Category Archives: About Ayurveda

history of ayurveda

History Of Ayurveda: A Brief Overview

Ayurveda, one of the oldest traditional systems of medicine, originated in the Indian subcontinent. With a rich history that dates back to more than 5000 years, Ayurveda was mainly practised by the sages during the Vedic civilisation. It is said that the main source of knowledge for Ayurveda was derived from the Vedas, the holy books of knowledge.

History and Evolution of Ayurveda
The origin of Ayurveda has both historical and mythological references. Ayurveda is being practised by the Indians since 2nd Century BC and its origin can be traced back to Vaisheshika, an ancient school of Hindu philosophical teachings and the Nyaya, the school of logic.  Vaisheshika spoke about perceptions and inferences. This school of thought characterised the attributes of any object into 6 types. These are:

•    Substance or Dravya
•    Quality or Guna
•    Activity or Karma
•    Generality or Samanya
•    Particularity or Vishesha
•   Inherence or Samavaya

Nyaya advocated its teaching on the grounds that one needs to have a thorough knowledge about the condition of the patient and the disease before starting the treatment. The two school of thoughts later worked together to form the Nyaya–Vaisesika school.  This new school of thought is believed to propagate the knowledge of Ayurveda throughout the country.

Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411016000250#bib2

Also, there is a mythological aspect of the origin and development of Ayurveda. It is said that Ayurveda owes its origin to Brahma, the God who created the universe as per the Hindu Mythology. It was Brahma who passed this knowledge of Ayurveda to the sages for the well-being of the humans. The sages then passed this knowledge to their disciples and then to the common man. They composed all the information about the herbs and medicines in form of Shlokas or hymns. It is believed that all the compilations related to healing and medicines were contained in the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda.

It was around 1500 to 1000 BC when Ayurveda in India developed. It followed a same developmental phase as the Chinese and the Western medicine (evolving from religious and mythological discipline and then moving into the medical system). The two schools of medicine that was found during this period were the Atreya (school of the physicians) and Dhanvantari (school of the surgeons). It was Agnivesha who systematised all the knowledge of Ayurveda from the Vedas which was the edited by Charaka and other scholars, it’s currently known as Charaka Samhita and contains all the knowledge pertaining to the different aspects of Ayurvedic medicines.

Another important compilation is Sushruta Samhita, which is all about the science of surgery. Sushruta compiled the teachings of Dhanvantari in Sushruta Samhita. These 2 legendary books are being followed by Ayurvedic practitioners till this date.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336651/pdf/ASL-1-1.pdf

The Ashtanga Sangraha and the Ashtanga Hrudayam
These works make frequent references to Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita. Ashtanga refers to 8 sections of Ayurveda :

•    Internal Medicine – Kaya Chikitsa
•    Paediatrics – Bala Chikitsa
•    Psychiatry – Graha Chikitsa
•   ENT & Ophthalmology – Salakya Thantra
•    Surgery – Salya Thantra
•    Toxicology – Agada Thantra
•    Geriatrics – Jara Chikitsa
•    Aphrodisiac therapy – Vajeekarana Chikitsa

Ashtanga Sangraha was written by Vridha Vagbhata,  a disciple of Charaka, and the work explores both the medical and the surgical aspects of treating diseases through Ayurveda. Ashtanga Hrudayam is also believed to be written by Vagbhata as both the books are very much similar. The only difference is that in Ashtanga Sangraha, the writer has used more verse than prose while Ashtanga Hrudayam is concise.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336651/pdf/ASL-1-1.pdf

Sushruta, Charaka, and Vagbhata are considered to be “The Trinity” of Ayurvedic knowledge.

Further Proliferation of Ayurveda
The period between 800 BCE and 1000CE was the Golden Age of Indian medicines. This was the time when all the important books on Ayurveda were produced and circulated throughout the world. Ayurveda not only gained popularity among the Indians but the information on the traditional systems of Indian medicine became popular amongst Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, Roman, Persians, Arabs, and Tibetans who travelled to India during that time. They studied Ayurveda in India and the carried this valuable knowledge to their respective countries.

Between 1000 CE and 1200 CE, physicians such as Avicenna and Razes translated a great part of the Ayurvedic knowledge into Arabic.

Another important medical book was written around 1100 CE by Madhavacharya. The book was called Madhava Nidana. The book contained all information regarding diseases of women, children, diseases of the ear, nose, and throat, and toxicology. The Madhava Nidana was one of the first and most important books of what is called the “Junior Triad” of Ayurveda. The Junior Triad texts include Madhava Nidana, Sarangdhar Samhita, and the Bhavaprakasham. On the other hand, Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hrudayam constitute the Senior Triad.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11253415

The Sharangdhar Samhita, the second book of the Junior Triad was written by Acharya Sharangdhara in around 1300 CE. This book contained information on new diseases and syndromes along with their treatments, pharmacological and herbal formulas. This book contains details about Pulse examination also.

