Ayurvedic Preventive Healthcare: Swastha Urjaskara Chikitsa

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
‘Prevention is better than cure’ – is a famous proverb which everyone is aware about, it is true by all means.
As far as it is within our reach to prevent a disease and as far as we know that we can do it with minimal effort, we should seriously give it a try, because it costs nothing, rather we would have secured ourselves from being victims of diseases. 

A well planned nutritious and balanced diet, a systematically programmed lifestyle including good quality and quantity of exercise and sleep, keeping away from stressful activities and stress triggers, keeping away from ill habits like smoking, drug and alcohol addiction, being involved in noble deeds, charity and prayer, safe sexual practices etc contribute towards meaningful and conscious prevention measures.

Apart from all these things we often need medicines which keep our health at optimum quality and also prevent the impending diseases. They provide immunity and strength along with endurance apart from warding off the diseases. These medicines prevent recurrence of diseases and hence can be, rather should be advised or prescribed during the recovery process of a disease. Such medicines which prevent diseases and recurrence of diseases, which provides and boosts immunity, modify diseases, promotes longevity and keeps one healthy, are called Swasthasya Oorjaskara.
Read related: What is Ayurveda? 5 dimensions of the ancient Indian health wisdom!

Swasthasya Urjaskara / Swasthasya Oorjaskara
All medical sciences work towards 2 perspective of health care, preventive and curative. Ayurveda was the first medical science to have given this concept.
There are basically 2 groups of people with a medical perspective, the diseased and healthy.

The diseased – Diseased people need medicines, food and lifestyle changes which can cure the disease. This is the curative angle of healthcare.

The healthy – The other group of people is healthy. We often feel that this group doesn’t need any medicine or diet and lifestyle correction. But even this group of healthy people need to maintain their ‘health status’ and keep healthy and fit and see that they keep the diseases away. They need to be educated about the diet and lifestyle that they need to follow always so as to be healthy and avoid diseases. At the same time the healthy people can take certain medicines which help them to stay healthy and immune. It is not that these people never get diseases, they too are susceptible. This is the curative angle of healthcare.

Swasthasya Urjaskaram is a type of Bheshaja (medicine), the other one being Aartasya Roganut.

Bheshaja
भेषजं द्विविधं च तत्।
स्वस्थस्य ऊर्जस्करं किञ्चित् किञ्चित् आर्तस्य रोगनुत्॥(च.चि.१,१/४)

Medicine is of 2 types. They are –
Swasthasya Oorjaskaram –
Swastha means healthy person
Oorjaskara / Urjaskaram – means that which enriches (energizes, fortifies, guards, enhances)

Swasthasya Oorjaskaram means ‘that which enriches the quality of health’ in an already healthy individual. Thus Swasthasya Urjaskaram type of Bheshaja (medicines) is those which are targeted towards the healthy individuals. They are administered with an intention of maintaining the good health in healthy individuals. These medicines fortify health, enrich the tissues, enhance immunity, prevent diseases and ageing process and promote well being in healthy individuals. Swasthasya Urjaskaram type of medicines are basically (mainly) preventive in nature.

Swasthasya Ojaskarama – These medicines are also called as Swasthasya Ojaskara. Ojus is the essence of all the dhatus (tissues). Ojus is often compared to the immune system of the body because ojus has representation of best essence of all the tissues in it. Ojas is said to be the end product of tissue metabolism in Ayurveda. Thus Swasthasya Ojaskarama type of medicines help in formation of good quality ojus which in turn reflects the formation of good quality tissues. Good quality ojus reflects the optimum health in an individual.

Aartasya Roganut
Aarta means diseased
Roganut – means that which can eradicate (mitigate or cure) the disease or disease process

Aartasya Roganut means ‘that which predominantly eradicates the diseases’. Thus Aartasya Roganut type of medicines are basically (mainly) curative in nature.

Types of Swasthasya Oorjaskara
स्वस्थस्य ऊर्जस्करं यत् तु तद् वृष्यं तद् रसायनम्॥
प्रायः प्रायेण रोगाणां द्वितीयं प्रशमे मतम्।
प्रायः शब्दो विशेष अर्थो हि उभयम् उभय अर्थ कृत्॥(च.चि.१,१/५)

Swasthasya Urjaskara is of 2 types. They are –
Vrushya (Vajikarana) – The medicines which increase the sexual competence of an individual are called Vrushya or Vajikarana. They can be compared to modern day aphrodisiacs but are more multi-dimensional than what aphrodisiacs are. Though Vajikarana are often defined and limited to ‘sex medicines’, their role in promoting well-being and maintenance of health is so immense that they are classified under the category of Swasthasya Oorjaskara type of Bheshaja.
Read related: Aphrodisiacs – Ayurvedic Understanding, Useful Herbs

Rasayana – The medicines which help in maintenance of optimum health of the dhatus (tissues) in terms of quality and quantity, by regularly nourishing and fortifying them are called Rasayana. The dhatus when in a balanced state are said to provide strength and immunity to the body and thus help in preventing the diseases. They are building blocks of the body. The wellness of the body is directly proportional to the qualitative and quantitative balance of the dhatus in the body. Rasayanas help in fortifying the dhatus and thus helps in maintenance of health and prevention of disorders. They can be compared to the modern day rejuvenators, immune-modulators, proteins and vitamins and anti-ageing medicines, but Rasayanas have a wider dimension of action as far as maintenance of health and prevention of diseases is concerned.

