
era. Individuals representing the living traditions of Ayurveda
may or may not have formal training in modernized Ayurveda
or Western medical science.
The living traditions make up the springboard to dive into
a new world of Ayurvedic clinical practice. However,
it is lamentable that an exhaustive directory of living individuals
representing these traditions is yet to see the light of the
day. Not to speak of mechanisms that will ensure that this
valuable knowledge will be passed on to the new generation.
Living traditions that exist today represent specializations
in the area of poison healing, bone setting, pediatrics and
the like. Ayurvedic literature represents what has
and what can be expressed as a living tradition. Living traditions
represent what has and can be documented in Ayurvedic
literature. We can say that the literature and living traditions
of Ayurveda are like two birds seeking each other.
Method of knowledge-building in Ayurveda
Ayurveda studies only what exists and ultimately
eliminates imaginary and speculative assumptions from its
field of enquiry. It provides knowledge of existent phenomena
related to the life process in an objective manner. Most
important of all, it chalks out an operational scheme to
personally verify the knowledge gained about the life process.
Finally, it emphasizes experience and verification as the
ultimate criteria to validate a knowledge system. This is
the classical interpretation of the term veda that
denotes sattA (existence), jJAna (knowledge),
vicAra (inquiry) and lAbha (attainment).
The classical textbooks of Ayurveda declare that
true knowledge reveals things as they are and does not distort
reality. The sun dispels darkness and reveals the world
as it rises on the horizon. Even so the sun of Ayurvedic
knowledge reveals to us the nature of life, health and disease.
The veracity of this statement has to be verified through
a fresh inquiry with an open mind that respects, loves and
All Indian knowledge systems emphatically declare that experience
is the true basis of knowledge. Therefore, knowledge is
experiential - anubhava. However, the ancient sages
realized that experience in itself does not constitute knowledge.
Experiences have to be validated through the process of
verification. Verified experiences are valid and constitute
the true source of knowledge. Thus, experience is of two
types - valid - yathArtha anubhava or invalid -
ayathArtha anubhava. Technically, the understanding
gained out of rigorous observations is called as pramA
and that gained out of improper observations is called as
apramA. The source of knowledge in Ayurveda,
therefore, is rigorous and systematic observation. This
is indicated by sattA, meaning existence, one of
the meanings of the root from which the word veda
Before attempting to verify, one has to properly understand
a technical presentation. In other words, a technical presentation
has to be analyzed and understood properly first. Otherwise,
the process of verification will be defeating its purpose.
This is indicated by vicAra, meaning to analyze,
one of the meanings of the root from which the word veda
Verification adds value to the knowledge and in due course
of time, generates a body of knowledge that has been rigorously
tested again and again. Ayurveda distinguishes
between jJAna and vijJAna, the former
denoting understanding and the latter experience. Ayurvedic
texts say that one needs both understanding and experience
and neither understanding nor experience by itself can lead
to complete knowledge. Therefore, the student is advised
to first gain understanding by study of authoritative texts
and then confirm the understanding personally through the
process of investigation called parIkSA. This is
indicated by the word lAbha, meaning to obtain,
one of the meanings of the root from which the word veda
The subject matter
Life, life span, the happy and unhappy life, the
wholesome and unwholesome life and factors wholesome and unwholesome
to life constitute the broad subject matter of Ayurveda.
Health and disease are put in perspective in the backdrop
of higher goals in life. Healthy existence is seen as a means
to fulfill the purpose of life and not as an end in itself.
Disease is an obstacle that interferes with life from blooming
This primary focus on life and its purpose underpins Ayurveda’s
approach to health and disease, elevating it to the status
of a complete vision on life over and above that of a medical
It is no coincidence that the term Ayurveda means
knowledge of life. ‘Biology’ and not ‘Medical
Science’ would be the approximate translation for the
term Ayurveda. vRkSAyurveda is the knowledge
of plant life and pazvAyurveda is the knowledge of
animal life. By the same logic, study of elephants has come
to be called as hastyAyurveda and study of horses,
as azvAyurveda. Ayurveda embraces life in
In a more narrow sense, terms like cikitsAzAstra
and bhiSaGvidyA denote Ayurveda as a medical
system. Yet, Ayurveda has a strong footing in preventive
health care in spite of its specialization in the field of
According to Ayurveda, life is a most mysterious
and fascinating phenomenon that manifests when certain key
components (self, mind, senses and body) coalesce together.
Just like a computer system comes to life through the coalition
of electricity, design, software and hardware components.
It exists as long as this coalition lasts and dissolves when
the coalition disintegrates. While life itself tries to preserve
this coalition, various factors operate from within and without
to destroy it. Eventually, the antagonistic factors dominate
and the flame of life is extinguished. Ayurveda explains
how life manifests by establishing the vital coalition of
key components, how it strives to preserve it and finally
how the process breaks down leading to death.
Life is a transience that seeks and searches for permanence.
Life — a journey
Ayurveda tells us that life is a journey and a long
one indeed. Body is only the vehicle, which we use to travel.
Life is not a simple journey, but an adventurous one too,
the final destination of which we have to discover and reach
by selecting a most suitable route.
There are many options to break our journey, take time off
sight seeing and then resume it. And such recreational facilities
are indispensable when the journey is long and tedious. But
if we are not careful and do not plan in advance, we may find
ourselves stranded in no man’s land and struggling to
get a vehicle to resume our journey.
Death is only a pause to change the vehicle, leave one body
and enter another. Life’s journey is so long that the
vehicle wears out before the destination is reached. Several
bodies, which means, several lifetimes, are required to complete
Ayurveda advises how to make best use of our body
to travel forward in life. How to discover the final destination,
how to select a most suitable route and how to ensure one
gets connecting vehicles are all part and parcel of Ayurvedic
knowledge that helps us to organize our lives.
