Ayurveda: An Introduction
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word made up of two components, ayush meaning life, and veda meaning knowledge or science. Hence, Ayurveda is the “science of life.” The teachings of this ancient system of medicine are written in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India and Hinduism. It is based on Indian (Vedic) philosophy. Ayurveda was the first holistic system of diagnosis and treatment integrating nutrition, hygiene, rejuvenation, and herbal medicine. Ayurvedic medicine considers the human body to be in balance with nature. The body is believed to be a dynamic and resilient system that can cope with all stresses from its environment while maintaining the ability to heal itself.
Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine that has been practiced in India for more than 5,000 years. It was developed by seers (rishis) through centuries of observation, experimentation, discussion, and meditation. The origins of Ayurvedic medicine are recorded in the Atharva Veda, one of the four Vedic scriptures. For several thousand years, Ayurvedic teachings were passed down orally from teacher to student. The first summary of these teachings was put into writing around 1500 B.C. The main sources of knowledge are the three Vedic classics Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridaya.
The main aims of Ayurveda are:
- To maintain and promote health by preventing physical, mental, and spiritual ailments
- To cure disease through natural medicine, diet, and a regulated lifestyle
Ayurvedic medicine aims to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit thus, some view it as “holistic.” This balance is believed to lead to happiness and health, and to help prevent illness. Ayurvedic medicine also treats specific physical and mental health problems. A chief aim of Ayurvedic practices is to cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease, thus helping to reestablish harmony and balance.
Ayurveda: Lord Dhanvantari- God of Ayurvedic Medicines
One of the earliest and outstanding leaders of Indian culture in the field of medicine in general and surgery in particular was Dhanvantari. His personality and identity are shrouded in the mist of antiquity. Dhanvantari, the god incarnate of Lord Vishnu is a celebrated god surgeon, who comes out during the churning of the milk – ocean by demons and demi gods. He appeared with Amritakumbham (pot of nectar) in one hand and Ayurveda in the other. In Ayurveda, the Dhanvantari is described as the teacher of Sushruta (the renowned surgeon) and his other colleagues, viz., Anupadhenava, Aurabhra, Baitarana, Paushkalavata, and Karavirya and Gopuraraksita, etc. Sushruta compiled Dhanvantari’s teachings on surgery and his work is known as Sushrita Samita. In Sushruta Samhita, Dhanvantari has been mentioned as the king of Kashi now known as Varanasi (Indian city) specialized by name “Divodasa”. By dint of Dhanvantari’s self statement as “Aham hi Dhanvantariradidevah” meaning “I am that Dhanvantari, who appeared at the time of Ocean- churning”; it is obvious that the teacher of Sushruta and his colleagues was the god incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Dhanvantari has been mentioned at several places in the Charaka Samhita (Ayurvedic text) as -“Atra Dhanvantariyanam Adhikarah” i.e. this case refers to surgery or the school of Dhanvantari”.
Ayurveda-Hindu system of Traditional Medicines !!!