An Introduction to Ayurveda

There are four major Vedas of the Hinduism; Rigveda, Yajurveda Samveda and Atharvaveda. They are ancient scripture about knowledge and have been handed down to the mankind by generation over many millenniums as oral tradition before they all were written by divine scholars [1].

Until 500 B.C. there were no great efforts made to pen down these vedas into well-formed books but then Adi Sankara culled the end portions from holy vedas and named them Vedanta (antaa literally means the end) that reveals that the knowledge of the Self and Supreme Being are one.

In those days, the knowledge was written on palm leaves along with thorough commentaries on each topic. The oldest and foundation pillar of all the vedas, the Rigveda describes the fundamentals of Ayurveda though Ayurveda itself is primarily derived from the Atharva Veda, the most recent edition of all vedas.

The linchpin of Ayurveda what we have today is determined from two holy treaties, Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita , each of what first appeared at the beginning of first millennium B.C. The text of Charaka Samhita primarily focuses on the medicines for internal body and mind’s state. The book describes the causes of health ailments and the constitution of the human being. The knowledge of surgery and description of surgical procedure are widely covered in Sushruta Samhita. Unfortunately, both the original granthas (scriptures) have been lost today and what we have are the altered versions by disciples.

It was during the medieval era the rejuvenation and therapies to increase virility (known as rasayana [2] and vajikarana respectively) were introduced to the healing Ayurvedic panoply. Around 500 B.C. the science of Ayurveda was divided into eight branches of medicines and two institutes named after great ancient scholars Dhanvantari and Atreya. Charaka belonged to Atreya institute of Ayurveda whereas Sushruta was Dhanvantari Institute scholar.

According to some, the system of medicine was received by Dhanvantari from Brahma, and he was idealized as the God of medicine. Then on his status started getting reduced, until he was honored with having been an earthly king< [3] named Divodasa [4]. In Ayurveda, the role of agni (biological fire) is very important [5].

The therapy of Panchakarma (five body purification therapies) is the core of Ayurvedic healing principles and thought to have roots even earlier than Ayurveda (approximately 8000 years ago). Panchakarma or Panchkarma has remained most powerful and efficient therapy in Ayurveda as these ancient healing techniques had been practiced by the Gods to prevent, treat and cure health diseases among themselves. Furthermore, the references about rhinoplasty and organ implants can be found in scriptures that describe Ashwini Kumaras(The twin doctor brothers, veteran in medical and surgical procedures) treating beheaded Ganesha.

Though Charaka have not coined the term Panchakarma, he introduced certain cleansing practices that go around typical Ayurvedic healing principles. In fact, he insisted Purvakarmas (pre procedures) to be performed onto the health enthusiast who wants to undergo typical Panchakarma. Less known to laypersons, the Panchakarma as described by Charaka is different to that of Sushruta where the former one considered Vasthi (enema) as fifth karma but the later advised Raktamokshana (the bloodletting procedure).

The concept of marmas (regulatory vital points on the body) was introduced in the context of surgery. The marmas are the anatomical sites where blood vessels, joints, ligaments, tendons, bones and muscles meet. It is interesting to know that the concept of marmas and their connectivity to each other quite resembles with the theory of meridians and acupoints in Chinese Medical System.

References

  1. Ayurveda Itihasa –Chaukhambha Sanskrit Samsthana, Varanasi by Dwivedi & Dwivedi
  2. Charaka Chikitsasthana 1/1/8
  3. Underwood & Rhodes (2008)
  4. Singh, P.B.; Pravin S. Rana (2002). Banaras Region: A Spiritual and Cultural Guide. Varanasi: Indica Books
  5. The Body Matrix by AYUSH Department, Government of India

Author: Dr Maulik Vyas

I am a holistic Doctor with 10 yr of experience in medical/health and wellness industry. Also, I am a professional content writer with 1000s of articles published across the web. I'm available for content writing, natural treatment consultancy, business ideas about healthcare/wellness industry. I am the proprietor of company named Mouls Incorporation.

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