What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a 5000 years old healthcare system that originated in India. The word Ayurveda emerges from a combination of two root words – Ayu and Veda.
The essence of Ayu
The word Ayu means the duration of life or the life span.
Vedic concept of Ayu says that the duration for which the four fundamental factors travel together is called Ayu.
Any living being with all of the above four factors is subject to Ayurveda. And therefore Ayurveda is not only applicable to human beings but also animals, plants, and even worms! This idea is coherent with the Vedic reverence for all life on earth, whether it is a plant or human.
Essence of Veda
The word Veda means wisdom. It can also be loosely translated to knowledge or information. But information or knowledge can be used in the wrong ways also. Imagine the highly educated German physicians conducting inhuman experiments on children! But Ayurveda is not only a bunch of information; it is wisdom that brings not only the knowledge but also the right approach to use knowledge.
Now let us look at the classical definition of Ayurveda.
Definition of Ayurveda (Charak Samhita)
manam ch tachch yatroktam ayurved sa uchyate
The science that defines a beneficial (righteous) and a non-beneficial (sinful) life; a pleasant and unpleasant life; the duration (and how to make the most out) of all kinds of life is called Ayurved.
There is a deep meaning in this short shloka. However, in brief, it signifies that Ayurveda means the science of life. It is not a medicinal science that helps after you fall sick, but a science of life that aims to preserve health in all conditions, and for all kinds of people.
The Origin of Ayurveda
Vedic people believed that all wisdom exists in the cosmos and naturally descends on a receptive and meditative mind. That’s why an apple could light up the idea of gravity in Newton’s mind, or the buoyant force enlightened Archimedes. Several other discoveries were made through a dream or an accident.
Scientists like Neil Bohr dreamed of the electron orbits and August Kekule dreamed about the structure of the dream. Mendeleev saw the periodic table in a dream, why?
Because our unconscious mind is the storehouse of all wisdom in the universe and we can access this information only through a receptive mind.
Hence, probably meditation is the only way to access this sublime knowledge. That’s why the source of Ayurveda is meditation.
Ancient sages meditated on the higher wisdom of health and Mother Nature revealed her secrets to them. Meditation gives us receptivity. With a receptive mind, even a single apple can make a huge difference. And this receptive mind is the origin of Ayurveda.
Aim of Ayurveda (Charak Samhita)
“…..swasthsya swasthya rakshanam|
Aturasya vikara prashmana cha||
(First) preserve the health of the healthy
And (then) cure the sick.
Ayurveda does not aim to cure the sick, but to preserve the health. And this a very comprehensive health care aim. Because when we preserve the health completely, there is no question of any disease, as there are no metabolic loopholes for the disease to thrive.
Benefits of Ayurveda
Ayurveda has an aggressive health preservation approach. It has the most extensive preventive system that can eliminate the possibility of disorders in the first place.
Ayurveda does not treat a specific part of the body or a symptom. It focuses on the entire body and treats it as a whole.
Ayurveda is the oldest science that defines distinct body types and offers completely personalized treatment.
Ayurveda is the first healthcare system that addresses mental health. the Ayurvedic definition of “swasthya” or healthy says that a person without a healthy mind and senses cannot be called healthy.
Herb-based Ayurvedic medicines are derived from whole plants, without any unnatural processing or modifications. Therefore, they do not have undesirable side effects, addiction, or toxicity.
Ayurveda does not aim to mask or suppress the symptoms of the diseases. Instead, it aims to eliminate the root cause of the diseases to reach a permanent state of health.
Food and Lifestyle Prohibitions
Ayurveda deeply believes that food makes the body and therefore elimination of wrong food and lifestyle is essential for a stable state of health. That’s why Ayurveda treatment can provide a permanent relief as it ends the pathogenic food and lifestyle practices as the first step of treatment.
Ayurveda is derived from nature and is completely eco-friendly. It produces no harmful effects either on living beings or on the ecosystem.
Ayurveda is a humane science that forbids exploitation of the sick and vulnerable. Ancient Ayurvedic texts forbid the consultation fee for everyone. Ideally, an Ayurvedic physician or Vaidya is supposed to charges only for the medicinal preparation. Besides, the eleventh part of the medicines prepared for the rich were used for free treatment of the poor people!
To conclude, Ayurveda is an ancient time tested healthcare wisdom that emerged through the cosmic consciousness. We all can experience its benefits.