Ayurvedic Concept of Life Span , Health and Brain Aging – Part 1

Posted on February 9, 2013 · Posted in From the Horse's Mouth

Life Span

Ayurveda, like any other Indian tradition considered the total life span of an individual to be over one hundred years. The Rig Veda, first of the four Vedas, considered to be the earliest recorded book of wisdom in human civilisation, wishes every individual to lead a healthy life of hundred years: “jeevem sárdah satam”.In the earlier phase of ayurveda, the total life span was divided into following three categories: balyavasth? (childhood): 24 years; yuvavastha (young) : 44 years and vaidhavastha (old age) : 48 years. Thus total life span was considered to be 116 years. However, later Susruta gave an elaborate and systematic classification of age as follow:

Balyavayya (childhood): 0 – 16 years. The balyavaya further constituted three stages of ksirpa (milkfed), ksirannada (weanlings) and annad? (fed on creals).

The next stage of life, viz. madhya vaya (middle age) spanned from 16-70 years and consisted of four stages, vrdhi (period of growth or evolution): 16-20 years; yuvana (youth) : 21-30 years; sampurna (when the growth is complete): 31-40 years and hani (period of involution or gradual decline): 41-70 years.
The last stage life was vridha vaya (old age) which lasted from 71 to 100 years.


Ayurvedic Concept of HealthThe conceptual frameworks of health in ayurveda are essentially based upon the doctrine operating through the principle of samanya and visesa, i.e., Heterology versus Homology. This was further extrapolated by Susruta as loka-purusa samya (equilibrium between an individual-Microcosm and cosmos-Macrocosm) by establishing the continuum between the ecological triangle of soma-surya-anila (moon-sun-air) with the tridosika (three-dimensional) bio-triangle of kapha-pitta-vata. Here it would be pertinent to emphasis (emphasise) that kapha, pitta and vata can not be translated into one word, as many western scholars and educated Indians tend to do and translate kapha as phlegm, pitta as bile and vata as wind, thereby giving a most erroneous interpretation. Kapha can be appropriately translated as one of the body humors which forms the solid substratum of the body including immune strength; pitta is another bio-humor which is responsible for entire digestive and metabolic functions and vata is the bio-humor responsible for energetic and neural activities.

As an ecological balance between soma-surya-anila (moon-sun-air) sustains the entire universe, the physiological homeostatis (constancy of milieu interior) of human body is sustained by a harmonious balance between principal bio-humors sustaining the immunity, metabolic, energetic and neural activities. The individual living being is considered a miniature replica of universe and comparatively similar activities are taking place inside the Microcosm of human body as are occurring universally in the Macrocosm.

Susruta has defined in Chapter XXV of Sutrasthanam svasthya, i.e., total-health in following words: “A healthy person is he whose humors and metabolic state are in equilibrium, whose functional activities of the tissues and excretory products (i.e. the physical state) are in balance, and the soul, senses and mind (i.e., the mental state of the body) feel well”. This comprehensive definition describes both the healthy features of the physical body and physical well-being as well as the states of sensorial, mental and spiritual qualities of well-being. Thus health was considered as a state of physical, mental, spiritual and sensorial / social well being, a definition later similarly adopted by WHO as “health is a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well being.”

Taking the Susrutu definition of health further, the founding fathers of independent India under the Chairmanship of the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had defined health as “a positive state of well-being in which harmonious development of physical and mental capacities of the individual leads to the enjoyment of a rich and full life. It is not a negative state of mere absence of disease. Health further implies complete adjustment of the individual to his environment, physical and social”.

Brain Aging

Aging is a generalized systematic involution of a living body, its organs, tissues and cells. Brain is considered to be the most vulnerable to this aging process as neurons lack a robust regenerative capacity. Both the great exponents of Ayurveda, viz. Caraka and susrutu have propounded that medha, i.e. the core cognitive function of brain starts declining from the fourth decade of life onwards and after the eighth decade of life, the loss of buddhi or decision making capacity becomes imperative leading to senile dementia. Therefore, in order to help fulfill the cherished desire of every human being to live the optimum 100 years of life span with healthy functioning brain and senses, rasayana rejuvenating therapies were introduced.

“Aging is associated with various degenerative changes like functional hormone deficiency state and accumulation of oxidative damage to DNA, proteins and lipids which results in interference with normal function and produces a decrease in stress responses.” warrant for reparative and rehabilitative care. Since the inception of civilisation, elderly persons are predominantly more handicapped due to age-related brain degenerative disorders than the actual gross somatic aging.

Hence, ayurveda introduced an unique approach to diet and nutrient and a rasyana rejuvenating therapy to decelerate aging and manage the geriatric problems.


 Dr.Hemant SinghDr Hemant Singh was superannuated as Deputy Director of the Central Drug Research Institute   (CDRI), Lucknow. His main original work in the CDRI was the evaluation of memory enhancing effects of selected plants of Ayurveda, which led to the development of Memo Plus Gold. In the following series of articles, Dr Singh will tell anecdotal and factual events related to his research.

Image KreditNatural memory enhancer