Ayurveda introduction

The knowledge of Áyurveda was handed down from Brahmá to Daksha Prajápati, onto the
Ashwin twins (the divine doctors), then passed to Indra. Sage Bharadvája volunteered to go to heaven to receive this wisdom from Indra, and so became the first human to receive the knowledge of Áyurveda. He passed it to Punarvasu Átreya,and finally Agnivesha.
Overview of Áyurveda
Ayurveda, the “science of life,” or longevity,is the holistic alternative science from India,
and is more than 5,000 years old. It is the oldest healing science in existence,
forming the foundation of all others. The First World Medicine
Áyurveda is the most holistic or comprehensive medical system available. Before the
arrival of writing, the ancient wisdom of healing,prevention, and longevity was a part of the spiritual tradition of a universal religion. Healers gathered
from the world over, bringing their medical knowledge to India.
Áyurveda was passed down from God to his angels,and finally to humans.
The methods used to find this knowledge of
herbs, foods, aromas, gems, colors, yoga, mantras,
lifestyle, and surgery are fascinating and varied.
The sage, physicians/surgeons of the time were the
same sages or seers, deeply devoted holy people,
who saw health as an integral part of spiritual life.
It is said that they received their training of
Áyurveda through direct cognition during meditation.
That is, the knowledge of the use of the various
methods of healing, prevention, longevity, and
surgery came through Divine revelation; guessing
or animal testing was unnecessary. These revelations
were transcribed from oral tradition into written
form, interspersed with aspects of mortal life
and spirituality.
Originally four main books of Vedic spirituality
existed. Topics included health, astrology, spiritual
business, government, military, poetry, and
ethical living. These are known as the Vedas: Rik,
Sama, Yajur, and Atharva. Áyurveda was used
along with Vedic astrology (called Jyotishm, that is,
one’s “inner light”). Eventually, Áyurveda was
organized into its own compact system of health
and considered a branch(upaveda) of Atharva Veda. This
upaveda/branch dealt with the healing aspects of
spirituality; although, it did not directly treat spiritual
development. Passages related to Áyurveda
from the various Vedas were combined into separate
books dealing only with Áyurveda. Among
the Rig Veda’s 10,572 hymns are discussions of
the three constitutions (doshas): air (Váyu), fire
(Pitta), and water (Kapha). Topics comprised organ
transplants, artificial limbs, and the use of herbs
to heal diseases of the mind and body and to foster
longevity. Within the Atharva Veda’s 5,977 hymns
are discussions of anatomy, physiology, and surgery.
There were two schools of Áyurveda at the time
of Átreya, the school of physicians and the school
of surgeons. These two schools transformed
Áyurveda into a scientifically verifiable and classifiable
medical system. Through research and testing,
they dispelled the doubts of the more practical
and scientific minded, removing the aura of
mystery that surrounded Divine

revelation. Consequently, Áyurveda grew in respect
and became a widely used system of healing in
India. People from many countries came to Indian
Áyurvedic schools to learn about this medicine in
its entirety. Chinese, Tibetans, Greeks, Romans,
Egyptians, Afghanis, Persians, and others traveled
to absorb the wisdom and bring it back to their
own countries. India’s Silk Road, an established
trade route between Asia (China, Tibet, etc.), the
Middle East (Afghanistan, Persia, etc.), and Europe
(Rome, Greece, etc.), provided a link between
cultures. On this route travelers first discovered
Charak and Sushrut are two reorganizers of
Áyurveda whose works are still extant. The third
major treatise is called the Ashtanga hridayam, a
concise version of the works of Charak and
Sushruta. Thus, the three main ancient Áyurvedic
texts still in use are the Charak Saåhitá (compilation),
Susrutha samhitha, and the Ashtanga hridayam
. These books are believed to be over
1,200 years old and contain the original and complete
knowledge of this Áyurvedic world medicine.
Consequently, Áyurveda is the only complete
ancient medical system in existence.
Charak represents the Átreya school of physicians,
discussing physiology, anatomy, etiology,
pathogenesis, symptoms and signs of disease,
methodology of diagnosis, treatment and prescription
for patients, prevention, and longevity. Internal
and external causes of illness are also considered.
