Philosophy of Ayurveda
Veda (Knowledge) of Life

The science of life which is known by ancient name Ayurveda is an eternal science. The science that prevents diseases before it sets into the human frame, promotes health thereby offers an opportunity for conscious evolution that leads to Peace, prosperity and Success.

The word Ayurveda is made of two words, ‘Ayu’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ means knowledge, wisdom or essential truth. Ayurveda means knowledge of life. It is the principle of life that if applied results in to Holistic health, Harmony and Happiness. It is the ancient wisdom of India, though a system of medicine but aims at self realization or knowing one’s essential nature.

Ayurveda is that which deals with –

HITAYU (Positive Life) – a person is known to be evolved in ancient wisdoms when he never harms any person in thought, speech and action; lives, moves and acts in kindness, humility, goodness and works with single-minded dedication in life; establishes harmony in a family and society and is self disciplined, controls his/her negative traits like anger, agitation, excitement etc. This group of people always enjoys good health and lives in harmony and happiness.

AHITAYU (Negative Life) – a person who is always guided by his/her preferences, prejudices, manifests negative traits of anger, agitation in personal, professional and social lives, distracted , and never mind harming others for own benefits in life. This group of people is full of doubt, destruction and always suffers from many disorders.

SUKHAYU (Life of Pleasure) – a lifestyle where person enjoys worldly pleasures as he is physically, mentally fit and is young. He is having strength and vitality is having name and fame. He is having intellect and is knowledgeable and his sense is under his control and is able to do their work. He acquires wealth and possessions in order to enjoy the worldly objects in life. Their life is full of outer riches.

DUKHAYU (Life of Sorrow) a person living in unconsciousness, ignorance and falsehood at every moment of his life which contradicts the ways of living as mentioned above falls into this category of living. He always suffers and lives a painful life as he lives, moves and acts in Prajna Aparadh (actions lacks awareness, clarity, progress and harmony).

A detailed account of four types of lives is mentioned in the scriptures of Ayurveda which explains about the measurements, nature, attributes and qualities.

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Ayurveda has holistic approach towards life which takes into account person’s social, psychological and spiritual layers of existence. It is a science of life and not just a way of drug therapy. It not only explains life in terms of worldly pleasures, but also guides about social behavior, rules, codes and characteristics of healthy and unhealthy lifestyle. Ayurveda has an integral approach unlike modern science which has lopsided, organ oriented approach and concentrates on symptomatic treatment. The most significant part of the Ayurvedic system is consideration of society along with the management and prevention of diseases and promotion of health.

Integral approach of Ayurveda

The ancient India reflects the spiritual oriented lifestyle which throws a deeper understanding of nature in relation to the human frame. The subtle constituents of human body are made of five elements, have been given names according to their nature and works they perform in the body. When all these subtle constituents are in equilibrium, and soul, mind and senses in harmony, is known as Health. The ancient Ayurvedic genius can be understood by a deeper understanding about the state of health, they explain in terms of different humors (dosha), 13 metabolic functions (agni), 7 structural elements (dhatus), 3 waste products (malas). Besides, homeostasis in all constituents mentioned above, the science of Ayurveda also mentions the state of harmony and happiness amongst senses, mind and soul.

Ayurvedic lifestyle is not only physical, mental and social well being but also combines the wisdom of higher human traits in relation to behavior, values, and actions in the society.

Limitation - It is difficult to find any limitation in Ayurvedic approach towards life and health as it incorporates every object available on earth for the preservation and promotion of health and prevention and management of diseases.

Importance – Modern lifestyle is negative and destructive, owing to the philosophy of reductionism, age of anxiety and consumerism. Ayurvedic lifestyle, principles and practices take the person back towards holism, balance and harmony, thereby helping modern man in preventing many diseases, promoting health and inspire to live a life guided by eternal laws. Ayurveda while combing the materials, herbs, objects that are easily available with natural preparation inspires one to take responsibility of health, harmony and happiness on himself which decreases the need of medical doctors in life.

Ayurveda is an ancient wisdom aimed at knowledge of life.

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What are the 4 Purushastha of life (ultimate goals of life) ?

There are 4 main objectives of a human body, which are interrelated. He have to earn livelihood (Artha) for himself and also fulfill his desires (Kama) while following the virtuous path i.e. Dharma. The ultimate goal of human life that is Moksha or liberation is to be achieved by the following paths of Dharma.

Arogya or health is the basic requisite for attaining all these 4 Purushartha (goals) of a human body. Rog or disease is the main factor to destroy that Arogya (health) and these diseases are main hurdle for the human beings in progressing towards the ultimate goals.

