History of Ayurveda

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By Sangeetha Rajah

Ayurveda, the Upaveda of Rigveda, has its origin from Lord Brahma, the creator of this universe. It is not surprising that Ayurveda, the Science of Life, has its roots in spiritualism, though only the healing side of it has come to light. Ayurveda is a holistic way of life rather than just a medical science. It reveals the intimate relationship between the mind and body, humans and the cosmos. Ayurveda basically evolved not as a medical system but as a way of life that would enable man to reach the state of Brahman or Moksha or salvation, which is the highest and the last state of the four Purushaarthas, the other three being Dharma, Artha and Kaama.

To attain this highest state of Brahman, man needed a healthy body and mind, which would help him, attain that state. After all, mind and body are but instruments to attain Moksha. To keep his body and mind healthy, he lived the Ayurvedic way-a holistic approach for a happy, healthy and peaceful life. He followed the diet, regimen and routine accordingly thereby attaining Moksha through Ayurveda.

The story of how Ayurveda descended from the abode of Gods down to Earth is interesting. Lord Brahma, recollected his knowledge of Ayurveda and taught Prajapati, who passed it on to the Aswini twins. They in turn taught Indra, the king of devas. Indra passed it on to the Rishis on earth like Bharadwaja, Atreya, etc.Thus the evolution of Ayurveda is by itself spiritual. All the Ayurvedic texts quote the attainment of the Purushaarthas especially of Moksha as the sole aim of Ayurveda.

The word Purusha in Sanskrit has many meanings like mankind, male, soul, creator, etc...In this context, it has to be taken as the creator or Brahman or the supreme spirit. Artha in Sanskrit means meaning, for the sake of, wealth, etc...Therefore, the word Purushaartha means "attainment of the state of Purusha". The four Purushaarthaas are Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha.

Purushaartha Kama was developed to make begetting a progeny a duty coupled with sensual enjoyments, Ayurveda helped him by describing various postures of sexual act, foods that increase sperm and ova both in quality and quantity and regimen that would bring about a healthy sex life.

Next is the last of the Purushaarthas, Moksha. In essence, Ayurveda helps man to achieve his ultimate aim of attaining Moksha and hence can be called a Spiritual Science as well.