What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an eternal, immortal ancient indian medical science. It has its origin from the Vedas, which are believed to have their
existence right from the beginning of this universe. It is a branch of “Atharvaveda“.
The word Ayurveda is composed of Ayu(Life) + Veda(Knowledge) meaning knowledge of life i.e. every single existing knowledgeable thing about Human life is described in this science. This Ayu according to Ayurveda is the combination of Satva, Atma, Indriya & Sharir.
“Samadosha samagnischa samadhatu malakriya.
prasannatmendriyamana swasthya iti abhidiyate”
The above verse means, the normalcy of Dosha, Dhatu, Mala & Agni in our body is termed to be Swasthya. According to Ayurveda swasthya(health)
does not only mean physical fitness but mental fitness as well.
The aim of Ayurveda is to maintain healthy mind in a healthy body and to prevent and cure an individual from a disease. The science has also described Pathya(Do’s) and Apathya(Dont’s) for maintenance of swasthya.
Ayurveda believes that no two individuals are same as no two fingerprints, their body constitution depends solely upon their parental beeja (genes), its permutation and combination at the time of conception, prakriti(body constitution) of their parents, and predominance of particular dosha at the time of conception. Thus two persons suffering with same illness need not necessarily be treated with same medicines.
History of Ayurveda
The true history of Ayurveda starts from the time of the Holy books, the Vedas. Ancient mythology contends that the concept and essence of
Ayurveda was revealed by the creator of the world himself – Lord Brahma.
There are four Vedas.They are –
The Vedas date back to about five thousand years. They preach the philosophy of life. The Atharvaveda contains the principles of healing on which Ayurveda is based. 'Ayur' means 'life' in Sanskrit. Ayurveda is the most ancient science of healing which enhances longevity. It has influenced many of the older traditional methods of healing including Tibetan, Chinese and Greek medicine. Hence, Ayurveda is considered by many as the 'mother of healing.'
The hymns, the mantras and the medical information contained in the Vedas were contributions of Rishis and munis or sages, over a period of time. Many of these sages were learned saints who devoted their life to understanding the world.
Aryavarta, the native land of Aryans, covers a large area surrounding the Himalayas and is believed to be the place where the Rishis and Munis lived. At present it covers areas in countries like Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Tibet. The civilizations of these countries are deeply influenced by the unique intellectual contributions of these Rishis and Munis.
The practical tenets of Ayurveda are divided into eight sections or branches. These sections include:
Aphrodisiac remedies and
These eight sections are called "Astanga Ayurveda".
Ayurveda is a complete or holistic system that integrates the mind, body and spirit. For a few centuries, the tradition of Ayurveda was dimmed due to the natural and human calamities and also by the invasion of foreign cultures into India. The sacred texts were either destroyed or stolen. However there were many ‘Vaidyas’ or doctors in India who managed to preserve some of the knowledge available in these Holy Scriptures. Divine plants that sustain long life and good health are now being rediscovered. Many renowned families of Vaidyas, who are specialized in certain branches of Ayurveda, have started functioning again in India. Today there is a revival of the ancient culture and traditions inherent to Ayurveda, which is a true gift of the ancient civilization to the modern world.
Acharyas have described ayurveda as “Ashtang Ayurveda”. It has eight branches and is based upon Mulbhoot siddhants(basic principles), to name a few are:
1. Prakriti-Purush siddhant
2. Dosha-Dhatu-Mala siddhant
3. Samanya-Vishesh siddhant,etc.
Mulbhoot Siddhanta (Basic Principles)
As previously stated, Ayurvedic science is based on its mulbhoot siddhantas. Here we’ll deal with two important siddhant “Dosha-Dhatu-Mala”
siddhant & “Panchamahabhoot siddhant”
I. Dosha-Dhatu-Mala Siddhanta
“Doshadhatumalamulam hi shariram” (ref:ashtang hriday).
This siddhant explains that human life is a constitution of three Doshas, seven Dhatus, and three Malas.
