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What is Avurveda?

What is Ayurveda?

Perhaps the world’s oldest and continuously practiced medical science, Ayurveda, originated in India about 3000 years BC, derives from two words- Ayu means life and Veda means science- The Science of Life.

Ayurveda is a traditional natural healing system and thousands of years before modern medicine recognised the existence of mind, Ayurveda invented the treatments for mind and body. Ayurveda is a truly holistic health system which supports you from the cradle to the end of your life. The Ayurvedic mode of living aims to maximise your lifespan by optimising your health through interventions that care for your body, mind, spirit and environment. Ayurveda places a great emphasis on the prevention of disease and on health promotion, as well as on a comprehensive approach to treatment.

The roots of Ayurveda can be traced back to 3000 BC in the Vedas, India’s oldest scriptures, particularly the Fourth Veda, Atharvaveda which contains the philosophical basis of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is perhaps the first comprehensive medical system that identified existence of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cardiac illnesses and without the benefit modern diagnostics and equipment, Ayurveda’s description of human anatomy is unbelievably accurate.  Sushruta, Ayurvedic surgeon and Sage, performed world’s first plastic surgeries some in c1500 BC.

 

Three Sages

Rishis Charaka, Sushruta and Vagbhata are called “Brihat Trayi” or the Big Three who are credited with compiling Ayurveda’s three most important books- Charak Samhita, Sushrut Samhita and Ashtang Hridayam respectively. These three books are thoroughly edited and peer reviewed documents compiling best of the Ayurveda knowledge at those times.

 

Ayurveda’s Principles

The basic principle behind Ayurveda philosophy perhaps lies in the following verse:

  • “स्वस्थस्य स्वास्थ्य रक्षणं, आतुरस्य विकारप्रशमनं च”
  • To prolong life and promote perfect health (add years to life and life to years) - (स्वस्थस्य स्वास्थ्य रक्षणं)
  • To completely eradicate the disease and dysfunction of the body (आतुरस्य विकारप्रशमनं च)

 

Ayurveda’s holistic approach

Ayurveda follows basic two approaches based on the principle above:

1). Preventive therapy (Swasthasya swasthya Samrakshanam)

 Ayurveda believes that “prevention is better than cure”.  A person who maintains his health will not be afflicted with diseases.

Main measures are as follows.

Rasayana Chikitsa (Rejuvenative therapy)
Vajeekarana chikitsa (Aphrodisiac)
Dinacharya (Daily routines)
Ritucharya (seasonal regimes)

 

2) Curative therapy) (Athurasya vikara prasamana)

Measures are as follows

 a) Samana chikitsa (pacificatory therapy) Using medicines and other measures, the imbalanced doshas like Vata, Pitta and Kapha are brought into normal state.

 b) Shodhana chikitsa- Pancharkarma therapy (Purificatory therapy) the imbalanced or vitiated dhoshas are purified through expulsions by five measures called Panchakarma.

  • Vamanam
  • Virechanam
  • Nasyam
  • Raktamokshanam
  • Vasti

 

The Three Doshas

In Ayurveda, the five elements that are found in all living things—ether, air, fire, water, and earth—are the building blocks of life. While this foundation unites all humans, the manifestation of those elements through the doshas is what gives rise to our differences. How the three doshas appear, and in what proportion, is what makes each of us unique.

The 3 Doshas

  • The fiery and intense Pitta type may enjoy the occasional power trip. She will devour a mountain of food with ravenous hunger and yet be ready to eat again when it comes to the next meal.
  • In contrast, a delicate Vata can never seem to get warm. She will nibble, snack, and graze her way through the day, and she may feel the need to rest often. She’s also inclined to talk about a number of diverse subjects, probably repeating herself more than once.
  • The contented Kapha type may, with great deliberation, consume three pieces of cake. She will spend quality time curled up on a couch making phone calls to loved ones with uplifting, motherly advice.

 

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