Ayurveda is a branch or Upaveda of Athar-Veda which deals with the curing of diseases and suggests remedies to enhance and increase ones lifespan. It is the oldest known existing health care system and is a great heritage of India that is being lost. The importance attached to a good healthy living can be judged from the fact that – the four principle texts of Hinduism are called Vedas and all other branches of learning are called either Shastras or Vidyas, but the branch of learning dealing with health is called Ayur-Veda.
The ancient Hindu system of learning and living was a fully integrated education system and not an isolated study of the various systems. (you really cannot fathom this interconnectedness of the entire wisdom) A pundit had to study and master many branches of knowledge in order to get a proper all round knowledge. Hence apart from studying the Vedas one studied various other sciences and art forms that all came from the same foundational understanding and roots.
Okay, so this is the mindblowing part. Here is a superficial breakdown of the entire knowledge and realize they all come from the same basic foundation of understanding so they all blend together in their wisdom and techniques.
14 Vidya (techniques) consist of –
- 4 Ved :
- 4 Upved :
- Arthashastra : An ancient Indian Hindu treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy which identifies its author by the names Kautilya and Vishnugupta.
- Dhanurved : The term derives from the words for bow (dhanushya) and knowledge (veda), literally the “science of archery”.
- Gandharvaveda : An ancient Indian treatise on the performing arts, encompassing theatre, dance and music.
- Ayurveda : The word ayurveda consists of the words ayus, meaning “longevity”, and veda, meaning “related to knowledge” or “science”. Thus Ayurveda is the science of life.
- 6 Vedange : There are six Vedangas: Shiksha (phonetics), Kalpa (rituals), Vyakarana (grammar), Jyotishya (astronomy), Nirukta (etymology) and Chhandas (metrics). These are mentioned in the Upanishads.
- Shiksha : Shiksha is one of the six Vedangas, treating the traditional Hindu science of phonetics and phonology of Sanskrit. Its aim is the teaching of the correct pronunciation of the Vedic hymns and mantras.
- Kalpa : One of the six disciplines of Vedanga, treating ritual.
- Vyakaran : The Sanskrit grammatical tradition of vyakarana is one of the six Vedanga disciplines. It has its roots in late Vedic India, and includes the famous work, Astadhyayi, of Panini.
- Nirukta : Nirukta (“explanation, etymological interpretation”) is one of the six Vedanga disciplines of Hinduism, treating etymology, particularly of obscure words, especially those occurring in the Vedas. The discipline is traditionally attributed to Yaska, an ancient Sanskrit grammarian. In practical use, nirukta consists of brief rules (sutras) for deriving word meanings, supplemented with glossaries of difficult or rare Vedic words.
- Chhanda : In Sanskrit, it refers to the study of Vedic meter in Classical Sanskrit poetry.
- Jyotish : Jyotisa (Sanskrit jyotisa, from jyotis- “light, heavenly body”: also anglicized Jyotish and Jyotisha) is the Hindu system of astrology (also known as Indian astrology, Hindu astrology, and of late, Vedic astrology). Traditionally, it has three branches –
1. Siddhanta : traditional Indian astronomy.
2b. Medini Jyotisha (mundane astrology) : Predicting important events based on analysis of astrological dynamics in a country’s horoscope or general transit events such as war, earthquakes, political events, financial positions, electional astrology; house and construction related matters (Vastu Shastra), animals, portents, omens etc.
3. Hora : Predictive astrology based on analysis of natal horoscopes and the moment a query is made.
64 Kala (Activities in fine arts and crafts) consist of –
- Geet : Art of singing.
- Vadya : Art of playing on musical instruments.
- Nrutya : Art of dancing.
- Natya : Art of theatricals.
- Aalekh : Art of painting
- Vishesh Kacchedya : Art of painting the face and body with colored unguents and cosmetics.
- Tandul kusumavali vikar : Art of preparing offerings from rice and flowers.
- Pushpastaran : Art of making a covering of flowers for a bed.
- Dashanvasanang raag : Art of applying preparations for cleansing the teeth, cloths and painting the body.
- Manibhumika karma : Art of making the groundwork of jewels.
- Shayan rachana : Art of covering the bed.
- Udak vadya : Art of playing on music in water.
- Udakaghata : Art of splashing with water.
- Chitrayog : Art of practically applying an admixture of colors.
- Malya grantha vikalpa : Art of designing a preparation of wreaths.
- Kesha-shekhara-pidyojana : Art of practically setting the coronet on the head.
- Nepathyayog : Art of practically dressing in the tiring room.
- Karnapatrabhang : Art of decorating the tragus of the ear.
- Gandhayukti / Sugandhayukti : Art of practical application of aromatics.
- Bhushanayojan : Art of applying or setting ornaments.
- Indrajal : Art of jugglery.
- Kouchumaryog : A kind of art.
- Hastalaghav : Art of sleight of hand.
- Chitra Shabdapup Bhakshya Vikar Kriya : Art of preparing varieties of salad, bread, cake and delicious food.
