Ayurveda is an ancient healing practice which originated in India thousands of years back. Ayurveda, literally meaning ‘The Science of Life’, has been in practice since 5,000 years. Ayurveda is often regarded as a 5th Veda.
It is the most ancient medical treatise which summarizes the Hindu art of healing and prolonging life. It naturally helps in regaining optimal health without resorting to chemicals and other animal tested medical products.
Ayurveda – The Concept of Harmony And Holistic Healing
Ayurveda says that how we respond to our exteriors and surrounding world greatly determines the actions we take.
- When our actions and inner nature are in harmony and directly proportionate to each other, health is created.
- When our actions and inner nature are disharmonious and inversely proportionate to each other, disease is created.
Ayurveda says that good health can only be created when we stay harmonious with our true nature and spirit. Contentment and good health can only be achieved through holistic balance of one’s mental-physical-spiritual selves.
A perfect harmony or balance for creating health can only be achieved with holistic healing of mind-body-soul i.e. healing at emotional-physical-spiritual, all three levels.
Main Ayurvedic Healing Procedures
Various healing tools and methods utilized by Ayurveda are as follows –
- Pancha Karma,
- lifestyle recommendations,
- meditation, and
Over the years people have started recognizing the easy applicability of various Ayurvedic methods/products/tactics in day-to-day life.
How does Ayurveda cure diseases?
The main aim of Ayurveda is reestablishing the balance/harmony in the person for attaining optimal health. The treatment process targets specific health problems and recommends medicines for internal cleansing, by getting rid of the substance that can cause the disease.
Who practices Ayurveda?
In ancient India, Ayurveda was the only way of healing and scriptures like Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita were considered the holy texts of healing. Today, the practice is regaining its prominence with more and more Ayurvedic learning and healing centers springing up in rural and urban India, equally. There are over 6 lakh registered Ayurvedic practitioners and 3 thousand providing Ayurvedic treatments. More and more of the population is now resorting to Ayurvedic treatments and the nation is again going back to its roots for health and harmony.
Simultaneously, Ayurvedic treatments have been practiced in the neighboring countries since centuries, including Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tibet and Sri Lanka. Eventually, the rest of the world is also recognizing the power of holistic health and since the early 20th century major European and U.S. states have also promoted the study and usage of Ayurvedic practices, replacing it with conventional ones.
Reliance on Herbs
Ayurveda doesn’t draw any line between food and medicines, like other conventional medicines, as both form inevitable components of Ayurvedic practice.
At present, around 5,000 products fall within the ambit of Ayurvedic treatment pharmacy which can heal, relieve pain and promote vitality in a person.
Ayurvedic treatments rely heavily on –
- shrubs e.g. resin from a tropical shrub
- oils e.g. sesame oil, Holy Basil oil
- common spices e.g. turmeric etc.
Ayurveda – the 5000 years old healing system – has found its mention in the Vedas. In the Rig Veda, historians and scholars have found the mention of 60 special Ayurvedic preparations for recovering from a number of severe ailments. Modern experts recognize Ayurveda as ‘Science of Life’. We all belong to nature. The way plants and animals maintain equilibrium with nature and follow the Laws of Nature for creating both health and balance within their beings, humans should also stick to the same principles.
In principle, Ayurveda has been in existence since the creation of all ages so as to help people walking along the Laws of Nature.
Exact time of creation of Ayurveda has not been mentioned anywhere. However, Puranas and Vedas divulge some information about its origins, in the form of myth and lessons respectively.
1. Purana – the myth about Ayurveda:
The myth of Ksheera sagara manthan is linked to the origins of Ayurveda. Ksheera stands for milk, sagar for ocean and manthan is churning (of ocean in this case). As per the legend, all the gods and demons were completely obsessed with the churning of the nectar of immortality i.e. elixir and during the process of churning the ocean of milk the following list emerged –
- Dhanvantri – The god with the nectar in his hand.
- Kamdhenu – A holy cow,
- Kalpavruksha – A sacred tree,
- Goddess Lakshmi – Goddess of prosperity,
- Chandra – The Moon, and
- Poison (Halahala)
Dhanvantri, who emerged amid the churning of the ocean, is the god of Ayurveda. He is depicted as holding Ayurvedic manuscripts in one hand, and some valuable herbs in the other. Charaka was the disciple of Dhanvantri, the former wrote Charaka Samhita or Compendium of Caraka, the earliest text on Ayurveda. Following Charaka Samhita, Sushruta wrote Sushruta Samhita which specifically deals with Salya chikitsa (surgery) and Vagbhata wrote Ashtanga Hridayam.
