The emphasis of Ayurveda is on prevention and health promotion. It originates from India, over 5000 years ago, and is a complete medicine that includes, assessment & diagnosis of health condition and treatment & resolution using modification of lifestyle, diet, herbal medicine, body work/manual therapies, and application of surgical procedures.
How to live “fully” is the focus of Ayurveda. The Sanskrit word “Ayu” means longevity. The word Ayurveda means the knowledge of life and longevity. Ayurveda emphasizes prevention and health promotion and provides treatment for disease. According to Ayurveda every person is unique and has innate ability to live fully. However, it requires one to understand their innate natural rhythms– the body-mind constitution and live accordingly.
Suśruta (600BCE) an Ayurvedic doctor is called “the father of surgery”, because in his text (The Sushruta Samhita) he discusses (300 years before Hippocrates) the surgical techniques of making incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, alkali and thermal cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, and trocars for draining abscess, draining hydrocele and ascitic fluid, removal of the prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation, vesicolithotomy, hernia surgery, caesarian section, management of hemorrhoids, fistulae, laparotomy and management of intestinal obstruction, perforated intestines and accidental perforation of the abdomen with protrusion of omentum and the principles of fracture management, viz., traction, manipulation, apposition and stabilization including some measures of rehabilitation and fitting of prosthetic. The text enumerates six types of dislocations, twelve varieties of fractures, and classification of the bones and their reaction to the injuries and gives a classification of eye diseases including cataract surgery. His prognosis of glaucoma, even today, is considered one of the best descriptions.
Ayurveda : Knowledge of longevity
Life is amazing, it is never static and constantly flowing, and transforming. However, at a mundane or ordinary level, we live in duality. You, me, them, others, and that.
Life in duality is about distinct identity and awareness. Our distinctiveness allows us to have separate personality, likes, dislikes, boundaries and what we choose to identify with. The separateness creates yearning for connection and is felt deeply as “missing something”. We want to be separate and at the same be connected – that is duality.
The magic of duality allows us to limit our awareness by focusing on what we identify with – my family, my work, my house, my community, my avatar, my deity, etc. The creation of identity and boundaries gives us a feeling of stability or sense of static in this ever-flowing stream of life. This inner sense of identification is called as अहम् / Aham in Sanskrit means, I-ness or sense of “individual-self”.
Legend says that long time ago (in a different aeon), Lord Dhanvantari called for a conference of sages. This was in ancient India when people had started forming communities and begin to have possessions (a place in forest, a part of river, animals, etc.) Prior to this people were forest dwellers with no possessions. They lived anywhere in forest, picked what they needed, and shared with everyone around.
He said that we need to bring sages together and address this new sense of I-ness where people are identifying themselves with what they possess; instead of who they are in their true essence. This he said, will create different types dis-eases and people will no longer live fully. This level of duality will be major hinderance for people in transcending and rediscovering their natural state of nonduality and interconnectedness.
To address that, sages need to create a new medicine which will focus on prevention and cure of illnesses arising from this level of duality. Sages deliberated on every aspect and gave their inputs. Lord Dhanvantari, as the chairperson, settled all differences and the conference went on for months. At the end of deliberation, debates, and insights a new medicine was born: The Ayurveda – the knowledge of longevity.
The main text that resulted from this conference was Agnivesha Samhita, scribed by Agnivesaha, the disciple of Punarvasu Atreya (descendant of Lord Atri who was one of the attendees of the conference). Agnivesha samhita is lost in time but its refence is found in Charaka Samhita. Charaka Samhita is today considered as the foundation or root text of Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine.
The principles of Ayurveda guide us to understand our unique constitution and reveals a path for us to stay in balance with the seasonal changes to promote health and treat illness. This balance is the key for maintaining health and preventing as well as healing disease. It doesn’t require us to leave our home and urban life and live wilderness, rather it ask us to change our lifestyle and diet using principles of Ayurveda and align with rhythms of changing seasons and our age.
Yoga and Ayurveda
Both Yoga and Ayurveda are born from the same root of Vedic wisdom, namely Sankhya philosophy, which dates back four thousand years in India. The primary goal of classical yoga is to achieve spiritual fulfillment, in particularly – self-realization.
The message of yoga is that the source of our existence and happiness is to be discovered behind the matrix of our physical existence. Everything that we need lies within us, and this includes our ability to feel happy and live peacefully in the world. However, in order to practice deeper, spiritual aspects of yoga one needs to have a healthy body, mind, and psyche.
That is where Ayurveda comes in the picture. Ayurveda was created by Vedic sages as the science and art of how to live “fully”. The Sanskrit word “Ayu” means longevity. There isn’t any spiritual message or protocols in Ayurveda, there are no herbal formulas, or manual therapies, or diet to achieve “self-realization” or become enlightened. On the other hand, all yogic paths eventually lead to deeper spiritual awareness.
The goal of Ayurveda is not spiritual liberation or enlightenment but to awaken our body, mind, and senses and live fully. This fullness becomes the ground on which people can follow their own path to transcend and rediscover their natural state of nonduality and connectedness with underlying oneness.
In my practice I help people to navigate through their yogic practices and align their lifestyle and diet to support with their goals of health and wellbeing.