CONCEPT OF LIFE AS PER AYURVEDA

हिताहितं सुखं दुःखमायुस्तस्य हिताहितम् । मानं च तच्च यत्रोक्तमायुर्वेद स उच्यते ।।

The science of Ayurveda is defined as that which delivers the description of life. Accordingly, the description deals with the different aspects of having favourable and unfavourable subjects that result in a happy or a sorrowful life. Thus the science classifies one’s life into 4 types namely हितायु (Hita-Ayu), अहितायु (Ahita-Ayu), सुखायु (Sukha-Ayu) and दुःखायु (Dukha-Ayu). This classification will be useful in understanding how one is and what is to be done to have a most desired life. But before we understand the classifications of life, it is important that we understand what is life. In the subsequent section of the page we will be discussing about it in detail along with the types as mentioned. 

WHAT IS AYU OR LIFE?
शरीरेन्द्रिय सत्वात्म संयोगो धारि जीवितम् ।
नित्यगश्चानुबन्धश्च पर्यायैराऽयुरुच्यते ।।
The definition of life as mentioned in Charaka Samhita Sutra Sthana 1st Chapter mentions it to be the combination of 4 factors namely body, senses, mind and soul. It is also known as Dhari, Jeevitam, Nityaga and Anubandha.

Life is defined in the english dictionary as as “the ability to obtain and use energy, grow, reproduce and respond to change“. It is this factor that differentiates the living organism from the non-living. If the ability to absorb and utilise the energy is not present then we would be unable to grow, reproduce and respond to any change. This makes us to be similar to a non-living which we call as DEAD or DEATH of the living entity. But the science of Ayurveda gives a definition that explains life as “a combination of the body, senses, mind and soul”. This emphasises that the life is made up of 4 components namely Body is a materialistic component, Senses is a receptive component, Mind is a functional component and Soul is the energy component. But mere presence of these four will only result in existence of life and not its desired quality. This is possible when we have a good and prosperous health. The definition also mentions the eternity or reproducibility of life giving highlighting the continuity of the process. This also emphasises that the life activity is carried out by the generations which is not dependent on an individual.

HITA X AHITA AYU (Glorious X Wretched Life)

The term Hita is usually referred to as favourable or affectionate, etc. Here we are defining it to be a glorious life. When an individual celebrates the life with the involvement of everyone around is said to be the HITA – AYU. This is very well explained by Charaka in the text Charaka Samhita how and when a life style becomes glorious. Here the author points out 10 assessment parameters to analyse the same. They are as follows

  1. Is compassionate to all living organisms.
  2. Has no greed towards wealth and possessions.
  3. Speaks truth which is most relevant to the given situation.
  4. Loves peace and performs actions with proper analysis and understanding
  5. Successfully attains the pursuits of life with ease.
  6. Respects and worships the one who are eligible to be and provides dedicated service to them.
  7. Can control the emotional upheavals efficiently.
  8. Always spiritual, charitable and peaceful.
  9. Has sound knowledge both spiritually and materialistically with adequate performance.
  10. Has both good memory and intelligence.

The opposite of all these characteristic features are those of AHITA – AYU which is to be considered as a Wretched life. It is due to the fact that when an individual becomes non compassionate, greedy, etc, then the person will be more haunted by the deeds that was performed along with their own repercussions resulting in fear, skeptical and depressive approach towards life. Thus, the life becomes more of a burden than a celebrating one.

SUKHA X DUKHA AYU (Contended X Miserable Life)

Sukha is a term that is usually referred as Comfortable or happy. Hence when both the conditions or emotions are combined it becomes contended. Thus, SUKHA-AYU  refers to contended life. Even this is very well explained by Charaka in his text elaborately. To assess the same the author has pointed out 9 parameters which are as follows

  1. Totally free from Ailments (Both physical and psychological).
  2. A youthful age filled with favourable circumstances and joy.
  3. Has the ability to perform any activity of choice.
  4. Possess utmost strength (Physically and psychologically)
  5. Has utmost capability to perform and well recognised.
  6. Possess utmost knowledge, strength and maturity.
  7. Has all the possessions of choice.
  8. Attainment of all the desires without hinderance.
  9. Less bondage and commitment or liabilities.

The same when becomes opposite then that particular life is known as DUKHA-AYU or a Miserable life. A life without any favourable conditions without knowledge and strength will make the person degraded by others and also socially excluded leading to self-dejection. Hence the life becomes more of a burden than a comfort. 

INTERPRETATION OF THE CLASSIFICATION OF LIFE

Life is a continuous process where an individual is only instrumental in it.It is an evolving process where the next generation will only be trying to make the situation or the circumstances better through various analysis, inventions, strategies, etc. Basically, the activity of life is aimed towards achieving perfection through knowledge and understanding. Every new discovery or invention is mainly aimed to reach the ultimate. But many a times this goal for perfection will go astray and ends up in messing the whole process. Even though the routes of activity do vary considerably depending on the perspective, but the ultimate goal is the same. This goal is what we describe as MOKSHA or SALVATION. The salvation word refers to something that is very spiritual that refers to as becoming one with the Ultimate Spirit or PARAMATMA, but from the perspective of a knowledge seeker, it is the final destination of achieving perfection. It is because, the knowledge when becomes perfect leads to detachment from the cause or object of knowledge which is nothing but self-realisation in itself. Hence, this process is a continuous one where one continues to strive for the achievement from where the past has left it. 