Mind-body, the vehicle
Ayurveda considers the body-mind complex as a vehicle
that has to be properly taken care of.
Life — a transit
A lifetime is only a transit, a spatio-temporal location that
we will inhabit temporarily to execute the necessary operations
that enable us to move forward. The body is therefore a home
that is conditionally gifted to us, a city in which we can
dwell subject to restriction of time. Before the validity
expires, we have to identify and perform those tasks, which
will make our journey smooth and fruitful.
Mind-body, a house or city
Ayurveda advises us how to lead a responsible life
and make most of a most precious gift given to us. The mind-body
complex is considered as a house, a city that one inhabits
for a fixed period of time before moving on to another location.
Life — a flame
One of the most powerful metaphors that Ayurveda
has used to describe life is that of a flame. According to
this metaphor, the body is the lamp, food is the oil, tissues
the wick and the flame, the life process. Just as oil has
to be poured into the lamp from time to time, food has to
be consumed periodically to sustain the life process. The
oil should burn through the wick and the flame will be extinguished
when the wick burns. For life to be sustained, the tissues
must be protected from burning out. Thus life has to be stabilized
The flame will be extinguished if a strong gush of wind blows
or if flies come and fall on it. So also, the life process
can be destroyed by antagonistic factors acting from outside.
Thus life has to be stabilized from without too.
Mind-body, a lamp
The mind-body complex is a precious gift, a wonderful lamp.
It is to be considered, as sacred and all necessary precautions
have to be taken to protect it.
Death is one of the few things that we can be certain
of, though we cannot be sure of the time and place in which
it will happen. Ayurveda says that this is because
there are two types of death, the timely death, which we
cannot avoid, and untimely death, which we can avoid.
Ayurveda declares that there is a potential life
span and the actual life span. The potential life span is
what one can live provided one takes care of the mind-body
complex properly. The actual life span is what one actually
lives and this may be the potential life span or less than
It is a misfortune to succumb to untimely death while it
is dignifying to welcome timely death.
Just as a vehicle, even when properly used and maintained
succumbs to wear and tear in due course; so, the body eventually
succumbs to the impact of time even if we lead a healthy
way of life.
But timely death is a meditative experience, an event that
we can welcome and celebrate. Death comes softly like a
mother putting a child to sleep. Ayurveda prompts
us to ensure a timely death.
Just as a vehicle improperly used and not maintained gets
destroyed prematurely, even so the body succumbs to untimely
death under the impact of a stressful life.
Untimely death is terrible and a frightening experience.
Something we should avoid by applying the tenets of Ayurveda
in our life.
Factors affecting life
According to Ayurveda, life is a process
of being and becoming, a state of continuous transformation.
All living forms are in flux, changing moment by moment, responding
to changes that occur in the external environment.
Life is a most precious and amazing product of natural processes
and therefore to be protected and nurtured. Indeed, Ayurveda
points out that myriad mechanisms operate naturally to fulfill
this purpose. But Ayurveda also recognizes that unfavorable
situations and factors play an important role in providing
the stimulus for evolution of life.
Protection preserves life, but often stunts growth and evolution,
while over protection can even destroy life. Unfavorable factors
pose threat to life, but stimulates transformation and change,
though it can destroy life when it operates in excess.
Therefore, a proportionate and wholesome combination of favorable
and unfavorable factors nurtures life and promotes its evolution.
This is technically called ‘samyak yoga’
Under protection and over protection can both be destructive.
So also protection given in the wrong context. The same is
true with the case of life threatening factors too. Technically,
Ayurveda calls such situations as atiyoga
(hyper-union), hInayoga (hypo-union) and mithyAyoga
All living beings are placed in a spatio-temporal matrix that
changes to create both favorable and unfavorable circumstances
for life to blossom to fullness. The cycle of the seasons
that periodically shifts between the extremes of heat and
cold is a typical example.
Ayurveda declares that nothing is absolutely good
or bad for life. What is good in one context becomes bad in
another context and vice versa. Ayurveda, therefore,
explains how various substances and situations become favorable
and unfavorable to life depending on various conditions.
For convenience, Ayurveda considers that which nourishes
— sustains life as food; that which regulates life as
medicine and that which harms — destroys life as poison.
It is important to realize, however, that what is food can
become poison and what is poison can become medicine.
Given the ‘know how’, every substance in this
world can be used to support and promote life.
By one definition, Ayurveda is that which gives
the knowledge of substances, properties and actions that
promotes or disturbs the life process.
Even as Ayurveda points out the fact that there
are no absolute rules in life, it observes that we can recognize
substances, properties and actions that are predominantly
promotive of life.
Life promoting factors can be best understood in relation
with three basic processes of life. Life is basically an
activity, the energy for which is obtained from matter in
the external environment. Periods of intense activity are
alternated by periods of rest. Fuelling ( AhAra —
food), Resting (nidrA — sleep) and Activity
( brahmacaryA — action to achieve the highest
goal) are considered in Ayurveda as the tristambha
or the three supports of life.
brahmacarya, often translated as celibacy, actually
means activity that aims to reach the highest or biggest.
The word brahman means big.
One can live a healthy and purposeful life if one knows
1) how to eat, 2) how to rest and 3) how to act.
Ayurveda gives elaborate guidelines on food and
how to develop good eating habits. It also advises one how
to derive the maximum benefit from sleep and organize one’s
energies for a meaningful life. Finally, Ayurveda
tells us that we must differentiate between smaller and
higher goals in life. Life becomes purposeless if one does
not reach for the highest goal.
Activities pertain to body, mind and speech. How to regulate
these activities so as to preserve and promote life is the
concern of Ayurveda.
