Satmya And Asatmya In Ayurveda
Ayurveda is an age-old great science with explanations of vast health related topics. The purpose or aim of ayurveda is compiled very beautifully in a shloka-“SWASTHASYA SWASTHYA RAKSHANAM ATURASYA VIKARA PRASHAMANAM” which translates to safeguarding the health of the healthy and eradicating the disease of the diseased. This interprets that ayurveda not only includes the remedies for the diseased but also the daily and seasonal regimen to maintain the health of a healthy individual. This was one of the numerous unique concepts presented in the ayurvedic literature. Ayurveda emphasises on the importance of the diet and lifestyle of the person on his/her health. One such related unique concept of ayurveda is the satmya and asatmya principles. What is satmaya? What is asatmaya? What effect does it show on the health? Does the various tastes affect it? Let us dig deeper into this concept and learn the answer to the above questions.
Introduction - Satmya And Asatmya
The concept of satmaya asatmaya plays a pivotal role in the maintenance of health. In simpler words, satmaya refers to the diet and lifestyle factors that do not cause harm to the body. It provides nourishment and pleasure to the body. On the other hand, asatmaya is the opposite of it, i.e. which is not suitable for the body and known to evoke the dosha leading to the diseased state. The satmaya and asatmaya factors will include both diet and lifestyle habits. The examination of satmya and unsatmya factors are very essential for the well being of a person. When a person consumes satmya, it will help to maintain the health as it will not hinder the normal state of the tri dosha in the body. It is a very vast concept which will be described individually as follows.
The father of surgery, a great ayurvedic physician Acharya Sushruta describes the term satmaya as the diet or regimen which will not cause harm to the body even if they are of contrasting characters to that of the prakriti, disease, seasons, etc. It is stated that a physician willing to cure the disease from its root must always keep the concept of satmya and asatmya in mind. There are various types of satmaya described in the ayurvedic literature. There are three types of satmaya-
- Pravar satmya (Superior)
- Awara satmya (Inferior)
- Madhya satmya (Mediocre)
These satmaya are also correlated with the shada rasa i.e. the six tastes in ayurveda. The use of all the rasa in the diet is considered as the superior most or the Pravar satmya. When the person uses only one rasa in the diet it is considered as the inferior most or the avar satmya. In cases, where the person is consuming a combination of rasa, in between the category of superior and inferior, it is called the madhyam satmya (mediocre).
- Pravar satmya (Superior) - The person who is used to consuming all the six rasa or taste of food in the diet is said to be balwana i.e. strong or powerful. Such a person has a better state of immune system and health, he/she can tolerate exertion and have a longer life span.
- Awara satmya (Inferior) - Awara satmya is a person, one whose body responds positively to only one specific rasa or taste. In such patients, the choice of medicinal drugs gets very restricted to deal with the disease, so these are considered comparatively difficult to manage in comparison to that of the pravar satmya. He/she is considered to be in a weaker position as that of immunity and strength. They are thus believed to be of shorter life span.
- Madhya satmya (Mediocre) - The madhya satmya is the category of people in between the criteria of pravar and avar satmya. These people are of medium strength and immunity with a medium difficulty and ease of medical management.
Relation Of Satmya And The Prognosis
According to the description in ayurvedic texts, the patient with pravara satmya or superior most satmya is easier to manage as compared to the one with the avara and madhya satmya. As mentioned earlier, the one with the pravara or superior most satmya has a strong immunity and powerful body, therefore will be able to fight off the disease effectively and the medicines will show a better result on the body. In contrast, the one with the awara satmya or inferior type has a comparatively weaker body thus the disease fighting is low. And as not all the rasa are suitable and the medicinal drugs to be employed are very selective and low in number. So, it is considered to be a bit difficult to manage.
The opposite of satmya is called asatmya. The term asatmya is used for the factors that are not suitable or compatible with the body. These kinds of substances are said to be responsible for evoking the imbalance between the tridosha i.e. vata, pitta, kapha in the body. The food incompatible or unsuitable for the body can result in the development of asatmyaj roga. Satmya and asatmya are also referred to as upshaya and anupshaya respectively while studying the pathology of a disease. The concept of asatmya is described as virudha ahaar in the ayurvedic literature.
The food items that are responsible for the hindrance of the normal state of the tissue and body cells are termed as virudh ahaar. As it is rightly said, when the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when the diet is right, medicine is of no need. Therefore, the consumption of virudh ahara or asatmya food items are a leading cause of the development of a variety of metabolic diseases.
Diseases Caused Due To Virudh Ahara
There can be numerous number of diseases due to the consumption of incompatible food items such as -
- Bhagandara (fistula)
- Amavisha (acid eructation)
- Santana dosha (genetic disturbances)
- Moorchha (fainting)
- Jvara (fever),
- Grahani roga (malabsorption syndrome)
- Pandu (anaemia)
- and even Mrityu (death)
Miscellaneous Concepts Related To Satmya And Asatmya Factors
There are some other related terms that need to be mentioned while discussing the concept of satmya and asatmya in the ayurvedic literature. Some of these terms are oak satmya and atmya sampat which are described as follows -
The satmya, as discussed earlier refers to the substances that are assimilable by the body without causing any harm. In some cases, it is seen that by practising asatmya diet or regimen, one makes the body used to it. In these people the asatmya factors also act as satmya due to the regular practice of it. This phenomenon is known as the oak satmya. The physician should always examine a patient for the satamya, asatmya and oak satyma factors and manage accordingly.
The satmya sampat is a term assigned to the uniqueness of the suitability of the satmya and asatmya items. In simpler words, not all the satmya items are not satymya for all. It should be clearly known that the satmya and asatmya vary for each and every person depending on a variety of factors. The food and regimen suitable or satmya to one may not, at all be suitable or satmya for another, no matter how healthy or suitable it seems to be.
For example - Dugdha or milk may be suitable or satmya to one while being asatmya or unsuitable to a variety of other people.
Ayurveda is a holistic science with rich literature regarding the medical topics. It contains detailed description about various diseased conditions along with its treatment modalities. The principles of ayurveda considers the equilibrium between the three dosha (vata, pitta, kapha) to be the pillars of a healthy body. In a nutshell, it can be concluded that of all the health concepts, satmya and asatmya description plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health and eradicating the diseased condition. This knowledge can be used to improve the strength and immunity of the body. With the above mentioned details regarding satmya and asatmya, one should always try to recognize these factors for oneself and imply it for better health. By practising the satmya factors more and strictly restricting the asatmya factors one can lead a very healthy life without the fear of illness and diseases.