Ayurveda means the ‘knowledge of life’, and is India’s ancient medical system, dating back some 10,000 years.
It works on the theory that everybody is a unique individual and biological type and hence different needs such as foods or diet, lifestyle and such need to be modified to suit them and their disease state, not a generic model.
In Ayurveda, we aim at targeting the root cause of disease rather than merely the symptoms alone and assesses all aspects of our past-history and our current predicaments through various examinations.
Ayurveda has traditionally aimed at treating many conditions from the common cold, to diabetes and arthritis to issues as complex as cancer. Its age-old system of examination and diagnosis, as also detoxification and medicines can help alleviate many conditions.
Common issues as Prostate Cancer and BPH (enlarged prostate) plague many men, as several gynecological issues plague women, and other disorders as Gastrointestinal disorders as IBS and Crohn’s can be effectively managed through Ayurvedic dietary regimes, medicines etc. Ayurveda also has a specific branch dealing with pediatrics and psychology as well – covering all disorders, of which, classical Ayurveda lists over 1100 different illnesses.
Ayurveda works by targeting the root cause of diseases, which often like on our daily habits and food habits – not only what we are eating, but what condiments and spices we are adding with it; how we are cooking it, when we are eating them etc.
Ayurveda works on assessing the elements within one’s body from a combination of dual elements, forming three humours, viz. akasha (space) and vayu (air), known as Vata, agni (fire) and jala (water), known as Pitta and jala (water) and prithivi (earth), known as Kapha.
These three are known as blemishes (doshas) and when they become excess in the body, one can suffer disorders. The individual constitution however is known as Prakritidosha, meaning one’s natural state / predisposed nature to various categories of disorders, which can be of either one or a combination of the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha), according to the elemental makeup of the individual and various traits.
As per these variations, there are predisposed “body types” (natural biological states, called prakriti – nature) that have a natural inborn tendency towards various sets of disorders as well as specific biological rhythms, based on their quantitative biological features and build. Apart from this, there exist also those disorders delineating from these typical ‘tendencies / naturally healthy states / features’ (i.e. abnormal states and excesses not as a result of biological predispositions) – called vikriti, which are assessed and categorised into various diseases and their sub-categories in their own right. These can be caused by abnormalities or excesses due to psychological factors, dietary factors, seasonal and climatic changes, age, sex etc. that can temporarily create an abnormal change in characteristics to one’s normal predisposition or states – and can sometimes be a result of one’s own tendency to suffer from a unique set of disorders due to their temporal excesses or sensitivities within their own prakriti. A vata person exposed to colder climates than normal for example, may develop severe vata disorders beyond their merely temporal aches, pains etc. and even additional issues such as phlegmatic conditions.
In addition, Ayurveda looks at a separate set of psychological types (manasika prakritis) their own respective psychological disorders, which forms a special branch of Ayurveda altogether outside these “doshas“. These causes may be due to karma / genetic factors, diet, lifestyle or even psychological and other factors, which are assessed during the consultation. While Durgadas provides a more in-depth examination beyond these phenotypes, these are given here for a basic understanding of how this works.
Raw vegetables diets for example can be useful for some body-types, but harmful for others as they can create gas, light-headedness, constipation and severe disorders from headaches to Parkinson’s Disease and Arthritis over time, for example.
In addition, Ayurveda has a range of Detoxification methods
This is a broad and complex question, but yes – Ayurveda has in fact been the basis of healing systems not only in India, China, Japan and the rest of Asia, but also the Arab world and Europe. Many Indian Ayurvedic texts were translated into Arabic and then into Latin in Europe, which became the basis of much surgery in the Middle-East and Europe during the Middle-Ages.
Greek medicine itself was heavily influenced by it and it includes several surgical techniques also, which the modern world has adopted indirectly.
Charaka (1500bce) also described Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in the world for the first time, and Ayurveda knew the use of prosthetic or artificial limbs back over 5,000 years ago, as well as describing some 300 surgical procedures, as well as the use of 120 types of surgical instruments and 1120 illnesses and their treatment by around 1000bce.
