The term ‘Ayurveda’ refers to life and health, not death and disease. ‘Ayushyani anayushyani cha dravyagunakaramani vedayathi ithayayaurveda’, says Charaka. Ayus refers to the life from birth to death. Life is in fact, synonymous with ayus. That which facilitates ayus is ayushayam; anayushyam is what interferes with it.
‘Dravyas’ means food and medicine. The properties and application of these articles enable us to use them judiciously. Vedas refer to knowledge. Accepting what is desirable and refusing the undesirable is knowledge. Ayurveda is an appreciation of life. It teaches how you should live. You, everybody and I want to enjoy life. To enjoy life we have to be healthy. What makes you healthy and how you can be healthy constitutes the content of ayurveda. The guiding principle of Ayurveda is that the mind exerts the deepest influence on the body. This state of balanced awareness creates a higher state of health. Ayurvedic medicine stresses a holistic approach to health. It defines disease as the result of climatic variations, bacterial attack, nutritional deviance, and stress as well as other forms of emotional imbalance; in short, life-style as a whole. Optimal health is achieved by cultivating mental and physical habits that are conducive to physical and spiritual well-being, and treatment often includes diet and the development of positive attitudes.
For Ayurveda health is something natural. Disease is unnatural. There cannot be any disease if you live a natural life and health comes to you naturally. That’s why Ayurveda emphasis pathya, the right food and regimen. Ayurveda aims at attaining health, not fighting disease. Ayurveda is just like a candle. Just as light dispels darkness, ayurveda gets rid of ill health. In Ayurveda all the diseases are explained from the point of view of health. They emphasize the positive aspects of life. Medicine does not cure any disease. But medicine will assist the regimen in curing the disease.
Ultimate healer is the nature, that’s why we call it mother nature as it protect us like mother.
We evaluate the world around us through five senses. How you understand all these things around you is through panchabhutas.
The concept of Panchamahabhuta and Thridosha Theory are the central principles of Ayurveda.
Human body is composed of the five basic elements (bhutas) namely solid, liquid, gas, energy and space. Tridosha theory explains the functional aspect of the human body. Actually human body is miniature form of the universe. Whatever is there in the universe, it is in our body also in a condensed form. Actually, it cannot be apart from the universe. The structural aspect of body is explained by panchabhutha theory.
Pathogenic factors in the body are vata, pitta and kapha (tridoshas) while those of the mind are rajas and tamas. All these pathogenic factors have their actions in the body both jointly and individually. It is not that the pathogenic factors are only to vata, pitta and kapha. By permutation and combination, these factors take in numerable forms.
Modern medicine gives more importance to structure through x-ray, scanning and other things. But ayurveda gives importance to function. When everything functions properly, it is health. When there is some difference or difficulty in the function, ill-health is caused. That is why symptoms are given more importance in ayurveda. Actually, symptoms are the language through which the body explains its condition.
The body expresses its condition through various symptoms. If you understand the symptoms you can actually understand the function/condition of the body.
The depth and the lasting of pathogenesis in the system is based on the sareera Bala. Here the word sareera bala is not just muscle strength rather it is the power of the body to counter the pathogens, pathology and establish health. In modern view point we compare it with body Immunity. You cannot create immunity. Ayurveda assists in strengthening immunity through various systems of the body. In Ayurveda, the immune system is denoted by the term bala and ojas. Here the term bala does not stand for mere bodily strength. It denotes vitality and stamina. It is the net result of healthy life and healthy circumstances where all the systems of the body work efficiently and the tissues of the body are pure and properly nourished.
Healthy thoughts and conditions of the mind such as love, equanimity, generosity, truthfulness and controlled sex life sustain it.
There are certain medicines in ayurveda, which give immunity against diseases.
Suppose there is a disease/condition that can be temporarily replaced by giving certain medicine. You can prevent the disease condition by making the system alert against disease attack. Through medicine alone you cannot create immunity. Everything depends on lifestyle. That is the main thing. Suppose a man is dying, you cannot revive him by giving medicine.
