Ayurveda is one of the oldest kids on the block when it comes to enhancing your mind, body and soul the holistic way. Its roots can be traced back across many centuries. Yet in the modern day, the system’s age-old principles have transformed the way we eat, exercise, live our lives and, more specifically, look after our skin.
As well as enjoying beautiful, radiant skin and alleviating many difficult to manage skin concerns, living your life Ayurveda has been linked to lower stress levels, better heart health, faster recovery, and improved weight loss and management. These are just some of the reasons why Ayurveda remains so popular to this day.
In this blog post, we explore the origins of Ayurveda, a medical system that stretches back thousands of years…
From mythological beginnings
Often referred to as the ‘eternal science’, Ayurveda is said to have existed long before the earth itself. The medical system is a steadfast part of ancient Indian mythology as a result. We’ll let The Mindful Word explain more about Ayurveda’s mythical beginnings which started with the Hindu creator god Brahma:
“Dhanvantari, who was returned to the surface in this myth, was also a grandson of Brahma and the founder of Ayurveda or the ‘science of life’ medicine. He’s believed to have become wise in the ways of optimal health by listening to the gods during meditation. Afterwards, he in turn taught this information to mortal sages. It’s at this time that something resembling a true historical record of Ayurvedic medicine begins.”
The history of Ayurveda begins
Ayurveda was first referred to in literature back in 8000 BC when Ayurvedic master Atreya penned the book, Atreya Samhita. This ancient text contained details of many Ayurvedic principles, offering advice on everything from medicine and surgery to anti-ageing remedies.
Atreya’s works weren’t officially expanded until 3000 to 2000 BC when a famous sage categorised findings in the wider world of Ayurvedic medicine into separate texts or ‘vedas’. The oldest was Rig Veda, which contained a comprehensive guide to Ayurvedic medicine, yoga, diet and lifestyle changes.
Centuries later these vedas paved the way for Ayurvedic medicine to transition from religious discipline to medical system. From approximately 1500 to 1000 BC, schools of Ayurvedic medicine were founded and many more books written, including the Charaka Samhita by ‘father of Ayurvedic medicine’ Charaka.
Ayurvedic medicine goes global
As Ayurveda progressed as a medical system, many civilisations looked to Ayurvedic medicine. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Tibetans and Persians even travelled to India to learn more about Ayurvedic principles, applying what they learned to their own cultures and medical systems.
Ayurveda was particularly popular in the Arabic world during the Middle Ages. But after the invasion of India and the destruction of many medical schools and libraries, its popularity declined. International popularity didn’t rise again until the 16th century, when Akbar the Great Mughal emperor of India encouraged not just the sharing of Ayurvedic findings but the integration of Western medicine.
The colonisation of India in the 1600s saw further interest in the medicinal value of native plants and flowers, particularly from Britain and the Netherlands.
The decline (and revival) of Ayurveda
Whilst during the early days the colonisation of India saw interest in Ayurvedic principles grow, by 1833, all Ayurvedic medical institutions were outlawed. British rule from 1858 also saw the demise of Ayurveda, with Western medicine favoured by most and Ayurvedic medicine predominantly used in rural towns and villages.
Some 60 years later with Gandhi as leader, Indian nationalism grew and so did many parts of the Indian culture. Ayurveda re-emerged as a result, and with independence came the reopening of many Ayurvedic medicine schools that are still teaching today.
Ayurveda in the modern day
Ayurveda is now popular around the world and influences many parts of our lives, including how we care for our skin.
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Don’t forget to find out what your Ayurvedic body type or dosha is by taking our Dosha Quiz too.