Rasayana is a part of Swasthasya Urjaskaram type of medicine. In the above context we have already discussed that Swasthasya Oorjaskaram is also called as Swasthasya Ojaskaram. Taking this term we could tell that the Rasayanas not only form the best quality and quantity dhatus in the body, they also form the best quality essence of all these tissues at the end of dhatu formation, i.e. Ojus (essence of all the tissues of the body).

Praayaha Praayena Rogaanaam Dwiteeyam Prashame Matam
After telling ‘that which is swasthasya oorjaskara is either a vrushya or rasayana’, Charaka further tells that ‘most of the times, the second one pacifies the diseases’.

Commentating on this aspect –
Chakrapani’s opinion – Aartasya Roganut is predominantly curative in nature
Commentator Chakrapani tells that ‘Bheshaja is of two types, Swasthasya Oorjaskara and Aartasya Roganut. Among these Swasthasya Oorjaskara is either a Vrushya or Rasayana. The second one among the bheshaja i.e. Aartasya Roganut pacifies the diseases.’

Therefore according to Chakrapani, the Aartasya Roganut type of Bhesaja is curative in nature. By inference we can understand that Swasthasya Oorjaskara type of Bheshaja is predominantly preventive in nature.

Thus Chakrapani’s explanation of Charaka’s statement ‘Prayaha Prayena Rogaanaam Dwiteeyam Prashame Matam’ pertains to the main classification of Bheshaja.

Gangadhara’s opinion – Rasayana is predominantly curative in nature
Commentator Gangadhara tells that ‘Swasthasya Oorjaskara is of two types i.e. Vrushya (Vajikarana) and Rasayana. Among these two, the second one i.e. Rasayana, most of the times (predominantly) pacifies the diseases’.

According to Gangadhara’s opinion, Vrushya and Rasayana are both Swasthasya Urjaskara i.e. helps in maintenance of health and prevention of diseases. But among Vrushya and Rasayana, Rasayana is predominantly ‘roga prashamaka’ in nature, like Aartasya Roganut i.e. Rasayana predominantly cures the diseases.

We can understand Gangadhara’s view in this way – ‘Bheshaja is of 2 types, Swasthasya Urjaskara and Aartasya Roganut. Swasthasya Oorjaskara again is of 2 types i.e. Vrushya and Rasayana. Rasayana is predominantly (most often) curative in nature’.

Thus according to Gangadhara –

  • That which is Swasthasya Oorjaskara but is not effectively curative in nature is Vrushya.
  • That which is Swasthasya Oorjaskara and is also predominantly curative in nature is Rasayana.
  • That which is predominantly curative in nature but is not necessarily Swasthasya Oorjaskara is Aartasya Roganut.

Thus Gangadhara’s explanation of Charaka’s statement ‘Prayaha Prayena Rogaanaam Dwiteeyam Prashame Matam’ pertains to the classification of swasthasya urjaskara i.e. ‘Swasthasya Urjaskaram Yattu Tad Vrushyam, Tad Rasayanam’ part of verse.

Just Before Finishing –
Swasthasya Oorjaskaram is not only medicine, but in fact a big concept and theory of Ayurvedic basics of treatment. This concept teaches us how to prevent diseases and provide immunity from diseases. Swasthasy Urjaskaram is not all about prevention, this category of medicaments are also disease modifying agents and curative medicines. Thus they are multidimensional medicines. They comprise of Vrushya and Rasayana, which by themselves are bigger concepts of treatment. Vrushya and Rasayana which together form one forth of Ashtanga Ayurveda (8 branches of Ayurveda) form Swasthasya Urjaskara. Thus Swasthasya Urjaskara forms one forth of Ayurveda. Apart from this, the Swasthasya Urjaskara is an essential and mandatory inclusion of other branches of Ayurveda also.

The other branches i.e. Kaya Chikitsa (general medicines), Bala Roga (pediatrics), Graha Roga (treatment of idiopathic diseases and infections), Urdhwanga (ENT, ophthalmology and diseases of head), Shalya (surgery) and Damshtra (treatment of poisoning etc, toxicology) too need Swasthasya Urjaskaram type of bheshaja at one or the other point of treatment strategies, especially for disease modifying, enhancing immunity and prevent diseases. They are end stage medicines also, administered in the follow up of treatments.

This article covers in detail the Swasthasya Urjaskaram type of medicines as given in Ayurvedic texts along with interpretation of ancient wisdom.
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