A science and art of healing, Ayurveda (‘ayu’ – life; ‘ved’ – knowledge) has been in practice since ancient times, and yet remains relevant today. Deriving nutrients and power from nature, especially herbs, Ayurveda has given the world preventive, nurturing and curative products for medical well-being.
Sages Atreya, Agnivesha, Bharadvaja, Kashyapa, Sushruta, Parashara, and Charaka were among those who contributed immensely to the discovery and advancement of the science. It is believed that Agnivesha had penned the original doctrine of Ayurveda in 1000 BC. Refined further by sage Charaka, the final and official authority of the doctrines is the Charaka Samhita.
Ayurveda is a complimentary effort and a scientifically proven method of medicine that plays a pivotal role in maintaining good health and holistic inner healing. The fundamentals of Ayurveda are simple to understand, imbibe and practice. Ayurveda emphasises on more than a disease-free life – it aims for a perfect balance within every individual, physically and spiritually. Highlighting the concept of tridosha (three ‘doshas’) – Vatta (Wind), Pitta (Bile) and Kapha (Phelgm) – Ayurveda maintains that a loss of equilibrium between them leads to ill-health.
Ayurvedic medicine is a tradition dating back to many centuries. India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have a rich history and collection of research and related scientific theories which have been handed down for generations.
Modern medicine has advanced exponentially, so have their toxic and dependency-creating side effects. Today, we soothe ourselves by eliminating the symptoms of an illness instead of approaching the illness itself – Painkillers are only a temporary measure. To correct this approach, the hunt for supplementary methods for healing has led an increasing number of people to Ayurvedic solutions.
Adhering to ‘prevention is better than cure’ from ancient times, Ayurveda has constantly shed light upon the necessity of routine exercise, healthy consumption of nutrients, physical and sexual well-being and a constant awareness of the balance in one’s mind, body and spirit.
Ayurveda expands to other systems of traditional systems of medicine such as naturopathy, Tibetan Buddhist medicine and Unani tibb (Graeco-Arabic medicine). The underlying essence of all these are almost identical and often overlap, with a fundamental reverence to nature’s gifts to the world.
Ayurveda is a healing technique that focuses on the manner in which a person responds and reacts to his environment. It is founded on the philosophy of various sciences such as physiology, pathology, pharmacology and diagnostics.
It is a complete package of nature. Humans are the microcosms of the universe and the universe itself is the macrocosm. You can find all the elements of the universe within yourself. We are linked with the outside world, and in Ayurveda both the healer and the healed are part of the same ecosystem. Here we teach humans to live in coordination and harmony with nature and accept that they are a miniscule module of nature.
Ayurveda deals in complete harmonious functioning of the body, mind and soul. It propagates the fact that one needs to be happy and spiritually inclined. It also implies the need to follow specific dietary restrictions as well as an ethical code of conduct to lead a life full of harmony. Ayurveda considers all the aspects before prescribing any line of treatment.
Ayurveda attributes the primary cause to be any imbalance in the equilibrium of Vatta, Pitta and Kapha – the basic principles on which our body is able to sustain and grow. The nuances of these three doshas indicate that there is a lot more to it. These are the actual forces which are needed to produce these very substances within our body. They are the result of how our sensory organs are able to absorb the basic elements of the universe and assimilate them to gain good health.
These doshas exist within all human bodies, what varies is the combination in which they exist. Our body usually balances the functioning of the doshas. Like the land needs to be fertile before it can bear any fruits, similarly if our body balance and equilibrium is maintained we will leave no room for the disease producing bacteria and germs to multiply within our system.
Medicines in Ayurveda try to make the immunity system stronger so that the body is able to sustain other attacks in the future. These medicines also energize the cells and also help in the stimulation of the immunity system. Ayurveda tackles the person’s constitution along with the disease. Hence it is not necessary that the treatment for a specific disorder will be the same for different individuals. The practitioner bears in mind the physical and mental condition of the patient before administering any medication and planning the apt course of action.
The therapies use natural drugs that are made from the gifts of nature such as vegetables, as well as the natural metals and minerals. At times it also uses animal products, precious stones and gems. We need to ensure that they are free from all toxins and are consumable. While processing, care should be taken to ensure that no synthetic additives are included. Utmost care needs to be taken to ensure that the entire processing is carefully scrutinized to retain the therapeutic properties of the ingredients of the medicines and herbs. If any ingredient – such as aconite, mercury and arsenic – is toxic, then they have to undergo an extensive process prior to usage. Even the doses are administered in tiny quantities and only after due testing procedures.
Charak takes immense pride in representing India’s herbal and medicinal wealth and in increasing the acceptance and awareness about Ayurveda world-wide.