Ayurveda, the “science of life” or “longevity", is the holistic alternative science from India, and is more than 5,000 years old. It is believed to be the oldest healing science in existence, forming the foundation of all others.
The Vedic scriptures say that there is an inextricable link between humans and the universe. The very elements of human life exist outside in the cosmos as well. As the poet Walt Whitman said, “I believe a blade of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” In order to understand the universe and environmental situations, and to understand human health concerns, one needs to appreciate the common link between them: the elements of creation.
The creation principle developed five essential elements or building blocks that all life forms contain: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. We can easily see how life was created from the subtlest to the grossest matter. From eternity, the subtlest form of matter is ether. Ether mixing with eternity creates air, a more observable or experiential element. As air moves, it eventually creates friction, which creates heat or fire. Heat produces moisture, thus creating water, the densest element yet: if one tries to walk through water, one is slowed by its density. Finally, water produces the densest form of matter, earth. The Vedas say that all of the creation, including humans, is made up of combinations of all five essential elements. These elements are the subtlest aspects of human life, finer than the molecular, atomic, or subatomic levels.
As creation developed, it formed three underlying principles that uphold all life: the laws of creation, maintenance, and dissolution. Everything in life is born or created, it lives, and then it dies. These principles are known as sattva (goodness, balance), rajas (passion and activity), and tamas (destruction, chaos), respectfully, and are called the three gunas or tendencies. All of life, human and celestial, obey these laws.
This is the level that Áyurvedic healing works on. Focusing on the cause of the grosser levels of life, the denser aspects will be taken care of since they are made up of these five elements. Just as a strong foundation supports a strong building, when the five elements (the foundation of all matter) are strong and balanced in a person, they will automatically balance the more material levels. Thus, Ayurveda does not need to look at isolated parts of the human anatomy, or at the vitamin, chemical, or nutritional level of health. It simply balances the elements, and this balances the more physical levels.