Ayurvedic concept of CHIKITSA

Medicine has various branches that have developed over centuries, Ayurveda is one such branch.


Ayurveda is actually the “The Science of Life and an ancient way of living. It has a holistic approach towards physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life.


“Life according to Ayurveda is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. Ayurveda is not only limited to body or physical symptoms but also give comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and social health. Thus, Ayurveda is a qualitative, holistic science of health and longevity, a philosophy and system of healing the whole person. The perfect balance of mind, body and soul is considered as complete health in Ayurveda. The concept of mind in ancient India had been since pre-vedic period. Mind has been conceived to be functional element of ATMAN (soul) which described in Vedas – earliest written script of human race”. Source link 1  


“The essence of psychotherapy has been present in all traditional societies all along. In India, it has existed in a submerged form, interwoven with social structures, social norms, in religious practices, in customs, myths and rituals. It has been included in mysticism, in yoga, in Buddhism, in Ayurveda, in Unani tradition and in allopathic tradition. Mahabharata is a great textbook of psychopathology and Gita a great treatise in psychotherapy.” Source link 1  


Returning to the Ayurvedic concept of Chikitsa. The literal meaning of the word is ‘therapy, cure, medicinal application and treatment’.


Ayurveda focuses not only on treatment of an ailment but also aims to improve general health with a deeper intent to prevent sickness.

For most people Ayurvedic treatment means Panchakarma. However, Ayurveda has other ways of treating for e.g. Chikitsa.


According to Ayurveda, health and disease have a psychosomatic approach. The main cause of all disease is an unhealthy mind and body. The next para elaborates.  


Ayurveda describes three guna of Mind and named as Satwa (Balance), Raja (Arrogance) and Tama (Indolence). Mind is called ‘Manas’. Ayurveda describes that a possibility for disease is due to imbalance of the ‘tamas’ or ‘rajas’ in the mind which are the reactive tendencies which vitiate the mind and leading to emotional imbalance, also results in psychological disturbances, hence Rajas and Tamas are termed as ‘Doshas of mind’. Tridosha are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These terms literally mean the darkness and brightness of the mind or negative thoughts in the mind or the clearness of mind. These impurities or imbalances are called ‘doshas’. The reason for any unhealthy condition is the toxins create by the accumulated ‘dosha’. Source link 1

It is worth remembering this verse from Sushruta Samhita -  

samadoshasamaagnischasamadhatu mala kriyaaha|
prasannaatma  indriyamanahaswasthaitiabhidheeyate”||


Translated as, “When there is a balance of Dosha (Vata, Pitaaand Kapha), Agni (digestive fire), Dhatu (plasma, blood etc seven tissues) and their coordination it helps in elimination of Mala (waste matter) regularly. This process keeps our soul, mind & sense organs in balance. In Ayurveda this state is termed as Swatha (healthy state).”


Keeping this in mind Ayurveda has suggested various type of therapies. Acharya Charaka classified Chikitsa (treatment) into three types -

1. Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa (Divine Therapy) i.e. non-pharmacological.

2. Satvavajaya Chikitsa (Psychotherapy) i.e. non-pharmacological.

3. Yuktivyapashraya Chikitsa (Rational Therapy) i.e. pharmacological

Here is a brief introduction about the treatment.  

1. Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa

It is a non-pharmacological treatment based on faith in divine power and social rituals. This was mostly followed during ancient times, popular & religiously followed by society then. Some of this is followed even today for e.g. mantra chanting and mala japa. Whether to follow or not is a matter of faith.

The words Daiva mean divine, Vyapashraya is trusting and Chikitsa is therapy or treatment. 


Tat shantihiaushadhaihi, daanaihi, japahomasuaarchanaihi.  

This means the seeds of disease first develop in the mind and then proliferate in the body when they exceed the limit. Eventually the disease manifest at appropriate times during one’s life. Planetary forces carry imprints, in the form of karma, which fructify at a particular time. 


Therefore, these kinds of diseases should be treated as follows.

  • Aushada is organic medicine.
  • Daana means being compassionate and charitable.
  • Japa means focusing the mind through mantra chanting.
  • Homa is cleansing using the fire element.
  • Suraarchanais is using the power of prayer.  

The above, directly or indirectly, have a positive influence on the mind (manas).

How does Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa help? 

It Reduces stress, Controls negative thoughts, Pauses negative actions due to diversion of mind into other activities, Increases belief that there exists a Divine power, we Learn to surrender to a higher power and Increases strength & confidence.

