Ayurveda

Sharing Knowledge, Creating Lives of Health & Joy

Ayurveda is thousands of years old science of life and longevity having its roots in India. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, which translates to mean the knowledge of life. Ayurveda is considered knowledge of life or science of life because human life in Ayurveda is perceived as a combination of mind, body, senses and soul. To achieve good health Ayurveda emphasizes on balance of mind-body and soul, which is at the same time in balance and harmony with its environment. To achieve this balance Ayurveda teaches simple but powerful techniques of self care through daily routine and seasonal routine. Ayurveda also gives immense importance to to digestive health, and emphasizes eating according to digestive strength and season. According to Ayurveda not only what we eat and how we eat is important but how we digest is also very important. Daily routine , seasonal routine, lifestyle and digestive health are at the core of Ayurvedic way of life. It brings balance and harmony and helps us live a healthy, happy and long life.

Ayurveda and Yoga have roots in Samkhya philosophy, they both share their theory of the origin of the universe. According to which universe is formed from unmanifest, Avyakta

Avyakta is a Sanskrit word which means unmanifested. The avyakta principle is the unmanifested form of pure existence. It has two main components.

  • Purusha
  • Prakruti

Purusha is absolute, pure consciousness. It is a potential energy. It does not take an active part in the creation but  is only an observer. It exists as a witness to the creation- choiceless, colorless, formless non-material entity.

Prakruti is the creative, primordial and active form that plays the main role in the creation of the Universe. Prakruti is a Sanskrit word that translates as to – root nature. This root nature is a quiescent state, in which three active principles are in balanced condition, these three active principles are three attributes named Sattva, Raja and Tama. These three attributes passing through many intermediate stages from subtle to gross, form the five basic elements called Ether or space, air, fire, water and earth. 

All matter and psyche, is characterized by these three attributes or Guna.  

Sattva stands for consciousness, Raj for energy and dynamism, and Tamas stands for mass, inertia and stability.They are also referred to as mental attributes. Their characteristic features are- 

Sattva- Peace, purity, joy, happiness, kindness, forgiveness, harmony, calmness, satisfaction, contentment. 

Raja- Creation, vitality, vigor, action, motion, desire, attachment, longings.

Tama- Ignorance, greed, darkness, grief, lethargy, laziness, fear, impurity. 

Theory of Five Elements 

Theory of five elements is core to understanding Ayurveda. Anyone who doesn’t understand this theory, will not be able to understand Ayurveda. These elements are not the elements that we know as in chemistry, they are the elements of cosmic energy. 

These five Elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Their characteristic features are-  

Space- subtle, vast, no boundaries, cold.

Air – mobile, cold, rough, dry, light.

Fire- hot, sharp, light, oily, soft.

Water- flowing, soft, heavy, moist.

Earth- heavy, stable, gross, dense, rough, hard.

Our bodies are made up of five elements as is everything else in this Universe.

In Ayurveda, the elemental composition of the human body is explained in the terms of Dosha, Dhatu and Mala.

Doshas are physiological entities of the body, responsible for all biological processes. They are unique as they have the potential to get vitiated and play a vital role in causing imbalance in our body and mind. 

Doshas are three in number, named as Vata , Pitta and Kapha. Their elemental composition is decided on the dominance of elements in them, which is- 

Vata – Space + Air

Pitta – Fire + Water

Kapha – Earth + Water 

Dhatu are basically the body tissues which are responsible for the functioning of the systems and organs and the structure of the body. The 7 Dhatu of the body are Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscles), Meda (fat), Asthi (bones), Majja (nervous tissue) and Shukra (reproductive tissue). 

Mala – Malas are the metabolic wastes of the body, which include urine, stool, and sweat. Effective elimination of malas is said to be important for maintaining good health. 

Dincharya (Daily Routine) 

Ayurveda believes that to maintain a healthy and disease free life one should live a life of discipline. Following a daily routine or schedule is at the core of Ayurvedic lifestyle. Daily Routine or Ayurvedic Dinacharya is one of the best things that helps us not only stay healthy but maintain wellbeing as a way of life. 

“Dinacharya” is a Sanskrit word where ‘Din’ means ‘day’ and ‘charya’ means ‘to follow’. When we live in tune to the energy of day, we maintain balance with our environment. 

Going to bed and getting up in the morning almost at the same time every day, brings regularity and increases productivity. 

According to Ayurveda day starts early with the birds and before sunrise with cool, mobile, Sattvic Vata holding sway. From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m the cool, heavy, earthy kapha dosha takes the charge. The middle of the day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is Pitta time, which is hot, sharp, and fiery “Dosha of digestion”. Light, dry, airy Vata is the Dosha of the afternoon starting from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., after which the cycle begins again.

To stay in sync, we should get up before sunrise, when Vata is transcendent. When we get up late, dense, dull, heaviness of kapha starts to color physical and mental experience with laziness, heaviness and lethargy.

Vata is light, subtle and clear and this helps in tuning the body to the delicate signals of nature. It is the most fresh and pure time of the day, full of Sattva.

Some exceptions to this rule of rising early are the very young, the old, parents with small children, and people with fevers or diarrhea. 

Ayurveda addresses each individual at the personal level. Dincharya for each of us is adjusted accordingly based on our unique mind and body type, age, place where we live and season. when we follow a daily routine suited to us, we create a life of health, joy and satisfaction.

Ayurveda is a complete medical system, and is believed to be the longest continuously practiced system of medicine known. 

As a system of medicine, Ayurveda aims

  1. To protect the health of the healthy (Preventative)
  2. Alleviate the pain and maladies of mind and body (Therapeutic)

 

Chikitsa (therapeutics) in Ayurveda is broadly classified into- Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa (Spiritual therapy/ use of divine methods like mantra, offerings to God etc.), Sattvavajaya Chikitsa (restraining mind from unwholesome objects/ psychotherapy) and Yuktivyapashray Chikitsa (rationale therapy).

One of the most authoritative texts of Ayurvedic medicine “Charak Samhita”, describes various therapeutic modalities of Ayurveda which include but are not limited to herbs,  herbal formulations, metal, mineral and herbomineral formulations, Panchakarma therapies (detoxification procedures) that includes various types of massage, sudation, therapeutic purgation and therapeutic enema, nasya and shirodhara. 

Ayurvedic medicine is holistic in its approach and includes psychological and spiritual dimensions of healing as well. Yoga, prayers, mantra chanting and meditation are various forms of ayurvedic healing practices.   

Maharshi Shushrut is considered as the Father of surgery. In his treatise “Sushrut Samhita”  diseases curable by surgery only have been described. It also describes in detail surgical instruments, sutures, procedures, pre op and post op care. 

Ayurveda believes every individual is unique and deserves precise diagnosis and assessment of function together with individually tailored management, hence is individual in its approach. It describes what is healthy and what is unhealthy for a person. It provides methods for  measuring all the factors that influence health. It gives preventative measures to protect the health of the healthy. 

An intellectual adoption of the suitable treatment options which includes planned usage of multiple variables as per individual needs is the best Ayurvedic approach. 

References

  1. Atri Dev Gupta, edi, 2nd edition, Agnivesh Charak Samhita,  Sutra Sthan, Chapter 11, Verse 55, p146, Bhargava Pustakalaya Press, Varanasi.
  2. Charak Samhita 
  3. Sushrut Samhita 
  4. Ashtanga Samgraha

Articles of Ayruveda

Written by Vaidya Vandana Baranwal

The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. All information and services provided by AyurveDatri are for educational purposes and are not a substitute for medical care by a licensed health care professional. None of the information is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.