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We are living in times where short cuts in speech are becoming common. The mind of a human has become impatient with words. Yet words carry vibrations that affect our being long after they are spoken. And every word in Sanskrit has a meaning....

Sanskrit uses two words, upacāra and Cikitsā for signifying treatment of any kind of disease. The word Cikitsā, grammatically, is a desiderative form derived from the root-sound kit which is similar to cit from which we get the words citta, cetanā, etc. The root-sound cit or kit refers to knowledge, perception, consciousness, understanding, etc. The word ketu derived from kit means he who is conscious, or the one with perceptive vision. The opposite of it is aketu which refers to one who is unconscious, lacks vision. So, considering the sense of the root-sound kit or cit, we can very well get into a deeper sense of the word Cikitsā. In a deeper sense, 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 svastha for a man who is in good health and for the man who is sick it uses the word asvastha. The word svastha signifies that the one who lives (stha) in his own state of being (sva) or the natural state of being or in one’s true self. The word asvastha refers to the one who has fallen from or lives (stha) not in his own state of being (a-sva). So when someone is not well or is sick, he or she needs treatment, which in a true sense means he/she needs to be brought back to his/her natural state of being from which he/she has fallen.

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

In all desiderative words in Sanskrit we find reduplication of the root-sound. For instance the root-sound path ‘to study’ in its desiderative form becomes pipaṭhiṣā, jñā ‘to know’ becomes jijñāsā. Here, the suffix san which changes the normal root into its desiderative form, is used not merely to express desire but in a true sense it refers to aspiration. So pipaṭhiṣā is not mere desire to study but an aspiration for studying. The reduplication of the root-sound is meant to express the intensity (kit+kit+san= Cikitsā). So the aspiration here is not mere aspiration but an intense aspiration. The word Cikitsā then, refers to an intense aspiration to live in the soul, 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.

Dr. Sampadananda Mishra

Dr. Sampadananda Mishra is a Sanskrit scholar at the Sri Aurobindo Institute of Research in Social Sciences.