Ayurveda: Decoding Health and Wellness
Arvind Varchaswi, Managing Director, Sriveda Sattva Private Ltd., explains why Ayurverda is one of the most complete and holistic systems of healing that the world has ever seen
According to the book ‘YouTurn India’, India was the most prosperous country for a continuous period of 5000 years upto the year 1000 AD, contributing over 25% of the world’s GDP. Legendary travellers like Marco Polo lauded India as “the most prosperous of all, in the world I have seen”. In this long and uninterrupted run of prosperity and greatness, India enjoyed great health and well-being while innovating in diverse aspects of human life such as mathematics, science, business, architecture, metallurgy and even navigation, to name a few! From teaching the world to count to making the best steel in the world - India’s contributions over time has been revolutionary and awe-inspiring, improving the quality of every aspect of human life.
An interesting fact to note is that ancient Indian economic system’s primary emphasis was on spending, sharing, and giving rather than on consumption, acquisition, and possession.
Spirituality and the tenets of ancient scriptures were an intrinsic part of life, deeply embedded into administration, health and wellness, clothing, architecture, and every aspect of nation building. When spirituality combined with the profound Vedic wisdom and led to full blossoming of economic activity and intellectual growth, India was the wealthiest in the world. The beauty about anything Indian is that the thought process behind every concept or idea is very spherical, getting everything together. The emphasis is always on collective growth and goodness.
The gift of Spirituality and Ayurveda is perhaps the most precious ones that India has offered to the world. Considered as the ‘Upaveda’ or an accessory veda to the ‘Atharva Veda’, the science of Ayurveda has decoded various secrets of health and wellness, which modern science is still seeking to understand. Intelligently blending components of physical, emotional and subtle well-being, Ayurveda is one of the most complete and holistic systems of healing that the world has ever seen.
Even those who are familiar about Ayurveda sometimes do not know how profound and deep it is. For instance, many do not know that Ayurveda is not just about medicines for ailments, but even involves complex surgeries. In fact, Sushruta, an ancient Indian physician, is regarded as the Father of Surgery, inventing ‘Rhinoplasty’ – the surgical reconstruction of severed noses. Ancient Ayurvedic texts outline procedures of critical surgeries which intrigues even the 21st century ‘s best modern medical practitioners.
While understanding Ayurveda, it is important to note that there is no need to shun Allopathy or the modern forms of medicine. It is not either Ayurveda or Allopathy. It is both – to be used at the appropriate place, time and situation, depending on the needs of healing. Over the last decade, India and more so the western world have slowly but surely woken up to the immense potential and relevance of Ayurveda, Yoga and Pranayama to modern day living. People now realize that attending to body and mind is vital to ensure high quality of life. Unlike modern medicine which often tends to treat symptoms, Ayurveda focuses on the root cause, even predicting diseases that may occur in the future, if the root causes are not addressed through medicine.
Ayurveda propounds that the creation is made of 5 elements – earth, water, air, fire and space and three humours namely vata, pitta and kapha. Any diseases or discomfort experienced by us arises from the imbalance in these elements and humours which make up our body. Through profound knowledge of herbs and their healing properties, Ayurveda restores the balance rapidly and naturally, allowing one to smile from within. In fact, Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation are integral parts of Ayurveda’s recommended lifestyle. In its approach to healing, Ayurveda ensures that every level of human mind and body is cleansed, healed and infused with ‘prana’ or energy
A popular myth is that Ayurvedic healing “takes time”. While it is true that healing certain types of conditions comprehensively does take time, but it is not true in every situation. Recently, there was a rise in ‘dengue’ fever in some parts of India, leading to hundreds of casualties. In dengue, the count of blood platelets depletes rapidly in a very short time. Platelets are vital to ensure that the blood clots rapidly, and does not completely drain out of the body in case there is a cut. Those who knew benefited from the Ayurvedic system of healing low blood platelets by consuming juice made of papaya leaves. Ayurvedic medical practioners know that this healing technique of Ayurveda rapidly increases blood platelets – just 2-3 shots of papaya leaf juice improves the platelet count by lakhs – though everyone does not know why or how.
Our country of over 1 billion people is also one of the youngest in the world – the average age of India is about 25, as against China’s 39, and Europe & USA’s late 40s. To ensure that benefits of Ayurveda reach all of us, we need to integrate it into our education system. Some countries have the basic principles of their traditional system of medicine as part of the school syllabus. Children are made aware of indigenous methods of healing from a very young age, using these to resolve common ailments without dependence on a doctor. India’s own Central Board of Secondary Education has recently taken a laudable step in this direction, by including Ayurveda as a subject in class 11 & 12. All other boards of our education system should also replicate this good practice, work towards making our ancient knowledge accessible to our children, rather than just making it another specialization course at the university level. This is the need of the hour to keep our age-old Ayurvedic system alive.
As consumers are becoming more conscious of their health and wellness and are looking for natural solutions and variants in all the products they consume, the industry is moving in tandem with it. One can see a major shift in the product line of top brands, switching to natural ingredients and remedies. We are moving back to our roots, celebrating our knowledge and wisdom, which is great! But equating the traditional system with other modern systems of medicine will lead to conflict. Accepting each of it in its totality and uniqueness is what is required. Each of them holds separate relevance and importance at different points of time.
The government, being a crucial facilitator in the overall wellness economy has already shown its support by establishing the ‘AYUSH’ as a ministry, streamlining and regularizing the quality control and other processes. As the world looks at India for Ayurvedic medicines and healing methods, it is imperative to maintain top quality standards.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a surge in demand for Ayurvedic products all across the globe and we are proud to take our Ayurvedic legacy to the US, Europe, South East Asia, Latin America, Oman, and Russia. A strong regulatory climate with active support from the facilitating stakeholders - government and media – will help India become a global hub for wellness products.
Our endeavor is to engage in constant research, innovation, and dialogue to make ‘Ayurveda’ in vogue worldwide in the space of health and wellness. The revival of research and documentation of Indian systems of medicine is also essential to preserve and further explore evolving areas like Ayurvedic biology, Ayurgenomics, and Ayur-psychology.
The ancient Indian word for health is “Svasta” – which means ‘established in the self’ – in fact, health was not seen as a mere absence of disease. Health was seen as a state of being established in one’s own self – calm, serene and yet dynamically expressing life! With the blessings and best wishes of all, we hope to bring this to each and everyone on our planet Earth!
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.