Ayurveda – The science of Life
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|
|5||Bhutavidya||Spiritual therapy, Psychiatry|
|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:
- Prithvi or earth
- Aap or water
- Tejas or fire
- Vayu or air
- 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.
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
|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.
- 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.
- Virechana is also known as medical purgation. Virechana is the best line of management for pitta disorders.
- Nasya is a kind of Panchakarma. Administration of drugs by the route of nasal cavity is termed as Nasya in Ayurveda.
- 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.
- 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.”