Ayurveda Simplified

Your Guidebook to the Basics of Ayurveda


Trends have always been an integral part of human society. With the rise of social media, we are more aware of them than ever before.

One timeless trend that has consistently influenced the health and lifestyle industry is Ayurveda. However, what exactly is Ayurveda? This article serves as your guide to understanding the basics of this ancient holistic system.

The name Ayurveda is derived from two Sanskrit words: ‘Ayu’ meaning life & ‘Veda' meaning knowledge/science. Therefore, Ayurveda translates to the ‘science of life’ - a complete health system encompassing both preventive and curative aspects, promoting overall well-being.

The Three Primary Books of Ayurveda

Ayurveda's foundational knowledge is derived from three primary texts collectively known as the Brihat Trayi, or 'Great Trio':

1. Charaka Samhita: Authored by Acharya Charaka, this ancient text focuses on internal medicine. It covers physiology, diagnosis, treatment of diseases and daily routines for maintaining health. It’s noted for its detailed descriptions of Ayurvedic principles and holistic healthcare.

2. Sushruta Samhita: Written by Acharya Sushruta, this text is renowned for its detailed descriptions of surgical techniques and procedures. It also covers anatomy, toxicology and the management of fractures. Sushruta is often referred to as the father of surgery in Ayurveda.

 3. Ashtanga Hridayam: Compiled by Vagbhata, this text is a concise compilation of the teachings from Charaka and Sushruta Samhita. It focuses on the eight branches of Ayurveda and provides practical guidelines for daily living and health management.These texts form the cornerstone of Ayurvedic education and practice, offering age-old wisdom on maintaining balance in health.

The Father of Ayurveda

Acharya Charaka
, known as the 'Father of Ayurveda,' was a visionary, far ahead of his time. While contemporary scientists grappled with the basics of anatomy, Charaka excelled in human anatomy, embryology, pharmacology and understanding complex diseases like diabetes, tuberculosis, and cardiovascular disorders.

 His holistic approach to healthcare emphasized the balance between mind, body, and environment. According to Charaka, health and diseases are not predetermined but significantly influenced by lifestyle and surroundings.

He stressed that living in harmony with nature leads to a healthy and serene life which resonates profoundly in today's wellness culture. His work laid the foundation for a timeless medical tradition that continues to thrive globally.


Ayurveda identifies seven fundamental layers or tissues in the human body, known as the Sapta Dhatus. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Dhätu’, meaning ‘that which holds’, Dhatus represent the building blocks of our physical structure and are responsible for maintaining the overall health and functioning of the body. These layers are essential for sustaining life and health:

1. Rasa (Plasma): The nourishing fluid that supplies nutrients to all body tissues and organs.

2. Rakta (Blood): Responsible for oxygenating tissues and sustaining life.

3. Mamsa (Muscle): Provides support and strength to the body, enabling movement and physical activity.

4. Meda (Fat): Acts as a lubricant, stores energy and provides insulation to the body.

5. Asthi (Bone): Gives structure and support to the body, protecting vital organs.

6. Majja (Bone Marrow): Fills the bone cavities, produces blood cells and supports the nervous system.

7. Shukra (Reproductive Tissue): Responsible for reproduction and vitality, playing a key role in the continuation of life.These layers work synergistically to maintain overall health and wellness, with each layer supporting and nourishing the others.

The Six Stages of Disease in Ayurveda

Ayurveda views the development of a disease as a step-by-step process involving various stages, each marked by specific changes in the body. This process is described by the Six Stages of Disease, also known as ‘Shat kriya kala’ in Sanskrit. Here’s what these six stages mean:

Sanchaya (Accumulation): The initial stage where doshas accumulate in their respective sites due to imbalances.

Prakopa (Aggravation): Doshas become aggravated and start to overflow from their sites.

Prasara (Spread): Aggravated doshas spread throughout the body, affecting other tissues and organs.

Sthana Samshraya (Localization): Doshas localize in weak or susceptible areas, leading to disease formation.

Vyakti (Manifestation): Symptoms of the disease become evident and diagnosable.

Bheda (Complication): Disease progresses to a chronic or complicated state, potentially causing irreversible damage

The six stages of disease in Ayurveda highlight early detection, prevention and holistic interventions, which help us foster a deep connection with our bodies and nature. These stages guide us towards true well-being and harmony with the universe.

Clinical Branches of Ayurveda

Ayurveda encompasses eight well-developed clinical branches, known as Ashtanga Ayurveda:

1. Kaya Chikitsa (Internal Medicine) deals with the prevention, etiology, prognosis and management of diseases.

2. Bala Chikitsa (Pediatrics) deals with prenatal and postnatal baby care. It also includes suggestions for the care of the mother before conception, during pregnancy and after delivery of the baby.

3. Grahacikitsa (Psychiatry) deals with mental diseases and their treatment. It describes diet, herbs and other healing methods for improving one’s state of mind.

4. Urdhwanga Chikitsa (Ear, Nose, Throat and Eye diseases): The ayurvedic branch on Oto-rhinolaryngology and Ophthalmology.

5. Shalya Tantra (Surgery) deals with all surgical conditions, involving the correction of pathological conditions due to either external causes (such as foreign bodies) or internal causes such as ulcers or a dead fetus.

FUN FACT: The first recorded plastic surgery in medical history is described in Susruta Samhita. He explained the dissection of cadavers and the method of preserving them, as well as 101 kinds of blunt instruments (yantra) and 20 kinds of sharp instruments (shastra).

6. Agada Tantra (Toxicology): Toxins can affect the body either through external causes (e.g., snake bites or insect bites) or through food/medicine. This branch deals with managing such conditions and also with the toxicity and purification of herbs, minerals and animal products.

7. Rasayana (The Science of Rejuvenation) deals with maintaining health, regaining youthfulness and promoting a healthy life.
8. Vajikarana (The Science of Aphrodisiacs) deals with the means and suggestions for achieving healthy and intelligent progeny and promotion of virility.These branches cover a comprehensive range of medical knowledge and practices, reflecting the holistic nature of Ayurveda in addressing all aspects of health and well-being.


Recommended Ayurveda Books for Beginners
For those interested in delving deeper into Ayurveda & wellbeing, here are some highly recommended books that cater to beginners:

1. Ayurveda Simplified by Dr Nisha Manikantan: This book covers the basics of Ayurveda and provides practical guidance on Ayurvedic principles. It offers personalized health assessments and actionable steps for balance and vitality. With dietary guidelines, lifestyle practices, and natural remedies, it is among the best Ayurveda books for beginners and an essential book for leading an Ayurvedic lifestyle.

2. Ayurveda & Breath: This book explores the connection between breath and well-being, showing how pranayama (breathing techniques) can help manage emotions and prevent diseases. It is one of the best books on Ayurveda for beginners, emphasizing holistic health through breath control.

3. Fast Food (English) By Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, offers insights on the dos and don’ts of fasting and helps to integrate fasting into a balanced lifestyle. It also helps you to understand and practice Ayurvedic principles of fasting.

Ayurveda offers a profound and comprehensive system of medicine that addresses the root causes of disease and promotes holistic well-being. By understanding its foundational texts, core principles and key concepts, beginners can embark on a journey towards a balanced and healthy life.
Whether through the study of its classic texts, the exploration of its clinical branches or the incorporation of its practices into daily routines, Ayurveda provides timeless wisdom for achieving optimal health and harmony.