It is believed that when most part of the west were attempting to understand cultivation and farming, we – as Indians – were working on scientific theories on cosmos, life, spirituality, health and more. We were ahead of the rest of the world in the early ages of civilisation till we started losing out during colonisation. This advancement is evident in some of the sacred texts of the Hindu mythology and well preserved and documented knowledge that are still available. The yogis and the saints have documented their basic(and often in line with our modern understanding) thoughts on creation, life, cosmos etc. These have been preserved through generations and are used a source of knowledge even to this day
One such major contribution has been on health and well being of humans, where the stress is on holistic wellness often involving a combination of medicines, spiritual practices and meditation. All these learnings have evolved into a highly organised and structured system of medication and wellness practices called Ayurveda – or the Veda of life.
Apart from being the most popular healthcare practice in India, Ayurveda also found its application and research from people around the world. At around 400AD, Ayurveda was translated into Chinese and 300 years later, it attracted Chinese scholars to the Nalanda University for research and study purposes.
The Philosophy Behind Ayurveda
Ayurveda is based on factors or parameters like health, diseases, disorder and balance and not on pathology and physiology alone . It is based on the principle that diseases arise from the imbalances among the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being and that, to be free from diseases, there should exist a harmony amongst physical actions, thoughts, feelings, and the very purpose of healing.
It is an amalgamation of concepts and practices from medical arts, behavioral/physical sciences, and the six Indian philosophical systems – Vedanta, Mimamsa, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Yoga and Sakhya. The central belief surrounding Ayurveda is that life is the confluence of senses, mind, body and spirit. The functioning of the life (in any form) revolves mainly around the interactions of three primary energy systems or doshas:
Kapha – it signifies the physical and structural aspects
Pitta –it signifies the intellectual and trans-formative aspects
Vata – it signifies the energetic, dynamic and non-material aspects of nature
As per Ayurveda, vata takes care of movement, blood circulation, respiration, creativity, speech and the nervous system. Kapha takes care of anabolic systems and processes such as fluid secretion, binding, potency, lubrication, compassion, patience and fluid balance. Lastly, pitta takes care of metabolism, digestion, body temperature, courage, complexion, vision, cheerfulness, intellection and other trans-formative processes.
Human life is sustained by the interactions of these three energies and when there are imbalances in the energies (which differ from one person to another depending on their Prakruti, their basic template at the time of creation), it manifests as ailments or diseases. Ayurveda looks at both the subjective and objective aspects of ailments and individual characteristics to restore balances in these energies and prepare wellness and treatment agendas.
In this article, we have tried to give an introduction to the basic philosophy behind Ayurveda. We will be exploring deeper into how Ayurveda treats your diseases and ailments in future posts. . If you would like to be kept updated on such articles in the future, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.