The term Ayurveda is usually interpreted as the science of life. Indeed it is. But it may be better understood as the science for life. You know that the term Ayurveda is a compound word consisting of two Sanskrit words Ayus and Veda, the former means life and the latter means knowledge or science. The word Veda is from the root vid which has four meanings. The first meaning is ‘knowledge’. Another meaning is ‘to get’. Yet another meaning is ‘to be’. The fourth meaning is ‘to find’ or ‘discover’. Accordingly there are four meanings for the term Ayurveda.
1. The knowledge or science of life.
2. That which provides life – or from which you can get life.
3. That which has life – or where life is present.
4. That which discovers life.
All these meanings are relevant in the case of Ayurveda. It is the knowledge of life, it provides us life, it contains life or information about life and it discloses the intricacies of life. Of them the first meaning is the most appropriate.
When we say that Ayurveda is the science of life, it is equivalent to biology because biology also means the same. (Bios = life; logos = knowledge). But anyone with a primary knowledge of Ayurveda will vouch that Ayurveda is not biology. Biology is a descriptive science whereas Ayurveda is both descriptive and normative. It dictates the norms of proper life. It teaches us how to live. All medical sciences teach us about life and how to live. Essentially any medical science is part of biology. Medical science is an applied science whereas biology is a pure science.
Under the popular concept of today we cannot equate Ayurveda to Medicine, even though Ayurveda also is a system of medicine. There are many other medical systems too. Hence for all practical purposes the term Ayurveda has a limited meaning today and it is only one among the various medical systems.
The purpose of Ayurveda is to preserve and augment the health of the healthy and attempt the cure of the diseases of the sick. Thus Ayurveda is a science which fights against diseases. Why should we fight against diseases? We have to do so to preserve life because diseases tamper life and deprive life off its quality. They even destroy life. There is a constant war going on between life and disease and in this war Ayurveda is at the side of life and is warring for life. Hence Ayurveda is the science for life.
If Ayurveda is for life, for what type of life it is? Oh! All lives are not the same. There is happy life and unhappy life. There is benevolent life and malevolent life. Which type of life should we aspire to? Surely we should aspire to have a happy and benevolent life. Such a life will satisfy us and others.
Ayurveda is not only for the doctors. It is advised for those who desire to live. It has nothing to do with those who want to die. Hence euthanasia is not in the agenda of Ayurveda. Till the last breath of the patient, the attempt of Ayurveda will be to save life and in this task Ayurveda will never leave any stone unturned. Surely, Ayurveda is a science for life.
Ayurveda fights for life with all of the natural healing components. In Ayurveda, we see healing in terms of mind, body, and spirit. The Science uses every possible method in terms of healing the body as in the practice of Yoga, recommendations on exercise, the use of natural herbs, and the applications of natural oils. In terms of healing the mind Ayurveda recommends meditation, chanting, and its own philosophy as to what comprises the mind and how we can better be in control of our mental processes. In terms of the spirit Ayurveda has lengthy recommendations on how to heal your spirit. Essentially, the recommendations come from four main paths to spiritual development as seen in yoga: action (karma), intellect (Jnana), devotion (Bhakti), and (Raja) the science of physical and mental control. One must always be aware of doing the right action. Selfless acts of compassion are the perfect example for the exercise of action in spiritual development. Doing a good act and not expecting anything in return is the key for this type of spiritual development.
Furthermore, the spirit is also expected to be developed in the intellectual contemplation of ourselves. This exercise allows you to contemplate within your reasoning all of the principles of the philosophy of the Vedas and find your place within the Universe and existence. Even further there is devotion or the emotional commitment of worship. This science allows for emotional devotion to the Unifying principle of existence through practices like prayer and chant. Finally there is the full science of physical and mental control. This last part is a complete training on how to control your mental and physical processes. Yoga becomes paramount for this physical development and discipline becomes a key in the exercise of mental control.
In summary, we can see that Ayurveda and Yoga have so much to offer us in terms of healing. One can appreciate how much healing Yoga is bringing to the West and how much Ayurveda can also bring in the future. Once you try Ayurveda you will see how your life will benefit with these natural healing principles. There is no good reason not to try these principles and apply them to your life experience. What do you have to lose? Absolutely nothing. The use of natural herbs and oils in Ayurveda does not cause side effects or any negative effects in your body. So what are you waiting for? Begin to apply the principles of Ayurveda into your life today. You will thank yourself for this in the short term and in the long term.