Charak maintains that the first cause of illness
is the loss of faith in the Divine. In other words,
when people do not recognize that God dwells
within all things, including themselves, this separation
of vision creates a gap. This gap causes a
longing or suffering for oneness of vision. This
suffering then manifests itself as the beginning of
spiritual, mental, and physical disease. External
influences on health include time of day, the seasons,
diet, and lifestyle. An entire section is devoted
to discussions of the medicinal aspects of
herbs, diet, and reversal of aging.
Sushruta comes from the Dhanvantari school
of surgeons. This text
presents sophisticated accounts of surgical equipment,
classification of abscesses, burns, fractures,
and wounds, amputation, plastic surgery, and anal/
rectal surgery. Human anatomy is described in
great detail, including descriptions of the bones,
joints, nerves, heart, blood vessels, circulatory system,
etc., again, corroborated by today’s methods
of mechanical investigation. From the Sushruta samhitha,
the first science of massage is described
using marma points or vital body points, later
adapted into Chinese acupuncture.
Eight Branches of Áyurveda
The ancient Áyurvedic system was astoundingly
complete. In the colleges of ancient India,
students could choose a specialty from eight
branches of medicine.
1. Internal Medicine (Káyachikitsá).
This is related to the soul, mind, and
body. Psychosomatic theory recognizes
that the mind can create illness in the body
and vice versa. The seven body constitutions and
seven mental constitutions were delineated here:
Vaatha, Pitta , Kapha ,
Vaatha/Pitta, Vaatha/Kapha, Pitta/ Kapha, and a combination
of all three (tridosha). Although finding
the cause of an illness is still a mystery to modern
science, it was the main goal of Áyurveda. Six
stages of the development of disease were known,
including aggravation, accumulation, overflow,
relocation, a buildup in a new site, and manifestation
into a recognizable disease. Modern equipment
and diagnosis can only detect a disease during
the fifth and sixth stages of illness. Áyurvedic
physicians can recognize an illness in the making
before it creates more serious imbalance in the
body. Health is seen as a balance of the biological
humors, whereas disease is an imbalance of the
humors. Áyurveda creates balance by supplying
deficient humors and reducing the excess ones.
Surgery is seen as a last resort. Modern medicine
is just beginning to realize the need to supply rather
than to remove, but still does not know how or what
to supply.
Additionally, there are over 2,000 medicinal
plants classified in India’s materia medica. A
unique therapy, known as pañcha karma (five actions),
completely removes toxins from the body.
This method reverses the disease path from its
manifestation stage, back into the blood stream,
and eventually into the gastrointestinal tract (the
original site of the disease). It is achieved through
special diets, oil massage, and steam therapy. At
the completion of these therapies, special forms
of emesis, purgation, and enema remove excesses
from their sites of origin. Finally, Áyurveda rejuvenates–
rebuilding the body’s cells and tissues after
toxins are removed.
2. Ears, Nose, and Throat
(Shálákya Tantra
Sushruta reveals 76 eye
diseases, surgical procedures for all eye disorders
(e.g., cataracts, eyelid diseases), and for diseases
of the ears, nose, and throat.
3. Toxicology
(Vishagara-vairodh Tantra
Topics include air and water pollution, toxins
in animals, minerals, vegetables, and epidemics;
as well as keys for recognizing these anomalies
and their antidotes.
4. Pediatrics (Kaumára bhrithya).
In this branch prenatal and postnatal care
of the baby and mother are discussed. Topics
include methods of conception; choosing the
child’s gender, intelligence, and constitution; and
childhood diseases and midwifery.
5. Surgery (Shalyá Tantra). More
than 2,000 years ago, sophisticated
methods of surgery were known. This
information spread to Egypt, Greece, Rome, and
eventually throughout the world. In China, treatment
of intestinal obstructions, bladder stones, and
the use of dead bodies for dissection and learning
were taught and practiced.
6. Psychiatry (Bhúta Vidyá). A whole
branch of Áyurveda specifically deals
with diseases of the mind (including demonic
possession). Besides herbs and diet, yogic
therapies (breathing, mantras, etc.) are employed.
7. Aphrodisiacs (Vájikarana). This section
deals with two aspects: infertility (for
those hoping to conceive) and spiritual development
(for those eager to transmute sexual energy
into spiritual energy).
