What Is Ayurveda

Ayurveda, which means science of life in Sanskrit, is an ancient healing system from India, based on the unchanging, immutable laws that govern the universe.

Quite a claim for a first line of introduction into a medicine, isn’t it? Yet this beautiful, profound and successful system of healing and medicine is very much like that sentence. Simple, direct and universal. Your understanding of Ayurveda begins the moment you look deeply at the laws that guide all of manifested creation, and then seek to understand how these laws are playing themselves out in your own life. You deepen your understanding of Ayurveda even further when you begin to apply the balancing recommendations that Ayurveda offers into gentle and loving adjustments in your lifestyle choices.

Would it surprise you to know that Ayurveda is the oldest continually practiced medicine on the planet? Did you know that Ayurveda is recognized by the World Health Organization? Or that a great American society of surgeons today is named after the ancient Ayurvedic surgical teacher, Sushruta?

Like Yoga, Ayurveda comes to us through the rich and profound teachings of the Upanishads and the four Vedas; The Rig Veda, The Yajur Veda, The Sama Veda, and the Athara Veda. These texts are humankind’s oldest literature as well as our oldest spiritual teachings. The Vedas outline in great detail how to live in harmony with universal law (dharma). All aspects of right living are discussed, from physical health, to correct business practices, from harmonizing yourself with society, to specific practices for spiritual development.

Ayurveda sprang from the Sarasvati civilization of the Indus valley of ancient India. By 3000 BCE, this civilization extended from the Ganges in the east to Afghanistan in the west, and from the coast of Iran to the region of Bombay. It was at this time, the world’s largest urban civilization. The formative period of Ayurveda as we know it today occurred between 2000 and 300 BCE. The medical material that was found throughout both the Vedas and the Upanishads was collected, tested and systematically organized. These findings were compiled into collections called Samhitas.

Of all of the Samhitas that once existed, only three original works remain. They are the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridaya. These collections are known as Brihattrayi, and together they constitute the oldest and longest medical texts in the world.