- Panaka-rasa-ragasava-yojana : Art of practically preparing palatable drinks and tinging draughts with red color.
- Suchikarma : Art of needleworks and weaving.
- Sutrakarma : Art of playing with thread.
- Vina-damuraka-vadya : Art of playing on lute and small x-shaped drum.
- Prahelika : Art of making and solving riddles.
- Pratimala : Art of caping or reciting verse for verse as a trial for memory or skill.
- Durvachakayog : Art of practicing language difficult to be answered by others.
- Pustakvachan : Art of reciting books.
- Natakakhyayika darshan : Art of enacting short plays and anecdotes.
- Kavyasamasyapurti : Art of solving enigmatic verses.
- Pattika vetra-ban-vikalpa : Art of designing preparation of shield, cane and arrows.
- Turkakarma : Art of spinning by spindle.
- Takshan : Art of carpentry.
- Vastuvidya : Art of engineering.
- Roupya ratna pariksha : Art of testing silver and jewels.
- Dhatuvad : Art of metallurgy.
- Maniraagdnyan : Art of tinging jewels.
- Aakardnyan : Art of mineralogy.
- Vrukshayurvedyog : Art of practicing medicine or medical treatment, by herbs.
- Mesh-kukkut-lavakyudhha vidhi : Art of knowing the mode of fighting of lambs, cocks and birds.
- Shukasarika prapalana : Art of maintaining or knowing conversation between male and female cockatoos.
- Utsadan : Art of healing or cleaning a person with perfumes.
- Keshmarjan koushal : Art of combing hair.
- Akshar mushtikakathan : Art of talking with letters and fingers.
- Mlencchitkalavikalpa : Art of fabricating barbarous or foreign sophistry.
- Deshbhashadnyan : Art of knowing provincial dialects.
- Pushpa-shakatika-nimittadnyan : Art of knowing prediction by heavenly voice or knowing preparation of toy carts by flowers.
- Yantramatruka : Art of mechanics.
- Dharanmatruka : Art of the use of amulets.
- Sanpathya/Samvachya : Art of conversation.
- Manasikavya : Art of composing verse mentally.
- Kriyavikalpa : Art of designing a literary work or a medical remedy.
- Chlikyog / Chalitakayoga : Art of practicing as a builder of shrines called after him.
- Abhidhankosh chhandodnyan : Art of the use of lexicography and meters.
- Vastragopan : Art of concealment of cloths.
- Dyut visesha : Art of knowing specific gambling.
- Aakarshan krida : Art of playing with dice or magnet.
- Balkridakarma : Art of using children’s toys.
- Vainayiki vidyadnyan : Art of enforcing discipline.
- Vaijayiki vidyadnyan : Art of gaining victory.
- Vyayamiki vidyadnyan : Art of awakening master with music at dawn.
In fact its written that:
“Ekam saastramadheeyaano na vidyaachchaastra nischayam,
tasmaat bahusrutah saastram vijaaneeyaat, chikitsakah
“By the study of a single Saastra a man can never catch the true import of this science of medicine. Therefore a physician should study as many allied branches of science or philosophy as possible.”
So, in those days when someone wanted a solution he would get a multi pronged in-depth advise. To give you a hypothetical example: if you were to ask an ancient pundit to help in “marriage prospects”, they may give you the following advise:
1. Astrologically suitable periods or right sight into your dharma in that area
2. Right food and life guidance, Ayurvedic herbs and exercise to make health better to improve your chances
3. Guidance on the right poojas and mantras to be done by a pujari
4. Right lessons from Kamasashtra on how to dress and talk to attract the opposite sex!!
Apart from Atharveda and the famous ayurvedic classic Charka Samhita, ayurvedic tips and prescriptions are given in a lot of places in Vedas and other scriptures in coded form. Take the following famous verse in praise of Lord Ganesha for example:
Gajananam Bhoota Ganadi Sevitam,
Kapittha Jambu Phala Saara Bhakshitam
Umasutam Shoka Vinasha Karanam
Namami Vighneswara Pada Pankajam
Meaning: “O elephant headed Lord, who is served by a host of Ganas, who is fond of the juce of Kapitta and Jamboo fruits, O son o Uma and the remover of obstacles, I bow before your Lotus feet.”
There is a coded herbal remedy for a very common disease in this verse. Ganesha is not the son of Uma. Uma was Lord Shiva’s first wife who immolated herself during the Daksha Yagna. Ganesha was the son of Parvati. So why did the Rishi say Uma-sutam meaning son of Uma? This is the coded hint. Uma also means sweet in Sanskrit. Sutam also means urine. So for those who know the proper decoding method, this famous Sholaka is a remedy for diabetics – sweet-urine!! – “If you take a little quantity of juice of Jamboo fruits you will not get diabetics.” Similarly most of the verses of Shree Rudram in Yajurveda also have coded instructions for herbal remedies for various problems.
This is common in to all of sanskrit texts. There is a way to read them. With out this knowledge they would sound to a westerner like nonsense.