8. Rejuvenation (Rasáyana).
Prevention and longevity are discussed
in this branch of Áyurveda. Charak says
that in order to develop longevity, ethics and virtuous
living must be embraced.

Spiritual Áyurveda
We have discussed Áyurveda,
the “science of life” as the original
world medicine. Yet Áyurveda is more than this; it
is a spiritual science. This is the most important
aspect of Áyurveda.
Around 1500 B.C. the book, the Charaka
Samhitá discussed these spiritual principles. It said
that even if Áyurvedic doctors had a complete
knowledge of Áyurveda but could not reach the
inner Self or soul of the patient, they would not be
effective healers. Furthermore, if the practitioner
were more concerned with fame and fortune, and
not with spiritual development (Self-Realization),
they would not be effective healers.
To understand the spiritual nature of Áyurveda,
we must know something about the Vedic roots of
philosophy, spirituality, and universal religion.
According to the ancient Vedic scriptures of India
there is a goal to life. We are not simply born, to
live, and then to die without some meaning or purpose.
Albert Einstein reflected this idea when he
said God does not play dice with the universe. Order
and reason exist in life. According to Vedic
philosophy life is Divine and the goal of life is to
realize our inner Divine nature. Áyurvedically
speaking the more a person realizes their Divine
nature the healthier they are. Thus it is the respon
sibility of the Áyurvedic doctor to inspire or help
awaken the patients to their own inner Divine nature.
Positive thinking or love is the best medicine.
When patients are taught they have this Divinity
within themselves, they feel a connection to life
and God (however each patient defines God). For
atheists, we speak of the greater mystical power,
which is synonymous to God. This connection allows
patients to feel they have a handle on life and
an ability to develop their own inner nature. After
this, secondary therapies of herbs, diet, meditation,
etc. are offered.
Even modern medical doctors are finding a link
between their healthy patients and the patient’s
degree of spiritual faith. Spirituality changes the
definition of health, giving it an added dimension.
Two types of health can now be seen diagnosed
health and true health. Often when a patient is diagnosed
as healthy, they still may not feel healthy
or alive. This is due to psychosomatic conditions
where a troubled mind affects the health of the
body. The deepest level of mental agitation is the
longing for a deeper spiritual connection.
Áyurveda suggests true health is based on the
healthy functioning of four areas of life; physical/
mental health, career or life purpose, spiritual relationships,
and spirituality. First one needs to be
physically and mentally able to do work and play.
Then persons need to work to support themselves
and afford a social life. Work however is defined
as making a living doing something meaningful
or purposeful. To do this type of work one needs
to use their innate or God-given talents; they need
to work at something they love to do. It is this love
that cultures spirituality.
All too often we find people working at jobs
that they dislike. Often people are forced into a
“practical” career by parents or societal beliefs.
Other persons lack the self-worth and confidence
to challenge themselves to find and live their
dreams. Working in meaningless, unfulfilling jobs
can create mental and physical disorders.
The most extreme example of illness caused by
lack of purpose is cancer. Áyurveda considers cancer
an emotionally caused disease. By not having
a purpose in life (i.e., suppressing life) people create
life within their body—cancer. When seriously
ill people discuss what they would love to do (instead
of what they are told to do) life returns to
their eyes. As they begin to follow up on these
ideas, some remarkable recoveries are seen. Purposeful
career is then an aspect of this new definition
of health.
The third realm of health is spiritual relationships.
When persons are healthy and purposefully
working, they can now begin to truly enjoy their
social life. These days we have become acutely
aware of the emotional and physical abuses that
exist in many people’s relationships. Co-dependency
and enabling are often used terms to describe
relationship diseases. From the spiritual standpoint
if one is dependent on anything other than God,
co-dependency exists. People look for something
lasting or permanent; only God is eternal and everlasting.
Spiritual development directs one to focus
inwardly to discover their eternal nature instead
of the ever-changing outer realm of life. For
relationships to be healthy all people must continue
to develop their individual inner spiritual
lives. Then they are able to share their growing
spiritual fullness with their spouse and others.
Too often individuals are attracted to one another
because they see a quality that they think they
do not have. In reality each person has all the human
qualities within themselves because inner eternal
Divinity, by definition, contains everything.
