by Denise O’Dunn
Ayurveda is the study of natural law. The word Ayurveda means the Science of Life; therefore, the essence of Ayurveda has always existed. Ancient Vedic texts tell us that the Rishis, or Holy Ones of India, acquired the knowledge of Ayurveda through meditation and the keen observation of nature. The Rishis, through their inquiry, obtained the understanding of life and how to end physical and emotional suffering. For generations the knowledge that the Rishis attained was passed along through an oral tradition. Since Ayurveda predates the written word, its exact beginnings are difficult to calculate, but we know the Vedic texts, the documents where Ayurveda is recorded, date beyond five thousand years.
Ayurveda is the World’s oldest medicine. Ayurveda is the foundation of all healing practices on earth and is the basis for modern allopathic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ayurveda thrived in India for thousands of years despite invasion and occupation by Muslim, Turkish and Mongol rulers. The practice of Ayurveda was driven out of the major cities by the English as they established colonial rule over India (1765 – 1947). Ayurvedic schools were closed and the medical practice of Ayurveda was displaced by Western (Allopathic) medicine, but Ayurveda continued to be practiced and taught in villages and homes. When India reclaimed independence from British rule in the mid-20th Century, the education and medical practice of Ayurveda began to flourish once more. Since Indian independence, the significance of Ayurveda as a path to health, longevity and well being, has been recognized by the government of India and is practiced side by side with modern allopathic medicine. Ayurveda is becoming better known in the USA as it is being practiced by the millions of those who have discovered it through their practice of hatha yoga.
Ayurveda is an ancient system of preventative health care, rejuvenation and longevity. Ayurveda as a way of life creates harmony by teaching us to honor our individual nature, while we consciously follow the rhythms and cycles of the natural world.
Ayurveda is based on elemental principles that pertain to life on earth. Ayurvedic philosophy establishes the five great elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth as the building blocks of the natural world. These five elements pair-up in three combinations to form the primary forces of nature called doshas.
According to Ayurveda, we were born with a unique combination of the doshas that result in our prakriti, or constitutional nature. Our prakriti is fixed throughout our lifetime, but can go out of balance, as it is influenced by the time of day, the season, our diet, environmental conditions, and our place in the cycle of our life. Our current doshic state is called our vikriti. Vikriti may be in balance with our prakriti, which is our original nature, or can refer to a state that is out of balance to our original nature.
Ayurveda teaches that in a state of doshic harmony we experience true health and happiness. According to Ayurveda, disease is a state of doshic imbalance. Ayurveda gives us the necessary guidance to live in harmony with our true nature, as we experience all of the doshic influences we encounter in life. Ayurveda gifts us with the knowledge of using foods, herbs, oils, gems, metals, colors, hatha yoga and meditation, to maintain our doshic balance. Ayurvedic writing instructs us about cleansing and rejuvenation routines and treatments to assist our doshic balance. As Ayurveda encourages us to acknowledge our original and unique nature, it empowers us to walk our individual and perfect path to balance and bliss.
Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.