In ancient India, the Vedas
are the treasure of knowledge. Atharva Veda is one of the four Vedas that has a sub Veda known as Ayurveda, which represents the remedial measures to get rid of all sorts of diseases. In Ayurveda
therefore the prime cause of the diseases are revealed. Ayurveda describes all such remedial measures that can be used to get rid of the obstacles those are required to live a peaceful, healthy and heartiest life. According to ancient Hindu myth or Purana
, Lord Dhanvantari appeared with the pot of `Amrita` or `Nectar Pot` in his hand from the churning of the ocean. He advised the people to keep healthy and remain happy following various dietary routines and using different herbs. Dhanvantari laid the foundation stone of Ayurveda, which was later developed by Sushrata and Charaka and thus Ayurvedic system of treatment became popular and useful among common people.
On the thirteenth day of dark half of the lunar Kartik month, the Birth Anniversary of Lord Dhanvantari or Dhanvantari Jayanti is observed. This day comes two days earlier to Diwali and is known as `Dhanteras`. By the grace of Lord Dhanvantari, the human society can have the benefit of Ayurvedic medicines since long times.
In the day of Dhanteras people worship lord Dhanvantari, the god of Ayurveda by lightening the earthen lamps or Diya in their houses so that they are blessed with good health and are protected against untimely death.
There is a legend behind the Dhanteras festival. Once Yamraj asked his attendants that if they ever feel pity for someone while taking the life of that person. The attendant replied in positive and told a story to Yama. Once a king named Hansa went for hunting in a forest and was separated from the soldiers.
King Hansa then reached the palace of king Hemraj, who did not have any child. But king Hemraj got a beautiful son after arrival of king Hansa. When the child was being baptized on the sixth day of his birth, it was foretold that he is going to die on the fourth day after his marriage. Due course of time the boy grew up and was married to a beautiful well-mannered girl. As the forecast announced, the boy died on the fourth day after his marriage. While the attendants of Yama came to take the soul of the boy, they even cried at the condition of the wife of the boy. But they were bound to obey Yamaraja`s order and thereby they were helpless. After listening the story, Yamaraja said to his attendants that he too was moved with this incident and also said that if people worshipped Lord Dhanvantari on the day of Dhanteras by lighting the lamps on their doorstep then they can keep off the claws of untimely death.
The other popular legend, when the gods and demons were churning the ocean to get the Amrita or elixir, Lord Dhanvantari appeared carrying a jar of the nectar of eternity on the day of Dhanteras or Dhanvantari Jayanti..
The birth of Lord Dhanvantari was mentioned in Shreemad Bhagavad and Sushruta Samhita. Lord Dhanvantari was born to protect the living beings from untimely death, diseases and sorrows.