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About Ayurveda

Ayurveda is an Indian medical science, originating over 5000 years ago. The written source of this science is ancient books of knowledge known as the Vedas. The Vedas contain practical and scientific information on a wide variety of issues including philosophy, logic, engineering, agriculture, economics and politics, amongst other subjects. These areas are fascinating subjects in their own right, but this book explores only one of the Vedic branches - that of health, Ayurveda. Vedic knowledge propounds the principle of natural balance within the body and harmony with the environment. People are seen as an integral part of their habitat - not as a separate entity from the natural world. Obtaining and maintaining balance within the body and mind, and with the external environment, is one of the goals of this knowledge. Living in harmony with nature and according to natural principles ensures complete physical health and peace of mind. So is this ancient wisdom secret, or only available to a fortunate few? Or are the principles hard to comprehend and difficult to apply?

 We will be pleasantly surprised to know it is easily learned by anyone and can be adapted into our life starting from today. It does not require any fancy equipment or expert knowledge, and costs no more (and probably less) than what we already spend on groceries. Maintaining our health is based on nothing more complex than understanding the characteristics of our body and qualities of the food we eat. Many of the remedies for common ailments can be simply and quickly prepared in our own kitchen with widely available herbs. The instruction manual for the natural living of human beings is called Ayurveda, which is presented here in a simplified form. So Ayurveda is a unified system that encompasses all these aspects. The magic of it is that it involves nothing more expensive or complex than adapting our diet and lifestyle. Meaning of Ayurveda Ayurveda is derived from two words, Ayus and Veda. Understanding the meaning of both words is necessary to fully grasp the philosophy of this discipline. Definition of Ayus The English translation of ayus is “life”. In the Vedic context, the definition of life is broader than simply chronological lifespan. It does not mean the age of a person; the number of years lived on Earth measured from birth until the present day. Ayus is much more than that, it is a combination of the:

• Body sarira

• Senses indriya

• Mind manas

• Soul atma Together,

these four factors are responsible for sustaining the life air or force (prana) in the body, and each must be present in order to produce ayus. If any one of the above factors is absent, we cannot say there is life/ayus. Everything on Earth has a physical body and a soul, but whether it also has a mind and senses determines whether it is alive. The reason why a rock is not alive (has no ayus) is that some of the factors mentioned above are absent (mind, senses). Prana cannot be sustained in the absence of these factors. Every species of animal has each of these four factors, so prana can circulate and ayus is present. The senses and minds of animals are different to that of humans, but they still exist as living beings. Insects and animals may perceive things differently (such as colors, sounds, temperatures, odors) and the mind may not be as well developed as human beings, but the souls are alike. So ayus is the basis of distinction between inert objects and dynamic entities, or living beings. Definition of Veda Veda is a Sanskrit word which means “knowledge” or “science”. Vedic knowledge is enshrined in fourteen sacred texts. There are four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva), six Vedangas (auxiliaries), Meemamsa (interpretations), Nyaya (logic), Puranas and Shastras. Although Vedic knowledge originated in India, it does not mean this information is of relevance only to Indians. Knowledge is the universal asset of mankind—it is not the property of one region. Vedic information can be utilized by anybody, in any part of the world. If we, as Indians, think this wealth of information is our exclusive property and don’t share it, we are not providing we with the chance to learn from the profound wisdom that has enriched our culture for centuries. Objective of Ayurveda There are two complementary aims of this discipline. The first is to maintain the health of those who are well. This entails specific diet and nutrition, hygiene, living habits, exercises and stabilizing techniques. Following these guidelines enables a healthy person to maintain health and increase their life-span. The other is to cure diseases of those who are sick. This aspect relates to various diseases, their causes, diagnosis, remedies and therapies to cure and prevent relapses of illness. Although both of these aims are connected and are comprehensive areas in their own right, the primary focus of this science is to maintain our health from the outset. This is done on a daily basis with attention to diet and lifestyle, helping the body and mind to be clean and stable. In this way, diseases do not find ground for establishment and growth. A patient being treated with Ayurveda is considered as the total combination of body, mind, senses and soul. The Ayurvedic doctor aims to achieve complete health for the patient, not just to suppress or alleviate troubling physical symptoms. The approach is to diagnose the root cause and eliminate it, allowing genuine healing to take place. Ayurveda is based on the fundamental principle that to prevent and treat illness, maintaining a balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies, is essential. Even today ayurvedic medicine maintains its holistic approach to health and treatment of diseases.

The branches of modern ayurveda include:

• Principles of preventive healthcare for the entire family (kulam svastyam kutumbakam).

• Treatment of addictions (sangakara chikitsa).

• Purification and rejuvenation treatments (panchakarma chikitsa).

• The ayurvedic approach to diet and weight loss (sthaulya chikitsa)

• Musculoskeletal system treatments (vatavyadhi chikitsa).

• Promotion of self-healing and resistance to disease (svabhaavoparamavaada).

• Male and female infertility (vajikarana).

• Beauty and cosmetic treatments for men and women (saundarya sadhana).

Since the mid 70’s the popularity of ayurveda has steadily increased in the developed nations (USA and Europe). In these countries it is included in the alternative and complementary therapies and is often used along with conventional (prescription) medications for treatment of chronic illness such as joint problems and skin problems. People from these developed countries have been coming to ayurvedic schools to learn its principles of healing and treatment.

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