Ayurveda represents a complex system of natural healing that originated in India . In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda means ”The science of life”. ”Ayus” means ”life” and it refers to the fundamental energy of life. ”Veda” means knowledge or, in other words, science. Ayurveda therefore represents an invaluable treasure of theoretical and practical knowledge that helps us find the best ways to improve the life of the human being. The traditional Ayurvedic system appeared and was practiced on a regular basis in India , 5000 years ago. Written sources from those times state that Ayurveda represents the most ancient traditional science for healing and maintaining health. Well-known, and spread way beyond the geographical region of India , Ayurveda offered, throughout the course of time, the theoretical and practical basis to build other traditional healing systems, known today as various branches of alternative medicine.
In the present day, Ayurveda represents the broadest and at the same time the easiest to understand system of natural healing. For this reason, there has been strong interest in the knowledge of Ayurveda in most western countries recently, together with a more intense concern for the practical application of the revolutionary therapeutic methods that are included in this ancient science. Therefore, in the present, some contemporary works affirm that Ayurveda can soon become the natural medical science of this planet, due to its simplicity and accessibility.
In the ancient Ayurvedic science, the state of health of a human being represents a state of balance and harmony that is established both between the different vital subtle forces that animate the human being, as well as between the Microcosm of the human being and the outer environment (Macrocosmic) in which she lives. In the vision of the millenary wisdom of the Ayurvedic system, individual balance and the harmony of the human being with the Universe presents both a vertical, ascending and evolutionary dimension, as well as a horizontal dimension, of relational interaction. The state of health represents a dynamic condition of the human being. It is an expression of balance and harmony experienced at all levels of the being. For the human being who aspires to reach the state of ecstatic communion with God with all her heart, which implies that complete inner freedom, balance and harmony represent the conditions of its manifestation. Therefore, it is easy to understand why it is necessary for the human being that honestly aims to live fully the state of spiritual freedom to gain and maintain very good health. A good state of physical, psychic and mental health conditions the human being and offers her a clear vision on God’s Reality. Understood in this way, as an expression of inner balance and harmony with the outside, health represents the basic condition for reaching spiritual perfection and ultimate fusion with God the Father.
In this direction, one of the famous Ayurveda writings, ”Sushruta-Samhita” says: ”The science of life (Ayurveda) is eternal and gives merits, prestige, happiness, longevity, means of living, and offers the human being access to the divine Sky (God)”.
The traditional Ayurvedic system is, at the same time, a precise and very well established science (including general notions and categories, as well as therapeutic modalities that have been carefully checked for thousands of years, through direct experience), as well as a real art of healing. Such an “art of healing” could not have been practiced except by those special human beings to whom spiritual realization could give the power to put life into all the healing acts in which they were involved.
By consistently attending the Ayurvedic course, everyone will soon be able to find out that Ayurveda represents much more then a science and an art of healing. In fact, Ayurveda represents a true way of living or, in other words, a way of life profoundly spiritual, simple and natural, which re-establishes the complete harmony of any human being, both with herself as well as with everything that surrounds her, thus allowing her to discover the secret harmony that exists between man and God. Seen from this perspective, we will be able to understand why Ayurveda is indeed the “Science of Life”.
The domains of the traditional science Ayurveda
The millenary tradition of the Ayurvedic system has 8 main parts (branches or specialities) called ANGAS. This traditional structuring of the Ayurvedic system in 8 main branches (ASHTANGA) is as follows:
KAYACIKITSA (the science of healing man’s main disturbances and diseases).
SHALYATANTRA (the traditional science of surgery).
SHLAKYATANTRA (the science of therapeutic modalities for affections above the clavicular level).
BHUTAVIDYA (the science of invisible, psychic and mental, factors).
KAUMARABHRITYA (Indian traditional paediatrics).
AGADATANTRA (the science of avoiding substances noxious for man).
RASAYANA (the science of using tonics and regenerating substances).
VAJIKARANA (the science of using aphrodisiac substances).
