Ayurveda – The Indian Lineage
Ayurveda is the traditional and holistic system of treatment originated in the Indian subcontinent long ago. Ayurveda means ‘knowledge about life’. Today, Ayurvedic treatment is sought after, especially when people find the allopathic system not giving them total relief. It’s an alternative ‘system which is getting its lost recognition and glory back.
The origin of Ayurveda is believed to be divine passed on from Lord Brahma to the humans. According to tradition, the knowledge which was passed on orally was put in text form by Agnivesha in his book ‘Agnivesha canna’. The book was revised by Charaka, his book,’charakasamahita’ and later Sushmta wrote `susluutasamahita’ which together served and still serve as the main texts for study. Sushruta also developed and devised techniques of surgery increasing the standard and treatment value during the ancient times. Ayurveda’s holistic approach (treatment of the body as whole and not the symptoms alone) is rooted in the philosophy of Vedas and was probably written during Vedic times.
Ayurveda has eight branches and was orally transferred down to generations through the ‘gurukul system’ by sages and ‘munis’. Later in most of the regions these ayurvedic practitioners were known as ‘vaids’. Ayurveda flourished and advanced during the period of Buddha. Many practitioners excelled and it was considered as the golden period. Even during Ahsoka’s period it evolved and was the main medic technique till British rule established. It declined thereafter and was only practiced in some parts of India.
Ayurveda is based on the theory that health is present when there is a balance between three basic humours (doshas) of our body. The humors are- vata (air), pitta (bile) and kapha (phlegm). If a person’s body has an equilibrium of these doshas then he/she is in perfect health and if a person’s body has an imbalance of these humours,then he/she is ill or in bad health. Ayurveda treats this imbalance using medicinal herbs and healthy eating habits. The main sources of medicines are herbs, metals, animals and plants. Combinations of medicines are used-herbs with mercury and sulphur. Aim of the ayurvedic treatment is complete elimination of the basic cause of the disease. Food and proper digestion forms an important part of our health according to ayurveda.Tastes transform after digestion and has more powerful effects on the body. For e.g. bitter food (like bitter gourd) helps in purification, sugary food cools the body but increases weight and so on.
The methods of treatment are course of medicines, panchakarma and massage. These are elaborate and some for stipulated number of days. Panchakarma is a combination of prescribed medicines, food, and cleansing. It is actually a purification technique for some diseases and done once in a while is beneficial for the body. The massage techniques involve various kinds of massages for specific problems and done using natural herbal pastes, oil and so on. Massages relax muscles. improve blood circulation, relieve pain, relieve stress and help to have a new energetic feeling.
By the late seventies, Ayurveda again started getting attention and also got attention in the west. In India presently, Kerala is the leading state in the ayurvedic system of treatment. It is highly developed here and also in some parts of Srilanka. In Kerala the knowledge was passed on and continued even when it was not encouraged. There are eighteen established families who still practice and spread the knowledge. There are ‘aryavaidyashalas’ or ayurvedic medical hospitals where qualified certified doctors provide treatment and medicines. There are ayurveda colleges too who carry on the tradition by teaching it to the young. Some of the people have arc staunch believers of this system and recommend it to others.
Ayurveda is part of our rich heritage and today people are realizing its importance. Today ayurvediclaryavaidyashalas’ have opened in most of the cities and their techniques of massage is getting very popular. Ayurveda treatment is most sought after when one visits Kerala. It’s become one of the symbols of our country when promoting tourism.
Ayurveda treats the body. mind and soul which makes it unique. It helps one get back the lost vigor of our body and rejuvenates us as a whole.