What is Ayurveda?

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term, made up of the words “ayus” and “veda.” “Ayus” means life and “Veda” means knowledge or science. The term “ayurveda” thus means ‘the knowledge of life’ or ‘the science of life’.

According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, “ayu” comprises the mind, body, senses and the soul.

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Concept of Health in Ayurveda

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According to Ayurveda, whose Dosas, and function of Dhatu and Malas are in the state of equilibrium and who has cheerful mind, intellect and sense organs is termed as “Svastha”(Healthy).

Ayurveda provides knowledge of etiology,symptomatically and therapeutics, best way for both the healthy and the sick,tri-aphormismic, continuing since time immemorial and virtuous which was first known to Brahma the creator.

History of Ayurveda and it’s branches

History of medicine is a fascinating subject as it is a saga of man’s struggle against disease,which brings the best out of human kind in terms of healing and coping with illness. As the civilization advances and as the disease pattern changes, the medical science also changes, which influenced by the then existing social practices.

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Ayurveda is the system of medicine that evolved in India with a rationale logical foundation and it has survived as a distinct entity from remote antiquity to the present day.

Ayurveda, “the science of life” (knowledge of Ayu), is a comprehensive medical system that has been the traditional health care system in India for more than 5000 years. 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 all healing sciences.’

Ayurveda was branched into the following eight branches:

1.Kayachikitsa (General Medicine)

2.Kumarabhritya (Paediatrics)

3.Graha Chikitsa (Psychotherapy)

4.Urdhavanga Chikista (Optho-oto-rhino-laryngology)

5.Shalya Chikitsa (Genral Sugery)

6.Agada Tantra (Toxicology)

7.Jara Chikitsa (Geriatrics)

8.Vajikarana Chikitsa (the science of virility)

Schools of Ayurveda, Scholars & text books

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The medical history of ancient India is authenticated, as already stated,mainly in the writings of the two great sages of Indian medicine-Sushruta, the surgeon, and Charaka, the physician.

These two teachers headed very advanced Schools of surgery and medicine respectively around 2500 to 600 BC.

Later, from the six to seven BC, there was systematic development of the science and it is called Samhita period, when a number of classical works were produced by several authors and during this period there is evidence of organized medical care, form which the basic treatises even to this day, for practitioners of the Ayurvedic system of medicine in India.

Senior Triad texts are,

Charak Samhita

Susrut Samhita

Ashtang Hridaya Samhita

Junior Triad texts are,

Madhav Nidana

Sarangdhar Samhita

Bhavprakash Samhita

Basics of Ayurveda- fundamental principles

Ayurveda is that which deals with Ayuh (life) or promotes life-span. Ayurveda is that which deals with good, bad, happy and unhappy life, its promoters and non-promoters, span and nature. Mind, self and body – these three make a tripod on which the living world stands.

That (living body)is Purusa (person),sentient and its location is Ayurveda.

The science of Ayurveda has simplified the organizational layout of the human body into three basic components, Dosa (Body Humours), Dhatu (Tissue) and Mala (Impurities). Body is originally composed of dosasdhatus and malas

The Ayurvedic philosophy says that an individual is bundle of ‘spirit’,desirous of expressing itself,uses subjective consciousness or to manifest sense organs and a mind.

The 5 great elements theory

Spirit and mind then project themselves into a physical body,created from the five(Panca) great (maha) eternal elements (bhutas) together called the ‘the five great elements’ (Pancamahabhutas) –which arise from Tamas. The entire science of Ayurveda is based on the “five great elements” (Pancamahabhuta) theory.The sense organs then using Rajas to project from the body into the external world to experience their objects. The body becoming the vehicle of mind, for gratification of senses.

The Tri-dosha theory-

The Bhutas combine into ‘tridosas’ or bioenergetic forces that govern and determine our health or physical condition. While the three gunas (Rajas; or activity, Tamas or inertia and Satva , which balances the first two) or psychic forces determine our mental and spiritual health.

Ayurveda is thus a holistic system of health care that teaches us to balance these energies in order to achieve optimum health and well being.