AYURVEDA IN KERALAAyurveda, the 5000-year-old natural herbal health care system has been recognized the world over as the most perfected body-mind health care system. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, derived from two roots: Ayur, which means life, and Veda, which means knowledge. It is fair to say that Ayurveda is the science of life.
Ayurveda is a science dealing not only with the treatment of some diseases but is a complete way of life. It is the only system of medicine which incorporates suggestions & remedies for both healthy & diseased people.
Kerala, the tropical paradise on the southwest coast of India, is well known as the heart land of Ayurveda. Kerala's equable climate, natural abundance of forests with a wealth of herbs and medicinal plants, and the cool monsoon season starting from June to November are best suited for Ayurveda's curative and restorative programs.
In fact, today Kerala is the only State in India, which practices this system of medicine with absolute dedication. Monsoon is considered to be the ideal time for rejuvenation. Ancient texts recommend monsoon to be the best season for Ayurveda regimens. The atmosphere remains dust-free and cool, opening the pores of the body to the maximum, making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy.
Kerala, the confluence of different natural herbal systems, enriched and fine-tuned Ayurveda. While the Ayurvedic system was enriched by Siddha and Marma systems in southern Kerala, it joined hands with Kalaripayattu and Kalari Therapy in northern Kerala which resulted in the emergence of a new stream noted for its special procedures and formulations.
"Agastyakoodam" a herbal mountain on the Western Ghat mountain ranges in south India has the pre-eminent position as the home of the most perfected herbal health care system. Named after a great sage who lived here many years ago with his disciples whose contribution to ancient Indian medical science was phenomenal. This mountain has a halo of myth ' Agastyakoodam, near Trivandrum, the capital of state of Kerala is a preserve of biodiversity-one among the 18 hotspots in the world- there are thousands of herbs and plants exclusive to this biosphere.
Basic Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda was revealed to the sages of India thousands of years ago. Ayurveda is the science of life or science of longevity which promises better health, prevents diseases and helps in achieving a long life. According to Ayurveda, the right balance of the three subtle energies, called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, is what maintains health. The biological air humour, Vata is responsible for all the movements in the body. The biological water humour or Kapha is responsible for strength and immunity while the biological fire humour or Pitta is responsible for digestion and metabolism.
Ether and air combine to form the biological humour, Vata, which is responsible for controlling destruction. The different sub-types of Vata are Prana (life energy) - its main function is respiration and control of all sense organs; Udana ( upward movement from naval-diaphragm) - it helps the process of speech and memory; Vyana -this is responsible for the circulation of blood and nutrients obtained from food to all the cells of the body; Samana (balance) - it brings all the digestive juices from the tissues into the hollow organs for digestion and metabolism and Apana (downward moving energy) - it is responsible for the action of all pelvic organs.
Pitta or Fire, the thermogenic humour, organizes body activities after transformation. The various sub-types of Pitta are Pachaka (the main site is the stomach and it helps in digestion); Ranjaka (its main site is liver and it is responsible for secondary or tissue digestion); Sadhaka (resides in the heart and brain and is responsible for the digestion of knowledge and the preservation of our cognitive memories); Alocchaka( It is in the eye and enables proper vision); and Bharahaka (in the skin and responsible for digestion and absorption of all oil massages.
Water and earth combine to form the biological humour Kapha, which is responsible for maintaining creation. The five sub-types of Kapha are Kledaka (resides in the stomach and protects the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract from the hot and irritant fluids of pitta secretions); Avalambaka (it is in the heart, lung apparatus and vertebral column and protects them from wear and tear); Bodhaka (is in the mouth and protects the mucous membrane and the tongue to give proper taste to food); Tarpaka (in the spinal chord; it protects the spinal chord and is also responsible for mental peace); and Shleshaka (in the joints; it prevents wear and tear of the joints during movements).
As long as these energies are in equilibrium, the health of the body is maintained. The purpose of Ayurveda and Panchakarma (a treatment method in Ayurveda) is to bring these forces into harmony so that they promote physical, emotional and spiritual growth in every living being.
Sanskrit tradition :
Kerala has an unbroken tradition of Sanskrit (the language of ancient wisdom) learning. This knowledge of Sanskrit enables the healers of Kerala to interpret the Ayurvedic system accurately and get a proper insight. The Namboothiri Brahmins even today follow the Vedic tradition and knowledge systems. They are the only people who can perform the fire sacrifices or yajnas as they were done during the Vedic times and pronounce the Vedic chants the original way. They still practice Ayurveda and contribute to the efficacy of the system. Sanskrit learning has spread to all layers of Kerala society. Ayurveda is a living tradition belonging to people of all socio-cultural groups.
The Body :
According to Ayurveda every individual is made up of five elements, namely :-
Prithvi or earth. " Apa or water " Tejas or fire " Vayu or air " Akash or space.
The structural aspect of the body is made up of these five elements, but the functional aspect of the body is governed by three biological humors. Ether and air combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as the Vata dosha. 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 combine to form the Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha governs the process of transformation or metabolism. The digestion of food in our body is an example of Pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism. Finally, the water and earth combine to form the
There are seven body types: mono-types (vata, pitta or kapha predominant), dual types (vata-pitta, pitta-kapha or, kapha-vata), and equal types, (vata, pitta and kapha in equal proportions). Every individual has a unique combination of these three doshas. To understand the uniqueness of every individual is the very basis of ayurveda.
Ayurveda classifies human temperaments into three basic qualities: satvic, rajasic and tamasic. Satvic qualities imply purity and clarity of perception which are responsible for goodness and happiness. Rajas is responsible for all movements, and activities. It leads to the life of sensual enjoyment, pleasure and pain, effort and restlessness. Tamas is darkness, inertia, heaviness and materialistic attitudes. There is a constant interplay of these three gunas (qualities) in the individual consciousness, but the relative predominance of either satva, rajas, or tamas is responsible for individual psychological constitution.
The Disease Process
According to Ayurveda, health is a state of balance between the body, mind and consciousness. Within the body, Ayurveda recognizes the three doshas( bodily humors) vata, pitta and kapha; seven dhatus(tissues), blood, plasma, fat, muscle, bone, nerve, and reproductive; three malas(wastes), feces, urine and sweat; and agni, the energy of metabolism. Disease is a condition of disharmony in any of these factors. The root cause of imbalance, or disease, is an aggravation of dosha, vata-pitta-kapha.
Ayurveda is the system of medicine incorporating centuries of wisdom in it. The emphasis here is on ways to promote health rather than just treat disease. The beauty of the system is that every individual is unique rather than being just another case of particular disease. It is one of the few systems of medicine taking mental, emotional and spiritual well being into account. All the suggestions and remedies prescribed are totally in conjunction with nature