Ayurveda, which literally means "the
science of life," is the natural healing system throughout India. Ayurveda was
originally known to have been first developed and established by the great sages who
developed India's original systems of meditation and Yoga. The study of Ayurveda
includes such aspects as herbal medicine, dietetics, body work, surgery, psychology
and, spirituality. Ayurveda deals not merely with medical science, but also with the
social, ethical, intellectual & spiritual fife of man. Ayurveda, represents a
beautiful blending of the accuracy of science and the sublimity of philosophy,
poetry and art. According to Ayurveda, a living creature is composed of soul, mind
and body. It is the compound of these three elements, that is the subject matter of
the science of life.
The human body, according to Ayurveda, is composed of three fundamental elements called doshas, dhatus and malas. The doshas govern the physico-chemical and physiological activities of the body, while the dhatus enter into the formation of a basic structure of a body cell, thereby performing some specific actions. The malas are substances which are partly utilized in the body and partly excreted in a modified form after serving their physiological functions. These three elements are said to be in a dynamic equilibrium with each other for the maintenance of health. Any imbalance of their relative preponderance in the body results in disease and illness.
Pancha Mahabhutas Theory: Man has five senses and through these senses he perceives the external world in five different ways. The sense organs are the ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose. Through these sense organs, the external object is not only perceived, but also absorbed into the human body in the form of energy. These five types of senses are the basis on which the entire universe is divided, grouped or classified ... known as five mahabhutas. They are named as akasha (sky), vayu (air), agni (fire) Jala (water) and prithvi (earth).
As discussed, the body of an individual is composed of five mahabhutas. Similarly, in other extraneous matters, there are also five mahabhutas. In the human body, these five mahabhutas represented in the form of doshas, dhatus and malas. Outside the body they form the basic ingredients of the drugs and food ingredients. In a normal body of a living being, these substances remain in a particular proportion. However, because of enzymatic action inside the human body, this ratio of five mahabhutas or their equilibrium inside the body gets disturbed. The body has, however, a natural tendency to maintain equilibrium. It eliminates some of the mahabhutas which are in excess and takes some of the mahabhutas which are in storage. This shortage of mahabhutas is replenished through the ingredients of herbs, food, drinks, etc.
Tridosha Concept: Inside the body, there are three doshas which govern the physico-chemical and physiological activities. These three doshas are vata (from ether and air), pitta (from fire and an aspect of water) and kapha (from water and earth). The three doshas can be recognized by their attributes:
Vata is dry, cold, light, mobile, subtle, hard, rough, changeable and clear. It is the most powerful of the doshas, being the life-force itself, the strongest to create disease. It governs all movement, and carries both Pitta and Kapha.
Pitta is hot, light, fluid, subtle, sharp, malodorous, soft and clear. It governs heat, temperature and all chemical reactions.
Kapha is cold, wet, heavy, slow, dull, static, smooth, dense and cloudy. It maintains substance, weight and coherence in the body.
Individual constitution is acquired at birth and remains constant through life. Through Ayurvedic books, teachers, and courses, one is able to determine one's individual constitution and thereby knowing which direction to take for self-diagnosis purposes.
The above is simply a brief summary of Ayurvedic principles. If you would like more information on Ayurveda, upon request, there are excellent books available to further one's knowledge of this wonderful 5,000 year old ancient science of self-healing.
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