These days I am blogging more about topics that excite me instantly and allow me to expand my writing skills in a brand new way. My last blog series was about Zoroastrianism, the religion I follow. Although, I am not into religion, I hardly know my religious prayers and I visit fire temples once or twice a year, I still went ahead and wrote a blog series bringing into light various facts that are unknown. I tried my best to break certain myths and misconceptions that revolve around Zoroastrianism. While in the process of writing, I already came across this Ayurveda-related conversation and I then decided to write my next blog on Ayurveda, so here it is.
Let’s start with the basic knowledge. Ayurveda originated in the Indian subcontinent more than 5000 years ago and the lifestyle and philosophy is being practiced by almost all people who lived here then. The word Ayurveda comes from combination of two words; Ayu which means ‘life’ and Veda which means ‘knowledge’. So, Ayurveda basically means ‘Knowledge of Life’. Many people who follow Ayurveda today are basically monks and religious people and therefore to many Westerners it might seem that to adopt Ayurveda one needs to become religious, but the fact is, you don’t have to become anything like that. One can be a very modern thinking person and still adopt the philosophies of Ayurveda. It deals with healthy living and many celebrities in India do follow Ayurveda to some extent.
No matter which book you read on Ayurveda, you will certainly come across words like ‘dosha’ which might sound strange initially. According to Ayurveda, the world around us consists of five elements: air, fire, water, earth and space. The same elements are also within our body as we are an integral part of the nature. All these five elements have certain qualities that we experience through our senses. Ayurveda claims that whatever we experience through our senses is nothing but the language of nature. For instance, fire is hot, fierce and steamy while air is cold, drying and light and water is wet, cooling and heavy. These 5 energy patterns combine into 3 primary energy patterns which are called dosha.
Every individual has these 3 doshas; vata (wind), pitta (fire) and kapha (cold). Vata (wind) is cold, dry and light and this force regulates the nervous system and elimination of waste. On the other hand, pitta (fire) is a hot force that controls digestion and metabolism while kapha (cold) which is wet and heavy governs stability, structure and moisture in our body. According to Ayurveda, every individual has one dominant dosha that makes up his ‘prakriti’ which literally means nature, but here it means the personality of that individual. The science of Ayurveda teaches us to balance all the three doshas, so that our body functions the way it should. Similarly, Ayurveda products generally made from natural plants and hers are designed to balance doshas that can help the body to naturally cure itself.
There is no doubt that many patients across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka still make use of plants and herbs and other natural ingredients that are mentioned in Ayurveda, but the concept of Western medical knowledge and pills have seeped in. I believe one of the main reasons people today choose pills over Ayurvedic medications is because these pills react and cure quickly, while Ayurvedic medications take some time. These pills generally focus on curing the certain health concerns, but it might not eliminate the issue completely. Ayurvedic medications work naturally within the body to cure the root cause of the issue by penetrating into the cells or the organs, thus preventing the reoccurrence of the same health concern again.
On the other hand, many Western universities and individuals are now open to the ideas and concepts of Ayurveda. This is usually termed as the New Age Ayurveda where western doctors and health experts are working on how they can utilize the science of Ayurveda to offer an alternative treatment to the patients. Many Americans have already accepted the concept of Ayurveda along with the practice of yoga that have proved to be effective in healing health concerns that require extensive treatment.
Often there is a debate where some American health experts raise questions whether Ayurveda is a legitimate medical science. The fact is that Ayurveda is not a medical science at all. Ayurveda does not focus on disease diagnosis and treatment, but instead focuses on eating, drinking and the daily routine which balances the energy pattern inside our body. One does not make use of Ayurveda when one falls sick or is infected with certain disease, but follows it as a way of life to heal the body before any infection or sickness takes place. I believe this preventive and curative nature of Ayurveda is the reason why many Europeans and Americans are now readily accepting Ayurveda in their lifestyle and this knowledge of life continues to make its impact even after so many centuries because it deals directly with our body, mind and spirit.