It is a proven fact that our physical well-being rests much on our conduct and behaviour. This note reflects upon certain guidelines prescribed by Caraka, a well-known authority of medical science in ancient India, which teaches us significant healthful ways of good conduct in life, svasthavṛttam.
Being well-behaved or having the right conduct helps immensely not only in maintaining good health but also in controlling the senses and creating a good environment within and around oneself. Good conduct and good habits all influence good health. A state of perfect well-being through control of one’s desires and the functioning of organs also create the right environment in society. To quote the Mother, “It is only by correcting your ways of living that you can hope to secure good health (1).” Many texts in Sanskrit literature have defined the ideal of good conduct in human life. In Āyurveda, the ideal of good conduct is known as sadvṛtta. Whoever aspires for good health and perfect well-being should cultivate these sadvṛttas sincerely and derive all the joy of a happy and harmonious life in the physical, vital, mental and spiritual domains of existence. Though there is a long list of sadvṛttas, here we give a few selected ones from the Sutrasthanam of Caraka saṁhitā.
maṅgalācāraśīlaḥ : one should be of the nature of good conduct.
sarvaprāṇiṣu bandhubhūtaḥ : one should be friendly with all beings.
āstikaḥ : one should have positive attitudes.
pūrvābhāṣī : one should initiate a conversation without any reservation.
sumanāḥ : one should always be cheerful.
sādhuveṣaḥ : one’s dress should be comfortable and agreeable.
atithīnāṁ pūjakaḥ : one should be hospitable when entertaining guests.
kāle hitamita-madhurārthavādī : kāle hitamita-madhurārthavādī — one should speak only when it is absolutely needed and then speak only words that are useful, sweet and meaningful.
vaśyātmā : one should have control of oneself.
dharmātmā : one should be self-virtuous or loyal to one’s own dharma.
hetāvirṣyuḥ phale nerṣyuḥ: one should be possessive of the cause, not of the result or effect.
niścintaḥ : one should try to keep oneself free from all anxiety.
nirbhīkaḥ : one should cherish no fear within.
hrīmān : one should try to be bashful or modest.
dhīmān : one should aspire to be wise.
dakṣaḥ : one should make effort to be skilful.
mahotsāhaḥ : one should be persevering.
kṣamāvān : one should be enduring or forbearing.
satyasandhaḥ : one should cling to the Truth.
sāmapradhānaḥ : one should be peaceful.
paraparuṣavacanasahiṣṇuḥ : one should be tolerant of harsh words from others.
amarṣaghnaḥ : one should remove intolerance altogether from within.
praśamaguṇadarśī : one should always look forward to qualities that can bring peace.
rāgadveṣahetūnāṁ hantā : one should make sincere efforts to annihilate from within the causes of attachment and repugnance (2).
— Translation by Dr. Sampadananda Mishra
1. The Mother. Health and Healing in Yoga. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1979, p. 145.
2. Caraka. Caraka sammhitaa. [Online] Available from: http://is1.mum.edu/vedicreserve/charak_samhita.htm [Accessed 7th August 2014 via Sutrasthanam link pp. 57-61].