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definition and origin

“Ayurveda” means the science of life (Ayu = life / Veda = knowledge). Its origins can be traced back over five thousand years to the Atharva Veda whose main patron was a God called Dhanvantari. (Atharva Veda is one of four scriptures collectively known as the Vedas which are the sacred “books” of wisdom and knowledge originating around ancient India and the



The most significant revision of the old Ayurvedic texts came between the 8th and 10th century. This book was called the Charaka Samhita; accompanying it was an equally important text called the Sushruta Samhita – a surgical text. 

Ayurveda is based upon the same school of thought as yoga – the Sankhya Philosophy: This states that creation came into being through a spiritual process, which involved the meeting of Purusha (the soul) and Maya (cosmic delusion). This meeting created Chitta (The heart centre and feeling), Ahamkara (The ego), Manas (The mind), and Buddhi (The intelligence). At this point three Gunas (Magnetic poles) were also created – a positive pole called Sattwa, a neutral pole called Rajas, and a negative pole called Tamas. The Sattwic pole creates thought and intelligence, and the five senses. The Rajasic pole accommodates Prana (Life force), and expresses itself through the five forces of action – communication, manipulation, locomotion, procreation, and excretion, finally, the Tamasic pole, which creates the objects of the sense – which, in turn create the five elements.
Our bodies were, and are, composed of the five elements, which have been combined in sixteen ways to create blood, muscle, bone etc according to this philosophy. The elements also reside in the being in subtle quintessential forms. These forms are Prana (Life force), Tejas (Subtle fire), and Ojas (Creative Essence). Prana is the life force, holding mind, body, and soul together, and governing the entire being. Tejas is the subtle fire causing the transformations necessary to sustain life and transpose energies. Finally, Ojas is the pliable glue, which integrates mind, body, and soul together.


These three subtle energies manifest at a grosser level in the body to satisfy all the body’s requirements. Prana manifests as Vata – which comprises ether and air; Tejas manifests as Pitta – which comprises fire and water; and Ojas manifests as Kapha – which comprises water and earth. These grosser manifestations are known as Doshas (faults- things which are prone to error)