Ayurveda, the science of life, is the natural healing system of India, its traditional medicine going back to ancient times. The same great Vedic seers and sages that produced India’s original systems of yoga and meditation established Ayurveda as well. Ayurveda originated as part of Vedic Science, an integral spiritual science that provides a comprehensive understanding of the entire universe of matter, mind and consciousness. Vedic Science includes yoga, meditation, mantra and astrology, and sets forth Ayurveda as its special branch for healing both body and mind. On this broad and profound background, Ayurveda includes herbal medicine, dietetics, bodywork, surgery, psychology and spirituality.
Ayurveda is the healing gift to us from the ancient enlightened Vedic culture. According to astronomical records in ancient Vedic texts, the Vedic system, including Ayurveda, was in practice before 4000 BC, when the vernal equinox occurred in the stars of Gemini and the now dry Sarasvati river was the greatest river in India. Ayurveda reflects healing wisdom of this ancient Sarasvati culture that was one of the great cradles of world civilization.
Ayurveda has gone through several stages of development in its long history. It spread east along with Indian culture into Indonesia and Indochina, and to the west to the Greeks, who developed a similar form of natural medicine. Buddhists added many new insights to Ayurveda and took it along with their religion to many different lands. Ayurveda became the basis of the healing traditions of Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Burma and also influenced Chinese medicine, Many great Buddhist sages, like Nagarjuna, perhaps the most important figure in the Buddhist tradition after the Buddha, were Ayurvedic doctors and authors. Ayurveda therefore is a rich tradition, adaptable to many different times, cultures and climates.
Today Ayurveda, in yet another stage of development, is reaching out to the western world and addressing modern conditions. Ayurveda is part of a new movement towards a global medicine that includes the best in the medicines of all lands. A new natural planetary medicine is emerging, largely through an examination of traditional medicines of native peoples throughout the world.
Ayurveda is probably the best place of synthesis for such a global medicine. It contains perhaps the broadest number of healing modalities. It retains much of the language of alchemy, which was a global medical and spiritual tradition in ancient times. The medicine of India has much in common with older Chinese and European traditions, and can serve as a point of integration between them. The medicine necessary to heal the planet and usher in a new age of world unity is already contained in this, perhaps the oldest of all healing systems.