The states of health and disease create a spectrum as it
were, with perfect health and terminal disease setting the
limits at the two extremes. Life is a series of events that
unfold as attempts to reach the state of perfect health.
While life succeeds to reach the summit at times, it also
slips down to lower levels of health, near disease states
or even severe disease and death.
Ayurveda says that life is potentially a gradual
ascent to the state of perfect health and a gradual descent
to terminal disease and death. The state of perfect health
is an ideal that, in the rare instances it is achieved is
difficult to maintain. Every living form ultimately succumbs
to death that may or may not be preceded by disease. Perfect
health, according to Ayurveda, is a means to achieve
a higher end. This is technically called in Ayurveda
as mokSa — freedom.
Ayurveda, and for that matter, the Indian thought
process, point out that we often confuse the means with
the goal. Health is the most important of all the means
that can enable one to attain the highest goal of life —
To attain the state of perfect health and use it to reach
the true goal of life is according to Ayurveda
the most purposeful and meaningful agenda in the life of
a human being.
Therefore, Ayurveda points out that each human
being has to constantly monitor one’s state of health
and do whatever is necessary to reach and maintain higher
levels of health while at the same time preventing disease
and prolonging life.
Ayurveda also emphasizes that the human body and
mind have the innate design to monitor states of disease
and health. A very sophisticated and complex signaling system
operates to keep us informed of changing states of health
Such signals are called liGgas in Ayurveda.
liGga means that which reveals what is hidden.
The liGgas or signals operate both at the levels
of the mind and the body. They may be subjective or objective.
By cultivating awareness and through health education, every
human being can monitor his or her state of health. Alternatively,
a physician can also recognize and understand states of
health by a systematic study of liGgas.
Ayurveda looks at health and disease through a
rational framework called triskandha or three supports.
They are cause (hetu), signals (liGga)
and remedial measures (auSadha). Both health and
disease are effects produced by causes, which can be recognized
by observable signals and maintained or cured by specific
The mind in health
Ayurveda says that the essence of the human personality
is in the mind and the body is only a medium for expression.
Living forms exhibit self awareness and awareness of the
environment in varying degrees. Life is a gradual process
of awakening and in different life forms, there is a different
level of awakening. Ayurveda and the Indian thought
process recognize three states of the mind. The lowest level
of awareness, the dormant sleep like state of consciousness
is called as tamas. The next level of awareness
in which there is a distorted perception of reality, is
called as rajas. The highest level of awareness,
in which there is contact with reality, is called sattva.
tamas is a contracted state of mind, characterized
by lack of awareness of both self and environment. Triggering
mechanisms initiate the process of expansion. The first
state of expansion is rajas; a state in which, there is
distorted awareness of the external environment and oneself.
This awareness leads to actions that produce expected and
unexpected results. This works to create a mechanism of
self-correction and learning. Actions lead to knowledge
in this stage. Gradually, the mind expands to the higher
level of sattva, in which there is clear awareness
of both the self and the environment. Actions arise from
knowledge in this stage.
The states of tamas, rajas and sattva
roughly correspond to the sleeping, dreaming and waking
states. All living beings alternatively go through these
states. Plant life is predominantly tamasic, animal
life, rajasic and human life, sAttvic.
Ayurveda says that a gradual preponderance of the
sAttvic state is a sign of growing mental health.
Predominance of either tamas or rajas
is a sign of deteriorating mental health. rajas
and tamas are called as the faults of the mind.
A comprehensive program for mental health would aim at reducing
the length of the rajasic and tamasic
states in the cycle of mental activities and prolong the
sAttvic state. This can be achieved only with the
help of the body.
The body in health
The body is the tool to expand the mind. It is an instrument
of action. Action represents the conversion of tamas
into rajas. The feedback from action in the form
of results activates the transformation of the mind from
rajas to sattva.
According to Ayurveda, the body is the crucible
in which tamas is burnt into rajas and
transformed into sattva. And food is the source
of tamasic energy, which, through the process of
digestion and metabolism energizes and activates the mind.
What happens in the body reflects on the mind. The body
has to burn and at the same time not burn. The body has
to burn so that matter is transformed and energizes the
mind. And yet it must not burn away completely so that it
continues to serve as a crucible in which matter can be
Eventually, the body gives way and is burnt to ashes so
The body succeeds in effectively burning matter without
destroying itself by balancing the processes of energy conservation,
energy conversion and energy utilization. There are times
when the body conserves more energy than it uses or uses
more energy than it conserves. At times, it strikes a balance
between the two. Ayurveda declares that these are
the three pivotal processes that underlie all physiological
activities of the body. Ayurveda calls these processes
as kapha, pitta and vAta respectively.
They are called as doSas or faults because they
have a tendency to go out of balance. The concept of doSas
is a generalization and incorporates all structural and
functional components of the body including waste products.
In childhood, kapha predominates i.e., more energy
is conserved than is utilized. In middle age, pitta
predominates i.e., there is a balance between energy conservation
and utilization. And in old age, vAta predominates
i.e., more energy is utilized than is conserved.
In one lifetime, the body goes through a complete cycle
of energy conservation, conversion and utilization till
it breaks down. A lifetime is an opportunity to expand and
awaken the mind by judicious use of the body.
Ayurveda defines the health of the body as the
dynamic balance of the three doSas i.e., the processes
of energy conservation, conversion and utilization.
Upgrading the body-mind
Death cannot be prevented, but can be prolonged by
taking proper care of the body. One of the ways to achieve
this end is to upgrade it so that it functions at a higher
level of efficiency. Ayurveda emphasizes that upgrading
the body to achieve higher levels of health is as important
as maintenance of health and cure of disease.
