Man – Vachan – Kaya to Physical – Mental: Holistic Health

Health is a very important aspect of human life. But wait, what do we mean by health? Does it only stand for physical health, or it should also include mental health? Both mental and physical health are important when we consider overall wellbeing of our life. In Ved Shāstra, it is said that “Man hi mānav ke moksha aur bandhan kā kārana hai” (i.e., Mind is the ultimate source of human suffering and salvation). Hence, the physical health is a consequence of the healthy mind and thoughts. In our tradition, spirituality contributes to great extent in maintaining the healthy mind and thoughts.

Indian culture is the culture of spirituality. India and spirituality are mutually intertwined. Scholars, ascetics, sages, saints of various religious sects have considered various types of yoga, pranayama and meditation for peace and health of mind. Indian scriptures, be it Yoga Darshan of Patanjali or Yoga Shastra of Hemchandraji are such fascinating examples. A healthy and sacred life is contemplated through yogic meditation.

Talking about Jain philosophy, it is completely based on logic. Jain philosophy advocates a sacred living in everyday life. In Jain philosophy, all the actions that are done in daily life – routing and lifestyle – are depicted as Sāttvik. The quality of Sattvā is central to it. Be it a matter of eating, talking, or walking, some of the restrictions have been built exclusively in our Jain tradition. However, it does not mean that a person cannot live life by being bound by these restrictions. These restrictions are formed in order to regulate the ever-wandering human mind. When our mind is not regulated, our thoughts become unstable and our desire to get more and more makes our mind restless and we become more and more miserable. Our concepts of non-violence and 12 vows of Pratikraman inspire us to live a novel life of purity.

Jain philosophy has emphasized the importance of contemplation about the transitoriness of the world. The soul has always been alone, and it has no companion. The body is mortal while the soul is eternal, hence, we should give up the attachment of the body and should move towards the appeasement of the soul. The body is full of many impurities and hosts many types of diseases and the diseases can inflict any human body at any time. We should consider that good Karma is accumulated by kindness and charity and bad Karma is accumulated by anger and worry and they also pollute the soul. In order to prevent Karma, we may observe processes such as Samiti, Gupti etc. Nirjarā of Karma can be done by 12 austerities. We should be aware of the fact that the innate formation of this world has the commencement, existence and destruction. Living beings can get all material things, but striving to attain Samakita (self-realization), thinking that it is very rare to attain Samakita. Devoting to Arihanta-like Bhagavant, thinking that it is extremely rare to attain Dharma and Yoga led by Vitarag of Arihanta-like Bhagavant in this world, because it is this element that protects the soul.

Therefore, when we consider all the elements of the world, we realize the impermanence of those elements and thus the realization becomes more and more firm that the soul is eternal and is the supreme truth. The restrictions practised in the vows teach us that we use less than we need but refrain from hoarding. It has been discussed in detail in our scriptures that the more we desire to hoard things the more misery it will bring upon us. We can overcome all these miseries by observing our rules and our practices that will bestow us with a healthy and pure mind. If the mind is pure, spirituality will remain in the life of a person and when spirituality comes in life, no other worldly passion or raga hatred can affect the soul. Hence, in our way of life, there is ample consideration given to purity and health of the mind which is reciprocally connected with the health of the body.

Dr. Sejal Shah (Ph.D.)