The word Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words ayur and veda meaning ‘life’ and ‘knowledge’ respectively. Taken together they mean the ‘science of life.
Ayurveda is a complete knowledge about life, how to live in a healthy way and to attain harmony with mother nature. Ayurveda is a blend of philosophy and science.
The origins of Ayurveda are shrouded in antiquity. Legend say that Brahma the Creator, a part of the holy trinity of gods, first perceived it and taught it to his son, Daksha Prajapati. Subsequently, Lord Dhanwantari, the god of healing and the teacher of the medical sciences passed it on to the prominent Hindu sages Atreya, Bharadvaja, Kashyapa, Sushruta, Parashara, and Charaka. Sage Atreya’s disciple Agnivesha is said to have written the original Agnivesha Sambita around 1000 BC which has come down to us in the form of Charaka Sambita. This text is considered an authoritative pronouncement of Ayurvedic doctrine. Its present form goes back to the seventh century BC. Sage Charaka defines Ayurveda as ‘the science through which one can obtain the knowledge about the useful and harmful types of life (bita and abita ayus), happy and miserable types of life, things which are useful and harmful for such types of life, the span of life as well as the very nature of life’.
Health, according to Ayurveda, is not merely freedom from disease. It is essential that body, mind and soul are in a excellent state so that the individual can perform his functions and fulfil his role in life which in Vedic philosophy is called dharma; and ultimately work towards the final goal of salvation or moksha with the help of wealth, economic means which artha satisfying his legitimate desires of love and sex which is kama. The roots of Indian Culture can be traced back to the Vedic period, from c. 5000 BC or perhaps even earlier. All the four Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva – contain several references to the digestive system, metabolism, anatomy and descriptions of diseases along with the bacteria that cause them and more importantly, the concept of tridosha or the three doshas. The doshas, according to the Vedas, are subtle elements in the human body responsible for all its functions. According to the dictates of Ayurveda, illnesses occur due to an imbalance in the equilibrium between the three doshas – vayu, pitta, kapha. Roughly translated, vayu (also known as vata) is wind, pitta can be represented by bile and kapha by phlegm.
Ayurveda Â is both supplementary and complementary to modern medicine in helping to provide good health to humanity. Ayurveda is a science of healing based on man’s response to his environment. Its universal approach emphasizes its applicability and relevance to all, irrespective of their geographical, cultural and religious differences.
Being a holistic science of life, it believes that the functioning of the body is closely related to the mind and soul of the individual. Ideally speaking the body should be free from disease, the mind should be happy and the person should be spiritually elevated. Ayurveda deals with body-mind-spirit complex.
Ayurvedic medicines not only cure the patient of diseases, they also provide immunity against future attacks. In normal healthy individuals, they help to revitalize the body cells and stimulate the immune system.