Ayurveda: A Brief History

Ayurvedic medicine has a rich history. Originally shared as an oral tradition, its very clear in valmiki ramayan which was written at Treta yuga , ayurveda is much older than as we expected , i will provide some proof at the end of this post and as we know modern science have their own limitation and modern technology are not able to find out the exact date whether they are using carbon dating method or other scientificmethod , they have found that ayurveda was recorded more than 5,000 years ago in Sanskrit butin the four sacred texts called the Vedas: the Rig Veda (3000-2500 BCE), Yajur Veda, Sam Veda, and Atharva Veda (1200-1000 BCE) .

Ayurvedic theory states that all areas of life impact one’s health, so it follows that the Vedas cover a wide variety of topics, including health and healthcare techniques, astrology, spirituality, government and politics, art, and human behavior.

Ayurvedic medical books, available by the eighth century BCE, provide not only procedural instructions but also a history of how Ayurvedic medicine evolved over time. Current knowledge about Ayurveda is primarily based on “the great triad” of texts called Brhattrayi, which consists of the Charak SamhitaSushurta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridaya. These books describe the basic principles and theories from which modern Ayurveda has evolved.

Flow of Ayurveda from Lord Brahma

Major Ayurvedic classics: Brhattrayi
Charak Samhita by Charaka 
Charak Samhita, which dates back to approximately 800 BCE, is a major compendium of Ayurvedic medical theory and practice that Charaka, an internist at the University of Taxila, compiled in Sanskrit. Presented as poetry, Samhita contains more than 8,400 verses in its 120 chapters. Modern Ayurvedic physicians still use Samhita in their medical training, and the text has been widely translated. The most widely recommended translation is one by Dr. P.V. Sharma, which contains extensive appendices and a rich index.

Sushruta Samhita by Sushruta
This surgical text, which dates back to approximately 700 BCE, contains seminal content such as the Ayurvedic definition of health, information on blood, and the description of five subdoshas of Pitta and the marma points. This volume also includes pioneering techniques in skin grafting and reconstructive surgery.

Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridaya by Vagbhata
Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridayam, dating back to approximately 400 CE, were written by an Ayurvedic physician from the Sindh region of India. The Sangraha is primarily written in poetry, while The Hridayam is presented as prose. These texts define the five subdoshas of Kapha and emphasize the material value of life. The Hridaya is still highly regarded as a primary Ayurvedic medical textbook; Srikantha Murthy’s translation is recommended for English readers.

Minor Ayurvedic classics: The Lghutrayi

Sarangadhar Samhita by Sharngadhara 
This text was written in the 13th century CE, and is valued for its explanation of the Ayurvedic concept of materia medica, as well as for its pharmacological formulations. It is also considered the foremost text on pulse diagnosis.

Bhav Prakash Nighantu by Bhavamisra
This 16th-century text contains approximately 10,278 verses of varying meters and focuses on herbal descriptions, food, the therapeutic use of trace metals, and rejuvenation therapies. Information on sexually transmitted diseases, particularly syphilis, is also included.

Madhava Nidan by Madhava Kara
This text was written between 700 CE and 1100 CE, and is valued for its precise classification of diseases and disease etiology, particularly in the fields of bala (pediatrics) and toxicology.Madhava Nidan is considered the Bible for Ayurvedic clinical diagnosis.

The practice of Ayurveda as a medicine is believed to date back to over five thousand years, during the Vedic period of ancient India. The earliest-known references to Ayurveda and its sister science, Yoga, appeared in scholarly texts from the time called “the Vedas.”

Ayurveda experienced a period of prosperity as the Vedic texts were taught and shared, but this was followed by an almost thousand-year struggle to remain relevant in the wake of India’s political struggles with various invading countries—most notably the British Empire.Despite this, those who practiced Ayurveda on the fringes of society kept the tradition alive until India gained independence in 1947. Ayurveda then resurfaced as a major system of healthcare that endures in India to this day.

During the New Age movement of the 20th Century, Ayurveda started to make its way westward, helped along by the expanding popularity of yoga and Eastern spiritualism. Thanks in no small part to the teachings of respected physicians and herbalists like Drs. Vasant Lad, Deepak Chopra, and David Frawley, Ayurveda has gained notoriety among a growing population of health-conscious individuals in the United States and around the world.

Ayurvedic Principles
The first step is to understand some key Ayurvedic principles, lenses through which Ayurveda views the universe.

These Ayurveda basics are foundational tools for:
   1.Interpreting the laws of nature
   2.Identifying various states of health or imbalance
   3.Charting a course toward improved well-being

Examining these core principles will also help illustrate what makes Ayurveda such a timeless art and science.

