The pleasures and the miseries of life are the experiences of the soul – through the body. Ayurveda defines body as something that is constantly going through the process of decay – ‘shiryate iti shariram’. Here, decay indicates the gradual ageing of the body. This process is intensified by the onslaught of diseases, and a disease can enter the body only if there is an imbalance (vikriti).
Diseases may be categorised as mental and physical.
Factors that affect the mind are rajas and tamas, which are of psychological importance. These are the pathogenic factors of the mind and can only be reconciled by the practices of Yog and Sanatan Kriya under the guidance of a Guru.
In the physical, as per Ayurveda, an imbalance relates to the imbalance of the three doshas of vat (vayu), pitta (agni), kapha (sleshma). These three are the pillars of the body. The maximum number of diseases, about eighty, is caused by an imbalanced vat owing to the mobile nature of vat. Pitta is the second most potent factor, and is said to cause about forty diseases. Kapha, the least potent of all, causes about twenty different kinds of diseases. In their various permutations and combinations diseases can take innumerable forms, thereby causing diseases that may even become incurable after a stage.
A disease manifests in a body when any of the doshas increases or decreases from its state of balance. The state of balance is different in every individual depending on the prakriti of that person. The mool prakriti of a person never changes as it is decided at the time of conception in the mother’s womb. The dominating doshas of the parents at the time of conception determines the mool prakriti of that individual.
For example, ginger is a poison for people with high pitta but a digestive tonic for others. The aim is to keep the body in a state of balance to maintain youth, health and glow.
Ayurveda strives to maintain a disease-free state, which is the state of equilibrium (samyavastha). Equilibrium gets disturbed mainly because of three reasons: wrong utilization, non-utilization, and excessive utilization of time, mental faculties and objects of the senses. Time here refers to seasons, and objects of senses are sound, touch, vision, taste and smell. Sleeping in the day time, working at night and eating at wrong hours are examples of wrong utilization of time. Excessive or non-utilization of senses also results in diseases. Even natural instincts like hunger, thirst, and sleep may take forms of diseases if not satiated at the correct time and in adequate measure. Abuse of mental faculties are a definite cause of psychosomatic disorders.
Ayurveda does not speak of cures or treatments, but prescribes health and balance. The regimens, precautions, diets, habits prescribed in Ayurveda are aimed at achieving a state where without using medicines one learns to keep the mind and body healthy and also slows down the ageing process. Do not forget that Ayurveda is individual constitution oriented; never take general drugs for ailments. Always get yourself evaluated and then take the prescribed drug only. General tonics may be an exception to this rule.