Ayurveda: The Ancient Treasure of India

Right from a peasant to a president, every one craves for some treasure. A commoner may view treasure as a worldly pleasure, whereas a sage considers it as becoming one with God!!! Do you want to acquire a treasure which serves both these purposes?!?! I’m sure you will certainly wish to!! If yes, then go ahead to equip yourself with one of the ancient treasures of INDIA. Known for its rich natural and cultural heritage, India is a land of spiritual values, which is ruled by the most celebrated emperor of all ages known as AYURVEDA. This holistic, spiritual and absolute healing medical practice is serving the humanity for nearly 5000 golden years and has attained great heights due to its incredible theories and attributes, for which it is rightly called as the Ancient Treasure of India.

Ayurveda – To Start With: The modern world where we survive is derailed with infinite incompatible agents most of which aim at impacting the health of humanity. Thus mankind is left with no option except for thriving in search of a spiritual healing practice that soothes the mind, strengthens the body and eventually enlightens the spirit!!! Mighty with its mythical roots, Ayurveda is what our ancestors have blessed us with to lead a charming life. This age old medical practice of Indian origin had been strengthened with the strenuous efforts of numerous sages and other skillful resources.

Inclusive Chattels of Ayurveda: With a sturdy base, Ayurveda has its branches wide-spread to deal with each single attribute of mankind.

  • The Eminent Disciplines of Ayurveda: There are eight eminent branches of Ayurveda. They are Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Ophthalmology and ENT, Psychiatry, Toxicology, Rejuvenating and Improving Immunity, Aphrodisiacs and Improving health of progeny. This spectacular medical science thus covers the entire life-cycle of a human being right from his/her birth.
  • Base of Ayurveda: As the universe is composed of five basic elements, Ayurveda considers mankind as one of the life forms of universe with an entity built up with the same natural base. Dealing with Prevention and Cure in a natural way, Ayurveda first analyses the unique constitution of each individual, which is the stepping stone to a holistic approach. Perfect understanding of Prakriti (Constitution of the human body), Dosha (Ayurvedic body types ruled by three biological energies namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and Guna (Nature of human character) forms the basis of an Ayurvedic treatment that aims at liberating mankind from all woes; be it physical, emotional or spiritual.
  • Healing Methodology of Ayurveda: With the systematic understanding of the physical and mental constitution of each individual, Ayurveda stands unique with its unique healing therapy. Holistic Healing Approach in striking poise between the mind, body and spirit is what makes Ayurveda to glow with glory. A complete Ayurvedic routine that includes ‘a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle, Ayurvedic diet, herbal products that are greatly utilized for medications and meditation, a stress-free physical exercise for the mind, body and soul – Yoga, Effective Usage of Ayurvedic essential oils that soothes the mind and the body’ is recommended for each individual based on their body types. This unique healing approach of Ayurveda makes one to feel special and unique and paves way to live in harmony with nature that results in eternal ecstasy.
  • Yoga and Meditation – Mind Tutors of Ayurveda: Human mind has the power to make/break the soul. Taking this into concern the Ayurvedic scholars have advised a powerful pack of physical and mental exercises that pacifies the soul and strengthens the body. Yoga – sister science of Ayurveda and Meditation – Mind healing tool, share the credit of bringing peace of mind to mankind. Incessant practice of yoga and meditation leads one to realize the true value of their purpose of life, leading to a meaningful existence with divine satisfaction.

Impact of Ayurveda in the field of Medicine: A detailed description of the healing techniques in various medical aspects is described in the mass Ayurvedic encyclopedias, namely Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya and Ashtanga Sangraha. These encyclopedias serve as the leading light to massive uplift mainly in the field of Plastic Surgery, Ophthalmology, Human anatomy and Embryology. Intensive care and concern was equally given to treating the diseases and the patients. Privacy of Patient’s Confidentiality was given high importance by the Ayurvedic practitioners of the ancient world who defined the ethical code for all medical practitioners.

Numerous scientific studies have been carried out to study the real essence of Ayurvedic treatments. Ayurveda can cure various diseases that include common cold, fever, toothache, insomnia etc. Based on the study by NCCAM (National center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), Meditation is found to be practiced by people to deal with anxiety, insomnia and various other health disorders.

Ayurveda at Present: The Ayurvedic encyclopedias were translated into many foreign languages including Arabic, Latin, German and English thus spreading the true knowledge in healing mankind. With its essence spread to the world, Ayurveda is now gaining global attention since this is the only holistic healing approach that alleviates ailments, prevents recurrence of diseases and treats humanity without leaving any traces behind in the form of side effects. Ayurveda acts as an effective stress-buster by calming the human mind, cultivating positive thoughts leading to a healthy living. It is for this reason this mind blowing curing therapy is being greatly acknowledged in the Western World!!!

Isn’t it fascinating to know that one single medical practice that came into existence nearly 5000 years ago covers the entire life of an individual in an innovative natural way? Ayurveda is indeed the ancient treasure of India of enormous wealth that nourishes the entire world with its holistic principles of medical practices. Let’s join together and enjoy the benefits of Ayurveda in a comprehensive way!

