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In the words of His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale (A Saint of the highest order and the inspiration behind SSRF) :
In the current times, when we fall sick we go to a doctor trained in the modern (allopathic) system of medicine. The thought of going to someone trained in alternative medicine usually does not come to our mind as allopathy has established itself as the conventional system of medicine in the current times. However, alternative systems of medicine do exist and can benefit us by preventing as well as curing various diseases and ailments. One such system is Ayurveda, which evolved thousands of years ago in India. In this article we will see the principles of Ayurveda, how it developed, compare it with allopathy and see why it is important to know about and study Ayurvedic treatment for the coming times.
The name Ayurveda is derived from the two syllables, ayur meaning life and veda meaning knowledge. So, Ayurveda means knowledge about living a healthy life. Allopathic medicine treats only the disease, but Ayruveda is a holistic system that treats the disease and the patient as a whole as well.
3. History of Ayurvedic treatment
Ayurvedic treatment is a system of medicine that evolved in India and has survived as a distinct entity from ancient times to the present day. The true history of Ayurveda starts from the time of the ancient Holy books, the Vēdās. Scholars of the subject contend that the concept and essence of Ayurveda was revealed by the creator of the world Himself, Lord Brahma. References to medicine are found in the earliest texts including the Vedas. Agnivesa wrote the Samhita which is a classic and has survived to this day. It has been made available to the world by Charaka and is known as the Charaka Samhita. Charaka is believed to have lived in the sixth century B.C. The work is a complete compendium of medical information, dealing with medical aspects such as etiology, symptomatology, treatment and medical care in health and in disease. Equal in importance to the Charaka Samhita is another treatise called Susruta Samhita. This work deals with surgical diseases, and diseases of the special organs such as the eye, ear, etc.
Divine plants that sustain long life and good health are now being rediscovered. Many renowned families of Vaidyas (Doctors specialized in Ayurvedic Medicine), who are specialized in certain branches of Ayurveda, have started functioning again in India and some other countries. Today there is a revival of the ancient culture and traditions inherent to Ayurveda, which is a true gift of the ancient civilization to the modern world.
4. Principles of Ayurvedic treatment
Ayurveda aims at making a happy, healthy and peaceful society.
- To maintain the health of healthy people
- To cure the diseases of sick people
According to Ayurveda, our environment is made up of the five primary elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. Just as in nature, human beings are also comprised of these five elements. When any of these elements are imbalanced in the environment, they will have an influence on us. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the influence of these elements.
The five primary elements manifest in the human body as three basic humours known as doshās (vāta, pitta and kapha). These three doshas govern creation, maintenance and destruction of bodily tissues. Each person is born with a unique combination of these doshas which decides their basic constitution called Prakruti.
- vata dosha governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration and elimination, etc.
- The Pitta dosha is responsible for the process of transformation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a Pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism.
- Kapha dosha is responsible for growth. It also offers protection, for example, in a form of the cerebral-spinal fluid, which protects the brain and spinal column. The mucosal lining of the stomach is another example of the function of Kapha dosha protecting the tissues.
Ayurvedic treatment protocols specifically address a person’s health challenges. When any of the doshas become accumulated or off balance, Ayurveda suggests specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha that has become excessive. Also, herbal medicines are suggested to cure the imbalance and the disease.
5. Comparison with Allopathy
|1. Creation||God’s creation||Man-made|
|2. History||Existing since time immemorial||A few centuries old|
|3. Objective||Maintaining good health, prevention of disease and cure of disease||Curing disease or its symptoms|
|4. Doctrine||Same since time immemorial||Keeps changing|
|5. Extent of the reasons||Thinking about the reasons from the present and the past births||Thinking of a few reasons from the present birth only|
|6. Suggesting remedy considering period (kāl), time, season, constitution etc.||Yes||No|
|7. Form of medicines||Natural. Made from readily available plants and herbs. Hence, cheap and without side effects||Made from artificial and synthetic materials. Hence, more expensive and some medicines may have severe side effects|
|8. Method of preparing medicine||Preparing medicine while chanting||Mechanical|
|9. Treatment||Goes to the root of the disease||Superficial|
|10. Spiritual remedies to be performed by the patient||Available||Not available|
|11. Extent||Considers the health of mind, intellect and body of the person||Limited to the body and to some extent the mind|
6. Need for knowledge of Ayurvedic treatment during the coming times
The world is currently in a stage of turmoil. Many Saints have predicted the possibility of The Third World War and unprecedented natural disasters in the next few years. As a result of this war, there will be a scarcity of many basic commodities. Factories will close down and medicines will become unavailable. During that time, one will have to rely on available alternative therapies like Ayurveda to prevent and cure diseases. From this vantage point, learning about Ayurveda from now itself is important. The advantages of following this system include ease of preparation of medicines at home, without sophisticated equipment, using common household ingredients such as herbs and plants which are easily available. If the common man knows how to use natural plants and herbs as medicines, then it will tide him over this period of crisis.