The means and methods to living a healthy life are called Svastha-Vṛtta. Many modern authors have tried to explain complete health and healthy person, but none of them could give the definition so precisely as our ancient Ācāryas. While explaining health, Suśruta says:

समदोषः समाग्निश्च समधातुमलक्रियः।
                    प्रसन्नात्मेन्द्रियमनाः स्वस्थ इत्यभिधीयते।।   सुश्रुत सूत्र 15:48

In the above definition, physical, mental and spiritual health has been explained. Health does not mean only the absence of disease but it means that mind and spirit should also be Prasanna (happy). Complete psycho-somatic equilibrium is the key to Svāsthya (health).

Means of Achieving Health

For achieving sound and perfect health both psyche and physique should be in their normal form and also in a condition of equilibrium. For maintaining physical health, Āyurveda has laid stress on proper living during day (Dinacaryā), night (Rātricaryā) and season (Ṛtucaryā). For perfect mental health, Sadācāra is to be practiced. Social hygiene occupies an important position in our life. The cultivation of civic sense is necessary for the development of the village, city and thereby the whole of our country.


This comprises of the do’s and dont’s during the day time i.e. starting from the time of getting up from bed to the time of going to bed.

Time of Getting Up

It is advisable to get up early in the morning before sunrise in Brāhma Muhūtra. This practice is rewarding as it avoids dreams which generally appear in the morning when a man is in a condition of half awaking and half sleep (Tandrā) and the discharge of semen which takes place generally in the morning, and it provides a time when mind is clear and body loss is repaired.

Drinking water

A draught of water taken at the time of getting up causes a free passage of motion and urine.

Excretion (Mala & Mūtra Tyāga)

It is very necessary to inculcate the habit of easing in the morning. A tendency to suppress the natural urges (Vega Vidhārana) is the root cause of many diseases.

Cleaning the Teeth and Mouth

Cleaning the teeth, tongue and mouth every morning should be ensured. Teeth may be cleaned by Babbūla stick or any good powder which is antiseptic and astringent so that the accumulation of dirt, tartar etc. on the teeth could be removed. If there is some disease of the teeth or gums, an oil massage on the teeth and gums is necessary. Accumulation of Mala on the tongue should be scraped by a washed tongue cleaner whose edges should neither be very sharp nor blunt. Before and after cleaning, the cleaner should be properly washed. After cleaning the teeth and tongue gargle with salt water should be done.

Oil Massage

It is necessary to massage the whole body with oil. For massaging Tila Taila (gingelly oil), Sarṣapa Taila (mustard oil) or Nārikela (coconut oil) can be used. But generally speaking Sarṣapa Taila is the best. Medicated oils may also be used.

Oil massage ensures (i) softness and unctuousness of skin thereby eliminating chances of infection, (ii) free movement of joints and muscles, (iii) increased circulation of blood, (iv) speedy removal of metabolic waste products through skin, and (v) maintenance of perfect health. In some measure, it also serves as an exercise.


Regular exercise is essential for perfect health. It brings up stamina and resistance against disease, clears the channels of body (Srotas), and increases the blood circulation and efficiency of lungs. Indigenous, Yogic and western type of exercises may be undertaken. Broadly speaking, an exercise should lead to appearance of sweat on the forehead. However, one should be careful in selection and extent of exercise when he is suffering from a disease like cough (Kāsa), tuberculosis (Kṣaya), heart diseases etc.


Generally one should take bath with warm water at the place protected from draught. Head should be washed with water having the temperature of body. Bath increases Jaṭharāgni, clears the pores of the skin and the skin becomes clear.


Diet should be regulated taking into account the Deśa, Kāla (season) and habit. Diet should be planned to include all six Rasa (taste) i.e. sweet, saltish, sour, bitter, acrid and astringent. Diet should be balanced and the quantity should be according to one’s digestive capacity.

