The Science of Life
Ayurveda is a holistic healing science which comprises of two words, ‘Ayu’ and ‘Veda’. ‘Ayu’ means life and ‘Veda’ means science. The literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is ‘The Science of Life’. Ayurvedic science originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is often called the “Mother of All Healing.” Ayurveda is not only limited to body or physical form, but it also includes spiritual, mental and social health.
The Traditional Indian Medicine
Ayurveda therapies have varied and evolved over more than two millennia. Therapies include medicines, special diets, meditation, yoga, massage, laxatives, enemas, and medical oils. Medicines are typically based on complex herbal compounds, and essential minerals. Ancient Ayurveda also taught surgical techniques, including rhinoplasty, kidney stone extractions, sutures, and the extraction of foreign objects.
Ayurveda stems from the ancient Vedic culture and was taught for many thousands of years in tradition from accomplished masters to their disciples. Some of this knowledge was set to print a few thousand years ago, but much of it is inaccessible to the contemporary world. The principles of many of the natural healing systems now familiar in the West have their roots in Ayurveda, including Homeopathy and Polarity Therapy.
Balancing the Three Principle Energies of the Body
The three primary life forces influencing body, mind and soul. The Ayurvedic term for these forces is Dosha. In Sanskrit they are known as: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
The nearest translation, meaning or comparative of these terms depending upon their qualities and actions are:
- Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement — composed of Space and Air. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, Vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, Vata produces fear and anxiety.
- Pitta expresses as the body’s metabolic system — made up of Fire and Water. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and the body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy.
- Kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure — bones, muscles, tendons — and provides the “glue” that holds the cells together, formed from Earth and Water. Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, Kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy.
Other important basic principles of Ayurveda which are briefly mentioned here are:
- Dhatus – These are the basic tissues which maintain and nourish the body. They are seven in number, namely – Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Meda, Asthi, Majja, Shukra. Proper functioning of these is very essential.
- Mala – These are mainly urine, faeces, sweat, etc. These are the waste materials produced as a result of various metabolic activities in the body. Proper elimination of the malas is equally important for good health. Accumulation of malas cause many diseases in the body.
- Srotas – These are different types of channels which are responsible for transportation of food, dhatus, malas and doshas. Obstruction or malnourishment of these may lead to morbidity of other or preceding entity.
- Agni – These can be compared to different types of enzymes responsible for digestion and transforming one material to other.
Life presents us with many challenges and opportunities. Although there is much over which we have little control, we do have the power to decide about some things, such as diet and lifestyle. To maintain balance and health, it is important to pay attention to these decisions. Diet and lifestyle appropriate to one’s individual constitution strengthen the body, mind and consciousness.