"The science of Ayurveda is not just about treating diseases; it is about maintaining a balanced, integrated and healthy life." - Deepak Chopra 

"Ayurveda teaches us to cherish our innate-nature, to love and nurture ourselves, and to cultivate gratitude for the gifts of life." - Shubhra Krishan 

Ayurveda is an ancient system of holistic medicine that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. The word "Ayurveda" is derived from Sanskrit and translates to "knowledge of life" or "science of life." It is considered one of the oldest healing systems in the world and continues to be practised in India and various parts of the world today. 

The origin of Ayurveda is traced back to the four Vedas. The main classical Ayurveda texts begin with accounts of the transmission of medical knowledge from the gods to sages, and then to human physicians. First ‘Ayurveda Vidya’, was received in the form of hymns or slokas or sutras by Dhanvantari (or Divodasa) from Brahma. Dhanvantari is the physician of the devas in Hinduism. He is regarded to be an avatar of Vishnu. He is mentioned in the Puranas as the God of Ayurveda. 

Subsequently, three important treatises' Caraka-samhita, Susruta-samhita, and Astanga-hrdaya serve as authentic source books. They are also known as ‘Bruhat Trayi”. Subsequent three books that are called “Laghu Trayi” are Madhava -nidana, Sarngdhara-smhita and Bhavapakas-nighantu. These books contain basic concepts of health and disease, disease management, anatomy and physiology, and other related topics. Diseases are classified according to organ systems and functions and discussed in detail in Ayurveda. Although there is no record of pharmacological testing during the time period when Ayurvedic texts were written, 50 distinct pharmacological categories of medical plants were described. 

Core Principles of Ayurveda 

Ayurveda is based on the belief that the key to health and wellness lies in maintaining a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The fundamental principles of Ayurveda are guided by the following concepts: 

• Doshas: Ayurveda categorizes all individuals into three primary doshas or mind-body types: Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water). Each dosha represents a unique combination of elements and governs various physiological and psychological functions in the body. 

• Prakriti and Vikriti: This refers to an individual's inherent constitution, determined by the dominant doshas at the time of birth. Understanding one's Prakriti helps in personalizing health recommendations and treatments. Vikriti refers to the imbalances or deviations from the natural constitution that can lead to illness. 

• Panchamahabhutas: Ayurveda believes that everything in the universe, including the human body, is composed of five basic elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. • Dhatus and Malas: Dhatus are the seven fundamental tissues in the body (plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow, and reproductive tissues), and Malas are the waste products (urine, feces, sweat). 

• Agni: Agni represents the digestive fire responsible for processing and assimilating nutrients. Balanced Agni is crucial for overall health. 

• Ayurvedic Lifestyle: Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including diet, daily routines (dinacharya), and seasonal routines (ritucharya), to maintain harmony and prevent imbalances. 

Ayurveda-Definition of Health

The definition of health according to Ayurveda is broad based and more encompassing. Susrata’s definition of health is as follows: - “Samadosah samagnisca sama-dhatu-mala-kriya, Prasanna -atmendriya-manah svastha ity -abhidhiyate” 

Very briefly in this definition, all the components of health i.e., dosha, agni, dhatu, kriya, atma, indriya and manah are described that should be in equilibrium for a person is considered healthy.