Ayurveda is a holistic Indian system of medicine that uses a constitutional model. It works to provide a flexible guidance to attain a state of positive health. Its treatment and techniques is also flexible for people with health challenges.
Ayurveda is derived from two Sanskrit root words: Ayu, which means Life, and Veda, which means the Knowledge. Thus it would be safe to call Ayurveda as the ‘Science of life’ more than a mere system of treating an illness.
The ancient rishis or seers of truth, discovered truth by means of religious practices & disciplines. Through intensive meditation, they manifested truth in their daily lives. Ayurvedic system of health is conversance of practical, philosophical & religious experiences of the great sages. The historical evidence of Ayurveda can be found in ancient books of wisdom known as the Vedas. Atharva Veda, that is known to have been written over 10,000 years ago, describes Ayurveda as a system that helps maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of nature to bring the individual back into equilibrium with their true self.
Ayurveda is a fine blend of Science, Religion & Philosophy as well. We use the word religion to denote philosophical perceptions and discipline in conduct through which, the doors of perception open to all aspects of life. In Ayurveda, whole of life’s journey is considered to be sacred. Through its scientific approach to human life, Ayurveda works to harness the intricate abilities of human body and mind. With its philosophical approach to human life, Ayurveda preaches us to recognize ourselves as miniscule component of this magnificent universe. The philosophy of Ayurveda also teaches a series of conceptual systems characterized by balance & disorder and health & disease. Disease/health results from the interconnectedness between the self, personality, and everything that occurs in the mental, emotional, and spiritual being. Therefore, to be healthy, harmony must exist between the purpose for healing, thoughts, feelings and physical action.
Types of Bodies in Ayurveda
Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas or the three basic energy types which are further classified as vata, pitta & kapha. According to Ayurveda, these doshas or energies can be found in everyone and everything thus making them the essential building blocks of the material world. All the three doshas combine to create different climates, different foods, different species, and even different individuals within the same species and perform different physiological functions in every individual body.
Vata is predominantly composed of the space and air elements. It is the energy that is linked to creativity & flexibility and controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, tissue movement, cellular mobility, heartbeat and the communication between mind and the nervous system. When an imbalance of vata dosha occurs in the body, it can produce fear and anxiety.
Pitta Dosha (fire energy):
Pitta is principally made up of the fire and water elements and is an amalgamation of the hot, sharp, light, liquid, oily, and subtle qualities. Pitta is neither mobile nor stable, but spreads. It controls the body's metabolic systems including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body's temperature. When in balance, it lends contentment & intelligence and its imbalance can cause ulcers and anger.
Kapha Dosha (water energy):
Kapha is composed primarily of the earth and water elements. It is the energy that lends structure and solidity to all things and provides the cohesiveness needed to maintain a particular form. It controls growth in body and provides water to all parts of the body. As a result, it hydrates all cells and systems, lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, maintains immunity and protects the tissues. When in balance, it is expressed as love and forgiveness; and when it goes out of balance it can lead to feelings of insecurity & envy.
Panchamahabhutas - Five Great Elements
Ayurveda believes that everything in this universe is made up of five the basic elements. These elements are classified as earth (prithvi), water (jal), fire (agni), wind (vayu) & space or ether (akash). Collectively these five basic elements are known as Panchamahabhutas.
Since, Ayurveda believes that the components and functioning of the nature is similar to the functioning of human body, the concept of Panchamahabhutas is considered to be the foundation of Ayurveda and also pivotal to the understanding of the functioning and movement of human body.
These Panchmahabutas are present in every being (living or non-living), substances, materials and objects that are present in the universe. These elements can also be called mahabhutas due to their large size in comparison to their precursor bhutas (minute forms of mahabhutas) or due to their extensive presence. But in a nutshell, the fact remains that everything in the creation is made up of these Panchamahabhutas and there is nothing present in this universe that can be called devoid of these 5 elements.