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Ayurveda: Meaning & Misconceptions
27Mar 2021

What is Ayurveda?

In literal sense, Ayurveda is ‘the knowledge of life’. Ayurveda is one of the most ancient systems of medicine in the world. It is the extension of Atharvaveda (one of the Four Vedas).

Ayurveda is inbuilt in Indian culture and is a part of daily lifestyle of many Indians who has adopted it to maintain good health and lifestyle.

How did Ayurveda come to origin?

According to the popular Indian mythology, the story is that Lord Indra taught Ayurveda to Rishi Bhardwaj.

Rishi Bhardwaj was chosen by the sages to represent the mankind and he then approached the gods to alleviate the human miseries caused by the diseases.

Knowing man’s limited knowledge lord Indra taught Rishi Bhardwaj the principles of Ayurveda after dividing it into 8 branches.

Branches in Ayurveda

S.No.

Type

Explanation

1

Kayachikitsa

Internal medicine

2

Balarogachikitsa

Paediatrics and gynaecology

3

Shalyachitiksa

Surgery

4

Shalakyachikitsa

ENT (ear, nose and throat surgery)

5

Agadatantra

Toxicology

6

Rasayanchikitsa

Rejuvenation

7

Vajikaranachikitsa

Study of sexual function and reproduction

8

Manasrogachikitsa

Psychiatry

As per the guru-shishya relationship this knowledge was propagated, modified and crystallised into the most primary form and in the standard reference Ayurveda texts of Charaka and Shushutra samhitas.

These were further expanded with advances made in complementary sciences and gave birth to other texts like Vagabhatta’s Ashtanga Hridya, Sharangdhara Samhita, etc.

Why do you need Ayurveda in life?

Who doesn’t want to live a healthy life?

Stress free, disease free, and efficient body is a dream of many of us.

But there is a difference in saying Healthy body and Disease-free body. A disease-free body is not necessarily a healthy body but a healthy body is certainly a disease-free body.

Allopathy (western medicine) has solution for almost every disease known to mankind and if not then it spends millions and billions in research and development (popularly known as R&D). We saw it happening in case of Coronavirus pandemic.

You take one tablet when you are down with fever or take a cough syrup when you catch cold. And woosh it is gone. You are again healthy and ready to take down the world. This is the reason people have faith in allopathy.

But wait for minute…. Is it as easy as it seems??? Aren’t there any side effects of this magical cure?

Do you just cure it for forever??? Or is it just a temporary solution?

What was the reason that you caught fever? Why is it that with every season change you get cold and fever? And why on earth these rare occurring stomach pains have now become frequent phenomena?

You can get answers to these questions once you examine the effects and side effects of allopathy critically.

Allopathy certainly can cure the disease and we know that it is not an easy thing to do. Decades of time and millions of rupees have been spent to invent a cure for a disease. But it has its own limitations. The more medicines you take more your immunity depends on them. Often times it does not offer a permanent solution to your problems like if you have thyroid or blood pressure problem then you will have to take the medicines till the last day of your life.

This is where Ayurveda falls in. It provides cure for day-to-day ailments like cough and cold as well as for some life-threatening diseases like BP.

More than a cure book, Ayurveda is a lifestyle to adopt. It gives you a framework for good health. According to Ayurveda, Health rests on the tripod of – body, mind and spirit.

To be healthy, a balanced state of all three is necessary. So, to be healthy you need an Ayurvedic lifestyle.

It gives you a dincharya or ritucharya to follow. It gives you all the answers like – what is right time to eat? When is to eat? And What and How much to eat? Because what we eat reflects on our face, body and mind.

The simple adjustments of daily routine can bring wonders in one’s life. How substituting Curd with buttermilk can help one with stomach bloating and how ghee can act as a lubricant to body functioning is answered in Ayurveda only.

If the question of how to stay healthy and thoughts of diseases haunts you daily then Ayurveda is the single answer to all your questions and worries. Because, medicines can cure you once, but Ayurvedic lifestyle will keep you fit and fine forever.

Misconceptions about Ayurveda

  • Ayurveda is only about herbsThis is just a misbelief. Ayurveda even include things like Yoga and panchkarma. Diet and digestion are the fundamentals of theories in Ayurveda. So, it is more than just a study of herbs.
  • Ayurvedic medicines have no side effectThis is again a popular misbelief that it does not have any side effect. Anything that can have effect can also have side effects. Proper prescriptions must always be followed to have proper results.
  • Less effective as compared to allopathic meds

    Well this question is tricky. If you have followed the ayurvedic lifestyle you might not even have to opt for allopathic meds. And for curing permanently a disease you have to be patient.

Why do these misconceptions occur?

The answer is time and language. Ayurveda is written in Sanskrit. Although it is a very powerful language it is understood by a very few today. Stanzas of charak Samhita are in Sanskrit and its interpretation differs from person to person and from time to time. For example, the word ‘Rasa’ can have 13 different meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

Further, translations into more widely understood vernacular languages only added to the confusion.

The sum and substance of Ayurveda is today widely out of synch with tune of life.


What is the right choice?

The fabric of society has changed and with it, dietary habits and day-to-day routine of the people. Thus, the remedies of Ayurveda are anachronisms and often unacceptable. In the jet age of syrups and quick-acting injections, the gentle kadhas and slow acting ghuttis of Ayurveda seems cumbersome and entirely out of place.

So, what should you choose, Allopathy or Ayurveda?

These are two independent sciences with different theories and practices. One should not blindly follow one while ignoring other.

Both are developed for the betterment of human health. Both are still developing. One is much older than the other and has proved the test of time. Since ancient time Ayurveda is being adopted in the households of many.

Proper balance between the two must be kept and followed to live a long and healthy life.

Dadi ke nuskhein or Nani ke Nuskhien has always been our first.

Even in modern times people searches on google about home remedies for every ailment just shows how strongly people believe in this ancient science of Ayurveda.

Thus, we should try to adopt Ayurvedic lifestyle as far as possible and then consult a doctor if the need arises.