November 11, 2008

Ayurveda in Ancient Tamil Nadu


During the time of Emperor Asoka, Ayurveda was introduced to the countries where his envoys carried the message of Lord Buddha. Buddhist monks preached their religion while providing medical services to the people. Buddhism enjoyed the highest recognition in India during the period between the 4th and 7th century A.D. when Universities of Taxsila, Nalanda and Varanasi, offered Ayurveda as one of their major courses.

          The names of the ethical texts written by Buddhist and Jain scholars of Tamil Nadu during this period carried the names of popular Ayurvedic medicinal preparations such as Sirupanchamoolam (the five small roots) and Eladhi (Cardamom and others) as their title. Thrikadugam is the title of another ethical text written in the same period. Thrikadugam is a popular Ayurvedic prescription that contains three herbs, dried ginger, black pepper and long pepper. Each verse in this book lists three healthy life styles that are as important as the medicine Thrikadugam .

 
Having a faithful wife (prevention of sexually transmitted diseases), being the descenednt of a long lineage (prevention of hereditary diseases) and association of good friends (prevention of bad habits like drug and alcohol use and gambling) constitute a medicine like Thrikadugam.”

Valluvar, a yogi and a poet from Tamil Nadu, is believed to have lived between 3rd and 6th century AD. Valluvar in his famous book of ethics, Kural, refers to the humoral theory of Ayurveda. 
 
“Imbalanced proportions of the three humours, wind, bile and phlegm would lead to ill health”. 
 
Valluvar also defines a health facility as one that have four parts; patient, physician, nurse and medicine. Valluvar’s definition of health care is not different from the one given by Caraka who says “Baisak dravyani upasthatha rogi patha chathusthayam”. (physician, medicine, attendant and patient form the four legs of what is known as health care)

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