Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 50  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 37-40

Spiritual health in Āyurveda: A review through Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ

Department of Samhita Siddhanta, SHE'S AMC, Gulbarga, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication15-Nov-2018

Correspondence Address:
P Sridhar Reddy
Department of Samhita Siddhanta, SHE'S AMC, Post Kallur Road, Chincholi, Gulbarga, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ym.ym_8_18

Rights and Permissions

Dharma (virtuous acts), Artha (wealth), kα̑ma (desire), and moks᷂a (final emancipation) are the important components of health according to Āyurveda. Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ, ancient medical text in the Āyurveda literature, describes not only physical and mental health, but also spiritual health. The concepts of spirituality in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ are influenced by the Upanishads where the aim of the life is moks᷂a (final emancipation). Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ Sarḭra sthᾱna is one of the unique things where all the aspects of health, i.e., physical, mental, and spiritual health, have been explained and more importance is given for spiritual health such as concept of chetana dhᾱtu purus᷂ha (element of consciousness), Jivᾱtman (empirical soul) and paramᾱtman (absolute soul), and yoga and moks᷂a (final emancipation). The aim of this study is to understand the concepts of spiritual health mentioned in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ with the base of Upaniṣhads.

Keywords: Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ, Jivᾱtman (empirical soul) and paramᾱtman (absolute soul), moks᷂a (final emancipation), purus᷂ha, spiritual health, Upaniṣhad

How to cite this article:
Reddy P S. Spiritual health in Āyurveda: A review through Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ. Yoga Mimamsa 2018;50:37-40

How to cite this URL:
Reddy P S. Spiritual health in Āyurveda: A review through Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 1];50:37-40. Available from:

  Introduction Top

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, social, and mental well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. In 1984, the 37th World Health Assembly took the historic decision to adopt a resolution which made the “spiritual dimension” a part of WHO member states' strategies for health (Suman, 2015). How to put this in a scientific language is a challenge because it is a scientific body. It should not be a ghost or a spirit because modern, materialistic civilization broke through that toward the end of the last century through investigating spirit as a spiritual element. No scientist can accept this and so they wanted Indian contingent of the WHO to deal with the subject. Understanding spiritual health is a need for medical scholars. Even in clinical practice, spiritual dimension of the patient has been missed or given less importance. Understanding the divine dimension in every being is the content of Upaniṣhad where the Ācharyas had tried to explain the spiritual dimension of a person with a number of illustrations. Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ explains the spiritual content in the Sarḭra sthᾱna for the spiritual and mental health. The concepts of Sarḭra sthᾱna are very much influenced by the Upaniṣhad, which is not seen in the other Sam᷂hiᾱs of Āyurveda. The present article aims at understanding the spiritual concepts of Charaka Sarḭra sthᾱna with the base of Upaniṣhads.

  Materials and Methods Top

Upaniṣhads (Kaṭha Upaniṣad, ῑṡa Upaniṣad, and Ṥvetᾱṡvatara Upaniṣad) and classical literature Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ have been critically analyzed and reviewed.

Purus᷂ha (element of consciousness)

(Charaka Samhita, Sharira Sthana, Katidapurushiya Adyaya 1/16, 1990).

That (Ātman) which resides in the sharira (body) is purus᷂ha which is also called as chetana dhᾱtu. Charaka Sarḭra sthᾱna starts with the different dimensions of purus᷂ha where chikitsa (treatment) has to be done as stated in kaṭopanishad about the superiority of purus᷂ha (Gambhirananda, 2014).

The objects are superior to the senses, the mind is superior to the objects, the intellect is superior to the mind, and the great Ātman (self) is superior again to the intellect. The Avyakta (unmanifest) is superior to thegreat self, and the cosmic self is superior to the Avyakta (unmanifest). Nothing is superior to the purus᷂ha (cosmic self) which is the end, which is the supreme goal.

Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ explained three types of purus᷂ha (Charaka Samhita, Sharira Sthana, and Katidapurushiya Adyaya 1/16, 1990); 1. ekadhatuja (only atman) 2. Shaddhatuja (5 mahabhuta and atman) 3. Chaturvimshati purusha i, e group of 24 (10 indriyas sensory and motor, Manas, 8 prakruti i, e five mahabhuta, ahankara, mahat and avyakta). Chakrᾱpani (commentator of Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ) considered shad dhᾱtu purus᷂ha as important for the treatment; however, all the three types of purusha are important for the chikitsa (treatment).

