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१. सूत्रस्थानम् 1.sūtrasthānam,-१आयुष्कामीय:-01āyuṣ-kāmīya:, (S.-1, Ch.-1, V.-2)

आयुः-कामयमानेन धर्मार्थ-सुख-साधनम् । आयुर्-वेदोपदेशेषु विधेयः परम् आदरः ॥ २ ॥

āyuḥ-kāmayamānena dharmārtha-sukha-sādhanam । āyur-vedopadeśeṣu vidheyaḥ param ādaraḥ ॥ 2 ॥


आयुस् ájus = duration of life, vitality; कामय् kámaj = to desire, to wish; धर्म dharma = the natural requirements of space and time; अर्थ artha = material, physical matter; सुख sukha = happiness, joy, pleasure; साधन sádhana = method, practice

आयुर्-वेद ájur-véda = knowledge of the functions of life + mission, task; उपदेशेष upadéśóṣa∼upadéṣa = teaching; विधेयः vidhéjaḣ = to choose, to determine; परम् param = with great; आदरः ádaraḣ = honor, respect.

Life and Ayurveda

Life is the implementation of our desires (kam). Dharma, artha and sukha are part of it, as are the sadhana - the means, the method, the practices of that implementation. One who is interested in how life works should pay humble attention to Ayurveda.


The word Ayu (life) is described in the verse. Ayu means a period when a number of visible and invisible elements exist. The visible elements are obvious, i.e., the biological body. The invisible elements are unclear, mysterious. The universe is visible, but the energies that lead to its existence and movement are invisible, mysterious, hidden. The actions whose result is life are similarly obscure. Ayurveda gives names to these essential, mysterious actions: dharma, artha and sukha.

The word dharma means the demands of time and space. When a woman is with her children, then she is a mother. When the same woman is driving a car, she is a driver. When she is in her office she is a clerk, and so on. Time and space create her dharma. Therefore dharma means a demand, principle, liability, quality and nature in a certain time and space.

Actions are, therefore, connected with space and time. For example, let's say there is a man called Novak, who works as a director. After work he goes to a shop to buy shoes. At that moment he becomes a customer. The time is the opening hours of the shop, and the space is the shop with a shop assistant. We call this kind of action the dharma that is fulfilled. However, if Mr. Novak behaves in the shop as if he were still the director in his own office, he will contradict the principles of nature and will not fulfill the dharma.

These days many writers and translators translate the word dharma as meaning a religion, or the act of donating, making somebody happy, doing a good deed, etc. That is not the correct understanding. Ayurvedic philosophy describes dharma as the natural demands of time and space. Thus, it is controlled by the entire universe.

Every natural action is within the dharma. The rotation of an electron around the nucleus of an atom, the orbiting of the Moon around the Earth, the Earth's rotation on its axis and the orbiting of the Earth around the Sun are all dharma. The sun shines, air moves, mountains rise, rivers flow and gravity acts. The Kaliyuga (The Machine Age) is also held within dharma. It means if there is no dharma, nothing happens. Dharma is something like genetic codes, laws of nature.

Surely from that perspective dharma does not include human moods and emotions.

The word artha means all means/instruments/resources present within the space. For example, if Mr. Novak is a director, then the chair in his office, the secretary, his suit, the table, the computer, etc. are part of the space, in other words, they are part of the property belonging to the place in which Mr. Novak is a director. These things belong to the director, not to Mr. Novak as an individual. As soon as Mr. Novak becomes a customer, he picks up the shopping basket that is part of the shop. This means all the instruments/resources in that certain time and space are available to act within the dharma. Likewise, a living person has a body, which is an instrument for life in a certain space and time. So the body is the artha for life.

Many authors incorrectly describe the artha as money, property and profit. Artha does not mean wealth or personal property that we can be proud of. In Ayurvedic philosophy, artha is a substantial element belonging to a particular space. Artha should not be regarded as personal property, because a person does not even own his own body. This understanding is leading to liberation. The misunderstanding of Artha causes greed, lust and desire, which means rága, which leads to róga (illness). Heart attacks, arrhythmias and death are a consequence of that.

Sukh, happiness, is an ingredient of life that increases its duration. Its opposite is dukh, sadness, which drains life energy. Sukha is necessary for artha. These things flow into spaces that are prepared to receive them. Only when people have these needs met are they able to learn.

The word karma means action on a timeline with artha in accordance with dharma. Again, karma has nothing to do with personal desire and greed.

Life is a certain principle of dharma, where many factors, such as cells, tissues, bodily elements, mental states, emotions, climate, weather, habits, daily routine, eating, obligations, etc. are part of it. Dharma is the genetic code for human life. The understanding of its entire functionality is the science of life, and that is Ayurveda. Those who seek understanding of the mystery of life find Ayurveda to be unique.

Long life depends on dharma, artha and sukha. The life, where these factors are followed is a natural one. When the dharma, artha and sukha are not maintained naturally, then that life is full of suffering and illness that shorten the life.

One who is interested in life should follow Ayurveda with humility. In this verse, the words "learning with humility" is emphasized. Wisdom is given only there where there is humility. One who is humble, does not create an environment for wisdom to reveal itself. Neither within himself nor within a teacher. And that's why this verse is saying: to receive wisdom, the humility is essential. In order to be able to listen, I must have certain qualities so that the teaching of Ayurveda will be meaningful. How does one listen with respect? This is explained elsewhere in the five qualities of the student which are: 

1) desire to learn 2) the ability to focus 3) alertness 4) the ability to get by without a lot of consumption 5) detachment.    

In Ayurvedic philosophy there is also the concept of maya, illusion. Life is part of this illusion. The manifestation of life involves phenomena that appear and disappear. We can only recognize what exists after it manifests itself materially. Behind the manifestation, the forces that motivated it are hidden. There are 14 states of maya. The first seven of them are unmanifest (ava-vyakta) and the following seven are manifest (vyakta).  

The first unmanifest state is Patal, where there is no time and space, and it is similar to Hell. The second unmanifest state is Rasatal, where the first desire begins. The third is Mahatal, the fourth is talatala, the fifth is XXX and the seventh is XXX.

The eighth is the manifest state, Bhu, and this is the Earth or materiality. The ninth, Bhuva, is the phase of birthing life. The 10th is Svaha, the sacrificing. The 11th is Maha, renown. The 12th is Janah, the 13th is Tapah and the 14th is Satya.


University of Ayurveda Prague, Czech Republic

Interpretation and Commentary by Ayurvedacharya Govinda Ji.
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