Ayurveda is said to be anadi, beginingless, in the texts, as a particular period cannot be ascribed when it began, before which there was no Ayurveda. Preservation of life is the primary concern of all thing beings, animals, birds, reptiles, even plants, creepers etc. as can be observed very closely. The Vedas are the earliest literature available in India. They are codification of the experiences, experiments, and explanations in matter concerning life of the primitive peoples of Bharatha that is India, an area of land with Himalayas in the North, the Indian Ocean in the South, with the Arabian Sea in the West and the Gulf of Bengal in the East. It is said to extend up to the modern Afghanistan, which was known as Gandhara, he land of Gandhari the mother of the Kouravas, Duryodhana and his hundred brothers. It was not a political unit, but an extension of land with people of various customs and manners of life. Actually it may seem that the area between the Himalayas in the north and the Vindhya ranges in the South was the habitat of the Vedic people, with their culture and civilization, with a language from which Sanskrit originated with aberrations as local dialects. The land was called Aryavartha, the land South of it was called Dakshinapatha. Dakshinapatha had a language from which modern Tamil and the dialects of the south originated. It is claimed that the culture and civilization of the people is something thoroughly different from that of the Northern. But a study of literature will reveal that there was much in common in ideas and expression between the two civilizations. A study of Thirukkural, a classic text of the Tamilians will surely reveal it. Siddha vaidya, the particular medical system vogue in Tamilnadu has more or less the same fundamental principals based on the Panchabhutha, tridosha theories and practices of ayurveda, which find mention in Thirukkural. Thirukkural has many Sanskrit words. Some pundits of Tamilnadu claim that the siddhavaidyawith Tamil culture was the original, which spread up to the Himalayas, formed the basis of Ayurveda, and Sanskrit language. The fact that can be inferred from all these arguments is that the people of the area of land, from the Himalaya to the Indian Ocean, have more or less a common heritage. Ayurveda is an aspect of that heritage.
Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine. In the Atharvaveda there are certain hymns, in which mention is made of the beasts, bids, and snakes knowing medicine. Naturalists can observe animals bringing and eating some particular herb by instinct when they are not well. In the list of such birds and animals man also is included and mention is made of the physician, also, prescribing medicine. Man naturally endowed with intelligence in addition to instinct, surely thought on the knowledge gained by experiences and observations. In the texts, how experiences can be experimented and conclusions can be arrived are explained. All these can be taken as the origin of Ayurveda, as can be understand from the texts. The early texts are which all these things are documented are extant and the texts now available are redactions of the original ones.
The system of studying Ayurveda was in the form of ‘teacher to the student method’ (Gurusishya-parampara-sampradaya). Students from Bharathawent to the other parts of the universe in search of knowledge. It is said in the texts that selected students went from Bharatha were sent to Svarga(heaven) where there were efficient scholars and physicians. The lord of Swarga, Indra, was an efficient scholar, teacher and practitioner of Ayurveda. The earliest teacher mentioned in the texts is Brahma. His heredity is not known. Some take BrahmaCharaka, Susrutha and Vagbhata form even now the basis of teaching, practising, experimenting and researching in Ayurveda, through out the world. Many texts are written, through the centuries, even now to make the system up to date. Vagbhata the latest of the acharyas says in his text that he is trying to make the system up to date, suitable to the times (yuganuroopa). The changes are only in application, not in principles, as their validity is vouched by experiences through the ages. The texts contain and explain all aspects of treatment, medicine and surgery, though through negligence and negative conditions, much of it is lost in actual practice, for example, surgery. Actually the words Ayurveda became, used when the knowledge and practices gained by observation and experiences and experiments were co-related and codified as a system of medicine. Ayurveda means the knowledge of life, how to live easily and happily, avoiding disease and unhappiness. Body is the instrument of action for realization of the values of life. Particular attention is to maintain the safety and efficiency of the body, perfecting health, avoiding illness, healing when ill. Much importance is given to curative measures, as arogya meaning health denotes. Arogya means, cured of disease, roga. Actually the term health also means the same thing, as it is devised from the term heal to cure. Perhaps it is disease that forced man to think of health.
