With Ayurved coming into mainstream, I thought of sharing some basics about this system of medicine. As I look into this age old Indian traditions, I feel proud of our rich culture.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word which means “Knowledge of Life,”. It emphasisis on total wellness and harmony in our internal and external worlds.
It is believed that the creator of the universe, Dhanvantri ( a Vishnu Avtar) passed on this holistic knowledge of healing to the sages for the well-being of mankind. From the sages the knowledge of traditional medicines was passed on to the disciples and then to the common man by various writings and oral narrations. The information about the healing properties of the herbs was composed in the form of “Shlokas” in Vedas. The Hindu system of healing is believed to be based on four Vedas – Yajur Veda, Rig Veda, Sam Veda, and Atharva Veda.
The Rig Veda is the most well-known of all the four Vedas and in it, 67 plants are described in 1028 Shlokas. Rishi Atreya has summed up this knowledge which he is believed to have been conferred from Lord Indra. This knowledge from the Vedas was further edited by Charaka and is known as “Charaka Samhita”. Charaka Samhita describes all aspects of Ayurvedic medicine and Sushruta Samhita describes the Science of Surgery. Both these legendary compilations are still used by practitioners of traditional medicine. These are translated in many languages.
Ayurved believes that the five senses (smell, hearing, touch, sight, smell), serve as the connectors between the internal and external worlds. According to Ayurveda, the five elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth create the dance of creation around and within us.
Everything that we experience, be it a physical substance, a thought, or emotion, has certain qualities known as “Guna गुण” in Ayurved. The ancient texts of Ayurveda classified Guna गुण — into 10 pairs of opposites, making 20 qualities in total (for example, heavy vs. light). Theoretically, everything in the universe can be described in terms of these gunas. The foundation of Ayurvedic treatment relies upon recognizing the imbalance in गुण which cause dosh or imbalance and lead to disease. Ayurveda applies the opposite qualities to maintain the balance.
Leveraging these basic principles, Ayurveda customizes preventive wellness to the unique constitution of every individual. In addition, ancient Ayurvedic doctors produced detailed descriptions of acute and chronic conditions (complete with causes, signs, and symptoms), and developed extensive holistic treatment protocols. Preventive care and treatment of disease falls under Ayurveda’s eight branches, which include:
● Kaayachikitsa – Internal Medicine
● Baalachikitsa – Pediatrics
● Bhuta Vidya – Psychiatry
● Shalakya Tantra – Ear, Nose and Throat Treatment
● Shalya Tantra – Surgery
● Vishagara Vairodh Tantra – Toxicology
● Jarachikitsa/Rasayana – Geriatrics and Rejuvenation
● Vajikarana — Aphrodisiac Therapy, Fertility, and Conception
In addition, Ayurveda offers one of the world’s most comprehensive cleansing protocols, known as “Panchakarma“. This ancient therapy applies various processes for the rejuvenation of the body, cleansing and enhancing longevity.
Ayurveda offers renewed access to our natural intelligence. Thus, this ancient medicine offers the promise of a more harmonious future for the people and planet.
Recently, an integration of the knowledge of modern analytical techniques with Ayurveda principles has been taken and it’s helping in its wider acceptance globally. There is an increasing need of proving and fostering the scientific basis of the principles of Ayurveda, to keep this age old valuable system of medicine, as a living tradition in future.
A merit of this traditional medicine systems is that, they consider every individual as the prime focus of treatment rather than the disease. But this factor also possesses a hurdle to the applicability of medications on a general population basis.
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