INTRODUCTION TO AYURVEDA
To understand Ayurveda, we must first know that the connotation “Ayurveda” is a combination of two
Sanskrit words Ayuh+Veda. “Ayuh” means life, and “Veda” means science. So, Ayurveda is
generally called ‘science of life.’ The practice involves an extensive medicine system which
originated and developed in India, to provide people with a longer and healthier life. Ayurveda is a
legacy of compassion and love of ancient Sages and Rishies for humankind and its wellness. It
evolved with a rational and logical foundation and has survived as a distinct institution from remote
days of yore to the present day. The fundamentals on which the Ayurvedic system is based are
mostly true for all times and do not change from age to age, which makes it highly adaptable.
Contrary to other medicinal systems, Ayurveda describes how to live a healthy lifestyle rather than
merely treating the diseases. Its philosophy aligned with the notion “Prevention is better than cure.”
The primary characteristic of Ayurveda is that it personalizes the healing process.
ORIGIN OF AYURVEDA
The Genesis of Ayurveda can be traced back to Indian Iron Age 1200-1000 BC round which the
compilation of Atharvaveda took place. In the holy text, there is a mention of a wide variety of
diseases along with their treatment. It is also deemed that this system has been there in practice
from pre-historic times, i.e., almost 5000 years, which makes it as old as Indus Valley Civilization
Every primitive society has had a collection of cures for common ailments, evolved through trial and
error methods. But such treatments or remedies were purely posterior, and not based on any logical
understandings of illness or of drugs. Moliere, a French playwright, in the middle of the 17th century,
referred to physicians as people who, “pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of
which they know less, into patients of whom they know nothing.” The Indian system of medicine,
Ayurveda, however, has been evolved as a system with a logical and rational approach towards life,
diseases, and their treatment.
As the legend goes, the Ayurvedic system originated with Adi Brahma’s imparting the divine
knowledge to Prajapati Daksha, who then handed it down to Atreya Punarvansu (a sage) and
Ashwini Kumaras cured Chyavana of senility. They taught it further to Indra (in Sat Yuga) from
where it went to Divodasa (in Treta Yuga), the tribal king. Dhanvantri, mentioned in Bhagavat
Purana, appeared from the ocean of milk with the pot of Amrita (nectar of immortality) during
Samudra Manthan (the churning of the sea). Dhanvantri-Nighantu treatises Dhanvantri’s medicinal
plants. For his contribution in the field of Ayurveda, his birthday is commemorated as the National
Ayurveda day every year since 2016. Sushruta, the son of Vishvamitra, went to Dhanvantri and
pleaded to accept him as his disciple to which Dhanvantri agreed. His work, Sushruta Samhita,
written around 600 BC, is considered a great feat in the field of surgery. He is known as “the first
Surgeon in the world” as well as “the father of Surgery.” Other two disciples of Indra were Kashyap
and Bharadwaj; they also contributed to the field of Ayurveda.
With Charak Samhita’s coming into light around 300 BC, it became easy to fight off terrible
diseases of the time. Charak Samhita’s compiler, Acharya Charak got inspiration from Atharvaveda
and Agnivesha Samhita (written by Agnivesha, one of the six disciples of Atreya) and took it further
to explain their ideas in a well-organized manner. He is called “the father of Indian Medicine.”
Charak Samhita documents the information about nutrition and diet, ancient pharmacy, sexual
health, and medical science of ancient India. It was so famous that it had been translated in Latin
and Arabic, amongst many other foreign languages.
According to Vedas’ philosophy, human beings are all a part of nature. There is a peculiar
relationship between man and the universe. Human beings live in a more complex, natural world
where they are continuously exposed to environmental changes in weather, money, society, lifestyle,
diet, work stress, passions. These changes can easily disturb the harmony of an individual’s state of
mind, body, and soul, which is essential for a healthier and happier life.
THREE BODILY STATES FOR A BALANCED LIFE
In Ayurveda, there is a mention of three types of physical states or principles which is necessary for
an individual to lead a balanced life. These three principles are called “Doshas.” These Doshas are
Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Every one of us has a distinct mix of three body states that is responsible
for our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. An individual is usually controlled by one or two of
the Doshas, predominantly.
Vata Dosha includes the element ‘Air’ and ‘Ether.’ It controls all movements and activities
concerning the mind and the body. Among these movements is blood flow, eliminating waste and
harmful toxins from the body, respiration, and circulation of thoughts. It is a potent force which
minimizes depression and helps in developing clear thinking. If the Vata is balanced, an individual
will feel energetic, enthusiastic and lively, on the other hand, if it goes out of control it can also
cause gout, constipation, hypertension, digestive challenges and restlessness, rheumatism, etc.
Kapha Dosha consists of the elements ‘Earth’ and ‘Water.’ It deals with water and other fluids
present in the body. It holds the cells together and fabricates muscles, fat, bone, and sinew. It
maintains weight, growth, lubrication for joints, and lungs. It is very instrumental in the formation of
seven tissues such as nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow, and reproductive tissues.
Kapha can build outstanding stamina. Also, in the case of imbalance, it can be a cause of obesity,
excessive sleep, diabetes, asthma, and depression.
Pitta Dosha has the elements ‘Fire’ and ‘Water.’ It represents metabolism, digestion, and energy
production. It is characterized by heat moistness, liquidity, sharpness, and sourness. The primary
function of the Dosha is transformation. An individual whose Pitta Dosha is predominant will be of
aggressive personality, radiant complexion, perfect digestion, and adequate appetite. Whereas,
disproportionality can also lead to grave health problems such as skin rashes, burning sensation,
peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion.