The Origins and Modern Practice of Ayurveda

The Origins and Modern Practice of Ayurveda

The meaning “knowledge of life,” Ayurveda stemmed from the wisdom of the ancient sages or rishis – along with the yogis – of India and was initially passed by word of mouth. Learn more about what Ayurveda is all about, and the constitutional model that it operates on. Tulsi is the principal herb used in Ayurveda, India’s ancient holistic health system. Also called “sacred” or “holy basil,” Tulsi, though, isn’t the only herb lying at the very heart of Ayurvedic practice.

Divine Origins and Teachings

In Ayurveda, “ayur” or life is considered a combined state of body senses, psyche, and soul. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma created this world – including plants, animals, and other natural resources – in six days. But as time went on and plenty of miseries and illnesses afflicted the Earth and its people, Brahma the creator slowly descended to Earth and laid down the foundation of Ayurveda.

Given this divine origin, Ayurveda is deemed a holistic science blessed by God. The ancient rishis devoted their lives to spreading Ayurvedic teachings and way of life, with the intention of addressing the various sorrows and diseases that plague the world. A contented life that is important for a healthy and peaceful living is the main goal in spreading this divine knowledge.

Ayurveda is also entirely anchored on the Five Great Elements, or the Panchmahabhuta theory. These five elements are:

1.  Earth (prithvi)
2.  Water (jal)
3.  Fire (agni or tej)
4.  Air (vayu)
5. Ether or space (akash)

While you are a composite of these five primary elements, certain elements are considered to have the capacity to produce various physiological functions.

 Ayurveda understands health according to a constitutional model. According to it, each person manifests a mix of each of the three constitutional energetic forces, or so-calleddoshas. These doshas are Vatadosha (ether and air), Pitta dosha (fire and water), and Kaphadosha (water and earth) – the ratios of each vary in each individual. Because of this, Ayurveda views each person as a special mixture, accounting for our diversity.

For example, fire and water combine to form the Pitta dosha, which is the process of transformation or metabolism.

The Benefits of Ayurveda

The aim of Ayurvedic practice is to offer guidance on food, lifestyle, and specially designed treatments in order to optimize your health and heal illnesses.

Here is a rundown of its purported benefits:

  • A way of life, not merely a treatment
  • Holds no side effects
  • Releases tension
  • Relaxes the mind
  • Delves on the effects of good and bad dietary choices
  • Helps to achieve dharm, arth, kama, and moksha
  • Works toward a happy, healthy, and disease-free life of longevity

From Oral Traditions to Written Literature

Ayurvedic learnings were passed on through word of mouth until the earliest known written texts, which emerged around 5,000 BC. The Atharva Veda – meaning “in verses” and “book of infinite knowledge” – served as the first documented scientific account of Ayurveda.

Much importance was placed by the Atharva Veda on herbs for optimal health and well-being.

For instance, the ancient rishis made sure that Tulsi was integrated into daily life through its role in religious rituals. People at all levels of the Indian society regularly consumed Tulsi during worship in their homes and temples. Tulsi retains its sacred position in India, and it is a part of the Indian household as typically grown in earthen pots in the family garden or parts of the home.

Tulsi tea is among the popular ways that this herb is used in and outside Ayurveda. This is naturally delicious, slightly sweet, and a little spicy, with one teaspoon per cup to suffice. Today, it is enjoyed when freshly boiled water is poured over Tulsi leaves, steeped for two to five minutes, and with a natural sweetener – and sometimes mint – added.

About the Author :Mishka Thomas is a freelance writer and a professor of humanities who is interested in holistic wellness models, including Ayurveda studies and yoga. She has traveled extensively in different parts of India and its neighboring Asian countries to enrich her knowledge in this arena. The merits of vegetarianism, along with Tulsi tea benefits, are among the many things she discovered in her quest. Mishka now has three children, one of whom joins her in her spur-of-the-moment outdoor expeditions that include fishing, hiking, and the occasional diving trips.

Image Credit Flickr

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