The Five Elements
Ayurveda recognizes five elements as the fundamental building blocks of nature:





Ether (Space)

Every substance contains all five of these elements. That said, in a given substance, one or two elements are typically predominant over the others.

The Twenty Qualities

Ayurveda also identifies twenty qualities (gunas) that can be used to describe every substance or experience. These qualities are organized into the following ten pairs of opposites:

Heavy                  Light
Slow (Dull)         Sharp (Penetrating)
Cold                     Hot
Oily                       Dry
Smooth               Rough
Dense                  Liquid
Soft                      Hard
Stable                  Mobile
Gross                   Subtle
Cloudy (Sticky)   Clear

The gunas are essential to understanding the Ayurvedic principle that like increases like and that opposites balance. For example, a person who is particularly cold natured, living in a cold climate, in the middle of winter, is likely to be experiencing an aggravation of the cold quality. The remedy? Heat—in the form of warming foods, hot drinks, heating spices, soothing baths, snuggly warm clothes, and if possible, an abundance of heart-warming experiences.

The Doshas and Your Ayurvedic Body Type

Then there are the three doshas (bodily humors): vata, pitta, and kapha. The doshas, or some combination of them, can be identified in various seasons, climates, landscapes, activities, plants, and animals. Each of them embodies a combination of elements and qualities to create a functional entity—an energetic force of nature.

All three doshas are present in everyone, but the ratio between them varies a great deal from one person to the next. We will get to that in a moment, but first, here is an overview of the essential nature of each dosha.

Ayurveda in Valmiki Ramayana
Organ Transplantation – In Ramayana it is mentioned that sage Gouthama had castrated once the testicles of King Indra, the king of Gods. In place of that, Ahwins or ‘the celestial physician-duo’, had transplanted the testicles of goat to Indra. Indra was henceforth called as ‘Meshanda’.

Toxicology – Kaikeyi, the third and favourite wife of Dasharatha wanted him to exile Rama and crown her son, Bharata as ‘prince of Ayodhya’. When Dasharatha rejected to fulfil Kaikeyi’s desires, she said that if Dasharatha crowned Rama as ‘Prince of Ayodhya’, she would give away her life by taking poison. This shows that the use of poisonous substances already existed in those days.

Dead Body Preservation –
King Dasharatha had died because of depression of having sent his son Rama to exile on the demand of his wife Kaikeyi. Meanwhile, Bharata went behind Rama to convince him and get back to Ayodhya. Kaikeyi’s son Bharata was a good follower of his brother Rama and did not occupy the throne of Ayodhya according to his mother’s cruel wishes. The dead body of Dasharatha was preserved in ‘Taila Droni’ or tub of oil until Bharata returned. Traditionally Indians used to preserve many things in oil and honey without allowing them to decompose. This incident also tells us that the knowledge of preservation of dead body was well known at that time and might have been due to the knowledge of Ayurveda.

Amputation –
Hanuman, the God and servant of King Rama had visited Sita while she was in Ravana’s captivity, as a ‘messenger of Rama’. Sita sent a message to Rama conveying her miseries through Hanuman. She had said ‘If Rama does not come soon; Ravana will amputate my body with sharp instruments like the surgeon who would amputate the parts of a baby situated in the womb and throws out of the womb’. This shows that the knowledge of amputation was known at that time and also that the Doctor’s used to perform amputation on the ‘dead and impacted child’ in the womb.

Description of Herbs –
We can find the description of many plants of trees in Ramayana, which according to Ayurveda have medicinal properties. Some of them are as below mentioned –

Kutaja – Holarrhena antidysenterica

Arjuna – Terminalia arjuna

Kadamba – Neolamarckia cadamba

Nimba – Neem

Ashoka – Saraca asoca

Asana – Pterocarpus marsupium

Saptaparna – Alstonia scholaris

Kovidara – Bauhinia variegata etc

Examination of the dead and alive –
During the war, when Lakshmana became unconscious struck by an arrow, Rama had declared him dead. At that time, Vaidya Sushen explained the following signs and symptoms to indicate that someone was alive –

1.His face has not changed

2.Has not blackened

3.Has not become ‘charm-less’ but is full of light

4.Palms are like lotus

5.Eyes are clear

He said that the above mentioned signs are not found in a dead person.
He also said that since the face of Lakshmana resembled the face of someone alive, he is bound to be alive.
Vaidya Sushen treated Lakshmana with the herbs which had been brought by Hanuman from Himalayas and Lakshmana was revived.

Will be continue …


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