Ayurveda is Sanskrit word that translates into knowledge (veda) of life (ayur).
History of ayurveda:
Ayurveda is considered the “mother of all healing sciences.” It is the profound, vast, ancient wisdom that teaches us how to live lives of balance. Ayurveda has been around since the dawn of human existence on Earth. As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, let’s take a brief look at the history of this ancient science. Since it is so ancient, dates are estimates only:
3000 BCE (Before Common Era): The Beginning
In the Indus Valley (in Northwestern India, including portions of Pakistan), an advanced culture flourishes. It is from this region that the Vedas emerges. It is from the Vedas that the wisdom of Ayurveda is born.
Pre-1500 BCE: The Vedic Age
The Vedic Age refers to the time of the writing of the Vedas and the later related texts including the Upanishads and the Brahmanas. The Vedas are the oldest writings in the world. The word “Vedas” means knowledge in Sanskrit, the original language of the Vedas. Contained within these writings are the roots of India’s philosophical and spiritual traditions, as well as its medical system. There are four Vedas: the Rig Veda, Atharva Veda, Sama Veda and Yajur Veda. Ayurveda has its roots primarily in the Atharva Veda.
Sometime between 1500 BCE and 200 CE (Common Era): Writing of Caraka Samhita
Although scholars debate the actual date of the writing of the Caraka Samhita, it is the greatest and most revered of all classical Ayurvedic texts that is still available. It remains the preeminent reference on Ayurveda today. The image to the right is Charaka, the author of the Caraka Samhita.
300 BCE-1000 CE: Ayurveda flourishes and spreads
During this time, additional important Ayurvedic texts are written such as the Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hridayam, and Ashtanga Samgraha. Huge universities open in India (Takshashila and Nalanda), each of which house about 10,000 students and teachers, and teach Ayurveda as well as other subjects. Students travel from around the world to study at these highly respected universities. Ayurveda is the medical system of the day.
The final ancient, classical Ayurvedic texts are written including the Madhava Nidanam and Sarangadhara Samhita.
1000-1947 CE: The Occupation Period
For about 1000 years, India experienced invasions and occupations, beginning with Muslims, and later the British. There is a great loss of Indian culture and writings. During this time, Ayurveda is in decline, as ruling invaders institute their own systems of medicine. However, Ayurveda is simply driven underground, where it will remain until it can flourish once again. It also benefits from the inclusion of aspects of foreign medicine introduced by the invaders.
1947-Present: The Period of Independence
With India’s independence in 1947, Ayurveda has finally been able to thrive once again. Ayurvedic schools in India emerge following a model based on Western medical practices as a result of the British influence. Traditional Ayurveda remains strong, following family lineages.
According to Ayurveda, every human being is a unique phenomenon of cosmic consciousness. The three doshas (humors) determine every individual’s psychosomatic temperament or constitution. Vata (ether plus air), Pitta (fire plus water), and Kapha (water plus earth) (VPK) which is constantly reacting to the external environment. The wrong diet, habits, lifestyle, incompatible food combinations, seasonal changes, repressed emotions and stress factors can all act either together or separately to change the balance of VPK. According to the nature of the cause vata, pitta or kapha undergo aggrevation or derangement that produce Ama or toxins.To stop the further production of Ama , Ayurvedic literature suggests placing the patient on a proper diet together with an appropriate lifestyle ,habits and exercise, and administering a proper cleansing program such as Panchakarma.
Panchakarma – eliminate toxins from the body, build up immune system, prevents ageing process and improves memory and functions of sense organs – is the primary purification and detoxification treatment and unique therapeutic procedure in Ayurveda. Panchakarma therapy is very effective in the management of auto-immune disorders, chronic ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, G.I.T. disorders and mental disease.
The Five-fold measures comprehended by Panchkarma are Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Purgation), Anuvasan (oil enema), Asthapana (Decoction enema) and Nasya (Nasa insuflation).