Ayurveda has a rich history. It was initially shared as an oral tradition and dated back to the Vedic civilization 5000 years ago. It was recorded in ancient Sanskrit in the four holy texts known as the Vedas –
- The Rig Veda
- The Yajur Veda, Sam Veda
- The Atharva Veda
It is a system of medicine with historical roots in India. The modernized and globalized practices derived from Ayurveda are a type of alternative medicine. The concept of Ayurveda states that all the areas of life influence one’s health. Thus, it follows that all the four Vedas cover a broad spectrum of topics, including human behavior, art, politics, government, spirituality, astrology, and health, and healthcare techniques.
The Ayurvedic books recovered from the 8th century BCE clearly depicts the history of how Ayurveda evolved over time. The books also provide the procedural instructions on Ayurveda was practiced, as well. Some of this information was set to produce a few thousand years ago; however, much of it is inaccessible.
In countries beyond India, the practice of Ayurveda has been integrated into some medical use as well as in general wellness applications.
The Origin: What we know
The core traditional Ayurveda manuscripts originate with accounts on the transmission of therapeutic understanding from the Gods to spiritual gurus, and then to human physicians.
In Sushruta Samhita (an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery by Sushruta), Sushruta wrote that the Hindu God of Ayurveda – Dhanvantari, incarnated himself as the king of Varanasi (a city in the bank of Ganges) and taught medicine to Sushruta, among other physicians. From there, the concept of Ayurveda spread across India and then to the whole world.
In the past two millennia, the concept and therapies in Ayurveda have evolved significantly. Under the influence of Rasa Shastra, Ayurvedic therapies are primarily based on complex organic and herbal compounds, metal substances, and minerals. That is, various minerals, metals, and other elements, including mercury, are combined and purified with herbs in an attempt to treat ailments and health complications. On the other hand, ancient Ayurveda manuscripts also taught surgical techniques, such as extraction of foreign objects, sutures, kidney stone extractions, and rhinoplasty.
However, according to some scholars of ancient history, Ayurveda instigated in prehistoric times, and some of its conceptions have occurred from the time of Indus Valley Civilization, or even earlier. It developed substantially during the Vedic civilization and with the occurrence of non-Vedic systems like Jainism and Buddhism, Ayurveda was rationalized with new concepts and practices.
The philosophy of Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, perfect health is defined as a balance between mind, body, spirit, and social wellbeing. The concepts of connectedness and balance echoes throughout Ayurveda.
Ayurveda, like all other holistic health systems, emphasizes the entrenched association between the mind, body, and the spirit. Moreover, it is said that Ayurveda’s connectedness outspreads far beyond a person, reaching into the universe.
The basic principles of Ayurveda include:
- We, humans, are responsible for all the actions we take and the choices we make. If we make balanced choices that promote harmony and connectivity, we can attain and maintain good health.
- Any imbalance in our life causes a lack of harmony, which makes us vulnerable to ailments.
- Our lifestyle often disrupts our initial balance. Choices about relationships, profession, exercise, and diet all have the potential to create emotional, spiritual, or physical imbalances.
- If we retain the balance by interacting with the environment in a wholesome and effective manner, we will remain healthy.
- We are initially connected to the people surrounding us, including ourselves, our immediate environment, and the universe. This balanced connectivity ensures personal wellbeing.
- There is a deep link between the self and the surrounding environment.
- All things in the universe – living and non-living both are linked together. Indeed, everything in the universe is, in fact, made of the same five basic building blocks or natural elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space.
The Ayurvedic concepts of Doshas and Prakruti
Ayurvedic philosophy maintains that individuals are born with a particular constitution, known as the Prakruti. Established at the conception, Prakruti is viewed as a unique combination of psychological and physical characteristics affecting the way each individual functions.
During the course of life, a person’s underlying Prakruti remains the same. However, internal and external environmental factors like lifestyle choices, diet, seasonal changes, and even day and night, influences one’s Prakruti. Ayurveda puts great prominence on inhibition of disease and recommends maintaining health by following daily and periodic routines that create balance.
Moreover, Doshas form important characteristics of the Prakruti. The three qualities, also known as the Doshas, include Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. They all have a certain impact on our bodily functions.
Scholars of the ancient Ayurvedic medicine consider that each individual has a distinct, tailored steadiness of the three Doshas. These Doshas are repetitively fluctuating and are influenced by exercising, eating, and relating to others.
Adherents of Ayurveda believe that an imbalance in a Dosha produces symptoms related to that particular Dosha, and these symptoms are different from the symptoms of another Dosha imbalance.
For example, A Vata person is enthusiastic and lively, lean, and slim. When in balance, the person is collective and creative. However, when there is an imbalance, the person might experience nervous disorders like anxiety, among other complications.
When a Pitta person is in balance, he/she is naturally fiery in nature. However, if there is an imbalance, the individual might suffer from an acidic stomach or a prickly rash.
There are several factors that can cause Dosha imbalance. These factors may include germs, chemicals, too little or too much mental or physical exertion, or even poor diet.
The ancient practice of Ayurveda has helped millions of people create healthier lifestyles. Ayurveda practitioners had developer numerous surgical procedures and medicinal preparations from the start of the Common Era. It places great significance on prevention and encourages the preservation of health through close attention to balance in life.