But the attainment of knowledge is not a common and an easy process, it needs dedication, focus and temperament to know and handle the same. Thus, an improper knowledge will end up in messing up the process. In light of this approach we can try to analyse the relevance of the classification which stands true even today.

HITA-AYU

The term as suggested above is equated to a glorious life. Here the life refers to a very celebrating life. It doesn’t mean that a person should be a celebrity and known world over. It refers to the approach that a person should have towards the life. Any celebration is possible when there is involvement of more than the individual, the intensity of celebration is more with the increase in the involvement of subjects. Hence while describing the features and parameters of Hita-ayu, we can observe that the involvement of every subject around us is highlighted. It is easy to have a comfortable and secluded lifestyle but having a healthy public life is what being considered in this scenario. It is highlighting the activities that are directed towards a very broad spectrum of people and living organisms with the ability to respect all and hence become respected by all. It is hence a pre-requisite toi have a Sukha-Ayu to achieve this life style. That is the reason why Ayurveda emphasises to have Hita-Ayu as it not only facilitates comfort and happiness but also propels us to develop and achieve the goal of life. 

AHITA-AYU

On the contrary, the Ahita-Ayu is the opposite of the same which is a wretched life style. Unlike the opposite, the individual’s lifestyle is presented in such a way that there is some meagre resources resulting in yearning for them along with greed. Even the circumstances are  unfavourable like old age, weak boy, etc which further restricts the individual to work and obtain the needed resources. These make the individual have a low lifestyle with unrealised desires making the person have a negative mindset and remaining aloof from the social contacts and always brooding over oneself. 

The point to be thought here is the quality and quantity of resources is not to be considered but the amount of contentment that is towards whatever there is present. Aspiration for more is not always good when it combines with greed. This is due to the fact that greed makes the individual to become jealous, loose control over emotions and finally tussle for obtaining what is not possessed. The cycle once started will be never ending as the individual looses control over the aspirations and greed. This makes the individual excluded by the society and neglected by the social circles around. Thus in total the lifestyle becomes a messy and tangled one with no route of escape making the life wretched.

SUKHA-AYU

Sukha in general refers to comfortable with happiness and highly favourable. Here in he present context the lifestyle is equated to a contended life. Unlike, the description of Hita-Ayu, Sukha-Ayu is more towards self-centric. Here how a individual is to be said to have a contended life is being described. Generally, when an individual reaches the age of youth, there is utmost strength, aspirations, capability and knowledge. But usually lacks maturity in their early stages. Thus, having a favourable condition like a good background for a perfect launch of life is necessary to have all the materials to make it successful. Whenever we obtain what is desired and don’t get greedy for more itself will lead to a contended life. Here the inclusion of social circles is not highlighted like the Hita-Ayu. This shows that to have a Hita-Ayu it would be recommended to have a Sukha-Ayu as well but not a dire necessity. A contended life is possible with limited resources too which depends on the individual. Hence a person with Hita-Ayu will always possess Sukha-Ayu as the choice of possessions, etc is well in the comfortable zone. But those who possess Sukha-Ayu may not have the contention to be socially helpful which gives the edge of difference between the two.

DUKHA-AYU

Unlike the Ahita-Ayu where the individual has social ill-health with strained relations among the social circles, Dukha-Ayu is a life that is poised to be in a miserable state. The factors like age, knowledge, possessions circumstances, etc play a major role in determining this type of life. When this type of lifestyle is associated with grief and greed, then the life will become wretched. But if accompanied with grief then it becomes a miserable life. Thus, like the earlier set, Dukha-Ayu can be a predisposing factor for Ahita-Ayu while it cannot be the other way. At times even an individual with Dukha-Ayu can be more socially helpful with whatever limited resources they have making it a better lifestyle for themselves.

LIFE STYLE AS PER AYURVEDA

Ayurveda propagates and emphasises the attainment of Moksha or Salvation as the ultimate goal of every human being. For this it is quite important to have a healthy lifestyle. Among the four the Hita-Ayu depicts the healthy life style. It is because, the Hita-Ayu depicts the complete health of the individual including the social health along with physical, mental, financial and spiritual health. It is only when the individual has complete health that, it makes the person to achieve knowledge to its eternity along with the maturity of one’s thoughts. The maturity of thoughts in turn results in social accommodation and feeling of oneness resulting in open and accommodative mind. Thus in total it becomes a celebration every day and every moment. Isn’t this a great happening of life???

The video representation of the concept is presented in the video attached below:

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