WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka
(@ Siddalepa Ayurveda Health Resort)
The Ayurvedic medical system is known as the most complete healing system throughout the world. The magnitude of what this means and the body of knowledge it encompasses are yet unknown ant not so fully understood in today’s society. In short it can be described as esoteric in its nature.
Ayurveda has been the root to almost all-medical disciplines, philosophy and treatment throughout eastern civilisation. Since its birth, some 5000 years ago, in India, Ayurveda has been passed down from successive generation to generation and simply become a way of life for millions. The eastern man has grown up with Ayurveda, tasted it as a child, reaped its benefits as an adult and passed on its wisdom to his own children. Ayurveda has almost become the eastern man’s best friend, having integrated it into his life; both have lived and continue to do so in harmonic symbiosis.
Meaning of AYURVEDA
The word ‘AYURVEDA’ originates from the ancient language of Sanskrit, ‘AYUR’ meaning ‘LIFE’ and ‘VEDA’ meaning ‘SCIENCE’, therefore, ‘SCIENCE OF LIFE’. In Sanskrit, this word has a wider meaning, which includes the life of plants, animals as well as other living beings.
The origins of Ayurveda are shrouded in Indian mythology. ‘MAHABRAHMA’ (the Hindu god of creation) is said to have communicated this system of healing to a number of enlightened and distinguished personalities. Among them are two individuals known as ‘CHARAKA’, who founded internal medicine and ‘SUSHRUTHA’, who comes from the ‘DHANWANTARA’ school of surgeons.
AYURVEDA IN SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka has its own Ayurvedic system based on a series of prescriptions handed down from generation to generation over a period of 3000 years. The kings, who were also prominent physicians as recorded by historical texts, sustained its survival and longevity. King Buddhadasa (398 AD) was the most prominent physician, who wrote Sarartha Sangrahaya, which is being viewed by physicians to date.
Ancient inscriptions on rock surfaces reveal the full establishment of the medical services, which existed within the country. These ancient hospital sites which were active centuries ago, now attract the tourists, who view and marvel at these beautiful ruins, which have come to symbolize a sense of healing and care which was so prevalent at that time. The Ayurvedic physicians enjoyed noble position in the social hierarchy in the country due to its Royal patronage and from this stem a famous Sri Lankan saying; ‘IF YOU CANNOT BE A KING, BECOME A HEALER’. This inter-relationship between Ayurveda and royalty has brought Buddhism and Ayurveda into a top position in Sri Lankan politics.
Ayurvedic students receive 6-year full time training at university. Training includes western medicine alongside Ayurvedic subjects.
Today, the Ayurvedic medical council maintains and controls the registration of physicians and code of practice, ethics and conduct. The Ministry of Health controls the department of Ayurveda, headed by the commissioner of Ayurveda, the Ayurvedic Drug Corporation and the Ayurvedic research institute.
Finally, Ayurveda has its own unique quality, which embodies and enraptures the whole being, treating the diseased holistically, and examining components which construct a particular diseased person, and the factors which influence its development or regression. Thus it treats the person, rather than the disease.
The aims of AYURVEDA are:
:: To prevent diseases
:: To treat and cure diseases
Both of which are aimed towards the promotion of health on three levels:
EIGHT BRANCHES OF AYURVEDA
Ayurveda looks at diseases as a state of disharmony in the body as a whole, and is divided into eight branches, which are:
:: Kaya Chikitsa - Internal Medicine
:: Bala Chikitsa - Pediatrics
:: Graha Chikitsa - Psychological Medicine
:: Shalakya Tantra - Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Ophthalmology
:: Shalya Tantra - Surgery
:: Agada Tantra - Toxicology
:: Vajikarana - Sexology
:: Rasayana - Rejuvenation
According to ancient vedic scientific thinking, all matter in the universe is made up from no matter to matter, which is constantly changing from one form to another. They are known as ‘PANCHAMAHABHUTA’. The five elements are:
:: APO - Meaning liquid, creating the taste sensation (rasa), its sensory organ being the tongue
:: THEJO - Meaning heat, creating the visual impute of colour (rupa), its sensory organ being the eyes
:: VAYU - Meaning air, creating the physical sensation of touch (sparsha), its sensory organ being skin
:: PRUTHUVI - Meaning earth, creating the sensation of smell and odour (gandha), its organ being the nose
:: AKASHA - Meaning space, creating the auditory sensation of sound (sharsda), its origin being the ear
These are the basic foundations and principles upon which Ayurveda lies. All five elements having a key role in our lives, since our bodies are composed of these MAHABHUTAS (the five elements)
In addition, life is considered a union of body, mind and soul. There are three body types according to individual dominance, known as the THREE DOSHAS.
:: VATA - Air
:: PITTA - Bile
:: KAPHA - Phlegm
Dhatus consists of seven different body tissue types. Malas are the three types of body excretions.
This initiates and promotes biological activity responsible for all internal and external movements of the body.
:: Prana (Head) the main life force – breathing
:: Udana (Throat) supporting glandular functions
:: Samana (Stomach and Duodenum) supporting gastric functions
:: Vyana (Heart and Blood vessels) supporting circulatory functions
:: Apana (Semen/Feces/Urine) supporting elimination
This is responsible for the generation of body heat and metabolism and certain psychological attributes of the individual.
The main function of is to maintain healthy body tissues and maintain the balance of fat, water and other fluids.
These elements must exist in dynamic equilibrium to help maintain body ‘PRAKRUTI’, meaning the original balance of the individual’s dosha inheritance. Any disturbance to any one of the doshas causes imbalance and malfunction, resulting in the manifestation of disease.
Ayurvedic understanding of the disease process
The doshas may change their proportional balance as a result of a variety of factors, such as, inappropriate lifestyle, diet, activities, trauma, mental and physical, which are mainly brought about by the lack of understanding about our own bodies. When there is a change-taking place within us, which is pre-clinical in its developmental stage, it may take a very long period of time for signs and symptoms to appear. Very often, when there is a change-taking place, disease may take a path along the inherited weak areas of the individual.
Sometimes, in some individuals, disease may set in the body beyond their own control, they are known as ‘KARMIC DISEASES’ due to the theory of cause and effect.
Ayurvedic medications are mostly herbal preparations and some include natural mineral preparations. All herbs or minerals possess the following properties according to Ayurveda.
:: RASA – Taste
:: GUNA – Quality
:: VIRYA – Potency (Heating or cooling effects)
:: VIPAKA – Effect after digestion and metabolism
:: PRABHAVA – Specific power of the substance
In general, all herbs have the power to increase or decrease the three doshas, Vata, Pitta or Kapha, to different extents and in different combinations.
Classical Ayurveda applies theory into practice. Firstly, by diagnosing an alteration of Dosha State, the physician will then prescribe suitable herbs in single or combined form, with the appropriate dosage to control ailments.
This is a sub-section of Ayurveda, which entails five different types of activities aimed towards detoxification, mainly for the prevention and control of diseases. They are:
:: Virechana – Purgation Therapy
:: Bastis (classified as Niruna and Anuvasana)
:: Herbal and/or oil decoction enemas
:: Vamana – Emesis Therapy
:: Nasya – Inhalation
:: Rakta Moksha – Blood letting
(Although classically considered the fifth of the five actions, it is sometimes omitted and the two forms of bastis are classified separately to make up the number of actions to five). Ayurveda recommends detoxification programs once every season for normal individuals as a way of preparing the body for the next season, thus aiding the preventative aspect of this healing system. (@ Siddalepa Ayurveda Health Resort)
WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka