Ayurveda – Background, Basic Principle, and Philosophy

By on March 24, 2016

Talking about the oldest form of medicine in the human civilization, Ayurveda is at the top spot. Some people may have not been convinced of its efficiency, but millions, if not billions of people since time immemorial believed on its power and potency.

Ayurveda’s Ancient Roots

Ayurveda is the traditional system of medicinein India and is the oldest in human history. It is a Sanskrit term that came from the words ‘ayus’ meaning life, and ‘veda’ meaning science or knowledge. Thus, Ayurveda literally means ‘the science of life’. It is a healing medicine dating back far more than 6,000 years ago.

The first known Ayurvedic texts are said to be written in Classical Sanskrit encyclopedias such as SuśrutaSamhitā and the CharakaSamhitā.It can also be found in the four sacred texts of the Indian philosophy known as the Vedas which comprises the Rg Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sam Veda, and the Atharva Veda. In these ancient compilations, Ayurveda was referred to as ‘the science of eight components’ which is composed of the following:

  1. Kāya-chikitsā (General Medicine)
  2. Śhalya-chikitsā (Surgery)
  3. Bhūta-vidyā (Demonology or Psychiatry)
  4. Rasayana-tantra (Elixirs)
  5. Vājīkaranatantra (Aphrodisiacs)
  6. Kaumāra-bhrtya (Pediatrics)
  7. Śālākya-tantra (Ophthalmology or ENT)
  8. Agada-tantra (Toxicology)

Basic Principles

Ayurveda is completely based on the laws of nature. The study of macrocosm and microcosm are among its biggest principles as well. Macrocosm and microcosm are the studies that see the patterns reproduced by the cosmos in all levels—from the universe level down to the sub-atomic level. The study of Ayurveda believes that the man (smaller-scale level) and the universe (larger-scale level)are both made up of the same basic elements called the Panchamahabhuta which are constituted by theakasha (ether or space), the vayu (air or motion), the prithvi (earth or mass), theap (water or cohesive factor), and the teja (fire or energy). Ayurveda also believes that these five elements manifest three doshas or constitutions that delineate the person’s temperament or characteristics. These doshas arevata (air and ether), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (earth and water).

Together, these basic elements and doshasmay contribute to the disease and healing processes of the body.

Philosophy and Treatment

An individual possesses a unique combination of doshas and this combination balances the proper functions of the body. Any foreign element that may cause imbalance in the dosha may lead to illnesses. In each one of us, there is a dominant dosha which is used by the Ayurvedic doctors when healing certain diseases. The process is to determine first the person’s individual constitution. This is being diagnosed by simply looking atone’s current bodily condition, movement, emotion, and function.

Hygiene an important part of Ayurvedic medicine. Practicing a good hygiene requires regular bathing, skin care, cleansing of the mouth, eliminating toxic in the body, and eye washing. And like hygiene, herbalism is also a major practice in Ayurveda wherein hundreds of herbs and medicinal plants are employed in massaging and in treating various kinds of health problems.

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