Thinking with Ayurveda: What is Health?

Let us begin by seeing what a western scholar of Ayurveda, Robert Svobda writes,

“Ayurveda is a philosophy which allows physicians to see a patient the way Nature sees them.”

Every individual person has a unique constitution that is related to energies within the body. These constitutions are defined by the balance of three forces or ‘dhoshas’ (referred to as the Tridoshas) namely, Vatha, Pitta and Kapha. Each of these dhoshas has specific qualities and governs certain physiological activities.

E J Joshi, Ayurvedic Consultant at Kerala Ayurveda Centre, says that this is ‘comparable’ to the unique genetic code or DNA of each individual. The doshas exist as a graceful union of the five mahabhutas, otherwise known as “The Pancha-Bhutas”, the five basic elements that make the world – Earth, Fire, Water, Space (or Ether) and Air. Vatha is a combination of air and space which make its properties dry, light, and cold. The Vatha Dhosha enables the freedom of movement. Pitta is a mixture of water and fire, making it slightly oily, hot, and in the liquid form. The Pitta Dhosha that causes digestion and metabolism to function allows ‘change’ or ‘transformation’ to happen within. Finally, Kapha consists of earth and water, thus it is oily, heavy, and cold. The Kapha Dhosha permits cohesion within the structure. These elements, in essence, facilitate the functioning of all the organs of the body. The harmonious physiology of the Human body and any apparent ailments of the physique can be assessed by interpreting the imbalances in these dhoshas. For these are also believed to engage the ‘being’ in a relationship with the Environment, the Earth and the Universe.

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(Image Courtesy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayurveda)

(For further insights, kindly read: Mishra L, Sing BB and Dagenais S., Ayurveda: a historical perspective and principles of the traditional healthcare system in India. Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCUHS), SCUHS Whittier Health Center, Whittier, Calif., USA)