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Ayurveda – The science of Life



Article By




Karishma Salgaonkar


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The literal meaning  of Ayurveda:

Ayurveda is a holistic healing science which comprises of two words, Ayu and Veda. Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge or science. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is the science of life. Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with treatment  of some diseases but to maintain health and well-being. It is a complete way  of  life. Life according  to  Ayurveda  is  a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. So it is clear from this definition of life that Ayurveda is not only limited to body or physical form but it also includes spiritual, mental and social health.


Ayurveda: The Traditional Indian Medical

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian medical science, the  origin of which can be traced  back to  the Vedas-ancient  books  of  knowledge  containing various subjects.

Ayurveda has  its  history  dating  dack  to  5000 years. Some of the literature, texts for eg. Kashyap samhita  (on  paediatrics)  was destroyed during foreign invasions. The 3 main texts in Ayurveda include – Charak Samhita (internal medicine), Sushruta samhita (mainly surgery), Ashtang Sangraha.

The texts in their original form are written in the form of shlokas or verses in Sanskrit.


Eight fold classification  of ayurveda

1 Kayachikitsa Internal medicine & therapeutics
2 Kaumar-bhritya Gynaecology-Obsterics, Paediatrics
3 Shalyatantra Surgery
4 Shalakyatantra ENT, Opthalmology
5 Bhutavidya Spiritual therapy, Psychiatry
6 Vishatantra Toxicology
7 Rasayana Rejuvenation therapy
8 Vajikarana Virilification therapy/ Aphrodisiacs


Basic Principles of Ayurveda

Ayurveda believes that man is an epitome of the universe.

Everything in this universe is composed of five elements. The human body is also made up of the five elements and the soul. These five elements are:

  1. Prithvi or earth
  2. Aap or water
  3. Tejas or fire
  4. Vayu or air
  5. Akash or space

These  five  elements  in  their  biological  form in the living body unite to form three different biological  humors.   These  are  three   primary life forces influencing body and mind  too. The Ayurvedic term for these forces is Dosha. As they are three in number they are called as Tridosha (Tri means Three). In Sanskrit they are known as : Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

These terms  for  the  three  types of humors  in the body can not be translated into English. The nearest translation,  meaning or comparative of these terms depending upon their qualities and actions  are:

Vata is compared to air, Pitta is compared to fire and Kapha is compared to mucus and water.

Other  important  basic principles  of  Ayurveda which are briefly mentioned here are:

  • Dhatus – These are the basic tissues which maintain and nourish  the body. They are seven in number, namely – rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja, shukra.  Proper functioning of these  is very essential.
  • Mala –  These  are  mainly  urine,  faeces, sweat, etc .These are the waste materials produced as a result of various metabolic activities in the body. Proper  elimination of the malas is equally important  for good health. Accumulation of malas cause many diseases in the body.
  • Srotas –  These  are  different  types  of channels which are responsible for transportation  of food, dhatus, malas and doshas.  Obstruction   or  malnourishment of these may lead to morbidity of other or preceding entity.
  • Agni – These can be compared to different types of enzymes responsible for digestion and transforming one material to other.

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All these factors need to  function  in  a proper balance for good health. They are inter-related and are directly or indirectly responsible for maintaining equilibrium of the TRIDOSHA.

Ayurveda covers the diet, lifestyle regimen during various seasons  which constitute the ritucharya. Similarly dincharya or the daily regimen has been described.  Various  diet  plans  keeping in  view both – the properties of the herbs/food items and different diseased conditions or according to a person’s variable constitution are included.

Also  along  with  this,  yoga  and  panchakarma form  an  important  part  of treatment.  Various yoga exercises for   maintenance  of   health as well for any disease or deformity forms a part of Ayurveda.

While treating a patient alongwith a detailed history, other factors like the patients constitution, age, strength, affected doshas / dhatus, geographical factors like climatic conditions and characteristics of residing place, birth place etc has to be kept in mind for administration of medicines and formulations.


The Functions of Balanced Doshas
Vata Pitta Kapha
Enthusiasm, Movement of various elements in the body, Regularity, Proper removal of Waste, Proper Transformation, Efficiency of Organs  Proper Digestion, Proper Metabolism, Body Temperature, Vision, Perception, Lustre, Intelligence, Courage, Thirst, Hunger Stability, Unctuousness, Lubrication, Intactness of Joints, Compactness, Forbearance, Tolerance



Panchakarma is cleansing of body. Panchakarma is a therapeutic way of eliminating toxic elements from the body. These are a set of five (panch =five) procedures.  They are 1.Vaman, 2.Virechana, 3. Basti, 4. Nasya, and  5. Raktamokshana.  These procedures  too  aim in  maintaining  health  and treating diseases. Pre-panchakarma  procedures are called as poorvakarma. Snehana and swedana are poorvakarmas.

  1. Vamana Karma also known as medical emesis / medical vomiting is one of the five main Karmas of Panchakarma which is successfully used in  treating  Kapha disorders mainly.
  2. Virechana is also  known  as  medical purgation. Virechana is the best line of management for pitta disorders.
  3. Nasya is    a    kind    of    Panchakarma. Administration  of drugs  by the  route  of nasal cavity is termed as Nasya in Ayurveda.
  4. Basti is medicated enema which varies according to its contents, volume etc. Also basti includes shirobasti, kati basti etc which is local anointment of body  with some  amount   of  medicated  oils.  These work effectively on vata disorders.
  5. Raktamokshan is blood-letting through various methods. This also is used in treatment of blood & pitta problems.


Apart  from  these  five  procedures,  there  are many other  remedies like dhara, tarpana, kaval, agnikarma etc which is used in Ayurveda to treat local ailments.

-Ayurveda combines holistic assessment and diagnosis  with  diet,  yoga and  Herbal-mineral medication. Ayurveda is concerned with achieving balance in body and mind by restoring the normalcy of all elements. It is a combination of Preventive healthcare, healing, philosophy of living. However Ayurveda is designed according to individual requirements. This makes sense as every human is so different. In this fast moving world there has to be a proper balance between materialism & spiritualism. “AYURVEDA PRACTICES THE THEORY OF BALANCE.”


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