Ayurveda or the "Science of Life" practiced for more than 5,000 years, is India’s gift to the world. It is a natural holistic treatment that lays emphasis not just on the cure of physical ailments but also to its prevention. It is a complete naturalistic treatment system that treats not just the affected part, but also the whole. It is a natural way to detoxify and rejuvenate the body, build resistance, and integrate the body, mind and spirit. The objective is to treat, cure and prevent diseases and to achieve physical, mental and spiritual health.
Ayurveda is composed of eight branches:
Being a traditional medicine, a large number of people have apprehensions about ayurvedic medicine. Some of the myths surrounding ayurveda are:
Ayurveda is herbal
Not true, as ayurvedic medicine can be prepared by the combination of many other ingredients including mineral, milk, ghee and honey.
Ayurveda is vegetarian
Ayurvedic preparations may include meat extracts and fish oil.
Aurvedic medicine is harmless
This is a dangerous misconception. Ayurvedic medicine may be prepared from natural ingredients but that does not mean they are safe, as each person’s physiological constitution and doshas are different, and what is good for one may not necessarily be good for another.
Ayurvedic medicine is not clinically tested
This may be true in the modern context, but it really is a time-tested practice. It has been perfected over the centuries, through observation and experience. It is not without reason that most Ayurvedic medicine is a complex mixture of ingredients.
Today, high-stress lifestyles and fast pace of development are causing people to look for treatment of the highest quality, therefore this paranoia and myth surrounding an alternative treatment like ayurveda. However, its increasing popularity, boundaries are slowly being broken.
Though many acharyas or seers are associated with ayurveda, none of them claim to be the original practitioners of ayurveda stating it has been passed down the ages. Some of the prominent acharyas were;
Bhardwaj an ancient acharya, said to have been given this knowledge by Lord Vishnu.
Atreya acharya learnt from Bhardwaj who in turn taught Agnivesh acharya.He is the first to give a detailed discription of diseases, classify diseases as curable and incurable, and describe the six senses of taste.
Susruta acharya known as the father of surgery, is said to have practiced it in 600 BC.
Jivaka (Jeevaka or Agnivesh)
He was a student of Atreya and physician of Lord Buddha. Like Susruta, he is believed to have performed surgery.
An ancient acharya whose chronicle on ayurveda ‘Charaka Samhita’ written thousands of years back is current to modern day application. It is the first ayurvedic book that talks about doshas.
A great seer of the 16th century, who compiled and explained various ancient ayurvedic concepts in his books.
Compiled the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta of the acharyas in his own words for students of ayurveda.
A seer who lived in South India in the 9th or 10th century, he wrote about diagnosis, pathology, causes and symptoms and conditions of various diseases in his book, Madhavanidana.
According to ayurveda, every person has a unique combination of three body humours or ‘doshas’ called vata – representing the element of space and air, pitta – the element of fire and water, and kapha – the combined elements of water and earth. The imbalance of these doshas is what causes diseases. The study and understanding of these three ‘doshas’ is the basis of ayurvedic science, and therein lies the diagnosis and treatment of a disease.