Ayurveda (literally, the science of life, or the knowledge of living, or the art of longevity) is not just a medical knowledge but additionally, knowledge about the life and the self. Ayurveda is known to be the most comprehensive form of medical science in the world. The knowledge, methodology and practice of Ayurveda are comprised of doctrines from the spiritual tradition of ‘sanatana dharma’ of universal religion which dates back to the Vedic times. In ancient times, when Ayurveda was developed humans had no choice but to cooperate and adjust with the nature. Living in close proximity to nature, they found that nature herself would tell them the medicinal effects of plants, animals and minerals if only they would listen closely to her words. Ancient Ayurveda practitioners used their minds as computer systems and used their refined powers of intuition to apply what they had learned to their therapeutic interventions.
As per Ayurveda, no life is completely lived unless each of these goals is achieved. i.e.
Dharma- the goal of fulfilling the duties,
Artha- the goal of accumulating possessions,
Kama-the goal of satisfying legitimate desires,
Moksha- freedom or self knowledge.
History of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is believed to be recollected by Lord Brahma, the progenitor of the world. He is presumed to be the primary source of all knowledge. Lord brahma, after recollecting this life science taught it to his son, Daksha prajapathi. Dakshta taught the same to Aswini kumaras, the talented physicians and efficient surgeons of the kingdom of lord Indra. They were known to be successful in treating complications of ailments such as blindness, sterility, lameness, skin disorders etc. and conducting surgeries such as organ transplants and fixing up prosthetic limbs. Aswini kumaras taught Ayurveda to lord Indra, the ruler of the heavenly kingdom. Lord Dhanwantari learned life science from Indra, and he taught it to Divodasa. According to medical school of Charaka, maharshi Bharadwaja learned the same from Indra who imparted it to Agnivesa, Bhela, Jatukarna, Parasara, Haritha, Kharapani. Susruta was a great scholar in Salya tantra (surgery), Charaka in kayachikitsa (general medicine) and Kasyapa propounded kaumarabrithya (paediatrics).
Ayurveda has got 8 parts Kayachikitsa (general medicine), Kaumarabrithya ( peadiatrics), graham chikitsa(psychiatry), Urdhvanga chikitsa(ophthalmology) Salya tandra (surgery), Agada tantra (clinical toxicology), Rasayana tantra ( rejuvenative therapy) and Vajeekarana tantra (reproductive medicine).
Five Great Elements
Vedas always believed in the power of 5 basic elements such as earth, water, fire, air and space. The entire universe living or non-living, everything is made up of them.
EARTH the solid of matter. Attributes are stability is rigidity.
WATER the liquid state of matter, attribute is flux.
FIRE power that can convert a substance from solid to liquid to gas, attribute is transformation.
AIR the gaseous state of matter, attribute is mobility or dynamism.
SPACE ether has no physical existence.
As per Ayurveda doshas are primary constitutional factors of the body, which maintain its integrity. Basically doshas are three, namely vata pitta and kapha. The five elements condense to the three doshas. Vata, pitta and kapha are said to be air, fire, and water respectively. Vata which is the principle kinetic energy in the body is mainly concerned with all body movements. Pitta controls digestion and metabolism and balances kinetic and potential energies of the body. Kapha controls body stability, structure and lubrication. In brief these are the doshas that maintain and destroy the body when vitiated or not, respectively. Although they are present all over in the body they are based respectively inferior to the navel, in between the navel and epigastrium and above the epigastrium respectively. They exhibit their marked presence in the end, middle and beginning of life, day, night and digestion.
The seven dhatus (tissues, which form the structural units of the body) are rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, Asthi, majja and sukra. These are also known as dushyas. MALAS (excretory products) such as urine, faeces and sveda are also dushyas. Dhatu is that which supports body, mind and prana (vital energy/life).
Rasa- essence of food, plasma portion of blood
Raktha- erythropoietic elements of blood
Maintained dynamic equilibrium of the body is known as svastya. For attaining svastya, the various factors of the mind and body should be fine tuned. Thus, not only the doshas, dhatus, and malas are to be in equilibrium, but the atma, indriya, and manas should also be clear. The state of increase of a particular dosha can be pacified by providing food and regimen, which are qualitatively opposite to it. Similarly decrease can be normalized by supplementing food and regimens that are similar qualitatively. This is one of the important principles of Ayurveda.
Disease can be considered as the imbalance of doshas and health as their balanced state. Remove the cause, purify or eliminate the excess doshas. Balance the doshas and increase digestive power, rejuvenate the body and mind. These are the main treatment principles of Ayurveda. When your tongue is coated, your feces foul and your urine turbid ama is present in your digestive tract, it must first be removed before anything else is done. Medicine is divided into purification therapy and palliative therapy. When the patient is strong and the disease is weak, use panchakarma directly. When the patient is weak and the disease is strong, strengthen the patient and weaken the disease before doing panchakarma.
The basic concept of Ayurveda is to maintain health in both diseased and healthy persons. Treatments focus on the host or individual, does not look at the disease.
‘svastayasya svastya rakshanam aturasya vikara prasamanam’