The word Ayurveda is composed of two terms, Ayus meaning life and Veda meaning the knowledge or science. Thus, etymologically, Ayurveda means the science of life or biology. Medicine apart, various other aspects of life also come within the purview of Ayurveda. In its broader perspective it deals with the health and treatment of diseases of animals and even plants. Thus in ancient India, there were specialised subjects like asva-ayurveda (for the treatment of horses), gaja-ayurveda (for the treatment of elephants); go-ayurveda (for the treatment of cows) and vriksha, ayurveda (for the treatment of diseases of plants). Treatises on these sciences were written by eminent scholars like Nakula, Shalihotra and Parasara.
Ayurveda provides rational means for the treatment of many internal diseases which are considered to be obstinate and incurable in other systems of medicine. Simultaneously it lays a great deal of emphasis upon the maintenance of positive health of an individual. It thus aims at both the prevention and cure of diseases. Ayurveda also studies basic human nature, and natural urges like hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, etc. and provides measures for a disciplined, disease free life.
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine from India that uses a constitutional model. Its aim is to provide guidance regarding food and lifestyle so that healthy people can stay healthy and folks with health challenges can improve their health.
There are several aspects to Ayurveda that are quite unique:
1.Its recommendations will often be different for each person regarding which foods and which lifestyle they should follow in order to be completely healthy. This is due to it’s use of a constitutional model.
2.Everything in Ayurveda is validated by observation, inquiry, direct examination and knowledge derived from the ancient texts.
3.It understands that there are energetic forces that influence nature and human beings. These forces are called the Tridosha
4.Because Ayurveda sees a strong connection between the mind and the body, a huge amount of information is available regarding this relationship.
Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda,THE HUMAN BODY, is composed of three fundamental elements called doshas,.dhatus and malas. The doshas govern the physico-chemical and physiological activities of the body, while the dhatus· enter into the formation of a basic structure of a body cell, thereby performing some specific actions. The malas are substances which are partly utilised in the body and partly excreted in a modified form after serving their physiological functions. These three elements are said to be in a dynamic equilibrium with each other for the maintenance of health. Any imbalance of their relative preponderance in the body results in disease and decay.
Pancha Mahabhuta: The man has five senses and through these senses he perceives the external world in five different ways. The sense organs are the ears, the skin, the eyes, the tongue and the nose. Through these sense organs, the external object is not only perceived, but also absorbed into the human body in the form of energy. These five types of senses are the basis on which the entire universe is divided, grouped or classified in five different ways, and they are known as five mahabhutas. They are named as akash (sky).vayu (air), agni (fire), jala (water) and prith11i (earth). The English equivalents, however, do not connote the correct and full implications of the terms. For example, ordinary water does not contain jala-mahabhuta alone, it is composed of all the five mahabhutas. It is the force of cohesion or the power of attraction that is inherent in jala or water which is the characteristic feature of jala-mahabhuta. Similarly, air is not vayu mahabhuta alone, it contains the elements which belong to other mahabh11tas also.
Modern physics and chemistry have divided the matter available in the universe into some basic elements. These elements differ from each other in certain points. All these elements can be classified into five categories of mahabhutas.
Different schools of philosophy have tried to explain the pancha mahablmta theory in different ways. While some of these explanations are basically the same, others are widely different. However, all schools of theistic philosophy have a common ground in their belief in the creation of this universe through the pancha mahabhutas. Some atheist schools of philosophy like the one of Charvaka does not believe in the existence of the fifth mahabhuta, i.e., akash because, it is not perceptible to the ordinary eye. However, Ayurveda is very clear about it and believes in pancha mahabhuta theory.
According to Ayurveda, the body of individual is composed of five mahabhutas. Similarly, in other extraneous matters, there are also five mahabhutas. In the human body, these five mahabhutas are represented in the form of doshas, ,dhatus and malas. Outside the body they form the basic ingredients of the drugs and food articles. The characteristic attributes of these five mahabhutas are explained in terms of rasa or taste, guna or qualities, virya (potency) and vipaka (the taste that arises after the digestion and metabolism of a substance).
In a normal body of a living being, the substances remain in a particular proportion. However, because of enzymatic action inside the human body, this ratio of five mahabhutas or their equilibrium inside the body gets disturbed. The body has, however, a natural tendency to maintain equilibrium. It eliminates some of the mahabhutas which are in excess and takes some of the mahabhutas which are in shortage. This shortage of mahabhutas is replenished through the ingredients of food, drinks, air, heat, sunlight, etc.
Even during the process of death, these five bhutas play a very important role. They have two different forms, namely, gross and subtle. The five categories of subtle bhutas inside the body impregnate the five senses for five times and thereafter, they get detached from these five senses and thus death occurs. The dead body loses the five senses end is composed, therefore, only of the five mahabhutas.
Tridosha concept: As has been stated before, inside the body there are three doshas which govern the physico-chemical and physiological activities. These three doslzas are vayu, pitta and kapha. The nearest English equivalents of these terms will be air, bile and phlegm.
As has been stated before, all the constituents of the body are derived from the five mahablzutas. Therefore, the doshas are also composed of five mahablzutas. All the doshas have all the five mahabhutas in their composition. The vayu dosha is dominated by akash mahabhuta and vayu mahabhuta.
In pitta, agni mahabhuta is predominant, and kapha is primarily constituted of jala and prithvi mahabhutas.
The doctrine of the doshas plays an important part in Ayurveda in as much as it forms the basis for the maintenance·of positive health and diagnosis, as well as treatment of diseases. A correct appreciation of this doctrine is, therefore, essential for proper comprehension and appreciation of the theory and practice of Ayurveda. When they are in their normal state, they sustain the body and any disturbance in their equilibrium results in disease and decay. These three doshas pervade all over the body. There are, however, some elements or organs of the body in which they are primarily located For example, the urinary bladder, the intestines, the pelvic region, the two thighs, two legs and the bones are the primary seat of vayu. The seats of pitta are the sweat, the lymph, the blood and the stomach. Similarly, the seats or kapha are the thorax, the head, the neck, the joints, the upper portion of the stomach and the fat tissues of the body. Each of these three doshas are again divided into five each. These five divisions represent only five different aspects of the same doshas and it should be made clear that they are not five different entities in the body.