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A History of Ayurveda- the Most Ancient Surviving Medical System

17 Mar 2020 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy

History of Ayurveda

A History of Ayurveda- the Most Ancient Surviving Medical System

It is that one method of medicine and wellness which has been around since antiquity, a civilizational victory and testimony to man’s struggle against disease in none other than the land of birth of the Vedic knowledge system. Ayurveda is integrally, historically part of India’s legacy for the quest for the holistic spiritual wellness of mankind.

The true history of Ayurveda starts in the time of the Vedas, the ancient Holy Books of the Aryans (“noble ones”).  Hindu mythology tells us that Lord Brahma, the creator of the world, transmitted the knowledge of Ayurveda to mankind.  The four Vedas are called Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.  They were written about 3-5 thousand years ago.  All the Vedas contain medical knowledge based upon the principles of Ayurveda, especially the Atharva Veda.

It was well known to the ancient peoples of the East that rishis and munis existed, learned sages and saints who devoted their life to understanding the realities of the world (the word rishi and muni are interchangeable, but a rishi would be the most spiritually advanced of these two words for sage).  Aryavarta, the land of the Aryans which covers the wide surrounding area of the Himalayas, is the native home of the rishis and munis.  The surrounding area of the Himalayas in the present political landscape includes the countries of Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

The ancient civilization of these countries was strongly influenced by the unique intellectual contributions of these holy sages.  The hymns, liturgical formulas and medical knowledge found in the Vedas were the contributions of various rishis and munis.  The sages realized that sickness was a major impediment to the search for liberation, and so many of them became vaidyas to help their people.  Vaidya, the Sanskrit word for physician, is derived from the root word for wisdom.

The Principle

The philosophical framework underlying Ayurvedic treatment foregrounds ‘interconnectedness’. Here are it’s basic tenets-

  • All things of the universe, the living and non-living, the human and non-human, are part of a harmonious wholeness. The five universal elements—Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth are what everything is, at a cellular level.
  • The Self and the environment are not separate from one another.
  • Connected within ourselves and with the people and world around us is a pathway to true health and wellness.
  • Balance is the key to health. One must maintain balance in one’s thoughts and emotions, as well as dietary consumptions.
  • Effectively recognizing the junctures of imbalance in lifestyle and eliminating the negative thrusts to regain health and wholesomeness.
  • Lastly, to understand and learn to take responsibility for one’s choices and actions, and ushering health by making balanced choices which may ensure harmony.

In conclusion, through further research into the spiritual origins and history of Ayurveda, we are able to see a greater influence of the Gods as well as a closer connection to the rishis of Ayurveda and their influence on the Briha Trayi. There is a basic tree graph showing a simple linear path of the origins and history of Ayurveda. I can’t help feel that this graph could be updated as the influence of the Gods and the influence of the rishi’s teachings are anything but linear. After my research I conclude that the graph should be similar to this:

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