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Characteristics of Health

Health, according to Ugraditya’s perspective in Kalyanakaraka, represents a comprehensive state that encompasses various facets extending beyond the mere absence of illness. These characteristics of health comprise a desire for appropriate food intake, effective digestion, regular elimination, bodily lightness, sensory pleasure, sound sleep, strength, a pleasant mind, and a harmonious Agni (digestive fire). Ugraditya discerns two fundamental types of health: the ultimate pinnacle termed “paramartha swasthya” and the more commonplace well-being known as “vyavahara swasthya.”

अथेय भवास्य सांप्रतं द्विधैव तत् स्वास्थ्यं उदाहृतं जनैः |
प्रधानमाद्यं परमार्थमित्यति द्वितियमन्यव्यद्यवहार संभवं ||
(कल्याणकारक २/२)

Paramartha Swasthya: The Apex of Holistic Well-being

Paramartha swasthya signifies the pinnacle of holistic wellness. It represents an individual’s optimal state of being, wherein every aspect of health harmonizes seamlessly. This state is characterized by a strong desire for nutritious food, facilitating proper nourishment and sustenance of the body. Active and effective digestion ensures the assimilation of nutrients, fostering vitality and energy. A crucial aspect of paramartha swasthya is the regular and timely evacuation of waste products—feces, urine, and flatus—aiding in eliminating toxins and maintaining internal balance. This state brings a sense of lightness to the body, contributing to overall well-being.

अशेषकर्मक्षयजं महाभ्दुतं यदेतदत्यंतिकमद्वितीयम् |
अतीन्द्रियं पार्थितमथर्ववेदिभिः तदेवदुक्तं परमार्थनामकं ||
(क.का. २/३)

Due to the decreased effects of past deeds, the soul experiences eternal happiness of liberation that is salvation, which is wonderful, never-ending exceptional, and desire of great people.

Furthermore, sensory pleasure and pleasantness in the sense organs are integral components of ultimate health. It involves a harmonious interplay between the body and the senses, fostering a feeling of contentment and joy in everyday experiences. Sound and timely sleep are essential for rejuvenation and restoration, enabling the body and mind to function optimally.

The attainment of strength and life force signifies robust vitality and resilience against illnesses, promoting longevity and a vigorous existence. A pleasant mind, free from mental disturbances, complements the physical aspects, contributing to a holistic state of well-being. Finally, maintaining a balanced Agni, or digestive fire, ensures efficient metabolism and overall health.

Characteristics of Health

Vyavahara Swasthya: Everyday Health and Wellness

Vyavahara swasthya represents the general, day-to-day state of health. While not reaching the pinnacle of paramartha swasthya, it encompasses the maintenance of overall well-being in routine life. This level of health involves a consistent focus on appropriate food intake, digestion, and regular elimination of waste. In vyavahara swasthya, individuals strive for a balanced diet conducive to maintaining health without reaching the idealized state of optimal wellness. They ensure adequate digestion, albeit perhaps not as efficiently as in paramartha swasthya, contributing to moderate vitality and energy levels.

समाग्निधातुत्वम्दोषं विभ्रमो मलक्रियात्मेन्द्रियसुग्सन्नता |
मनः प्रसादश्च नरस्य सर्वदा तदेवमुक्तं व्यवहारजं खलु ||
(क.का. २/४)

The normalcy of Agni, dhatu, dosha, mala, without any confusion blissful state of soul and mind, is general health that is vyawahara swasthya.

Regular elimination, though not as stringent as in the ultimate health state, remains a priority in vyavahara swasthya, supporting the body’s detoxification process. While sensory pleasure and mental peace are pursued, they may not be as consistently achieved as in the pinnacle of health. Sleep and awakening patterns are moderately regulated, providing sufficient rest but not necessarily optimizing rejuvenation. Strength and life force are maintained to a reasonable extent, albeit not at the robust level seen in Paramartha Swasthya. A pleasant mind is sought, although occasional mental disturbances may occur.

Characteristics of Health According to Kashyapa

Kashyapa elaborates the characteristics of health in Khilasthana.

अन्नाभिलाषो भुक्तस्य परिपाकः सुखेन च |
सृष्टविणमूत्र वातत्वं शरीरस्य तु लाघवं ||
सुप्रसन्नेन्द्रियत्वं च सुखस्वप्न प्रबोधनम् |
बलवर्णोयुषो लाभः सौमनस्यं समाग्निता ||
विद्यादारोग्य लिङ्गानि विपरीते विपर्ययम् ||
(का.सं.खि. ५/६)

The desire for the intake of food, proper and easy digestion of the ingested food, evacuation of faeces, urine, and flatus properly, lightness in the body, pleasantness in sense organs, proper timely sleep and awakening, a gain of strength, life and pleasant mind and normal Agni are the features of health and opposite state is an illness.

Health is characterized by a multitude of interconnected features that collectively contribute to a state of well-being. Among these features, the desire for nourishing food intake stands as a cornerstone. This desire aligns with the body’s need for essential nutrients and sustenance, forming the basis for a healthy existence. Furthermore, optimal health entails the smooth and efficient digestion of ingested food, ensuring the body effectively absorbs nutrients and energy. Equally crucial in maintaining health is the proper and regular elimination of waste—feces, urine, and flatus. This process aids in the removal of toxins and waste materials from the body, supporting internal balance and preventing potential health complications.

A sense of lightness in the body characterizes a healthy state. This sensation reflects the absence of heaviness or discomfort, indicating a well-functioning system. Additionally, pleasantness in the sense organs contributes significantly to overall health. When the senses experience pleasure and contentment, it positively impacts mental and emotional well-being, promoting a harmonious balance within the body. Proper and timely sleep plays a pivotal role in maintaining health. Quality sleep and a consistent sleep-wake cycle allow for bodily restoration and rejuvenation, enabling the body and mind to function optimally during waking hours. Adequate sleep supports cognitive function, emotional stability, and physical health.

Vital aspects of being healthy

The characteristics of health encompass a broad spectrum of interconnected elements vital to well-being. Gaining strength and vitality is an integral aspect that extends beyond physical robustness. It involves fortifying resilience against illnesses, fostering longevity, and nurturing a vigorous life force. Another pivotal trait is a tranquil and positive state of mind, constituting mental peace crucial for overall health and enhancing life quality.

Furthermore, a cornerstone of health lies in the balanced functioning of Agni, the digestive fire within the body. When Agni operates optimally, it plays a pivotal role in facilitating efficient digestion, metabolism, and the assimilation of nutrients essential for sustaining overall health.

Conversely, the antithesis of these health characteristics indicates illness. Disrupted digestion, irregular elimination, bodily discomfort, sensory displeasure, disturbances in sleep patterns, weakness, a troubled mind, and impaired Agni signify an unhealthy state. The onset of illness becomes apparent when these key health features fall out of equilibrium, resulting in physical, mental, or emotional imbalances.

In summary, health epitomizes a harmonious equilibrium of diverse interconnected facets, collectively constituting a state of well-being. The seamless functioning and balance of these fundamental characteristics of health denote a state of vitality and robustness, whereas their disturbance or imbalance signifies the emergence of illness.

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