AYURVEDA is made up of two words-Ayuh and Veda. Ayuh means life and Veda means knowledge or science. Thus "AYURVEDA’ in totality means ‘Science of life’. It incorporates all aspects of life whether physical, psychological, spiritual or social. What is beneficial and what is harmful to life, what is happy life and what is sorrowful life; all these four questions and life span allied issues are elaborately and emphatically discussed in Ayurveda. It believes the existence of soul before birth and after death too.
The extant text has eight sthāna (books), totalling 120 chapters. These eight books are 1. Sutra Sthana (General principles) - 30 chapters deal with general principles, philosophy, definitions, prevention through healthy living, and the goals of the text. 2. Nidana Sthana (Pathology) - 8 chapters on causes of diseases. 3. Vimana Sthana (Specific determination) - 8 chapters contain training of a physician, ethics of medical practice, pathology, diet and nourishment, taste of medicines. 4. Śarira Sthana (Anatomy) - 8 chapters describe embryology & anatomy of a human body (with a section on other living beings). 5. Indriya Sthana (Sensory organ based prognosis) - 12 chapters elaborate on diagnosis & prognosis, mostly based on sensory response of the patient. 6. Cikitsa Sthana (Therapeutics) - 30 chapters deal with medicines and treatment of diseases. 7. Kalpa Sthana (Pharmaceutics and toxicology) - 12 chapters describe pharmacy, the preparation and dosage of medicine, signs of their abuse, and dealing with poisons. 8. Siddhi Sthana (Success in treatment) - 12 chapters describe signs of cure, hygiene and healthier living.
The Sushruta Samhita, in its extant form, is divided into 186 chapters and contains descriptions of 1120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, 64 preparations from mineral sources and 57 preparations based on animal sources. The Suśruta-Saṃhitā is divided into two parts- the first five chapters, which are considered to be the oldest part of the text, and the "Later Section" (Skt. Uttaratantra) that was added by the author Nagarjuna. The chapters are- 1. Sutra-sthana 2. Nidana-sthana 3. Sarira-sthana 4. Cikitsa-sthana 5. Kalpa-sthana 6. Uttara-tantra
Bhela was one of the six students of Atreya, alongwith Agnivesha. He is said to have composed a treatise called Bhela Samhita. This was not traceable for many centuries, but in the year 1880, a palm leaf manuscript of it, composed in Sanskrit but written in the Telugu script, was found in the Palace Library at Tanjore. This manuscript, written about 1650, abounds in mistakes and some of it has been disfigured beyond recognition. But whatever has survived gives evidence of the same ancient tradition as Charaka Samhita does. It has also eight divisions like the Charaka. Bhela Samhita essentially corroborates what Charaka Samhita says. Occasionally, it differs from it in some details.
The Body matrix
Life in Ayurveda is conceived as the union of body, senses, mind and soul. The living man is a conglomeration of three humors (Vata, Pitta &Kapha), seven basic tissues (Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja & Shukra) and the waste products of the body i.e. mala, mutra and sweda. Thus the total body matrix comprises of the humors, the tissues and the waste products of the body. The growth and decay of this body matrix and its constituents revolve around food which gets processed into humors, tissues and wastes. Ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation and metabolism of food have an interplay in health and disease which are significantly affected by psychological mechanisms as well as by bio-fire (Agni).
According to Ayurveda all objects in the universe including human body are composed of five basic elements (Panchamahabhutas) namely, earth, water, fire, air and vacuum (ether). There is a balanced condensation of these elements in different proportions to suit the needs and requirements of different structures and functions of the body matrix and its parts. The growth and development of the body matrix depends on its nutrition, i.e. on food. The food, in turn, is composed of the above five elements, which replenish or nourish the like elements of the body after the action of bio-fire (Agni). The tissues of the body are the structural entities whereas humours are physiological entities, derived from different permutations and combinations of Panchamahabhutas.
Health and Sickness
Health or sickness depends on the presence or absence of a balanced state of the total body matrix including the balance between its different constituents. Both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors can cause disturbance in the natural equilibrium giving rise to diseases. This loss of equilibrium can happen by dietary indiscrimination, undesirable habits and non-observance of rules of healthy living. Seasonal abnormalities, improper exercise or erratic application of sense organs and incompatible actions of the body and mind can also result in creating disturbance of the existing normal balance. The treatment consists of restoring the balance of disturbed body-mind matrix by following proper diet, correcting life-routine and behavior, administration of drugs and resorting to preventive Panchkarma and Rasayana therapy.
Diet and Ayurvedic Treatment
In Ayurveda, regulation of diet as therapy has great importance. This is because it considers human body as the product of food. An individuals mental and spiritual development as well as his temperament is influenced by the quality of food consumed by him. Food in human body is transformed first into chyle or Rasa and then successive processes involve its conversion into blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone-marrow, reproductive elements and ojas. Thus, food is basic to all the metabolic transformations and life activities. Lack of nutrients in food or improper transformation of food lead to a variety of disease conditions.
