Ayurveda is applicable to every living thing, as implied by its name, the science of life. Vedic sciences attribute life to more things than we normally do — the things such as air, wind, fire, the earth, planets, stars, etc. are all thought to possess conscience like living beings.
The basic premise of Ayurveda is that the entire cosmos or universe is part of one singular absolute. Everything that exists in the vast external universe (macrocosm), also appears in the internal cosmos of the human body (microcosm). The human body consisting of 50-100 million cells, when healthy, is in harmony, self-perpetuating and self-correcting just as the universe is. The ancient Ayurveda text, Charaka, says, "Man is the epitome of the universe. Within man, there is as much diversity as in the world outside. Similarly, the outside world is as diverse as human beings themselves." In other words, all human beings are a living microcosm of the universe and the universe is a living macrocosm of the human beings.
Harmony With The Nature and Developing Perfect Health
The theoretical side of Ayurveda provides insights into how to live one's life in harmony with nature and natural laws and rhythms. Its practical side — specifically its guidelines for an intelligently regulated diet and daily routine, its techniques for stress management, and its exercises for increased fitness and alertness-help us take control of our lives and develop radiant health.
The central goal of читать is nothing less than a state of perfect health, for the individual and for society and the environment as well, in which every man and woman is inwardly in balance and outwardly in harmony with the environment and the laws of nature.
According to Ayurveda, nature is permeated by intelligence. Intelligent laws govern the growth of all living things; kittens grow into cats, acorns into oak trees. Indeed, laws of nature regulate everything, from the tiny world of whirling atoms to the huge, enormous world of galaxies.
The human body is part of nature, as we discussed before as a microcosm of the universe, and when it runs perfectly, as it was designed to run, it can be perfectly healthy. It is trying to be perfectly healthy all the time, using its innate self-healing, self-regulating ability as it strives for a perfect homeostatic balance. But we repeatedly interfere.
Nature has set us up with all the equipment we need to be perfectly healthy. Health is our natural state, and ill health is unnatural. Every day our systems are exposed to literally millions of bacteria, viruses, allergens, even carcinogens, and yet our immune system has the intelligence and skill to deal with all those invaders and keep us healthy. However, when stress, inadequate nutrition, or just fatigue weaken the immune system, those same invaders may produce disease.
Every second the body is adjusting to countless thousands of changing parameters, keeping us in homeostatic balance. No matter what comes along to upset the balance, the body knows its own nature, knows what ideal temperature it should be and the correct chemistry it needs to maintain, and keeps referring back to that blueprint to maintain proper balance.
How Do We Get Sick?
Ayurveda holds that specific disease conditions are symptoms of an underlying imbalance. It does not neglect relief of these symptoms, but its main focus is on the big picture: to restore balance and to help you create such a healthy lifestyle that the imbalance won't occur again.
Living in health and balance is the key to a long life free from disease.
Perhaps the most important lesson Ayurveda has to teach is that our health is up to us. Every day of our lives, every hour of every day, we can, and do, choose either health or illness. When we choose wisely, nature rewards us with health and happiness. When we persistently choose unwisely, nature, in her wisdom, eventually sets us straight: She makes us sick and gives us a chance to rest and rethink our choices.
Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences and belong to the world’s oldest and most well-documented healthcare system. Ayurveda, the science (Veda) of life (Ayur), balances the body using natural therapies and herbal medicines and balances the mind. Yoga, the science of mind brings balance and purity to the body. The two complement each other and together act to achieve harmony of the Body, Mind and Spirit – which is the essence of true health. Knowledge of Ayurveda in today’s world is essential as it is aimed at the preservation of health and prevention of disease by establishing balance and harmony through nutrition, herbs, meditation, and daily routines. Ayurvedic science provides knowledge to unfold the reality beyond the physical body and achieve harmony of Body, Mind and Spirit. The World Health Organization recognizes Ayurveda as a complete natural health care system.
Ayurvedic science is aimed at the preservation of health and prevention of disease by establishing balance and harmony through nutrition, herbs, meditation, and daily routines. Ayurvedic science provides knowledge to unfold the reality beyond the physical body and achieve harmony of Body, Mind and Spirit. The World Health Organization recognizes Ayurveda as a complete natural health care system.
There are several aspects to Ayurveda that are quite unique:
Ayurveda offers reference points for managing treatment decisions specific to each case. Ayurvedic theory is profoundly useful in analysing individual patient constitution and understanding variations in disease manifestation.
The Ayurvedic framework can be used to structure working models of the unique state of each patient, and to project a vision or goal for a whole state of health, again unique to each case.
Ayurveda offers specific recommendations to each individual on lifestyle, diet, exercise and yoga, herbal therapy, and even spiritual practices to restore and maintain balance in body and mind. Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body, a huge amount of information is available regarding this relationship.
This understanding that we are all unique individuals enables Ayurveda to address not only specific health concerns but also offers explanation as to why one person responds differently than another.
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.
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.
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.
In the ancient times, Ayurveda was learnt and taught only orally. Later on, scribes started documenting it on dried, smoothed and smoke-treated leaves of palm trees, otherwise known as Thaliolas, in order to preserve this precious wisdom for the future generations.
Ayurveda originated in the Vedic period. Believed to be the teachings of the Almighty himself, the Vedas are among the oldest records of spiritual knowledge in the world. All the four Vedas — Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Adharva Veda— have served as the basis of Indian Philosophy and have references to the principles of Ayurveda.
Rig Veda, the oldest of all Vedas, describes certain fundamental principles of Ayurveda. The three great cosmic forces namely Indra (God of Air and Prana, the vital force), Agni (God of Fire) and Soma (the Moon) represent the three main elements in Ayurveda: Vayu, Pitha and Kapha. This Veda also has over 60 preparations that could be used for healing as well as for spiritual upliftment.
Yajur Veda, describes several rituals and ceremonies which could help a person to have good health and a long life. The concepts of Dhatus (tissues) and the Pranas are also discussed in this Veda.
Basically a text concentrating on hymns, chants and verses, Sama Veda explains the therapeutic effects of chanting mantras with devotion.
Adharva Veda, the fourth book of ancient knowledge is known to have the largest number of references to Ayurveda. In fact, Ayurveda is considered to be the sub-branch or Upaveda of Adharva Veda. Ranging from medicinal values of herbs to treatment of diseases, Adharva Veda covers the essential and practical aspects of Ayurveda.
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.
After the Vedic period, the knowledge contained in the Vedas was studied extensively, tested for correctness and compiled systematically to form Samhithas or compilations. Of these, three main Samhithas are known to have survived: Charaka Samhitha (Treatise on Medicine), Susrutha Samhitha (Treatise on Surgery) and Ashtanga Samgraha (Treatise on the basic principles). Called collectively as ‘Brihattrayi’, they are also considered to be the oldest surviving documents on Ayurveda.
Some of the famous texts written between 9th and 16th century AD include Sharangadhara Samhita (Treatise on Ayurvedic Recipes), Bhavaprakasha (History and classifications), Madhava Nidana (Treatise on Diagnosis) etc.
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.