Pukka Herbs Education Series
“Nowhere on earth is there any creature which is immortal. Yet, although death is unavoidable, a person may avoid many diseases…..Health brings happiness”
A 13th century Ayurvedic saying.
Welcome to the first part of our ‘Ayurveda Living’ series. This series will cover:
Here we will start with ‘Beginning Ayurveda’ as a general overview of the wonders of Ayurveda: how Ayurveda understands people, anatomy, physiology, health, diseases, foods, herbs, diseases and how to prevent and treat them. I have written it for everyone interested in health, whether it is for personal interest or for your professional work. I hope that these Ayurvedic insights give you the inspiration to incorporate some of its deep understanding of herbal medicine into your life and work. It is the first booklet in a series on Ayurveda covering treatments, herbs and lifestyle.
Ayurveda is literally translated as ‘science of life’ but it can also be described as ‘the way of living with insight and balance.’ An early description given in the Charaka Samhita, the earliest Ayurvedic text written circa 150BCE-100CE says:
“It is called ayurveda because it tells us which substances, qualities and actions are life enhancing, and which are not.”
Broadly speaking Ayurveda is understood to be the generic term for traditional Indian medicine. But as well as being a medical system it includes aspects of philosophy, mythology, diet and yoga as well as mental and spiritual refinement as part of its teachings.
Ayurveda’s medical branch uses herbal medicines, minerals, animal products, food, massage, air, water, heat, earth, surgery, detoxification and tonification to bring about health. Ayurveda focuses on preventing disease and optimising vitality as much as on removing an illness. Thus it has a holistic approach to health that includes every aspect of life in a philosophy where mind, body and spirit are considered to be an integrated whole. Nothing in the world is considered to be separate from anything else. Everything is interconnected. Practising and living according to Ayurveda is as much about understanding your own inner nature and fulfilling your own potential as it is about helping your clients to understand their nature and fulfil their potential.
To achieve this end Ayurveda cultivates an intimate understanding of and relationship with nature and thus observing her tastes, aromas, textures and qualities is a central part of learning Ayurveda. If we are not aware of what our nature is and what the qualities of nature are or we choose to ignore them then we will certainly become ill. We will look at the causes of illness later but surely a large part of the cause of the modern malaise must be our separation and distance from nature and her natural rhythms. Ayurveda offers the potential to reconnect this disassociation.
Ayurveda understands that disease is due to an imbalance in the inner processes of the body and mind. It is a disassociation within the whole system. This is different from our modern functional view of disease that regards organs and bacteria in isolation as causes of disease. Although Ayurveda understands the potential of invading organisms (and refers to them as worms (krimi)) its primary understanding of disease is systemic rather than reductionist. Many of the causes of disease are seen as originating from within us as are many of the preventative measures that can keep us at optimum health. For Ayurveda health is more than the absence of disease, it is the whole reason of living because without health you cannot