Tips on diet

1. Fresh ginger with a small amount of salt should be taken 10 to 15 minutes before food.
2. The diet, specially hard substances should be properly chewed.
3. Wherever possible intake of curd or whey should follow food.
4. The food should be tasty, fresh and good in appearance.
5. It should neither be very hot nor absolutely cold.
6. Water should be avoided at least 15 minutes before food. The quantity of water after food should be small. Let it be drunk often.
7. Heavy (Guru) food should be is taken in a limited quantity.
8. Heavy food should not be taken at night. The proper time for night meal is two to three hours before going to bed. After night food, it is better to go for a short walk, of say hundred steps.
9. Heavy work or exercise should be avoided after food.
10. After meals, heavy mental or physical work should be avoided. Some rest is advisable for proper digestion of food.


Sleep is most important for maintenance of health and longevity for the human beings. It is appropriately called ‘Jagaddhātri’ because of its mechanism of overcoming wear and tear of the body due to physical work and mental stress and tissue loss.

Tips on sleep

1. One should sleep with head to the east or north.
2.The bed room should be absolutely clean, well ventilated and away from noise and disturbance.
3. The bed must be neat, clean and free from bugs.
4. The bed room should be draught free.
5. One should avoid sleep when the brain is excited e.g after reading, thinking, drinking etc.
6. The mind must be absolutely free from worldly affairs and worries while going to bed. This may be achieved by praying to God at the time of going to bed.
7. Sleeping late at night leads to ill health.
8. A minimum of 7 hours sleep is required in 24 hours to repair the wear and tear of the body.
9. Sleep during the day should be avoided as far as possible. However, if one keeps awake at night, he can take some sleep in the day time. Day-sleep is not contraindicated in summer. But in winter, the day-sleep increases Kapha, thereby causing respiratory and digestive troubles.
10. It is advisable to massage the head, soles and palms with oil before going to bed. By massage dreams can be controlled.

Sexual Act

For all creatures, sexual act is a natural urge. Sexual act is also essential for the procreation of the species. Even animals of lower form practice certain amount of restrictions but human beings are prone to over indulgence or abuse of the sexual act. Some regulation on this activity is essential.

Tips on sexual behaviour

1. Over indulgence in sexual act is harmful for the body; it may lead to debilitating diseases even Kṣaya (tuberculosis).
2. Sexual act should be performed during night time, preferably first quarter of the night so that after performance of sexual act, one can take rest for the whole night.
3. Though different Āsanas have been shown in Kāma-Śāstra, the one in lithotomy position is the best.
4. Masturbation, sodomy are very injurious to health.
5. Ladies suffering from any venereal diseases should be avoided so that the disease may not be contacted.
6. After sexual act, at least one glass i.e. about 250 ml. of milk should be taken to promote health and energy.
7. During the course of disease or in convalescence sexual act should not be performed otherwise debility will be increased and resistance will be lowered.

Adhāraṇīya Vega (Non-Suppressible Urges)

There are thirteen natural urges. These urges should never be suppressed because suppression of natural urges leads to many diseases. These urges are desire to pass (i) urine, (ii) stool, (iii) semen and (iv) flatus, (v) vomiting, (vi) Sneezing, (vii) Eructation, (viii) yawning, (ix) hunger, (x) thirst, (xi) tears, (xii) respiration and (xiii) sleep. Some of the diseases produced by suppression of these natural urges are given below.

Suppression of urine: leads to (i) difficulty in passing urine, (ii) urinary stone, (iii) atony of bladder and (iv) inflammation of urinary tract.

Suppression of stool: leads to (i) pain in abdomen, (ii) tympanites, (iii) indigestion (iv) gas in abdomen, (v) headache and (vi) ulcers.

Suppression of flatus: leads to (i) pain in the abdomen, (ii) tympanites, (iii) indigestion, (iv) heart diseases, (v) constipation or diarrhea and (vi) gas.

