- Ayurveda (from ayus, “life,” and veda, “knowl-edge”) is the ancient tradition of medicine in India. It is said to originate in the ATHARVA VEDA. The text Ayurveda, which is no longer extant, was said to have been written by Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods.Ayurveda stresses the close observation and diagnosis of the patient by the doctor. Medicines are not prescribed so universally as in Western allopathic medicine; when they are prescribed they are tailored to the bodily tendencies of the patient.Much of Ayurvedic medicine is based on the understanding of three humorlike systems in the body called wind, bile, and phlegm. Imbal-ances in these humors are seen to be the cause of various ailments of body and mind. Diet, herbs, water, minerals, and other treatments are used for cures. Some, but not all, of Ayurvedic treatment is homeopathic. The ancient tradition of Ayurveda was first put into textual form (the Charaka Sam-hita) by Charaka or Agnivesha, who claimed that he drew on the Ayurveda of Dhanvantari.Further reading: Ram Karan Sharma and Bhagwan Dash, trans. and critical exposition, Agnivesa’s Cara-kasamhita. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Studies, Vol. 94 (Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 2002); Vasant Dattatray Lad, Secrets of the Pulse: The Ancient Art of Ayurvedic Pulse Diagnosis (Albuquerque, N. Mex.: Ayurvedic Press, 1996); K. G. Zysk, Religious Medicine: The History and Evolution of Indian Medicine (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1993).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.