Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ayurveda - The Science of Health and Healing

Ayurveda is the science of health and healing, practised by the ancient Aryans. This science is based on Atharva- Veda, one of the oldest scriptures of the Hindus which is about 3000 years old. It is an encyclopaedia of ancient medical wisdom. In spite of its antiquity it is practised even today by at least one fIfth of the human race, Ayurveda is not considered to be merely a summary of therapeutics based on herbal, animal and mineral resources of the world. It is a philosophy of life and living; its object is to counteract the imbalance of the three essential forces Wata, Pita and Kapha. These three forces constitute the Thridosha, from which the human body originates. This Thridosha regulates the normal working of the human body.

The ancient "triple method" or the Wata, Pita and Kapha theory cannot be translated as wind, bile and phlegm, for the simple reason that a part cannot be equal to the whole. The Thridoshas are organic, material entities in control of all organic creation and are responsible for birth, existence and death (Utpatthi, Sthiti, Bhanga). Just as the potent, celestial triad of moon, sun and air is responsible for the smooth working .of the universe, similarly the Wata, Pita and Kapha are responsible for the smooth working of organic creation. The genealogy of the Thridosha theory can be traced to ancient Vedic times. It is vast in its teaching.

The Thridosha are once again connected with the Seven Dhatus and the Malas. The Seven Dhatus are Rasa, Raktha, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and Sukra. The three Malas are excreta, urine and sweat. The base of these are the external five elements. So in all, the body consists of thirteen physical constituents. Their physiological functions are Wata dosha, Pita dosha and Kapha dosha. The functions of the seven Dhatus are

1 Rasa (Blood):
As a forerunner of raktha or blood, it primarily nourishes the body and the mind.

2 Raktha:
Sustains life, nourishes the muscles and flesh and maintains the complexion.

3 Mansa:
Embraces the skeletal structure, nourishes the fatty tissues and helps excretion

4 Meda:
Greases the limbs, eyes, nose, ensures stability by nourishing the bones, large and small.

5 Asthi:
Maintains a sturdy, erect bodily structure and stature nourishing the marrow.

6 Majja:
Forms bulk inside the bone cavities, thus giving strength and nourishment to the semi­nal fluid.

7 Sukra:

Gives strength and joy plus a capacity to procreate.

A unique feature of Ayurveda is that even Malas have been described as having or serving a useful purpose in the body economy.

Faeces: Give temporary support in general to the body besides keeping the body heat and air intact.

Urine: Maintains fluid balance by throwing out the liquid in­gested And consumed trough food and drink.

Sweet: Retains enough moisture in the body and grease in the skin and promotes the growth of hair.

The minute details such as symptoms that arise when Dosha Dhatu, Mala are increased or decreased are taught in Ayurveda.

The most interesting teaching is the subdivision of each Dosha and their particular functions and sites. For example the Watadosha is divided into five; they are Prana, Udana, Vyana, Samana and Apana. The Prana Vayu resides in the cerebral hemisphere extending up to the neck region. Its functions are activation of the intellect, brain activity, psychic activity and integrity of nerves etc.

The Udana Vayu resides in the chest extending up to the navel. Its functions are speech, energy, integrity of various channels., intelli­gence, bravery, memory and psychic alertness etc.

The Vyana Vayu resides in the heart extending to all parts of the body, and its functions are fast motion in various directions, relaxation, contraction, purification of body channels, blood circulation and other fluid circulations, and post-digestion analysis of food consumed.

The Samana Vayu resides in the navel extending along the lower digestive tract. Its functions are fanning of the gastric fire. This includes digestion, assimilation, selective analysis of the food con­sumed and carrying away of waste products further downwards.

The Apana Vayu resides in the pelvic region extending down­wards all along the urinary bladder, genital organs and thighs. Its functions are urination and defaecation, passage of semen, menses and child delivery.

The details of Pita and Kapha are also given in such detail that the physician who masters them could hardly go wrong in his diagnosis and treatment. .