Ayurveda for long has been hailed as a system of herbal medicine, system devoid of side effects, system close to nature, a system consisting of home remedies, system suited for chronic ailments or a system of slow healing. These perceptions of the mass regarding Ayurveda though not completely wrong, Ayurveda cannot be confined any of the above perceptions. The complete truth about this system has been long elusive to the common man. 

       Ayurveda as the word suggests consists of two words ‘Ayu’ and ‘Veda’.Ayu in the simplest sense refers to ‘Life’ and Veda refers to ‘Science’. Put together it conveys the meaning ‘Science of life’. The above definition is a clear indication that Ayurveda cannot be confined to any of the above perceptions. However, all the perceptions stated above can be seen as different facets of a multifaceted ‘Science of Life’. The situation is similar to several blind men trying to describe an elephant by touching its various parts. How can the description be complete?

           All the statements made above put you in doubt whether is it necessary for a common man to understand Ayurveda in totality? Let me try to answer this query in the following verses.

                   Life in all its sense to most, worldly humans is about achieving  ‘Dharma Artha Kama Moksha’.

Dharma-following the righteous path. 

Artha- acquiring wealth.

Kama- fulfilling the desire.

Moksha- salvation.

     Whichever an individual aspires to acquire health is an inevitable factor enabling him to do so. It is a well-known fact that ill-health is a great impediment to achieving one’s goal in life. This implies that all humans in this world are or should be desirous of health and for all desirous of health Ayurveda has something (everything) to offer. Ayurveda addresses several issues concerning life. It speaks volumes about both prevention and cure. Ayurveda provides tailor-made solutions to various small and big problems encountered in daily life, not only to issues concerning health but also morality.

     Man often encounters health problems on account of his ignorance about health. There lies an intimate relationship between the human body and the environment that he lives in. This is evidenced by the fact that variations in climatic conditions result in variations in health. There are seasons notorious for incidence infection, some seasons exacerbate conditions like allergy and asthma, while the others are known to increase the susceptibility to water-borne diseases.       

Ayurveda seeks to minimize these incidences and maintain health by adopting Dinacharya and Ritucharya. Dinacharya refers to the daily activities one must indulge, in the course of the day to maintain and enhance health. Similar activities done on a monthly basis are called Ritucharya. It gives a seasonal account of health-promoting and health restoring activities. Judicious utilization of the above results in optimal health.

      The current psychosomatic theory of disease calls for the need of a healthy state of mind in order to have a healthy body. Mind and body should always function in harmony with each other. Lack of harmony results invites a host of disorders. A sound mind in a sound body, so it is said and to have a sound body one must follow certain rules of conduct. ‘Sadvritta’ mentioned in  Ayurveda precisely deals with such a code of ethics. Sadvritta is a great wall of support one can lean upon in order to keep the mind calm and composed. Sadvritta ensures a positive frame of mind for every human being.

     It is a lesser-known fact that  Ayurveda has several branches. The popular 8 branches include Kayachikitsa(general medicine) ,Kaumarabritya(obstetrics and paediatrics), Grahachikitsa(supernatural possessions), Shalakya(ENT and ophthalmology), Shalya(surgery), Agadatantra(toxicology), Jara(geriatrics), Vrisha(aphrodisiacs). There are several elaborations on a host of other topics too such as- Rasayanachikitsa which assumes great importance as it deals with various immune-boosting techniques, stree roga dealing with various gynecological conditions- to name a few. Ayurveda is enriched by the treatises of several great authors like AcharyaSushrutha, AcharyaCharaka, AcharyaVagbhata and many more.

                           My attempt throughout this article has been to make a common man understand the vastness of Ayurveda without elaborating anything in particular. My attempt will be justified if this article is able to generate a few sparks of thought among the readers about their own health and what Ayurveda can offer them. Giving a complete picture of Ayurveda is out of the scope of this article. The innate strength possessed by this magnificent science is testified by its existence and enrichment through the ages. This science is concerned more with life than with medicine. Ayurveda was born with mankind and for mankind. Therefore let us all try to understand Ayurveda in its true sense thereby understanding our own lives making this earth a better place to live in.   

By Dr. Sandeep Bekal

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