Prekshadhyan - An Introduction: [05] Physical Health

Published: 13.04.2007
Updated: 29.11.2012

Physical Health

Naturopathy, Ayurveda and other systems have given a lot of attention to hygiene or health science. In medical science, therapeutics has been highly developed, but it will be no exaggeration to say that health science has developed much less. The science of remaining healthy and the science of treating diseased people are two different things. Even though allopathy has put forth the principle that 'prevention is better that cure', it has been given much more attention and emphasis in naturopathy and Ayurveda.

Who Is Healthy?

Let us first concentrate on health science. Since earlier times, man has wished to remain healthy and not fall ill. But who can be called healthy? According to Ayurveda, he is healthy whose sense organs and soul are in state of felicity. Perfect equilibrium between the three doshas (forces controlling all bodily and mental activity) viz. kapha, pitta, vayu (phlegm, bile, wind) and a parallel equilibrium of biological combustion are the hidden symptoms of good health. We should see the visible symptoms to be sure of health- a happy mind and uncontaminated sense organs.

Physiological Viewpoint

Let us look at the issue from the physiological point of view. He is healthy who’s digestive and excretory systems functions properly. One eats, assimilates the required elements and excretes the rest. If this happens, man may be regarded healthy. Let us go to a step future. He is healthy who’s nervous and endocrine systems functions properly. Let us go still further and analyse the word 'healthy' also. In the ancient view he is whose skeleton system is good, for the entire body rests on the bones. Jain yoga puts it succinctly thus: Depending on the quality of his bone structure, man can become proportionately knowledge and meditation are assessed on the basis of the bone structure.

Our physical is very critically dependent on the spinal cord. The spine has 33 vertebrae. The more flexible they are, the better the health of a person. If the spinal column is bent, it is a sign of deteriorating health. Our grey matter, the bone marrow contains a large part of inherited traits and knowledge. The health of the marrow determines the quality of knowledge, meditation and health.

Health - Scientifically Speaking

What should we do to preserve our health? While discussing it the first thing to consider is our food. In modern scientific language, balanced food is essential for health. There are score of tables relating to balanced food, which comprises vitamins, salts, alkali, carbohydrates etc. But it is not enough. The principles enunciated as part of prekshadhyan are very useful for health also. One of them is eating moderate quantities of food. Merely taking balanced food is not enough; it should also be moderate in quantity. Even nutritious food, taken in excessive quantity, damages health. Further, food should not only be tasty, but also beneficial. Its benefits will have to be judged from a number of angles. One of them is the avoidance of inimicals. There are foods, which should not be taken together, for example, oil and milk do not go well together and similarly muskmelon and milk are inimicals.

Consideration Of Age

Ayurveda has considered age in terms of kaph (phlegm), pitta (bile) and vata (wind). Up to the age of fourty kaph predominates, thereafter pitta predominates up to seventy and in the third and final stage it is vata which predominates. Those who are above seventy are bound to harm their health if they eat things causing the formations of wind.

Consideration Of Time

Let us consider health in relation of time. The first quarter of the day is kaph (phlegm) dominated, the mid-day pitta (bile) dominated and the third quarter or evening is vat (wind) dominated. Therefore if things like muskmelon or guava are eaten in the evening, it will be difficult to avoid illness. It means that one should know which food would be useful at what time of the day. Those who eat after sunset are also wrong, because the digestive system cowers in the absence of the rays of the sun. It again proves that it is not enough to take balanced food.

Consideration Of The Science Of Svarodaya

Now we can treat health from the point of view of svar (air breathed through the nostrils.) The Science of Svar requires that food be taken when the svar of the sun (right nostril) is operating. Food eaten during the operation of the svar of the moon (left nostril) will do no good even if it is nutrition. Water should be drunk while the moon svar is on and food should be eaten while the sun svar is on.

Food Must Be Justly Earned

Proper food is that which has been earned through just means. Such food has purity in it. Our health is related not only to material substances, but also to our attitudes and mental states. Food earned through even means, deceit, fraud and crookedness has harmful effects on the body. Judged by this criterion, it is difficult to identify people unaffected by these evils. Even our (Jain ascetics) food comes from other households. Even proper food should be subjected to further improvement by taking it only when one is very hungry. Wealthy people rarely observe the above principle. Wherever and whenever they go, they are served attractive things to eat and drink. They hardly worry about the number of times they eat. Such a practice proves extremely harmful to health.

Avoid being Reactive

Every man has the tendency to react. There is no man who will act but not react. But sometimes the reactions are very fierce and aggressive. They throw the digestive system in turmoil. One of the principles of good health is to restrain reaction, practice indifference and avoid extreme reactions.

