Ayurveda is the world’s most ancient health care system. It derives from ancient India and is commonly referred to as the “mother of all healing systems.” It’s purpose being to re-align our physiologies with the rhythms of the universe. The literal meaning of the word, however is “the science of life” (ayur = life, veda = science or knowledge). Ayurvedic practices are meant to heal — and more importantly prevent disease, increase the overall health and vitality of the body, and increase longevity. This is accomplished by rebalancing pranic life forces acting within the body mainly through dosha specific diet, meditation, and daily activity harmonized with the cycles of nature. Also utilized are rejuvenative herbal remedies, mineral and gem elixirs, and bodywork such as Ayurvedic massage, detoxification methods, herbal steam treatments, calming practices, yoga, and marma point therapy (balances our “vibrational” circulatory channels, the nadis). Ayurveda’s herbal-based medical tradition uses plants with special potencies for pacifying doshic imbalances and re-establishing natal prakriti — the state of peace.
The exact origin of Ayurveda cannot be traced, but archeological evidence has indicated a complex working medical knowledge in ancient India such as dentistry, plastic surgery, and even brain surgery as far back as 9,000 years ago (7,000 BC). The original texts of Ayurveda are a part of the Vedas — the world’s oldest texts of knowledge — specifically the Atharva Veda. Within the Vedas, it is described that the knowledge was first handed down by Sri Dhanvantari, who is usually pictured carrying the vessel of immortality. Thus the essential knowledge of Ayurveda is eternal, and the evidence of this can be seen in its continuing usefulness even as the world situation changes.
Ayurveda has two main goals:
The ultimate aim of Ayurveda is to always maintain good health and well-being. And health, according to Ayurveda, is not merely eliminating the physical symptoms of a disease, but also restoring the happiness of the person’s mind and soul. Often people may not be suffering from physical problems but they may be very unhappy and disturbed mentally. According to Ayurveda, such a person would be in a state of ill health (dis-ease or dis-order).
Problems like depression, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia, originate mainly from our disconnection with our essential natures. Unfortunately, most of our actions and activities today are related to materialism and our physical body. We rarely pay attention to our other half, which is equally important–the soul. Ayurveda gives the example of a parrot in a cage. If the cage is taken care of very nicely, but the parrot is neglected then its life is ruined. Similarly if we take care of the body but neglect the soul, our life is ruined.
The diets and lifestyles we follow for achieving peace and happiness may also not be healthy for our inner selves. Since we are no longer taught the importance of mental and spiritual health–we remain unhappy, depressed, anxious and insecure, despite our best efforts. This is clearly indicative of something being wrong in our approach towards self-actualization and our relationship with matter and spirit.
Ayurveda helps us in our endeavor to find happiness in life by recommending lifestyle adjustments. It teaches us how to live in natural balance by following a path that flows with nature rather than against it.
Ayurveda is the perfect solution for all our health issues. Not only does it help people understand themselves and their needs, but it also provides guidelines on diet, lifestyle, exercise regimens and much more. But above all, Ayurveda teaches us to live in harmony within our society, with nature and with the universe at large, without disturbing the delicate natural balance. Above and beyond this, Ayurveda points one towards an understanding of the soul — which is our true self and above any physical or mental influence. While Ayurveda can bring one to physical and mental well-being, knowledge of the soul will bring one to ever-increasing happiness regardless of material condition.
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