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Ayurvedic Philosophy

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, health is dependent upon one's ability to live in harmony with one's self and with the external universe.

Traditionally, as much attention was given to illnesses of the mind as to illnesses of the body. The Ayurvedic physician taught that in order to avoid illness and pain, the patient must control the destructive (and self-destructive) nature. Living in harmony with the environment was recognized as essential to one's mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Ayurvedic physicians taught that prevention was more desirable than a cure. Their ideal was to develop an individual's natural resistance to disease to the point where one's immune system could function as one's best medicine. Their goal was to maintain an individual in his or her optimal health throughout life, so that the ultimate goal of life—the awareness of his or her connection with the life principle—could be pursued without hindrance.


According to ayurvedic philosophy an individual bundle of 'Spirit', desirous of expressing itself, uses subjective consciousness or

Satwa - to manifest sense organs and a mind.

Tamas - Spirit and mind then project themselves into a physical body, created from the five (Pancha) great (maha) eternal elements (bhutas) – together called the Panchamahabhutas – which arise from Tamas

Rajas - The sense organs then use Rajas to project from the body into the external world to experience their objects. The body becoming the mind's vehicle, its physical instrument for sense gratification.

The Bhutas combine into "tridoshas" or bioenergetics forces that govern and determine our health or physical condition. While the three gunas (Rajas or activity, Tamas or inertia and Satwa, which balances the first two) or psychic forces determine our mental and spiritual health. Ayurveda is thus a holistic system of health care that teaches us to balance these energies in order to achieve optimum health and well being.

The Panchamahabhutas

According to Ayurveda everything in life is composed of the Panchamahabhutas

  • (1) Akash (Space),
  • (2) Vayu (Air),
  • (3) Jal (Water),
  • (4) Agni (Fire)
  • (5) Prithvi (Earth)

Omnipresent, they are mixed in an infinite variety of relative proportions such that each form of matter is distinctly unique. Although each element has a range of attributes, only some get evident in particular situations. Constantly changing and interacting with each other, they create a situation of dynamic flux that keepstheworld going.

Within a simple, single living cell for example the earth element predominates by giving structure to the cell. The water element is present in the cytoplasm or the liquid within the cell membrane. The fire element regulates the metabolic processes regulating the cell. While the air element predominates the gases therein. The space occupied by the cell denoting the last of the elements.

In the case of a complex, multi-cellular organism as a human being for instance:

akash corresponds to spaces within the body (mouth, nostrils, abdomen etc.)

vayu denotes the movement (essentially muscular)

agni controls the functioning of enzymes (intelligence, digestive system, and metabolism)

jal is in all body fluids (as plasma, saliva, digestive juices)

prithvi manifests itself in the solid structure of the body (bones, teeth, flesh, hair et al).

The Panchmahabhutas therefore serve as the foundation of all diagnosis & treatment modalities in Ayurveda and has served as a most valuable theory for physicians to detect and treat illness of the body and mind successfully.

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