The history of Ayurveda
“The Future has an Ancient heart.” Archaeologists made the discovery that the people of the Indus Valley Civilization had knowledge of medicine and dentistry dating as far back as 9000 BCE. Ayurveda the science of life, was recorded in this region, more than 5000 years ago in Sanskrit in the four ancient texts called the Vedas. Prior to written texts, because of the evidence above, this knowledge was shared in an oral tradition dating back to 9000 BCE. Ayurveda holds on to the fundamental view that all of manifest existence is intrinsically connected and that all areas of life impacts ones health, so it follows that the Vedas cover a wide variety of topics including health and healthcare techniques, astrology, spirituality, government and politics, the arts, and human behaviour.
By the 8th century BCE, ayurvedic medical books were made available and provided not only procedural instructions but also a definitive understanding of the elements, plant medicine, the human anatomy, the nature, food and food combinations, times of day and seasons.
The knowledge of Ayurveda today is based primarily on “the great triad” of texts call Brhat Travi which consists of:
- Charak Samhita (600 – 900 BC)
- Sushruta Samitha (600 – 800 BC)
- Ashtanga Hridaya (500 AD)
Sushruta is considered as the “founding father of surgery.” One of the earliest known mention of the name is from the Bower Manuscript where Sushruta is listed as one of the ten sages residing in the Himalayas. He was an early innovator of plastic surgery who taught and practiced surgery on the banks of the Ganges in the area that corresponds to the present-day city of Varanasi in Northern India. Much of what is known about Sushruta is in Sanskrit contained in a series of volumes he authored, which are collectively known as the Sushruta Samhita. It is one of the oldest known surgical texts and it describes in detail the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous ailments, as well as procedures on performing various forms of cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery and rhinoplasty.
In order to qualify as an Ayurvedic doctor today, about 7 to 8 years of commitment is required. The degree for an Ayurvedic doctor is called a Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medical Science. There are 8 branches in Ayurveda:
- Kaya Chikitsa – general practitioner
- Shalya Chikitsa – Surgery
- Shalakya Chikitsa – Ophthalmology & ENT
- Kaumara Chikitsa – Paediatrics
- Agada Chikitsa – Toxicology
- Grihar Chikitsa – Psychiatry
- Gera Chikitsa – Rejuvenation therapy
- Vrishi Chikitsa – Aphrodisiacs
Ayurveda has two main goals:
- To preserve and extend the life of a human being for as long as necessary to attain self-actualisation (realisation)
- To treat one that has become sick
I hope this was helpful. We will continue as the weeks progress with the next aspect of our series: Ayurveda and Health.