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Elements of a healthy person
The main objective of Ayurveda is to maintain a disease free state. Ayurveda shows us two approaches how to obtain this state – by maintaining the status of a healthy person, and by managing the unhealthy (diseased) condition of an ailing person. If, regardless of the cause, a person falls ill, this will bring about an imbalance of Dhatus (tissues). Keeping the Dhatus in a balanced state will restore the body, mind and spirit to a healthy state.
The Sushruta, an eminent ancient scholar and an author of Sushruta Samhita has defined the state of health. According to his teachings, a person whose Dosha, Agni (digestive fire), Dhatus (tissues) and Malas (excretory functions) are in balance and his soul and body – Indriyas (higher functions) and Mana (mind) are happy; then the objective of Ayurveda will have been achieved – this person will be in a disease free state, healthy, and be really balanced.
An analytical approach towards this definition of health is essential in order to clarify various related facts. For a better understanding, we will examine the elements of a healthy state and put them under the following headings:
1. Normalcy of Doshas and their functions:
Balance or normalcy of the Doshas has been given the top most priority for keeping the body healthy, because the development, maintenance and degeneration of a body is dependent on the Doshas. One is able to know about the normal status of the Doshas, only by observing their relevant functions. Therefore, normalcy in functions of the Doshas and their analysis have been considered an important criteria to judge the normalcy in bodily functions.
A brief explanation of the normalcy (the physiological) functions of the Doshas are as follows:
a. The physiological functions of Vata: Enthusiasm in work, maintenance of respiration, initiation of physical and mental activities, maintenance of movement of Doshas in the body, balancing of all Dhatus and expulsion of faeces and urine, are normal functions of Vata.
b. The physiological functions of Pitta: Normal functions of Pitta are – vision, digestion, regulation of body temperature and luster of body.
c. The physiological function of Kapha: Maintenance of smoothness of body, the proper functioning of joints, the keeping up tolerance, power and preservation of Bala (strength) are normal functions of Kapha.
2. Normalcy of Agni and its functions:
Agni is essential for the digestion and metabolization of the intake of food. It is the main function of Jatharagni. Its other functions include protection of other Agnis. Due to this fact, a well functioning Jatharagni keeps other Agnis in a similar status. Similarly, a diminished Jatharagni will cause other Agnis to become sluggish. Even a nutritious diet, will not be beneficial to the body until it is converted into the form assessable by the body, and this will only happen by the normal functioning of Jatharagni. The role of the other Agnis like Dhatwagnis and Bhutagnis are also important for the formation and development of the Dhatus and for nurturing the Panchabhautic (five basic elemental) components.
One can assess the status of all these Agnis by observing their functions, which can be graded into three profiles, an excellent profile, a medium and a low profile. These profiles may vary in different conditions and may show normal status of Agni in that particular situation.
The main criteria for diagnosing the normalcy of Agni is, food taken in the morning and digested up to the evening, and similarly, food taken in the evening and digested overnight until the morning. We can observe the Dosha, Dhatu and Mala remaining in normal states. Excretion of Mala is therefore normal and there is a feeling of hunger and thirst and a lightness of the body.
3. Normalcy of Dhatus and their functions:
In our body, there are seven Dhatus. These seven Dhatus are – Rasa (plasma), Rakta (blood cells), Mansa (flesh), Meda (fat), Asthi (bones), Majja (bone marrow) and Shukra (semen for men and ovum for female). The main function of the Dhatus is to maintain the body. Normal functioning of them leads to a healthy status of the body. Although Dosha, and Mala maintain the body, these seven Dhatus are specially given the definition of Dhatu. Principally, they uphold the body by maintaining and nourishing it; hence Dhatus and their normal function are essential for being healthy.
4. Normalcy of Malas and their functions:
Mala is considered an important factor/parameter of a healthy person. According to its definition, which means contamination of the body, Mala should be excreted without staying (for a long time) in the body. In the (forming) process Mala originates as a dirty part from food taken along with the nutrient portions. The later part brings nutrition to the body whereas dirty (Kitta) parts are for excretion. But these excretions also follow a definite process and pattern in their behavior and are connected to the fixed amount of Malas excreted. On their way from formation to excretion, Malas also give nutrition to other Malas. This process resembles the nourishment of Dhatus by food nutrients. So by giving nutrition to Malas and keeping a definite amount of it in the body, the Malas help to maintain the homeostatic condition of the body.
In short, the names for staying in an equilibrium condition to maintain the body, are called Sara, on the other hand in a contaminated body, it is called Mala. Yet, for example, Malas of eye, ear and nose, in a specific amount, will keep the organ functioning properly - this is called Prasada - whereas an excess amount, which brings pain to the organ, is called Mala. That is why Mala, together with Dhatu and Dosha is a definition of health.
5. Happiness of Atma (soul), Indriyas and Mana:
Happiness of Atma (spirit), Indriya (higher functions), and Mana (mind) are the mental and spiritual aspects of good health. Here, Atma denotes spirit or soul. Health is not only in the body but is also the mental and spiritual well-being of a person, and is therefore, essential for total health. A person with a mental illness can never be healthy.
So, we can see that the proper function of Dosha and Dhatu, the normal excretion of Mala, and the happiness of Atma, Indriya and Mana, together define health according to Ayurveda. The proper digestive power (Agni) actually helps the nourishment of Dhatu and the excretion of Mala. With the proper functioning processes of Dosha, Dhatu and Mala, Atma Indriya and Mana automatically bring happiness. So the happiness brought about through Atma, Indriya and Mana, is clinically the most important factor of complete health.
We acknowledge that we have taken help from a book entitled "Understanding Ayurveda" wrote by Prof: Vaidya B. L. Gaur published by Publication Scheme, Jaipur to prepare this article. This article is edited by Gilgi hauser. This article was published in our newsletter in december 2002
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