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 The secret of Áyurveda’s individualized healing method was preserved in India, whereas it has been lost or superseded in other cultures.
Áyurveda (pronounced Aa-yer-vay-da), said to 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, astrology, spiritual business, government, military, poetry, and ethical living. These are known as the Vedas: Rig,Sama, Yajur, and Atharva. Áyurveda was used along with Vedic astrology (called Jyotißh, that is, one’s “inner light”). Eventually, Áyurveda was organized into its own compact system of health and considered a branch of Atharva Veda. This upaveda/branch dealt with the healing aspects of spirituality; although, it did not directly treat spiritual development. Passages related to Áyurveda from the various Vedas were combined into separate books dealing only with Áyurveda. Among the ¼ik Veda’s 10,572 hymns are discussions of the three constitutions (doshas): air (Váyu), fire (Pitta), and water (Kapha).
Qualities of the Three Doshas(Humours)
Parallel to the three gunas (sattwa, rajas, and tamas) in creation are the three doshas, or constitutions, in the human body: Váyu (or Váta), Pitta, and Kapha. Váyu may be understood as nerve force, electro-motor, physical activity or that,which is responsible for motion. It is commonly called air. The root, ‘va’ means to spread. In Western terms, it is the electricity setting the organism into motion, maintaining the equilibrium between Pitta and Kapha (inerts).
(Source : The Ãyurveda Encyclopedia by Swami Sadashiva Tirtha)