Shad dhᾱtu purus᷂ha is also called chikitsa purus᷂ha where panchaboutika dravyas (medicines) are used for treating panchaboutika shα˜rira (leaving body) which is also called yukti vyapα˜shraya chikitsa (therapies based on reasoning). Ātman (soul) and manas (mind) are called adyatmika dravya (spiritual elements); when there is adyatmika dhukha, then the treatment is aimed at controlling the raja and tama guna of manas which is also called stvavajya chikitsa (psychic therapy) which is done for chaturvimshati purus᷂ha. Diva is considered as the cause for adidaivika vyadi; as stated in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ, we are responsible for our deeds. Daivavyapasraya chikitsa (spiritual therapy) plays a major role in chetana dhᾱtu purus᷂ha. In this way, all the three dimensions of purus᷂ha are important for the treatment. Chetana dhᾱtu purus᷂ha is one of the unique concepts of the Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ where spiritual aspect of the person is given more importance.

Jivᾱtman (empirical soul) and Paramᾱtman (absolute soul)

There is always confusion in understanding the concept of Jivᾱtman and paramᾱtman when we read Charaka Sarḭra sthᾱna without the base of Upaniṣhad. This concept can be well understood by the example given in Ṥwetᾱswatara Upaniṣhad (Lokeshwarananda, 2014).

There are two birds, closely related and very much alike, which are on the same tree. They are in fact the individual self and the cosmic self occupying the same body. One of them eats ripe fruits (individual self bears the fruits of its own actions, good and bad). The other, however, refrains from eating any fruits. It only watches as a spectator. That is, the cosmic self does nothing, it is only a witness. In this example, the explanation is regarding Jivᾱtman and paramᾱtman, but in fact, there is only one ᾱtman which is nitya (eternal) and nirvikara (no form). If the person understands the ᾱtman tatva separate from shᾱreera, mana, and bhuddi, he becomes freefrom vedana (pain) just like cosmic self-explained in Upaniṣhad. Understanding the purus᷂ha (cosmic self) is the main content of spirituality. Mokṣha can be achieved only by knowing the purus᷂ha.

Loka Purus᷂ha samya (an individual is an epitome of universe)

One of the methods to know the purus᷂ha (cosmic self) is by loka purus᷂ha samya which is again the ideas of Upaniṣhad. Īṡa Upaniṣad states that he who sees everything in himself and himself in everything never hates anything (Lokeshwarananda, 2011).

The same thing is explained in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ Sarḭra sthᾱna in chapter purus᷂ha vichaya adhyᾱya. Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ gives an equation between the microcosm and macrocosm, giving a number of one-to-one correspondences – numbering 24. It is when one identifies oneself with the world by beholding the entire world that his intellect may be set to have become pure. It is then that he realizes that he himself is totally responsible for all his joys and sorrows, and develops further an attitude that conduces highly to the attainment of Moks᷂a (liberation)(Charaka Samhita, Shareera Sthana, Adhyaya 5/20, 2009).

This is what is called Samadarsita (same sightedness). All beings have a common self. Essentially, we are all one and we differ only in terms of names and forms. However, these names and forms are a superimposition. They are not real and therefore are not part of our being. This mantra urges us to see that we are all one in essence. From Brahman down to a blade of grass, there is only one single entity. It is not a matter of parts joined together to make a whole.

All caused is misery, dependent, and noneternal. That is not concerned with the self but only a wrong notion of mineness arises until the true knowledge emerges. But, hereafter, with its help knowing that I am not this body this is not mine, the knower of truth transcends all. In that state of final renunciation, all sensations with their roots along with consciousness, knowledge, and understanding cease completely.

Yoga and Mokṣha

Yoga is the method which is widely followed in Upaniṣhad for the attainment of Mokṣha. The concept of yoga mentioned in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ is totally related to the yogaexplained in Upaniṣhad as stated in Kaṭha Upaniṣad (Gambhirananda, 2014).

