Ayurveda is one of the most ancient systems of health sciences, originated in India around BC 3000 and is practised throughout India. It is based on sound fundamental principles and follows unique approaches towards life, preservation of health and treatment of various diseases. In contrast to the analytical approach of western medicine, Ayurveda adopts a holistic approach to life and health. It defines health as a state of comprehensive equilibrium of all bodily functions whether it is physical or mental. Ayurveda emphasises on "health" more than "disease", and always advocates to restore the health of a patient as the means to eliminate the disease.
In the treatment of a patient, Ayurvedic physician is more concerned with the elimination of the cause of the disease and a suitable life style and diet for the patient. The use of drugs and medicaments has only a subsidiary place in an Ayurvedic prescription. In contrast, the western modern medicine is a drug and disease-oriented system. Ayurveda mostly uses natural herbal products as medicines, which are both bio-friendly and eco-friendly. By way of its holistic approaches and safe unique natural medicaments Ayurveda is very popular now a days throughout the world.
Ayurveda is derived from two words, ayu and veda. Understanding the meaning of both words is necessary to fully grasp the philosophy of this discipline.“ Ayu is Union of the mind, body, senses and soul. It is energy and vitality, and is eternal.” The English translation of ayu is “life.” In the Ayurvedic context the definition of life is broader than simple chronological lifespan. It does not mean the age of a person, the number of years lived on Earth measured from birth untill the present day. Ayu is much more than that, it is a combination of the:- Body (Sharira) , Senses (Indriyas) , Mind (Manas) ,Soul (Atma) Together, these four factors are responsible for sustaining the life air or force in the body, and each must be present in order to produce Ayu. If any one of the above factor is absent, we cannot say there is life (Ayu). Everything on earth has a physical body and a soul, but whether it also has a mind and senses determine whether it is alive. The reason why a rock is not alive is that some of the factor mentioned above are absent (mind, senses). Prana can not be sustained in the absence of these factors. Every species of animal has each of these four factors, so Prana can circulate and Ayu is present. The sense and minds of animals are different to that of humans but they still exist as living being. Insects and animal may perceive things differently (such as color, odor, sounds, temperature) and the mind may not be well developed as human beings, but the souls are alike. So Ayus is the basis of distinction between inert object and dynamic entities, or living beings.
Ayurveda, the health care system indigenous to India, has an impressive evolutionary history that spans a period of many thousands of years. With the advent of biomedicine, Ayurveda was relegated to the background and there was a time when it looked as though the final word had been said about it. Recently, Ayurveda is getting worldwide attention albeit the nature of the role it can play in contemporary health care scenario is not well defined.
Many still feel that Ayurveda should rest in the annals of history or contend that Ayurveda is a living museum and a promising field for anthropological inquiry. For ethnopharmacologists, Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia is a rich source of information that can facilitate drug development from natural sources. There are people for whom Ayurveda can function in the area of Primary Health Care or as a Medical specialty or even as an independent medical system. For many thinkers, Ayurveda is part of an outdated world view common to cultures of the European and Mid-East Arabian antiquity, but which is still alive in Asian cultures that was exposed to modern science only recently.
There is a viewpoint that progressive research in world health care must include a consideration to early medico-philosophical ideas. Indeed, ancient Ayurvedic thinking might as well provide metaphors that encapsulate templates to organize information on knowledge of life, health and disease from varied sources. However, the fact that Ayurveda still caters to basic health care needs of a significant number of people, especially in areas where modern medicine failed to offer solutions, seems to be the major impetus behind its resurgence in our times.