By Monica Bhatia, PhD
Students of San Diego College of Ayurveda
We asked our students to give their interpretation on the four types of lifestyles described in Ayurveda, as well as the three types of sufferings described in Vedas. These four 'lives' are:
Ayurveda is the knowledge of 'life'. There are four life paths that we may choose to live -- Hitayu, Sukha-ayu, dukhha-ayu, and, Ahita-ayu. I will mention them later in this article.
1) hit-ayu: A Life with righteous living, truthfulness, living in harmony with nature
a-hit-ayu: A Self absorbed life, conservative , not living in harmony with nature, other entities and environment
3) sukh-ayu: Good Health with sound body and mind, life with comforts. Partial consideration to the nature.
4) dukh-ayu: Disturbed mental and physical state. Negative Karma Accumulation. Harming the Balance of Nature, environment and other entities.
Vedas, as well as the Bhagavat Gita describe three sufferings -- for all living entities -- caused by environment, caused by other entities, caused by physical and mental suffering.
So, if we look at the above four kind of lives, we can actually say that Ayurveda is the systematic knowledge of life.
A student answered, "We have learned that Ayurveda literally translated means life knowledge. This is fascinating to me as the word Ayurveda brings together two words or concepts that independently each hold definitions that are both quantitative and absolute and qualitative and interpretive. In this way the term Ayurveda can represent both the finite and the infinite depending on the balance of the elements and knowledge being considered at any given moment. In this way Ayurveda encapsulates our level of being by interpreting our level of consciousness with what we understand to be our live environment and the knowledge we access to construct that understanding at any given time.
With this in mind, my understanding of Ayurveda is that it is a way of engaging life that embraces a constructivist approach to engaging our presence through a dynamic interplay with the universe - not through an adherence to structure laws of nature but rather through our adaptive capacity to our metaphysical environments. In this regard I was drawn to Ayurveda for it's dichotomous connections with both systems theory and chaos theory two elements that assist me in understanding disease through Ayurveda.
What is most compelling about an Ayurvedic approach to health is it's acknowledgement of the body beyond it's mechanics and form. Emotion, stress, over attachment, lack of attachment, resistance and even persistence all impact our health. Sun, rain, snow, wind all inform our cell structures. Most strikingly - balance in ourselves lies beyond ourselves in our appreciation of that part of ourselves that we see in others (positive or negative). This initiates the connection between the internal cosmos of humans and collectively amongst human beings and the universal cosmos. More concretely - in order to heal ourselves we can support that in those around us that we have nurtured within ourselves.
Response # 2. Ayurveda, defined as the science or the study of life carries with it a description of 4 different types of Life. These types of life are based on the lifestyle of the individual, and takes into account our existence as mulit-dimentional beings.
I have interpreted the text in the passage as a way of describing causes of illness and disease based on these four types of Life's or "Ayu".
According to Ayurvedic Science, our karmic balance of our exsistance (on all levels), determines our likelyhood to develop disease, as well as the type of disease we will likley develop.
For example, if an individual has a life of Hit-Ayu they are less likely to develop disease of any kind. While a person who has a life of A-Hit-Ayu may be more likley than most to develop mind and body illnesses (Adhyatamika). A person who is more Sikh-Ayu may be at risk to develop diesases caused by other living things (Adibhautika). While a person more on the Dukh-Ayu side may be more likely to experience seasonal or environmental diseases (Adhidaivaka).
This is my understanding of the quoted text. I Believe that it describes very well the connection of our exsistance (Physical, Soul, Energetic, Mind and Intellect) and how it comes into play with our lifestyle and finally the diseases we are likley to encounter throughout that exsistance.
Based on the above statements, Ayurveda, as a holistic philosophy, teaches us quite simply that every thing that we do affects our health. From our life styles to the food we ingest, to the good or ill works we do towards others and the planet.
Response #3. These separate parts of our being; physical, spiritual, intellectual, as well as our behaviors, are often seen by western society as statically separate from one another. Ayurveda, like TCM and other Asian philosophies teaches us that these components of self are deeply interconnected and interdependent on one another.
You cannot possibly be physically well if the mind is out of balance. You cannot be emotionally well if the body is unbalanced and so on.
There is much to be said in this earthly life for the laws of attraction. It can be associated with the Vedic viewpoint on karmic balance. If one is consistently thinking negative thoughts and doing negative deeds, they will in fact create and be more susceptible to disease and negative consequences, whether immediate or in the distant future.
