Mr T Sampath Kumaran is a freelance writer. He regularly contributes articles on
Management, Business, Ancient Temples, and Temple Architecture to many
leading Dailies and Magazines. His articles are popular in “The Young World
section” of THE HINDU.
His e-books on nature, environment and different cultures of people around the
world are educative and of special interest to the young.
He was associated in the renovation and production of two Documentary films on
Nava Tirupathi Temples, and Tirukkurungudi Temple in Tamilnadu.
I wish to express my gratitude to the authors from whose works I gathered the
details for this book, and Courtesy, Google for some of the photographs.
- Tamarapu Sampath Kumaran
There are various legendary accounts of the "origin of Ayurveda", that the science
was received by Dhanvantari ( Divodasa) from Brahma. Tradition also holds that a
lost text written by the sage Agnivesh, a student of the sage Bharadwaja,
influenced the writings of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is based on a profound and complete understanding of the human being.
It is one of the oldest medical systems in practice today. This ancient healing
tradition dates back to time immemorial when Indian Seers passed down their
extensive knowledge in the form of the Vedic teachings.
Ayurveda is an intricate system of healing that originated in India thousands of
years ago. We can find historical evidence of Ayurveda in the ancient books of
Vedas. In the Rig Veda, over 60 preparations were mentioned that could be used to
assist an individual in overcoming various ailments. What we see is that Ayurveda
is more than just a medical system. It is a Science of Life. We are all part and
parcel of nature. Just as the animals and plants live in harmony with nature and
utilize the Laws of Nature to create health and balance within their beings, we too
adhere to these very same principles. Therefore, it is fair to say that Ayurveda is a
system that helps maintain health in a person by using the inherent principles of
nature, and to bring the individual back into equilibrium with their true self. In
essence Ayurveda has been in existence since the beginning of time because we
have always been governed by nature's laws.
In Sanskrit Ayurveda means “life-knowledge” and Ayurvedic medicine is a system
of Hindu Traditional medicine, a form of alternative medicine, native to the Indian
sub-continent. The foundational and formally compiled works of Ayurveda, are the
Classical Sanskrit texts Susrutha Samhita and the Charaka Samhita.
Ayurveda includes the word Veda, which is derived from the basic form „Vid‟ or
knowledge. All the four Vedas are known as „Apaurusheya‟, meaning that they are
not evolved from human mind but conceived by the divine mind. Therefore, even
Ayurveda, popularly known as the fifth Veda, originated in the divine mind and
descended from the divine sources to the ancient physicians.
This divine origin of the Vedas explains the miraculous curative power of simple
herbs described in Ayurvedic texts, experienced in its entirety even today.
The brief history of emergence of Ayurveda tells us that this science was
originated in the Divine Mind or Lord Brahma, the creator, who conveyed it to the
Daksha Prajapati. From him the entire knowledge was passed on to the
Ashwinikumaras who were the physicians of Gods.
Ashwinikumaras offered Ayurveda to Lord Indra, the king of Gods. Indra had
three great physicians as his disciples, - Aacharya Bharadwaj, Aacharya Kashyapa
and Aacharya Divodas Dhanvantari.
Aacharya Agnivesha was the most intelligent disciple of Aacharya Bharadwaja,
and he formed the main Ayurvedic text of internal medicine, which was revised by
his student, Aacharya Charak, available to us today as Charak Samhita. Aacharya
Kashyapa formed a treatise of pediatrics, which is available in partial form known
as Kashyapa Samhita.
Aacharya Sushrut, a renounced pupil of Aacharya Divodas Dhanvantari wrote the
most important text on surgery, ENT and ophthalmology available today as
Sushrut Samhita. These three ancient scriptures i.e., CharakSamhita, Sushrut
Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya written by Vagbhatta are known as “Brihattrayi”
and they form the most important database of Ayurvedic medicine at present.
Similarly, the important information about diagnosis of various diseases; different
herbs; and minerals and various formulations such as decoctions, powders, tablets,
Aasavas, Arishtas etc. is stored in three texts viz., Madhava Nidana, Bhava
Prakash Nighantu and Sharangdhar Samhita respectively. Together they are
known as “Laghutrayi”.