Ayurveda has a threefold program to upgrade the body-mind
complex — a) Cultivating a lifestyle b) Rejuvenation
program c) Virilification program.
Cultivating a lifestyle
Life forms exhibit both voluntary and involuntary actions.
The vital processes of life are involuntary in nature and
set the stage for performance of voluntary actions. Ayurveda
calls acts of volition as karma. All acts of volition have
a bearing on the involuntary actions that support life.
Certain acts of volition disturb the involuntary functions
of the body. Eventually, acts of volition get disturbed and
the individual sinks to a level of inefficiency.
Cultivating a lifestyle means to gain control over and regulate
acts of volition so that they not only do not interfere with
the involuntary functions of the body, but also will stabilize
and strengthen them. Cultivating a lifestyle is a dynamic
process — a process of growth and evolution through
which one ascends to higher levels of efficiency.
Ayurveda has designed a very elaborate program for
rejuvenation. Ayurveda declares that the basic support
of the body is the essence of the food called rasa.
Energy is released from the refined essence of food to engage
in various activities of life and complex processes of construction
and destruction operate threatening the integrity of the body.
The formation of rasa through the process of digestion
and its subsequent transformation into the body substance
through the process of metabolism is crucial to maintaining
the stability of the body. The word rasAyana, for
rejuvenation, in Ayurveda means the pathway of rasa,
the essence of digested food. The ideal rejuvenation program
ensures that food is properly digested to form rasa
first and then that it is completely metabolized to sustain
the various activities of the body.
Ayurveda points out that it is not enough that we
eat nutritious food. It is equally important that the food
that we eat is properly transformed. The actions of the body
and mind play a very important role in this regard and so
Ayurveda says that all rejuvenation programs should
be accompanied with strict behavioral regimens.
The concept of rasAyana can be easily understood
through imagery. The body works out its own economics under
the heads of capital, income and expense. Upgrading the body
through the technique of rasAyana adjusts the income-expense
ratio so that the capital does not deplete, but builds up
rasAyana is implemented through a) diet b) medicine
and c) behavior.
Rejuvenation is to be implemented after cultivating a healthy
lifestyle. Rejuvenation programs recommended by Ayurveda work
only with the support of a healthy lifestyle. A rejuvenated
body can be prepared for procreation. In this way, the most
desired traits can be transmitted to the offspring.
Virilification has another purpose. According to Ayurveda,
excessive indulgence in sex can have a telling effect on the
health of the body and the mind. Various dietary regimens
and medicines have been formulated in the Ayurvedic
texts to recover the vitality lost by excessive indulgence
in sex and also to reverse its unwanted effects on the body
There are two aspects to the virilification program in Ayurveda
indicated by the terms vAjIkaraNa and vRSya.
vAjIkaraNa means ‘to convert into a horse’
and indicates increase in sexual appetite and performance.
vRSya means to irrigate and indicates improvement
in quality of semen. For upgradation of the body, the vRSya
aspect is to be emphasized. vAjIkaraNa will lead
to loss of energy and degradation of the mind and body.
Ayurveda believes that the ultimate upgradation of
the human body is to be achieved by improving the quality
of the reproductive tissue and ensuring good progeny. vRSya
is therefore, implemented after rasAyana.
Maintaining the mind-body
The body is a system that is fated to eventually break down
and collapse. Therefore, efforts have to be made to maintain
higher levels of health lest one slips down quickly to lower
levels of disease and death. Maintenance of the body-mind
has to be done to prevent wear and tear. This is achieved
by becoming aware of changes that happen both outside and
inside the body and effectively responding to them.
Ayurveda emphasizes that one must become aware of
diurnal and seasonal variations in the external environment
and the impact it creates on the body. At the same time, one
must also become aware of changes that occur within the body
as the basic activities of life are carried out.
The daily and seasonal regimens have been designed to make
appropriate adjustments to changes in the external environment.
The body is constantly adjusting itself to changes that occur
from within. Such adjustments are initiated involuntarily
but have to be completed by volition. These are called as
the natural urges and attending to the natural urges constitutes
one of the essential aspects of maintenance of the body-mind.
Daily and Seasonal regimen
Day and night rolls by in a cyclic manner activating myriad
changes in the environment. In a year, it circumscribes a
bigger circle, the cycle of seasons. These changes are so
structured and organized that one can almost feel an innate
rhythm in nature as day and night unfolds into the play of
colorful seasons. The word Rtu, denoting season means
that which is a manifestation of Rtam, the innate
rhythm of nature. Nature is the dance master and life forms
are the dancers. The challenge is to tune in to the inner
pulse of nature and achieve complete harmony. This is achieved
by constant practice. In fact, every action should harmonize
and integrate into nature. An action becomes right when it
is done in the proper place and time. This is called as muhUrta.
muhUrta means to integrate with the Rtam
again and again.
Ayurveda advises Daily and Seasonal Regimen that
regulates actions of the body and the mind with a view to
achieving complete harmony with the external environment.
This includes behavioral and dietary changes in accordance
with the seasons, which is an essential requisite for maintenance
Attending to natural urges
The body is perpetually engaged in exchange of matter and
energy with the external environment. Being a system, it represents
the functional stages of Input, Process and Output. While
processing is an ongoing activity, input and output are periodical
activities. Thirst, hunger, gasping and yawning are involuntarily
initiated activities of the body to provide necessary inputs
to sustain the life process. Urge for defecation, micturition,
sneezing, flatus, cough, vomiting and ejaculation are involuntarily
initiated activities that lead to output of relevant material
from the body. Sleep is an urge that creates the occasion
for the life processes to slow down, and rejuvenate itself,
if not stop completely.
