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Probing Ayurveda as a medicinal discipline of Karnataka

With a history of more than 3000 years attached to this practice, Ayurveda finds its origins in India. It is defined as a natural form of medicinal practice. Derived from the Sanskrit words, ‘Ayur’ that denotes life and ‘Veda’ which means science or knowledge, Ayurveda, thus, means the knowledge of life. The main belief of Ayurvedic practices is that diseases or ailments are a result of disparity in stress levels or conflict in one’s consciousness. Thus, Ayurveda posits the use of lifestyle interventions and natural therapies to restore this balance in the body, mind, and spirit. It encompasses natural treatments that aim on purifying the body and soul from the inside. These treatments include special diets, yoga, herbal remedies, massage therapy, and meditation. 

Spiritual meaning of the Ayurvedic Practice 

In ancient texts of Ayurveda, it is believed that knowledge about Ayurvedic medicine was transmitted to the sages by the Gods, which was then passed on to human physicians. The Sushruta Samhita (Sushruta's Compendium) is framed in published versions as the doctrines of Dhanvantari, the Hindu god of Ayurveda personified as King Divodasa of Varanasi, to a network of doctors, including Sushruta. However, the earliest inscriptions of the work forego this frame, attributing the work exclusively to King Divodasa. Ayurveda has been modified for Western consumption through well-understood procedures of modernization and globalization, most prominently by Baba Hari Dass originally and Maharishi Ayurveda later on.

The core Ayurvedic beliefs and ideologies show distinct similarities with the Samkhya and Vaisheshika Hindu philosophies. Ayurvedic medicine is conceived on the notions of universal interrelatedness, the body's constitution (Prakriti), and life forces (Doshas). Treatment goals assist the person by removal of impurities, alleviating symptoms, raising disease resistance, minimizing anxiety, and boosting life harmony. Ayurvedic treatment makes extensive use of herbs and other plants, such as oils and widely accepted spices. Doctrines of Ayurveda speak of three fundamental doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. According to these doctrines, when these doshas are in a balanced state (Samyatva), it results in good health, however when they are in an imbalanced state (Visamatva), diseases arise. Ayurveda splits medicine into 8 canonical elements. This division was mentioned in the Sanskrit, Hindu epic, Mahabharata for the first time. These 8 elements are: 

  1. Kayachikitsa: medicinal procedures and properties that deal with the body (general medicine)

  2. Kaumara-Bhrtya: pertains to prenatal and postnatal care, conception methods, and other health-related themes significant to the discipline of Pediatrics. 

  3. Salyatantra: deals with the incisions and extraction of extraneous articles in the body

  4. Shalakyatantra: deals with medical procedures that pertain to the treatments of cavities and openings in the upper body (ears, nose, eyes, mouth, etc.)

  5. Bhutavidya: is related to the subjugation of possessing life forces and people impacted by these possessions.

  6. Agadatantra/Vishagara-vairodh Tantra - coming under the domain of toxicology, this element covers epidemics, animal toxins, vegetables and minerals, and ways in which anomalies and tales related to these topics can be found.

  7. Rasayatantra: deals with revitalizing solutions for the longevity of life.

  8. Vajikaranatantra: mainly focuses on fertility issues and spiritual development. 


Q1. What are the essential Ayurvedic principles? 

Known as the Pancha Mahabhoota in Ayurveda, it is a common belief in the discipline that the universe is made up of five components: Vayu (Air), Jala (Water), Aakash (Space), Prithvi (Earth), and Teja (Fire). These 5 elements are said to make up the three humors (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) of the human body. 

Q2. How does one find out their dosha? 

Doshas are regarded as the life forces that dictate one’s well-being and health. One can find out their dosha by figuring out their physical, mental, and emotional characteristics.