What is Health? Concept of Agni
Are sickness and health just a matter of luck, or of which bacteria you happen to encounter in your daily life? Is it possible to maintain lifelong health? Ayurveda has studied those questions and gives us clear answers and ways to remain healthy and happy. Unlike Western medicine, Ayurveda doesn’t consider a person to be healthy if he or she isn’t happy. Health is not simply the absence of disease. It is rather a state of balance among body, mind, and consciousness.
The Ayurvedic definition of health is the following:
Health consists of a balanced state of the three Doshas, the seven tissues (dhatus), the three wastes (malas), and the digestive fire (agni), together with the clarity and balance of the senses, mind, and spirit.
The seven tissues (dhatus) are: plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), muscle (mamsa), fat (meda), bone and cartilage (asthi), bone marrow and nerves (majja), and reproductive tissues (shukra and artava). Each dhatu is dependent on the previous one. If there is a problem in any stage, each successive dhatu will suffer.
The three waste products (malas) are: feces, urine, and sweat. The body must be able to produce and eliminate them properly.
Agni is one of the most fundamental concepts in Ayurveda. Agni transforms the lifeless molecules of food, water, air (physical food), feelings, and perceptions (mental food) into the consciousness of the cell. The span of life, health, immunity, energy, metabolism, complexion, strength, and enthusiasm are all dependent on Agni. It is the biological fire or heat energy that grabs the essence from food, feelings, and thoughts and transforms it into a form our body can use. Agni destroys microorganisms, foreign bacteria, and toxins. As long as it is functioning properly, the state of balance and happiness is maintained.
Proper nutrition, proper exercise, healthy relationships, positive emotions, and a regulated daily and seasonal routine all contribute to strong digestive fire (see Daily routine for your dosha; Ayurvedic food combinations; Kitchary; Rasayana; Seasons and the dosha; and Panchakarma).
TODAY’S TIP: When all Doshas, Dhatus, Malas, Agni, Mind, and Spirit are balanced, it produces a state called Swastha, which means “totally happy within oneself”.