In Ayurveda diagnosis and treatment of disease is always individual to each patient. The physician takes a careful note of the patients internal physiological characteristics and mental disposition. He also studies other factors such as the affected bodily tissues, humours, the site at which the disease is located, patients resistance and vitality, his daily routine, dietary habits, the clinical conditions, condition of digestion and details of personal, social, economic and environmental situation of the patient. The diagnosis also involves the following examinations- - General physical examination - Pulse examination - Urine examination - Examination of the faces - Examination of tongue and eyes - Examination of skin and ear including tactile and auditory functions.
The treatment approach in the Ayurveda system is holistic and individualized having preventive, curative, mitigative, recuperative and rehabilitative aspects. The principal objectives of Ayurveda are maintenance and promotion of health, prevention of disease and cure of sickness. Treatment of the disease consists in avoiding causative factors responsible for disequilibrium of the body matrix or of any of its constituent parts through the use of Panchkarma procedures, medicines, suitable diet, activity and regimen for restoring the balance and strengthening the body mechanisms to prevent or minimize re-occurrence of the disease. Normally treatment measures involve use of medicines, specific diet and prescribed activity routine. These three measures are used in two ways. In one approach of treatment the three measures antagonize the disease by counteracting the etiological factors and various manifestations of the disease. In the second approach the same three measures of medicine, diet and activity are targeted to exert effects similar to the etiological factors and manifestations of the disease process. These two types of therapeutic approaches are respectively known as Vipreeta and Vipreetarthkari Chikitsa.
Types of Treatment
The types of treatment can broadly be classified as:
Shodhana (Purification Treatment) treatment aims at removal of the causative factors of somatic and psychosomatic diseases. The process involves internal and external purification. The usual practices involved are Panchkarma (medically induced Emesis, Purgation, Oil Enema, Decoction enema and Nasal administration of medicines), Pre-panchkarma procedures (external and internal oleation and induced sweating). Panchkarma treatment focuses on metabolic management. It provides needed purificatory effect, besides conferring therapeutic benefits. This treatment is specially helpful in neurological disorders, musculo-skeletal disease conditions, certain vascular or neuro-vascular states, respiratory diseases, metabolic and degenerative disorders.
Shamana therapy (Palliative Treatment) involves suppression of vitiated humours (doshas). The process by which disturbed humour subsides or returns to normal without creating imbalance of other humours is known as shamana. This treatment is achieved by use of appetisers, digestives, exercise and exposure to sun, fresh air etc. In this form of treatment, palliatives and sedatives are used.
Pathya Vyavastha (Prescription of diet and activity) comprises indications and contraindications in respect of diet, activity, habits and emotional status. This is done with a view to enhance the effects of therapeutic measures and to impede the pathogenetic processes. Emphasis on dos and donts of diet etc is laid with the aim to stimulate Agni and optimize digestion and assimilation of food in order to ensure strength of tissues.
Nidan Parivarjan (Avoidance of disease causing and aggravating factors) is to avoid the known disease causing factors in diet and lifestyle of the patient. It also encompasses the idea to refrain from precipitating or aggravating factors of the disease.
Satvavajaya (Psychotherapy) concerns mainly with the area of mental disturbances. This includes restraining the mind from desires for unwholesome objects and cultivation of courage, memory and concentration. The study of psychology and psychiatry have been developed extensively in Ayurveda and have wide range of approaches in the treatment of mental disorders.
Rasayana therapy (use of immuno-modulators and rejuvenation medicines) deals with promotion of strength and vitality. The integrity of body matrix, promotion of memory, intelligence, immunity against the disease, the preservation of youth, luster and complexion and maintenance of optimum strength of the body and senses are some of the positive benefits credited to this treatment. Prevention of premature wear and tear of body tissues and promotion of total health content of an individual are the roles that Rasayana therapy plays.
Ayurveda Degree Course - The degree awarded is Ayurvedacharya (BAMS - Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery). The duration of Course is 5 years 6 months. The minimum amission qualification is 12th Standard with 50% aggregate marks in Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
Ayurveda Post Graduation Degree Course - The degree awarded is Ayurved Vachaspati (MD Ayurved) in 22 specilaities. The duration of Course is 3 years. The minimum amission qualification is Ayurvedacharya (BAMS) with an admissiion test.
Ayurveda Post Graduation Diploma Course - PG Diploma awarded in 16 specilaities. The duration of Course is 2 years. The minimum amission qualification is Ayurvedacharya (BAMS) with an admissiion test.
Ayurveda Ph.D Course - Degree awarded Ayurved Varidhi -- Ph.D Ayurveda.
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