The whole universe as well as man is based on three basic principles or components called Triguna loosely translated as quality. They are Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Sattva is the principle or cause for the existence, light etc. Rajas is the principle or cause of action, movement, pain, etc. Tamas is the principle or cause of laziness, steadiness, death and darkness, etc. All these qualities are essential and the character of a person can differ according to the predominance of any one of these qualities over the other. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas produce pleasure, pain and indifference respectively.
When Sattva is predominant in a person, he can be more spiritually elevated and have longevity of life. Persons of this character can be ascetics, philosophers, and artists. If Sattva is less in a person he can have the problem of depression and easily stressed. When Rajas is predominant in a person, he can be more active and energetic. He likes to move and to be moved. With less Rajas, he loses interest in doing anything and appears as moody. He tries to avoid the company of people. On the other hand, when Tama is predominant in a person, he is lazy, sleepy and not having much initiative for anything. He likes darkness rather than light. He likes to eat more but work less.
When these qualities in a person are in the proper balance he is healthy. But if any one or all of them are not in balance he can be considered sick. In this condition, there are prescribed treatments in Ayurveda to correct the character and make a person healthy. The food intake and certain natural medicines with certain prescribed exercises will help these qualities become balance and make a person healthy again.
Panchabhutias and Tridoshas – Five Elements, Three Faults
Based on this belief, Ayurveda defines the human body a composed of five elements- vayu (air), agni (fire), akasa (ether), pritvi (earth) and jel (water). Each part of the body contains all these elements in different measure; and they generate three essential conditions in the human body, either alone or by merging with another. Air and ether together, for example, would make vata (loosely translated in English as air) Fire remains as it is and produces pitha, which is bile, Water and Earth together would make kapha or phlegm. These three conditions – vata, pithe, kapha – assist the body in its functions when they are in correct balance. Any imbalance, on the other hand, leads to an healthy state of the body.
The role of vata is to regulate breathing ,movement of food through the digestive process to separate the waste matter from the essence and discharge as urine and stool, as well as maintain the senses and feelings.
Pitha helps to assimilate the digested food into the body, controls the body’s temperature, maintains its softness and color, and controls appetite, thirst, taste, sight, intelligence and the power of memory.
Kapha helps the muscles and joints with flexibility and strength, which, in turn, generates a sense of general comfort and overall well being.
Subject to the influence of internal or external forces or conditions, any, or al, of the three could be aggravated and cause a imbalance in the body, which in turn would produce a state of uneasiness and lead to sickness. Because of this particular character of Vata, Pitha and Kapha causing aggravation of tridoshas can arise from food intake. The food we eat have six taste – sweet, sour, salt, bitter, hot, astringent. The tastes, which can change according to varying proportions of each item of food, can help correct the imbalance of trishodas. Sweet, sour and salt helps correct vata; sweet astringent and biter are god for correcting pitha; while hot and astringent helps correct kapha.
Everything that God created, he gave to man for his nourishment, well being and fulfillment of his mission on earth. Therefore, it is logical that the remedies for all the problem man might experience be found in the Nature,
In nature exists an order of harmony. All elements in nature from the smallest to the largest, and from the lowest to the highest are composed of different atoms, each arranged in a certain proportion and order for maintaining a perfect equilibrium. That is the order of Nature which God intended.
So when this equilibrium, or balance, is disturbed, there will arise a disorder. In the case f vegetables, animal and humans, such disorders render the body weak and defective and hamper health and growth. This is what we call “diseases” or infirmity. Providing remedy for the disorder is “treatment” and, the means used for the treatment “medicine”
Areas of Man where Disorders Can Occur
Man, As God’s most perfect creation and a micro universe is composed for four aspects – matter, vegetable, animal and spirit or atman (the image of God) These aspects are known as physical, mental and spiritual. And these are the areas where disorder can occur. Since all these aspects are inherent in one being that is man, they are interconnected and cannot b separated from each other. This simply means that if one part of this being is affected by a disorder, all other parts of it will also experience the effect of that disorder. Therefore, any remedy should be for all these aspects – taking man as whole interconnected areas of functions.
In short, the right and effective form of treatment for humans should be holistic that would cover the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the person. This is the basis of Ayurveda, and it achieves all this relying on what is available in the Nature – vegetation, minerals, metals and animals.