Suppression of semen: When semen in about to be ejaculated if it is suppressed then it may produce (i) a stone (spermolith), (ii) pain in testis and (iii) difficulty in intercourse.

Suppression of vomiting: When food is not digested, the body tries to expel it out. If it is suppressed, the undigested matter is circulated in the body, thereby producing different types of diseases like urticaria, giddiness, anaemia, hyperacidity, skin diseases and fever.

Supperssion of sneezing: This phenomenon is meant for getting rid of foreign matter from the nose thereby clearing the nasal passage. If this is suppressed, the foreign matter in the nose may produce rhinitis and chronic cold, headache, sinusitis and diseases of respiratory system.

Suppression of eructation: Suppression of eructation leads to hiccough, pain in chest, cough, anorexia and loss of appetite.

Suppression of yawning: Suppression of yawning leads to diseases of the eyes, throat, ear and nose.

Suppression of hunger and thirst: Desire to take food and drink water are suggestive of requirements of nutrition and replenishment of the loss. By suppression i.e. by keeping hungry and thirsty, nutritional dosorders and debility are produced. The body resistance and immunity against infections are lowered, thereby susceptibility to diseases increased. In the same way hunger, pain, dehydration etc. are produced.

Suppression of tears: In emotional conditions like pleasure and grief, the tears come down from the eyes and if suppressed, mental disorders, pain in chest, giddiness and digestive disorders are produced.

Suppression of respiration: Prāṇayāma is an important Yogic exercise and one should gradually practice this breathing exercise. Sudden holding of breath may cause suffocation, respiratory disorders, heart diseases and even death.

Suppression of sleep: This is also a natural urge. When the brain gets tired, the sense and motor organs get tired, rest is required. The rest is in the form of sleep. By keeping forcefully awaking, the diseases like insomnia, mental disorders, digestive disorders and diseases of sense organs are caused.

Sadācāra or Good Behaviour

Tips on Sadācāra

1. Every body works for his happiness. Happiness should be shared with others. One should strive to bring happiness to all. This attitude is termed as Hitāya, which is characteristic of our culture.
2. One should love his neighbours, well wishers and to remain away from enemies, vagabonds and loafers.
3. One should keep a loof from sins viz. bodily, speech and mental. Bodily sins are theft, injury to others and Vyabhicāra, rape etc. Speech sins are telling lies, harsh words, to open secrets of others and irrelevant talk. Mental sins are jealousy, bad thought etc.
4. One should help the needy, handicapped and crippled as best as possible.
5. One should respect the intellectuals and the educated, elderly persons, physicians or Vaidya, guests and cows.
6. One should practice living with humanity.
7. One should help even the unhelpful enemies in times of their need.
8. One should have balanced mind. Avoid arrogance when rich, and grief and envy when poor.
9. One should ponder on the cause and not on the effect.
10. One should not talk irrelevantly.
11. Enemity and insult should not be disclosed.
12. One should exercise control on sense organs.
13. Actions should be planned in such a way that all the three achievements viz. Dharma (religion), Artha (money) and Kāma (desire) are achieved.
14. One should never stick (Āsakti) to one thing – be moderate.
15. One should shave regularly or clean beard daily.
16. One should take bath regularly and put on clean clothes but never the clothes which may be considered as a loafer’s dress.
17. One should keep handkerchief around the nostrils and mouth while sneezing or yawning to avoid spread of infection.
18. One should stop work before one is excessively tired.
19. One should not sleep under a tree at night.
20. One should neither drink nor sell wine. Vyasana (bad habits) are injurious to health and should be avoided.
21. One should not serve the low or those with low morals.
22. One should not undertake eating, intercourse, sleep and study etc. in the twilight.
23. One should consign house refuse to its proper place.
24. One should keep pace with the time. Wise public opinion is the best preceptor.
25. One should keep a diary of all that happens in the day and change the pattern of living if existing habits are found harmful.

