Past - Present - Future
Ayurveda or the Ayurvedic medicine system is the traditional healing system of India, which originated over 5,000 years back. The fundamentals of Ayurveda can be found in Hindu scriptures called the Vedas — the ancient Indian books of wisdom. Medical knowledge from all areas of the world was said to have assembled and the famous sage Veda Vyasa dictated this wisdom to Lord Ganesh, who put into writing the complete knowledge of Ayurveda. It is believed that the sages or saints received their training of Ayurveda through direct cognition during meditation. It means that the knowledge of the use of the various methods of healing, prevention, longevity and surgery came through Divine revelation; there was no guessing or testing or harming of animals. These revelations were transcribed from the oral tradition into book form, interspersed with the other aspects of life and spirituality.
In olden days Ayurveda was used in combination with Vedic astrology but later it was organized into its own compact system of health and considered an auxiliary branch of the Vedas, called an Upaveda (limb of the Veda). The authors took the passages related to Ayurveda from the various Vedas and made separate books, dealing only with Ayurveda.
Around 1500 B.C., Ayurveda was segragated into eight specific branches of medicine, with two main schools namely Atreya- the school of physicians, and Dhanvantari- the school of surgeons. Both these schools helps Ayurveda to become more scientifically provable and classifiable medical system. As a result Ayurveda grew into a respected and widely used system of healing in India. People from different countries started to visit Indian Ayurvedic schools to learn about this world medicine- in its completeness. Chinese, Tibetans, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Afghanistan's, Persians, and many more traveled to learn the wisdom and bring it back to their own countries.
The two main reorganizers of Ayurveda whose works are still existing and used are - Charak and Sushrut who wrote Charak Sanhita and Sushrut Sanhita. The third major treatise is called the Ashtanga Hridaya, which is a concise version of the works of Charak and Sushrut. These books are believed to be over 1,200 years old.
Charak represented the Atreya school of physicians that discuss physiology, anatomy, etiology, pathogenesis, symptoms and signs of disease; methodology of diagnosis, treatment and prescription of patients; prevention and longevity. According to the Charak the root cause of illness is the loss of faith in the Divine that led to suffering and spiritual, mental and physical disease at later stages. External factors that cause diseases included time of day, seasons, diet and lifestyle. There is a whole section discussing the medicinal aspects of herbs, diet, and reversing of the aging process. Charak has also explained the development of fetus in the womb that exactly parallels to what we know today from using modern technical machinery.
Sushrut the other renowned scholar follows the Dhanvantari school of surgeons. In America, there is a society of surgeons who named themselves the Sushrut Society, after this great medical author. In his text Sushrut Samhita he had given detailed and sophisticated explanation of surgical equipment; the classification of abscesses, burns, fractures, wounds, amputation, plastic surgery, anal/rectal surgery, which are validated by modern medicines technical equipment and research. There is a complete discussion of the human anatomy; the bones, joints, nerves, heart, blood vessels, circulatory system etc., again, corroborated by today's methods of mechanical investigation. It is the text that teaches the first science of massage, using marma points or vital body points, which parallel Chinese acupuncture.
Though Ayurveda originated and grown in India it is not the main healing practice in India today. The reason behind this declination of Ayurveda is foreign invasions that marked there significant influences on every aspect of life including medical system. Firstly The Muslims closed down Ayurvedic colleges and insisted the Indian people practice only their forms of living and finally the British closed down the remaining Ayurvedic universities. But Ayurveda did not disappear altogether, it was practiced secretly until 1920 when it re emerged, and began to rebuild the universities with the help of the Indian government.
Today Ayurveda has gained a immense popularity not only in India but all over the world. In India there are over 150 Ayurvedic universities and over 100 Ayurvedic colleges that are imparting Ayurvedic knowledge.
There are numerous Ayurveda clinics and centers all over the world that are providing medicinal as well as other healing services based on ancient knowledge of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a science that works in a complete harmony with nature. The products used in Ayurvedic treatments are purely natural, extracted from several herbal plants. Thus they are safe and do not cause any adverse effects in general. The other reason responsible for popularity of Ayurveda is its cost effectiveness. Ayurvedic treatments are quite inexpensive than other modern medicinal treatments.
There are number of websites available on internet today that provides knowledge about Ayurveda and Ayurvedic treatments, therapies, programmes and centers that provide these services.