How Old is Ayurveda?
However strange the Sanskrit words (Dosha, Agni, Ama, etc.) might sound there is nothing mysterious about Ayurveda. It is a very ancient, practical method of understanding life. It teaches us to learn our unique nature and the effect that different natures have on it. The different natures can take the form of foods, people, climates, location, or a career. The simple formula x + y = z shows the result of combining our nature with other objects and places. Disease is understood as imbalance of our true nature. The cure is based on the knowledge of how our body’s energy functions in relation to that of nature, using the harmonizing energies of foods and herbs.
Everyone knows that Ayurveda is ancient, but how old is it, really? This matter is often disputed – listed here are several opinions on the true age of Ayurveda:
– The modern Christian view of history places the first book of Vedas at about 1500 B.C., placing Ayurveda at 3,500 years of age.
– Astronomical references in the Vedas, however, provide some broad approximations that help date the beginning of the tradition. Some Vedic notices mark the beginning of the year at the vernal equinox in Orion; this was the case around 4500 B.C. This places Ayurveda at 6,500 years of age.
– Atreya is a well – known Ayurvedic expert and one of my favorite writers. Having lived in India for many years, he states: “Ayurveda has very old roots, long before recorded history. Hinduism is a much later manifestation of the Vedic culture. The oral tradition states that the first of the Vedas was composed about 40,000 years ago. This comes from my personal (Atreya’s) dialogs with yogis and teachers in India. The oral traditions are still very much alive in India, when valuable information is passed orally from teacher to student” – Practical Ayurveda by Atreya. This account implies that Ayurveda has existed for approximately 42,000 years.
No matter the true age of Ayurveda (whether it be 42,000 or 3,500 years), its practical knowledge and successful usage greatly outweighs that of any other widely – practiced form of medicine. Throughout history, many ancient cultures have traveled to India to learn from Ayurvedic professionals. We find the Greeks using Ayurvedic theories (the four – humor theory) and herbal formulations after 400 B.C., when they were known to have studied the Ayurvedic system intensively. The modern allopathic medicine is evolved from the ancient Greek system, thus it is rightful to say that later medical schools stem from Ayurvedic traditions. Such a view helps to achieve harmony between the modern allopathic medicine with its accent on curing already existing disease and Ayurvedic therapies with the great developed physical and psychological preventative measures.
TODAY’S TIP: At our Western first glance, Ayurveda can appear complicated and simplistic at the same time. After deeper study, however, one is struck by its amazing harmony and utter completeness.