Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. Ayurveda started on the slopes of the Himalayas some five thousand years ago. The Himalayas are the richest source of important medicinal plants used in Ayurveda. The unique holistic health concepts of Ayurveda together with its rich pharmacopoeia continue to have universal application and relevance. Because of the benefits, cost-effectiveness and potential offered by Ayurveda there is a growing interest in the developed countries for its application, its use and its vast invaluable knowledge accumulated throughout the centuries. Every year, a significant, ever increasing number of visitors comes to India to gain Ayurvedic knowledge, to undergo Ayurvedic therapy, and to obtain Ayurvedic remedies and medicinal plants unavailable in their own countries. The Himalayan region of India is the only place with an unbroken tradition of Ayurveda and is richly endowed with its heritage and resources. At the same time, India has a cultural spectrum of indigenous and locally practised traditional medical systems such as Siddha, Unani and Tibetan Medicine. Their knowledge is recognised by the HAR Institute since they offer an invaluable source for research and development in the field.
DEFINITION: Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine from India that uses a constitutional model. Its aim is to provide guidance regarding food and lifestyle so that healthy people can stay healthy and folks with health challenges can improve their health.
There are several aspects to Ayurveda that are quite unique: Its recommendations will often be different for each person regarding which foods and which lifestyle they should follow in order to be completely healthy. This is due to it’s use of a constitutional model. Everything in Ayurveda is validated by observation, inquiry, direct examination and knowledge derived from the ancient texts. It understands that there are energetic forces that influence nature and human beings. These forces are called the Tridoshas i.e. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Because Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body, a huge amount of information is available regarding this relationship.
WHAT IS AYURVEDA? Ayurveda is not only a system of medicine but also represents a way of healthy living. Ayurveda is formed by the combination of two words viz., ‘Ayur’ meaning life and ‘veda’ meaning knowledge of science. In effect, it means the \”Science of Life\” Ayurveda is a branch of the Vedas, The Rigveda and the Atharveda are replete with information on various aspects of medical science. The Universe, according to ancient Indian thinking is composed of five basic elements, the Panch Mahabootas, namely: Prithivi (earth), Apya (water), Teja (fire), Vayu (air) and Akash (space). As the human body is similarly constituted, there is a fundamental harmony between the Universe and man, a healthy balance between the microcosm and macrocosm. Ayurveda in the theory of Tridosha: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is a combination of two elements of the universe, namely air and space, Pitta an amalgam of fire and waters and Kapha the combination of earth and water. According to this theory, the Tridoshas remain in a balanced state in the human body and when this balance is disturbed it results in a disease.
True medicine, according to Ayurveda, is one, which cures the disease without causing any side effect. It is in this aspect that Ayurveda enjoys an advantage over the modern system of medicine. Health, according to Ayurveda, is the natural state of all three aspects of human being i.e. body, mind and soul (Indriyas, Manas and Atma). When the natural state comes in contact with unhappiness (Dukhasamayoga) disease result. A regular health, fitness, diet & Yoga excersie programme is prescribed along with medicine. The regimen of diet is as important as the remedies since the former helps to restore the balance as much as the later. Ayurveda has eight distinct- branches (1) general medicine (2) surgery (3) ear, nose, throat, eye and mouth diseases, (4) psychiatry (5) midwifery and pediatrics (6) toxicology (7) rejuvenation and tonics and (8) aphrodisiacs. It is because of these eight branches that Ayurveda is known as the Astanga-ayurveda.
ORIGIN Ayurveda is an intricate system of healing that originated in India thousands of years ago. We can find historical evidence of Ayurveda in the ancient books of wisdom known as the Vedas. In the Rig Veda, over 60 preparation are mentioned that could be used to assist an individual in overcoming various ailments. The Rig Veda was written over 6,000 years ago, but really Ayurveda has been around even longer than that. What we see is that Ayurveda is more than just a medical system. It is a Science of Life. We are all part and parcel of nature. Just as the animals and plants live in harmony with nature and utilize the Laws of Nature to create health and balance within their beings, we, too, adhere to these very same principles. Therefore, it is fair to say that Ayurveda is a system that helps maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature to bring the individual back into equilibrium with their true self. In essence Ayurveda has been in existence since the beginning of time because we have always been governed by nature’s laws.
MEANING Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ayur, which means ?life? and Veda, which means the ?knowledge of?. To know about life is Ayurveda. However, to fully comprehend the vast scope of Ayurveda let us first define \”Ayur\” or life. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, \”ayur\” is comprised of four essential parts. The combination of mind, body, senses and the soul.
Mind, Body and Senses: We tend to identify most with our physical bodies; yet, in actuality, there is more to us then what meets the eye. We can see that underlying our physical structure is the mind, which not only controls our thought processes but also helps assist us in carrying out day-to-day activities such as respiration, circulation, digestion and elimination. The mind and the body work in conjunction with one another to regulate our physiology. In order for the mind to act appropriately to assist the physical body, we must use our senses as information gatherers. We can think of the mind as a computer and the senses as the data, which gets entered into the computer. Smell and taste are two important senses that aid in the digestive process. When the mind registers that a particular food is entering the gastrointestinal tract, it directs the body to act accordingly by releasing various digestive enzymes. However, if we overindulge the taste buds with too much of a certain taste, such as sweet, we may find that the ability of the mind to perceive the sweet taste is impaired; and thereby the body becomes challenged in its ability to process sweet foods. Maintaining the clarity of our senses is an essential part in allowing the mind and body to integrate their functions and help in keeping us healthy and happy individuals.
Soul Ayurveda also defines, that in order to exist in physical form with the help of the mind and senses, we exist in a more subtle form known as the soul. The ancient seers of India believed that we are comprised of a certain energetic essence that precluded the inhabitance of our physical entity. In fact, they hypothesized that we may indeed occupy many physical bodies throughout the course of time but that our underlying self or soul remains unchanged. What we see to help illustrate this concept is what transpires at the time of death. When the individual nears the time to leave the physical body, many of his/her desires will cease to be present. As the soul no longer identifies with the body, the desire to eat food or indulge in a particular activity that used to be a great source of satisfaction for that person drops by the wayside. In fact, many individuals have been documented to experience the sensation of being \”out of their bodies.\” These are just a few examples of how we are made up of these four components that we call life.