"The most comprehensive, clear and user friendly resource book on Ayurveda available today . . . provides western medical translations and a valuable glossary." - Joseph Loizza, MD, director, Columbia Presbyterian Center for Meditation and Healing Healthcare, and project director/dharam, Hinduja India Research Centre
"You'll be delighted to discover this comprehensive guide." - Herb Research News
"You could buy a half-dozen plus books on Ayurveda to start your reference library, or you could buy . . . [this)] encyclopedia. [A] magnum opus." - Hinduism Today
"Gives a spiritual perspective that is lacking in the current alternative literature." - Robert Pincus, MD
"(One of) the better 'good reads' . . . a four-part . . . encyclopedia . . . also contains useful appendixes with features such as client health history form as well as an Ayurvedic glossary." - Natural Pharmacy
"The Ayurveda Encyclopedia is an important reference volume for all students of Ayurveda and Yoga, almost a complete course in Ayurveda in itself. Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha has done a monumental work in putting together so much material in such a concise and clear manner for the modern reader." - Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri), author and director, American Institute of Vedic Studies
"A 'must-have' reference for any health professional involved in integrative medicine. [The author] has brought an ancient complex teaching into a fully usable western form, that can aid both the practitioner and the patient to use Ayurvedic Medicine as part of a wholistic, life-enhancing program." - Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, HNC ("the Natural Nurse"), author
Chapter 1 Overview of Ayurveda
Ayurveda, the “science of life,” or longevity, is the holistic alternative science from India, and is more than 5,000 years old. It is believed to be the oldest healing science in existence, forming the foundation of all others.
Buddhism, Taoism, Tibetan, and other cultural medicines have many similar parallels to Áyurveda. The secret of Áyurveda’s individualized healing method was preserved in India, whereas it has been lost or superseded in other cultures.
The First World Medicine
be a world medicine, is the most holistic or comprehensive
medical system available. Before the arrival of writing, the ancient wisdom of healing, prevention, and longevity was a part of the spiritual tradition of a universal religion. Healers gathered from the world over, bringing their medical knowledge to India. Veda Vyasa, the famous sage, preserved the complete knowledge of Áyurveda in writing, along with the more spiritual insights of ethics, virtue, and Self-Realization. Others say Áyurveda was passed down from God to his angels, and finally to humans.
The methods used to find this knowledge of
herbs, foods, aromas, gems, colors, yoga, mantras, lifestyle, and surgery are fascinating and
varied. The sage, physicians/surgeons of the time
were the same sages or seers, deeply devoted holy
people, who saw health as an integral part of spiritual
life. It is said that they received their training
of Áyurveda through direct cognition during
meditation. That is, the knowledge of the use of
the various methods of healing, prevention, longevity, and surgery came through Divine revelation; guessing or animal testing was unnecessary. These revelations were transcribed from oral tradition into written form, interspersed with aspects of mortal life and spirituality.
Originally four main books of Vedic spirituality existed. Topics included health, ecology, astrology, spiritual business, government, military, poetry, and ethical living. In short, life was sacred, holistic, integrated and interdependent. The
separation into parts of life, as we know it today, were not considered natural. These books are known as the Vedas: Rik, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva. Áyurveda was used along with Vedic astrology (called Jyotish, that is, one’s “inner light”). Áyurveda is said to have its main origins in the
Atharva Veda. This upaveda/branch dealt with the healing aspects of spirituality and life as a whole;
it praises ecology (earth, sun, moon, water, etc.),
advised on political, social, economic, health, and
all other areas of life. In short, it shows how to remain
within one’s spirit and live in harmony with
nature. Among the Rik Veda’s 10,572 hymns are
discussions of the three constitutions (doshas):
air (Váyu), fire (Pitta), and water (Kapha). Topics comprised organ transplants, artificial limbs, and the use of herbs to heal diseases of the mind and body and to foster longevity. Within the Atharva Veda’s 5,977 hymns are discussions of anatomy, physiology, and surgery.
Around the 8th century B.C.E., knowledge of the medical aspect of this holistic, spiritual whole-life wisdom reportedly fell into misunderstanding. To correct this, the text,...