The History Of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is believed to be over 5,000 years old, forming the foundation of many other healing systems. The sages and physicians of the time were deeply devoted holy people, who saw health as an integral part of spiritual life.

It is said that they received their training in Ayurveda through direct cognition during intense meditation. The knowledge of the use of the various methods of healing, disease prevention, longevity and surgery came through divine revelation; experimentation or animal testing was not necessary.

These revelations were transcribed from oral tradition into written form, interspersed with aspects of mortal life and spirituality to be incorporated into a set of Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas. Initially, there were four main books of Vedic spirituality, namely the Rik Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda. Topics included health, astrology, spiritual development, business, government, military, poetry and ethical living.

Ayurveda was organised into its own compact system of health and considered a branch of the Atharva Veda.With time and reorganisation, documentation of Ayurveda evolved such that the three main Ayurvedic texts still in use are the Charak Samhita, Sushrut Samhita and the Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita. These books are believed to be at least 1,200 years old and contain the original knowledge of Ayurveda.

Consequently, Ayurveda is the only complete ancient medical system still in existence. Ayurvedic wisdom grew and flourished in what is today India until the first millennium AD when a procession of Muslim invasions from the north decimated much of what Ayurvedic physicians had come to understand about the nature of health and disease. Colleges were closed, sages murdered and books destroyed.

Although a portion of wisdom gained through the preceding centuries was forever lost, Ayurveda continued to be practised in secret and knowledge passed from one generation of physicians to the next by word of mouth as it had done centuries before.

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Author: sarah macartney
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