Ayurveda has been said as a herbal system of medicine even though animal products and minerals also are used for medicine. Whatever used as food to nourish the body, can be used as medicine, as medicine is mostly corrective in nature, disease being an observation in the systematic working of the system, caused by faulty habits of diet etc. Herbs being the natural sources of food of the human beings, though animal items are included by a section of the people. Mineral materials, which are not digested and assimilated in their natural form are refined and processed for use as medicines. The system using minerals, as medicine is known siddhavaidya, as the basic principles of siddhavaidya are mainly and mostly Ayurvedic, it can be considered as an off shoot of Ayurveda. Siddhavaidya uses herbs in the process of preparation of medicines, and as adjunct to the mineral treatment. as the creator of the universe, and consider the basic knowledge of sustaining life-Ayurveda, inherently originated with the universe. When creatures were created, they were granted with instinct to preserve themselves, with readily available herbs also created with them. It became a system of knowledge, when inferred ideas became systematically codified. As it is natural, the system of treatment based on this knowledge is prevailing even now, in essential aspects. The earliest texts, as available today
The theories and practices of Ayurveda strictly adhere to the laws of nature. The panchabhootha theory is derived from the laws of nature with regard to the structural aspects of the substance, used as food and medicine. Tridosha theory is mainly derived from the functional aspects of the system in response to the conditions and circumstances of life. The plants from which the drugs are obtained, also germinate grow and perish in their circumstance. The thridoshasiddhantta can be applied to explain these phenomena. The body has its own structure, which has to be explained from the standpoint of the panchabhootha theory. Even the doshas, the basic functional units of the system are explained as constituted of the bhoothas. So we can find that the theories and practices of Ayurveda all pervasive in nature. In spite of many historical reasons and even ceturies of neglect Ayurveda still exists with practitioners of the old generations, like me with no knowledge of the modern methods of diagnosis and practices, curing many a time, even the diseases not cured by the expert treatments of the modern medicine. Advanced researches in ayurveda are being carried out through out the civilized and scientifically advanced countries of the world. Medicines can be mostly from herbs naturally available. The processes of preparing medicine are mostly like that of food items. In Ayurveda, health is natural food is natural, disease is natural, and medicine also is natural in their given conditions. The natural life style naturally promotes health, while unnatural life style also naturally promotes disease. So to cure disease and regain health, the main thing to do is mainly to correct the life style, medicine is just a helping hand or hasthalamba as the word is used in the texts. This is perhaps a common sense view of the whole problem. Bereft of commonsense, the explanations will not be easily and correctly comprehended. And it is perhaps the traditional view. In addition it is actually the outcome of the experiences and experiments of centuries. So if properly understood and applied, for times yet to come it will serve its purpose of sustaining and maintaining health. Any system of treatment, entirely ignoring these fundamental aspects of life and nature, cannot succeed in its fundamentals purpose, as is evident from the conditions of modern society, which is said to be with less mortality but with more morbidity. Mortality is less because of advances made in emergency management with advances made in surgery particularly. Morbidity is more are to the neglect in respect to life style–eating, exercising, resting, sexual matters, moral aspects, reacting, thinking, sense pleasures, controlling emotion etc.. Particularly in indulging in bad habits like drinking, smoking, using narcotics, with paying scant attention to these matters with highly powerful medicines applied weakening the immune system. In modern medicine, it seems, more stress is given to medicine, without much importance to these kinds of harmful habits, which actually is the basis of disease, making the system as whole, vulnerable to disease. It is said that many modern diseases are iatrogenic in origin, caused by medicine. With a little common sense most of problems of health can be avoided and solved. The strength of Ayurveda which has a common sense view of treatment, is the emphasis given to avoid all these bad habits of life, to ensure good habits, as prescribed regimen as a part of treatment (pathya). Pathya is avoiding habits inimical to the system ensuring habits conducive to health. Then medicines logically selected and applied; work properly and easily, correcting the metabolic and other aberrations of the system. In ayurveda cure is not enforced by treatment, but induced from inside, endogenic.
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