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Classical texts of Ayurveda

The Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridaya

These date back to around 400 CE, and were written by a physician of Ayurveda in the Sindh region of India. While the Sangraha was originally written in poetry, the Hridayam was presented as prose. It's in these two texts that the five subdoshas of Kapha are defined. These three "great" collections of texts were thought to have come along later than the first two, and introduced the Kapha sub-doshas. With this modern organization of the doshas, each of the humors: Kapha, Vata, and Pitta are listed and described. These works high- light treating physiology and provide ideas for the beneficial use of both minerals and metals.

There are other, more minor, classics of Ayurveda. Sharngadhara Samhita is an exposition of principles. It's prized for the description of many phar- macological preparations, and it's the first time we see pulse being used as a way to diagnose patients. One of the most recent texts, the Bhava Prakasha, is from the 16th Century, and was recently available in English. It contains a re presentation of the earlier texts, including over 10,000 verses dealing with the characteristics of multiple foods, plants, and minerals. The Madhava Nidanam includes classifications of diseases in Ayurveda. From 700 AD, it is for going over a wide variety of medical diseases found in women and children, as well as toxicology, and ear/nose/throat diagnoses. There are plenty of educational materials regarding the traditional and historical records of Ayurveda. Dozens of translations and study-guides are available, and if you have an interest in the origins and heart of this practice, I urge you to dive deep into these texts and read the poetry therein.

For example, in Indian philosophy, there are six major schools of orthodox Indian-Hindu philosophy. These include Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. The Samkhya philosophy is the foundation of both yoga and Ayurveda. Samkhya describes how Universal Spirit has changed into physical reality, and clarifies why spirit needs this presence of matter. This ex- plains how our physical world came to become the foundation of other philo- sophical structures. By establishing a basic dualism between consciousness and matter, it demonstrates a physical world through which that awareness can be experienced or observed. This accounts for why we formed bodies and sensory organs so our souls can achieve their desire to experience. This philosophy also considers a need of our Souls to rediscover their identity and that every knower requires a "known" to realize itself. With the method that this Samkhya uses for considering reality, the spiritual sciences of Ayurveda and yoga were formed.

Turning our attention to the philosophical and cultural background that Ayurveda is at its roots, we examine the basic instincts of life. Just as in our cells, those basic instincts include attraction for pleasure and repulsion for pain. It is a study of life as a whole, and it's not exclusively regarding healing the body's ailments. Because of this, there is a vastness and depth to Ayurve- da that cannot be grasped or even fathomed with just one reading. It is a practice of theory and application that are meant to be steadily and slowly mastered. This isn't to say that you shouldn't learn about Ayurveda and what it can do in your life. It's a suggestion that you continue learning about Ayurveda in your journey, and that you acknowledge that there is a much deeper understanding regarding the interconnectedness of everything that can only be ascertained through in-depth study. You should experiment by picking up things here and there and practice using medicines and lifestyle changes that relate to your dosha. That will not require anything but a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles. The main one being that ALL living beings are striving to become happy-whether consciously or unconsciously.

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