Ayurveda, the "science of life", is the traditional medicine and the natural healing system of India and its cultural sphere. It is probably the oldest health care system in the world, with roots going back over 500 years into the Vedic era. Not surprisingly, it has been called the “Mother of all healing”.
Ayurveda is one of the most comprehensive healing systems in the world, dealing integrally with body, mind and spirit. It is allied with the profound yogic view of life and consciousness. Given its antiquity, we could say that it is the original medical system of which the modern medical systems are either derivations or deviations.
Ayurveda is not an alternative system because it does not need any help from other medical systems. Ayurveda is complete system of medicines in it self. It has its own anatomy, physiology, pathology and treatment. It has provided us with much knowledge in the field of human sciences
Ayurveda is based on the idea that man is made up of body, mind and soul. Although Ayurveda has given more attention to the sharir or the body and brain aspect of the human being, it has never forgotten the shariri or the mind and soul.
Ayurveda is based on the premise that everything in the universe is made up of three basic forces or doshas, namely Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth). When these three forces are in harmony and balance within a person, then that person will be healthy, but if there is an imbalance anywhere, then that person will be prone to illness.
It is the job of the ayurvedic practitioner to alleviate distress-causing imbalances in the doshas, by prescribing one or more therapies out of a wide range of natural and conventional therapies.
The influence of Ayurveda
Ayurveda has had a strong influence throughout history on many systems of medicine, from the ancient Greeks in the West to the Chinese in the East. Ayurvedic herbs and formulas appear in traditional Chinese medicine, and an ayurvedic form of acupuncture also exists.
Ayurveda is the basis of Tibetan medicine, which combined Ayurveda along with Indian Buddhism. Tibetan medicine consists of predominantly Ayurveda with a secondary influence of traditional Chinese medicine. Forms of Ayurveda exist in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Burma, and to some extent in Thailand.
Vedic and yogic science
Ayurveda is based upon the great stream of Vedic Spiritual knowledge. This is the older spiritual tradition behind the later religions of India, particularly Hinduism, from which the whole of Indian culture derived and diversified. So Ayurveda is…
the medical aspect of the spiritual science we call “Vedic Science”.
the “Veda,” the knowledge, wisdom or spiritual science of “Ayur,” life or longevity.
Ayurveda was originally classified as a supplementary Veda (Upaveda), of which it is the foremost one. Other important branches of the Vedas include Vedangas, limbs of the Vedas, which are closer to the Vedas than the Upavedas, the most important of which is Vedic Astrology (Jyotish), commonly used along with Ayurveda.
Yoga and Ayurveda
The practical side of Vedic Science is the system of Yoga. Yoga develops the ideas of Vedic philosophy into tools for the development of consciousness. Yoga is not merely asana or yoga postures but the entire science of meditation. Vedic Science is also called “Yogic Science”.
Ayurveda, therefore, is the healing branch or medical side of the system of yoga. It was devised by the yogis and seers to allow for maximum longevity for the pursuit of Yoga, as well as the other legitimate aims of life, and is a gift of their wisdom and compassion.
“Ayur” or “life” in Ayurveda is described as the harmony of the higher self (Atman), mind (manas), the all-pervading vital energy of the universe (prana), senses and body. This idea of life is not merely physical but includes all aspects of our being and shows the broad and integral scope of ayurvedic theory and practice.
- Written by Dr Roshan Singh, Ayurvedic health care practitioner
(Photo of woman receiving Ayurveda oil treatment from Shutterstock)