Health And Friendship

Another element of good health is friendliness. Once a man gets used to becoming hostile, he begins seeing an enemy in every body. He becomes obsessed with the desire to pull others down, to wipe them out, or to teach them a lesson. Such a hostile temperament is inimical to health. Hostility is mental Poisson. Heart attack and cancer are psychosomatic disease. Behind them the main cause is bad thought and enmity. These causes act as internal poisson and render the body diseased. Only those people can stay healthy who observe friendliness towards others.

Thought Activity

One more element of health is thought activity. It means while eating, all should be on eating. Neither thought should cross the mind at that time. According to Charak, the mind should be happy and free from all worries while eating - it is symptom of health.

Restraint In Speaking

Another element of health is restraint in speech. The whole day should be calculated in terms of periods of silence and those of speaking. In fact there are three ways of dissipating our energy and one of them is excessive talking, the other two being excessive activity. Thus restraint in speaking is also an important sign of good health.


Ayurveda speaks of three secondary supports of health. Breath or vital energy is the main support, which helps us preserves health. It has three secondary supports: food, sleep, and continence. Sleep is extremely important. Without it, health is inconceivable. Even a day's loss of sleep disturbs everything. In modern times, sleepiness has become a widespread problem. Even as tension is universal disease, sleepiness too is acquiring the same proportions. Sleeping pills are manufactured to treat it and the sales are so enormous that the manufacturers are multi-millionaires.


The third secondary support is continence. Today we witness a topsy-turvy situation. Instead of continence we have free sex. People wonder at the phenomenal and constant increase in the number of hospitals, doctors, medicines and researches. And yet diseases are multiplying. Thousands of animals and birds are being killed in the name of research, just for the sake of keeping the human healthy. Despite of all these, newer and deadlier diseases like cancer and AIDS are appearing. Earlier, the incidence of tuberculosis was also much more limited. It was deemed to be princely disease, not affecting the common people. A few of the emergency diseases have not yet been identified. One factor, which is at the back of them all, is lack of restraint of the sense organs.

Reliance On Medical Treatment

Self-restraint in terms of continence does not mean restraint on only the reproductive organs. Brahmacharya is a term of very wide scope. It implies restraint on all the five sense organs. Our health cannot be good if we do not learn how to control this sense organs. The number of hospitals in all the big cities is constantly increasing. Even then, not only patients are getting expected curative treatments. The reason is that we rely on medical treatment not on health. We do not know the method of staying healthy. At the slightest indication of disease we rush for getting medical treatment. The right thing to do is to first give careful attention to health.

Development Of Health Consciousness Is Necessary

In the context of prekshadhyan the development of health consciousness has been given a serious thought. Development of health consciousness is an essential as that as spiritual consciousness. Understanding the way of keeping good health is a prelude to staying healthy and avoiding the need for medical treatment. Though all disease are not the result of our actions, some of them are and their proper treatment is possible only through spiritual cleansing. Seasonal ailments are quite common. But we can save ourselves from many dangerous diseases if we know the rules of good health and practice them.

Yogic Postures

Prekshadhyan prescribes Yogic postures and rhythmic breath control. There are some methods of meditation like vipashyana, which prohibits Yogic postures, but we consider them indispensable. We believe that meditation without yogic postures results in the weakening of the digestive system. Dhyan or meditation entails a high expenditure of energy, which is only natural because concentration involves considerable use of vital energy. In that state, the digestive system will be thrown into disarray if yogic postures are rhythmic control of breathing are not practiced. That is why prekshadhyan insists on yogic postures. These postures are useful for both preservation and health and therapeutics in the first instance? We should choose postures, which would reserve health, keep the digestive, elimination and respiratory system functional preserve the balance of the balance of the nervous system and of the endocrine secretions.

Rhythmic Breath Control For Health

There are two types of pranayam, one meant for the body and another for meditation. We have to take care that rhythmic control of breath is not exclusively for the body, but also for meditation. Otherwise, the mind can grow more fickle.

All Of You Have Passed The Test

Here is an incident, which relates to ancient Takshila University. The Acharya told the disciples, 'Go and explore for a whole year the region at the back of the University in order to identify the root of a herb having no medical property.' After spending twelve months, the disciples returned empty-handed. The Guru said, 'How come, none of you could discover even one herbal root having no therapeutic use?' the disciples replies,' No Gurudev, we could not despite our best efforts,' The Guru was pleased and remarked 'You have all passed the test'.

As there is no herbal root without at least one medical property, there is no yogic posture which does not have a therapeutic effect. Properly understood and practised they can prove extremely useful. If we think the body in the light of the contributory of breathing and mental purity, we may be able to enjoy good health and vitality.

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Ayurveda
  3. Body
  4. Brahmacharya
  5. Concentration
  6. Consciousness
  7. Deceit
  8. Dhyan
  9. Doshas
  10. Guru
  11. Gurudev
  12. Jain Yoga
  13. Meditation
  14. Pranayam
  15. Prekshadhyan
  16. Science
  17. Soul
  18. Yoga
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