Ayurveda – The Ultimate Guide to its Origins and History


Ayurveda is a concept that is slowly making its way into our modern society. And thankfully it is. However, Ayurveda is not a new concept. In actuality, it is far far farrrr from new. Like Yoga, Ayurveda has its roots in India. In fact, Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences. While Yoga in the Western world is predominantly about exercising the physical form, that is far from what Yoga is, or what is it meant to accomplish. Like Ayurveda, the goal of Yoga is more than just caring for the physical form. That will be a conversation for another post at another time. For now, let’s talk Ayurveda!

A Compressed History of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a way of life established back in the Indus Valley of India. This area now borders North Western India and parts of lower East Pakistan. It dates back to somewhere between 5000-10000 BCE. That’s a long bleeping time. The concepts which make up Ayurveda were passed down to the rishis (ancient teachers), by the Gods. Simply put, they received this knowledge through meditative practices.

Today when we truly meditate, we may encounter glimpses of solutions to a problem we faced earlier in the day. Or we get that aha moment, or maybe we find clarity with something that was bothering us. Those insights or clarifying moments are messages from your truest self. Some consider their truest self to be the Divine or God. Whatever you want to call it, it is truth that is known in those moments.

Direct Perception of the Rishis of the Indus Valley

The meditative practices practiced by the rishis, while similar to what we do today, are far more spirited than our minds can comprehend. Direct perception is the act of becoming one with the question or the thought. By becoming one, you remove all egoic perception and what remains is truth.

By connecting with the Soul/Divine/God, the rishis received information for a question they had. This question was how to heal people of disease. Or better yet, how can we keep people in a state of perfect health. The rishi (or actually one specific rishi) received this information from the Gods through his meditation and direct perception. After gathering the information, the rishi returns to his congregation to disperse this information.

Information Dispersement of Ayurvedic Knowledge

This information was dispersed to other rishis who then shared it with their students. Being over 5000 years old, the only way any information was passed down at that time, was orally. Hence they were a people who were considered to have an oral tradition. There were no books or writings at the time.

However, soon after this information was taught, some students started compiling the information. These pieces of information eventually got compiled into books. These great books exist even today and can be bought at your local bookstore! Who am I kidding? There are no local bookstores today, so get yours on Amazon. 🙂

Ayurveda’s Struggle for Survival

India has struggled to keep information about Ayurveda alive and well. With all the wars, colonialism, and occupations in India, Ayurveda had been at risk of survival. The fight for independence, loss of life, loss of culture and tradition caused Ayurveda to hang on by a thread. It however, survived changes, additions, abstractions, and everything in between since 1947.

Since India’s independence in 1947, Ayurveda has rooted itself again, and is slowly coming back to life. While it is still not revered in the country of its origin, the modern world is recognizing its value and benefit. And thanks to our modern society, Ayurveda is the new-old gift we all need.


So, What is Ayurveda?

In its literal form, Ayurveda is the Science of Life. If you hear other definitions of it, they are probably not accurate. The word “Ayur” and “Veda” both originate from one of the oldest languages on the planet today – Sanskrit. “Ayur” meaning “life”, and “Veda” meaning “science” or “knowledge”. Like I mentioned above, its origins were in the Indus Valley of India where the great sages and rishis existed eons ago.

Ayurveda’s teachings help a person navigate this world through their food and lifestyle. Ayurveda aims to get a persons body and mind back into balance so the body can operate at its optimal level. A secondary goal of Ayurveda is to keep the body in a state of perfect health. This is so that the individual can focus his or her attention on the more important, spiritual goals.

Our Unique Doshic Constitution

Ayurveda states that no two individuals are the same. Each individual is different according to his or her original constitution (our original genetic makeup). To understand this term, we need to understand a few other things. Let’s break this down. Ayurveda believes that we are all made up of the 5 elements of nature – ether, air, fire, water, and earth. The combinations of these elements are our constitution.

The 3 Doshas of Ayurveda

There are 3 main combinations of this constitution that make up an individual. In Ayurveda, these are referred to as the 3 doshas. These are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is a combination of ether and air. Pitta is a combination of fire and water. And Kapha is a combination of water and earth. Ayurveda states that when any one (or all three) of the 3 doshas are out of balance, the individual is not in a state of health. They can have imbalances of both the mind or body.

What are the Basic Principles of Ayurveda

The goal of Ayurveda is to use our 5 senses (through 5 sense therapies) to heal us. This is used to bring our doshas back to our original constitution. When a person is brought back to their original constitution, their bodies and mind are in a state of perfect health and harmony. However, that is not an easy task. Since Ayurveda looks at each individual differently, there is no “one size fits all” remedy. And because we are unique, our medicines should also be unique to us.

An investment in Ayurveda is an investment in getting to truly know your self on a deeper physical and mental level. In a nutshell, Ayurveda uses our senses to help us find our own unique healing remedies to bring us back to our state of perfect health.


What are Common Ayurvedic Treatments?

Ayurveda is all about focusing on our mental and physical intake to help help our distressed and diseased bodies. Ayurveda starts in the gut. Treatments in Ayurveda are addressed by tackling different areas. These areas include diet, herbs and spices, yoga and meditation, breathing exercises or pranayama, chakra balancing, chanting, abhyanga massages, and a span of other remedies. Every remedy is catered specifically for each individual. So, in Ayurveda there is no one-size fits all.

In Conclusion

While there are countless healings that have happened through Ayurveda, no one should believe it until they actually try it on themselves. The truth is in the experience not in the testimony of others. Ayurveda is not an overnight solution. It is a practice of being kind to your body and mind. Taking care of what you currently have, and listening to what your body needs. If you follow the general principles and guidelines created for your unique-self, you will be able to see the experience the life force inside you that can heal itself. All it asks for is for you to understand it.

What questions do you have about Ayurveda?

Featured photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Article last updated on October 29, 2021

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