Basic Books of Ayurveda Ayurveda has its beginnings in the Atharvaveda . However, all the four Vedas demonstrate a concern for medical issues.
Tradition holds that Ayurveda was revealed through a series of deities and sages to human physicians who in turn composed the basic texts. According to the Susruta Samhita, the doctrine passed from Indra, chief among the gods, to Dhanvantari, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the Hindu god of medicine, and then finally to Susruta himself. The Caraka Samhita states that the doctrine passed to the sage Atreya Punarvasu, who then trained a disciple named Agnivesa.
Other major texts include the Astangahrdaya Samhita of Vagbhata , Madhavanidana of Madhava, and Bhela Samhita . The most often cited of these treatises are Caraka, Susruta, and Vagbhata, collectively known as “the great three” (brhat trayi).
Disease and Treatment in Ayurveda According to Ayurveda, sickness results from an imbalance of one or more of three humors (tridosa) : wind (vata), bile (pitta), and phlegm (kapha). A patient’s illness is determined by the character of the particular disease (vyadhi), which is dependent on both the imbalanced humor and the body substance (dhatu, e.g., blood, flesh, fat, bone, etc.) or anatomical part that is affected. Factors as dietary imbalance, physical and emotional stresses, suppression of natural urges, or the effects of deeds in a previous life (karmavipaka) are said to cause the humoral balance in a particular disease.
Therapy according to Ayurvedic principles is based on the premise that the humoral imbalance must be corrected by either pacifying or eliminating the excited humor. This is accomplished with preparations made of herbs; animal products; and heavy metals; decoctions in clarified butter (ghi); dietary adjustments or by other means. One type of treatment described in the early texts that became especially popular in South India is pancakarma , it involves emesis, purgation, sternutation, medicinal enema, and phlebotomy. Surgery is emphasized in the Susruta Samhita. The texts also specify ritual offerings, the recitation of sacred formulas (mantras), and other ritual procedures.
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