where and when the stream of Ayurveda started flowing
still remains unanswered. However, it has an uninterrupted
history of more than 3000 years. The historians and
scholars have their own arguments and reasons in fixing
up different time frames. Anyway, one thing can be
said for certain that there is no civilization in
the world, which has not developed some system of
medicine or the other. It was the periodic systematization
of such medical knowledge and practice, which led
to the development of medical science. The same is
the story of Ayurveda with its own variations.
It could be seen that Ayurveda is rooted in the knowledge
revealed by ancient seers whose insights and visions
are compiled in the vedas
are the earliest forms of documented knowledge. The
six systems of Indian philosophy - nyaya, vaiseshika,
sankhya, yoga, mimamsa
acknowledged the authority of vedas
. Of the
four vedas, Atharvaveda
contain more intimate
reference to medical knowledge and practice. Ayurveda
is therefore considered as an auxiliary limb (upaveda)
. Similarly, the influence
of classical Indian Philosophies, especially of sankhya
is apparent in ayurvedic literature.
These philosophical moorings make Ayurveda more than
a medical manual though it is radically health oriented.
Ayurveda does not go deep into philosophy after a
certain stage and is more concerned with function
and dysfunction of the human body, the orderly up
keep of which is the prime requisite to fulfill the
human aspirations and to achieve the ultimate goals
of life. Ayurveda can thus be introduced as a system
of medicine built on philosophical foundation that
does not go on changing over time. Ayurveda, as any
other biological discipline, is dynamic at operational
level. Obviously the super structure of Ayurveda is
flexible and flexible enough for appropriate extrapolation.
This unique feature makes the art of healing down
to earth practical in tune with the changing trends
and needs of the human life.
In short, Ayurveda has a unique self-designed axiomatic
framework as its foundation, which remarkably holds
out a truly global vision. It assumes fundamental
continuity between all elements of universe and
as a natural extension of this ideology perceives
man as an integral part of nature. Ayurveda underscores
the fundamental commonalties observed in man and
nature and attempts to explain the human life in
It starts by saying that purusha, the individual
being, is a blend of soul, mind, sense organs and
body. The structural and functional units of the
human body are categorized and represented in Ayurveda
in terms of bio physico chemical energies of the
living body (doshas), tissues (dhatus)
and metabolic end products (malas).
Health is defined as a state wherein the dynamic
balance of doshas, dhatus and malas
is maintained, the metabolism is at optimum level
and soul, mind and sense organs assume sublime position.
This definition fully agrees with the integral vision
of health envisaged by WHO; the former has an additional
dimension of sound spirituality.
structural and functional units of human body
are composed of five basic elements known
as panchabhutas. Panchabhutas literally
mean the five elements, which include the
earth, the water, the fire, the wind and the
space. Each one of them wields an influence
on certain part of the human constitution.
For example, every opening in the body, the
ears and the voids and internal sounds of
the body are all belonging to the element
of space. The element of fire influences the
human form and its glow, the eyes, the bodily
heat, the digestive activity and also the
feelings of anger and valour. Recognition
of this identical elemental basis of human
body and outside world has profound implications
in the practice of medicine.
Diseases are the manifestations of perturbations
in the equilibrium of body constituents including
doshas. Perturbation involves the increase
or decrease of body constituent as the case may
According to Ayurveda, medicine is that which being
well administered becomes an equalizer of increased
or diminished elements, that brings down the excessive
one and augments the deficient one thus restoring
the pre-morbid condition of the body. This concept
leads to the realization that there is nothing in
the world, which cannot be used as medicament.
Ayurveda considers him as the best physician who
knows the science of administration of drugs with
due reference to clime, and who applies it only
after examining each and every patient individually.
To acquire this proficiency and competency, a comprehensive
knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, disease
process, medical and surgical treatment, psychiatry,
preventive medicine, medical ethics, materia medica
and pharmacology is indispensable. The content of
Ayurveda embraces all the spheres separately, but
emphasizing on a holistic vision.