Although suppressed during years of foreign occupation, Ayurveda has been
enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land and throughout the world.
Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine both have their roots in
Ayurveda. Early Greek medicine also embraced many concepts originally
described in the classical ayurvedic medical texts dating back thousands of years.
According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" is comprised of four
essential parts - the combination of mind, body, senses and the soul.
The word „disease‟ is often associated with ailment. However, it points to a state of
dis-ease, both in body and mind. Moreover, the mind is so powerful that it can
create any sickness in the body. This is hard to believe but true. Even scientific
research today is proving what our sages said millennia ago, that the body
manifests what goes on in the mind. Therefore a diseased body could be an
indication that the mind is not „at ease‟ and this factor needs to be first addressed.
We tend to identify most with our physical bodies; yet, in actuality, there is more
to us than what meets the eye. We can see that underlying our physical structure is
the mind, which not only controls our thought processes but helps assist us in
carrying out day-to-day activities such as respiration, circulation, digestion and
elimination. The mind and the body work in conjunction with one another to
regulate our physiology. In order for the mind to act appropriately to assist the
physical body, we must use our senses as information gatherers. We can think of
the mind as a computer and the senses as the data which gets entered into the
computer. Smell and taste are two important senses that aid in the digestive
process. When the mind registers that a particular food is entering the
gastrointestinal tract, it directs the body to act accordingly by releasing various
digestive enzymes. However, if we overindulge the taste buds with too much of a
certain taste, such as sweet, we may find that the ability of the mind to perceive the
sweet taste is impaired; and thereby the body becomes challenged in its ability to
process sweet foods. Maintaining the clarity of our senses is an essential part in
allowing the mind and body to integrate their functions and help in keeping us
healthy and happy individuals.
In Ayurveda we view a person as a unique individual made up of five primary
elements. The elements are ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. Just as in
nature, we too have these five elements in us. When any of these elements are
present in the environment, they will in turn have an influence on us. The food we
eat and the weather are just two examples of the presence of these elements. While
we are a composite of these five primar y elements, certain elements are seen to
have an ability to combine to create various physiological functions. Ether and air
combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as the Vatadosha. Vata governs the
principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve
impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination. Fire and water are the elements
that combine to form the Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha is the process of
transformation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our
bodies can assimilate is an example of a pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for
metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism. Finally,
it is predominantly the water and earth elements which combine to form the
Kaphadosha. Kapha is what is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by
unit. Another function of the Kaphadosha is to offer protection. Cerebral-spinal
fluid protects the brain and spinal column and is a type of Kapha found in the
body. Also, the mucousal lining of the stomach is another example of the
Kaphadosha protecting the tissues. We are all made up of unique proportions of
Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These ratios of the doshas vary in each individual; and
because of this, Ayurveda sees each person as a special mixture that accounts for
Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the
three doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a
person‟s health challenges. When any of the doshas ( Vata, Pitta or Kapha )
become accumulated, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional
guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha that has become excessive.
We may also suggest certain herbal supplements to hasten the healing process. If
toxins in the body are abundant, then a cleansing process known as Pancha Karma
is recommended to eliminate these unwanted toxins.
In classical Sanskrit literature, Ayurveda was called "the science of eight
components" (in Sanskrit “aṣṭaanga”), a classification that became canonical for
The Ayurvedic medicine is classified into the following divisions:
Kaaya-chikitsa:(General medicine) "cure of diseases affecting the body"
Kaumara-bhṛtya:(Pediatrics) : "treatment of children"
Śhalya-chikitsaa: (Surgery) "removal of any substance which has entered the
body (as extraction of darts, of splinters, etc.)"
Saalaaya-tantra: (Opthalmology / ENT/Dentistry) –"cure of diseases of the
teeth, eye, nose or ear etc. by sharp instruments"
Bhoot-vaidyaa: (Demonology/ exorcism/ psychiatry) –"treatment of mental
Agada-tantra:(Toxicology) Gada means Poison. "doctrine of antidotes"
Rasayana-tantra: "doctrine of Anti Aging."
