‘Ayu’ means longevity which also means lifespan – the period of life from the womb to the tomb. But the Vedas define ayu as events that an individual has to face from the day of fertilization to death. Since each routine event can be anticipated and planned by following vedic recommendations, an ideal life can be lead. This takes us to understand the definition of Ayurveda as the science of life.
‘Veda’ means Knowledge and it is said that the Almighty god is the propagator of all kinds of knowledge. The celestials or heaven dwellers first took this knowledge (Devas) and later brought down to the Earth level by sages or Rishis who had super human powers to attune their minds to the celestial level by meditating in silence.
Since this entire Vedic tradition is composed of highly spiritual wisdom and pure knowledge revealed through the hearts of enlightened Rishis, Vedas are considered aporasheya, which means not a creation, made by the mind of man but rather unfolded in the hearts of meditative minds.
These Rishis used to meditate in mountain caves and jungles distant from civilization. This Vedic wisdom was imparted to disciples who came to quench their thirst for knowledge and later eminent students divided this knowledge into four sections namely – Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda more than 5000 years ago.
The Vedas has been passed down to us in sutras or small phrases and the wisdom they contain is there to be unlocked by the inquiring mind. When looked at these Vedas, we find sutras on healing in a majority in Atharva Veda and to a small extent in Rigveda. These sutras were compiled together and given the name Ayurveda.
Also in the Bhawad Gita the characteristics of food is explained as anything which provides Ayu – longevity,Arogya – health, Bhala – Strength, Sukha – Happiness and Preethi – Compassion is only fit for human consumption. Also, our Rishis practiced such methods explained in the Vedas for food production and by-and-large this was the way we produced and ate before Chemical induced farming came into picture couple of decades ago.
- Vata (Air energy)
Responsible for all movements such as blood circulation, respiration, elimination and movement of thought processes.
- Pitta (Heat energy)
Responsible for all metabolic activities such as digestion, transformation of one type of body tissue to another, secretion of enzymes and hormones, absorption of nutrition, interpretation of thoughts, synthesis of knowledge and individual judgmental abilities.
- Kapha (Liquid energy)
Also called binding energy responsible for lubricate substances in the body such as synovial fluids in the joints, cerebrospinal fluids in the central nervous system, mucous secreting glands in the digestive and respiratory tracts, plasma and emotional stability in the mind.
These three energies are also known as Tridoshas. Any Ayurvedic physician should be capable of assessing whether these energies are in balance or out of balance because Ayurveda says the balanced state of these energies is health and imbalance – disease. Maintaining them in balance is the study and practice of Ayurveda. This is important because imbalances could affect an individual’s physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life.
Two factors – External and Internal could cause an imbalance in these energies. Consumption of contaminated food and water, exposure to extreme weathers, natural disasters, stress, strain, irregular food habits and activity, bacterial and viral infections are considered to be external factors. Inherited diseases caused by genetic factors are considered internal.
The imbalances of these energies exhibit certain signs and symptoms in the individual’s body and mind depending upon the type of impact. This has to be assessed by the physician by examining the patient in detail and arrive at a proper diagnosis.
Ayurvedic treatments are again two fold –external and internal which aim in balancing these energies by using special herbal preparations such as medicated oils, herbal decoctions and powders. Using medicated oils in Ayurvedic massages (Abhyanga) is one of the time tested curative and therapeutic treatments of Ayurveda. There are other multifarios treatments in Ayurveda specific to an individual’s health need. These treatments in contrast to the modern medicine, aim in curing the disease process from the root level by effectively bringing the three energies back to balance by either pacifying (Shamana) or detoxifying (Shodhana or Panchakarmas) through elimination. Rejuvenative therapies that help to maintain invigorating health on a daily basis is equally important as a preventive measure.