Ayurveda is a science and yoga of right living that can be used by everyone. Everyone can benefit from learning the basics of Ayurveda as part of understanding one’s body and mind, the power of healing and balanced living, how nature works and the deeper Consciousness behind the universe.
Ayurveda has always been an integral part of Vedic education and taught along with Yoga, Vedanta and the other Vedic sciences. Anyone who studies these yogic and Vedic disciplines should know the basics of Ayurveda. In fact anyone interested in true wellbeing and higher consciousness should look to Ayurveda for guidance.
You don’t have to be a medical practitioner to study Ayurveda or use it for your individual wellbeing on a daily basis. Ayurvedic wellness procedures of diet, herbs, yoga, mantra and meditation can be learned for one’s own personal benefit and to help friends and family. Ayurvedic counseling, psychology and educational approaches are relevant to all as part of a dharmic learning process. The treatment of serious diseases should be left to Ayurvedic doctors or practitioners with clinical experience, but our own daily health requires learning Ayurveda ourselves.
Vedic Background of Ayurveda
Ayurvedic study begin with the philosophy and principles of Yoga including Yoga’s universal ethics of Yamas and Niyamas starting with non-violence and truthfulness. Ayureda teaches us to honor Mother Nature and her processes and to respect all life as sacred down to the Earth itself, her plants, rock formations, soils and waters. Ayurveda includes ecological sustainability relative to our diet, residences and healthcare, along with respect for and non-interference in nature’s myriad ecosystems, which we should preserve.
This Ayurvedic approach to wellness is part of the Ayurvedic view of psychology and mental health, which shares the teachings of Yoga and Vedanta and the promotion of sattvic living and dharmic use of body, prana and senses, while developing higher powers of attention, concentration and discernment. Ayurveda teaches us that introspection and meditation should be part of our daily regimen.
The knowledge of Ayurveda is centered on one’s individual doshic mind-body constitution as the biological humors of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, extending to the play of the three gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in the mind, and the right use of our senses and motor organs. It requires understanding the proper diet, exercise, rest, recreation and sadhana to keep these factors in harmony.
Ayurveda and Self-realization
Ayurveda shares the same orientation as Yoga, Vedanta and all the Vedic sciences. These are all part of the central Vedic science of Self-knowledge and form a comprehensive system of Self-realization (Atma Vidya).
We are karmically responsible for who we are and what we do in life, and cannot let others live or think for us. Ayurvedic therapies and treatments help restore our organic balance and strengthen our prana and mind so we can follow our own inspiration to reach the highest. Yet Ayurvedic treatments are of little value if we ourselves do not follow an Ayurvedic way of life to sustain them.
The basis of our health and happiness dwells in our own attitudes, behavior and actions. What others do for us can help but is not a substitute for our own right living and self-aware action. Learning Ayurveda is part of the Vedic path of Self-discovery and the unfoldment of higher consciousness.
In fact, Ayurveda with its proper care of body and mind and right relationship with our natural environment is the foundation for this deeper way of Self-realization, which is the realization of the Universal Self that pervades all nature, not the mere empowerment of physical or psychological self or ego with its pursuits of pleasure, acquisition and power.
Following the Vedic view of the unity of the individual and the universe as a whole, Ayurveda teaches us that the same forces that work in the world of nature are present within us starting with the five great elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether as the basis of the three Ayurvedic doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Ayurveda recognizes the basis of health in the existence of wholistic forces that unify and bring life and consciousness to the body. It sees the body as ruled by prana, mind and Atman, not merely chemistry or genetics. Ayurveda is about understanding our lives in every aspect and as part for the Self-aware universe, which is relevant for all our daily activities.
We encourage everyone to learn Ayurveda whether they wish to take up an Ayurvedic career or not, just as we encourage everyone to learn the basics of Yoga and Vedanta. There are many educational resources on Ayurveda available. Our own books, articles and courses are part of that and designed to bring the uplifting teachings of Ayurveda to everyone.
Ayurvedic teachings connect you to the entire field of Vedic knowledge, including all the branches of Yoga, Vedanta, Jyotish, and Vastu. It is crucial that we recognize our universal Being and place in the cosmos, not only our place in human society. Ayurveda leads us to the cosmic life which is the very core of our own being. The challenges of the pandemic era make it yet more important that we live an Ayurvedic life in harmony with our own nature. This is only possible if each one of us learns the foundations of Ayurveda as part of our deeper education.
Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)