Health is not mere absence of disease; it is a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and financial well being. All aspects of health are not defined in Allopathy.

During MBBS, medical students are taught more about the physical health. Social and mental health are covered only in few lectures. Community health is a separate subject but never given its due importance. Spiritual health is not defined at all and financial health is hardly covered.

Yet, in day-to-day practice, it is the social, financial, spiritual and community health, which is most important during patient-doctor communication. It is incorporated in the four basic purposes: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

Dharma and artha together form the basis of karma which is righteous earning. You are what your deep rooted desires are. Most diseases today can be traced to a particular emotion, positive or negative. Anger and jealously are related with heart attack, fear with blood pressure, greed and possessiveness with heart failure. Unless the mind is healthy, one cannot be free of diseases.

The best description of health comes from Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, health is swasthya, which means establishment in the self. One is established in the self when there is a union of mind, body and soul. Most symbols of health are established around a shaft with two snakes and two wings. The shaft represents the body, two snakes represent the duality of mind and the two wings represent the freedom of soul.

Sushrut Samhita in Chapter 15 shloka 10 defines the Ayurvedic person as under:

Samadosha, samagnischa,
Swastha iti abhidhiyate.

From Ayurvedic point of view for a person to be healthy must have balanced doshas, balanced agni, balanced dhatus, normal functioning of malkriyas and mind, body, spirit and indriyas full of bliss and happiness.

Human body is made up of structures (Kapha), which have two basic functions to perform; firstly, metabolism (pitta) and movement (vata). Vata, pitta and kapha are called doshas in Ayurveda. Samana dosha means balance of structures, metabolism and movement functions in the body. Agni in Ayurveda is said to be in balance when a person has normal tejas and a good appetite.

Ayurveda describes seven dhatus: rasa, rakta, mamsa, medha, asthi, majja, shukra and they are required to be in balance. They are equivalent to various tissues in the human body.

Ayurveda necessitates proper functioning of natural urges like urination, stool, sweating and breathing and that is what balances in malakriya means.

Ayurveda says for a person to be healthy he has to be mentally and spiritually healthy, which will only happen when his or her indriyas are cheerful, full of bliss and devoid of any negativities. For indriyas to be in balance one has to learn to control over the lust cum desires, greed and ego. This can be done by learning regular pranayama, learning the do’s and don’ts in life, living in a disciplined atmosphere and learn to live in the present.

Regular pranayama shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, balances the mind and thoughts and helps in removing negative thoughts from the mind. For living a disabled life one can follow the yama and niyama of yoga sutras of Patanjali or do’s and don’ts taught by various religious gurus, leaders and principles of naturopathy. Living in the present means conscious or meditative living. This involves either learning meditation 20 minutes twice a day or learning subtle mental exercises like mind–body relaxation, yogic shavasana, self–hypnotic exercises, etc.

According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a person who eats thrice a day is a rogi, twice a day is a bhogi and once a day is yogi. The take home message is: to live more one has to eat less.

Swar yoga defines the importance of respiration and longevity. According to this yoga shastra, everybody has a fixed number of breaths to be taken during the life span.

Lesser the number a person takes in a minute more is the life. It also forms the basis of pranayama which is nothing but longer and deeper breathing with reduced respiratory rate. To be healthy one can remember to follow the principle of moderation and variety in diet & exercise, regular pranayama & meditation and positive thinking

Inspirational Story: The Good you do, comes back to you

Every day a woman baked a chapati (roti) for members of her family and an extra one for a hungry passerby. She kept the extra chapati on the window sill, for whosoever would take it away.

Every day, a hunchback came and took away the chapati. Instead of expressing gratitude, he muttered the following words as he went his way: “The evil you do remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” This went on, day after day.

Every day, the hunchback came, picked up the chapati and uttered the words: “The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” The woman felt irritated. “Not a word of gratitude,” she said to herself…

“Everyday this hunchback utters this jingle! What does he mean?” One day, exasperated, she decided to do away with him. “I shall get rid of this hunchback,” she said. And what did she do?

She added poison to the chapati she prepared for him! As she was about to keep it on the window sill, her hands trembled. “What is this I am doing?” she said. Immediately, she threw the chapati into the fire, prepared another one and kept it on the window sill.

As usual, the hunchback came, picked up the chapati and muttered the words: “The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” The hunchback proceeded on his way, blissfully unaware of the war raging in the mind of the woman.

Every day, as the woman placed the chapati on the window sill, she offered a prayer for her son who had gone to a distant place to seek his fortune. For many months, she had no news of him. She prayed for his safe return. That evening, there was a knock on the door. As she opened it, she was surprised to find her son standing in the doorway. He had grown thin and lean. His garments were tattered and torn. He was hungry, starved and weak. As he saw his mother, he said, “Mom, it’s a miracle I’m here. While I was but a mile away, I was so famished that I collapsed. I would have died, but just then an old hunchback passed by. I begged of him for a morsel of food, and he was kind enough to give me a whole chapati. As he gave it to me, he said, “This is what I eat everyday: today, I shall give it to you, for your need is greater than mine!” As the mother heard those words, her face turned pale.

She leaned against the door for support. She remembered the poisoned chapati that she had made that morning. Had she not burnt it in the fire, it would have been eaten by her own son, and he would have lost his life! It was then that she realized the significance of the words:

“The evil you do remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!”

Do good and don’t ever stop doing good, even if it is not appreciated at that time

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