Thought for the day:

Anyone who believes that anything can be suited to everyone is a great fool, because medicine is practised not on mankind in general, but on every individual in particular.                                                       -Henri de Mondeville

Suggested Reading:

  1. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Ayurveda: The Ancient Indian Healing Tradition by Gopi Warrier
  2. Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health (Wisdoms of health) By Mark Bunn
  3. Ayurveda: The A-Z Guide to Healing Techniques From Ancient India (The Essential Healing Arts Series) By Nancy Bruning

Reference Links:

  1. Ayurveda by Wikipedia
  2. Brief History of Ayurveda by Healing Sphere
  3. Overview of Meditation by National center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Charaka Samhita: The Strongest Root of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a spiritual science with scintillating sources and is the ancient holistic healing methodology. It focuses on prevention and cure of all illnesses and is considered as the most realistic gifts of undying values to mankind. This spiritual science is believed to be of more than 5000 years of age with its attributes described in three major sources namely Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya & Ashtanga Sangraha. Good books are forever the best friends of mankind. For sure, encyclopedias are like eternal teachers to humanity with a great source of immense values. Charaka Samhita is one such Ayurvedic encyclopedia of age old holistic importance.

Charaka – The renowned physician: Charaka (also spelled Caraka) is a renowned physician of the court of Kanishka, a Kushana ruler. He is believed to have born in c. 300 BC. He himself was a living encyclopedia, who in addition to serving the human beings as a great medical preacher & practitioner also gave equal importance to human ethical values in treating the patients. Charaka is often referred to as the ‘Father of Medicine’.

Dawn of a divine Index: Although there is no much proof about the history of Charaka, according to legends he is believed to be a versatile student of Aatreya, who was the disciple of Bharadwaja who in turn was one of the students of Lord Indra. Aatreya’s request to pen down his teachings to his disciples led to the rise of 8 divine works of which Charaka’s Charaka Samhita was found to be the best & has survived for ages! His work was later revised by Dridhbala.

Contributions of Charaka to the world of Medicine: Charaka is the author of Charaka Samhita, the oldest of the existing three Ayurvedic encyclopedias. Being a man of mystical values, Charaka had numerous feathers added to his cap some of which are listed below.

  • First physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism & immunity
  • Knowledge of Genetics – You’ll be truly amazed to know that a man who lived before 2000 years had the knowledge of genetics and its factors, which is one of the top stories of the modern medical world. Charaka had a thorough understanding about the factors determining the sex of the fetus. He was able to study that the reason behind the genetic defect in a child is possibly due to the defect in the sperm or ovum of the parents rather than the parents themselves.
  • Study of Anatomy of the human body and its organs was done by Charaka, which served as a leading light of interest in this field for most of the medical scholars of the later decades.

Charaka Samhita – The truth of Ayurveda: Samhita is a Sanskrit word which means collection of rules. Charaka Samhita talks about the various aspects of Ayurvedic contexts in treating diseases and in preventing them. This ocean of medical principles constitutes of 8 parts with a total number of 120 chapters mainly focusing on ‘Kaya Chikitsa‘ – The diagnosis and healing of illnesses through internal and external use of medicine. This branch of Ayurveda aims at healing the mind & the body, thus striking a balance between the two great pillars of the human soul. Ethical conducts of a physician in treating the patients, which is now lacking in most parts of the world was given high importance by Charaka. One can even find the details regarding the attributes of various aspects of how a good physician, nurse, healing drugs, hospital and a patient should be.

Source of Medical aid in treating the whole world: Charaka Samhita was translated into many foreign languages, including Arabic and Latin. It remains as a valuable medicinal source that inspired countless medical practitioners in coming up with the most modern medical concepts to treat humanity.

I can now realize the strong reason behind the survival of Ayurveda, the science of life. Mere words are not just enough to appreciate the strenuous efforts put forth by some of the ancient legends in serving mankind in the form of texts of undying values like Charaka Samhita. Let each one of us take into the world, the efforts of such great people by inculcating a healthy life style, which would strengthen their values and our vows.

Thought for the day:

True heroism consists in being superior to the ills of life, in whatever shape they may challenge us to combat.  By Napoleon Bonaparte

Suggested Reading:

  1. Caraka Samhita (1949 Edition, 6 Volume Set) Hindu, Gujarati, English Translation (Caraka Samhita, 6 Volume Set) by Atreva Punarbasu, Great Sage Agnivesa
  2. The Roots of Ayurveda (Penguin Classics) by Various
  3. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume One: Fundamental Principles by Vasant Lad

Reference Links:

  1. Charaka by Wikipedia
  2. Charaka Samhita by Wikipedia
  3. History of Ayurveda by Professor Dr. P.H. Kulkarni

Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Untold Anecdote

Most of us might have perceived Ayurveda and Aromatherapy as two different parts of the Complementary and Alternative medicine but I take great privilege in revealing the fact that Aromatherapy is an innate or in-built part of Ayurveda, the 5000 years old ancient healing methodology. Ayurveda is proudly celebrated as the Mother of all healing sciences as it has given birth to numerous traditional healing methodologies like Unani, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Herbalism, Siddha, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional European Medicine and much more.

