As per the traditional Ayurvedic text books – Charaka Samhita and Ashtanga Hrudaya, Ayurveda originated from Lord Brahma, the Hindu Deity representing the supreme knowledge. Lord Brahma is hailed as the creator of the Universe.
Table of Contents
History of Ayurveda
Lord Brahma recollected the knowledge of Ayurveda from his memories and taught it to Daksha Prajapati (father of Dakhsayini). He then taught this science of life to Ashwini Kumaras. Ashwini Kumaras are the twin brothers, who are hailed as the Doctors in the Divine spheres. They are hailed as the first physicians of this universe later they taught Ayurveda to Lord Indra.
Origin of Ayurveda video
This level of information is available about origin of Ayurveda, at the level of Deities.
If you look at the history of ancient India, the prime focus for everyone was, to live a spiritual life and to attain Moksha – salvation. Of course, during those times, there were businesses and other interests as well, but everyone agreed upon the fact that all the human activities should finally end up with focus upon following a spiritual pathway to attain Salvation.
To explain Salvation in brief, it is realizing God. When the person realizes and experiences that his soul is one with universal soul (God). His soul becomes one with the universal soul. In fact, this unification itself is called as Yoga. Yoga means – unification, so salvation is the ultimate goal of Yoga Shastra as well.
4 steps to attain Moksha
Ayurveda explains four steps in attaining moksha.
Dharma – to follow a righteous life.
Artha – to earn money in a righteous way.
Kama – to satiate our desires in a righteous way.
Moksha – once all the desires are emptied, discarding all the desires and concentrating upon the spiritual path to get Salvation.
This entire process can happen in one human life cycle, or it may take many life cycles. While ancient Indian people were attempting to follow spiritual path for salvation, they realized that the attaining salvation in just one life was difficult. If this has to happen, they have to live longer to do all the required meditation and spiritual practices.
The sages at those times, also were witnessing calamities and diseases taking away life of fellow brethren. So, they wanted to find solution for both these problems – for sages to live longer to practice meditation and for common man to live disease free.
With these two intentions, Sages sat together in Himalayas, under the leadership of Bharadwaja.
Those sages included Angeerasa, Jamadagni, Vasistha, Kashyapa, Bhrugu, Atreya, Gautama, Sankhya, Pulastya, Naarada, Asita, Agastya, Vamadeva, Markandeya, Ashvalayana, Parikshi, Bhiksu, Atreya, Bharadvaja, Kapinjala, Vishvamitra, Ashmarathya, Bhargava, Chyavana (after whom Chyavanprash is named), Abhijit, Gargeyi (one of the rare lady Sages), Shandilya, Kaundilya, Varkshi, Devala, Galava, Sankrutya, Baijavapi, Kushika, Badarayana, Badisha, Saraloman, Kapya, Katyayana, Kankayana (after whom Kankayana vati tablet is named), Kaikasheya, Dhaumya, Maricha, Kashyapa, Sharkaraksha, Hiranyaksha, Lokaksha, Paingi, Shaunaka Shakuneya, Maitreyi (another rare lady sage), Maimatayani, Vaikhanasas and Valakhilyas.
The sages entered into deep meditation. In their spiritual vision they found a savior in Lord Indra; and got an assurance that he would explain the right way to avert diseases. Sage Bharadwaja went to Lord Indra and learnt Ayurveda.
Sage Bharadwaja learnt Ayurveda and taught this noble science to Atreya Punarvasu. He in turn taught it to six disciples – Agnivesha, Bhela, Jatukarna, Ksharapani, Parashara and Harita. Each of them wrote their own treatises on Ayurveda. Like, Bhela wrote bhela Samhite, Harita wrote Harita Samhita etc.
Agnivesha wrote Agnivesha Tantra, which was further redacted by Charaka, then it came to known as Charaka Samhita (This was later further edited by Drudhabala).
Once after the knowledge of Ayurveda came into existence in the form of treatises, the knowledge spread rapidly and many other treatises, practices and herbs were included and it grew on.
Ayurveda Avatarana video
Meditation is the source of knowledge
Swamy Vivekanada used to say – all the knowledge of the universe is hidden deep within our souls. If we keep on meditating with single minded concentration and purpose to extract out any knowledge, the inner ripples of thoughts will calm down. In a water pool, when the ripples of water calm down, we can see the object lying on the floor of the pool. Similarly, when the inner ripples of thoughts calm down, the super concentrated mind can see the the Science – the Truth.
