The sheer size and strength of a tree would likely impress most of us. We would see a large tree and go “Wow! That thing looks indestructible!” But did you know that what lies beneath the ground plays a vital role in its functioning and keeping it that strong? A well-established root system helps it grow well, provides it with nutrition and water from the soil and keeps it safely anchored during rough weather. Most other things in life operate based on a similar principle. We must learn to look beyond external appearances. To see what lies beneath the surface is to fully understand anything. Through this piece, we will try to guide you through the birth and progression of Ayurveda and related philosophies in India and subsequently the rest of the world to provide you with a deeper understanding of them.
Origin of Ayurveda
It is pretty interesting to note that Ayurvedic principles and teachings have not only survived but flourished even in the modern age since its inception ages ago. Its roots stretch as far back as the 2nd BC. According to Hindu mythology, the creation of Ayurveda (and everything else in the universe) is credited to God Brahma. Lord Brahma conceived Ayurveda for the well-being of mankind. He passed on this knowledge to other Gods and heavenly beings and eventually to the sages. The three great Sages received Ayurvedic wisdom directly from Lord Indra. They spread it among humans in the form of oral narrations and poems known as ‘Shlokas’. These Shlokas were inscribed in the four Vedas. They describe various medicinal plants and formulations in detail. The Nyaya-Vaisesika school of teaching played a pivotal role in distributing the Ayurvedic information among the general mass.
Key Supporting Texts
The Charaka Samhita, a compilation of the Ayurvedic teachings from all the four Vedas, and the Sushruta Samhita, a compendium of various surgical practices and techniques, are used even today as a reference by several traditional medicine systems. Speaking of traditional medicine methods, did you know that Ayurveda isn’t the only traditional Indian school of medicine? Stay tuned for future articles about other Indian Traditional Systems of Medicine and how they differ from Ayurveda.
Medical practitioners value the Charaka Samhita so greatly that translations of the text exist in Arabic, Chinese, Greek, etc. The teachings and principles mentioned in the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita greatly inspired the Indian Traditional Medicine System. Most of the literature written after the compilation was based on or expanded their concepts. Along with the Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridaya, the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita forms the Brhattrayi or the “Greater Triad” of compendiums which include the basics of Ayurveda. On the other hand, we have the Laghu-Trayī or the “Lesser Triad of compilations”, the Sarangadhar Samhita, Bhav Prakash Nighantu and the Madhava Nidan.
Core Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurvedic principles focus on dealing with the three energies or doshas. The Vata dosha, Pitta dosha and the Kapha dosha are the fundamental energies that regulate the human body and are present in varying combinations depending on the individual. Five essential elements make up everything in the known universe: Aakash (Space or ether), Jala (Water), Prithvi (Earth), Vayu (Air) and Teja (Fire). Together these elements are called the Pancha Mahabhoota and are the cconstituents of the Tridoshas as well. Ayurveda states that imbalances in the doshas are one of the underlying causes of ill health. Aggravation in any of the three doshas (either due to stress or changes in the environment, eating habits or lifestyle) may lead to various illnesses.
Similarly, Ayurvedic principles also place importance on the Sapta Dhatus (seven tissues of the body) and the Tri Malas (three wastes formed within the body). Unless the Sapta Dhatus does not work in proper coordination with each other or if any of the Tri Malas are not completely eliminated from the body, we might face serious physical ailments. The seven different body tissues are
- Mamsa Dhatu (muscle)
- Majja Dhatu (bone marrow)
- Ashti Dhatu (skeletal)
- Rakta Dhatu (blood)
- Meda Dhatu (fat)
- Rasa Dhatu (plasma containing nutrients and minerals from digested food)
- Shukra Dhatu (reproductive)
Similarly, we have the Tri Malas, which are
- Mutra Mala (urine)
- Purisa Mala (faeces)
- Sveda Mala (sweat)
The Tridoshas and the Tri Malas are closely associated. Even slight disturbances in the doshas may cause a buildup of waste within the body which subsequently causes diseases.
Ayurvedic Approach to dealing with Illnesses
Most Ayurvedic treatment regimens try to identify the underlying cause of the disease and treat that rather than just the symptoms of the disease. This approach works infinitely better in the long run. Identifying and eliminating the root of the disease helps in eradicating the problem for good.
Let’s take one of our own malts to try and explain the process in some depth. The Nari Sondarya Malt helps with a variety of female reproductive issues. It helps in regularizing periods, reducing cramps and discomfort, managing PCOS, etc., due to the action of various active components. These compounds are present in the herbal ingredients of the malt like Ashoka, Shatavari, Lodhra and Gokhru. They help balance and maintain hormonal levels, improve blood flow, ease the process of ovulation, decrease stress, etc. Thus by treating these (and other) key underlying concerns, the Nari Sondarya Malt is capable of improving your reproductive health for good!
We hope that this piece helped educate you a bit about Ayurveda and that you were able to gain a deeper understanding of its principles and origins. If we missed something in the article that you think is worth mentioning, let us know in the comments below!