By Swami Gurudharma Jnana Thapaswi, Santhigiri Healthcare & Research Organization
This is an age in which there is a global discussion on Ayurveda. What is Ayurveda? Is it simply a branch of natural medicines or is it a life science? According to the definition in the Ashtanga Hridayam, the treatise on Ayurveda, Ayus means jeeva (the soul of a person). The knowledge about its sustenance and protection is to be understood as Ayurveda.
As we know, the soul has both good and bad qualities, instincts and karma. Ayurveda is the liberating science that helps the nourishment of the jeeva, rectifying its infirmities and deficiencies.
Life is a jumble of sukha and dukha or happiness and sorrow. Happiness is experienced as fortune or luck in life that leads to contentment and peace. It is a reflection of the punya in one’s soul. Similarly, dukha or sorrow is caused by the impurities, infirmities and afflictions in the jeeva, which appear as diseases, difficulties and other misfortunes in life. The shortcomings in the soul lead to vexations and worries, which in turn permeate the body as tridosha. Tridosha means the imbalances in the three vital energies in the body - vata, pita and kapha - which cause diseases. This is the fundamental nature of Ayurveda.
The rishis of ancient India handed down this science to us. The rishis could through their ascetic life realize the cause-effect principles of the universe in its subtle and gross nature. They were mahatmas who could transform the jeeva with the radiance of dharma and punya. When the jeeva becomes radiant with the Divine light and positive energy, sorrows and diseases disappear. Only by such a fundamental cleansing the jeeva can be freed of diseases and misfortunes.
This liberating culture was lost to India somewhere down the ages. As time passed, people began to view Ayurveda merely as a system of treatment, which describes about medicines and diseases. The decadence of Ayurveda occurred when its dharmic base was disrupted.
All religious ideologies, social and political movements aim to achieve happiness for man. It is for happiness that we seek freedom from diseases too. However, happiness can be attained only through dharma. Truth and Dharma are the same. The search for truth and happiness should be through the path of dharma.
Treatment for a disease is only the karmic or application part. Dharma comes from Guru. The ways of Dharma undergo change according to the time. Previously, we used to burn a torch made of shrubs or a candle to see in the night. Today we have flashlight in the mobile phone. The dharma practiced in the Satyayuga, Tretayuga and Dwaparayuga would not be practical and fruitful today. The way of reaching happiness is to understand the dharma of Kaliyuga and earn punya (blessedness) through karma. What is the dharma of Kaliyuga? This should be known from a sage who has realized it.
The acharyas (teachers) have divided diseases under three categories:
(1) Diseases from clear material causes
(2) Diseases caused by prior actions (immoral or adharmic acts)
(3) Diseases caused by a combination of both of the above.
Of the three, treatment is available only for the first. Remedy for the remaining is available only through the dharmic course. It is this part, which has been lost to Ayurveda.
The heart of a physician can be likened to that of a mother who nurtures her child with love. Likewise is the mind of a true physician who helps the healing through a course of love and dharma. He can understand the soul of a person through the mirror that is Guru. Through that mystical mirror, he clearly sees the afflictions of a patient without resorting to modern diagnostic methods and equipment. This is the pure essence of Ayurveda.