What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a globally ancient, prevention and therapeutic medical practice and a healthy lifestyle , recognized by WHO and originated in ancient Indian Philosophy, it is more than 6.000 years old. It is the “science of a healthy life and longevity” which deals with the mind, body and spirit as a whole and it is based on the innate capacity of the human body to self-heal and restore it to its natural balance. Moreover, it was the first practice to acknowledge the concept of separate biological idiosyncrasy (type) of each human.
Ayuerveda operates with the same philosophical principle of the father of modern Ancient Greek, Hippocrates “prevention is better than cure” by using medical herbs, therapeutic oils, yoga and meditation practices along with recommendations compatible with the individual food idiosyncrasy and tips for a better life with ethical principles in harmony with nature.
Its purpose is to live healthily with longevity, combined with spiritual growth and happiness.
Even the etymology of the word “Ayurveda” from the ancient Sanskrit language reveals its wise content, since AYUS means Life and VEDA means Complete knowledge or Science. So the term “Ayurveda” practically means “Science or the Knowledge of Life”.
Ayurveda primarily speaks for life itself; it describes the whole creation, of how the universe was created and of course the human as part of it. It combines the component elements of people’s daily life and the three levels of existence. material, mental and spiritual level.
According to Ayurveda, the universe consists of five elements, which are absolutely necessary for every living creatures survival, including human.
These are: Earth (to cover the need for nutritional food),
Water (to cover the need for water since 70 % of our bodies are water),
Fire (in the sense of heat/sun/light for carrying out the necessary metabolism in the human body; food digestion),
Air (to cover the need to breath)
and Ether (as a space for existence, the motion and communication of man).
The combination of these five elements that make up our body and according to whichever of them outweighs the other, are composing in each body the so-called Doshas, meaning the three “Great energies” Vata,Pitta, Kapha.
In their turn the Doshas and their combinations, suggest the biological idiosyncrasy (type) of each human. They regulate and control all major physical and mental functions so as to balance them.
So Vata (a combination of air and ether) regulates and controls the movements, Pitta (a combination of fire & water) regulates the metabolism and Kapha (water and earth) regulates and controls the bodies structure. When in balance our body is healthy but as soon as we start to experience intense emotional situations (stress,fear,rage,envy e.t.c) we conduct an unhealthy way of life , Doshas get imbalanced and then the door to various illnesses is opened.
Equilibrium factors are: diet, movement, lifestyle and way of thinking. From the moment we are born, Doshas are already present in our character with regards to the physical and spiritual characteristics and determine our specific type of ayurvedic type or idiosyncrasy.Knowing that the Ayurvedic doctor will be able to explore possible illnesses and explain his respective reactions on the diet he follows, the external stimulus , to the climate and life conditions.
So, according to Ayurveda, we are not all the same. Not everyone’s body reacts in the same way. Everyone has his own personal stamp of nature and the idiosyncrasy of each one is unique and unrepeatable.
So it is important for our well-being to know our individual type. Note: that Ayurvedic theory is concerned with how people become ill, and a very large part of Ayurvedic texts are devoted to Preventive Medicine, (with how people will NOT get ill), respecting and especially accepting their True Nature and living in harmony with their environment.
And that is why prevention plays a decisive role and Ayurvedic medicine it takes into account all aspects of human life, the deep understanding of the nature of each individual and his attempt to harmonize with the rhythms of the Creation. So accordingly, therapeutic practices vary since Ayurveda uses various treatments to reach this internal source and restore this harmonious balance of body, spirit and soul. If this balance returns (samhita) then internal forces are released that help us heal ourselves so we make use of our own “inner doctor”.
Finally, if something should go wrong and if, despite the extensive prevention instructions, various diseases in various forms arise, Ayurveda also describes in a detailed procedure on how to achieve complete cure and recovery of health.
There are many Ayurvedic treatments which help man to cure himself (Ayurvedic herbal medicine, aromatherapy, music therapy, color therapy, diet, physical yoga exercises, etc.).
It is also worth mentioning that similar if not identical views are found in philosophical traditions of almost all ancient peoples of the world from East to West, as e.g. Chinese, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Mayan, Inca, Antzekon, Ancient Greek etc.
Especially in ancient Greece we find through Plato, Epicurus, Aristotle, etc. the theory of the existence of the already mentioned five generating elements (Air, Ether, Fire, Water and Earth) as constituent elements of the universe.
In addition , the wise and timeless implementation sayings of the Father of Medicine Ancient Greek Hippocrates, such as ” you are what you eat ” or “your food is your medicine “, the “about herbal remedies,” bring us closer to The Medical Philosophy and healing practices of Ayurveda.
If we even dare to immerse the word Ayurveda (which according to the etymology of the Sanskrit language means “The Science or the Knowledge of Life”), in the inexhaustible reservoir of the ancient Greek language, we will surprisingly ascertain the common ancient greek root of those words since:
The word AYUS is of common origin with the word Health (Hygiene) and the word VEDA with the ancient greek verb Οίδα = I thoroughly know, to wit, I know health deeply and thoroughly, so I can have Knowledge of Life, based in good health.
Therefore, Ayurveda is considered eternal, with universal application, and although it has its roots in the East, it does not belong to any particular country, religion or culture.