Curiosity of human-being to explore the mystery of life is the pivot of all biological inventions. Have you ever shared some time to think about yourself and the world around? I am sure that the people like you quite aware of it.
Laws of nature are the base of Ayurveda. It considers that an individual is nothing but the miniature replica of the universe. The interaction and exchange between these two continues in a natural way. You may observe as we consume air, water and food articles from the nature. Their proper interaction keeps us healthy and happy.
Origin of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is one of the most ancient systems of medicine in the world. Vedas, the oldest scriptures on the human wisdom and civilization, are the basic source of Ayurveda. In pre-Buddhist era, it was considered as highly developed medical science. Historical evidences show that the Ayurveda was not limited in India. It had spread in many other countries, which later on modified it as per their needs and environmental conditions. Thus, modified Ayurveda become the system of medicine of those countries. Considering, its ancient status some scholars consider that Ayurveda is eternal. It is as old as we are. Ayurveda is the mother of many other medical systems of the world.
Ayurveda is the result of the experience over generations. Concepts are added and modified according to requirements. It has its own philosophy and fundamentals. Its approach is holistic and totalistic.
What the Ayurveda means?
The word Ayurveda is made up of two basic terms- ‘Ayu’ and ‘Veda’. ‘Ayu’ means life and ‘Veda’ means knowledge or science, thus the word Ayurveda stands for the science of life. These clarify that Ayurveda is not just a system of medicine but it deals with all aspects of life. There are four dimensions of ‘Ayu’ (life):
- Life with social well being or the life which is socially useful (Hitayu).
- Life without social well being or the life which dominate unsociable aspect. (Ahitayu).
- Life with pleasure or healthy & happy life (Sukhayu).
- Life without pleasure or with sufferings (Dukhayu).
If we analyze further then it appears that ‘Ayu’ is not just a living body. In fact, it is a combination of Sharir (corporeal body), Indriyas (sensomotor organs), Satva (mind) and Atma (soul). At the time of fertilization when Shukra (sperm) and Shonita (ovum) fertilize, Atma (soul) gets associated to it. Dissociation of Atma from our body is the cause of death.
Specialties of Ayurveda
Ayurveda was a well-developed system of medicine is ancient period as it deals with eight major clinical specialties of medicine. These are:
- Kaya Chikitsa (General medicine)
- Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
- Shalakya Tantra (Diseases of Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat)
- Kaumarbhritya (Children diseases, obstetrics and Gynecology)
- Agada Tantra (Toxicology)
- Bhuta Vidya (Psychiatry)
- Rasayana (Rejuvenation), and
- Vajikarana (Aphrodisiac/sexology)
If you want to follow Ayurveda then, it becomes mandatory to know about certain basic concepts.
1. Panchamahabhuta: Ancient Indian philosophy is of opinion that all materials, living or non-living are made of five fundamental principles or elements called Panchamahabhutas, representing five fundamental categories of matter. These are:
- Akasha (ether)
- Vayu (air)
- Teja (fire)
- Jala (water), and
- Prithvi (earth)
All material on this earth contains Panchamahabhutas in different proportion. You can understand it with any example. Just look at the papers lying on your computer table at this moment. It is having mass (earth), cohesiveness (water), radiant energy (fire), vibrant energy (air) and space (ether) between its molecules.
2. Tridosha: Biological application of Panchamahabhutas reflects in the form of Tridosha. Here ‘Tri’ means three and Dosha’ represents to humor (bio-entity). Thus the word ‘Tridosha’ denotes to three humors i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are said ‘Dosha’ because these have tendency to get vitiated and also to vitiate others. This bilateral tendency of Dosha is cause of health and diseases. State of balance of Dosha represents health while imbalance to the disease. Every Dosha has definite place/location and functions in our body. All have their five types respectively. Panchabhautic constitutions of Dosha have definite pattern —
Akasha+Vayu = Vata
Teja+Jala = Pitta
Jala+Prithvi = Kapha
|Dosha||Main Seats||Specific functions|
|1. Vata||Low back/Pelvis (Shroni) and rectum (Guda)||Movement, impulse and vibration|
|2. Pitta||Small gut and stomach||Heat and Radiance|
|3. Kapha||Stomach, chest, heart and head||Support and sustenance|
Here we are dealing very briefly about Dosha. Ayurveda deals very exhaustively in this area, therefore, not taken up in this module.
