Ayurveda, commonly translated as “the science or knowledge of life” is a comprehensive system of health knowledge based on universally observable principles within nature.
This healing system has been practised throughout the Indian sub-continent as far back as 3,500 years and has been extremely well documented in all relevant aspects such as biochemical nutrition, diagnosis, pathology, treatment and therapeutics as well as herbal and mineral pharmacology.
Ayurveda uses the healing intelligence inherent in nature to restore and maintain the subtle balance of mind, body and sense organs to promote a state of wellbeing and optimal health.
To understand the essence of nature is to understand the foundation of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic practice is the fine art of unlocking natures healing intelligence and converting it into nectar.
Mother Nature is Ayurveda’s original physician.
DEFINITION OF AYURVEDA
That (science) is designated as Ayurveda where advantageous and as well as happy and unhappy (states of life along with what is good and bad for life, its measurement and life itself are described.
(Caraka Samhita, Sutra.1:41)
DEFINITION OF HEALTH
One who is established in self with balanced dosha’s balanced digestion and metabolism, properly formed tissues, proper elimination of wastes, well functioning bodily processes, and whose mind, soul and senses are full of bliss, is called a healthy person.
(Sushruta Samhita, 600 BC.)
ORIGINS OF AYURVEDA
The Vedic Period - c. 2000 – c. 500 B.C.E.
The Vedic period believed to date back to the second millenium B.C.E. originating when groups of Indo-Aryan peoples migrated into the north-western regions of the Indian sub-continent. This migration coincided with the collapse of the Harrapan civilisation who previously occupied the Indus Valley region.
The use of herbs as medicine is first described in Arthava Veda, believed to have been written as far back as 1500 BCE
Charaka Samhita (300 BCE))– Describes that in ancient times the Rishi’s (enlightened sages) became concerned that mankind was suffering from many illnesses. A meeting was formed at the foothills of the Himalayas to find a way to aid in restoring health and eradicating disease. By entering into a transcendental state the knowledge of Ayurveda was fully comprehended by the great sage Bharadvaja, who then conveyed this knowledge to the the other sages.
Good health stands at the very root of virtuous acts, aquirement of wealth, gratification of desire and final emancipation. Disease are destroyers of health, wellbeing and life. This has manifested itself as a great obstacle in the way of human life. What could be it’s remedy? With this in end view, they entered into meditation. Then, in their vision they found a saviour in Indra (God of sky/heaven) and got assurance to the effect that; He, the lord of gods would explain the proper way to counteracting the disease.
((Caraka Samhita, Sutra.1:15-17))
NATURE'S HEALING INTELLIGENCE/ dhanvantari
Dhanvantari “The God of Medicine” is an incarnation of Vishnu (the preserving intelligence of life) is the Vedic Mythological representation of natures healing Intelligence first described in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Ayurveda provides the knowledge of this healing intelligence and its application in disease treatment, prevention and life extension.
Dhanvantari is often depicted with four hands holding a chakra/spinning disc, shanka/conch shell, jaloka/leech and pot containing amrit/nectar. The disc refers to the uses of surgical procedures, the conch refers to the universe being variations of vibrational frequencies originating from a primordial source, the leach refers to purificatory procedures and the pot of nectar represents the rejuvenating properties inherent in nature.
Ayurvedic science is base on six ancient philosophies of life that have their origins in the Vedas. The Vedas are large bodies of literature written in the Sanskrit language. The texts consist of material, religious and spiritual knowledge.
The exact time in which these texts are believed to have been written is unclear however the Vedas where traditionally expressed verbally from teacher to student in the form of sutras or threads of wisdom dating as far back as 5000 years. These sutras where arranged in the form of poetry and memorised by the student.
Shad means ‘six’ and Darshana means ‘to see’, the six philosophies are organised systems in that enable us to see the world and orientate with reality to acquire understanding.
The six philosophies are Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, Yoga and Vedanta.
Samkhya, Nyaya and Vaisheshika deal mainly with our outer reality and concentrate on subjects associated with creation, logic, reasoning, cause and effect and means of attaining correct knowledge.
Mimamsa, Yoga and Vedanta pertain to our inner reality as a means of understanding how to best exist within our outer reality.
These philosophies shed light on ways of conducting ourselves to reduce unnecessary pain and suffering and ultimately assisting us to evolve into higher levels of being and realising our inner-most nature.