Bhavaprakasham is the final book of the Junior Triad, written by Bhava Mishra in around 1500 CE. This book discussed different medicinal characteristics of minerals, plants, and food.

Source: https://www.themindfulword.org/2014/history-of-ayurvedic-medicine/

Bhava Mishra was the first author who discussed a disease called Phiranga rog which was probably the name given to Syphilis.  Another new addition to his book was introducing chapters on the enlargement of spleen and liver. He also mentioned about some new medicines such as Chop Cheeni (Madhusnuhi) and the method of preparing Opium (Ahiphena), Camphor, and Parasika Yavani. He was also the first one to write about the use of mercurial elements for treating Phiranga rog.

It was also during this time that the Swiss Renaissance Physician Paracelsus was also influenced by the knowledge of Ayurveda.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336651/pdf/ASL-1-1.pdf

Bhava Mishra demonstrated through his writings that Ayurveda is not against embracing new ideas and theories.  The only criterion for selecting any drug or a treatment methodology was for the patient’s benefit. With the changes in the environment, new diseases and symptoms will arrive and to treat them, new remedies are also required.

With British rule, Western culture, medicine, and science began to spread its influence. Since these practices were supported by the then Government, it thwarted the further evolution of Indian Sciences. However, Ayurveda was still followed by over 80% of the Indian population. In the latter half of British rule, Ayurveda again drew the attention of scholars throughout the world. With the growth of nationalist spirit during the Indian independence struggle, Ayurveda started growing, though at a slow but steady pace. New institutes were established and now, there are hundreds of Ayurvedic institutes all over the country.

Even today, a major part of the Indian population relies on Ayurvedic medicines for healing. Containing all the goodness of medicinal herbs, these products are 100% natural.

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mind

Mind Types in Ayurveda

The ancient principles of Ayurveda believe that the mind and body both need to be in harmony in order to achieve overall good health. We all have different temperaments, body types, mindsets and interests and the beauty of Ayurveda is that it recognizes this. Treatments and diagnoses are made on the basis of an individual person’s particular body and mind type.

The doshas in Ayurveda – Vata, Pitta and Kapha represent the body types. In the same way, mind types in Ayurveda are based on the principle of gunas. Gunas are the qualities that constitute our psychological makeup. The three gunas are:

  1. Sattva (peace, tolerance and harmony)
  2. Tamasa (ambition, spontaneity and passion)
  3. Rajasa (sloth, inertia and ignorance)

The ultimate state of mind, as is evident above, is the Sattvic state of mind. In Ayurveda, it is believed that one must always strive to achieve this state of mind. While difficult, it is definitely possible by trying one’s best to channelize Sattvic impulses as opposed to the other two types. Those who have a predominantly Sattvic nature are tolerant, generous, and giving. They are also more spiritually inclined than others. In order to contribute towards emphasizing Sattvic qualities, it is better to consume food that is neither heavily spiced nor too sweet i.e. simple and nutritious food.

The Tamasa guna has the qualities of idleness, fear and lethargy and hence most people should make efforts to reduce this guna as far as possible. The Tamasic state of mind is often depressed, with little or no spirituality or motivation to work and be active. Junk food constitutes a big part of their diet,and also sleep heavily. They tend to avoid any work that taxes the body or brain.

Finally, those who have predominantly the Rajasic guna seek control and are extremely dynamic in nature. They are brave and often very ambitious as well, however they are also prone to being sometimes rude, arrogant or jealous. Their sleeping patterns are usually disturbed, and their diet consists of strong and excessive flavours like spice, caffeine, and stimulants.

The stages of mental healing include moving from mental lethargy to motivation and action through the breaking up of Tamas, and developing Rajas. The next step would be to calm Rajas emotions, and gradually develop Sattvic tendencies through changes in your diet, other daily habits and developing the mind. It is important to remember, however, that all three gunas have their place and so all of us are made of all three gunas. What one must keep in mind though, is that the right balance will help. Our Ayurvedic healing therapies take all three gunas as well as the doshas into consideration in order to provide you the most holistic solution to your health and well-being.

If you’d like to know more about our Ayurvedic therapies as well as about these various Ayurvedic principles, visit us here.

mind

Mind Types in Ayurveda

The ancient principles of Ayurveda believe that the mind and body both need to be in harmony in order to achieve overall good health. We all have different temperaments, body types, mindsets and interests and the beauty of Ayurveda is that it recognizes this. Treatments and diagnoses are made on the basis of an individual person’s particular body and mind type.

