Ayurveda, considered to be the oldest system of medicine in the world, had its origin in India about five thousand years ago. A holistic method of healing using remedies offered by nature, Ayurveda which when followed can restore, rejuvenate and revitalize body, mind and soul.
Mention of Ayurveda can be found in the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavat Gitaand other ancient texts of wisdom. Of the four Vedas, namely Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Adharva Veda, Ayurveda is said to be the Upaveda or the sub branch of Adharva Veda.
The word Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: 'Ayu' which means ‘life’ and 'Veda' which means ‘the knowledge of’. According to Charaka, "ayu" consists of four essential parts- mind, body, senses and the soul. In short, Ayurveda is the knowledge of life.
Ayurveda is said to have been created by Lord Brahma (the Creator of the Universe and one of the Trimurthis) himself and handed down to mankind through Gods and great sages who possessed extensive knowledge and extraordinary insight. Initially, this knowledge was taught and learnt orally and it was much later that it was documented in palm leaves and thaliolas.
As the thirst for knowledge grew, extensive research and observations were made and Ayurveda developed swiftly. Two schools of Ayurveda emerged, namely the School of Medicine and the School of Surgery. With this amazing progress, India saw some of the greatest minds in history such as Charaka, sometimes referred to as the father of anatomy and Susrutha, the father of plastic surgery.
Ayurveda is more than just a medical system. It is based on India’s culture and a profound philosophy which gives instructions for attaining health, both physically as well as spiritually and also discovering our unknown potential by following optimal lifestyle regimes. It is also a discipline which tells us the proper way to do the simplest of day-to-day activities such as breathing, drinking, eating, working, exercising and even thinking.
Ayurveda helps to maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature. In essence Ayurveda has been in existence since the beginning of time because we have always been governed by nature’s laws. Ayurveda, the ancient Science of life, is believed to be the knowledge handed down from the Gods themselves. It was developed into what it is today by great sages and rishis of vast wisdom and knowledge.
A lot of research followed with physicians studying the anatomy of the human body by dissection, examining the various conditions of patients as well as investigating the cause and cure for every malady. Consequently Ayurveda developed and the interest in this phenomenal way of healing grew exponentially.
Ayurveda soon emerged into two- the school of medicine and the school of surgery. The school of medicine was propounded by the physician Charaka and of surgery by Susrutha.
Susrutha who lived in the 6th century BC is considered to be the father of modern surgery. He is credited to be the author of ‘Susrutha Samhitha’, a treatise covering all aspects of Ayurveda and which is referred to by physicians even now.
Evidence shows that Susrutha possessed deep and thorough knowledge of the functioning of the human body and complicated surgical procedures. He understood the causes behind ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity etc. He is also known to have performed cataract surgeries, plastic surgeries and so on.
Famed to be the ‘Father of Anatomy’, Charaka authored the Ayurvedic treatise Charaka Samhitha covering various aspects of physiology, embryology, pathology and etiology. He was well acquainted with the principles of anatomy, metabolism, immunity, genetics and so on. It was as per his scheme that Ayurveda was divided into eight branches.
Vaghbata, who is supposed to have lived in the 7th century AD, wrote the treatises named Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridaya Samhitha....