2. Sattvavajaya Chikitsa

This is applied mainly in mental illness and a few physical diseases where it is a supportive therapy. It is a psycho-behavioral Ayurveda therapy. “There is no fundamental difference between sattvavajaya and modern psychotherapy”. Source link 1

Sattva means mind or supreme quality of mind and Avayaja means to overcome.

Ayurveda states that Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Bhay (fear) Moha (desires)Irsha (jealousy), Dwesa (hate), Visada (grief), Ego (pride) cause stress, anxiety, & depression and are symptoms of mental illness.  


Sattvavajaya makes the mind positive by overcoming these negative behavioral traits. The classical Sattavayaha is based on three principles namely - 

  • Substitution of emotions
  • Commitment and 
  • Psychotherapy.  


There are many therapeutic models in this for cultivation of Gyana (knowledge), Vigyana (right knowledge), Dhairya (patience), Smriti (memory) and Samadhi (integration of individual & universal energy in oneness).


Acharya Patanjali wrote about yogic practices like Ashtanga Yoga. It is about controlling the mind (manas), improving psychosomatic health and not only about physical exercise.  

Ayurveda prescribes a regimen, that when followed enhances sattvic gunas. This in turn makes us content and results in a healthy life. Details of the regimen follow.


Pathyapathya (Do’s & Donts)

Ayurveda described Ahara (diet), Nidra (sleep) and Brahmacharya (celibacy) as the basic three sub-pillars of life (Trayopastambha). To maintain proper balance amongst them one should follow some principles or regimen regularly for e.g. waking up early, eating fruits and vegetables. This regime is called Pathya. If one does not follow this regimen it is called Apathya for e.g. sleeping late, eating very spicy food or meat.

Dincharya (daily regimen) and Ritucharya (season regimen)  

According to Ayurveda when a daily regime is followed religiously it inculcates a sense of discipline. Further the regimen needs to change depending on the season.


When we follow a regimen regularly it makes us follow the routine even on days when we do not feel like doing so. This improves control over the mind and its wavering thoughts.


Sadvritta and Achara Rasayana

Ayurveda offers a code of good conduct under the heading Sadavritta and Achara Rasayana.

Sadvritta consists of Sat means good and Vriita means ideal habits or routine. 

Achara Rasayana consists of Achara meaning behavior and Rasayana meaning rejuvenation. Simply put codes of conduct or way of rejuvenating behavior.


This is non-pharmacological therapy which works miraculously.

If one follows the principles of Sadvritta and Achara Rasayan it shall make us mentally healthy and prevent psychosomatic disorders. 

In this way Ayurveda offers a wide range of preventive and therapeutic measures to achieve a balance of body, mind and consciousness.

Now we will see the rational therapeutic view of Ayurveda. It is called Yuktivyapashraya.  

3. Yuktivyapashraya Chikitsa

Dhatusamyamkriyach ukta tantrasyaasya prayojanam!

The aim of Ayurveda is to bring homeostasis in the tissues in order to maintain health. This can be achieved through diagnosis and treatment by a Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor) to overcome illness. Since it relates to physiological & psychological illness it is treated with pharmaceutical drugs and therapies.


Yuktivyapashraya has two types of treatments i.e. internal and external.


Internal consists of Langhan & Brumhan therapy.


Shodhan shaman chetidwidhatatrapilanghanam

Brumhanamshamanamtuevaprayopittanilasya cha (A.S Su-24)

It means Shodhan & Samsham therapy comes under Langhan treatment and reduces kapha dosha. Brumhan therapy mainly works on vitiated vata and pitta dosha.


Shodhan therapy works for people having strong stamina & strength. It removes the vitiated dosha out from the body through panchkarma therapy for e.g. Vaman, Virechana.


Samshaman therapy works for those with mild stamina strength. It alleviates the vitiated dosha through medicines and dietary regimen. Some of these therapies are Vayusevan, Atapsevan, Vyayama, Trusha, Kshudhadharana, Deepan, Pachan etc.


External treatments involve Snehan, Swedan and Nasya.


Thus, Ayurveda has a wide range of pharmacological & non pharmacological options to treat illness. They reduce Rajasic and Tamasic gunas AND enhances Sattvic gunas.

An increase in sattvic gunas takes an individual closer towards achieving life’s goal of Samadhi or the Self-realization.

Also read

1 Ayurvedic concepts related to psychotherapy

2 Yogic lifestyle for stress, anxiety and depression

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