Friday, January 15, 2021

Social Ayurveda: What Does it Mean?


Social Ayurveda helps to explore the natural and the scientific basis of society – based on equality of character, qualities and our life.


Samajika Ayurveda or Ayurveda for Society! What an ‘off the beat’ and little heard of topic! This topic appears to be intruding the scope of Ayurveda. Answer to this is both – Yes and no. Ayurveda is essentially the realized and holistic system of living. And what is society in essence? It is living together of people i.e. organized living.

What an ‘off the beat’ and little heard of topic! This topic appears to be intruding the scope of Ayurveda. Answer to this is both – Yes and no. Ayurveda is essentially the realized and holistic system of living. And what is society in essence? It is living together of people i.e. organized living.

Ayurvedic wisdom along with Modern Science offers its pristine and time honored wisdom about the aspect of our health related to social living. This wisdom is as integrated as we are and as practical and ready for application as life is. 

Society As An Ecosystem Of Man:

Samajika Ayurveda accepts the society as a unit. We can call the group of all smaller societies in the world as the Universal society or simply humanity or ‘the ecosystem of human  beings’ on earth in its truest sense. There are many tiny and large societies within this grand social system.

 Each of these has some individual characteristics and features adding the spices to social life. Fulfilling these individual roles they integrate into this one big unit. The individuality is maintained not at the cost of the system yet there is also no life outside the system as well. 

Different Forms Of Society:

There are various forms of societies. These are based on many factors –  racial, religious, sectarian, political, spiritual, profession or work based and so many others. Though in reality there is but one society of human being that is natural. It would be better to call it ‘the ecosystem of man’ in more scientific terms and also not to hurt any sectarian community. Our main concern is to this universal society of humanity. Though almost all the principles would be applying to all of these limited societies, still we would be concentrating to the universal appeal only. 

Our Body & Society:

There are so many similarities between our body and society.Society and our body is a form of organized living – one is about persons another about cells and tissues. Both caters to the diverse needs of persons and cells in the body. The life of society and body depends on integrated functioning of their various parts. It would be interesting to see the comparable features in Sociology and Physiology.

As the ancient Vedic wisdom declares –  ‘The essence and nature of the whole is found in the minutest unit’. Perhaps the ancient Vedic seers might have been inspired by the organization of our body that is one of the most complex creations of the Creator while they were laying down the universal guidelines for the society. 

The Beauty In The Organization Of Our Body:

Mostly we have pondered very little over our body when we are healthy (of course except students of Medicine!). It is only when we get cold or flue or headache or fever or some other little disease and sometimes the big ones –  when we acknowledge our body and feels its needs and demands. According to Ayurveda this body is the tool for performance of our roles and fulfilling goals in life. So we should pay attention to the wisdom of life i.e. Ayurveda. 

The Beginning & The Foundation Of Our Inherent Pleuripotent Nature:

Starting as a single cell of zygote in the womb of mother, our body grows in size and develops.  Soon there arises the need for some more organized specialized existence. All the cells at this early stage are pleuripotent i.e. they are capable of being transformed into any of the various specialized cells if given proper environment and stimulus.  

Physiological Division Of Labor & Social Ayurveda:

Gradually as the cells are turned into more specialized tissues, they lose their pleuripotent nature and do only the limited specialized function of that tissue. For any body made up of living units, that growth always warrants the so called ‘physiological division of labor’. This is a necessity. This occurs spontaneously. This is just natural. No way to escape it. 

As the cells have to take on some more specialized functions to live with, so in the same manner every baby is in a very ‘fluid’ stage in the social sense.  Any child in early stage is also in pleuripotent phase. Gradually as he grows, he has to find and fit in some niche for him in our society or in life. The particular place and the role is determined by the balance of effects of past actions in the form of impressions and genetics; and the free will, present efforts and environment of present life. 

Social Ayurveda & Division Of Labor:

Same way when the population starts to grow, there is felt a need for this ‘social division of labor’. Everyone has to find his niche and set there. Whenever our roles, position, place and social order is based on this principle of ‘social division of labor’ –  the society remains healthy and thriving. 

