An ancient healing tradition that draws on 3,000 years of Vedic culture, Ayurveda is the subcontinent’s traditional science of “life, vitality, health, and longevity” or, to tap into a more contemporary buzzphrase, “the science of well-being.” Kerala has long been considered the home of Ayurveda, no doubt due to the abundance of herbal and medicinal plants that thrive in its tropical environment. You will find therapists, physicians, and commercial Ayurvedic shops selling roots, herbs, and bark throughout the state.
Renowned for its curative and rejuvenating powers (and a gift from no other than Lord Brahma), Ayurveda works on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being by rectifying any imbalances in the three doshas— vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (water)—that are believed to make up the human constitution. In fact, in one ancient tome on Ayurveda, the Caraka Samhita, it is stated that the mind, body, and soul are like a tripod, and that the world’s continued existence relies on their combination. It takes 51⁄2 years of training to qualify as an Ayurvedic doctor, who is then able to prescribe the herbal remedies and related therapies. While much of what is practiced in Ayurvedic medicine has similarities to Western medical practice (the first 3 years of training in anatomy are basically the same), the most significant difference lies in the area of pharmacology, since Ayurvedic
medicines are all natural. Some may scoff, but no one can deny the sheer pleasure of the treatments—Ayurveda will suit those skeptics who merely seek the ultimate in pampering, whether you opt for a soothing facial treatment, in which the face is massaged and steamed with herbal oils, or for an energizing full body massage performed with hands and feet (and often by several masseuses simultaneously). Skeptics take note: To truly experience the strange bliss and resultant high of Ayurveda, book a sirodhara treatment, wherein 5 to 6 liters of warm herbal oil (selected according to the body constitution) are poured steadily onto your “third eye” (the forehead) for the better part of an hour while (or after which) you are massaged—this is said to retard the aging process (by arresting the degeneration of cells) and to relieve the body of all stress.
No matter which balm you choose, you’ll find that the well-practiced masseuses of Kerala will treat your body like a temple; for them, the massage or treatment is a spiritual exercise. Of course, it helps to know that your body is being worshipped when you’re lying there in your birthday suit (note that in strict accordance with Indian piety, you will be assigned a same-sex therapist). Whatever its purported virtues and pleasures, Ayurveda lures thousands of Westerners to Kerala, which in turn sustains a thriving industry that puts food on the table for many people.
The word Ayurveda is evolved from “Ayus” meaning life and the “veda” meaning science in Sanskrit, so the literally meaning of Ayurveda is the science of life. Ayurveda as a science practised in India more than 5000 years. Ayurveda is the most ancient science of medicine which enhances longevity. It has influenced many of the older traditional methods of healing including Tibetan, Chinese and Greek medicine. Hence, Ayurveda is considered by many as the 'mother of healing.' The route of Ayurveda can be traced back from the early ages of Vedas. There are four important Vedas, Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda . According to Hindu mythology Vedas are originate from Lord Brahma, the god of creation. The Vedas date back to about five thousand years. They preach the philosophy of life. The Atharvaveda contains the principles of healing on which Ayurveda is based. Atharvaveda, one of the four most ancient vedas, contains 114 hymns or formulations for the treatment of diseases. Ayurveda originated and devolved from these hymns. In this point of view Ayurveda considered to have a divine origin representing one of the oldest organised system of medicine for positive health & cure of human sickness. The practical system of belief of Ayurveda are divided into eight sections or branches. These eight sections are called "Astanga Ayurveda". These divisions are ;
• Internal medicine,
• Aphrodisiac remedies and
• Spiritual healing.
• Rejuvenating remedy,
• Organic medicine,
The knowledge & skill of Ayurveda have been handed over from generation to generation through a true ‘guru parampara’ tradition. In the Guru Parampara tradition of learning, the disciple is lives in the Guru’s residence to learn the science. He leaves the residence of the guru only at the end of the learning period. Sushrutha Samhitha of the Sushrutha, father of surgery, is appeared to be during the first millennium of BC. Other early works of Ayurveda include the Charaka Samhita, credited to Charaka. The earliest surviving excavated written material which contains the works of Sushruta is the Bower Manuscript—dated to the 4th century BC. The Bower manuscript cites directly from Sushruta, and is of special interest to historians due to the presence of Indian medicine and its concepts in Central Asia. Vagbhata—the son of a senior doctor by the name of Simhagupta— also compiled his works on traditional medicine. Early Ayurveda had a school of physicians and a school of surgeons. Tradition holds that the text Agnivesh tantra—written by the legendary sage Agnivesh, a student of the mythological sage Bharadwaja—influenced the writings of Ayurveda. The Chinese pilgrim Fa Hsien wrote about the health care system of the Gupta empire during 320 - 550 AD and—in process—described the institutional approach of Indian medicine which is also visible in the works of Charaka, who mentions a clinic and how it should be equipped. The medical works of both Sushruta and Charaka were translated into Arabic language during the Abbasid Caliphate during 750 AD. These Arabic works made their way into Europe via intermediaries. In Italy the Branca family of Sicily and Gaspare Tagliacozzi (Bologna) became familiar with the techniques of Sushruta. British physicians traveled to India to see Rhinoplasty (nose reshaping) being performed by native methods. Reports on Indian Rhinoplasty were published in the Gentleman's Magazine by 1794. Joseph Constantine Carpue spent 20 years in India studying local plastic surgery methods. Carpue was able to perform the first major surgery in the western world by 1815. Instruments described in the Sushruta Samhita were further modified in the Western World.