Ayurveda and its holistic view

One of the worst, or rather the best criticism, that complementary systems like Ayurveda has had to contend with is mostly, if not solely, with respect to its ‘macro’ viewpoint which is at variance with the contemporary ‘micro’ view that the cosmopolitan medicine adopts. Modern science therefore appears to be antithetical to the ancient wisdom of looking at the “whole” rather than “parts” of the whole. Even without extolling the merits of one over the other, which in any case is not the purpose of this post, we need to appreciate that beneath this sheen of incongruity lies the complementarity of the fact that these are merely two varying stand points in trying to understand the same reality. The famous story of the blind men and the elephant comes immediately to the mind. Perhaps this analogy is loaded in favour of the ‘macro’ view. The supporters of the Ayurvedic ‘macro’ view would of course be delighted to no end by this because the reductionist approach of fragmenting reality, according to them, is fraught with inherent fallacies.

Ayurveda believes in engaging positively with the forces and elements of nature as a pre-requisite for upkeep of good health. Extolling the merits of holistic approach of complementary systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Dr. Kart Morst Pochlmann of the Habitchtswald Klinik, Germany says, “All natural systems of medicine have one thing in common. They think of the body as a whole, a part of nature, part of the cosmos and if you stay in tune with nature, there is no disease, no suffering. Diseases can happen only when we lose connection with nature.”

This holistic concept has of late been getting support from some unexpected quarter – physics. The world of physics began with the hum of rumours of a “theory of everything” from the early 1980s. This theory would in essence be a model that would unite all the known laws of the universe into one all-embracing theory that would literally explain everything in existence. In other words, modern science is slowly but definitely veering around to the ‘macro’ view. Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D, award winning American author of books like ‘Taking the Quantum Leap’ and ‘The Spiritual Universe’ writes in “Mind into Matter’ , “There is no “out there” unless first and primarily there is an “in here” taking action – a deeper, transformative effect – on the “out  there”.” The same idea was hinted at centuries ago by the great teacher of Ayurveda, Charaka when he said “Yavanto purushe tavanto loke iti” (as is in the purusha (body) as it is out there in the loka (universe)).

We shall delve more into these holistic concepts of Ayurveda in our future posts.