Ayurveda says that the natural urges have to be promptly
attended to and if either suppressed or stimulated can develop
a situation that is conducive to the manifestation of various
diseases. Ayurveda points out that people that habitually
ignore the call of natural urges become prone to get diseases
frequently. Courtesans, businessmen, priests and servants
of the King are called sadAturas or ‘always
sick’ persons because their work style prevents them
from promptly attending to the natural urges.
Repairing the mind-body
If the mind-body is not upgraded or maintained properly,
it breaks down prematurely causing diseases or even death.
Depending on the extent of the damage done, such problems
may or may not have solutions. Ayurveda emphatically
declares that all diseases do not have a cure. The responsibility
of the physician is to distinguish between curable and incurable
The harmonious association of the physician, the drugs,
the nurse and the patient can treat curable diseases. The
physician is the actor, the drug the tool of action, the
nurse is the facilitator of healing and the patient, the
substratum of action. They are together called the four
limbs of treatment.
Ayurvedic treatment has also been specialized into
eight branches taking into consideration domains where general
principles of treatment have to be applied in a specialized
Four limbs of treatment
Ayurveda looks at the healing process from a holistic
viewpoint. Drugs constitute the most important tool for
treatment. Their curative potential unfolds only when used
in the proper way. Even the best drug can produce unwanted
effects if used wrongly. Thus, the physician becomes the
most important of the four limbs of treatment in Ayurveda
because a drug becomes a drug only when a good physician
Next in importance comes the nurse who creates the proper
environment for the drug to initiate and complete the healing
process. Finally, the patient constitutes the very substratum
for the treatment. The cooperation of the patient is very
crucial for success in treatment.
For the treatment process to succeed, Ayurveda
points out that all the four limbs should satisfy some basic
standards. Ayurveda lists four essential qualities
of the physician, drug, nurse and the patient.
Eight specialties of treatment
The basic principles of Ayurvedic therapeutics
have been applied in specialized ways to tackle different
types of diseases. Thus, Ayurvedic therapeutics
specialized into eight branches. They are:
1. kAyacikitsA or General Medicine,
2. bAla cikitsA — Pediatrics,
3. graha cikitsA — Psychiatry,
4. zAlakya tantRa — Otorhinolaryngiology,
Ophthalmology and Dentistry,
5. zalya tantRa — Surgery,
6. agada tantra — Toxicology,
7. rasAyana — Geriatrics, and
8. vAjIkarana — Sexual Medicine
It must be understood that these are not eight branches
of Ayurveda but of Ayurvedic therapeutics.
Ayurveda as such is divided into the two domains
of Preventive and Curative Medicine. aGga, the
saMskRta word for branch means, that which goes
along with the whole. All branches of Ayurvedic
treatment are therefore, based on the principles of General
Medicine (kAyacikitsA), from which they are never
A harmonious combination of favorable and unfavorable factors
preserves and evolves life. The same factors when out of harmony
cause destruction of life.
Ayurveda traces the root cause of all diseases to
irregularities in diet and behavior. The perfectly healthy
person is said to be aprakampya or unshakable. Internal
adjustment, according to Ayurveda, is the key to
make the external environment favorable to life.
Individual actions create positive or negative impact on the
external environment. The individual and the environment are
complementary and cannot be considered independently. The
individual influences the environment and the environment
also influences the individual.
A healthy way of life enables one to not only become strong
within, but also to influence the environment in a positive
way so that it becomes conducive and supportive to life.
Epidemic diseases, according to Ayurveda are the
outcome of collective unhealthy habits of individuals living
At the individual level, unhealthy habits reduce efficiency
to cope up with vagaries of the environment and leads to individual
disease. At the community level, collective unhealthy habits
eventually leads to breakdown of both the individual and the
Ayurveda says that the purpose of regulating one’s
life is to eventually overcome the need for regulation. Just
as the dietary restrictions imposed during sickness can be
removed when the person is cured, even so, regulations in
lifestyle can be discarded when one attains higher levels
of health. This is the concept of rakSAbandhana,
which means the bondage that protects.
It is the contention of Ayurveda that the ultimate
purpose of life is to discover freedom. Freedom from the limitations
of the mind; freedom from the limitations of the body. True
happiness lies in the discovery of freedom.
Life is a movement from bondage to freedom. Life seeks freedom
but ends up in bondage. The regulations imposed by Ayurveda
are like bondage that leads to freedom — the rakSAbandhana.
An impulsive search for freedom is the root of an unhealthy
way of life and this is to be understood as the primary factor
that eventually destroys life prematurely.
Just as the state of health can be monitored with the help
of signals or liGgas, the states of disease can also
be understood by careful observation of liGgas. Disease
conditions invariably present with signs and symptoms that
are easy or difficult to perceive.
Troubleshooting involves two things. First of all, one has
to recognize that something has gone wrong. Next, one must
understand what exactly has gone wrong. liGgas enable
one to recognize that something has gone wrong. But unless
they are analyzed systematically, they do not necessarily
help us in understanding what has actually gone wrong.
Sometimes liGgas are themselves hidden and then one
fails to recognize that there is a problem at all until it
is too late.
liGgas may be of a variable nature. Functional disability
and discomfort are the most easily recognizable type of liGgas.
Change in colour, loss of weight, general lassitude and the
likes are liGgas that may go unnoticed.
When analyzed systematically, many of the liGgas
enable us to understand the nature of the problem. liGgas
that are either difficult to recognize or decipher are called
as gUDhaliGgas. In such cases, rigorous tests will
have to be carried out to understand the nature of the disease.
Ayurveda says that there are four types of liGgas
— one liGga specific to one disease, one liGga
for many diseases, many liGgas for one disease and
many liGgas for many diseases.
