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What Is Ayurveda?

What is Ayurveda :


“Ayushoveda ayurveda”

Ayurveda is the science of health and healing. The ancient science of Ayurveda is the oldest known form of health care system in the world. Often called the mother of all healing, it originated in India 5000 or more years ago.                                  

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that is comprised of two words; Ayus, meaning life and Veda, meaning science or knowledge. Thus Ayurveda literally means “Science of life.”



What is Life (Ayu) :

Life is the combination of 

Body (Sharir), 

Senses (Indriya), 

Mind (satva), 

Soul (aatma).



What is body (sharir) :

“Doshadhatumalamulam hi shariram”....................[S.S.-XV/3]

Body is formed of three basic components 

Body Humors (Doshas)

Tissues (Dhatu)

Impurities (Mala)   



Objective of Ayurveda :

“Prayojanam casya svasthasya svasthyaraksanamatursya vikaraprasamanam ca”…...........[C.S.-XXX/26]

The objective of Ayurveda is to protect the health of the body and to alleviate disorders in the diseased. Maintaining health is the primary and most important goal of Ayurveda. The purpose of Ayurveda is to provide a state of perfect health for the individual, for society, and for the environment as well, in which every individual is inwardly in balance and outwardly in harmony with the environment and laws of nature.

Definition of A Healthy person :

“Samadosah samagnisca amadhatumalakriyah”.......................[S. S.-XV/ 41]         

According to Ayurveda, a person is said to be healthy whose humors, tissues and impurities  are in balanced state and whose mind, soul, and senses are in pleasant state. In a broader perspective, health is defined as complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well being.    

Basic Principles of Ayurveda :

Ayurveda is based on the following theories :

  1. Pancha Mahabhuta Theory (Five Elements)
  2. Tri-dosha theory (Three Body Humors) 
  3. Sapta-dhatu theory (Seven Body Tissues)   

Panchamahabhoot theory :

All living beings are created by the combination of five basic elements and the soul. The ancient Ayurveda Sage, Charaka says, "Man is the epitome of the universe. Within man, there is as much diversity as in the world outside. Similarly, the outside world is as diverse as human beings themselves." In other words, all human beings are a living microcosm of the universe and the universe is a living macrocosm of human beings.

The Pancha Mahabhuta, or "five great elements"of Ayurveda are:

  1. Earth (Prithvi) 
  2. Water (Jala)
  3. Fire (Agni)
  4. Air or Wind (Vayu)
  5. Ether (Akasha) 

These five elements constitute the human body as well as all living and nonliving elements in the universe.


Tri-Dosha Theory :

The most fundamental principle of Ayurveda is called Dosha” or the three Humors

called Vata, Pitta and Kapha which govern the function of our body. Vata is the air principle necessary to mobilize the function of the nervous system;  Pitta is the fire principle which uses bile to direct digestion and hence metabolism into the venous system. Kapha is the water principle that relates to mucous, lubrication and the carrier of nutrients into the arterial system.

Every individual has a unique combination of these three doshas, which determines the physiological constitution (Prakriti) of an individual.


Dosha Related Elements and Qualities :

The five elements (panchmahabhoot)  combine to create the three different basic types of human constitution (Doshas).


Sapta-Dhatu :

Dhatus are the tissues that compose, maintain and nourish the human body. The word 'dhatu' comes from a Sanskrit word which means, “that take part in the formation of the body”. These dhatus remain inside the human body in a proper equilibrium so that the body can function properly. It is said that any kind of disturbance or imbalance  in their equilibrium causes ailments and diseases.

The human body consists of seven basic tissues known as "Sapta Dhatu"

  • Plasma (Rasa Dhatu)
  • Blood tissue (Rakta Dhatu)
  • Muscle tissue (Mamsa Dhatu)
  • Fat tissue (Medha Dhatu)
  • Bone Tissue (Asthi Dhatu)
  • Bone Marrow and Nervous Tissue (Majja Dhatu)
  • Reproductive Tissue (Shukra dhatu)   


Mala :

Mala is a term for waste products. There are three main types of malas: stool (purish), urine (mutra), sweat (sweda). Proper excretion of the Malas is essential to maintain the proper health of the individual.There are mainly two aspects of mala, i.e. mala and kitta. Mala is about waste products of the body whereas kitta is all about the waste products of dhatus.



Agni :

The other important principle governing the basic physiology of Ayurveda is Agni. Ayurveda believes that any disturbance in digestion and metabolism leads to the formation of toxins (Ama), which give rise to diseases. Agni, which is of three types - Pachak agni, bhut agni, and dhatu agni has major functions of digestion, catabolism and anabolism respectively.

The most important of all is pachak agni or jatharagni which regulates other agnis too. A principal function of jatharagni is to digest the food and separate the nutrients from the waste

When Agni is healthy, there is excellent digestion, normal elimination, proper tissue formation, good circulation, high energy and strong immunity. Whereas, unhealthy Agni leads to incomplete and inefficient digestion which results in diseases. So Agni is the integral part for maintaining good health.



Why Ayurveda : 

Understanding the fundamental principles of Ayurveda help mankind to live a better life: 

  1. Ayurveda believes in the uniqueness of the individual. According to Ayurveda, each person has unique physical and psychic (mind-body) constitution. 
  2. Ayurveda not only considers the physical aspect of human being but also assesses the mental, emotional and spiritual aspect.
  3. Ritucharya and dincharya:  Ayurveda believes in following daily and seasonal routine to maintain health and prevent diseases. Ayurveda focuses more on diet and lifestyle to promote health and longevity.
  4. Ayurveda offers Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation for stress management. Breathing exercise helps a lot in dealing with sleep issues as well.
  5. Panchkarma and Rasyana therapies; Ayurveda offers Panchkarma therapies for detoxification and Rasayan therapies for rejuvenation. Ayurvedic massage and Marma therapy helps in pain management.
  6. Holistic health care professionals use naturally available plants and healing herbs  and spices to balance doshas.
  7. Ayurveda works by 'defense strategy' rather than 'offense strategy' by making the host body strong to deal with various physical and mental stresses to the human body.

Written by:

Vaidya Sunaina - B.A.M.S