Ayurveda is the most ancient science of all the medical sciences. Like Yoga, it is also based on Samkhya philosophy of creation and manifestation.
The union of body, sense organs, mind and soul is called ‘Ayu‘; ‘Veda‘ means knowledge. Thus, ayurveda is the ‘science of health’, ‘science of longevity’, ‘science of life’. Ayurveda therefore is not simply a health care system but a form of lifestyle adopted to maintain perfect balance and harmony within the human existence i.e. from the most abstract transcendental values to the most concrete physiological expressions based on premise that life represents an intelligent coordination of the soul, mind, senses and physical body.
Indian Sages have seen man in depth, a depth dimension of the human personality. They discovered in an individual, there is a physical dimension, an intellectual dimension and there is a deeper spiritual dimension. They discovered this profound dimension penetrating the external body system, internal nervous system, and internal psychic system in every human being, and called it the ‘atman’ – the pure Self. Today, the world is researching on this ‘science of spiritual strength’; it is this yearning that is attracting people world over towards India’s great philosophies and Yoga
Ayurveda defines a human as an assemblage of the five great elements plus the immaterial self i.e. atman. According to Ayurveda, our basic constitution (combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha) is determined at the time of conception. This constitution is called Prakriti. Prakriti is taken as the base-point of an individual and is fixed throughout the lifetime of an individual. Different people have different combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha as their basic constitution. Prakriti in an individual is unique just as fingerprint or DNA. This is how Ayurveda explain the subtle differences between individuals and explain why and how everyone is unique i.e. reacting differently when exposed to the same environment or stimuli. Thus, in order to understand an individual, it is necessary to determine his prakriti.
Ideally, this constitution remains fixed throughout the life. Unfortunately, it is not the case. Every individual is subject to constant interaction with environment which impacts his basic constitution. This current condition is called vikriti. The body tries to maintain a dynamic equilibrium or balance with the environment adjusting to inborn base constitution as closely as possible. But, if the current proportion of this gap i.e. ‘doshas’ differs significantly from original constitutional proportion, it indicates imbalances. This imbalance results in illnesses. Farther the vikriti from prakriti, more ill the person is. Ayurveda teaches that our vikriti can be changed by following the principles and methods of ayurvedic treatments like panchkarma and combining it with the “Means of YOGA” – meditation, diet etc to approach our prakriti – state of perfect health!