Ayurveda has been described as the ‘science of longevity’. The Vedas are said to be the earliest source of the written knowledge on Ayurveda, but there are evidences to suggest that the Indus Valley civilization, far older than the Vedas, had a high level of health consciousness and had developed curative sciences. In Kerala, the history of Ayurvedic dates back to the pre-Sanskrit era when there existed a somewhat developed system of treatment. The ayurvedic system and Sanskrit literary works that arrived later simply refined the system already in existence giving it new form and content.
One of the earliest legends about the origin of the science of Ayurveda is that is was that it was the work of Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation. The one lakh stanzas composed by Brahma are no longer available, but the knowledge was handed down from generation to generation, first orally and then in writing. While it is quite plausible to assume that much information was lost, it is fact that the descriptions and prescriptions of this 5000-year old medical science were preserved intact.
There are certain aspects of Ayurvedic Medicine that are characteristic of only Kerala, for instance, the Sahasrayoga is a compilation of formulation that have been used by generation of physicians and families in Kerala. It is believed that were several villages of vedic Brahmins in Kerala and each came to be associated with physicians well versed in all the eight branches of Ayurveda who came to be known as ‘Ashtavaidyas’ (‘ashta’ means ‘eight’) Kerala has also contributed much to toxicology and Ayurvedic Physicians have shown considerable skill in identifying specific remedies for varied poisons especially snake bites.
Modern day development of Ayurveda came with the setting up of organizations and institutions to impart education in Ayurveda. The most important contribution for the popularity of Ayurveda at the international level came from Vaidyaratnam P.S Varier. He studied both Ayurveda and modern medicine and started the Kottakal Arya Vaidya Sala . He also published the ‘Dhanvantari’, a monthly which became a popular platform for scientific discussions and informative articles.
With the growing worldwide interest and acceptance of the ayurvedic system of medicine, Kerala has become the hub of treatment with visitors from all over seeking cures for various ailment or simply for rejuvenation from the stresses and strains of modern day life. Methods of detoxification in Ayurveda like Panchakarma and other herbal medicines, when applied wholly or singly, make the body more responsive to medicines and treatment and speed up the healing process.
Ayurveda also has various yogasanas which help prevent the diseases from occurring and accumulating. Yogasanas not only strengthen bones, muscles and vital organs like the heart, liver, stomach and intestine, but also keep blood circulation and psychological conditions strong and resilient.
Ayurveda is perhaps the first medical system that recognizes that all diseases are but the direct manifestation of one’s mental conditions. The human mind is composed of three states or ‘trigunas’ – sattva, rajas and tamas- and any disturbances in the equilibrium of the tri-gunas, result in physical illness depending upon the strength or nature of the disturbances. Thus treating mental stress is believed to be reflected in physical well-being.
A regulated diet and proper daily routine are accepted techniques for stress management. Ayurvedic massages, inhalation of herbal preparations (aroma therapy) and panchakarma (nasya), Yogasanas and meditation all have a calming effect on the nerves. The holistic wisdom of Ayurveda has never been more relevant than in the present day context. Modern lifestyles are hectic and fast-paced, and we are constantly exposed to a lot of negative influences Ayurveda, which heals, physically, mentally and spiritually, is a panacea for many ailments.
Kerala, God’s own Country, is your gateway to Ayurveda. The best time to treat physical afflictions is the monsoon season (June-September) when the body is at its receptive best. Resorts and hotels in the state have attractive Kerala holiday packages which combine sightseeing with therapeutic and stress-busting programmes, all of which are conducted under the supervision of professional experts. So this wellness holiday could be just what the doctor ordered!
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