Social Hygiene

Man is a social animal and so one has to work in the society in a manner which is conducive to better hygiene and sanitation of his community. This can only be achieved by individuals own efforts as well as his cooperation with the concerned authorities of the state e.g. (i) the house refuse should not be thrown at random, it should be consigned to its proper place, (ii) the gutters of drainage system should not be blocked, (iii) latrines and the urinals should be kept properly cleaned, (iv) water and water-pots be properly cleaned.

The most important point to be kept in mind is that as soon as a case of infectious disease is seen, the same should be reported to the proper authorities, so that they can take proper steps to check the spread of the disease and we may take such steps so as to help the authorities in their efforts.


Not only the behaviour of a person is responsible for causation of disease but seasonal changes also bring about disease. Out vast country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and from Kutch to Bengal possesses variety of seasons. The seasons are classified mainly by the movement of the sun, i.e. Dakṣiṇāyana and Uttarāyaṇa, and according to cold, heat and rains. But the main classification is that there are six seasons viz. Śiśira, Vasanta, Grīṣma, Varṣā, Śarada and Hemanta.

Hemanta and Śiśira are cold seasons, Grīṣma is a hot season, Varṣā is a season of rains. Śarada and Vasanta are moderate that is to say the days are moderately hot and nights are cold and pleasant.

Seasonal Variations of the Doṣa

There are three variations of Doṣa viz. (i) Sañcaya (accumulation), (ii) Prakopa (spread or excitement) and (iii) Praśama (normalcy). These variations of Doṣa take place in the body by the seasonal variations over which there is no human control. But it is possible to keep the variations of Doṣa to the minimum by changing the mode of living. The seasonal variations of Doṣa have been shown in Table. 1.

Table 1

Seasonal Variations of the Doṣa


Hemanta is the only season when not a single Doṣa is accumulated or spread. While in other seasons the Doṣa are in a state of derangement. Hence it can be inferred that Hemanta is the season most suited for building-up of the body and increasing resistance to diseases.

In Grīṣma due to the scorching heat of the sun, the body becomes weak, perspiration is excessive leading to fluid loss, impaired digestion and skin diseases also take place. Due to humidity in weather, the digestion is impaired in Varṣā Ṛtu. Śarada is a very pleasant season but due to sudden climatic changes incidence of many diseases is high e.g. Viṣama Jvara, Visūcikā etc. The Āhāra, Vihāra and measure of Pañca-Karma to be followed in the various seasons have been tabulated in Table 2.

Table 2

Āhāra Vihāra and Śodhana According to the Season

SeasonĀhāra (diet)VihāraPurificatory measure
Hemanta & Śiśira Madhura, Amla and Lavaṇa Rasa, nutritious diet.Massage, exercise,woolen blankets, protection against cold. -
VasantaLaghu and Rūkṣa Āhāra specially Lājā, Caṇaka (Bengal grams).Massage, exercise, fomentations.Vamana
GrīṣmaMadhura, Laghu & Snigdha Dravya, light in digestion.Śīta and seasonal fruits like Āmra (mango), Jambū (Jamun); cold air and wherever possible air passing through Uśīra (khasa).-
VarṣāKaṣāya and Madhura Rasa; Amla, Lavaṇa Snehayukta Dravya; digestive substances; light diet, boiled and clean water; curd, whey, lemon; Kṣāra and Kṣāra preparations.Avoid sleeping on the ground; clear the dirty monsoon water form the area around.Basti
Śarada Madhura, Kaṣāya Rasa; Snigdha Dravyas specially ghee and milk; sweets; rice and its preparations.To sit in moon light in the first quarter of night, exercise; avoid curd and acrid diet etc.Virecana and Blood-letting.

The principles laid down in the Svasthavṛtta like Dinacaryā, Ṛtu Caryā etc. have been described here in brief. These measures are for preventing the diseases as well as for promoting the health. Paper following of these principles leads to the perfect bodily and mental health, and one can live longer without any disease.

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