This system made of 8 main branches was kept in the Indian tradition until the modern age. Starting with the second half of the millennium, different important events determined the extension of the field of knowledge and, in this way, have led to a restructuring of the Ayurvedic system.
In the 19th century, in the medical colleges in India , there was a mixture between modern medical science and the ancient tradition of the Ayurvedic system, so that 9 other branches or specialities were added to the 8 traditional branches:
MAULIKA-SIDDHANTA (the science that presents the fundamental principles of the Ayurvedic system).
SHARIRA (the science that deals with the study of how the human being is made).
DRAVYAGUNA (the science that deals with the study of qualities, properties, actions and the classification of natural substances that have therapeutic value).
BHESHAJAKALPANA (the science of preparing, preserving and administrating natural remedies).
RASASHASTRA (the science of essential properties of natural remedies).
ROGAVIJNANA (the science that studies the causes and symptoms of diseases).
SVASTHAVRITTA (the science that studies the ways in which the human being can reach a better integration in the natural and social environment, keeping herself healthy and harmonious almost all the time).
MANASAROGA (the science that deals with the study of mental and psychic disturbances).
PRASUTITANTRA (the science that deals with the physiology and pathology of birth and pregnancy, birth assistance and the problems of feminine genitals).
Ayurveda is a very practical system to protect and restore health. Its methods are accessible and easy to apply and also inexpensive. Ayurveda also contains objective knowledge that only direct experience can reveal.
Practical ayurvedic methods are non-traumatic, non-invasive, and do not interfere with other forms of treatment. They can intensify the effect of almost any form of healing and can therefore be administered without any problems or secondary effects in combination with other conventional treatments. From this point of view, it is good to know that Ayurveda has:
1. Ayurvedic procedures for those who have a relatively normal state of health (who don’t suffer from any serious complaints). These procedures have the role of both protecting the human being who applies them (by not allowing any illness to appear), as well as that of helping her to become more and more harmonious.
2. Ayurvedic procedures for those who already have certain complaints. These procedures are designed, first of all, to eliminate that (or those) illness(es). In order to apply these kinds of ayurvedic procedures, a profound knowledge of Ayurveda is required.
As is known, any medical science has two objectives: the first is to prevent diseases (including to promote health), and the second is to treat them, in order to cure them, once they have already appeared. Out of these two, the first one is always better and to be preferred, as it is wiser to stay out of the mud, instead of having to wash it off afterwards.
Unfortunately, in many people’s view, as well as in practice, modern medicine is the science that heals diseases. In many people’s view, if you are not completely ill, you don’t have to see a doctor. In this way we can see that people nowadays have lost the notion of a healthy life style. Most of us live "at random", and, when an illness appears (because our body does not function "at random", but it always follows very precise rules), it is seen as an unjust strike of destiny or as bad luck and never as the result of the mistakes we did.
Besides all this, in the past, a practitioner of the ayurvedic system was considered a real ayurvedic practitioner only when those that he was taking care of did not become ill. The one who wishes to apply ayurvedic knowledge will start by knowing what preventive methods need to be used in order to never become ill. Still, if any affliction tends to appear, it can be "caught" in time, when it has not yet become stable at the physical level. All preventive procedures destined to maintain health and to prevent illnesses are included in Ayurveda in the branch called SVASTHAVRITTA.
In Ayurveda there are a series of healing methods, often used to prevent, and which are applied differently, according to the constitutional type. The main groups of practical methods in Ayurveda are:
1. the wise usage of medical plants (phytotherapy)
2. healthy eating, according to the constitution (dietotherapy)
3. therapeutic use of colours and cloths (chromotherapy)
4. the healing use of crystals (crystal therapy)
5. the healing power of sound (sound therapy)
6. the use of natural beneficial aromas (aromatherapy)
7. the simple and accessible methods of body purification (pancha-karma)
8. ayurvedic traditional massage (abhyanga)
9. the healing power of psychic and mind (psycho therapy)
10. the knowledge of astral subtle influences (ayurvedic astrology)
11. the practice of yoga procedures (hatha yoga)
12. profound meditation and prayer (dharana)
13. improvement and beneficial adaptation of the life style