The Vedas date back to about five thousand years. They preach the philosophy of life. The Atharvaveda contains the principles of healing on which Ayurveda is based. 'Ayur' means 'life' in Sanskrit. Ayurveda is the most ancient science of healing which enhances longevity. It has influenced many of the older traditional methods of healing including Tibetan, Chinese and Greek medicine. Hence, Ayurveda is considered by many as the 'mother of healing.'
The true history of Ayurveda starts from the time of the Holy books, the Vedas. Ancient mythology contends that the concept and essence of Ayurveda was revealed by the creator of the world himself – Lord Brahma.
The hymns, the mantras and the medical information contained in the Vedas were contributions of Rishis and munis or sages, over a period of time. Many of these sages were learned saints who devoted their life to understanding the world.
Aryavarta, the native land of Aryans, covers a large area surrounding the Himalayas and is believed to be the place where the Rishis and Munis lived. At present it covers areas in countries like Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Tibet. The civilizations of these countries are deeply influenced by the unique intellectual contributions of these Rishis and Munis.
The practical tenets of Ayurveda are divided into eight sections or branches. These sections include:
- Internal medicine,
- Organic medicine,
- Rejuvenating remedy,
- Aphrodisiac remedies and
- Spiritual healing.
These eight sections are called "Astanga Ayurveda".
Ayurveda is a complete or holistic system that integrates the mind, body and spirit. For a few centuries, the tradition of Ayurveda was dimmed due to the natural and human calamities and also by the invasion of foreign cultures into India. The sacred texts were either destroyed or stolen. However there were many ‘Vaidyas’ or doctors in India who managed to preserve some of the knowledge available in these Holy Scriptures. Divine plants that sustain long life and good health are now being rediscovered. Many renowned families of Vaidyas, who are specialized in certain branches of Ayurveda, have started functioning again in India. Today there is a revival of the ancient culture and traditions inherent to Ayurveda, which is a true gift of the ancient civilization to the modern world.