Ayurveda shows for healthy persons and diseased ones the best path, i.e. Hetu cause, Linga- symptoms, Ausaad – medicine of disease and for disease.. i.e. causes of disease so that they can be avoided, symptoms for recognisation of disease and medicine for treatment of disease. It is very clear from aim of Ayurveda that it is meant for reserving the health of healthy person and getting rid of disease of a patient.

Ultimate aim is to achieve all the 4 Purusharthas i.e. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

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6 Padartha of Ayurveda

The 6 basic elements are:

The Samanya is that which increases a particular substance or thing in all aspects of it. Not even a single aspect is left behind.

Vishesha is that which decreases a substance in all its aspects. And in Ayurveda, both of them are used in increasing whatever is deficient an decreasing whichever is present in excess.

Similarity can be in 3 aspects –

  1. Substance – substance similarity e.g. infuse blood in case of deficiency.
  2. Properties – properties similarity e.g. milk increases ojas.
  3. Action – action similarity e.g., excessive exercises increases Vayu.

Similarly, Vishesha is of 3 types –

  1. Substance – substance (Dravya Vishesha) – Mamsa (muscle) part of the body is earth element predominant and Jonhari is predominant in Vayy (air) element so using it in case of Mamsa excess leads to decrease of Mamsa. So in obese patients it is very good to take Jonhari/Bajra.
  2. Property – property (Guna Vishesha) – as dryness of skin increases in Vayu (air) element which is having properties of Rooksha (dry) khara (rough). Oils (taila) is having different quality that as Snigdha and Slaksana (smooth) so Taila (oil) over power qualities of Vayu. It is Guna Vishesha.
  3. Karma Vishasha – action – action. As doing Yogic practices or exercise, they increase movement of body parts and that is opposite to properties of Kapha and Meda i.e. Phlegin and excessive fat. So doing exercise etc. leads to decrease in excess fat and decrease phlegm.

These are philosophical basis for doing treatment in Ayurveda as to balance Dosha, Dhatu, Mala, Agni. They can either increased or decreased following these principles. In this way, goal of balancing body Dhatus is achieved.

Dravyas (substance)

In which Karma (actions) Guna (properties) are present in an unbrokable way are called dravyas. e.g. Prithvi (earth) have Guna – smell, Karma – to give shape to anything

Jala (water) – Guna – Sita (coldness), Karma – liquefying a material

Similarly, mind is having Guna – Anutavva (microscopic)

Iktavva (single entity)

Karma – to think, to resolve etc.

Disha (direction) – karma is to tell – north, south, east etc.


That is Akash (space) etc. e.g. Akash, Vayu,Agni, Jal, Prithvi, soul (atma), mind, time (kaal) and directions are 9 dravyas and again they are divided into conscious and non- conscious dravyas

Guna – single entity, diffused all over and is omni present.


Which live with an unbreakable bond, which can’t move by itself and due to which people get the dravyas.

Saartha –these are the basic properties of Panch mahabhutas and the subject matter of 5 sense organs i.e. ear, eye, tongue, nose and skin.

    • Guruadi – these 20 Gunas are the basic for increasing or decreasing bodily doshas, dhatu, mala, agni etc. as according to similar or dissimilar properties.
    • Paradi – these 10 properties are helpful in mental calculation etc. As Yukti is how to introduce the properties to manage the particular conditions.
    • These are purely helpful to study state of mind of the patient. They are measure of person’s mental condition.

Guna – properties

They are into 4 groups –

  1. Sa-artha – shabda, saparsha, roop, rasa, gandha.
  2. Guru - heaviness

Laghu – lightness;   Manda- slow;   Tiksna – rapid/fast;   Seet-cold;  
Osna – hot;   Srighda – oily;   Rooksha – dry etc.

  1. Adiatam Guna – budhi, sukha, dukha, ichha (desire), dwesh – hate, prayatan – to try, achieve something
  2. Paradi – (Sanskrit words), union, separation, yukti, samskara etc.


Any action, which is done without an attempt or laboriously, is known as Karma. E.g. in Ayurveda there is a treatment division that is Panchkarma.

Karma is which causes union and separation at the same time. It do not require any external support but only dependent on action e.g. if arm is raised and is touched with ear, then it is separated from lower body and joined to ear in a single movement

Similarly, in following model code of conduct if virtuous actions are performed then at that same moment one is detached from non-virtuous karmas. These can be of various types depending upon subject matter


The unbreakable relationship between earth (Prithviadi) Mahabhoot and its qualities is Samvaya. That is particular qualities of Mahabhoot remain is than uninterruptedly.

All the actions in world are governed by these six elements.

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Aim of Ayurveda

To balance Dhatus is an action. And aim of Ayurveda is to balance Dhatus.

Disease is distribution or imbalance in Dhatus and health is balance between them and health is defined as Sukh(happiness) and disease as Dukha (sorrow).

Subject matter of Ayurveda

Atma (soul) or Sarir ( body) they are like three bases. Their combination makes this Jiva atmic body. Everything is established in this body.

That Sattva + Atma + Sarir is known to be Pumana and Chetna and this combination is subject matter of Ayurveda. And for this Sattva + Atma + Sarir this Ayurveda is established.

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Origin of Purusha

Ayurveda follow Samkhya philosophy and origin is (Avyakat) – (mahat, budhi, mahan) intellect – (Ahankar) e.g. – Tejis Ahankar , Vakarika Ahankar, Bhutadi Ahankar.

Vaikarik Ahankar – 5 Jnana indriyas e.g. 5 sense organs

Tejas Ahankar – 5 karma indriyas e.g. (organs of action as hands, feet, speech, genital organs, anis)

Bhut-adi Ahankar – 5 Tanmatras sabda, sparsha, roop, rasa, gandha + 5 mahabhootas Akash (space), Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Jala (water), Prithvi (earth) + mind.


That is Avaykat is that from which all have been developed. It is not having any cause in its own origin. It is having 3 gunas Sattva, Tamas and Rajas and is manifested in world in 8 aspects.

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Concept of 5 great Panchmahabhootas

Earth, water, fire, air, sky (space) when they are combined in different combinations, make all the substances of world. All conscious or non-conscious entities are made up of 5 Mahabhootas.

All the dravyas are made up of 5 Mahabhootas.

Panchmahabhootas and their relationship with 3 Gunas

  1. Space – Akash – Sattva
  2. Air – Vayu – Rajjas
  3. Fire – Agni – Sattva + Rajjas
  4. Water – Jala - Sattva + Tamas
  5. Earth – Prithvi – Tamasic

In Purusha, solid part is from Prithvi (earth) mahabhoota, liquidity from Jal (water), heat from Teja (fire), Prana (vital force) from Vayu (air) and empty places such as channels from Akash (space) and soul is Brahaman.

That the elements present in various substances increases those respective substances in the body as earth in dravyas increases earth element in the body similarly, other elements.

Similar substances causes increase and substances having opposite properties decrease the excessively present elements.

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Mental qualities (Sattva, Rajjas and Tamas)


Sattva is lightening for intellect and is virtuous for body and mind. Enriches human being with Sukha (pleasures) and knowledge.'


Rajas are attachment promoting and moves towards desires and it moves a man towards doing actions.


Tamas comes from ignorance. It develops delusion, Pramada (inability to take right decision), laziness and sleepiness.

A person having enlightening in each and every aspect is a Sattavic predominant person.

  • While a person having greediness, constant attempt to do action, excessive work, anxiety and desires is Rajjas predominant.
  • Any person with ignorance, non-mobility, delusion etc. should be taken as Tamas predominant person.

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Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the root for the origin of the body. When in balanced state they keep the body in its essential or true state. But when imbalanced they can even cause death.

Science of life is based on what ?

It is based on Vata, Pitta and Kapha. And according to Charaka – Vata, Pitta and Kapha are spread in whole body. In balanced state, they keep our body healthy and when imbalanced, they cause disease. In natural state, they are cause of intellect strength, luster and happiness and cause sorrow or difficulty when they are disturbed.

Dosha, Dhatus and Mala are the roots of the body.

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5 mahabhootas in Tridoshas
  • Vata – Vayu + Space
  • Pitta – Agni +Jala
  • Kapha – Jala + Prithvi

Vital energy that is responsible for the movement in smallest unit of the body to which we can say biodynamic or animal electricity. It is present in the body right from the time of fertilization and is nourished by food etc.

  • It is cause for the knowledge of external environmental changes etc.
  • All the body activities are controlled by it.
  • Intellect processes are also maintained by it.
  • It is manifested by its actions and is not having a physical appearance.
  • Its having non-imaginable strength.

e.g. if pacemaker is implanted to make heart pump, it have to be replaced after sometime to implant battery but naturally our heart is made to pump by Vayu for whole life. It gets its strength from food etc.

5 subtypes

a. Prana Vayu – control senses, respiratory centre and deglutition, thought process etc.

b. Udana Vayu – voice in Larynx.

c. Samana Vayu – releases digestive juices, helpful in digestion

d. Apana Vayu – helpful in eliminating flatus urine, fasces

e. Vyana Vayu – rasa, rakta, sweda flowing channels and automatic movements are controlled by this Vayu.

