Ayurveda, considered to be the oldest system of medicine in the world, had its origin in India about five thousand years ago. A holistic method of healing using remedies offered by nature, Ayurveda which when followed can restore, rejuvenate and revitalize body, mind and soul.
Mention of Ayurveda can be found in the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavat Gitaand other ancient texts of wisdom. Of the four Vedas, namely Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Adharva Veda, Ayurveda is said to be the Upaveda or the sub branch of Adharva Veda.
The word Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: ‘Ayu’ which means ‘life’ and ‘Veda’ which means ‘the knowledge of’. According to Charaka, “ayu” consists of four essential parts- mind, body, senses and the soul. In short, Ayurveda is the knowledge of life.
Ayurveda is said to have been created by Lord Brahma (the Creator of the Universe and one of the Trimurthis) himself and handed down to mankind through Gods and great sages who possessed extensive knowledge and extraordinary insight. Initially, this knowledge was taught and learnt orally and it was much later that it was documented in palm leaves and thaliolas.
As the thirst for knowledge grew, extensive research and observations were made and Ayurveda developed swiftly. Two schools of Ayurveda emerged, namely the School of Medicine and the School of Surgery. With this amazing progress, India saw some of the greatest minds in history such as Charaka, sometimes referred to as the father of anatomy and Susrutha, the father of plastic surgery.
Ayurveda is more than just a medical system. It is based on India’s culture and a profound philosophy which gives instructions for attaining health, both physically as well as spiritually and also discovering our unknown potential by following optimal lifestyle regimes. It is also a discipline which tells us the proper way to do the simplest of day-to-day activities such as breathing, drinking, eating, working, exercising and even thinking.
Ayurveda helps to maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature. In essence Ayurveda has been in existence since the beginning of time because we have always been governed by nature’s laws. Ayurveda, the ancient Science of life, is believed to be the knowledge handed down from the Gods themselves. It was developed into what it is today by great sages and rishis of vast wisdom and knowledge.
A lot of research followed with physicians studying the anatomy of the human body by dissection, examining the various conditions of patients as well as investigating the cause and cure for every malady. Consequently Ayurveda developed and the interest in this phenomenal way of healing grew exponentially.
Ayurveda soon emerged into two- the school of medicine and the school of surgery. The school of medicine was propounded by the physician Charaka and of surgery by Susrutha.
Susrutha who lived in the 6th century BC is considered to be the father of modern surgery. He is credited to be the author of ‘Susrutha Samhitha’, a treatise covering all aspects of Ayurveda and which is referred to by physicians even now.
Evidence shows that Susrutha possessed deep and thorough knowledge of the functioning of the human body and complicated surgical procedures. He understood the causes behind ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity etc. He is also known to have performed cataract surgeries, plastic surgeries and so on.
Famed to be the ‘Father of Anatomy’, Charaka authored the Ayurvedic treatise Charaka Samhitha covering various aspects of physiology, embryology, pathology and etiology. He was well acquainted with the principles of anatomy, metabolism, immunity, genetics and so on. It was as per his scheme that Ayurveda was divided into eight branches.
Vaghbata, who is supposed to have lived in the 7th century AD, wrote the treatises named Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridaya Samhitha. Ashtanga Hridaya combined the teachings of Charaka and Susrutha and revised it with up-to-date observations in herbology, surgery and treatment methods. The three texts, Susrutha Samhitha, Charaka Samhitha and Ashtanga Sangraha, are considered to be the oldest texts in Ayurveda and which laid the foundation of medicine.
The next notable contributor to Ayurveda is Madhavacharya who specialized in the diagnosis of diseases and came up with the book ‘Madhava Nidana’ in the 12th century. Sharangadhara, in the 14th century, became well-known as the authority on pharmacology and as the author of ‘Sharangadhara Samhitha’. Considered to be among the best physicians in the 16th century, Bhavamishra combined his learning and observations in the book ‘Bhava Prakasha’. These three books are regarded as the Laghu Traya or Junior Triad of Ayurveda classics.
The benefits of Ayurveda are many:
* The Ayurvedic approach to an illness is holistic and therefore after an Ayurvedic treatment a person will find an improvement in their physical, mental and psychological conditions. * The ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicines are mostly derived from herbs, plants, flowers, fruits etc. making it a remedy close to nature. * There are practically no side effects for Ayurvedic medicine. * Ayurveda has been found to be an effective cure for many chronic diseases. * An Ayurveda treatment can bring about wellness to the entire body and will be in effect for a longer time than Allopathic treatment. * Ayurveda not only helps in treating diseases but also in preventing the occurrence of diseases.
* Ayurveda gives guidelines on how to keep away diseases by means of simple dietary and lifestyle changes. * Ayurvedic medicines are good even for healthy people since they are restorative in nature and helps in nourishing the body and enhancing mental ability. * Ayurvedic treatment and medicines are comparatively cheaper than other systems of medicine. * Ayurveda recommends readily available herbs and spices for minor ailments. * Ayurvedic therapies can give relief from stress and rejuvenating the body. * Principles of Ayurveda Ayurveda – Philosophy
* Ayurveda, the Upaveda of Adharva Veda, is one of the most ancient and unique healing systems in the world. It is based on an innate philosophy explained in detail in the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavat Gita and other religious texts.
The four main objectives of human life are Dharm (Duty), Arth (Wealth), Kaam (Desire) and Moksha (Salvation). Moksha, or the liberation from the cycle of births and rebirths is the ultimate goal of an individual. For attaining Moksha, one needs a sound body and mind, plus the instinct to preserve his health. It naturally paved way to a well-framed medical system in India.
As per the principles of Ayurveda, every human being is a microcosm of the universe, that is, a universe within the universe. Everything in this universe is connected. Ayurveda advocates that the relationship and interaction between energy and matter, individual and consciousness determine the health of a person.
Vaidya or physician is a bridge between the microcosm and macrocosm. In fact he is the dynamic system controller keeping the two complementary systems in equipoise. This concept of Man as an Epitome of universe is the hallmark of entire Ayurvedic philosophy.
The origin of universe is explained in Indian philosophy by the concept of Mahabhutas. According to this concept every living and non-living being in this universe comprises five eternal elements called Pancha Mahabhuthas. In Ayurveda, contemplating beyond this concept is not the job of a physician or researcher. Concept of the Mahabhutas or the five aspects of the Universe.