The word 'Ayurveda' is derived from the combination of these two words, 'Ayush' and 'Veda'. Ayush means life, livingness, liveliness and Veda means Perfect complete knowledge. Therefore in short Ayurveda means " The Science of life which deals with various aspects of life, of the healthy individuals along with the prevention of diseases and the diagnostic & therapeutic modalities of the diseased individuals."
Universal or Eternal Nature of Ayurveda
- Ayurveda aims at the well being of everybody without any boundaries of a particular country,
- Ayurveda has no beginning & no end,
- It has no religion bondage,
- It does not belong to particular period of history i.e. it is existing since the birth of life on earth.
Description of the word 'Ayus' consists of the body, senses, Mind & Soul. These together form "The Human being'. This human being is the prime concern of Ayurveda and is the subject of this ancient life science. The human being is the combination of 'Materialistic matter' i.e. the Five elements (Panch Mahabhootas), the Mind (Manas), & the Vital force i.e. 'The Soul' (Atman) in the presence of time (Kala) and Direction-force (Dik). In simple words the human body formed by Five elements (Panch Mahabhootas) is called living being when there is a presence of Soul (Atman) and the different activities of this body are controlled by Mind (Manas) at All times (Kala) Anywhere or Everywhere (Dik).
All these nine entities, Five elements ('Panch Mahabhootas'), Time ('Kala'), Direction focus ('Dik'), Mind ('Manas') and Soul ('Atman') are called Substances of Totality ('Karan Dravyas'). Substances of totality are must or essential cause for the evolution of the whole living or non-living world or universe.
Ayurveda describes six 'Padarthas' [refer to definition below], first of them is entity base or Nexus Entity Substances ('Dravya'). Any existing materials eatable or non-eatables are formed by five elements, hence the consumed diet, medicine or health supplementary is five elemental (' Panch Bhautik'). Depending on the requirement of the body i.e. the five elemental substances or entities ('Panch Bhautik Dravyas') with similar - different - contradictory attributes, qualities ('Gunas') and functions/Actions ('Karma') the food or medicines are utilised. Here, the existing material is Substance or Entity ('Dravya'), its properties or attributes or qualities is 'Guna', functions or actions is 'Karma', similarity or commonness or the cause of increase is 'Samanya', some differentiation or the cause of decrease is 'Vishesha', the relationship between the Substance or entity ('Dravya'), Properties or attributes or qualitites ('Guna'), Functions or actions ('Karma') is called eternal relationship ('Samavaya'). These are the six 'Padarthas' described in Ayurveda.
Definition of Padarth: The one that exists in this universe and that which is the subject of knowledge and can be named & explained or correct notion or right conception is Padarth.
The negative presence or absence is 'Abhav' mentioned as seventh 'Padartha' by some philosophical streams, which is not accepted by Ayurveda.
The whole world is ruled by three agencies, Sun, Moon & Wind likewise the Three different functioning Factors made up of these Five elements ('Mahabhootas') control & perform different activities of the human body. They are collectively termed as Humours ('Doshas') meaning they have the ability to vitiate the body only by getting vitiated themselves. Though they are made up of all the five elements each one is predominantly made up of certain particular element ('Mahabhoota'). These humours ('Doshas') are the actual biological existence of elements ('Mahabhootas').
'Vatadosha' is formed predominantly by Ether or global space ('Akasha') & Air ('Vayu'),
'Pittadosha' is formed predominantly by Fire ('Tejas') and
'Kaphadosha' is formed predominantly by water ('Aap') & Earth ('Prithvi').
Existence and the functioning of the universe are dependent on the normal or abnormal states of Air-Water-Fire, likewise the homeostasis between the three humour ('doshas') i.e. Vatadosha - Pittadosha - Kaphadosha maintains the normal functioning of the living body. The characteristics of body & mind of living being by birth is called as Body Constitution or Mental Constitution respectively ('Sharir Prakruti & Manas Prakruti'). According to the predominance of the individual humour ('dosha') and their variety of combinations with properties or characteristics of humours ('doshas'), various constitutions ('Prakrutis') are derived. The Physical constitutions ('Prakrutis') are formed at the time of birth in the mother's womb itself, by father & mother that can't be changed throughout their life span. We can roughly compare this with the genetic coding to a certain extent but not completely as some of the genetic coding may be changed nowadays (e.g. Juvenile diabetic patients' study is in progress).
The development and degeneration, functioning and existence of the body are resultant of the humours ('doshas') normal homeostasis or their disequilibrium. Hence it can be said that the homeostasis of humours ('doshas') is health and their equilibrium is the disease. Thus when the equilibrium of these three humours ('doshas') viz. Vatadosha - Pittadosha - Kaphadosha is disturbed both qualitatively or quantitatively they are responsible for the patho-physiology of the disease and the intensity varies depending on the amount of vitiation of these humours ('doshas').
Knowledge of basic constitution ('Prakruti') is vital as accordingly daily health routines or regimens. For e.g. what to eat, what is to be avoided etc. can be decided even for the healthy person to remain healthy and for the diseased person for diagnosis or treatment etc. These three humours ('doshas') Vatadosha - Pittadosha - Kaphadosha have their own various characteristics. It is grossly considered that
- Any movement and basic force / instigation is due to Vatadosha,
- Any change in the matter or substance according to body requirement is because of the Pittadosha,
- Kaphadosha does holding together.
There are Seven Tissues ('Dhatus') mentioned as basic constituents of the body along with the humours ('doshas'). Tissues ('Dhatus') help to hold the body and its functions intact or in other words tissues ('doshas') give structural base for the functioning of humours ('doshas'). These tissues ('dhatus') maintain the body functions for which they need nourishment; this nourishment is fulfilled or offered by ingestion of food. This food is converted into humours, tissues ('doshas', 'dhatus') and this process is called digestion ('Pachan'). Digestion ('Pachan') is the broad term, which includes digestion at gross level as well as at molecular level. For digestion Fire ('Agni') i.e. various types of body secretions and heat are required. There are thirteen types of Fire ('agni') mentioned in Ayurveda. The main is Digestive Fire ('Kayagni') situated in stomach-small intestine ('Grahani'). This helps to digest at gross level and includes HCl, bile etc. There are other Five elemental digestive fires ('Panchbhootagnis') and seven tissue digestive fires ('Dhatvagnis'). Each of the elemental fires ('Mahabhootagnis') and tissue fires ('Dhatvagnis') take similar kind of nourishment from the food. Enzymes, hormones etc. at molecular level can be included into these fires. Agni i.e. digestion fire, at gross level & molecular level is mainly related with 'Pitta', which helps to maintain health. Therefore whenever functions of fire ('Agni') are not proper, various abnormalities can be formed. For example extra and abnormal growth of the cells leads to carcinoma or malignancy.
Whatever food is consumed can't be utilised or converted 100%, so the left out material is not required for the body at its gross level as well as its cellular level. Such material that is thrown out is called as Excretory Material ('Mala'). Excretory Material ('Mala') means the material, which if remained in the body for longer time than required vitiates the body. There are three types of excretory material ('Mala'), Stools ('Purish'), Urine ('Mutra'), Sweat ('Sveda'). For the proper functioning of body and to keep oneself healthy, these excretory materials ('malas') are required to be thrown out in proper quantity, in its proper form and in proper time.
Aims of Ayurveda