Ayurveda is referred to as the “Science of Life” which dates back more than 5000 years ago. It is believed to be the oldest healing science in existence and provided the foundation for all others thereafter. Ayurveda is based on ancient Indian philosophy and principles.The name ‘Ayurveda’ can be divided into ‘Ayu’ meaning life and longevity and ‘Veda’ meaning the science or study thereof. Together we derive the term Ayurveda, which aims at mainly two fundamental principles. Firstly Ayurveda emphasizes the prevention of disease and deterioration of the body through very precise and precautionary measures, and secondly, Ayurveda is aimed at treating and curing the body of its already existing ailments.

History of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is said to be passed down to mankind from the divine gods. There are many scattered references of Ayurveda in the Vedas – the four main books of Vedic spirituality written by the famous Sage Veda Vyasa. In these Vedas, knowledge of Ayurveda, Jyotish (Vedic Astrology), principles of Business, Government, Military, Poetry and Ethical Living etc, are expounded upon.

The knowledge of the Vedas were given to help mankind achieve the Four Main Pursuits of Life – Dharma (righteous living), Artha (the accumulation of wealth), Kama (fulfillment of desires) and Moksha (salvation). Ayurveda was especially important because it is essential to have good health and longevity in order to fulfill one’s purpose and complete these four stages of life.

Mythology has it that Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe, imparted the knowledge of Ayurveda to Daksha Prajapathi who in turn passed it on to the Ashwini Kumar – the celestial twin physicians of the Gods. The knowledge was then proffered to Lord Indra, who passed it down to mankind through Sages Atreya, Kashyap and Divodasa Dhanwantari.

From these wise Sages, the knowledge of Ayurveda was passed to many intelligent and versatile disciples through the method of direct cognition during meditation. The knowledge of use of various methods of healing, prevention of disease, promotion of longevity and precise methods of surgery were passed on through Divine revelation, therefore animal testing was unnecessary. This information and revelations were transcribed from oral tradition into written form. These famous treatise known as the Brihatrayee (Greater triad) and Laghutrayee (Small triad) now provides the foundation of the Ayurveda we know today.

There were two Schools of Ayurveda formed after the passing down of knowledge. They are the school of Physicians and the school of Surgeons. The school of Physicians were represented by Acharya Charaka whose famous treatise, the Charaka Samhita discusses elements of internal medicine, such as anatomy, physiology, etiology, pathogenesis, signs and symptoms of disease, methodology of diagnosis, treatment and prescription for patients, prevention of disease and longevity. A large section of the Charaka Samhita is devoted to discussions about the use of medicinal herbs, diet and the reversal of aging.

The school of Surgeons were represented by Acharya Sushruta, a renowned surgeon and disciple of Dhanwantari. His famous compendium is known as the Sushrut Samhita, in which sophisticated accounts of surgical equipment, classifications of burns, fractures, abscesses and wounds, amputation, plastic surgery and ano-rectal surgery etc are discussed. Human anatomy is also described in great detail within this treatise. Chinese acupuncture adapted and expanded upon the knowledge of Marma (vital points) which was first discussed in the Sushrut Samhita.

These two schools transformed Ayurveda into a scientifically verifiable and classifiable medical system, which has consequently grown and become a widely used system of healing in India and around the world.

Due to the vastness of Ayurveda, this life science was divided into 8 different branches in order to completely dissect and utilize all vital elements.

They are :

  1. Kayachikitsa {Internal Medicine}
  2. Shalakya Tantra {Ears, Nose & Throat}
  3. Vishagara-vairodh Tantra {Toxicology}
  4. Kaumara Bhritya {Pediatrics}
  5. Shalya Tantra {Surgery}
  6. Bhuta Vidya {Psychiatry}
  7. Vajikarana {Aphrodiasics}
  8. Rasayana {Rejuvenation}
Ayurveda is considered as the most sacred science because it not only provides good health to the body in this present life, but also thereafter. Ayurveda is a life-saver and therefore considered one of the greatest gifts given to mankind from the Divine God himself.

 

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