Disturbances or changes like arteriosclerosis and fibrous tissue deposits are likely due to Rooksa (dry) Guna of Vayu. Calcification sclerosis etc. is due to Khara Guna (roughness). Similarly, Laghuta causes atrophic changes. Numbness, hyper aesthesia is caused by Vayu. Vayu causes degenerative changes.


It also manifested by its actions only. Also present in each and every cell of body and is manifested by the catabolic activity. As enzymes are present in all cells and they convert chemical energy in such a way to be utilized by the body. And is some toxic substance is there; it decreases functions of enzymes that leads to decrease in Pitta karma or Agni Karma.

  • Pachaka Pitta – which digests food by releasing various enzymes and digestive juices.
  • Ranjaka Pitta – present in Liver and Spleen and help in red colouration of blood supported by modern view of Haemostatic factor which acts on marrow to induce formation of red blood cells.
  • Sadaka Pitta – mental conditions are also influenced by the Pitta according to Charaka. As e.g. Monoamine oxidize causes adrenaline and Monadianil change, which influence sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems and can cause depressive or agitative changes equivalent to Sadaka Pitta.
  • Bhrajaka Pitta – which is responsible for luster of skin. Bhrajaka in healthy state maintains it.
  • Aloctiaka Pitta – helps in visualization


Every smallest unit of the body that is cell contains in it a force for movement also a substance for digestive purpose and 3 rd for growth. It is manifested only by it’s actions and is not physically manifested.

  • Due to Kapha cells uptake amino acid and make various pretentious substances.
  • As in bones, protein matrix that converts into bone after Ca 2+ deposition.
  • In pregnancy, it is present in cells and is very predominant so that so much growth occurs in pregnant stage of embryo.
  • Up to age of 20-22 yrs., this growth process is predominant as this age is having Kapha predominance.
  • Repair of dead and decaying parts is very essential, it is undertaken by Kapha.


  • Bodhak Kapha – it makes to take Rasa present in tongue.
  • Ablambak kapha – around heart and lungs gives protection and also nourishes the vital organs.
  • Kledak kapha – helps to protect stomach from highly acidic secretions and also from hard food substances are softened by this Kledak kapha.
  • Sleshika kapha- present in joints protects the rubbing between the bones.
  • Tarpak kapha – cerebrospinal fluid, which is present in brain it protects and nourishes the brain

Disturbance in the normal metabolism causes hyper chlosterolaemia, hyperglycaemia or vessel walls are loaded with cholesterol which leads to arteriosclerosis and hypertension. Also rend stones may be formed. Seborrhea may be developed in scalp. Hypertrophy of any organ is also a loss of kapha disturbance. It also leads to decreased metabolism and so products of incomplete metabolism are also formed by kapha disturbance.

This is a brief summary of Tridosha, which are the basis for Ayurvedic treatment.


Ayurvedic texts – describe 13 types of different Agnis, which can be considered as various reactions responsible for all the metabolic activities of the body.

Types of Agni

  • Bhutagni – 5
  • Dhatavagni – 7
  • Jatharagni – 1

Jatharagni is the main Agni, which is responsible for digestion of food particles and also supports other Agnis of the body. Agni is given such an immense importance in Ayurveda that the medicine branch of Ayurveda is named Kayachiktisa. Majority of diseases is considered to be originated because of its defective functions.

Dhatvagnis are responsible for nourishment of the respective dhatus from the digested portion of food, any defect in their functioning leads to derangement in dhatus. For eg. – Decrease in medagni leads to obesity.


There are 7 dhatus as described in Ayurvedic texts. They are-

Rasa – Lymph

Rakta – Blood

Mamsa – Fleshy parts of the body

Meda – Fat

Asthi – Bones

Majja –Bone marrow

Shukra – Semen

They all are derived from Ahara Rasa, which nourishes their dhatus. They do various works in maintaining normal body functions disturbances in the body.

Dosha when vitalized go to dhatus and establish there. The derangement of normal functions of the body and also leads to loss of vitality so various diseases come in.


There are the waste products of metabolism, which are removed from the body. There excretion is very necessary as there accumulation leads to diseases.

Urine, fasces, sweating.

Arogya or (health) which is the main aim of Ayurveda is attained when a healthy person’s doshas, agnis, dhatus, malas must be in a balanced state and his soul, mind, senses must be happy.

When any of them is distutbed it is state of disease which means hinderance in acquiring the four Purusharthas of life i.e., dharma, artha, kama, moksha. And the main aim of Ayurvedic treatment is to balance them.

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contributed by Dr. R. P. Singh