What is Ayurveda really?
For most of us, Ayurveda is just another way of treating illnesses with medicines that are made up of herbs. Well, Ayurveda is much much more than that and today, on National Ayurveda Day, we are going to explore that.
Ayurveda is the Upaveda (sub or near to veda) of Atharva veda. It’s also called Panchama veda (5th veda). The word Ayurveda is made of two words Ayu and Veda. The word Ayu doesn’t mean just life, instead it means –
and Veda means knowledge. Hence, Ayurveda means the knowledge of the union of body, sense organs, mind and soul. So when people bless saying ‘दीर्घायुषी भव।’ (dīrghāyuṣī bhava।) it means let you be in union with all the above factors for a long time!
Long time ago, our sages took a note of the fact that people are becoming greedy, getting diseases and are not happy compared to what they were in the past. Some sages went in search of a remedy to cure diseases, make people remain healthy and happy. When they went to lord Indra, he preached the knowledge of Ayurveda to the sages, who then preached the same to their students and so on so forth. From there on the saga of Ayurveda started, for the sole purpose of betterment of mankind.
Principles that govern Ayurveda
Ayurveda is based on mainly three principles –
Principle 1: Samanya Vishesha Siddhantha (Ordinary – Special Principle)
Ex: when you have dryness of skin, you might apply moisturizer to bring back the moisture that was lost in your skin. The moisture content of your skin is increased by a similar moisture containing the product. This is Samanya. At the same time, the dryness was reduced due to the Vishesha of moisture that is opposite to dryness in your skin.
For a drug to act, both Samanya and Vishesha principles come into play.
Principle 2: Panch Mahabhoota Siddhantha (5 Fundamental elements Principle)
Dravya is any substance that has qualities and actions residing in it. We, human beings are also a dravya. Ayurveda being more practical oriented subjective science, opines that based on the different structural and functional aspects of the universe and organisms, each and every cell, organ, organ systems and in general every Dravya (substance) in the universe is made of Pancha Mahabhoota (5 proto elements or atoms) that are in different proportion in each substance –
- Prithvi (earth proto element)
- Aap (water proto element)
- Agni (fire proto element)
- Vaayu (air proto element)
- Akasha (space proto element)
For example, the hardness of bones is due to Prithvi Mahabhoota predominance. The unctuousness in our body, all fluids is due to Aap Mahabhoota predominance. The temperature of one’s body, various digestive fluids is due to Agni Mahabhoota predominance. Various movements of enzymes to target cells, bodily movements are due to Vaayu Mahabhoota predominance. The hollowness of different organs like lungs, heart, etc is due to Akasha Mahabhoota predominance.
Principle 3: Tridosha Siddhantha (Tri-defect Principle)
The 5 Mahabhoota’s combined with each other give rise to 3 Dosha’s (type of defects) that help in maintaining physiology of our body when in stable state and they cause diseases when in unstable state. These are like the basic software of our body.
वात (Vaata) – The dosha that is responsible for the movement of each and every atom, and also provides space for all movements to occur. For example, the act of respiration, peristaltic movements in the intestine, excretion of waste from our body, movement of nerve impulses in the nerves, initiation to do any work, etc.
पित्त (Pitta) – Responsible for any transformation taking place in our body and also the temperature changes in our body. For example, digestion, metabolism, breaking of large food particles to smaller ones for absorption in our body, etc.
कफ (Kapha) – Responsible for energy storage, the formation of new structures, protection in our body and bonding between molecules in our body to form larger molecules. For example, immunity, synovial fluid in joints, mucous lining protecting the digestive tract, adipose tissue storing fat, the stability of our body and mind, etc.
Top 10 – Ayurveda Recommended habits for being healthy
Based on above principles, here are some of the most effective health tips mentioned in Ayurveda for those who aspire to be healthy-as-a-horse individuals and to remain the same!
Habit 1: Wake up in ब्राह्मि मुहूर्त (brāhmi muhūrta)
A healthy individual should wake up approximately 96 minutes before sunrise to stay healthy. Brahma means knowledge. The time to seek knowledge is called as Brāhmi Muhūrta.
Reason: We humans have an internal clock that maintains a cycle of events at a 24 hour interval. It is found that the body temperature is minimum at 5:00 AM, the sleep inducing hormone Melatonin is at its minimum level at the day time and also the hormone Cortisol that helps to withstand stress and traumas in life is secreted more at this time.
Moreover, the level of nascent oxygen is 40% in the environment at this time, so the more one is awake at this time, the more oxygen one gets and the more healthy all the tissues function in one’s body, as our bodily functions require oxygen for every process. waking up at this time keeps one’s body in sync with environment and our bodily changes too. Hence, do wake up in Brāhmi Muhūrta.
Habit 2: Do exercise (व्यायाम) everyday!
शरीरायास जनकं कर्म व्यायाम उच्यते (commentary by Arunadatta on अष्टांग संग्रह संहिता सुत्र २।१४) – any action that makes one tired is termed व्यायाम (vyāyāma).