While earlier blogs have addressed various vital aspects & subjects of Ayurveda, we have dedicated this blog post to the history of Ayurveda. A globally relevant healthcare system that encourages living a holistic & wholesome life. Read on to discover the history, birth and mythology of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda - A Life style science
The richest and one of the oldest systems of traditional medicine Ayurveda, originated in India more than 5000 years ago. The history of Ayurveda has an impact on all areas of one’s life, from health to holistic well-being. The Vedas covered a wide variety of subjects comprising health and healthcare techniques, astrology, spirituality, art, and human behaviour.
Ayurveda in Schools of Philosophy (Darshanas)
Practised by the sages, Ayurvedic wisdom was a part of the holy scriptures, including the Vedas. (The sacred book of knowledge). The early history of Ayurveda can be traced back to an ancient school of Hindu philosophical teachings called Vaisheshika and the school of logic Nyaya. While the former was based on perceptions, the latter dwelt on inferences. Vaisheshika classified the attributes of any object into 6 types –Substance (Dravya), Quality (Guna), Activity (Karma), Generality (Karma), Particularity (Vishesha) and Inherence ( Samavavya). Nyaya promoted teachings that included having first-hand knowledge of the patient’s condition and the disease before beginning the treatment. This eventually led to the merging of the two schools to form Nyaya – Vaisheshika school. This new school was the forebearer of Ayurveda across India.
Ayurveda in Mythology
According to Hindu Mythology, the birth of Ayurveda stemmed from Brahma, the God who created the universe. The original verses of Ayurveda are said to be derived from the consciousness of Lord Brahma, the Creator. These were passed on to the Gods and eventually reached three great Sages – Dhanwantari, Bharadwaj and Kashyapa, who then set up different schools of treatment. Each sage selected students whose work eventually shaped the science of Ayurveda. The wise sages composed Shlokas or hymns with information about healing medicines. The four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda contain this communication.
Fundamental Ayurveda Texts
When Ayurveda developed in India, there were two schools of medicine – Danvantari (school of surgeons) & Atreya (school of physicians). Legendary Sage Agnivesha systematised all the knowledge of Ayurveda from the Vedas. The main contributor to the science of Ayurveda - Charaka and other scholars edited this book and it eventually came to be known as Charaka Samhita. Charaka is popularly referred to as the ‘Father of Ayurveda’. Scholar Sushruta compiled the teachings of Dhanavantari in a book called Sushruta Samhita. These two books laid the foundations for Ayurveda. A disciple of Charaka, Vridha Vagbhata wrote Ashtanga Sangraha which explored both surgical and medical aspects of treating diseases through Ayurveda. Vagbhata also wrote another important book called The Ashtanga Hrudayam.
Classifications in Ayurveda
The history of Ayurveda states that all areas in one’s life impact their health and holistic well-being. The Vedas cover a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, astrology, spirituality, art, and human behavior. The therapeutic principles of Ayurveda focus on Tri doshas and explain that every individual has a unique constitution called Prakriti. Prakriti defines the response of each individual to medications, dietary factors and environmental conditions. In practice, Ayurveda has eight branches called Ashtanga Ayurveda. They include – Kayachikitsa (Internal Medicine), Bhuta Vidya (Psychiatry), Kaumar Bhritya (Paediatric) Rasayana (Rejuvenation), Vajikarana (Aphrodisiacs ), Shalya Tantra( surgery), Shalakya Tantra ( ENT ), Vishagara Vairodh Tantra (Toxicological). When a person is unwell, the first thing an Ayurvedic doctor does is try and understand the digestive fire ‘Agni’. It is most crucial to understand this as Agni helps digest the food and is governed by the three doshas (Vata, Pita and Kapha).) When the doshas are imbalanced, it manifests on the outside as illness on the contrary, when the doshas are balanced well, being persists.
Last but know the least “The Science of Life” Ayurveda in today's world is a way of striking a consistent balance between our internal and external environments and unlocking the best version of who we truly are.