“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world
To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.”
The Buddha -- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Sri Dhanvantari the primordial God (Avatar) of health care, founder of Ayurveda

I first heard about this word almost 10 years ago, maybe more, from a documentary shown on public television PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). The film was about a doctor from New York who was wondering why there were diseases that western medicine has pretty much given up and yet were cured in India like muscular skeletal diseases, migraine headache, even paralysis. So she decided to make a trip back to her native India to find out. While there she travelled the country meeting many different so-called medicine men. These doctors all practiced a health science called Ayurveda. I found the film fascinating because unlike western medicine where the doctor might describe the same medicine for a particular symptom, in India the Ayurvedic doctor would prescribe different medicine or treatment method for different people depending on the life-style and the constitution of that person. From the film Ayurveda was not just about eliminating the symptom but help the individual to heal from inside, addressing the cause of the dis-ease. This made sense to me and sparked my interest in Ayurveda.

After watching the film i started to look for Ayurveda online from time to time. I was so surprised that there were a lot of information, articles regarding this subject. Yet my understanding of Ayurveda was very hazy and in the mean time i was side-tracked to other things so i did not actively try to undertand more about this subject. Time passed until 2010 when i started seeing a chiropractor for spinal adjustment and i found out that my chiropractor was also into Ayurveda. When he offered a class on this subject i signed up right away and it was quite an eye-opening experience, and through this class i also learned what Yoga really means, but that's another post (here it is, finally)

What does Ayurveda mean?

The word Ayurveda is composed of two Sanskrit words 'Ayus' for life and 'Veda' for knowledge or science. So Ayurveda could literally means the knowledge or science of life. Ayurveda has been practiced in India for more than 3000 years and very well documented.

According to Ayurveda each person is physically, physiologically, and psychologically made of certain percentages of 3 doshas: vata, pitta, kapha. Each of these doshas is a combination of some of the 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether, vata is air and ether, pitta is fire and water, kapha is earth and water. When one or more of these doshas are out of balance the person gets sick. According to this site "In Sanskrit, dosha is defined as 'doosyati iti doshah.' The literal meaning of this is 'that which contaminates is called dosha.' So doshas may be considered the pathogenic factors, or disease-causing agents in the body".  Restoring the balance of the dosha leads to restored good health. If you want to find out what is your constitution you can take a dosha test available on various sites on the Internet but i recommend you try a few because none is perfect, imho :-)

The more i learn about Ayurveda i realize that it is a key to understanding one's own nature and from that one can achieve wisdom to live mindfully in good health physically and mentally.

In India there are many Ayurvedic centers where the patient would come in to have his or her dosha imbalance diagnosed by a doctor via pulse reading. Treatments include various types of herbal massages, compresses, steam bath, herbal medicine, and nutrition. Each center is self-contained in the sense that all treatments, including the making of herbal medicine are done in-house.

There is a growing interest in Ayurveda in the United States and one could find many centers but research is recommended to find the trust-worthy one. I also learn that Ayurveda is being looked at by medical schools and health organization like UCLA and the NIH. I love to see what they find out.

Here are some of my recommendations if you want to know more about this fascinating life science:

California College of Ayurveda
Ayurvedic Institute
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Ayurveda (Audio)
Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution (book)
India: A Second Opinion (Front-line documentary). Click here for full-length version of the film. Good interview.
AYURVEDA: art of being (Documentary)
The Knowledge of Healing (Documentary)

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