Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means “knowledge of life.” It is an ancient indigenous medical science of the Hindu culture, more than five thousand years old. The source of this science lies in Athar Veda. Three most important names are associated with Ayurveda: Dhanvantri, the mythological god is regarded as the divine father of Ayurveda; Sushruta (600 BCE), father of Indian surgery, who performed more than 300 types of surgical operations and invented many sophisticated instruments; Acharya Charaka (100 CE), who wrote the “Charaka Samhita”, and is known as father of Indian medicine. It has been said that the Vedic sciences are really “one integral science, with many windows.” Like many others, this gem of the old Indian civilization is dazzling even today, perhaps more brightly than at any time in the history of mankind. It has come to occupy a position of dignity and honor, which was long overdue. There are number of ayurvedic centers, which now command a health-conscious, nature-loving, and sophisticated clientele. Ayurveda is fast becoming an integral part of many spas, yoga centers, and wellness clinics all over the West.
The ayurveda system is based more on promotion of the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being and balance than on treatment of illness. Modern medicine has long paid attention to the pathological state of various ailments and has been primarily concerned with treatment of the disease and symptoms. Ayurveda, on the other hand, treats the whole being, going to the root cause of the discomfort and its aggravation and giving a basic plan of action for disease prevention. Modern medicine only recently has turned its direction toward preventive aspects.
In recent times, Ayurveda has gained a prodigious status, with its main emphasis being “natural treatment” in place of chemicals and synthetics used in modern medicine, often accompanied by severe toxic reactions. From the Hindu viewpoint, the secular and the spiritual invariably go hand in hand. In fact, the “spiritual” often plays the dominant and supervisory role. Ayurveda centers are becoming more popular even in Western countries, because of their simple natural methodology.
Ayurveda lays more importance on the “prevention” aspect of disease, rather than its cure. In fact Ayurveda teaches that a person becomes sick mainly because he/she transgresses the natural laws of health. The recent high prominence of organic foods, vegetarianism, massage therapy, yoga, meditation etc. is linked with the Ayurveda philosophy.