Ayurveda is the oldest surviving complete medical system in the world. Derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots – ‘ayus’ (life) and ‘veda’ (knowledge) – Ayurveda offers a rich and comprehensive outlook to a healthy life. Ayurveda was first practiced nearly 5000 years ago by spiritual rishis, who originally laid the foundations of Vedic civilization in India by systematically organizing the fundamentals of life.
The main source of information in this field remains in the Vedas – the divine books of knowledge. Of the few other treatises on Ayurveda that have survived through the years, the most famous are the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita, which concentrates on internal medicine and surgery, respectively. The Vedas and the Ashtanga Hrudaya, a more concise compilation of earlier texts which was created about 1000 years ago, lay the foundation upon which Ayurveda is practiced today.
Carried over by the Buddhist monks travelling to Tibet, China, Mongolia, Korea, and Sri Lanka, the art of Ayurveda spread during the 6th Century B.C. Although not much of it survives in original form, the influences of these countries can be seen in various ways.
Ahamkara, is a two-fold creation: the first is Satwa –the subjective world, which is able to perceive and manipulate matter. It comprises the mind, the capacity of the five senses to hear, feel, see, taste, and smell, and the five organs of action to speak, grasp, move, procreate, and excrete. The mind and the subtle organs provide the bridge between the body, the Ahamkara, and the inner wisdom, all three of which is considered as the essential nature of humans.
The second is Tamas, the objective world of the five elements of sound, touch, vision, taste, and smell –the five subtle elements that give rise to the dense elements of either or space, air, fire, water, and the earth, from which all matter of the physical world is derived.
The Satva and the Tamas is connected by the Rajas –the force, or the energy of movement.
Ayurveda, therefore, is simply not a health-care system, but rather a lifestyle adopted to maintain a perfect balance and harmony within the human body, from the most abstract transcendental experiences to the most concrete physiological expressions. It is based on the premise that life represents an intelligent co-ordination of the Atma (soul), Mana (Mind), Indriya (Senses) and Sharira (Body), all of which revolve around the five dense elements that go into the making of the constitution of each individual, called Prakriti. This in turn, is determined by the vital balance of the three physical energies –Vata, Pitta, Kapha, and the three mental energies – Satva, Tamas, and Rajas.
Ayurveda thus offers a unique blend of science and philosophy that balances the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components necessary for holistic health.