Further, if one can see a quality in another they
must have it within themselves in order to recognize
it. When the main focus in people’s lives is
the Divine, then troubles that seemed like mountains
are seen as molehills. Thus the third dimension
of health involves healthy spiritual relationships.
Once people are sound in body and mind, work in
a purposeful career and have fulfilling spiritual
relationships, life develops a state of grace. People
then become eager to devote more time to spiritual
development, the final dimension of health.
Personal spiritual development is seen on many
levels. The body becomes more relaxed, the mind
more calm and alert; and one becomes more personable
in relationships. Yet the most profound
developments take place inwardly; Divinity grows
within. Gradually one also begins to see the Divinity
in others and all of life.
This is the multi-dimensional definition of
health according to Áyurveda. Life is composed
of many elements; it is not seen as independent
parts. If one aspect of life becomes imbalanced all
the other aspects are affected. Rather than merely
treating a symptom, Áyurveda looks to the root
cause or underlying reasons of illness. The body
may be sick because of mental or career stress.
Rather than instruct the patient to merely take a
drug or an herb to heal the physical condition, the
practitioner of Áyurvedic medicine looks to restore
balance within the patient (e.g., calming the mind
or finding a more purposeful job). The deepest root
level is spiritual development. Thus, all four areas
of life must be cultivated; mind/body, career, spiritual
relationships, and inner spiritual development.

Self-Healing & Self-Realization
The main theme of Áyurveda is that people can
adequately educate themselves to take control of
their own health. This is achieved by monitoring
and balancing one’s nutritional and lifestyle habits
to heal, prevent illness, and develop longevity.
Áyurveda teaches that people are their own best
healers. One’s intuition is better at discerning subtle
health imbalances than relying on another person.
All that is needed is some basic guidelines offered
by the Áyurvedic practitioner.
The ability to take control of one’s health inspires
self-worth and self-empowerment. Faith in
one’s intuitive abilities is further engendered when
persons actually see the positive results from their
efforts. Realizing one has the ability to take control
of one’s own health is itself a key factor in
Self-reliance is also the most important component
in spiritual development. Individuals can
learn to rely on their own intuition [along with
guidelines laid out by one’s spiritual mentor or guru
and from the scriptures]. As one begins to see positive
results developing in their spiritual life, doubts
begin to vanish: clarity, confidence, and mental
peace begin to dawn.
The mental peace of Self-Realization is said to
be the true state of life because it is eternal, nonchanging.
Vedic çhastras (scriptures) speak of the
three legs of truth; what the scriptures say, what
the guru or spiritual guide says, and what one experiences
for oneself. Only when all three sources
are found to be saying the same thing is something
accepted as truth. But it is personal experience that
must also be known; it is not enough to follow
something dogmatically with blind faith.
Doubts are mental agitation. When doubts are
dispelled the mind gains a state of peace. In Self-
Realization one knows truth in its eternal nature;
they cannot be swayed or agitated. The first step
towards Self-Realization is developing the
ability to not be swayed by others if you experience
things differently. The American poet
Thoreau, after reading the Vedic scriptures,
expressed it this way:
If a man cannot keep pace with his
perhaps it is because he hears the beat
of a different drummer.
Let him step to the beat he hears,
no matter how measured or far away.
The Áyurvedic practitioner instills this
philosophy in the patient, who then experiences
and respects inner intuition and Divinity. When
patients see that the practitioner believes they have
such Divine qualities, they usually respond in kind.
A psychological study highlights the value of
expectation. Two teachers were given classes of
students with average abilities. One teacher was
told their class was above average while the other
teacher was told they had an average class. The
first teacher went to class expecting exceptional
work from the students and treated them accordingly.
The other teacher just taught the average
curriculum. The supposed above average class performed
above average. Thus, when the Áyurvedic
practitioner treats patients with respect, recognizing
their inner intuitive abilities, the patients automatically
develop a greater sense of self-worth and
faith that they can take control of their health.
As self-worth develops, people are not as easily
swayed by peer pressure, whether pressed to
take drugs or lead an unethical life. Low self-esteem
causes people to abuse themselves. Having
someone recognize one’s inner Divinity and selfhealing
abilities develops confidence. Experiencing
positive results from self-healing and spiritual
development further generates confidence, health,
mental peace, and Divinity.

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