Ayurveda: Our indigenous science, philosophy, and art of life

It is a fact that people are always attracted to the developed countries.
Ayurveda: Our indigenous science, philosophy, and art of life

Dr. Suman Bharali


It is a fact that people are always attracted to the developed countries. They want to eat, dress, stay, or follow the lifestyle of developed countries. This is because the people of those countries highlight their language, culture, systems, and traditions with great respect and confidence and are proud of them. They always try to keep their indigenous assets at the top of the world. India is a fast-developing country. People here are very efficient, hardworking, and have love for the country. All of us want to see India as one of the developed countries. It will happen only when we are able to highlight our specialty. We should be able to provide world-class products and services to the world in different fields so that people from other parts of the world get attracted to them.

India is known for its unity in diversity. Every part of the country is unique and blessed with different cultures. We have a very rich heritage. We have many types of textiles, food, arts and crafts, music, dance, our own healthcare systems, flora and fauna, natural resources, minerals, fertile land, etc. If these are used properly, we can be at the top of the world.

But unfortunately, every new generation is erasing a part of our identity. Today, we are spending more and more on imported foreign products and adopting other cultures. As a result, their economy and value are increasing every day, while our own indigenous treasures are losing their lustre. And our own indigenous artists, craftsmen, healers, farmers, and people are being neglected in their own homes. They don’t get enough recognition, appreciation, respect, support, and benefits, though they work very hard and are keeping our tradition alive. People are forgetting our history, heritage, tradition, culture, philosophy, sciences, and arts. It should be known that people from other parts of the world will not come here to see or take what they find in other parts of the world but will come for what is found exclusively in India. We should also know that the indigenous arts, traditions, and cultures of a region are best suited for the people residing there. They are evolved after years of experimentation and application according to the geography, climate, environment, and ethnicity of people in the region.

Our great freedom fighters understood this fact before independence and started the Swadeshi Movement so that we could become self-sufficient in every field. They asked Indians to get rid of the foreign goods and encourage our indigenous systems and goods. Because these are our pride, they make us self-sufficient and independent by enhancing our economy. There are many indigenous systems in our country that are our pride. But instead of honouring and encouraging them, their development gets suppressed so that the competitors get the opportunity and benefit.

One of the prides, heritages, and treasures of India is its indigenous system of medicine, i.e., Ayurveda. Unfortunately, most of the Indians don’t have proper knowledge about it. They should know that many things that other parts of the world are proving today were told thousands of years ago by our intelligent ancestors. It is a total science, philosophy, and art of living. In it everything is discussed, like what is good or bad for life, the causes of happiness and misery, how the quality of life can be improved, and how its span can be increased. There is an ocean of knowledge in it for the benefit of mankind.

When people hear the word Ayurveda, they think it is an outdated system of medicine having no relevance in the present day. The picture of street vendors selling herbs and roots in a tent at the roadside comes to mind. People try to test ayurvedic professionals by asking different questions and asking for simple home remedies for common diseases. People treat Ayurvedic practitioners as lesser mortals and are ridiculed and disregarded in many instances. But in reality, Ayurveda is a very dynamic, time-tested, efficient, and profound system of medicine that has an immense treasure of knowledge hidden in it. Ayurvedic practitioners have been relieving the pain and suffering of humans since time immemorial. Today, thousands of Ayurvedic professionals are serving mankind selflessly in the remotest parts of the country, keeping a low profile. People who are benefited by it believe in its potential, simplicity, cost effectiveness, and safety, and they give it priority.

The earliest treatises of Ayurveda were written about 1500 years ago by our intelligent and skilled ancestors after a lot of study and experiments. Since early times, we have been self-sufficient in every field and have shown the way to many other parts of the world. At that period of time, our ancestors were most intelligent and propagated the knowledge nicely. Ayurveda is an eternal and dynamic science. Every new discovery, invention, scientific know-how, skill, and technology were added to the ancient texts by every generation. New experiments, observations, and results were included in the new treatises. It was developing and getting updated in every age by successive scholars.

Ayurveda does not only include the treatment of diseases; it is a diverse and complete life science that includes everything related to a happy and healthy life. According to its definition, Ayurveda is concerned with keeping all the components of the human body in a balanced state, whether it is body tissues, metabolism, or excretions; it is also concerned with keeping the soul, sense organs, and mind peaceful and happy. Ancient Ayurveda comprised eight branches: internal medicine; child diseases; treatment of poisons; treatment of diseases above the shoulder or ENT; eye diseases and oral diseases; surgery; rejuvenation and antiageing therapies; aphrodisiac and infertility treatment; and diseases due to the effect of planets, which included all the diseases whose cause was not clear at that time, such as epilepsy, viral diseases, psychological disorders, etc. Apart from these eight branches, Ayurveda has immense knowledge to make a person healthy physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. It is compared with an ocean whose depth cannot be measured.