Troubleshooting involves three steps:
1. Observing a liGga
— enables one to understand that there is a problem
2. Analyzing a liGga — enables
one to understand the nature of a problem in cases where
liGgas are clear
3. Conducting tests — enables
one to understand the nature of a problem in cases where
liGgas can be deciphered.
It is also important to realize that liGgas may
be false and misleading. False liGgas sound alarm
when there is actually no problem at all.
The body in disease
Underlying all diseases is the imbalance of the three doshas
— vAta, pitta and kapha.
The three doSas represent the balance of the processes
of conservation, conversion and utilization of energy.
To understand what has gone wrong with the body is to understand
what has gone wrong with these basic processes. Though the
same problem of imbalance underlies every disease, they
may manifest in specific ways to create specific diseases.
Thus the problem of disease is understood at three levels
in Ayurveda. 1) The level of liGgas or
symptoms 2) The level of disease process or vyAdhi
and 3) The level of disease origin or doSas.
liGgas enable us to understand what is happening
at the level of vyAdhi or disease process or what
is happening at the level of doSa or disease origin.
The mind in disease
The sAttvic state is the apex of mental health.
It is not the absence of rajas or tamas
but rather their integration into sattva. In the
unhealthy state, rajas distorts one’s perception
and tamas causes lack of awareness. There is complete
incompatibility between action and inaction. In the healthy
state, rajas expresses as activity and tamas
as rest. In the pinnacle of mental health one resolves the
conflict between action and inaction. When sattva
integrates rajas and tamas, one is established
in restful activity and active rest.
In the state of disease, one is unable to either rest or
act. The mind becomes restless and as a result, there is
clouding of intelligence. The sick state of the mind is
compared with a chariot that does not have a charioteer.
Because the mind is energized by the activities of the body,
mental diseases cannot be understood without understanding
When hot ghee is poured into an iron vessel, it gets heated.
So also, when ghee is poured into a hot iron vessel, it
gets heated. The body influences the mind and the mind influences
Because the body anchors the mind, the body has to be first
corrected to correct the mind. Therefore, Ayurveda
understands mental diseases at three levels
1. Problems operating at the level of
2. Problems operating at the level of both body
3. Problems operating at the level of the mind
Such problems are understood by observing
and analyzing liGgas systematically.
Degrading the body-mind
Just as the body can be upgraded to function at higher levels
of health, it can also fall down to lower levels of disease
The main reasons for this are non-maintenance and damage.
In the long run, the body and mind become adversely affected
Non-maintenance of the body-mind
This includes lack of proper food, rest and activity. Suppression
and stimulation of natural urges is another contributing factor
apart from ignoring the rules of daily and seasonal regimen.
Damaging the body-mind
Damage can occur to the body by operation of factors from
both within and without. When not properly maintained or upgraded
or improperly treated body may undergo damage that is reversible
or irreversible. The body-mind can be brought back to a healthy
state when the damage done is reversible. If the damage is
irreversible, it can lead to handicap or death.
Concepts and tools of diagnosis
Ayurveda has elaborated various concepts and
tools to understand disease. The focus is mainly on liGgas,
which enable one to recognize and understand a disease and
then on tests or investigations, which enable one to understand
a disease when, liGgas fail to do so.
The conceptual framework evolved in Ayurveda for
rigorous observation and analysis of liGgas is
called the paJcalakSaNa nidAna.
In addition, there are various tools for diagnosis like
examination of urine, feces, pulse and so on to understand
disease when liGgas are evasive.
Methods to study disease
The paJcalakSaNa nidAna provides a very broad framework
to understand the mechanism of disease causation. It consists
of five steps.
1. nidAna — aetiology,
2. pUrvarUpa — premonitory symptoms,
3. rUpa — symptoms,
4. upazaya — Diagnostic medication, and
5. saMprApti — pathogenesis.
Half the work is done if causative mechanisms are identified
and removed. Therefore, Ayurveda lays emphasis
on detecting causes that have operated behind causation
Arresting the disease causing mechanism can effect a cure
in conditions where the disease process is being triggered
into manifestation by causes. This will not work when the
disease process begins to operate independent of triggering
causes. In such cases, it is necessary to know what has
happened in the body so that necessary actions can be performed
to reverse it.
This is done by first systematically observing premonitory
signs and full-blown clinical signs. On the basis of a thorough
analysis of signs and symptoms a hypothetical assumption
of the disease process is arrived at. This is confirmed
by giving a test medication and the final picture of the
disease process is sketched.
Tools and techniques of diagnosis are used in the broad
framework of the paJcalakSaNa nidAna to arrive
at specific and factual understanding of the disease process.
Tools and techniques of diagnosis
paJcalakSaNa nidAna enables one to arrive at a
tentative diagnosis. Very often it has to be confirmed with
the help of tests to arrive at a final diagnosis.
The various tools and techniques developed by Ayurveda
to arrive at final diagnosis are
1. Pulse examination
This technique is used to mainly understand the disease
origins in terms of the imbalance of vAta, pitta and
2. Urine examination
Special methods of urine examination have been mentioned
in Ayurvedic texts to gain specific understanding
of disease origins and processes including prognosis.
3. Blood examination
Though Ayurveda did not know chemical tests,
physical examination of blood and its administration
to animals have been mentioned.
4. Examination of eight entities
Pulse, urine, feces, tongue, sound, touch, eyes and
physique constitute the eight entities that can be
examined to understand disease.
5. Diagnostic medication
Medicines are given to confirm a tentative diagnosis.
Concepts and Tools of treatment
In the ultimate analysis, everything in this Universe can
potentially be used as medicine. At a more practical level,
only those substances whose medicinal properties and application
have been discovered are considered as medicinal. Changing
health problems demand discovery of new drugs. So drug discovery
is an ongoing process.
