Early development of Ayurveda as a complete System
Ayurveda is the system of medicine that evolved in India and has survived as a distinct entity from remote antiquity to the present day. It would be interesting to studythe history of Ayurveda, trace its origin along with other Indian Systems of sciences and thoughts to assess its achievement and its place in the corpus of world medicine. The study of the genesis and evolution of ideas in any sciences is always interesting and often instructive. But it is not solely as an intellectual exercise that the study of Ayurveda is to be viewed. In spite of the spectacular results achieved by modern medicine, mainly through advances in the physical, chemical and natural sciences, there are vast areas of diseases which have eluded its therapeutic ambit and the study of a system of medicine that has stood the test of time may have a fruitful contribution to make in the overall alleviation of human suffering.
All primitive societies have had a collection of remedies for common illnesses, evolved through trial and error methods, accident or by inspiration. But such remedies were purely empirical, and not based on any logical understandings of illness or of drugs. As late as the 17th Century, Moliere, referred to physicians as people, “who poured medicines of which they know little into bodies of which they know less”. The Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, was evolved as a system with a rational and logical foundation. That its basic concepts were not re-examined in the light of the greater understandings of the human environment, that for centuries its methods of treatment underwent little change, and that there have been no addition to its literature for a long time, are charges made against the systems by its critics.
It has to be admitted that after the 8th century A.D no book of outstanding merit was written and the literature from then on upto about the 16th Century consisted mainly of commentaries on the original texts. The last perhaps among the original books was Bhava Prakash, which is about 400 years old. The fundamentals on which the Ayurvedic system of medicine is based are essentially true for all times and do not change from age to age. These fundamentals are based on human factors on intrinsic causes, not extrinsic causes. Civilization may change, human habits may change, the environment may change but humanity remains the same. Changes in the environment, new modes of living, new avocations, all might contribute to certain modifications of a disease or the appearance of new diseases. But disease attacks the human hot, and as long as the human being is very much the same as his ancestor, the reactions to the disease, signs and symptoms would be same. The methods adopted to cure the disease may differ in their form but not in their essential approach.