Ayurveda is the ancient medicinal science of India. Before the four vedas were formally compiled, all branches of knowledge were termed as veda of the branch. Hence the branch of science related to health was termed as Ayurveda. It was believed to be fifth veda or part of Atharvaveda. In recent years the interest in ayurveda has risen throughout the world. However, it has given rise to many misconceptions as well.

A) It is commonly believed that Ayurveda is herbal medicine. In reality, there is nothing under the Sun that cannot be used as medicine. Thus herbal medicine is a section of the vast plethora of curative measures prescribed by Ayurveda.

B) Any Ayurvdic medicine cannot be blindly administered to any one. In reality Ayurveda thinks of various factors such as age, gender, their body constitution, season of the year. Needless to say, it has to be decided by competant medical practitioner called as vaidyas.

C) Actually the medicines do have side effects. But the vaidya is aware of them and hence he thinks in totality to come out with a combination of medicine with optimised results.

D) The medicines take a long time to cure, and hence cannot be administered at the time of emergency. Actually, there are some medicines which show immediate effect while some of the medicines have a slow but radical effect.

E) It is useful in chronic ailments only. Generally patients who are not strict followers of ayurveda, try all other possible paths to cure an ailment which is ordinary and convert it to a chronic one and then resort to Ayurvedic way of healing.

F) It is an alternative medicine or complimentary medicine. In reality it is full fledged branch having diagnosis, surgery, preventive and curative medication. Then, what is Ayurveda? It is defined by Charak as a branch of knowledge wherein the proportion and measures of happiness and unhappiness, pleasures and displeasures of life are discussed.

The God Brahma taught this science to Atreya punarvasoo. Thus it landed on earth from heaven. Atreya taught it to six of his students which includes Agnivesh, Jatukarna, Parashara, Bhel and Harit. All of them compiled their knowedge as Samhita named after the respective writer.

Agnivesh was most talented one and his Samhita after a few additions by Charak, is known as Charak Samhita. Ayurveda is divided into eight parts. Hence it is also known as ashtanga ayurveda.

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These are as follows: Kaya, Bal, Graha, Urdhwa, Shalya, Dhanstra, Jara, Vrishan.
1. Kaya: The part of ayurveda which mainly related with diseases related with body, related with digestion.

2.Bala: It is related with the paediatric age group. It is the treatment for the proper growth and diseases of children.

3.Graha: It deals with stars and planets and other mental disorders.

4.Urdhwa: The diseases of upper part of the body above the neck. This part is also known as Shalakyatantra. In this part, disorders of ear, nose, throat, eyes, and oral cavity are considered.

5.Shalya: This is surgical branch of Ayurveda which is well developed by Sushrut.

6.Dhanstra: It is related to the tooth where animal bites, poisoning and its treatment is considered.

7.Jara: It is the branch related to geriatrics. It deals with treatment to avoid old age.

8.Vrushya: It is the branch related with healthy sex life and treatment related to complaints about intercourse etc.
Ayurveda is based on many theories amongst which some of them are discussed here.

1.Dosha-Dhatu-Mala: The body is composed of three doshas viz Vata-Pitta-Kapha.The body is maintained with the help of these three doshas. There are seven Dhatus named as rasa, rakta,mansa, meda, asthi, majja, shukra. There are three types of malas as sweda, mutra, and pureisha. The whole physiology of the body takes place with the help of these dosh-dhatu -mala.

Prakruti: At the time of conception, the particular dosha dominating is the prakruti of that individual.According to individuals prakruti, he or she is prone to some types of disease. To cure those disorders, some hints related to day to day life "dincharya" and seasonal behavior "Rutucharya"are given.

2. Panch Mahabhoot Siddhanta: The whole body is considered to be made up of five basic elements such as Prithvi, Aap, Tepa, Vayu and Aakash .When there is disturbance in dosha-dhatu-mala, the individual suffers from disease. Hence they should be treated accordingly.

The treatment part includes Shodhan and Shaman. In Shodhan, the doshas are expelled out of the body with the help of medicines and in Shaman , doshas are suppressed in the body. Shodhan includes five ways of cleansing named as Pancha karma. It includes;
Vaman: emesis,
Virechan: purgation,
Nasya: medicine administered by nostrils.
Raktamokshan: letting out blood, Basti: medicated material administered through anus. Charak, Sushrut and Vagbhata are considered to be the on Ayurveda authorities.


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