History of medicine is a fascinating subject as it is a saga of man’s struggle against disease. As the civilization advances and as the disease pattern changes, the medical science also changes. Ayurveda is the system of medicine that evolved in India with a rationale logical foundation. Ayurveda was etched in the Indian history around 5000 years back. Ayurveda is conjugation of two Sanskrit words- ‘ayur’ meaning life and ‘veda’ meaning knowledge.
The earliest concept of Ayurveda was put into writing by Veda Vyasa, the famous sage and avatar of Vishnu, Dhanvantari in Atharvaveda, which is one of the four most ancient books of Indian knowledge, wisdom and culture.
There are three main Ayurvedic texts Charak Samhita, Sushrut Samhita and the Ashtangha Hridaya Samhita. Sushrut Samhita, the most authentic compilation of Sushruta’s teachings contains 184 chapters and description of 1,120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, 64 preparations from mineral sources and 57 preparations based on animal sources. Charaka Samhita, written by Charaka is arguably the principal classic reference. It focuses on care, mental regulation, and spiritual/consciousness refinement
Ayurveda is not a “one-size-fits-all” system. Instead, its regimens are tailored to each person’s unique prakruti (Ayurvedic constitution), taking into account his or her needs for nutrition, exercise, personal hygiene, social interaction, and other lifestyle elements.
Daily routines, called dincharya, and seasonal regimens, called ritucharya, are recommended. Following these individualized plans help users of Ayurveda attain robust physical health, as well as mental and spiritual harmony.
Ayurveda therefore is not simply a health care system but a form of lifestyle adopted to maintain perfect balance and harmony within the human existence, from the most abstract transcendental values to the most concrete physiological expressions. Based on the premise that life represents an intelligent co-ordination of the Atma(Soul), Mana (Mind), Indriya (Senses) and Sharira (Body).
The philosophy of Ayurveda teaches a series of conceptual systems characterized by balance and disorder, health and disease. Disease/health results from the interconnectedness between the self, personality, and everything that occurs in the mental, emotional, and spiritual being. To be healthy, harmony must exist between the purpose for healing, thoughts, feelings and physical action.
That revolves around the five dense elements that go into the making of the constitution of each individual, called Prakriti.
This in turn is determined by the vital balance of the three physical energies – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha
Ayurveda thus offers a unique blend of science and philosophy that balances the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components necessary for holistic health.