Conversely, if one focuses on balance of body, mind, and spirit, strives to do good works and stay positive, the majority of the time good health and wealth is bestowed upon this person. This is not necessarily because we are being rewarded by some cosmic power but rather because our entire universe responds to this energetic law.
That being said, we still suffer, obviously from things that are outside of our control. No one chooses to be affected by earthquakes or to be accidentally hit by a car. No one wants to be infested by a parasite or even to have allergic reactions to their household pet. Most of these things are outside of our power and have little to do with karmic balance. We can, however, influence the healing process with Ayurveda and return once more to homeostasis to the best of our abilities.
All of our being, physical, mental, emotional wants to work toward homeostasis. When we eat foods that are “anti-doshic”(yes I just made up that term), when we are too sedentary or too stressed, when we think ill thoughts of ourselves and harbor hate, grief, and pain, when we do not forgive, when we are unkind to others, when we do not breath and allow in new experiences and love, when we use drugs or become dependant on mood altering substances, when we ignore divinity; these are all contributors to disease.
Authors: Students of San Diego College of Ayurveda
Samkhya to me is the most realistic, understandable and exquisite philosophy of creation and the components of our being. From physical/material existence to the highest level of consciousness Samkyha explains it all.
Our origins and how we came into existence was always a mystery to me. From a young age I was taught that God miraculously created us. Later on I went to find out that we evolved from microscopic organisms. I, like many people out there in the world, still had many questions that couldn’t get answered. After doing a lot of soul searching and reading about metaphysics, quantum physics, yoga, and eventually Vedanta through my yoga studies I discovered Ayurveda and Samkhya. It all clicked instantaneously.
On a different note, learning about the elements of Samkhya to me is equivalent to my learning, as an artist and designer, the principles of creating art. When I was attending private art college years ago I had so much intensive training in the foundations and principles of art. No matter what form of art is created, industrial design, animation, glass blowing, painting it was required to learn these principles.
These elements of art are: movement, pattern, unity, harmony, variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, and proportion. These are the building blocks used to compose any work of art just as the elements of Samkhya are the building blocks that compose the masterpiece of the universe and our body.
Sankhya philosophy is one of the oldest and most influential of the six systems (shad darsanas) of Indian perspectives of knowledge. Sage Kapila was the founder of Sankhya philosophy. The term Sankhya literally means “enumeration”
Sankhya great achievement lay in enumerating the 25 tattvas, or cosmic categories which reflect the different states of consciousness described in Indian mystical literature.
Sankhya teaches us the discrimination knowledge between purusha and prakriti. The real self is purusha the inner witness, the unchangeable , absolute consciousness. The self is not one’s thoughts or feeling or experiences. your thought comes and go,but the inner self remains the same. Purusha is completely distinct from the matter and never interacts with it. Prakriti is a fully real material substance, and not the creation of Brahman's.
Sankhya philosophy divides the universe into 25 distinct yet related principles called tattvas. The purpose of sankhya is also that its followers attain liberation of jiva atma. In my understanding the jiva is not mentioned separately from individual soul.
The 25th element is Brahman. It is the goal of jiva to free itself of these 24 element that they are all maya in this world and recognize the brahman the 25th element as a truth liberation Moksha.
5 Karmendriya, 5gnanedriya, 4 Anthakaran, 5Bhuta, 5tanmantras.
The three gunas are the rope that binds both purusha and prakriti. One can cut this rope with the sword of self-knowledge and devotion.
Samkhya theory founded by Sage Kapila gives an explanation on the origin of universe and life. It offers a model of evolving consciousness from non-material to material. It regards the universe to be consisting of two realities: Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (un-manifested/matter). Both the “Purusha” and “Prakriti” are completely distinct. They alone cannot create anything.
Purusha is uncreated, absolute, pure and passive witness to creation whereas Prakriti is dynamic, creates, impure and which is the first principle of manifestation. It contains 3 gunas-Raja, Tama, Satva. Prakriti is the force that works like automation. All the cause and effect are already latent in it.
When the Purusha and Prakriti comes in contact with each other, the equilibrium of the 3 gunas break which results in manifestation of Mahad (Buddhi) which further manifests into Ahamkara(Ego) which activates the 3 gunas.The action of Rajas on Tamas results in, 5 tanmantras and pancha mahabhutas. These mahabhutas result in the 3 doshas of Vata,Pitta and Kapha.The action of Raja on Satva gives rise to 5 Jnyanindriyas and 5 Karmindriyas.