Ayurveda | Ayurvedic Medicine
is an Indian healing system. The term means "the knowledge about body, mind, senses and soul.". Ayurvedice medicine is heavily promoted by, among others, Deepak Chopra
Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit
words: Ayu which means life and Veda which means the knowledge of. To know about life is Ayurveda. However, to fully comprehend the vast scope of Ayurveda let us first define "Ayu" or life. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, "ayu" is comprised of four essential parts. The combination of mind, body, senses and the soul.
Ayurvedic medicine is set of practices
promoted by proponents of transcendental meditation
(TM). Ayurveda (meaning "life knowledge") is a traditional Indian approach that includes meditation, "purification" procedures, rejuvenation therapies, herbal and mineral preparations, exercises and dietary advice based on "body type." Its origin is traceable to four Sanskrit books called the Vedas
-- the oldest and most important scriptures of India, shaped sometime before 200 BCE. These books attributed most disease and bad luck to demons, devils, and the influence of stars and planets. Ayurveda's basic theory states that the body's functions are regulated by three "irreducible physiological principles" called doshas, whose Sanskrit names are vata
, and kapha
. Like the "sun signs" of astrology, these terms are used to designate body types as well as the traits that typify them. Like astrologic writings, ayurvedic writings contain long lists of supposed physical and mental characteristics of each constitutional type. Through various combinations of vata
, and kapha
, ten body types are possible. However, one's doshas
(and therefore one's body type) can vary from hour to hour and season to season.
Ayurvedic proponents claim that the symptoms of disease are always related to "imbalance" of the doshas, which can be determined by feeling the patient's wrist pulse or completing a questionnaire. Some proponents claim that the pulse can be used to detect diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal disease, asthma, and "imbalances at early stages when there may be no other clinical signs and when mild forms of intervention may suffice." "Balance" is supposedly achieved through a multitude of procedures and products, many of which are said to be specific for specific body types. The full Maharishi Ayur-Ved program for "creating healthy individuals and a disease-free society" has 20 components: development of higher states of consciousness through advanced meditation techniques, use of primordial sounds, correction of "the mistake of the intellect," strengthening of emotions, Vedic structuring of language, music therapy, enlivening of the senses, pulse diagnosis, psychophysiological integration, neuromuscular integration, neurorespiratory integration, purification (to remove "impurities due to faulty diet and behavioral patterns"), dietary measures, herbal food supplements, other herbal preparations, daily behavioral routines, prediction of future imbalances, religious ceremonies, nourishing the environment, and promoting world health and world peace. Most of these cost several hundred dollars, but some cost thousands and require the services of an ayurvedic practitioner
A report from the British House of Lords Committee on Science and Technology downgrades the ancient Indian system of medicine called Ayurveda, claiming the system lacks any scientific basis. It has provoked angry protests from the Indian government and charges of racist bias from ayurvedic proponents in the UK.
Ayurveda is a holistic system of healing that has been practiced in India over several millennia and has a considerable following.
Ayurveda / Mind Body Medicine:
Ayurveda is a form of Indian folk medicine that has been practiced for at least two thousand years. It was first promoted in the United States by disciples of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ("Deepak Chopra and Maharishi Ayurvedic Medicine," <http://web.archive.org/web/20050225094801/http://www.trancenet.org/chopra/news/ncahf.shtml
Ayurvedic medicine is essentially, to use Chopra's term, "mind body medicine." This form of medicine "offers new possibilities for promoting and improving health through natural approaches that stimulate our body's intrinsic healing system" ("Mind Body Medicine," <http://web.archive.org/web/20000815070702/http://www.chopra.com/aboutmindbody.htm
>). Ayurvedic practitioners engage in meditation techniques, balanced nutrition, yoga, and exercise to enhance their health and reduce stress (Ibid.).
A statement made by Triguna at the end of his first meeting with Chopra had a profound impact on Chopra's later ideology: "Ayurveda is very clear about the goal of life. It is to be happy and to receive wise and happy thoughts from every part of the universe" (Return of the Rishi, p. 110). Chopra restated the principle: "You are what you think" (Creating Health, p. 92). The purpose of ayurveda is to attain balance between mind, body, and environment; Chopra writes, "Ayurveda takes the vista of man to be infinite. The universe is the macrocosm, man is the microcosm" (Return of the Rishi, p. 113).
Simply stated, the universe consists of a single energy or consciousness; this energy is the "field of all possibilities" (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, p. 9). Chopra also refers to this field as the "quantum soup." This energy field, which is endlessly creative and positive, is the source for all existing beings (including humans). When humans are completely open to the "flow" of this energy field, they will be happy and healthy. They become unhappy and unhealthy, and age more poorly, when they block this flow (Creating Health, p. 102). The practices of ayurveda are intended to lower a person's resistance to the flow of the universal energy field.
Chopra correctly points out that the medical community does not widely accept ayurvedic medicine. Because his medical practices are "experimental," the Chopra Center for Well Being is not a licensed medical care facility, and ayurvedic treatment is not covered by most insurance programs ("Frequently Asked Questions," <http://web.archive.org/web/20000618190756/http://www.chopra.com/ccwbfaq.htm
>). Instead of healing his clients from their diseases, Chopra focuses on "self-empowering knowledge and experience of the achievement of balance" (Ibid.).
Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs
by John Ankerberg
and John Weldon
. Among other subjects addresses alternative healing approaches.
Discussion list at Yahoogroups
» Religion News Blog's Ayurveda news archive
RNB logs current and archived news about religious cults, sects, alternative religions and related issues.
Database of archived news items on Ayurveda
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database
For newer items, see Religion News Blog
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First posted: Jan. 13, 2002
Last updated: Jul. 30, 2010
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