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History of Ayurveda

Updated on March 20, 2012
History of Ayurveda
History of Ayurveda | Source


India is a land of mystery and magic both. Known for its rich diversity and culture, various colors and aromas that fill the mind and soul with utmost calm and peace, India is a place that can live up to your expectations.

Indians have known to be intelligent and have contributed their knowledge in various fields like medicine, aeronautics, mathematics, music, language etc. which is worldwide appreciated.

In the field of medicine, Ayurveda is still considered to be the oldest and respected form of practice. It is considered to be the gift of ancient world to the modern world.


Origin of Ayurveda dates back to about 5000 yrs, when Vedas (Holy Books) had come into existence. One of the four Vedas; atharvaveda; described the principles of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is formed from the word “Ayur” which means life in Sanskrit. The basic fact of Ayurveda lays on the fact that mind, body and spirit should exist in the equilibrium. It always brings forward the philosophy of life. Traditional methods of healing from around the world like Tibetan, Chinese and Greek medicine have been influenced by Ayurveda only.

Due to invasion of foreign cultures and natural human calamities, ayurveda has suffered a lot. Sometimes, the text or Vedas have got stolen as well. But, thanks to some Indian Doctors or Vaidyas, who revived the ancient knowledge and put into the practice.

Scholars from places like Tibet, China, Greek, Roman, Egypt, and Afghanistan used to travel to India to learn more about the Ayurveda practices and the religious Vedas that gave rise to it.

Ayurvedic concepts have been translated into many languages such as Arabic and European as well that is used by the practitioners in the respective countries.

Father of modern Western Medicine, Paracelsus from Europe, in the era of 16th century formulated a system of medicine derived from ayurveda as well.

Charak and Sushrut are considered to be the two main persons who revived the work of Ayurveda and their works are still in use. One of the earliest surviving written material on ayurveda has been excavated around 6th century AD, named as Bower Manuscript, and is based on the work of Sushruta. Ashtanga Hridaya is the compilation of works of charak and sushruta in a concise manner. So, in this way, 3 main books of Ayurveda are considered to be Charak Samhita, Sushrut Samhita and Ashtangha Hridaya Samhita. These books have been believed to be written about 1,200 years ago.

How Ayurveda Works?

Ayurveda has been based on the basic 5 elements of the universe and the physics related to it. They are Prthvi (earth), Jala (fire), Vayu (air) and Akasa (sky). Plasma, Blood, Flesh, Fat, Bone, Marrow, Semen are known to be the seven basic elements of the body and Ayurveda works on this. The main dynamics of Ayurveda comes from the principle of maintaining equilibrium between 3 elemental energies: Vayu vata (Air and Space), Pitta (fire and water- bile) and Kapha (water and earth- phlegm). If any disturbances arise in between them, then it leads to genesis of various diseases and ailments.

Ayurvedic theory is based on the assumption that each human comprise of his own set combination of doshas that tells about the person’s temperament and characteristics.

Ayurveda focus on yoga, exercise and meditation too.

The most fascinating thing about Ayurveda is that it uses herbs, aromas, food, colors, gems, mantras, lifestyle and surgery to heal people. In India, 2 main schools of Ayurveda had emerged during the ancient times – Atreya- the school of physicians, and Dhanvantari - the school of surgeons. These schools gave a rational approach to Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is basically divided into eight sections which are collectively called as ‘Astanga Ayurveda’. These include Internal medicine, organic medicine, surgery, toxicology, pediatrics, rejuvenating remedy, aphrodisiac remedies and spiritual healing.

Tenfold examination of the patient has been recommended in Charaka Samhita such as abnormality, essence, stability, constitution, body measurements, diet suitability, digestive capacity, psychic strength, physical fitness, age.

Five factors that leads to diagnosis have been mentioned by Chopra (2003) namely origin of the disease, precursory symptoms, the pathological process, typical symptoms of the fully developed disease, observing the effect of therapeutic procedures.

Diseases like fever, cough, consumption, seizures, diarrhea, skin diseases and tumors have been cured with the help of ayurveda in earlier times. In fact complex situations like hypertension, angina pectoris, stones, plastic and cataract surgeries, fractures etc. has also been taken care of with the help of ayurveda.

Widespread of Ayurveda

There are 100 of colleges in India that teach about ayurveda. The Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha carries out the research work in the field of ayurveda in India.

WHO also regulates the policies and standards related to Ayurveda and is being taught to the practitioners. The European Federation for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and The European Ayurveda Association are the two bodies that look to the ayurveda medicine.

Journals like Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (JAIM),andThe International Journal for Ayurveda Research emphasis on the findings of Ayurveda.

With so much of ancient treasure earlier physicians has provided to us, we should thanks our ancestors so that we can live a life with full zeal, without any fear of ailments.


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    • shwetha123 profile image

      Shwetha Shetty 6 years ago

      maddot - Thanks for dropping by... I am glad you found it interesting.

    • maddot profile image

      maddot 6 years ago from Northern NSW, Australia

      Great hub. very interesting. India certainly is an incredible country. Please tell us more!