The term ‘Ayurveda’ is composed of two words:
‘Ayu’ + ‘Veda’
Here, ‘Ayu’ refers to longevity
‘Veda’ refers to science or scriptures full of knowledge.
It literally means the science of life, to extend one’s healthy and meaningful life.
|Sanskrit Shloka||English Meaning|
|Hitahitam Sukham Duhkhamayustasya Hitahitam |
Mananca Tacca Yatroktamayurvedah Sa Ucyate ||
|Ayurveda is the science of life that presents the detailed idea of Hita-Ayu (Good and meaningful life), Ahita-Ayu (bad or meaning deficient life), Sukha-Ayu (Healthy and prosperous life), and Dukha-Ayu (Unhealthy or full of flounder life). It tells about the promoting and antagonizing factors that affect the quality of life. It gives a detailed concept about the wholesomeness and unwholesomeness of life to attain Moksha (solitude).|
Aim of Ayurveda
The purpose of Ayurveda is explained so beautifully in the Sanskrit Shloka below:
|Sanskrit Shloka||English Meaning|
|Svasthasya svasthya rakshanam,
aaturasya vikaara pras`amanani c||
(Charaka Samhita Sutra Sthana 30/26)
|The chief purpose or aim of Ayurveda is to protect (Rakshana) the health (Swasthya) of the healthy beings (Swastha) and cure or manage (Prashamana) the diseases of mind and body (vikara) of the ill (Atura).|
Acharya Vagbhatta states four entities of life (Chatura-Varga Purushartha) to achieve the purpose of life. They are:
- 1. Dharma (the path of righteousness)
- 2. Artha (meaningful pursuits in life)
- 3. Kama (perpetration of desires)
- 4. Moksha (achieve salvation)
Principles of Ayurveda
There are three fundamentals principles of Ayurveda:
- 1. Panchamahabhoota sidhanta
According to Ayurveda, the whole universe consists of five elements:
- A. Aakash (Space element)
- B. Vayu (Air element)
- C. Agni (Fire element)
- D. Jala (Water element)
- E. Prithvi (Earth element)
Our bodies also comprise of these five elements where space element conceives the body cavities, the fluid part in the body is made up of water element, agni manages the catabolic processes (like digestion) in the body where air element and earth element control the movements of different entities like hormones, enzymes, and fluids and the hardness of tough parts of the body respectively
- 2. Tridosha sidhanta
There are three types of defects or humors (Sharirik dosha) in the human body named as:
- A. Vata
- B. Pitta
- C. Kapha
These doshas are also the product of the five fundamentals of life. These doshas are the responsible factors for maintaining the body’s natural functions.
|Sanskrit Shloka||English Meaning|
|vāyu: pittaṃ kaphaśceti trayo doṣā: samāsata: || vikṛtā’vikṛtā dehaṃ ghnanti te varttayanti ca |
(Ashtanga Hridayam 1/6)
|In this Shloka, stating the importance of these doshas says that the perfect balance of these three humors in the body leads to the wholesome and healthy body whereas any Vikara (imbalance) is responsible for the disease.|
There are three other doshas known as Manas Dosha (Humors of mind) that are: Satva, Rajas, and Tamas.
- 3. Samanya vishesha sidhanta
This sidhanta (principle) tells us about the miraculous effects of identical and distinctive materials. In Ayurveda, it is believed that an element backs up the element of its similar nature and opposes the distinct one.
Chief constituents of the body
According to Ayurveda, these constituents are the support system of the body. Imbalance of any of these constituents leads to discomfort and various diseases whereas their balance grants us a blissfully healthy life both mentally and physically.
- 1. Dosha (Body and Mind Humors)
- 2. Dhatu (Body tissues)
- 3. Mala (Waste products- urine, feces, and sweat)
- 4. Meda (Body fat)
Your body knows when something is off and sends you the signals to make it right in time. Feeling lousy or lethargic is not all that bad when we can fix the upcoming dangerous diseases in its early stages. Whenever your body gives you signals like these, do not ignore them. Your body is your temple and your soul is your God.
If you ignore your body’s needs you are inviting ominous situations. If you are feeling unwell without any reason, search through your inner senses to figure out where the problem lies and there is no way you will fail to know the cause when you do it with absolute sincerity.
Feeling a certain way depends on your body’s dosha balance. Imbalanced doshas are the cause of an illness or discomfort. Whereas the Agni being an equally dominant figure since in majority of diseases, the cause of imbalanced dosha is Manda agni (low digestion fire).
We generally lose our appetite in anxiety, restlessness, or any illness. It is because stressful conditions hamper with our agni which further imbalances our dosha operation fabricating a major effect on our overall health (Both physical and mental health).
To balance the imbalanced constitution of our body, Ayurveda culture offers us the great honor of therapeutic strategies to determine one’s health constitution and improve the sense of emotional, physical, and spiritual balance and harmony.
There are certain Shodahana (Cleansing) procedures that eliminate all the toxins (ama) from our body, balance dosha trio while strengthening Agni.
Ayurveda Cleansing Procedures
They are of two types
- 1. Can be done by ourselves at home
Upvasa (Fasting) in the ‘Hindu religion’ is considered as a ritual. But if we look at it in the medical framework, it holds an astounding advantage. According to Ayurveda, if we throw too much fuel (food) in the fire (Agni in our stomach/ digestive fire), it will obstruct the burning process and will result in manda-agni (low digestion power). Fasting is a powerful approach that facilitates the re-ignition of Agni and expels the toxins accumulated in our body. Fasting once a week or continuously three days a month helps us cleanse our body naturally.
- 2. Require Ayurveda physician’s supervision
In Ayurveda, there are three procedures which are performed under the physician’s guide and supervision:
- A. Snehana
- B. Swedana
- C. Shodhana
- Shodhana has further three types:
- C1. Vamana Karma (emesis) – For aggravated Kapha dosha.
- C2. Virechana Karma (Purgation) – For aggravated Pitta dosha.
- C3. Basti Karma (Suppositories) – For aggravated Vata dosha.
Ayurvedic Massage (Abhyanagam)
Acharya Vagbhatta describes Abhyanga as daily morning regimen. It alleviates the excess Vata Dosha and relieves tiredness (Shramahara). It decelerates the aging process (Jarahara). It is a good darsanakar (improves vision). Daily massage under feet, specifically under big toe, spine, head, and neck keep eye diseases at the bay. It nourishes and strengthens the body (Pushtikar), prolongs age (life-span), and induces good sleep (Swaspnakar).
It is an efficient Twakadhikara (improves skin complexion). Dryness is the definite sign of the provoked Vata element in the body. According to Acharya Charaka, oil massage daily on the navel area helps significantly in alleviating Vata dosha.
Massaging with certain herbal medicinal oils helps us fight against the microbes (Krimihara).
Abhigata Sahatwa (resilience against injuries) is another advantageous factor of Abhyanga. It is scientifically proven that people receiving daily massage tend to have great recovery speed compared to those who don’t.