The word Ayurveda comes from two root words in Sanskrit, Ayush meaning life or life span and Veda meaning knowledge. The science of Ayurveda, thus, literally means the complete knowledge of the totality and longevity of life. Ayurveda the ‘science of life’, or longevity, is the holistic alternative science from India, and is more than 5000 years old. It is believed to be the oldest healing science in existence, forming the foundation of all others.
The re-awakening of Ayurveda reflects the resurgence of the traditional values of life governed by natural law and reverses the neglect of natural medicine that had taken place in recent centuries. Ayurveda was obliterated in ignominy and oblivion. Centuries old clinical and theoretical knowledge became lost and unavailable. Its effectiveness also became limited since practitioners did not use its comprehensive approaches. Since ages, sages and physicians have been rediscovering this timeless health wisdom and today, Ayurveda is practiced by more than 400,000 Ayurveda doctors, and is recognized by the WHO as an effective health science.
Ayurveda Texts, scriptures & oral traditions ascribe their authorship to Charka, Dhanvantari, Sushruta, Kashyap, Vagbhata, Sarangadhara Samhita & others.
- Charka’s Samhita, a text with which Ayurveda begins, consists of 120 chapters divided into 8 parts covering pharmacology, food, diet, diseases, their diagnosis and prognosis, the treatments, anatomy, embryology, and pharmacy.
- Sushruta Samhita, consists of 6 large sections which deal mostly with surgery, treatment of wounds, diagnosis and extraction of splinters, pathology, anatomy, ophthalmology, dentistry and child care.
- Vagbhata Samhita is considered to be the compendia of Charka and Sushruta Samhitas presented in a well organized and thematically structured composition.
The ancient Ayurveda science also deals with Alchemy and its medicinal uses, plastic surgery, gynecology, cosmetics, medicinal plants, their uses and manufacturing processes of herbal formulations.
Ayurveda, said to be a world medicine, 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 universal religion. Healers gathered from the world over, bringing their medical knowledge to India. Veda Vyasa, the famous sage, preserved the complete knowledge of Ayurveda in writing, along with the more spiritual insights of ethics, virtue, and self-Realization. “The knowledge of Ayurveda was handed down from Brahma to Daksha Prajapati, onto the Ashwin twins (the divine doctors), then passed to Indra. Sage Bharadvaja volunteered to go to heaven to received this wisdom from Indra, and so became the first human to receive the knowledge of Ayurveda. He passed it to Atreya, then onto Punarnavasu and finally Agnivesha”
The methods used to find this knowledge of herbs; foods, aromas, gems, colors, yoga, mantras, lifestyle, and surgery are fascinating and varied. The sages, 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 Ayurveda 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 un-necessary. These revelations were transcribed from oral tradition into written form, interspersed with aspects of mortal life and spirituality.
Passages related to Ayurveda from the various Vedas were combined into separate books dealing only with Ayurveda. Among the Rik Veda’s 10,572 hymns are discussions of the three constitutions (doshas): Air (Vayu), 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.