In the vast syllabus of Ayurveda, all the important subjects of modern medical science are included. Thousands of years ago, Acharya Sushruta conducted dissections of human cadavers and found out about each and every part of the body, including their components and measurements. Principles of human physiology were also described. There are descriptions of social and preventive medicine, epidemics, and natural disasters. There are descriptions of plant, animal, and mineral poisons and their management. Different parasites and helminths are also mentioned, along with their treatments. Descriptions of different paediatric diseases are mentioned, along with their management. Geriatric disorders are also described, along with antioxidant and rejuvenating therapies. The treatment for infertility was also described, along with male and female sexual disorders. A description of pregnancy, antenatal care, and postpartum care is also included. Diseases of the ear, nose, and throat, as well as ophthalmic diseases, are described along with treatment options. Oral diseases and dental disorders are also included. Different psychiatric disorders and their management are there. Internal medicine includes most of the acute and chronic diseases along with their treatments. Many major and minor diseases have miraculous Ayurvedic treatments, such as different types of arthritis and pains, bronchial asthma, diabetes, skin diseases, gynaecological disorders, etc. Many people have questions about surgery in Ayurveda. It should be known that Acharya Sushruta is said to be the father of Indian surgery. He did surgery for different surgical diseases and injuries. Abdominal surgeries, medical termination of pregnancy in an emergency, and surgeries similar to a caesarian section were done. Bone fractures and joint dislocations were treated. Burn injuries, abscesses, and ulcers were treated. Amputations were done, and artificial limbs were attached. Plastic surgeries were also done by him. Ayurveda is still famous for anorectal surgeries. Many people are treated daily with Ksharasutra surgery for fistula-in-ano, haemorrhoids, etc. Besides these, a lot of other surgical procedures are described in Ayurveda. Some special therapies are leech therapy, alkali therapy, fire therapy, bloodletting, etc. Only a brief idea of the vast treasure hidden in Ayurveda can be presented here.

There are many special treatment principles described in Ayurveda. There are special Ayurvedic principles for the diagnosis and differential diagnosis of a disease. After a proper diagnosis, the treatment begins with purificatory therapy. It is done using panchakarma therapy. It includes medical emesis to purify the stomach and diseases related to it; the second is purgation therapy, which clears the toxins out of the gastro-intestinal tract. Then there are two medicative enema therapies where medications are inserted via the anus or vagina in females, which purify and strengthen the tracts. Then there is a therapy to cleanse and treat diseases of the head and neck, in which medicated oils are put into the nostrils. All these therapies take out the toxins present inside the body and prepare a fresh body for treatment. After purification, medicine is given to such a detoxified person, and it shows full efficacy. There are also indications and contraindications for these therapies. Only a trained professional can manage it properly.

Another treatment principle is to find out the cause of any disorder or disease and avoid it. Then to understand the pathogenesis and prognosis of the disease and treatment should be according to the age, time, space, and strength of the patient. In Ayurveda, importance is given to a healthy mind as well; for this, there are treatments to make the mind positive and pure so that it becomes peaceful and aware. Spiritual rituals and beliefs are also encouraged to impart hope and strength to the soul to fight against diseases.

Food, sleep, and discipline are said to be the three pillars supporting life. It is said that if our food is good, there will be no need for medicine. Sleep should be proper, timely, and adequate. For discipline, there are descriptions of daily routines, seasonal regimens, and the right conduct and behaviours. All these together benefit the person, society, nation, and universe as a whole.

The ayurvedic medicines consist of many herbs and plant parts. Minerals, metals, and non-metals are also used in several medicines that are very potent. Animal products are also used in the preparation of medicine. The process of preparing medicine is very precise and fine. Every step is done very efficiently to detoxify the components and convert them into edible medicine. Medicines may be in the form of pills, fermented syrups, powders, or external applications. If followed with a proper diet and regimen, the efficacy of these medicines is enhanced. Information about the qualities, medicinal properties, parts to be used, dose, etc., of the plants and mineral components are described thoroughly in ayurvedic texts. There were separate and special spaces for the preparation of medicines, called Rasashala, where all necessary equipment and substances were available. The ancient Ayurvedic scholars were very efficient at alchemy. Many procedures are mentioned that modern scientists find hard to believe.

Ayurveda was growing rich with time until the invasion of foreign rulers and the influence of different religions and cultures. Many rulers destroyed Indian culture and hindered the progress of indigenous systems. British rule brought the modern scientific teachings and neglected the Indian systems further for centuries. During all these periods, the progress and popularity of Ayurveda were hampered, and some parts of its knowledge were lost. But still, it is time-tested, efficacious, and beneficial for mankind. Neglecting Ayurveda is like neglecting your own forefathers and grandparents. It should be understood that our ancestors did marvellous work without sophisticated instruments or modern knowledge. They gave us our own system of medicine and a treasure of knowledge to be proud of. Now we should respect it and come forward to uplift it and make it global. It is our national pride and heritage. All the different branches of modern science and technology should collaborate and cooperate with Ayurveda to explore its tremendous knowledge and upgrade it. All the scientific knowledge and technologies should be used to make them up-to-date and global. It will reduce the burden of health care, reduce the cost of treatment, and provide alternative treatment. It can boost the national economy by attracting foreign patients and exporting medicines, generating employment for youth, and cultivating medicinal plants, which can help farmers and interested individuals as well. People will lead healthy lifestyles following Ayurveda, and a lot of diseases can be prevented. People will be healthy, happy, and strong, which will enhance national development by working efficiently in every field. Now Ayurveda should be taken to new heights rather than neglected, along with its professionals who are preserving our national pride and rich heritage.

Ayurveda should be declared a national system of medicine and given top priority in India. As such, it is our country’s gift to the world. Ayurveda has the potential to develop India. People should be made aware of its benefits. It should be made the first line of treatment in India. More investments should be made for its development. Ayurveda is an eternal science, and it should keep developing with time. More educational institutions, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, etc. should be opened, and the quality of the existing ones should be raised. The quality and quantity of the drugs should be raised to meet international standards. Young and intelligent minds should be encouraged to study and work for Ayurveda by giving them proper facilities, jobs and opportunities. Large-scale farming of the medicinal plants should be done in different parts of the country. Efforts should be made to globalize it.

Time has come to conserve our heritage and enhance our traditions, if we don’t want to lose our identity. So, everybody should start thinking about how they can help highlight the different indigenous assets of India. It is an eternal and dynamic medical science that is always in service for the benefit of mankind.

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