There are many ideas about the causes of illness, as well as ways to prevent or cure illness. In the West, the prevalent idea is related to what may be called the “germ invasion” theory, namely, that illness is caused by specific physical ‘germs’ (bacteria or viruses) which invade and overpower our physical body and cause disease, which our immune system then needs to be able to withstand and overcome. This theory then holds that through development of vaccines which sensitize the immune system and upgrade the first line of defense against these germs, we can reduce or eliminate the occurrence or virulence of the attacks. Various techniques such as quarantines, mask-wearing, use of mosquito netting or other vector-suppression techniques such as elimination of mosquitos carrying certain types of disease-germs, enhanced hygiene to reduce germ access to the individual and enhanced societal hygiene measures such as sewage management, refuse management to restrict the dissemination of these germs, and their uptake by rats and transmission by fleas or ticks, are part of this idea.

If we look at the underlying factors involved here, however, we can see that this is only a part of the story and does not address other factors nor does it explain what these “germs” are doing. In the material world, forces are carried through physical vectors, so the existence of bacteria or viruses does not tell us where or how the actual energetics of the disease vectors, and their impacts come from. Additionally, these physical disease vectors do not succeed in attacking every person, nor do they have the same intensity in every individual when they do succeed in such an attack.

Particularly in the case of highly virulent diseases, such as occur in pandemics, there is a huge element of fear that weakens the vital envelope, the aura, and thus, provides a means of entry for the vectors to penetrate and act. Those who are also less aware of the vital envelope and who do not maintain its strength and resiliency are also more likely to become victims of these disease vectors.

We also need to reflect on the differing responses individuals have beyond just the resiliency of the aura, particularly when they are fighting off an illness that has already founds it way through the vital envelope and is now acting upon the physical structure. It is useful to look at the use of pharmaceutical medicines such as antibiotics or anti-virals, which directly attack the bacteria or virus units and reduce their number and strength of action. Aside from this there are ways to enhance the individual’s own immune response, through various techniques, mantras, pranayama, focused concentration, or through use of physical immune-enhancing substances such as herbs, homeopathic remedies, etc.

It is important to note that the relationship of the mind, the vital being, the emotions to addressing and overcoming illness of the body is one of the major factors. When we look at the ‘placebo effect’ we see that the belief obtained by the mind creates a confidence that helps the body mobilize the immune response and can actually help ‘cure’ the individual in 25-35% of the cases without use of any actual pharmaceutical solutions. Similarly, homeopathy, which works on subtle energetcs without any measurable “active ingredient” implies that something other than physical attack of germs is responsible for the healing action. The fact that homeopathy has been shown to work on dogs and horses in various circumstances, makes it clear that its mode of operation is not exactly the same as the confidence building that occurs in the case of the ‘placebo effect’.


Of course, the more conscious the individual is about the nature of the vital envelope and the need to maintain its strength and vibrancy, not give in to fear, or surrender to the force of the illness trying to enter, the easier it becomes for that individual to withstand even highly virulent conditions. This helps explain doctors who work among those suffering from virulent diseases for extended periods of time without themselves falling victim to the illness.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “All illnesses pass through the nervous or vital-physical sheath of the subtle consciousness and subtle body before they enter the physical. If one is conscious of the subtle body or with the subtle consciousness, one can stop an illness on its way and prevent it from entering the physical body. But it may have come without one’s noticing, or when one is asleep or through the subconscient, or in a sudden rush when one is off one’s guard; then there is nothing to do but to fight it out from a hold already gained on the body.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pp. 17-18

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.