A Brief History
Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old Indian healthcare system. Predictably, the word Ayurveda (derived from Ayu meaning life and Veda meaning science in Sanskrit) means the science of life! Most of the Ayurvedic concepts originated from the four Vedas in India. For the uninitiated, the vedas are the ancient Indian scriptures that define the foundation of Hinduism. Among these, Atharva Veda is considered to be the major source of Ayurveda. Initially, the knowledge of Ayurveda was passed on from one generation to another as an oral tradition. Sort of like grandma’s recipes… Some 3000 years back, the oral tradition gave way to a rich body of Ayurvedic written literature. Some of the foundational texts in Ayurvedic literature are focused on internal medicine, surgery and the medicinal use of minerals among others. They are written in a poetic, musical fashion to stay memorable. It is believed that the ancient systems of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Turkish ancient medicine were all derived from Ayurveda! This ancient system of medicine has survived because of its fundamental concepts that are relevant even today.
“Because we cannot scrub our inner body we need to learn a few skills to help cleanse our tissues, organs, and mind. This is the art of Ayurveda.”
― Sebastian Pole
The Premise of Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, a person can be called completely healthy when the mind, senses and soul are all in joyous harmony. This occurs when the bio-physical forces, digestion, and metabolism are all balanced. Interestingly, Ayurveda is one of the first healthcare systems that defined the association of mind and body. In fact, according to Ayurveda, the body originates from the mind. Therefore, both health and disease, emerge from the mind. Today, all the scientific experiments on placebo and its effects validate this ancient wisdom that the mind rules the body! Many Western thought leaders such as Louise Hay have also alluded to this school of thought.
Instead of a one size fits all approach, Ayurveda is based on understanding the individual and their inherent physiology. So, according to Ayurveda, each person is unique. It is based on a beautiful concept called prakrati. Prakrati is the nature of an individual; it is based on two dimensions – the mind and the body. Primarily, a person can have three types of mental constitution – balanced, hyperactive, and inactive: and broadly three types of body constitution – vata (deer), pitta (tiger), and kapha (elephant). Ayurveda prescribes diet, medicines, detox solutions and lifestyle changes (as appropriate) based on the individual’s mind and body type.
The Relevance of Ayurveda
In my humble opinion as a practitioner, Ayurveda offers the most extensive preventive healthcare system. It is a complete science with eight branches including general medicine, surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, ENT, toxicology among others. What’s more, it is natural, holistic and side-effects free. Ayurveda aims to address the root cause of disease rather than the external symptoms. It strengthens the body to vanquish the pathogens or the disease-causing factor. As we have learnt in the post Covid-19 era, there are a countless number of pathogens and constant mutations in the modern world. I am not sure it is physically feasible to make medicines for all of them, but it is possible to strengthen the body against all kinds of infections. On the other end of the spectrum, Ayurveda is also a powerful preventative mechanism and can help us achieve optimum health through diet and lifestyle modifications. It also offers many potent detox solutions to reset our internal systems for holistic wellness. This Ayurvedic approach is harmless and has lasting benefits.
I hope this article has given you a useful introduction to the science of Ayurveda and piqued your interest in the topic. I hope to elaborate more on these concepts and address specific ailments in subsequent blogs. Please share your feedback in the comments section below. Stay safe and healthy!