Ayurveda - Its Concepts simplified
The Indian subcontinent has been a reserve of knowledge from the early pre-historic times all the way to the foreign invasions. Much of the traditional culture and knowledge has been greatly influenced by these invasions and also other religious groups.
The entire volume of ancient knowledge from India is compiled into 4 major textbooks called the Vedas. The Vedas are believed to be revelations of sages who dedicated their lives to find out the truth about the phenomenons around them by observation and meditation. Researches prove that the facts put in the Vedas agree with the modern scientific facts.
Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine indigenous to India has also been derived from the vedas. Later, the ancient physicians used this knowledge to compile separate textbooks on medicine based on their content and experiences. Some of the authentic textbooks of Ayurveda prevailing now are Ashtangahrudayam, Susruthasamhitha, Charakasamhitha, Bhavapraksha, Sarangadharasamhitha etc.
The Concept of Moksha
Conceptually, "moksha" means to liberate the mortal soul from the barriers of the body and mind and reunite it with the all-pervading eternal higher conscience .
Let me put it to you simply and practically.
Imagine you have done everything you have ever wanted to do in this life (materially this is not possible) and have nothing more to do. Would you fear death? No. Rather you would face life with grace and dignity. You will be able to use your capabilities to one-hundred percent to drive a more effective and sensible living. This sense of detachment is called "moksha".
It is not easy, especially in a world where ideas are being constantly bombarded into your mind making you seek sensual pleasures and monetary comforts.
Moksha is the ultimate aim of Ayurveda and Yoga.
Moksha need not be an after-death scenario.This sense of detachment can be attained by constant practice and striving.
Ayurveda helps you in this laborious process. How??
Followers of Ayurveda can find themselves in good vigor and mindfulness .This helps keep the mind free of all vices and egos so that one can use their energies to pave their own way to" moksha" or the higher perspective.
Secondly, it helps to keep the body-machinery free of diseases and in good shape to work efficiently towards this ultimate goal.
How to conduct your life?
The ancients Indians considered the body as a temple where the potential and sanctified soul resided. They had a well-structured and highly disciplined routines and dietary habits conducive to a prolonged and energetic life. These included everything from waking -up routines, table manners and even prayers while going to bed . All this was conducted in the name of "Dharma" or righteous living. But they actually paved the way to a more fruitful living.
The awareness and conducts which helped keep the mind and body healthy, comprises the preventive aspect of Ayurveda.
The Balance between Life and the Cosmos
Everything in this universe co-exists with one another in an innate yet intricate balance. All unpleasantness arises when this balance is disturbed even on a small scale.
The Panchabootha Theory
Just as the contemporary science considers the universe to be formed of solid, liquid and gas, the ancient Indian sciences had their own concept which advocated that the universe is created by five components called the "Panchaboothas". "Pancha" means 'five' and "bootha" means 'that which exists'. They are Prthvi (solid), Apam (liquid), Vayu(gas ) and additionally Tejass (heat) and Akasha (space or ether).
Each of these gross elements are made up of their own invincible unit not visible to the naked eye and which have their own unique properties.
The composition of any substance in the universe could be explained by the different combination of these five elements. Even death has been given the phrase "panchadha" which means "to be disassembled into the five". After death the soul departs from the human body and the mortal body breaks up and finally combines with these five elements from which they initially evolved.
It must be quite a task for the scientific brain to incorporate a philosophical standpoint into its concepts especially because our customary alma mater offers no such background. But it should be pointed out that life has been well understood by those who have always added a pinch of philosophy and aesthetics to it. Yet, wit apart, Indian sciences have always been enmeshed and built on a philosophical foundation much to the authors understanding.
The Thridosha Theory
The thridosha theory forms the basis of Ayurvedic medicine. It is a derivative of the panchabootha theory.
The five elements which constitute the universe is also responsible for the gross human body. However for the sake of easy understanding and deduction and to make the process of treatment more handy, the five basic constituents are briefed into three humors or the "tridoshas". "Tri" means 'three' and "doshas" means "which can be deranged".
The three humors or tridoshas are named as vata (gas+ether), pitta(heat) ,kapha (solid+liquid). These three entities are in balance with the external environment and also with each other within the body. Any disturbance in this balance will cause an imbalance in health or in other words, will result in ill-health.
It is astonishing that the permutation and combination of these three humors can lead to all sorts of derangement in the human body causing sickness ranging from hiccups to lung cancer.
Treatment in Ayurveda is aimed at correcting this imbalance and re-establishing the homeostasis among the three humors. This is done by analyzing the extent of disturbance, its cause and then correcting it through the judicious use of either food, detoxifying measures, drugs or invasive procedures.
Deciding the apt treatment is a herculean task and is where the expertise of an aspirant in Ayurveda is revealed because it takes great insight to decide the right combination of drugs and regimens suitable for the individual. This again does not mean that the most expensive medicine is crafted out rather that the treatment opted should put right the imbalance created within the body after considering the inherent constitution of the individual, the present status-quo, the external environment, the habituated diet and the list goes on to every minute detail.
The Many Misconceptions
It is unfortunate that many relate Ayurveda to quackery or some sort of elite treatment associated with massages and aromatic oils. Oil massages do play a role in Ayurveda treatment but it is only a fraction of it. In reality it is clearly the most cost-effective and reachable medical system available to the common man.
It is true that Ayurveda is not without limitations but that has to be attributed more to the lack of research and timely updating that is needed in any sect of science rather than the inadequacy of the science itself.
Ayurveda as the "know-it-all" of life.
Ayurveda is the knowledge and awareness that allows the individual to deliberately alter his lifestyle so that his body and mind could be used to the fullest potential for a happy and contented life .
Only the preventive and curative aspects of Ayurveda has been explored in large.
The author hopes this article will instill in the readers, the curiosity for further research into the vast opportunities of health and happiness that life has to offer through Ayurveda.
© 2017 Dr Cimi Bhaskaran