चिकित्सा cikitsā is not mere Treatment

Ayurveda uses two words, उपचार upacāra and चिकित्सा cikitsā for signifying treatment of any kind of disease. The word चिकित्सा cikitsā, grammatically, is a desiderative form derived from the root-sound कित् kit which similar to चित् cit from which we get the words चित्त citta, चेतना cetanā etc. The root-sound चित् cit or कित् kit refers to knowledge, perception, consciousness, understanding etc. The word केतु ketu derived from कित् kit means he who is conscious, or the one with perceptive vision. The opposite of it is अकेतु aketu which refers to one who is unconscious, lacks vision. Consider the words केतु ketu and अकेतु aketu in the following Mantra of Rigveda 1.6.3

केतुं कृण्वन्नकेतवे पेशो मर्या अपेशसे ।
समुषद्भिरजायथाः ॥
ketuṃ kṛṇvannaketave peśo maryā apeśase .
samuṣadbhirajāyathāḥ ..

This refers to the rising of Usha making the unconscious conscious केतुं कृण्वन्नकेतवे ketuṃ kṛṇvannaketave.

So, considering the sense of the root-sound कित् kit or चित् cit we can very well get into a deeper sense of the word चिकित्सा cikitsā. In a deeper sense चिकित्सा cikitsā is not mere treatment but an intense desire to have a full understanding of the one who is sick and to bring him back to his own state of being. Very interestingly, Sanskrit uses the word स्वस्थ svastha for a man who is in good health and for the man who is sick it uses the word अस्वस्थ asvastha. The word स्वस्थ svastha signifies that the one who lives (स्थ stha) in his own state of being (स्व sva) or the natural state of being or in one’s true self. The word अस्वस्थ asvastha refers to the one who has fallen from or lives (स्थ stha) not in his won state of being (अ-स्व a-sva). So when someone is not well or is sick needs treatment which in a true sense means needs to be attended with a full understanding of his natural state of being and brought back to the state from which he has fallen.

The root-sound कित् kit also means ‘to live’. ‘To live’ here means to be in one’s true consciousness. In this sense चिकित्सा cikitsā can mean ‘desire to live’, not only a healthy life but to live in the Self, in one’s true consciousness.

In all desiderative words in Sanskrit we find reduplication of the root-sound. For instance the root-sound पठ् paṭh ‘to study’ in its desiderative form becomes पिपठिषा pipaṭhiṣā, ज्ञा jñā ‘to know’ becomes जिज्ञासा jijñāsā. Here the suffix सन् san which changes the normal root into its desiderative form is used not merely to express desire to but in a true sense it refers to aspiration. So पिपठिषा pipaṭhiṣā is not mere desire to study but an aspiration for studying. The reduplication of the root-sound is meant to express the intensity. So the aspiration here is not mere aspiration but an intense aspiration. The word चिकित्सा cikitsā then, refers to an intense aspiration to live within Oneself, to come back to one’s own or natural state of being from which one is fallen. That is the greatest cure for any ailment.

Author, speaker and researcher on subjects related to Sanskrit, Indian Culture, Spirituality, Yoga and Education. SahityaAkademi and President of India Awardee.