3. Dhatus: Our body is supported and sustained by seven Dhatus (basic tissues). Beside this, Dhatus have property to vitiate. Dosha and Dhatus have relation with each other in health and disease. In pathogenesis of disease these both play key role.
Following are the seven Dhatus:
- Rasa (Plasma)
- Rakta (Blood)
- Mamsa (Muscle)
- Meda (Adipose)
- Asthi (Bone)
- Majja (Marrow)
- Shukra (Reproductive tissues)
The quintessence of all Dhatus is ‘Oja’ (vital essence).
4. The Malas — The word ‘Mala’ means excretal products. Ayurveda has a unique concept of Malas. Sustenance of Mala in appropriate limits, sustain the life. To understand it in a better way, take the example of common excreta — urine. Excess urination may cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
5. Agni — ‘Agni’ is considered as biological fire. In our body entire range of digestive and metabolic activities are performed by it. Ayurveda considers about thirteen types of ‘Agnis’.
- Jatharagni — It performs digestion of food and considered to govern other ‘Agnis’.
- Dhatvagni — Every Dhatu has a particular type of Agni which is responsible for that for that particular tissue metabolism. These are seven in number.
- Bhutagni — Each of the five Mahabhuta (elements) has a specific Agni which is responsible for molecular metabolism.
Prakriti: Your Constitution
According to Ayurveda, no two people are alike. Each of us possesses a unique constitution, one that considers the elements, (ether, air, fire, water and earth) in the determination of our individual Prakriti. The Prakriti, which may also be referred to as Dosha, is vital in determining our body type, behaviors, needs and predisposition. This five-element theory is referred to as Panchamahabhoota.
Elements are inherent in all matter, as prevalent in the human body as in the whole of the universe. Within each living system there exists a precise and particular elemental makeup. A specific combination of elements gives us specific body constitutions or Doshas. The Doshas are three forms of energy that work as a team in the body, executives of organization.
The element ether and air constitutes the Vata Dosha. Fire with a small amount of water gives us Pitta. Water and earth creates Kapha. Vata is the «chief executive», responsible for movement, likened to kinetic energy. It leads (moves) the other Doshas. Pitta, the «fiery transformer» is responsible for the transformative (metabolic) processes in the body. The «gentle stabilizer» Kapha, likened to potential energy, is responsible for the cohesion of energy in the body.
The Prakriti of an individual is influenced by certain factors such as:
- Jaati: Genetic pattern
- Kula: Community
- Desa: Region/Country
- Kaala: Time/Season
- Vaya: Age
- Prathyathmaniyata: Environment in the uterus due to the behavior of mother & father at the time of conception
So one can conclude that again in any Prakriti, many varieties may be found according to the variability of the above factors. There are seven types of Prakriti: Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, Pitta- Kapha, and Vata-Pitta-Kapha. A person may be predominately one Dosha, dual-doshic or tridoshic. The imbalance Dosha condition (pathological symptom) can not be taken as a clue to Prakriti.
Knowledge of Prakriti is invaluable in the treatment of dis-ease. The initial diagnosis of an Ayurvedic Physician (Vaidya) lies in determining the nature (Prakriti) of an individual. This information allows the Vaidya the ability to ascertain inherent weaknesses, vitiation and an effective and appropriate mode of treatment. In sharp contrast, conventional medicine fumbles in the dark, often prescribing the same «magic bullet» for each patient that exhibits similar symptoms. This hit and miss approach may work for some, cause no noticeable change in others, or make matters worse.
For the individual, basic knowledge of the Prakriti is a vital tool in helping one determines the most auspicious lifestyle factors that will ensure wellness and longevity: appropriate foods, herbs, exercise regimes, medicines, therapies, and even suitable professions. Knowing one’s Prakriti holds the key to health, liberation and ultimately, self-realization.