Ayurveda is indeed the science of life. The provision of Ayurveda is much more than disease treatment and reversal, it aims to remove the root cause of disease and prevents its recurrence. Ayurveda has a holistic and wholesome approach to health and wellbeing. The concept of three pillars of life is known as Trayaupsthambha in Sanskrit where Traya- means three and Upsthambha literally mean supporting Pillars which strengthen the Vata, Pitta and Kapha energies. The foundation of any structure should be strong, and such is the concept of three supporting pillars of life on which the foundation of health is created.
Ayurveda emphasizes balancing the three supporting pillars of life to gain optimum health.
The three pillars are:
- Aahar – Balanced nutrition: Aahar refers to food. Each individual needs food to sustain the life. Food eaten is broken down into smaller particles which generate energy and hence it is the primary source of life. Ayurveda has elaborated the properties of food in terms of its composition, taste, and other attributes. The composition of food is also like any other entity in the universe, made up of five elements or Panchamahabhutas. The six tastes are unique, and all the meals should have at least one item of all the tastes mentioned. Other important attributes are known as Gunas which essentially determine the nature and effect of food on the body. For example, Food items like Bakery products which are heavy to digest, whereas rice that is easy to digest. In terms of nutrition, rice is better absorbed and gives simple carbohydrates to the body leading to satiety. Ayurveda advocates the intake of pure, clean, and well- cooked food along with portion control. There are set rules of eating mentioned in Ayurvedic texts such as, eating only when previous meal is digested, or eating when there is sensation of true hunger. Eating meals at the right time and in the right quantity is the key to optimum digestion, thereby, optimum health.
- Nidra – Good quality of Sleep: Nidra literally translates to sleep. When the body is overworked and has physical as well as mental fatigue, the Tama guna which is an attribute of the mind takes over and one feels sleepy. This is body’s natural tendency, which is also researched well in modern science, effectively implying that a good quality of sleep for 7-8 hours at night, resets the body clock and balances the circadian rhythm. Just as one requires proper nutrition for sustaining, sound sleep in the form of physical and mental rest, is as much essential to maintain good health and balance of the Doshas. Sleep is a natural urge, which should never be suppressed as per Ayurveda, but due to changing lifestyle, getting even more than six hours of sleep has become a luxury. This suppression leads to change in the natural body clock and thus, different health issues such as chronic fatigue, hyperacidity, insomnia, migraines, poor eyesight and so many other health issues arise. Ayurveda emphasizes to keep this pillar of life well nourished to maintain a natural cycle and good health.
- Brahmacharya – healthy conjugal life: Brahmacharya refers to a healthy sexual life. Ayurveda has explained proper management of sexual energy. This management is not only limited to only physical act of sexual activity, but also symbolizes effective management of thoughts and code of conduct. There should always be a perfect balance of Tridoshas in the physical body and Trigunas as in the three attributes of the mind. Sexual energy is needed to build Shukra which is the essence of Ojas that gives vitality and strength to the body. To create a healthy progeny, both male and female reproductive systems should be healthy and function well. Channelizing this sexual energy is essential to have a healthy offspring. Hence, over -indulgence in sexual activity is not recommended in Ayurveda. Both the partners should be of reproductive age, in good physical and mental health and must be in the state of mind to perform the act. If all these criteria are met, a healthy foetus can be conceived which is the union of Shukra and Aartav, that is a zygote in the uterus.
Hence to achieve proper health and wellbeing, one must learn to balance and strengthen these three pillars. A good base or foundation of health is dependent upon the health of these virtues. Any imbalance in any of these would lead to a collapse of health. If the improper diet is taken regularly such as overeating junk food, taking untimely meals or excessive intake of heavy foods is going to impact digestion. Ayurveda has elaborated that poor digestion and weak digestive fire is the root cause of all diseases. Hence pillar of food is essential. Similarly, lifestyle management is also of utmost importance as it directly impacts the sleep cycle. These days due to working night shifts, many professionals are going through digestive, neurological, and various other disorders at an early age. This continuation leads to non -reversible health conditions as age advances. The youth today is unable to channelize their energy into productive things, and thereby poorly managing the sexual energy leading to various health problems such as infertility, miscarriages, low sperm count etc. Therefore, if one learns to manage all the three pillars effectively, there will not be a single health concern he/she has to face in future.
Along with these three pillars, one must practice a good code of conduct which is known as Sadvritta. These ethical and moral principles of right conduct are applicable to everyone, irrespective of age, gender, occupation, and geographical location. Practising them helps to attain the perfect balance between body, mind, and soul. Additionally, following a set routine, known as Dinacharya (daily regime) and adapting to nature’s cycle when seasons change, is essential. This is called Ritucharya (seasonal regime).
It can be rightly said that Ayurveda has studied minutely how external changes in the environment affect the health status of a person and has suggested simple and effective means to reverse the condition.