PRINCIPLES OF AYURVEDA
Ayurveda is the holistic & oldest surviving medical system in the world. It is a holistic system of healing that focuses on establishing and maintaining health of the body.
Ayurveda originated from ancient texts but its principles are just as applicable today in our society as they were in the Vedic period. The basic principles of Ayurveda deal with the natural way of living a healthy life.
According to Ayurveda, every living being in the universe is a combination of five basic elements called Panchamahabhootas. These five elements are space, air, fire, water and earth. Balancing these elements is the best method to maintain health and in the treatment of diseases. Earth corresponds to the solid structure in the body, water is in all body fluids, fire controls the functioning of enzymes, air denotes the movement and space corresponds to spaces within the body.
Five elements are :
• Space (akash)
• Air (vayu)
• Fire (agni or tejas)
• Water (jala or apa)
• Earth (prithvi)
There are around five sense organs in the human body and each of the senses is associated with a specific element.
The sense of touch is associated with air.
The sense of smell is associated with earth.
The sense of hearing is associated to space.
The sense of seeing is associated with fire.
The sense of taste is associated with water.
According to Ayurveda, there are six type of tastes - sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each of these is comprised of at least two elements.
Sweet comprises earth and water.
Sour comprises earth and fire.
Salty comprises water and fire.
Pungent comprises fire and air.
Bitter comprises air and space.
Astringent comprises air and earth.
These panchamahabhootas combine into three more energy levels known as Tridoshas that determines our health and physical condition. These three doshas or humors are vatta, pitta and kapha. The elements air and space combines together to form vatta, elements fire and water forms pitta and the elements earth and water combines to form kapha. Each dosha plays an important role in the maintenance of the body. The panchamahabhootas and tridoshas are not visible to the naked eye but all the physical structures and physiological functions are included in them.
Like doshas there are three Gunas or qualities –Satwa, Rajas and Tamas that are essential components of the mind. Satwa is the subjective world that is able to perceive and manipulate matter. Tamas is the objective world of the five elements of sound, touch, vision, taste and smell that gives rise to the panchamahabhootas. Rajas are the force or the energy of movement that joins the satwa and tamas.
In terms of Ayurveda there are seven bodily tissues known as the Sapta Dhatus present in the human body. These dhatus form the pillars of the body that are responsible for providing nourishment, growth and support to the body and mind. The seven dhatus are – rasa dhatu, rakta dhatu, masma dhatu, meda dhatu, ashti dhatu, majja dhatu and shukra dhatu. Each dhatu is governed by one of the three tridoshas.
The dhatus produce various waste products known as the Malas while performing metabolic processes of the body. There are three malas- purisa (faeces), mutra (urine) and sweda (sweat). Ayurveda states that a balanced condition of all doshas, dhatus and malas is key to good health and their imbalance is the cause of disease.
For the proper transportation of food, dhatus and doshas there are channels present in the body and they are known as Srotas. Any kind of blockage in these channels causes various health problems or disorders. There are thirteen srotas in the human body. The three srotas connects the individual with the external environment by controlling the in and out movement of the air, food and water. The seven srotas are associated with the seven dhatus of the body. The remaining three srotas eliminates the waste products out of the body. Later it was reported that there are total 16 srotas and the later three are related to lactation, menstruation and the flow of thoughts through the mind.
The body also consists of digestive fire – Agni that is responsible for various metabolic activities of the body. According to Ayurveda there are thirteen types of Agni in the body and mind. These are jatharagni, five bhutagnis and seven dhatagnis. Jatharagni governs the basic digestion and the other agnis. Bhutagnis metabolize the five elements in the body and dhatagnis metabolize the seven dhatus.
Therefore, Ayurveda is regarded as a holistic system of medicine that joins together the science and philosophy in order to balance the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components of the human body necessary for good health.