Tridosha: Vata, Pitta, kapha are the three Doshas prevailing in our body, normalcy of these doshas keeps the body in a healthy state and their imbalance leads to diseased state. The normalcy or imbalance should be understood with respect to the quantity, quality, and functions of these doshas.
Sapta Dhatu: The human body is composed of seven dhatus, which are :
1. Rasa (Plasma) – Rasa is the first dhatu, its function is “Prinan” (to provide nourishment to the body.)
2. Rakta (Blood) – This second dhatu is essential bodily element which keeps life going.this function is known as “Jeevan”meda dhay.
3. Mamsa (muscle) – Mamsa dhatu performs “ Lepan” function. lepan means to cover all the internal body components.
4. Meda (Fat tissue) –“Snehan” is the main role of meda dhatu,the word snehan literally means oleation, but for better understanding it explains necessary greasing and oiling in different body parts, like lubrication for joints, providing skin luster,and performing other body functions smoothly etc. it also provides extra protection for deeper tissues.
5. Asthi (Bones) – Asthi dhatu’s function is “Dharan”,i.e. it provides support to the body.
6. Majja (bone marrow) – “Puran” Majja dhatu has its seat inside the hollow cavity of bones; it helps asthi dhatu in its function by providing extra support .
7. Shukra (semen) – Shukra, is the dhatu responsible for reproduction.
Mala – Purish(faeces), Mutra(urine), & Sweda(sweat) are the three mala.
II. Panchamahabhoot Siddhant
The theory explains that our body is made up of ‘Panchamahabhoot’ (five universal elements), namely – Prithvi (Earth), Jal (Water), Tej (Fire), Vayu (Air) & Akaash (Ether).
Ayurveda believes that as these five elements exist in universe, similarly they have their existence in our body; eg: there exists fire in nature & here we have digestive fire inside us. The Ether is nothing but the space which represents all the hollow cavities in our body,like digestive tract,hollowness in blood vessels,etc.. Element Air can be experienced by respiration and water can be understood by all the fluid contents of our body like blood,or plasma.
These five elements while retaining their own qualities & maintaining their equilibrium, facilitates smooth functioning of body. Shift in its equilibrium is the cause for various illness. So it is said “Yatha loke tatha dehe”.
Ashtang Ayurveda Ayurveda-The science of life, is described as Ashtang Ayurveda. It is divided into eight branches...
1. Kaya Chikitsa – ‘Kaya’ means body & ‘Chikitsa’ means treatment. Treating the body by taking medicines internally is kaya chikitsa. medicines when taken goes thru the process
of digestive fire & then performs the desired action.
2. Bala chikitsa – This branch is related to ‘Paediatric’ age group.Under the term ‘Bala’, Ayurveda includes patients from newborn babies upto sixteen years.
3. Graha Chikitsa – The branch deals with ‘Demonology’. The disease is treated with different verses & hymns. It is also known as ‘Mantra -Tantra Chikitsa’
4. Urdhwang Chikitsa – Urdhwang means the body parts above shoulders, i.e. head,neck, throat,eyes,ears which deals with diseases of these organs.
5. Shalya Chikitsa – Shalya Chikitsa is treating the patient with surgical procedures.It includes special procedures like ‘kshar karma, Agni karma, Rakta mokshan(Blood letting).
6. Daunstra Chikitsa – Daunshtra or Daunsh means bite.The toxins released into the body by bite of any animal,insect or any other creature can cause serious or even fatal conditions. The treatment measures taken against these toxins is Daunshtra chikitsa. It is also well known as ‘Toxicology’.
7. Jara Chikitsa – Jara is old age; i.e. the science of ‘Geriatrics’. The science includes measures to delay ageing signs, treatment of age related diseases. It also includes rejuvination therapies.
8. Vrishya Chikitsa – The facts related to ‘reproduction’ are explained in vrishya chikitsa. It deals with ‘Suprajanan’ i.e. preparation for betterment of conception. Problems related to infertility,etc.
Such is the science divided into eight branches for simplification of our understanding, yet it is so vast and explanatory that each of this branch takes years and years for mastering.