For successful treatment, potent drugs formulated and processed
have to be used effectively on the basis of sound concepts.
Skill in Ayurvedic treatment consists of a thorough
grounding in concepts of treatment and perfect knowledge of
Ayurvedic textbooks have elaborated such concepts
of treatment at length and deal systematically with the knowledge
The concept of two-fold therapy is the corner stone of Ayurvedic
therapeutics. On this foundation has been erected the edifice
of specialized therapeutic strategies.
The twofold therapy
Ayurveda recognizes that the goal of all physiological
activities is to achieve balance between conservation, conversion
and utilization of energy. This is implied in the concept
of tridoSas. Therefore, Ayurveda explains
that imbalance of these processes underlie all diseases. Diseases
are caused when the system goes into a mode of conservation
and is unable to convert and release energy for the basic
activities of life. This group of diseases is known as santarpaNa
rogas. Diseases manifest also when the body converts
and utilizes more energy than is conserved and eventually
reaches a stage when it runs out of fuel. This group of diseases
is known as apatarpaNa rogas. Since there are two
basic pathways for manifestation of diseases, there are two
basic solutions to diseases. Treatment methods that enable
the body to convert and utilize energy are called as laGghana
or Depletive therapy and those that enable the body to convert
and preserve energy are called as bRmhaNa or Repletive
Patient and disease oriented therapeutic modules
The concept of the two-fold therapy is too general to be applied
effectively in all diseases. Ayurveda has further
expanded this concept to make it oriented to peculiarities
of the patient and disease.
langhana therapy is divided into two major categories viz.,
zOdhana — eliminative and zamana —
In many santarpaNa diseases, the body can be brought
back to balance only when accumulated matter is removed from
the system. This is achieved through zodhana. There
are mainly five types of eliminative therapies. They are a)
vamana or emesis, b) virecana or purgation,
c) zirovirecana — cleansing the head by nasal
medication, d) vasti — enemata and e) raktamokSa
— blood letting.
Some santarpaNa diseases can be cured without zodhana
therapy. In such diseases, medicines are given to enable the
body to convert and utilize unused matter. There are mainly
seven types of zamana therapy. They are a) dIpana
— activating digestion and metabolism, b) pAcana
— therapeutic digestion and metabolism, c) kSut
— Fasting with water, d) tRT — Fasting
without water, e) vyAyAma — Exercise, f) Atapa
— Exposure to sun, g) mAruta — Exposure
apatarpaNa diseases have to be managed by bRmhaNa
or depletive therapy.
Specific treatment programs are devised with selected drugs
on the basis of the above principles.
Tools and techniques of treatment
The tools for executing Ayurvedic treatment are the
drugs. Ayurveda tells us that such tools need not
be substances but can also be specific spatio-temporal situations.
Even as Ayurveda talks about the substances of plant,
animal and mineral origin that can be processed into drugs,
it discusses on the therapeutic properties of sunlight, moonlight,
winds and the like. Thus, Ayurveda recognizes two
types of treatment — with and without substances called
technically as sadravya and adravyacikitsA.
Not every medical problem requires a drug for cure and not
every consultation has to end up with a prescription for drugs.
However, majority of diseases does require drugs and Ayurveda
deals systematically with drug sources and techniques of processing
them into drugs. Ayurvedic drugs are derived from
plant, animal and mineral sources. Classical Ayurveda is plant
based whereas medieval Ayurveda emphasized on usage
of mineral substances as medicine. Thus we have two types
of Pharmacopoeia in Ayurveda, one that is predominantly
plant based but includes a small number of animal products
and minerals; the other that is almost exclusively based on
minerals. The usage of mineral substances led to development
of novel concepts in treatment and drug processing, so much
so that it evolved into a specialty called as rasazAstra.
Pharmacopoeia of organic substances
Initially, Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia
was based on use of organic subtstances of plant and animal
origin. It would be wrong to say that Ayurveda
is herbal, although the number of plant substances used
outnumber those of animal origin. The first pharmacopoeia
of Ayurveda included substances predominantly of
plant origin supported by those of animal origin and only
supplemented by inorganic substances. Ayurveda
advocates a four-fold approach to study drugs a) Nomenclature,
b) Identity, c) Properties and d) Application called technically
in saMskRta as nAma, rUpa, guNa
and yukti jJAna. Ayurveda lays greater
emphasis on yukti jJAna i.e., the knowledge of
application of drugs. The texts say that the physician who
knows how to use a drug is superior to a physician who is
merely acquainted with the name and form of a drug.
The nomenclature used in Ayurveda for drugs can
very well be called the polynomial system of nomenclature.
According to this system, each drug is denoted by many names.
Each name describes an aspect of the drug, either morphological
or medicinal. Put together, like a jigsaw puzzle, the names
enable one to develop a sketch of the drug.
Drug names are divided into various categories depending
on what information they provide on the drug. Thus, we have
names, which denote characters common to many drugs, and
names, which denote characters unique to a drug. There are
names that denote morphological characters and names that
denote medicinal properties.
Ayurvedic lexicons state that the ultimate criteria
to identify a plant or animal are on the basis of jAtiliGgas.
The concept of jAti roughly corresponds to the
scientific concept of species. jAti means ‘to
be born’. It indicates the mould out of which living
forms are created. jAti is a unit of life that
propagates itself through reproduction. And the idea is
that the unique characteristic of a life form is genetically
transmitted. As the texts declare, ‘Paddy grows from
paddy seeds and wheat from wheat’. Indeed a mango
seed develops into a mango tree and not an apple tree.
jAti liGgas are thus characteristics unique to
a species of life. However, elaborate and multilevelled
documentation of jAtiliGgas is not seen in Ayurvedic
Ayurveda looks at properties of drugs from two
viewpoints. The drug in itself and the drug as it interacts
with the body. Pointing out the fact that drug action is
the net outcome of what the drug does to the body and what
the body does to the drug, Ayurveda provides a
dynamic framework to understand drug action.