Aromatherapy is not a separate branch of Ayurveda but it is a vital part or an incredible way of treating illness in Ayurveda through the use of ‘aromatics’ and later given a separate name by Rene Maurice Gattefosse, known as the father of aromatherapy. It’s high time to put an end to this endless myth whether Ayurveda and Aromatherapy are the two poles apart? Let’s analyze.

Holistic approach: Ayurveda is a holistic healing approach that considers an individual as an entity and as a ‘Whole person’. This ancient science considers the physical, mental, emotional, environmental and sociological reasons contributing to a particular illness of an individual. While prescribing medications, Ayurveda does not stop with giving herbs or oils as remedies for a disease instead it suggests regular practice of yoga, meditation, taking an Ayurvedic diet, an Ayurvedic routine and certain other lifestyle changes according to an individual’s body type (doshas) and the unique constitution known as Prakriti. On the other hand, Aromatherapy is also a holistic method that considers the connection between mind, body and spirit.

Use of aromatics: Ayurveda makes use of aromatics to prevent and treat various health conditions. This is because it believes that the strengthening of the five human senses promotes healthy living. Inhalation of the aroma of plants and the essential oils extracted from those plants is trusted to enhance the sense of smell and directly contributes to mental health and treats hormonal imbalances.

This is the basic reason behind the use of incense sticks and other aromatic herbs and oils like sandalwood and tulasi in religious rituals and prayers for instilling the spiritual feeling. When it comes to Aromatherapy, this attribute of using aromatics needs no explanation as Aromatherapy makes use of Ayurvedic essential oils and trusts that the aromatic compounds and therapeutic properties present in these oils helps in healing illnesses invariably.

Abhyanga or the Ayurvedic massage therapy: Ayurvedic massage therapy involves the use of remedial oils like sesame oil, coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil and few other vegetable oils along with effective essential oils. It is a vital part of Panchakarma or the detoxification therapy, where the toxic substances of the body are removed and it inhibits the growth of harmful bodies through systematic massage.

Marguerite Maury, pioneer of Aromatherapy and the celebrated French Aromatherapist, in the traditional British Aromatherapy has talked on the benefits of using essential oils on dermal application through effective    massage techniques, where the concept of massaging itself is indigenous to Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic essential oils: Ayurveda is the oldest of the existing medicinal practices in the world and has a recorded use of herbal plants for more than 5000 years ago. Essential oils are nothing but the highly concentrated liquids extracted from plants and are often known as the essence of the herbal plants. Aromatherapy makes use of these essential oils to reiterate the fact that we are a part of nature and it is safe and secure to treat our illnesses in a natural manner. Dr. Light Miller in her famous book ‘Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom’ talks about the importance of doshas and the perfect essential oils for each dosha.

For Vata Dosha: Lemon, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Basil, Ginger, Angelica, Cajeput, Anise and Rosewood.

For Pitta Dosha: Sandalwood, Lime, Peppermint, Chamomile, Yarrow and Coriander.

For Kapha Dosha: Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Niaouli, Sage, Basil, Savory, Clove and Hyssop.

Vata, Pitta and Kapha is not Greek or Latin in the world of Aromatherapy but it just indicates the predominance existing in an individual’s constitution and these essential oils are said to treat the dosha imbalances with their healing properties.

Limbic System: According to Ayurveda, the sense of smell is connected with the limbic system. This helps in recollecting the memories of a place or a person associated with an aroma. Limbic system is a vital part of the brain that stimulates the function of the nervous system, determines the body temperature and blood sugar level, enables the process of respiration, and controls sexual feelings, sleep and awake responses and much more.

The underlying principle behind limbic system and Ayurveda is that the inhalation of aromatic essential oils with healing properties fosters the essential oil molecule to pass through the nasal passage and reaches the limbic system ultimately as nerve impulses following which, the hypothalamus passes the message to other parts of the body to rejoice, relax, control hunger, hormonal imbalances, thirst and many other feelings. Even Aromatherapy indicates the same mechanism of aroma through the limbic system in healing illnesses.

Hope this information is more than enough to prove that the concept of Aromatherapy has been a part and parcel of Ayurvedic healing methodology since ages till it was given birth under a new name ‘Aromatherapy’ by its father Rene Maurice Gattefosse. Nothing to wrestle or protest but I end this post with the pride of finding something unique and exceptional in all the healing sciences that is nothing but ‘Human beings are special naturally’.

Thought for the day:

‘Healing,’ Papa would tell me, ‘is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.’
-W. H. Auden

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda & Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing By Dr. Light Miller, Dr. Bryan Miller
  2. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils By Gabriel Mojay
  3. The Aromatherapy Companion: Medicinal Uses/Ayurvedic Healing/Body-Care Blends/Perfumes & Scents/Emotional Health & Well-Being (Herbal Body) By Victoria H. Edwards

Reference Links:

  1. Aromatherapy from Ayurveda’s Perspective by Yayoi Stavish
  2. Ayurveda and Aromatherapy by AllHealthyFamily News
  3. The Limbic System by Suzanne Bovenizer CMT, CST