Ayurveda linguistically means knowledge of life. Ayurveda elaborately describes measures for healthful living during the entire span of life, and its various phases. Agnivesha first described Ayurveda in his book Agnivesh Tantra. It was later revised by Charaka and renamed to Charaka Samhita.
Another ancient script that describes Ayurveda is 'Sushruta Samhita'. These texts were documented about 1000 years BC. The Charaka Samhitā begins with a description of a large and well-attended medical conference of veteran Rishis and Munis (sages) that was held under the chairmanship of Bharadwaja in the valley of the Himalayas. The description is attributed to Atreya Punarvasu, one of the devoted students of Bharadwaja. He tells us that the main aim of this conference was to share medical knowledge and to encourage the attending scholars to compile the medical knowledge gained by different peoples of the region, knowledge which had been passed down, mostly orally, from generation to generation. This stream of Ayurvedic medical knowledge was considered eternal, because it was known by them to have been there since the beginning of time. However, the participants also knew that there were no authentic and complete texts of Ayurveda available for study. For this reason the writing of texts became the focus of the conference.
Life in Ayurveda is conceived as the union of body, senses, mind and soul. The living man is a conglomeration of three humors (Vata, Pitta & Kapha), seven basic tissues (Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja & Shukra) and the waste products of the body such as faeces, urine and sweat. Thus the total body matrix comprises of the humors, the tissues and the waste products of the body. The growth and decay of this body matrix and its constituents revolve around food that gets processed into humors, tissues and wastes. Ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation and metabolism of food have interplay in health and disease that are significantly affected by psychological mechanisms as well as by bio- fire (Agni). As per Ayurveda, 'Health' is a state of equilibrium of normal functions of doshas, Dhatus, malas and Agni with delighted body, mind and soul. It means that when Dosh-Dhatu-Malas and Agni(fire) are constantly in a state of functional equilibrium, then the health is maintained. Otherwise distortion of the equilibrium results into diseases. Erratic lifestyle is believed to be one of the basic causes behind the failure of mechanism of maintaining equilibrium. Treatment either with or without drugs and application of specific rules of diet, activity and mental status as described, disease wise, brings back the state of equilibrium.
Ayurveda and Kerala.
In contemporary world Ayurveda has a wide scope as far as prevention of diseases, promotion of health and Rejuvenation of body and mind. Kerala is well known for Ayurvedic hospitals and Resorts. Kerala's climate, abundance of medicinal plants in tropical rain forests and religious practitioners makes it a popular destination for Ayurvedic treatments.
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