(Last Updated on : 23/05/2013)
History of ayurveda
is long, copious and pregnant with a rich past, deeply seated in the antiquities. Nearly five thousand years ago the great sage, Vyasadeva for the first time penned downs the Vedas. The Vedas also included a branch called Ayurveda meaning "The Science of Life". Thus began the journey of ayurveda as an oldest and most holistic treatment method. The history of ayurveda states that steeped in mystic antiquity this ancient wisdom of curing, preventing disease and long life was a part of the spiritual tradition of a universal religion in India even before it was penned down.
In India the origin of ayurveda is as old as the religion, Hinduism
. There were originally four main books of spirituality, which included among other topics, health, astrology, spiritual business, government, army, poetry and behaviour. These books are known as the four Vedas Rig Veda
, Sama Veda
, Yajur Veda
and Atharva Veda
. Ayurveda was a sub section attached to the Atharva Veda and is treated as Upaveda of Rigveda and Antharveda (internal part) of Atharvana veda. The history of ayurveda claims that this sub section dealt with the ailments, injuries, fecundity, sanity and health and all the secrets of life, the ways of staying healthy, the paths of preventing diseases were revealed in the Rig Veda. Rig Veda shows the discussions on the three doshas-vitta, pitta and kapha and the use of various herbs to cure the diseases. The five elements of creation, the earth, water, fire, air, ether that forms the basis of universe also contours the base of all creation- this is the very kernel of Ayurveda which consists of three aspects of Ayurvedic knowledge known as the Tri-Sutras that includes cause of illness, symptoms and treatments of the disease.
The history of ayurveda also points out the celestial origin of this ancient science, which was once communicated to the Indian saints and sages. State of the art healing system, ayurveda thus boasts a prosperous history which is again enhanced by the myths and legends of the God of healing, Divodosa Dhanvantari. Myths unfold that Dhanvanatri, who later penned down Ayurveda, taught it to the sages. While according to another legend, the knowledge of healing originated from Brahma who taught it to Daksha, who further taught Indra.
It was the time of restlessness when disease and death were creating havocs and human had no answer. It was this time when all great sages in order to find solution to this problem gathered. During this meeting sage Bharadvaja came forward and learnt the ancient science of ayurveda from Indra. He then taught this science to Atreya- who further transmitted this knowledge throughout world. The history of ayurveda states that later, it was Agnivesh , the disciples of Atreya wrote Agnivesha Samhita which is still considered as the most comprehensive form of Ayurveda.
Hence began the journey of this holistic method as a well reputed treatment procedure whilst boasting the rich history of ayurveda. The time was then 1500 B.C. A colossal change came in the arena of medicine in India and ayurveda grew into an esteemed and recognised system of healing. Ayurveda then was divided into eight specific branches of medicine. The two schools of thought also flourished during this time. One was the Atreya- the school of physicians and Dhanvantri- the school of surgeons.
In 16th Century Europe, 'Paracelsus', who is known as the father of modem Western medicine, practiced and propagated a system of medicine, which borrowed heavily from Ayurveda. There are two main re-organizers of Ayurveda whose works still exist intact today - Charak and Sushruta.
According to the history of ayurveda, Charaka
was the first man who based his Samhita on Agnivesha
Samhita and further elaborated it with his interpretations and annotations. Discussions on physiology, anatomy, etiology, pathogenesis and symptoms of diseases gained a divine dimension in the Charak Samhita. Precisely, Charak Samhita integrated the external as well as the internal cause of illness. According to Charaka the first and the main cause of illness is the loss of faith in the divine Sushruta based his Samhita on the Dhanwantari school of Ayurveda. Sushruta is his Samhita in details discusses about various surgeries, burns, fractures, wounds and amputation. The complete discussion on human anatomy marks Sushruta Samhita as a contemporary treatise on ayurveda. The history of ayurveda however uncovers the third major treatise which is called the Ashtanga Hridaya. This is basically a summarizing version of the works of Charak and Sushruta which was compiled by Vaghbata.
The tradition of Ayurvedic medicine, as a chief medical practice flourished in the rule of Chandragupta Maurya. The development of ayurveda
was also present in Emperor's Ashoka's paradise of peace. Moreover, the prevention of bloodshed, as a must, inspired the Ayurvedic practitioners of that era to innovate new and advanced treatment techniques to avoid surgery.
The history of ayurveda states that it is with the Islamic invasion in India (1100-1800A.D.), Ayurveda lost its appeal. However in 1800A.D, a revival was attempted. Ayurveda as a course was introduced in the academics of Sanskrit College, Kolkata
in 1827.But unfortunately in 1833 all efforts went in vain. British stopped the educational enterprise as the western colonisation invited allopathic medicinal method in India which reduced the glory of native Ayurveda. The glorious science then became the second option used mainly by the poor and by the spiritual practitioners.
However, this set back was only for a short period and again with India's independence in the year 1947, Ayurveda in India gained back its lost glory and importance.