Plastic surgery (Rhinoplasty) itself comes from Ayurveda, learnt by the British surgeon Joseph Constantine Carpue, who learnt this technique from the Ayurvedic surgeons of India based on ancient methods – aimed at reconstructing ears, noses and lips that were cut off in battle or fights in India. Other complex operations for removing Cancerous growths followed up with cauterization (today’s modern method is Radiation therapy) , C-Sections, removal of Urinary stones, Cataracts, removal of the Prostate gland, repairing perforated intestines, drainage of fluids and more were performed in Sushruta’s time about 4000 years ago as also removal of teeth, with Ayurvedic dentistry (drilling teeth) having a 9000 year old history (in Mehrgarh).
The text “Bhoja-prabandha” of about 980AD deals with the life of the great King Raja Bhoja. In it, it was stated he was suffering from a brain tumour and two Ayurvedic surgeons were brought to him. Using a special drug, they made him unconscious, opened his skull, took out the tumour and then restored the skull with special Ayurvedic techniques and with another medicine, brought him back to consciousness.
After this, Raja Bhoja was fine and lead a normal life, free from any complications.
Hence, not only was brain surgery well-known in Ayurveda, but also medicines that induced comas and reversed the effects for complex operations also.
Hindus also gave us our numerals and mathematics we use today over the Roman numerals, and such things as Trigonometry, Algebra etc. Before Pythagoras, they knew the value of Pi by 3000bce in the Indus Valley cities and in texts dating to 800bce.
Modern medicine is slowly beginning to realise the benefits of systems such as Ayurveda, which has the ability to treat various conditions deemed ‘incurable‘ by conventional medicine.
It is hence a very scientific system.
No. As a matter of fact, NONE of these are actually part of Traditional Ayurveda at all and form parts of the New-Age Ayurveda or occultism.
Traditionally, Pranic-Healing actually involved simple healing of the psyche by specific breathing techniques (known as pranayamas) in Yoga, which have various psycho-physical effects and help bring in oxygenation of the brain, the blood etc. and hence help with the body. Other breathing techniques are slow and help calm down the mind in cases of anxiety and stress and stimulate the mind in cases of depression and lethargy. Certain breathing techniques are also fast and heating as well. Even the meridians in the body and marmas (vital points) were helped in this way, via breath and controlling breathing in the body and the psycho-physical effects of several breathing techniques in the greater Yoga tradition.
The Reiki and Pranic Healing techniques that are commonly passed off in Ayurveda and Yoga actually have no place traditionally and are modern inventions. They have simply placebo effects upon weaker minds of people.
As for Chakra-healing and balancing – chakras externally are simply locations of various organs in the body. They also represent various psychological stages inwardly or realms of consciousness and play a part in deeper Yogic and Ayurvedic psychology, but correspond to the deeper sides of these alone. They are not to be “balanced” and such by hand movements, gemstones and other techniques, which are also New Age nonsense that fails to understand the various levels and depths of Yoga and Ayurvedic psychology they correspond to, or states of realisation. Each chakra itself also has various levels that one can get caught in mentally, or states of awareness, if we like.
Even meditations were traditionally prescribed as per the person’s biology, their psychology and any diseases or psychological imbalances, as the Seers knew deeply the science of the mind. As an example, Buddhism classifies 52 states of the mind, while in Yoga there can be several – up to one hundred or more. Thus, every individual is different. In bilious people, the idea of the Sun, a fiery image for example could bring on more anger in them and aggravate their bile.
Gemstones were used as a part of planetary therapies and psychology via colour-therapy, like mantras. The ancient Seers of India understood that certain colours and sounds affected the psyche and hence some were good for some people and not for others, according to their biological compositions, as they could agitate them. These biological rhythms were regarded as the composition of ‘elements’ and ‘qualities’ one personally possessed in their DNA and what would be likely to aggravate them, according to sounds (mantras, since Sanskrit is composed of various aksharas or syllables according to the science of sound or Nada Yoga) as also colours. Gemstones being precious and expensive were hence commonly used as a source of colours or impressions into the person’s psyche on a daily basis, as was clothing.
This depends much on your own approach and determination, as much as the medications and lifestyle and dietary changes.
Ayurveda as the ‘knowledge of life’ is about knowing what exercises, foods and herbs as well as other things to do according to one’s climate, environment, the seasons as also one’s age and working with such factors to ensure they do not affect the health.
Generally for most disorders however, if one sticks to the above guidelines, then results can appear within three months, although some may take longer. Much also depends on one’s predisposed state at the time of commencing treatment and also their psychology and strength as well.
We must remember that we are taking in several toxins in our bodies through decades, and it takes time to remove these, restore proper metabolism to the body and begin to restore harmony.
