This article has been taken from main series- Science of Human Wellness, The Complete Health Series, which is a step by step illustration on Health, Yoga and Ayurveda. In modern world disease is considered as abnormal condition or a disorder of structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism. We are susceptible to diseases because of external organisms called pathogens and internal dysfunctions related to immune system etc. However Ayurvedic approach is totally different, here disease is not only structural or functional disorder but it is the state of disequilibrium of the Doshas, Dhatus, Agnis and Malas. When body-mind are in balance with each other and within themselves a person is considered as healthy and if not then he is diseases. Any disease can be made worse by mental factors and there are many disease which can be caused by stress and anxiety. Therefore it is not only the physical aspect that matters in Ayurveda but any self-depreciation related to physical, mental and spiritual balance is a disease. Therefore Anger, panic, fear, anxiety, dread, rage, sorrow and grief all are diseases whereas Surprise, amusement, hope, excitement, gratitude, thankfulness, joy, elation, triumph and jubilation are healthiness-es.
Maharishi Charaka guides to have holistic view while working out the remedy for a disease rather than just getting stuck to physical ailment or biology:
A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases. He should first study all the factors, including environment, which influence a patient's disease, and then prescribe treatment. It is more important to prevent the occurrence of disease than to seek a cure.
He focuses on disease, its environment, its history and all physical, mental, emotional and karmic factors contributing to it. According to him, it is not only the disease that matters but further matters the question to whom disease occurs. According to Sushruta Samhita, our inner core is beyond any disease, that cannot be affected by any worldly force, that is always pure. Disease is not the matter but it is the force and any force cannot make permanent impairment in your true being. Our inner man always remains intact and in scriptures he is called Purusha. No doubt living organisms carries some fundamental characteristics such as cellular organisation, nutrition, metabolism, growth and reproduction and these are characters of life but not life itself. All these are possible when Purusha is inside body, if Purusha leaves body then we are dead. This might be compared to a car. The car drives around only when there is a driver within the car directing its movement. Purusha is like the driver of a car. When he is inside as a car, it will move but if he gets out of the car, the car remains immobile - devoid of direction and purpose.
Taking wrong diet which disturbs the balance of three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha can lead to a disease. It is a simple concept of eating right which influence our health more than we can imagine. We must practice right eating techniques like: Don't eat fruit after meal, milk should not be combined with any other food, taking liquids and solids simultaneously, avoid cold or iced drinks during or directly after a meal, avoid tea and milk together, avoid curd during night, don't heat or cook foods with honey etc.
Any disproportion or imbalance between above seven aspects may lead to a disease. Food also affect psychology, like an expensive car, your brain functions best it gets best fuel. If you eat high quality food (Sattvic Food) that contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your brain will be nourished and protected from oxidative stress. Sattvic diet has positive effect on our emotions, there are hundred million nerve cells in gastrointestinal tract and 95% of serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, it is thought to be especially active in constructing smooth muscles, transmitting impulses between nerve cells, regulating cyclic body processes and contributing to wellbeing and happiness. Today there are many major nutrition-related chronic diseases like Obesity, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cancer, Osteoporosis and bone fractures and most of Dental Diseases. If the food is against our constitution, acidic and tamasic, if we eat irregularly, having immoderate consumption, taking processed, canned and fried foods, and overeating and late eating, we are just practicing Bad Food Combinations and Habits.
Eating may sound simplest thing of this universe but it's the simple mistakes we make that makes big difference. Timing of meal is the key to good health.
To enjoy the full nourishment of food, you must make your menu a seasonal one. Although seasonal menus may vary country to country and region to region but still you can ensure the optimum nourishment in every season by following some overriding principles like: In spring, focus on tender, leafy seasonal vegetables, in summer, stick with light, cooling foods in the tradition, in fall, turn towards the more warming, autumn harvest foods, in winter turn even more exclusively toward warming foods. Our body is at its weakest during changing of seasons; vata emerges in the rainy season, pitta in summer and kapha in spring, therefore selective eating is the best preventive measure you can take to stay healthy. Eating seasonally not only keeps your wallet full, it also makes eating interesting and fresh but meanwhile we should not ignore our constitution. Based on constitution, it is especially important to pay attention to our diet at the cusp of seasons.
Aging increases the vulnerability to many diseases, there are many underlying changes that increases chances of mortality. Malignant tumors increases progressively with age, it may increase susceptibility of various tissues to initiation of carcinogenesis. Ageing related disease is more often seen with increasing frequency with increasing senescence, this is because body naturally becomes weaker. The kidneys, heart, intestine, muscles, bones all weaken and skin becomes loosen and wrinkled. Aging is known as "Jara" defined as that which has become old by the act of wearing out. With ageing many doshas vitiate more rapidly than in young age. You can age gracefully only if you have lived very healthy and noble life at the time when you was young. Ayurveda takes in consideration Prana and other subtle essence i.e. ojas and tejas. Degenerated ojas creates the kapha-related disorders and vata related reactions, aggravated prana produces dhatus related disorders, aggravated tejas burns away ojas reducing immunity and overstimulating pranic activity. When you are young then your body can withstand many ill treatments, you can take unhealthy diet and still be fit, do lot of smoking and alcohol drinking, doing extremely hard physical activities, impure thoughts and your body will handle anything. But it all adds up and brews at the core of the consciousness, waiting to burst like a volcano when your body or mind grows weaker with age. With ageing you cannot stop antioxidation ability of your skin or stopping your hair's getting grey or maintain the same strength of your muscles. But, if you live with right mindset, pure thoughts and right diet you can live gracefully; and if you live gracefully then you can age gracefully.
Impure thoughts and unwholesome actions originating from unwholesome thoughts are one of the fundamental cause of disease. Overindulgence or suppression of natural urges, immoral acts which creates guilty in you, lack cooperation and modesty, ruthlessness, friendship with evils, jealousy, hatred, anger, fear, greed etc. all these negative qualities create gross emotional currents which settle in different parts of our body in the form of an abnormality and later gets converted into a disease. Going against wisdom is considered as crime in Ayurveda; If we create crime against wisdom or cause failure of wisdom it is termed as Prajnaparadha. It states that all the chronic endogenous diseases start in the mind. According to Ayurveda, one of the main causes of disease is failure to heed inner wisdom. Prajnaparadha also includes overstimulation or understimulation of the senses due to ignorance. Taking unsuitable diet, improper physical, mental and spiritual activities are also the part of this.
Ayurveda explains as why an infant, who has just started his life and has no karma in this life and who is born to perfectly fit parents with great genetics has congenital diseases like Down Syndrome, Osteogenesis imperfecta, Hyperammonemia, physical disabilities etc. all this is because of his past life karmas. Ayurveda lists Prarabdha Karma as one of the factors that can easily be the cause of a disease as any of the other four factors. Prarabdha Karma consists of the past actions that are affecting the current life. According to karmic science good karma leads to future happiness, good health, while bad karma leads to suffering.
Prarabdha Karma also has three types:
Above article has been taken from main series- Science of Human Wellness, The Complete Health Series.