Happiness and misery arise due to contact of the self, sense organs, mind, and the sense objects, but when the mind is steadily concentrated to the self, both cease to exist due to noninitiation and a supernatural power comes forth in the person. This state is known as yoga. Charaka explains that all sensations cease to exist in the state of yoga(union with self) and Mokṣha (emancipation). In moksha, the cessation is complete while yoga leads to that.

Mokṣha is possible by the absence of rajas and tamas, destruction of the potent past deeds, and detachment from all the sources of conjunction (Charaka Samhita, Shareera Sthana, Adhyaya 1/142, 2009). Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ is the only Āyurveda text where we get the explanations of ways for attaining Mokṣha. The quality of life explained in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ for Mokṣha is summarized in [Table 1].
Table 1: Quality of life for spiritual health as per Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ

Click here to view

In order to assess the spiritual dimension of quality of life, the WHO developed the WHOQOL-SRPB to examine the quality of life aspects related to spirituality, religiousness, and personal beliefs (the WHOQOL Group, 1998), which include the aspects of spirituality developed by Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ.

  Discussion Top

Science tells us that human is nothing but brain, nothing but this body, but is there anything deeper? That is the most crucial question that is being researched and debated. All the medical education is started with a dead body where we study human as an object. The nerves we can see but the action of the nerves the energy arising through the nerve are not perceived. We wont understand how the brain handles, organizes and perceives the world.

There is something nonphysical in us. We do not use the word physical to describe it, but the word mind comes into play: that the mind is not just the brain; mind is that which stimulates the brain. Vedanta says that man is essentially divine; he has spiritual dimension over and above his physical and psychic dimension. This is a profound truth expounded in the Upaniṣhads and Āyurveda through another type of investigation directly into the mind, directly into inner self, i.e., purus᷂ha. Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ is the only Sam᷂hiᾱ where spiritual dimension of human and spiritual health have been widely described, that is why Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ Sarḭra sthᾱna starts with the different dimensions of purus᷂ha and ends with the Mokṣha.

  Conclusion Top

Knowing the inner self itself is the spiritual aspect; how to know this self is by yogaand by yoga there will be Mokṣha. The qualities of life explained in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ are to be followed to attain Mokṣha. Concepts explained in Charaka Sam᷂hiᾱ Sarḭra sthᾱna are more pointing toward Dharma and Mokṣha. To understand these concepts of Dharma and Mokṣha, an Upaniṣhad approach is need for the day in Āyurveda academics as well as in clinical practice.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Chakrapanidutta, Commentator. (1990). Charaka Samhita, Sharira Sthana, Katidapurushiya Adyaya 1/16. (2nd ed., p. 225). Varanasi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan.  Back to cited text no. 1
Gambhirananda, S. (2008). Katha Upanishad, 2/3/10, with Commentary of Sankaracharya, Advaita Ashrama.  Back to cited text no. 2
Gambhirananda, S. (2008). Katha Upanishad, with Commentary of Sankaracharya. page (p. 72-73). Advaita Ashrama.  Back to cited text no. 3
Lokeshwarananda, S. (2011). Isha Upanishad. (p. 13). Kolkata: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.  Back to cited text no. 4
Lokeshwarananda, S. (2014). Shvetashvatara Upanishad, with Sankaracharya Commentary. (p. 135). Kolkata: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.  Back to cited text no. 5
Suman, L, N. (2015). Spiritual practices for emotional healing: Implications for training trauma therapists. Psychology and Behavioral Science International Journal 1 (1), 555551. [Doi: 10.19080/PBSIJ.2015.01.555551].  Back to cited text no. 6
The WHOQOL Group. (1998). The World Health Organization quality of life assessment (WHOQOL): Development and general psychometric properties. Social Science & Medicine 46 (12), 1569-1585. [].  Back to cited text no. 7
Trikamji Acharya, V. J., editor. (2009). Agnivesha, Charaka, Dridhabala, Charaka Samhita, Shareera Sthana, Adhyaya 5/20. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan.  Back to cited text no. 8
Trikamji Acharya, V. J., editor. (2009). Agnivesha, Charaka, Dridhabala, Charaka Samhita, Shareera Sthana, Adhyaya 1/142. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan.  Back to cited text no. 9


  [Table 1]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Materials and Me...
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded131    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal