Ayurveda

To human bodies and minds pummeled by a demanding life, the mention of Ayurveda opens an image of healing massages and potions that carry with them the remedial alchemy of leaf , root and earth. The effectiveness of this ancient science of life in India



To human bodies and minds pummeled by a demanding life, the mention of Ayurveda opens an image of healing massages and potions that carry with them the remedial alchemy of leaf , root and earth. The effectiveness of this ancient science of life in India – with its emphasis upon quality life, longevity and freedom from ailments bears testimony in a fascinating myth mentioned in the puranas.

The myth centres around a titanic tug of war between the Suras (gods) and the Asuras (demons) to possess the treasures of the ocean, among which was the invaluable pot of nectar with its promise of immortality and indestructibility. Before the ocean revealed this nectar while it was being churned, it first brought out the most potent of poisons that threatened to destroy everything. Lord Shiva stepped in at this critical moment and swallowed the poison that resulted in his throat turning blue (this is why he is called Neelkanth). Legend has it that to save the world from the other poisons that escaped, the divine physician Dhanvantri brought his pot of magical herbs to earth and gave birth to the science of Ayurveda.

The entire philosophy of Ayurveda rests on the need to create a rhythm or equilibrium in the body in synthesis with the environment. Any imbalance in the synthesis of body, mind or spirit results in maladies and disorders. Ayurveda believes that the human body is part of nature and must therefore move in harmony with its rhythms and laws.

Much of what we know of Ayurveda’s basic principles and practices are derived from two comprehensive texts written approximately between 200 BC and 300 AD - the ‘Charak Samhita’, compiled by the physician Charak, the ‘Sushrut Samhita’, written by Sushruta. The knowledge was augmented by another later text ‘Ashtanga Hridaya’, composed by Vagbhatt. These texts incorporate a wealth of clinical and surgical information on the treatment of a range of maladies.

The science of Ayurveda rests on the theory of panchmahabhutas or the ‘five elements’ that make up the universe. These five elements are earth (prithvi), water(jal), fire (agni or tej), air (vayu) and ether or space (akash). Equilibrium among these elements is mandatory in order to maintain a fine balance in the universe. Humans too are created of these elements. Ayurveda sees these five elements forming three doshas or humours, which make up the constitution of individuals. Thus, an individual may fall In the category of Vaat (ether/air), Pitt (fire) or Kaph (water/earth) Vaat governs body movements, blood circulation, respiration, excretion, speech, tactility, fear and anxiety, among others. Pitt governs assimilation and the faculties of vision, hunger, thirst, heat regulation and intellect. Kaph or water governs form and substance, i.e. weight and firmness, strength and restraint and cohesion and stability.

The constitution of each individual is dependent on the specific mix of these humours - either dominance of one humour or a combination of a couple, makes up the physiology as well as personality of an individual. As in the principles of good management, here too, the integrity of each humour and the equilibrium between the humours leads to wellbeing and longevity; an absence of this equilibrium results in maladies and disorders.

The humours are affected by the categories of the mind. The sattv quality is concerned with equilibrium, compassion and peacefulness, the rajas quality includes thinking and the ability to take decisions. The quality of tamas influences qualities such as avarice. A harmony of these qualities is essential because it affects the equilibrium of the three humours and causes mental strain.

Keeping time and space in mind, Ayurveda stresses on four principles for equilibrium as a way of life: regulation of ahar (food), vihar (activities), nidra (sleep) and maithun (sexual activity). Ayurvedic diets and routines, that address each individual’s specific constitution, are now recognized as a means to effective stress management.

Ayurvedic procedures detoxify the body, making it more responsive to treatment and hastening the healing process, and ultimately strengthening the immune system. Among the most popular detoxification procedures is Panchkarma. Ayurvedic massages and herbal remedies are the additional effective procedures.

With its focus on an individual’s holistic health, treating each individual according to his or her specific constitution, Ayurveda, in recent times, has proved to be one of the most effective therapies in this over-medicated world. Uttarakhand has kept this precious legacy alive through countless Ayurvedic clinics.

Ayurveda also includes Yoga to strengthen vital organs like the heart, liver, intestines, bones, muscles and the blood circulation as well. Yoga helps soothe frayed nerves.





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