Ayurveda is an ancient science of health and life that originates from ancient Indian teachings. The name “Ayurveda” is composed of the Sanskrit words “Ayu” (life) and “Veda” (science, knowledge) or “Ayurveda” means “knowledge of life”. Ayurveda is not traditional medicine, What is Ayurveda actually?
Vedic science is the oldest holistic system for treating and preventing almost all the diseases you think could think of. But Ayurveda is a lot more than just a medical system. It is a complex system of medicine, philosophy, way of living and perceiving the world around us.
In Ayurveda one is seen as a combination of body (physical), mind (astral) and soul (causal).
Why does Ayurveda give so much attention to the combination of body, mind and soul?
In the ancient Vedas (the sacred books on the secrets of life and the Universe) it is stated that each person has four life goals (purusharta) through which they have to pass. Diseases are an obstacle to the performance of the purusharta, therefore Ayurveda seeks to eliminate them by teaching us how to protect and maintain our health, how to heal ourselves and how to increase our expectation of life.
And yet, why does Ayurveda heal body, mind and soul at the same time?
The physical body is our main tool that allows us to walk along the path of life, fulfil our duties and take care of those around us. If our body is not healthy and strong, it won’t be able to achieve its life goals.
With the mind we perceive the world around us and we can get to know ourselves and get to know those around us and the world. If we do not take care of our psyche, it can cause many troubles.
Unlike modern medicine which we all know and which heals the body and mind separately, in Ayurveda body and mind are treated together and Vedic doctors monitor the condition of both before continuing the treatment.
What is the connection between Ayurveda and the four goals of life (purusharta)?
Vedic medicine perceives the human body as a kind of “integrated scheme” that cannot be considered separately from the “outer system” – Nature and Universe. Harmony and balance in the human body can only be achieved if the conditions for proper interaction of the tissues, organs and systems of the organism with the external conditions of the world in which one lives, are in place, as it is part of the overall system.
To the question why we need to be healthy, Vedic medicine responds the following way: Health is necessary in order for us to realize our destiny, to become aware of our spiritual nature and our existence.
And the destiny or life path of each person is determined by Ayurveda as the achievement of the four life goals (purusharta) – Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.
What is Dharma?
Dharma is the first of the four life goals and is related to the vocation and duty. It consists of two parts: service and benefit to all living creatures and revealing their own talents. The two parts of Dharma are interconnected, since the revelation of vocation and talent can only take place if we are able to serve and be useful to the others.
Achieving Dharma is difficult. Sometimes people cannot find their vocation as they are doing something that does not bring them any moral satisfaction. There are people who convince themselves that they love their work but that is rather the pleasure they receive from the money they make thanks to this job… But that is not their duty, talent and even less their vocation.
That is why in Bhagavad Gita it is said that it is better for everyone to perform their duties, though imperfect, than to fulfil the duties of another perfectly.
The way a person performs his or her duties directly affects his or her health. Studies have been conducted according to which 80% of the people who engage in activities they do not like and are not their vocation are more likely to suffer than those who engage in activities that bring them satisfaction and peace of mind. The conclusion is that if you do not live according to Dharma, this has a negative impact on health and thus hinders the realization of the next life goal, and namely…
Artha (acquiring of wealth)
Artha is the second of the four life goals and is related to accumulation of material goods. Unlike the Western way of thinking where the accumulation of material goods has become almost a cult to the material and an end in itself, Ayurveda teaches us that better material status is a natural process. The acquisition of material goods should be in the service of the family and society and we should not seek to gain wealth because of blind greed or overstocking.
The acquisition of material valuables must happen naturally, gradually and as a result of our manifested talent and our open vocation (Dharma).
Achieving the material goal is a prerequisite for moving to the third life goal – Kama.
What is Kama?
Kama is satisfying all the needs and desires of a person and their relatives. This can only be achieved if we have achieved the first two goals (Dharma and Artha).
Expressing a talent and discovering your own path leads to the accumulation of material wealth and thanks to it Kama can be achieved much easier.
Of course, one should in no case misappropriate the satisfaction of desires and needs because according to The Ayurvedic treatment misappropriation leads to worsening of health while the satisfaction of the positive emotions strengthens the health and brings love. Actually, Kama has another meaning and that is “love”. And love is something that no living creature can do without.
We reach the most important, forth life goal which is the most difficult to achieve.
What is Moksha?
Moksha is the realization that life is more than obligations towards the society, more than the material goods, more than the satisfaction of our desires. In this context “moksha” is liberation from the ignorance, from the obstacles in our way towards the spiritual development and from the enemies of the mind. Once a person is free from all the wrong identifications and the his or her material chains, he or she becomes truly free.
To be free does not mean to give up on everything earthly. On the contrary. Vedic philosophy states that we are born free but we do not realize it struggling for more wealth, pleasure, and recognition. True liberation is to achieve freedom from affections and to be happy with both Artha, Dharma and Kama and without them.
Moksha is directly related to health because all diseases are born first in the mind (from the negative thoughts and the poor behavioral stereotypes which are later on projected on the health as well).
Most people are misled with regard to the purposes of their life and ignore the first and fourth goal (Dharma and Moksha) and strive to achieve the second and third life goals, namely Artha and Kama (acquiring wealth and satisfying desires). This is completely wrong because only after the first three goals have been achieved one can have a solid material and spiritual foundation to achieve liberation (Moksha).
The achievement of the four purusharta in a human’s life is inextricably bound up with health. On the one hand, the goals achieved create the necessary conditions for achieving health and, on the other hand, health is a must for achieving each of the goals.
The four levels of health
According to Ayurveda it’s the first level of health – health of the physical body. This is a very important level because if we have problems with our physical health, this is reflected in all aspects of our life and it does not allow us to go through the four life goals.
Physical health is a very important aspect of the general health but it’s only a part of the whole.
Western medicine often ignores this fact and heals the physical health without taking care of the spiritual and mental health. This limited approach towards health is one of the main reasons for the bad condition of more and more patients and the incapability of the modern medicine to go beyond the symptomatical treatment.
Soham is the second level of health and means “secular happiness or the happiness to be in the society”. This level of health means contentment from the professional activity, achieving balance and happiness in the family, material wealth.
This level is closely related to the realization of the life goals Dharma, Artha and Kama.
The third level of health implies the realization of one’s own spiritual nature or “rooting in oneself”. We must understand that the material and spiritual nature are different. Material nature is our physical body and its metaphysical structure (mind and feelings), and the spiritual one is our soul, the thing that is invisible but everyone carries it in themselves. One has to stop associating only with their physical body, with their feelings and with their mind and realize that they have a soul. This level of understanding according to Ayurveda becomes possible when one realizes that their body, achievements and goods are transient. And only their soul is eternal, immortal and indestructible.
This level of health is inextricably bound up with the forth life goal – Moksha (liberation).
Ananda – joy, happiness no matter what.
This is a very high level of spiritual happiness at which a person feels true happiness and it reflects into their health and life. And this level of health is inextricably bound up with Moksha since a person cannot enjoy their happiness if they haven’t achieved full liberation.