Vaajikaraṇatantra : Aphrodisiacs
Ayurveda has 8 ways of diagnosis. They are Nadi (Pulse), Mootra (Urine), Mala
(Stool), Jihvha (Tongue), Shabda (Speech), Sparsha (Touch), Druk (Vision),
According to Ayurvedic treatment, medicines, diet and activity recommendations
have to work hand-in-hand.
An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person‟s ideal state of balance,
determine where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs,
aromatherapy, massage treatments, music, and meditation to reestablish balance.
Ayurvedic medicines are made from completely natural substances including roots,
barks, seeds, fruits and others, which are prepared according to ancient recipes.
Producing Ayurvedic medicines can take weeks, months, and sometimes even
years, with many intricate steps and a variety of ingredients involved in an
Ayurveda stresses the use of plant-based medicines and treatments. Plant-based
medicines are derived from roots, leaves, fruits, barks and seeds such as cardamom
and cinnamon. Some animal products may also be used, for example milk, bones,
and gallstone. In addition, fats are used both for consumption and for external use.
Minerals, including sulphur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold are also
consumed as prescribed. This practice of adding minerals to herbal medicine is
known as rasashastra.
In Ayurveda various oils could be used in a number of ways, including regular
consumption as a part of food, anointing, smearing, head massage, prescribed
application to affected areas, and oil pulling. Also, liquids may be poured on the
patient's forehead, a technique which is called shirodhara
By the medieval period, Ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal
preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments.
Practices that are derived from Ayurvedic medicine are regarded as part of
complementary and alternative medicine, and along with Siddha medicine and
Traditional Chinese medicine, forms the basis for systems medicine
The medical works of both Sushruta and Charaka were also translated into the
Arabic language during the 8th century. The 9th-century Persian physician Rhazes
was familiar with the text. The Arabic works derived from the Gupta-era Indian
texts eventually also reached a European audience by the end of the medieval
Ayurveda is at present well integrated into the Indian National health care system,
with state hospitals for Ayurveda established across the country. In the United
States, the practice of Ayurveda is licensed in complimentary heath care.
During the period of colonial British rule of India, the practice of Ayurveda was
neglected by the British Indian Government, in favor of modern medicine. After
Indian Independence, there has been more focus on Ayurveda and other traditional
medical systems. Ayurveda is at present well integrated into the Indian National
health care system, with state hospitals for Ayurveda established across the
In last few decades Ayurveda has spread around the world. According to some
sources, up to 80 percent of people in India use some form of traditional medicine,
a category which includes Ayurveda.
According to a WHO survey, about 75% of the population of Nepal uses herbal
medicines. Ayurveda remains the most practiced form of medicine in the country.
The Sri Lankan tradition of Ayurveda is very similar to the Indian tradition.
Practitioners of Ayurveda in Sri Lanka refer to texts on the subject written in
Sanskrit, which are common to both countries. However, they do differ in some
aspects, particularly in the herbs used.
Astrological consultation is also part of the Ayurveda treatment offered at many
Ayurvedic centers. Astrological assessment of the patient's condition is done and
appropriate rituals are performed to re-establish balance between the microcosm
The Seven Planets correspond to the three principles (Doshas) in Ayurveda. In the
Ayurvedic Model, the Seven Revolving Heavens are classified thus ( Vatam
Pittayutha Karothi Dinakrith)
Moon Vata and Kapha
Mercury Pitta, Vata and Kapha
Venus Vata and Kapha
The seven planets correspond to the Seven Gross Tissue- elements ( dhatus) thus
Mars Bone Marrow
Venus Seminal Energy
By analysing the horoscope, the astrologer can discern the badly placed planet and
the corresponding Dhatu which has caused the problem and can prescribe
Ayurvedic remedial measures. Medical Astrology's perspective about the 12
Houses of the Zodiac
Hinduism and Buddhism have had an influence on the development of many of
Ayurveda's central ideas.