2. Ayurveda and the Vedas:
Ayurveda and the Vedas are deeply related. ‘Vedas’ in Sanskrit means ‘knowledge’. The Vedas are ancient sacred writings of Hinduism (or Sanatan Dharma) written in Sanskrit language. The scriptures comprise the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads.
Vedas are are distributed into four branches i.e. Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. Each main veda has one Upaveda [sub veda].
For its holistic healing tactics, Ayurveda is treated as Panchamaveda (5th major veda).
Major Ayurvedic ‘paramparas’ or ‘Knowledge from Gods’ are Daiva parampara, Siddha parampara and Rishi parampara –
- Daiva parampara – It describes the flow of Ayurvedic knowledge which passed from —
- Lord Brahma, to whom the knowledge was revealed to à
- Prajapati, the son of Brahma à
- Ashwini kumar, the divine healers à
- Indra à
- Sage Bhardwaj.
- Rishi parampara: As per this parampara, the knowledge was passed on to Dhanvantri à Sushruta à Vaitarana à Bambrha à Poshka bhavara à Gopura rakshita and Karaveera – Kasyapa – Atri – Bhrugu and Vasishta.
One major ‘sampradaya’ or ‘cult’ is also associated with Ayurveda named Saiva sampradaya –
- Saiva sampradaya: According to the worshipers of Lord Siva, it was passed on from Shiva to à Parvati à Nandi à Agastya à Chulastya à Tairayar.
Ayurveda is the amalgamation of two Sanskrit words –
- ‘Ayu’ meaning ‘life’ and,
- ‘Veda’ means the ‘knowledge of’
Thus, ‘Ayurveda’ means ‘to know about life’
As per the Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, ‘ayu’ consists of four major parts including mind, body, senses and the soul.
Again, literally speaking, Ayurveda means ‘the Science (veda) of long life’. It is the major holistic healing system prevalent in the Indian subcontinent since thousands of years. Like traditional Chinese Medicine, it covers all aspects of health care.
Principles of Ayurveda
- Basic Principles of Ayurveda comprise of three Fundamental universal energies: viz. –
- Satva ,
- Rajas and,
- Ayurvedic therapies take into account the five basic energies namely –
- Akasha (Space),
- Vayu (Air),
- Teja or Agni (Fire),
- Jala (Water), and
- Prithvi (Earth)
- Medicines in Ayurveda are prescribed after understanding the Body Types or Body Humors of the person. Their proportion varies from person to person. Practitioners believe that well-being is affected by constant fluctuating of vital energies, or doshas, and treatment aims to restore the doshic balance. These are –
- Vata dosha – combination of ether and air.
- Pitta dosha (process of metabolism) – governs movement, seen as force which directs impulses, respiration, circulation, and elimination.
- Kapha dosha – combination of water and earth elements, responsible for growth, gives protection,
- Seven types of body tissues (or dhatus) which provide nourishment to the mind and body: viz.
- Rasa (fluid) Dhatu,
- Rakta (blood) Dhatu,
- Mamsa Dhatu,
- Meda (fat) Dhatu,
- Asthi Dhatu,
- Majja Dhatu, and
- Sukra Dhatu.
- ‘Stomach fire’ – jatharagni and twelve other types of fire in the body, responsible for diverse metabolic activities.
6.Three types of Body Wastes: viz.
- Purisa (faeces),
- Mutra (urine) and
- Sveda (sweat).
- The Pancha Mahabhutas – The foundation of all Ayurvedic diagnosis and treatment routines.
“Mahabhutani kham vayuragnirapah ksitistatha!
sabdah sparsasca rupam ca raso gandhasca tadgunah !!”[C.SA. – I/27]
According to Ayurveda, everything in the Universe is composed of the Pancha Mahabhutas. The five mahabhutas along with their properties, in complex multi-cellular organisms like human beings, are mentioned as below –
- Akasa (Space) – corresponds to spaces in the body, for instance abdomen, mouth and nostrils.
- Vayu (Air) – signifies the movement, essentially muscular movement and movement of the nervous system.
- Agni (Fire) – controls the enzyme functions like digestive system, metabolism, intelligence etc.
- Ap or jala (Water) – present in all body fluids such as saliva, plasma, digestive juices.
- Prthivi (Earth) – manifests the solid structure of the body including flesh, teeth, bones, hair.
- Institution: Indian scriptures team