The doshas in Ayurveda – Vata, Pitta and Kapha represent the body types. In the same way, mind types in Ayurveda are based on the principle of gunas. Gunas are the qualities that constitute our psychological makeup. The three gunas are:

  1. Sattva (peace, tolerance and harmony)
  2. Tamasa (ambition, spontaneity and passion)
  3. Rajasa (sloth, inertia and ignorance)

The ultimate state of mind out of all the mind types in Ayurveda, as is evident above, is the Sattvic state of mind. In Ayurveda, it is believed that one must always strive to achieve this state of mind. While difficult, it is definitely possible by trying one’s best to channelize Sattvic impulses as opposed to the other two types. Those who have a predominantly Sattvic nature are tolerant, generous, and giving. They are also more spiritually inclined than others. In order to contribute towards emphasizing Sattvic qualities, it is better to consume food that is neither heavily spiced nor too sweet i.e. simple and nutritious food.

The Tamasa guna has the qualities of idleness, fear and lethargy and hence most people should make efforts to reduce this guna as far as possible. The Tamasic state of mind is often depressed, with little or no spirituality or motivation to work and be active. Junk food constitutes a big part of their diet,and also sleep heavily. They tend to avoid any work that taxes the body or brain.

Finally, those who have predominantly the Rajasic guna seek control and are extremely dynamic in nature. They are brave and often very ambitious as well, however they are also prone to being sometimes rude, arrogant or jealous. Their sleeping patterns are usually disturbed, and their diet consists of strong and excessive flavours like spice, caffeine, and stimulants.

The stages of mental healing include moving from mental lethargy to motivation and action through the breaking up of Tamas, and developing Rajas. The next step would be to calm Rajas emotions, and gradually develop Sattvic tendencies through changes in your diet, other daily habits and developing the mind. It is important to remember, however, that all three gunas have their place and so all of us are made of all three gunas.

For the mind types in Ayurveda, the right balance will help. Our Ayurvedic healing therapies take all three gunas as well as the doshas into consideration in order to provide you the most holistic solution to your health and well-being.

If you’d like to know more about our Ayurvedic therapies as well as about these various Ayurvedic principles, visit us here.

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Know Your Dosha Type

Ayurveda focuses on holistic health, where a balanced life contributes to a healthier way of living, both physically and emotionally. What’s even more heartening to note is that Ayurveda recognizes that the same treatment may not be effective for all people, and that we are individuals at the end of the day. In addition, the food you eat and the lifestyle you have are very important in Ayurveda and contribute to your overall health. Some of the principles of Ayurveda work around the concept of balance of the three doshas, also known as the energies each individual has based on his/her qualities and they also have different physical effects on the body. To give you some perspective, the three doshasare:

  1. Vata Dosha: Vata is the energy that controls basic body functions such as breathing, your heartbeats and so on. When the Vata dosha is properly in balance and in control, it promotes creativity and energy in people. When it is out of balance, however, it can cause symptoms like anxiety and fear. A person with a lot of Vata qualities is usually very active, has a fast metabolism, is thin and their skin is usually dry as well. They have the elemental quality of air or vayu. Their sleeping and eating habits are often irregular, and exhibit a lot of modesty, introspection and are often shy. If you identify with this, you probably have a Vata constitution. Try to eat more of warm, heavy and sweet foods as opposed to cold, light and dry foods. Warm herbal teas, fruit and vegetable juices without ice are also good to take.
  2. Kapha Dosha: Kapha is associated with the water element. People with Kapha constitution are most likely to be heavy in terms of build, with the propensity to gain weight easily. They tend to have a low appetite and prone to sleep heavily as well. They are also very sentimental in nature and prefer being in a group or community of like-minded people. Some of the dietary guidelines for Kapha include more of dry, light, heating and spicy foods while steering away from heavy, sour or watery foods. Skimmed milk, buttermilk and goat’s milk are great choices when it comes to dairy. Spice teas are also good for the Kapha type.
  3. Pitta Dosha: People of the Pitta Dosha type predominantly have the characteristics of the fire element. They are usually of medium build and are passionate in nature. They are assertive, extroverted and decisive. They have great insights and a good sense of distinguishing between things. The ideal diet for a Pitta type consists largely of cool, sweet and juicy foods with a focus on whole grains, all types of dairy such as ghee, milk, buttermilk, and lassi. Cool beverages like milk, water and coconut water are good for this type.

Once you are able to tell your dosha type, it is good to devise a health and lifestyle plan for yourself that fits into the advisory tips for your particular type. This is a simple introductory guide towards determining your dosha type and identifying the changes you need to make to your life. For more specific advice it is better to consult an Ayurvedic specialist, which you can do here.