The Basis Of Four ‘Varna’ Or Social Classes:

In the same manner our body is divided into four gross sections 1) Head: it is the seat of perceiving, learning, thinking and guiding our body. 2) Hands: it performs chiefly the administrative or executive work. 3) Abdomen: it receives the food and after proper digestion it distributes the nutrients to the whole body. 4) Legs: these serve us and our body and take us to desired place. 

Four Social Classes Of Vedic Social System:

Based on this physiological aspect, it is evident that in our society we can divide people into four major classes. This natural wisdom has been the base of the Varna order – the Indian caste system in its purest and practical form. 

As a single word in Sanskrit language has many meanings depending upon the context in which it is used. Some scholars misinterpret the word ‘Varna’ into color of the body and make a controversial statement that the Varna system refers to black and white color of the body and the associated stigma attached to color discrimination.  

The four Varnas are  A) Brahmin: people suitable for this class took deep interest and are inclined towards learning, teaching, humanitarian and spiritual pursuits only. They are respected and lead the society with their wisdom, character and behavior. B) Kshatriya: The military and police and other personnel who are safeguarding the fellow countrymen both from outside and inside. C) Vaishya: these are the persons who pursue commercial activities. D) Shudra: people of this class are serving the society with manual work and physical labor.  

This classification is broad and perfectly serves the major classes of past civilizations. It is also contextual in modern society. We can add and adopt this system to our needs while retaining the inherent beauty and integrity of this system. 

The Criteria Of Assigning The Particular Social System & Its Flexibility:

In ancient Vedic times and two centuries before, Gurukula system of education had been in use. Gurukula are the residential campus for the students where teachers and students lived together and there was no discrimination of any kind –  financially, family background and racial or country wise. All the expenses are met by society and State. There any student is assigned his or her class based on the character, behavior and studies of the student. So this system was based on the character and behavior and not the birth. 

Further anyone whosoever took the pain to work hard towards changing the course of his life, is welcomed in the new or higher class and vice versa. It is just the most practical sense.

Yes, We Are Following This System In Practice Even Today!

We can easily fall prey to theories and be rational and label ourselves as higher than our fellow beings. We can use this discriminatory and biased self proclaimed superiority for wars, battles, social suppression or harassment of the minority. In the practical world can we think without this Natural Social System? Definitely not.

Would our educational system anywhere in the world pass any student while he or she is continuously failing and give the responsibility of becoming a teacher or doctor or engineer or something else not suited to him? No. 

Would you like to go to doctor who has secured his admissions based on caste reservations only and not on the merits of his studies? No. 

Would you like your children be tutored by any less qualified or bad character individual? No. 

Would you assign the software needs of your company to any one else other than good software firms? No.  

Yes this is the point. We seek services not only from the particular class but from the one that is more competent and skilled in one’s filed. 

What are these? These are the social classes – based on character, behavior and studies and practical training – advocated and propounded by Vedic wisdom and Ayurveda. These are relevant and practical as they ever had been.  

The Distortion Of Scientific Social System:

Many people later distorted this classes system basing it in the family i.e. anyone taking birth form a learned couple or higher class would be a person of that class. It has nothing to do with the character or behavior of that person. Pure nonsensical. It leads to deterioration of not only this scientific social order but also of the essential beauty and inherent assertion of free will and free choice of human being. As this distorted view was impractical for everyone – it disappeared from the scene somewhere sooner and somewhere later, as the society matured and developed. And we are still progressing toward it. 

Welcoming The New Scientific Era:

We are into a wonderful era of transformation when our beliefs are challenged on the scale of scientific studies and practice. We as a society are adopting whatever is having universal and scientific appeal – be it Yoga or Ayurveda or Spirituality.  

This universal appeal is not monotonous. We can enjoy the differences and still be in the purview of that integrated social and scientific and religious and spiritual oneness. Very simple –  You can enjoy South Indian or North Indian or Chinese or American food and can still be healthy as there is little difference only superficially. The basic nutrients are all there. 

As there is great convergence of all the good tools and researches and practices throughout the world, we are again realizing the great saying of ancient Vedic seers – ‘The earth is merely a grand family’.

As a native Indian and an Ayurvedic holistic healer, Arjun writes in the lane of herbal healing and home remedies. Certification: BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery With Modern Medicine).

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