For those who find the above Hindu story as hard to digest, they can simply understand that Ayurveda originated from the deepest corner of concentrated minds, for the health and welfare of all.
As per Master Vagbhata
ब्रह्मा स्मृत्वाssयुषो वेदं प्रजापतिमजिग्रहत्।
सोऽश्विनौ तौ सहस्राक्षं सो ऽत्रिपुत्रादिकान् मुनीन्॥३॥
ते ऽग्निवेशादिकांस्ते तु पृथक् तन्त्राणि तेनिरे ।
brahmā smṛtvāyuṣo vedaṃ prajāpatimajigrahat |
so’śvinau tau sahasrākṣaṃ so ‘triputrādikān munīn||3||
te ‘gniveśādikāṃste tu pṛthak tantrāṇi tenire |
Lord Brahma, remembering Ayurveda, taught it to Prajapathi, he in turn taught it to Ashwini Kumaras (twins), they taught it to Sahasraksha (Lord Indra), he taught it to Atri’s son (Atreya Punarvasu) and other sages, they taught it to Agnivesha and others and they (Agnivesa and other disciples) composed treatises, each one separately.
By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Relevance of learning the historical and mythological aspects connected to Ayurveda from a physician’s perspective
An Ayurveda student may feel – ‘Tomorrow I will be a physician and all I want to know is to identify the diseases and the best treatment. Why should I learn about history and evolution of Ayurveda?’
Past is the foundation for the present. The past is history; it is applicable to the world, a country, a state, a city or an individual. We can make a better present and future when we know the past. Therefore all the three elements of the time factor are interconnected.
When we are learning the divine science of Ayurveda, it is the responsibility of every student to know about the history and evolution of Ayurveda. Only after knowing this, one would be able to understand the true holistic, comprehensive and divine nature of this medical system. One will learn the ethics which Ayurveda beholds.
We can’t claim stake towards the legacy, the property, surname and everything from our ancestors without knowing their base. Similarly we can’t claim that Ayurveda is our science unless we know its roots.
Aren’t we introduced to the world and country history in our preliminary education?
Don’t we prepare about the details about the company or organization into which we are aspiring for a job before going for an interview? The interviewer would otherwise tell ‘If you do not know the roots, founders, the pathway of the evolution of our organization, how we are, what we are today and if you just want to do the job here without knowing the workplace ethics, you are not fit to be here’.
Ayurveda is a medical system which has not just been designed for practicing and making money. It is built on ethical foundation of four basic pursuits of one’s life i.e. righteousness, ethical earning, meaningful desires and spiritual liberation. Ayurveda tells that everyone should aim to achieve these four pursuits in their life. To achieve these one needs to have a good lifespan and an integrated existence of the tripod of mind, soul and body and their balance. For this to happen, one should follow the teachings and directions mentioned in Ayurveda.
Therefore Ayurveda becomes the means of achieving a good lifespan which in turn is needed to obtain four pursuits of one’s life. Therefore Ayurveda is more than a medical system. It is an institution in which we learn how to live better and healthy. It teaches preventive aspects before treatment approaches. Ayurveda teaches the methods to get adapted to day and night, changing seasons, with the society and with oneself. Therefore it is a comprehensive system and a science of living. To know the foundation of Ayurveda one needs to know about its roots of evolution by understanding its history and mythological perspectives.
That is why an Ayurveda student is introduced to the history of Ayurveda evolution in his first year in the medical school.
Relevance of history – Physician’s perspective:
The purpose of any science or a company should be kept to the highest standard. the purpose of technology companies is to make the lives of the consumers, better.
Similarly, the purpose of Ayurveda is to enable people to have long life, so that they can enjoy Dharma, fulfill their desires and finally attain Moksha. This is because, Ayurveda originated due to the prayers of sages with the above-mentioned goal
Learning history makes the physicians to understand the importance of the goals, aims and objectives of Ayurveda. It keeps the physician inspired, humble and concentrated.
Studying about the history behind various books and masters such as Sushruta, Charaka, Bhaishajya Ratnavali helps the physician to refer right books at the right time.
For example, the medicines such as kaishora guggulu, kanchanara guggulu are mentioned in recent text books such as Bhaishajya Ratnavali and Sharangdhara Samhita.
Whereas, to understand the mechanism of taste, quality of taste etc, Rasabhediya chapter of Charaka Samhita is the best source.