Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term, made up of the words "ayus" and "veda." "Ayus" means life and "Veda" means knowledge or science. The term "ayurveda" thus means 'the knowledge of life' or 'the science of life'. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" comprises the mind, body, senses and the soul. Ayurveda can be defined as a system, which uses the inherent principles of nature, to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual's body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature.
Origin of Ayurveda:
Widely regarded as the oldest form of healthcare in the world, Ayurveda is an intricate medical system that originated in India thousands of years ago. The fundamentals of Ayurveda can be found in Hindu scriptures called the Vedas — the ancient Indian books of wisdom. The Rig Veda, which was written over 6,000 years ago, contains a series of prescriptions that can help humans overcome various ailments.
Aim of Ayurveda:
The aim of this system is to prevent illness, heal the sick and preserve life. This can be summed up as follows:
- Preservation of health of healthy people and to help them attain the four principles of life (Purusharthas of life).
- Relief from the misery of sufferings.
- Ultimate aim is the attainment of salvation through liberation and God consciousness i.e. Moksha.
To achieve these objectives certain rules or principles of health care exercise, behaviour, seasonal regimens, rejuvenation ('rasayan') therapy, Panchakarma therapy and so on have been extensively described. In Ayurveda for treating the disease as an entity, two broad regimens are classified. The purification or elimination process which is known as 'Shodhan Chikitsa' includes 'Panchakarma Chikitsa' and the second is Suppressive, Palliative or corrective process known as 'Shaman Chikitsa'. Out of these two, Purification is ideal since it helps to remove the root of the disease. 'Palliative' treatment is also essential and it is comparable to present day's internal medicine.
From this it is understood that Ayurveda's approach towards individuals, diseases, drugs etc is basic, holistic and natural. Ayurveda believes in principle that whatever existed in universe can be seen in the body, therefore diet and drugs are derived from natural resources and are to be used according to elements ('mahabhootas'), humours ('doshas') and individual constitutions ('prakrutis').
Ayurveda has accepted the part of ideology from Sankhya - Visheshik - Nyaya - Mimansa - Uttar Mimansa, these are the different schools of philosophies and they put forward the theories of evolution of the world. Accordingly Ayurveda has accepted that there is existence of two base line components, Supreme Soul ('Purusha') and Basic Matter ('Prakruti'). Basic Matter ('Prakruti') gets activated when Supreme Soul ('Purusha') touches it, which helps to start the evolution process. Therefore the actual body of the living being is made of five elements ('Panch Mahabhootas') and Soul ('Atman') & Mind ('Mana') which acts as proper coordinators between these elements. Supreme Soul shows its existence in the living body as represented by Soul ('Atman') and Mind ('Mana').
Thus Ayurveda describes the definition of healthy person as 'One whose Humours ('Doshas') & Fire ('Agni'), Tissues ('Dhatus'), Mind ('Mana'), Sensory & Motor Organs ('Indriyas') and Soul or Spirit ('Atman') are in equilibrium and are in perfect harmony i.e. a homeostasis of these factors'. This means the human being who has the energy required for transformation & metabolism in the body, all the body structural material and sensory & motor functions ('Indriyas') in the body, Mind ('Mana') and Soul or Spirit ('Atman') in equilibrium is a perfect healthy person. This healthy human being is the prime concern and subject of Ayurveda. W.H.O. also accepts this definition.