Ayurveda is as ancient as the beginnings of human understanding and yet, it is as rooted in the every day here and now.
It encompasses the five primal elements that surround us - earth, water, fire, air and space. At the same time Ayurveda
also implies a belief in the idea of matter being in a continuous state of flux, or flow, or of cycles of creation and
destruction that you may see in so many symbols of Eastern art and mythology.
Part of the practice of Ayurveda consists of striving for a state of
balance between the different forces that underlie the elements. This
balance creates an inner sense of harmony that is contained in the idea
of a centre that remains radiant with the possibility of infinite change.
A person is made up of four parts - body, sense, mind and soul that is
also rendered sometimes as body-mind-soul. Each level envelops the other
like a seed, protected by different layers that make it possible for it to grow.
The individual who understands this becomes the vehicle for taking on and maintaining
the divine order by making sure that he or she preserves the laws that can lead to a
happier healthier way of living. That is why Ayurveda is often described as the fifth
Veda, a word that means complete knowledge. Ayus means life, thereby indicating a
complete blueprint for life. One of the aims of Ayurvedic treatment is to keep the
channels through which the life force travels, free from obstruction. It's a
system of energy where the life force flows in all the parts of an organism,
interacts and influences one another. Everything is inter-related and the
body is a miniature replica of the universe.
A strict regimen of fasting and eating is followed while taking the cure. The preparation and even the
sequence in which some of these food items are prepared and consumed is also given great significance.
Though the practice of Ayurveda declined in or about the 15th century, there has been a tremendous revival
of interest since the early 20th century. The various forms of oil massage using herbal oils have become a
part of the tourism industry now. There is also an interest in studying and tracking down the innumerable
herbs and medicinal plants that grow in the Western Ghats and Himalayan regions. Ayurveda uses all forms of
known medical systems and naturally occurring substances to treat all forms of disease from all parts of
the known world.