As Ayurveda provides us with many tools to work with on a daily basis for optimum health, we can practice these throughout our lives to keep ourselves healthy and fit; knowing which exercises are best for us and when to do them, as also what spices and foods are best for us and how to cook them, as also daily routines, such as the care of the nasal cavities, mouth and tongue, hair, eyes etc.
This is a very common question we get asked. Sadly, today’s New Age-style or Westernised Ayurveda has designed a “Panchakarma for all” model, which is usually just Spa Ayurveda techniques, passed off as detoxification. True Panchakarma isn’t the same as the modern-day “cleanses” in various clinics and spas that claim to be truly Ayurvedic or Panchakarma-therapies and can in fact, be quite dangerous!
Traditionally, surgery (shalyatantra) and detoxification (shodhana), the latter of which is part of Panchakarma, the five actions of detoxing the body, were suited to select individuals, according to their diseases, stage of life and ability to undergo the treatment. Otherwise, these could cause harm to the person.
Before recommending Panchakarma regimes in India – for both cost-effectiveness, as also to utilise the greater number of therapists traditionally required and fresh medicines in greater quantity, we assess individuals for their suitability. Sometimes simple shamana (palliative) methods, restorative diets and herbs are required alone. There is no hard and fast rule for Panchakarma for all, though it has its uses in various cases and always has to be tailoired to the individual and their diseases, not generic.
Yoga works with Ayurveda not simply on the physical aspect of exercise (vyayama), but also as an integral part of Ayurvedic Psychology, itself one of the eight branches of Ayurveda as a specialised field inits own right.
It hence brings in several techniques for all disorders to clear the mind and remove factors behind mental issues and employs Mantras as sound-therapy as also Aromas and Colour-therapies suited to one on a personal level; this is why the mass-instruction of Yoga is harmful and not traditional, as it is not tailored to suit the individual needs on all levels.
On the physical level, Yoga works by awakening the digestive fire to keeping the joints free and supple, helping to avoid Muskuloskeletal disorders, as well as issues such as Asthma with breathing techniques and such also.
Yoga is hence not simply about being very flexible, and is suited to the individual alone and their own limitations etc. after a complete examination of all aspects, physiological and psychological.
Ayurveda and Yoga are thus not only sister-sciences, not complimentary sciences and have always gone together traditionally in India, tailored to suit the individual, and in accordance with dietary and lifestyle regimens also.
Today in the West, many have created a ‘pasteurised Ayurveda’, reducing it down to Spa and Wellness alone, and neglecting the greater ancient medical and spiritual side of Ayurveda and it’s integral tradition.
Where these sides are integrated, especially in New Zealand, they are superficial at best, especially with those from non-Indian backgrounds trying to grasp these concepts superficially with a newly-born introduction of them. Durgadas however has grown up with these traditions and practices, as well as practiced them himself for the past 17+ years and has his own healing journey with Ayurveda also!
Durgadas not only comes from a long lineage of traditional Vedic people of the Brahmin (Priestly) caste of India, but has also specially trained in all aspects of Ayurveda in India under traditionally-trained Vaidyas (Ayurvedic Doctors) and therapists who form a part of the Ashtavaidya system of Ayurveda, going back some 1500 years in India and having older roots in Kalari (Martial arts).
In addition, Durgadas give special consideration to Ayurveda and the Mind and it’s role in healing, as well as goes beyond the normal Constitutional and Diagnostic analysis in Ayurveda, which today is mainly of a mechanical nature alone; he brings in the deeper original methods of assessing the mind-body complex in a more complex and Integral manner, carefully considering all aspects of the person before giving treatments or diets, which are also specially tailored to the individual, as also with several insights learned from classical texts in Tradition that are greatly ignored today.
David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) has praised Durgadas and his knowledge by stating he:
“Has a deep understanding of the esoteric doctrines, mantras and yoga practices that is extremely rare today even in senior teachers in India today.
“Along with this he has the ability to express the teachings in extensive writings that cover all the main aspects of Vedic and Yogic concern.
As an Ayurvedic Vaidya, he has new insights as to the disease process based upon his extensive study and research with herbs and mantras.”
You can hence be rest assured you are in good, experienced and insightful hands with Durgadas, who will also answer you many queries regarding the deeper history and philosophy behond Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology and other related branches of Indian sciences, as a traditional Veda Kovid.