Dhanvantari is worshipped as the Hindu God of Medicine. He epitomizes medical
knowledge and is also regarded as the original exponent of the Indian Medical
Lord Dhanvantari is known as the father of Ayurveda, since he was the first divine
incarnation to impart its wisdom amongst humans. He first appeared during the
great churning of the cosmic ocean of milk (Samudra manthan) to deliver amrit
(ambrosia, or Divine nectar) to the demigods. The churning of the ocean of milk is
a famous episode in the Puranas that represents the spiritual endeavor of a person
to achieve Self-realization through concentration of mind, withdrawal of the
senses, control of all desires, austerities and asceticism.
The purpose of Ayurveda is to heal, to maintain a high quality of life, and to
increase the longevity of the individual. It is an art of daily living that has evolved
from philosophical, spiritual and practical insight --from understanding the
complexity of Creation to the daily individual needs. Although used for thousands
of years, Ayurvedic principles have never changed, since they derive from
universal laws of nature that are eternally true.
Lord Dhanvantari is described as having four arms carrying various healing
instruments in each hand, viz.; a Chakra to defeat evil forces, Shankha (conch
shell) to make the atmosphere free of viruses and bacteria by fumigation; Jalouka
(leech) used for curing all the diseases caused by vitiated blood and a Kalash (jar)
containing Amruta (the elixir of life) to rejuvenate the sufferer.
His birthday is celebrated by the practitioners of Ayurveda every year, on
Dhanteras, two days before Deepavali, the Hindu festival of Lights.
It is in Mahayana, the dominant Buddhist tradition of East Asia that the Medicine
Buddha first appears. Veneration of this Lord of Healing became one of the most
popular and widespread devotional groups.
According to Mahayana tradition there are infinite Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and
deities. They represent various aspects of the absolute Buddha-nature, such as
compassion, wisdom, power, and emptiness. The Medicine Buddha embodies the
Formally known as “Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabhārāja,” Medicine Master and
King of Lapis Lazuli Light, he is the Buddha of healing and medicine in Mahayana
Buddhism. He is most commonly referred to as “Medicine Buddha” because he
cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings. Bhaiṣajyaguru is typically
depicted seated, wearing the three robes of a Buddhist monk, holding a lapis-
colored jar of medicine nectar in his left hand and the right hand resting on his
right knee, holding the stem of the Aruna fruit or Myrobalan between thumb and
forefinger. In the sutra, he is also described by his aura of lapis lazuli-colored light.
The Medicine Buddha is the highest possible model of a healer. Among the 12
vows the Medicine Buddha is said to have taken is that of curing just by the
invocation of his name or the thought of Him. He was worshipped as the dispenser
of spiritual medicine that could cure spiritual, psychological, and physical disease.
But this Buddha is not worshipped simply for healing powers alone; he is the form
of the Buddha-nature that we aspire to realize in ourselves. Through the practice of
meditation on the Medicine Buddha, one can generate enormous healing power for
self and for the healing of others.
As Mahayana Buddhism spread throughout the Far East, it took with it Ayurveda,
the sacred medical system of India meaning the science of long life," and the
worship of the Medicine Buddha. The spread of Mahayana to China, Japan, and
the kingdoms of Southeast Asia had a benevolent effect on public health.
Hospitals, leper wards, and dispensaries were established in the larger monasteries,
and were supported by income from "compassion fields."
The Twelve Great Vows
The Twelve Vows of the Medicine Buddha upon attaining Enlightenment,
according to the Medicine Buddha Sutra are:
1. To illuminate countless realms with his radiance, enabling anyone to become
a Buddha just like him.
2. To awaken the minds of sentient beings through his light of lapis lazuli.
3. To provide the sentient beings with whatever material needs they require.
4. To correct heretical views and inspire beings toward the path of
5. To help beings follow the Moral Precepts, even if they failed before.
6. To heal beings born with deformities, illness or other physical sufferings.
7. To help relieve the destitute and the sick.
8. To help women who wish to be reborn as men achieve their desired rebirth.
9. To help heal mental afflictions and delusions.
10. To help the oppressed be free from suffering.
11. To relieve those who suffer from terrible hunger and thirst.
12. To help clothe those who are destitute and suffering from cold and
Dharani and Mantra
In the Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabhārāja Sūtra, the Medicine Buddha is described
as having entered into a state of samadhi called “Eliminating All the Suffering and
Afflictions of Sentient Beings.” From this samadhi state he spoke the Medicine