Ayurveda

An intricate system of healing - Ayurveda originated in India thousands of years ago. The most known ancient literacy work known as the Vedas, gives the historical evidence of wisdom of Ayurveda. Vedas reflects the lifestyle of ancient people, customs, their thoughts, ideas, achievements, pitfalls, problems and their solutions. Various methods and measures adopted by them for health care and treatments are also recorded in the Vedas.

The Ayurvedic texts and the Vedic tradition have a different story of the origin of Ayurveda.

Lord Brahma as per to Hindu Mythology created the Universe. He captured knowledge from the four directions and created Vedas. Therefore, He was regarded as the first guru of Ayurveda (Adya). Brahma first taught Ayurveda to the Aswini Kumar and they passed it on to Lord Indra (Lord of the sky) and further it was passed on to different sages, their sons and disciples.

Before the wisdom of Ayurveda was recorded in the texts it was transmitted orally from teacher to disciples. Veda Vyasa, the famous sage and avatar of Vishnu, compiled the complete knowledge of Ayurveda in writing into a body of scriptural literature known as the Vedic literature. The Vedic literature was divided into four main books or Vedas - Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda.

The Rig Veda refers to the cosmology known as Sankhya, contains the text on the nature of health and disease and the principles used in the treatment of these diseases. Rig Veda shows the discussions on three doshas - vata, pitta, kapha and the use of various herbs in the treatment of diseases of mind and body. The fourth of the series Atharva Veda dates back to around 1000 B.C. and has listed the Eight divisions of Ayurveda.

  • Internal medicine (kaya chikitsa)
  • Surgery (shalya)
  • Ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology (shalakya)
  • Toxicology (agad tantra)
  • Psychiatry (bhoot vidya)
  • Pediatrics (kaumar bhritya)
  • Gerontology (rasayana)
  • Science of fertility (vajikarana)

The knowledge about all these eight divisions of Ayurveda was systemized with the origin of Ashtanga Ayurveda around 800-600 B.C. This Ashtanga Ayurveda must have served as the ground or basis on which the new knowledge regarding the eight divisions was formed.

The subjects of Ayurveda were recorded not only in the Vedas, but also in Aranyakas, Brahmanas and Upanishads. All the details were scattered all over the texts and lacked the structural presentation. The structural presentation of Ayurveda took place between 2 nd century B.C. and 10 th century A.D. These presentations were named Samhitas. The two most popular Samhitas are Charaka Samhita and Susrutha Samhita. Charaka Samhita is older than Susrutha Samhita. Charaka Samhita deals with kaya chikitsa i.e. general medicine and Susrutha Samhita deals mostly with shalaya i.e. surgery. Charaka Samhita is considered to be the compilation of the oldest Atreya Samhita. The third major presentation is known as the Ashtanga Hridaya and it is a concise version of works of both Charaka and Susrutha. These three treatises are still in use and are believed to be over 1,200 years old.