Svastha: Ayurveda’s Definition of Health! by Molly McManus

Svastha or Swastha is the Sanskrit word for health

swa= my own self                 stha = to be situated


The following is the transliteration of the original Sloka in the Sushruti Samhita with an English translation and commentary for understanding its meaning and implications on our journey toward true health.

Samadoşa samāgni ca sama dhātu malakriyah

Prasanna ātma indriya manah svastha iti abhidhīyate

One who is established in Self, who has balanced dosas (primary life force), balanced agni (fire of digestion), properly formed dhatus (tissues), proper elimination of malas (waste products), well-functioning bodily processes, and whose mind, soul and senses are full of bliss is called a healthy person.

Sushruti Samhita 15/48

The sloka or stanza from the ancient Ayurvedic text Sushruti Samhita begins to give us some interesting tools when looking at our health.  This sloka can be divided into two sections and states that both the physical body and the human spirit must both be established in balance in order for true health.  In my experience as a Yoga Therapist and Ayurvedic Health Counselor, I continually see this to be true.  A client or student may first come to a session or class with a specific physical ailment they want to address but often find that this work of “whole-being well-being” is operating at many levels.

First Line – Physical Body:

Samadoşa samāgni ca sama dhātu malakriyah

Sama = The Sanskrit word that describes balanced.  When something is in its natural healthy state it is balanced.

Samadoşa = balanced dosha. Dosha are the forces at play within us and around us that vitiates (aggravate or unbalance) other substances after getting vitiated themselves.  We often talk about prakriti and vikriti as we look at ourselves from dosha perspective.

Samāgni = balanced agni.  Agni is the fire of digestion.

Sama dhātu = balanced dhatu.  Dhatus are the seven tissues that make up our physical body – Plasma/Lymph, Blood, Muscle, Fat/Adipose tissue, Bone Tissue/skeletal, Connective/Marrow/Nerve, Reproductive.

Malakriyah = healthy waste products.  In Ayurveda our ability to produce waste is big indication of our health. Emphasis is put on the quality, quantity and correct timing of our elimination.  Some malas are urine, sweat and feces.

Second Line –Human Spirit at the Soul and Mental Level:

Prasanna ātma indriya manah svastha iti abhidhīyate

Prasana = The Sanskrit word that describes happy.  Happy is also further translated as clear, lucid, bright, kind, cheerful, serene, tranquil.

Atma = Self or Soul.  Atma refers the individual soul (jiva atman) that is part of the larger soul (param atman)

Indriya = Sense organs and motor organs.  If the sense organs are not functioning well we cannot connect or experience the world. We cannot also have a healthy physical existence without these as they are tools for everything from perception to digestion.  Sense = jnanaindriaya  Motor = karmandriya

Manah = Mind.  The mind is thought of as an incredible tool given in this life that is meant to be sharpened.  Yoga is a major system utilized to access a happy and healthy mind.

Swashta = health or being in one’s natural state

Abhidhiyate = situated or abides

In this line we can see that the sloka is saying that when the soul is happy, the senses are happy, and the mind is happy – that the person abides in their natural state or health.


Thoughts on the Sloka

I love that when going back to the ancient writings of Yoga and Ayurveda we are continually being invited to consider ourselves as more than just a simple body with base actions, more than just cognitive functions and accomplishments. In the writings, we are reminded to hold ourselves as amazing and sacred.  To see these processes of everyday living as the way to help us become established in Self. To observe even how something as simple as how we are eliminating has weight in the scheme of our life.  And at the same time to truly know that our attention to our senses, mind and spirit is not something that we can skimp on if we want to feel and be our best selves.

From these writings we learn that Health requires being in our balanced natural state of the doshas with good digestion, proper ability to build tissues and right elimination as well as protecting and honing the senses, practicing balancing the mind and living in accordance with the desires of our soul.

Over the next few months, I will post some writings and offer some links on the subjects of “how to” find our way toward Svastha.

 

  • Anne Fisk

    Thank you for this, I look forward to reading and learning more.

  • Marianne

    Yes thank you for that intention! I am grateful that I found this article and that over time I can go back and read it again and again.

    • Molly McManus

      Marianne – Glad it is a help to you!

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Announcement
The office will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23rd and Friday, Nov. 24th. in observance of the Holiday. Join us for Holiday Peace & Balance on Thanksgiving morning from 8:30-9:30am and SomaThankful, Friday the 24th from 5:30-6:45pm.