Monday, July 21, 2008

Do we have any role in prevention of illness?

Can we reduce prevention to just popping a few pills and taking a few shots of vaccines!Is there something beyond these that we can do to stay free from illness?Can we have a protective shield around us which protects us from harm's way?

Are there any answers or will there be only questions?

Usually when we need answers to things which are perplexing or beyond us, we take resort to our elder's advice.So let us explore what our elders, our ancestors have told on prevention of illness.

In one of the greatest medical treatises ever written, the Charaka Samhitha, the author says on prevention of illness as follows:

Naro Hithahara Vihara Sevi Sameekshyakaari Vishayeswaskthah

Dhatha Samaha Sathyaparaha Kshamavaan Aapthopasevi Bhavathyarogaha

The explanation to the above sanskrit verse is as follows:
To be free from illness and to maintain a disease free state(AROGYA) , aperson has to follow the guideleines as given below:
1. Hithahara Viharasevi: One should consume food which wholesome and good to the individual personality or prakruti and also follow a disciplined daily regimen.

What is healthy food(Hitha Ahara) and what is a healthy regimen?Unless we know these details, we will be nowhere.Food which is prepare adhering to good hygiene, properly cooked, taken in moderate quantity is good for health. The food articles selected should match the prakruthi of the person. For e.g. A pitha prakruti person should not consume too much of spices and salt.

What is Hitha Vihara? Vihara includes sleep, work, excercise etc.
Adhering to the saying "Early to bed and early to rise" is the most healthy Vihara. Going late to bed aggravates the nervous system and getting up too late in the morning makes you sluggish and lazy since it aggravates the Kapha Dosha in the body.

I know that with the changing workschedules such as shifts,call center work etc it is difficult to adher to this guideline. But atleast during the weekends try to catch up with your regular sleeping hours instead of chilling out in the clubs and dance bars!

Some amount of excercise will do a world of good to all the systems in the body.It may be in the form of going to a gym or yoga or jogging. Whatever it may be, excercise regularly.

2. Sameekshyakaari: Think well before you act is the meaning. This is self explanatory. It is better to swallow your words rather than be made to eat it goes a saying.

3.Vishayeswaskthah: Be the master of your senses and not the other way round. The sense organs should be kept under our control for good health.For e.g.Control of the toungue is essential to have good eating habits. Vishaya is the subject and here it is that of the senses. Asakthi is have a desire over the objects of the senses. To have control over the senses is the meaning of this guideline.

4. Datha:Be a giver is the meaning.To be of help to somebody is an oppurtunity provided to you to relieve your tensions. That you have been useful to somebody is a factor which boosts your confidence and thereby boosts your relaxation level.Giving is an art.Giving makes you rich. Giving makes you reach higher levels. Look around you and you will find some beatiful examples of giving. for e.g. your beloved mother.She is an embodiment of giving.Who can be a better example.She always gives and feels happy when you recieve it.Look at Mother Earth-you sow one seed and she returns it in the form of a plant which yields 100 seeds. What you sow, you reap. If you spread sweetness, your life becomes sweet. What you give, you get. You are enjoying the fruits of the good work done by your elders and ancestors, do not break the chain. In case the chain is broken, the protective shield around you weakens. If you do not have anything material to give,does'nt mean that you cannnot give. Helping somebody having difficulty in crossing the road is also a form of giving.You do not spend anything from your pocket to do that simple task.

5. Samah: Practice equality is the meaning. Mahatma struggled througout his life to bring a sense of equality among all the citizens of our country. Do not look at people as haves and have nots. Treat everybody in the same way you would like to be treated.Do not be haughty and ill behaved with people who are poor and do not bend your back in front of the rich.

6. Sathyaparah: Be truthful is the meaning. True to your conscience. It is easy to lose confidence in the saying "Truth alone triumphs-sathyameva Jayathe" looking at the happenings in today's world.But we can take heart by looking at history. History does not lie. Falsehood creates lot of pressure on the brain and the heart, the two most important organs in our body leading to dangerous illnesses. Just because the modern day medical texts do not mention it as the cause of any disease does not mean it does'nt lead to any disease. Truth is reflected on the face of a person. His face will be radiant and shining since there are no blocks in him which prevent the inner glory from expressing outside.

7.Kshamavaan:The sixth guideline to remain healthy is forgiveness. Forgiving somebody, even though they may have committed a mistake is magnanimity. This comes to only a chosen few. The burning fire of retribution burns your own body, causing irreparable damage and endless diseases.To believe this advise, start practicing it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Look how things start changing for the better.Where earlier,you were feared , now you will be respected. Where earlier your arrival was resented, now you will be welcomed.The changes are to be seen and experienced to be believed.

8. Aapthopasevi:This is the most important of all. Aapthas are those who have dedicated their lives for the service of others,do not have any selfish motive behind their words and activities and are free from raja and tamo gunas. These are purely sattvika people. To stay healthy Charaka recommends that we have to serve such people. They may be your parents, who have struggled throughout their lives to bring you up and sacrificed their needs to meet yours. They may also be your Guru, teacher,friend , guide etc.

Dedicate part of your time and energy to service .Give a part of what you earn to the eligible and the needy. To serve or rescue an abandoned animal is also service. What do these actvities do to you? They initiate a series of positive thoughts and vibrations in you which have the power to heal.

There are innumerable ways to serve. The first and foremost requirement is the mental makeup. To do this you may have to sacrifice some of your time and some of your comforts. So be it. This way your happiness will increase and the protective shield around you will strengthen further.

These are the eight guidelines laid out by the great Rishi Charaka, the proponent of Ayurveda, for prevention of illness and maintenance of health. So start thinking beyond popping pills and taking immunization shots. There are things which are invisible to us but play a more vital role in our being free from illnesses. Listening to our elders advice makes sense and going against their advice will be at our own peril.

What we have learnt is a fistful and what we still need to know is as big as the ocean or the mountain goes a Tamil saying.

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