History of Ayurveda

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History Of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is not a new method of treatment but it is one of the oldest methods of medical science. The history of ayurveda goes way back to 5000 years. It has been derived from the combination of two Sanskrit words 'ayus' means 'life' and 'veda' means 'knowledge'. Thus it gives us the complete knowledge of life. Earlier it was practiced by the rishi munis during the vedic civilization who then compiled this medicinal science in veda in the form of several hymns and mantras. Thus the main source of knowledge of ayurveda is the Vedas. Ayurveda has been mainly elaborately discussed in the fourth veda 'Atharvaveda' which was written around 1000 BC. Atharvaveda itself contains 114 hymns for the treatment of different diseases. After that the pioneers of ayurveda Charka and Sushruta described its various disciplines in their books respectively Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. Later Ashtanga Hridaya compiled the work of both Charka and Sushruta in a concise form, which is popular as Ashtangha Hridaya Samhita. These are the major three books on ayurveda, which are used still today after they were written for more than 1200 years ago.

The basis of Ayurveda is the beginning of our existence. As per Veda, there are three gunas or principles namely Sattva guna, Rajas guna & Tamas guna, which intermingle to create the five elements - space, air, fire, water and earth. These are also called the Panchamahabhutas. According to ayurveda, everything in this world is made of these five elements and all the organisms of earth have some extent of all the three gunas. 

Sattva Guna refers to purity, without any sickness. It provides happiness and knowledge while Rajas Guna is linked to passion and originates due to extreme desire. 

Tamas Guna refers to the darkness and cruel part of a man.

All the three gunas fight each other continuously for their dominance. These are also called triguna.

In contrary to these three gunas, there are three doshas also called tridoshas, which are responsible for the regulation of entire physiological and psychological process of our body. These are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha in Sanskrit. All the physical, mental and emotional tendencies of human are explained in terms of these doshas.

The knowledge of doshas helps in the diagnosis of diseases. When the doshas are in balance an individual remains healthy whereas any imbalance in equilibrium of dosha leads to ailment.

In Hindu mythology, it is believed that lord Brahma himself has passed the science of ayurveda to the mankind. The story tells that once upon a time the people living on the banks of Ganga and Sindhu rivers suffered from some chronic disease and were not able to treat. So, they approached god Brahma to help them. The lord Brahma melted and passed the knowledge of ayurveda to Daksh Prajapati. Later, Daksh Prajapati passed this knowledge to twin brothers of Ashwani Kumar. Lord Indra was very influenced by ayurveda and learned this science from Ashwani kumar. Indra passed his knowledge to Maharshi Aatreya. Later, 6 best students of Aatreya- Aganivesh, Bhel, Jatukarna, Parasar, Harita and Ksharpani, after getting complete knowledge of the ayurveda in the original form, developed ayurveda books. These books were Bhel Samahita, Jatukarna Samahita, Parasar Samahita, Harita Samahita and Ksharpani Samahita. 

Originated in India, the science of ayurveda spread very rapidly to the other parts of the world such as China, Japan, Tibet, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Korea etc. around 6th century BC. People from different countries came to India to learn the science of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic scripts were also translated in Arabic Ayurveda. Also, Ayurveda played an important role in the foundation of the European tradition in medicine.
Around 1500 B.C., Ayurveda was divided into eight specific branches of medicine:

  1. Kaya-chikitsa (Internal medicine)
  2. Shalakya Tantra (surgery and treatment of head and neck, ophthalmology and ear, nose, throat)
  3. Shalya Tantra (Surgery)
  4. Agada Tantra (Toxicology)
  5. Bhuta Vidya (Psychiatry)
  6. Kaumara bhritya (Pediatrics)
  7. Rasayana (science of rejuvenation or anti-ageing)
  8. Vajikarana (the science of fertility and aphrodisiac)

During the period of British rule in India, practice of Ayurveda started declining as British used western science of medicine. But after India got Independence in 1947, again Ayurveda regained its position as several Ayurvedic schools and colleges were established. Moreover, many Ayurvedic companies came into existence.

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