India has many magical secrets, for our health and well-being. Some left behind, some ignored, and some to be understood.
During the mythological Churning of the Ocean of Milk (Samudra Manthan), many precious and magical elements arose, spanning from vicious poison to mystical beings, to the much awaited outcome of the churning, Nectar. Since then, the Gods and Demons, the two parties in the tug of war, were fighting for great strength, energy, prowess, all in all, immortality. This churning also gave way to a Celestial being, Lord Dhanvantri, known to be the physician of the Gods, whose appearance was said to be resplendent, young with striking, bold looks, with the stride of a majestic lion. He was said to emerge with herbs and potions. Moreover, he got with him the Ambrosia of the Gods, the ultimate secret to Longevity, Vitality and Power, “Amrit” or the “Nectar of Life”.
As we reminisce such tales told to us by our grandmothers, a glimpse into the Life-that-would-have-been, drives the imagination wild. We have heard the stories of Gods, Demons, learned Sages with unmatchable powers since we were kids. Do these stories point to something more than just stories? Did the way of life, the synergy between the frugal life and the abundance of Mother Nature, make the quality of life something to crave for? Is there a secret that needs to be accepted and explored, today?
Today, we are acquainted with the term Ayurveda, frequently yet in light doses. Simply put, Ayurveda is the guide to live life well and wisely, with purpose and happiness. To make it even more colloquial, it is the ultimate crash course to a better, well balanced and satisfied life. Sounds interesting already, doesn’t it?!
Breaking it down further, Ayurveda is almost 3000 years old, if not older. “Ayus” meaning Life and “Veda” meaning Study or Knowledge, gives us a broad picture. The vast world of Ayurveda goes beyond the simple herbed brews, cleansing rituals and complicated chyawanprash recipes, to being carefully designed to cater to each and every one of the beings in the Universe, their purpose, their balance.
Carrying the mythology forward, it is said that Lord Dhanvantri was reincarnated to become the King of Benaras to fulfil his purpose, i.e., to spread the knowledge of Ayurveda with the humankind. He used to teach Ayurveda, orally to sages and his disciples. Charaka, a sage and disciple, recorded and studied the natural Ayurvedic practices. Charaka culminated the Charaka Samhita, which contains the wisdom to good health and prosperity. He studied the elements of nature and found out that the five elements, (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether) make up almost the entire universe, just varying in proportions. He is known as the Father of Ayurveda and all that we know about the magical form of healing is courtesy, Charaka.
According to the ancient wisdom, the body, the mind and the soul are intertwined to retain the perfect balance and harmony. The three, in constant coalition, are responsible for a healthy body, sound mind and a clear spirit. The philosophy of Ayurveda emphasises such balance in whatever activity we undertake, be it our interaction with our surrounding universe or the balance between our work life and personal life.
It also preaches, that the imbalance in our ‘Prakruti’ or constitution makes us more susceptible to disorders and illnesses. Our ‘prakruti’ also constitutes of the varied proportions of the five elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether) that make up our body, mind and soul. This distinction in proportion makes every single being in the Universe, interesting and unique. The three in tandem, make us who we are as individuals, as we are more than just our thoughts and our deeds. We are our own physical entity, our own mix of complex emotions and our own set of beliefs. These are the things which give us our identity, our outlook in life, our good health and make us who we truly are. The three are powerful enough on their own, one may dominate over the others to make a person either physically fit, mentally strong or spiritually enriched.
Coming back to the point about life in bygone times, it was a time when the way of life was simpler, much peaceful and Ayurveda was not only used for treatments but also carried as an everyday accessory. These sound practises ensured that the people lived long and healthy lives, maintained a constant glowing aura between them and their surroundings.
As generations have gone by, life moves at a fast-forward pace, with complete lack of awareness of self, surroundings and self in surroundings, bereft of mother nature. We can at best take some time to introspect, identify and interact about the unity of the trinity- Mind, Body, Soul. To this effect, we can return to the wisdom that Ayurveda has to offer and rejuvenate.
Ayurveda can easily be called the art of living wisely. The need to incorporate Ayurveda is high in today’s world. As Globalisation takes over, our health is being compromised for readily available shortcuts to make us happy, but for a limited time. If good health and longevity, is what we seek — the secrets are available to us in niche environments. All we need to do is go back to our roots and delve into the philosophies of life; narrated by the custodians of Ayurveda. Ironically, something that started as a spoon full of chyawanprash in the morning or grandma’s home remedies is actually an area explored, yet barely touched upon. They clearly knew what they were passing down to the generations to implement in their routine.
This ancient science is being implemented by a selected few to understand the true meaning of ‘prana’ or life. Once balance is achieved, life is an easier plane to glide on!