The dravya (drug), rasa (taste), guNa
(properties), vIrya (potency), vipAka
(post-digestive taste) and karma (drug action)
constitute key reference points to understand pharmacology
dravya, rasa and guNa indicate what the drug is before it
is introduced into the biological system. vIrya
indicates what the drug does to the body and vipAka
indicates what the body does to the drug. karma
is the final therapeutic action exerted by the drug.
Ayurveda considers application of drugs for therapeutic
use under two main headings. a) Formulation and processing
and b) Administration and follow up.
Before formulation, drugs are conveniently classified into
various groups based on multiple criteria like part used,
habit, medicinal properties and the like. Such groups are
called as vargas.
Formulation is like making a team whereas grouping is only
an aid to formulation. vargIkaraNa or grouping
is like putting all the batsmen in one group, wicket keepers
in another group and bowlers in yet another group. A team
cannot be made out of batsmen alone or bowlers alone for
In making a formulation, different ingredients are put together
to perform different functions to achieve a common goal.
An Ayurvedic text points out that formulation is
like the coming together of King and the courtiers. Each
formulation has a leader drug and many assistant drugs.
There are two types of formulations — a) yoga
and b) gaNa. yogas are formulations that
have been designed to tackle specific disease conditions
whereas gaNas are formulations that can work in
a wide range of conditions. Just as there are task forces
that tackle specific problems or a wide range of problems.
Pharmacopoeia of inorganic substances
In the medieval period, there was a shift in focus from
organic substances to inorganic substances. Organic substances
were generally found to be distasteful, working slowly and
had to be applied after considering multiple variables.
Therefore, inorganic substances were looked at as an alternative.
It was realized that specialized concepts and techniques
are necessary to use inorganic substances safely and effectively.
Usage of inorganic substances in medicine branched out into
a separate discipline and even attained the status of an
independent philosophical system called the rasezvara
Mineral drugs are also studied using the fourfold approach
— nomenclature, identity, properties and application.
Since most mineral substances are highly toxic, they have
to be purified before use. Purification often reduces efficacy.
And unpurified substances can be highly toxic. Therefore
complex methods of purification were devised to achieve
both safety and efficacy of drugs made out of inorganic
Nomenclature and identity
The polynomial system of nomenclature is used in rasazAstra
with the exception that many names are secretive in nature.
Compared to organic substance based Ayurveda, rasazAastra
is esoteric in nature and highly mystified. Mythological
stories have been woven to describe the various inorganic
substances used in Ayurvedic medicine. Thus, mercury is
the semen of Lord ziva and Sulphur is the menstrual
blood of pARvatI.
Grouping and Properties
The purpose of rasazAstra is to convert inorganic
substances into a form that can be assimilated by living
forms. Plants being the primary metabolizers, the food makers,
so to say, are indispensable for converting inert matter
into a form that can be assimilated by living forms. rasa
is the essence of food that is finally converted into the
tissues. The term rasazAstra means the technique of converting
inert substances into rasa, or a form that living
organisms can assimilate.
rasazAstra is an attempt to bypass the factory
of plant life and directly convert inorganic substances
into a form that is bio-assimilable. The inorganic substances
used in rasazAstra are therefore, organized into
various groups depending on their utility in this regard.
mahArasas, sAdhAraNarasas, uparasas,
ratnas, uparatnas, viSas and
upaviSas are the major categories under which inorganic
substances are grouped.
The properties of these substances have also been described
using the framework of the rasa-guNa-vIrya-vipAka-karma
concept. In addition, their toxicity and utility in drug
processing have also been described.
There are mainly two aspects in the processing of inorganic
drugs — a) zodhana or purification and b)
mAraNa or incineration. The aim of the first process
is to reduce the toxicity of the drug without reducing its
efficacy and the second process aims to convert the purified
substance into a form that is bio-assimilable.
Many steps are involved in these two major processes.
Application of organic substance based Ayurveda
is done on the basis of meticulous consideration of many
variables like constitution, climate, place, the doSas
and so on and so forth. But the medicines prepared by the
principles of rasazAstra can be used without such
The hallmark of inorganic preparations is that they can
be used in extremely small quantities, without consideration
of many variables and they produce quick results.
However, to prevent toxic effects and ensure optimum efficacy,
one has to follow strict dietary and behavioral regimen.
Goal of life — personal and communal perspective
Life is a play of opposites. Finding meaning in life has
much to do with resolving the conflict of opposites. All
goals in human life polarize into the two opposites of personal
and communal welfare.
Emphasis on personal happiness conflicts with communal happiness
and emphasis on communal happiness conflicts with personal
The ultimate answer to this problem is to transcend the
opposites. To go beyond the realm of personal and communal
happiness. When what one does to make oneself happy leads
to happiness of others, the goal of life is reached.
Ayurveda says that there are four types of life
one can live. In the succeeding order of preference, they
1. A life of personal unhappiness that
conflicts with communal happiness.
2. A life of personal happiness that conflicts with
3. A life of personal unhappiness that promotes
4. A life of personal happiness that promotes communal
Living beings find fulfillment by gradually evolving to
discover a life that gives both personal and communal happiness.
Transliteration System for saMskRta Words:
a A i I u U R e ai o au aM aH
ka kha ga gha Ga
ca cha ja jha Ja
Ta Tha Da Dha Na
ta tha da dha na
pa pha ba bha ma
ya ra la va za Sa sa ha