The Ancient Lineage Of The Tradition Of Ayurvedic Longevity Learning
“This is the description of Longevity Chapter with distinction.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 1/1,)
Explained: The first word that is used is ‘Atha’. This word denotes all the three – blessings, prayer and goodwill for all. This word has been used in several ayurveda and yoga classics of ancient times and is considered auspicious in the beginning of literary works.
Long life represents life span with health and happiness. Longevity is described with distinction that is, this topic is covered in holistic sense as related to body, health and disease.
As preached and told by the great sage Atreya.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 1/2, Longevity)
Explained: The great seer Atreya was the disciple and son of another sage Atri. Atreya was known as Punarvasu Atreya.
Ayurvedic literature is presented in the format of Guru and Disciple discussions. In this way, the disciple is able to clear his doubts and ask further to elaborate certain points. The whole of Charaka Samhita consists of Sanskrit verses originally. These Sanskrit verses are divided into four categories…
- Chief Mentor’s Verses: These verses represent the definitive wisdom of Ayurvedic principle.
- Disciple Verses: These verses represent the questions and doubts of the disciple that he wants to be more clear about.
- Chief Editor’s Verses: These verses had been added by the authority who made certain time specific additions or edited certain topics. The person with this authority must have been a great and recognized authority on Ayurveda.
- Reference Verses: This part belongs to the knowledge that was taken as it is from other related, authoritative and relevant resources.
In the case of Charaka Samhita, The chief mentor had been Punarvasu Atreya and his disciple had been Agnivesha. So this classic was known as ‘Agnivesha Tantra’ previously.
Later on, Charaka edited and transformed this great work of Ayurveda and his influence had been so great that this classic is still known by his name, Charaka Samhita.
“The seer Bhardwaja who had been radiant with spiritual austerity, went to Indra, the great among Gods and the one who protects those who take his shelter.”
“This whole Ayurvedic wisdom was received in its entirety by Daksha Prajapati from Brhama. Thereafter, this wisdom was sought from Daksha prajapati to Ashwini brothers, Ashwini brothers to Indra. The sage Bharadwaja was sent to Indra to learn Ayurveda after all other sages had agreed for his name.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 1/3-5, Longevity)
Explained: The above three verses tell the lineage of Ayurveda in the ancient time. Bharadwaja was the first person on earth to receive this wisdom of Ayurveda from the Gods. Before him, Ayurvedic wisdom was not available for ordinary persons.
Bhardwaja learned this art and science of life from Indra who in turn received it from Ashwini brothers, Ashwini brothers from Daksha Prajapati, and Daksha from Brahma.
There had been two characteristics of Ayurvedic wisdom that is transferred in this lineage. The transfer has been ‘as-it-is’ and in its entirety. There had been no dilution, alteration or meddling.
“When people, who lived their lives for spiritual pursuits and observed austerity, self-analysis, studies, chastity, meditation and other spiritual activities, began to have diseases and disorders that hindered in spiritual pursuits, at that time, the great sages gathered in the Himalayan region motivated by compassion for righteous persons.”
“Angira, Jamdagni, Vasistha, Kashayapa, Bhrigu, Atreya, Gautam, Sankhya, Pulastsya, Narada, Asita, Agastya, Vamdeva, Markandeya, Ashwalayana, Parikshi, Bhikshu Atreya, Bharadwaja, Kapinjala, Vishwamitra, Ashmarathya, Bharagava, Chyavana, Abhijita, Gargya, Shandilya, Kaundinya, Devala, Galava, Sanskritya, Vaijvapi, Kushika, Badarayana, Vadisha, Sharaloma, Kapya, Katyayana, Kanakayana, Kaikasheya, Dhaumya, Marichi, Kashayapa, Sharkaraksha, Hiranyaksha, Lokaksha, Paingi, Shaunaka, Shakuneya, Maimtayayani, Vaikhanas, Balakhilya and other famous and recognized sages gathered at this first ancient ayurvedic symposium.”
“All these great sages lived principle centered exemplary life. Their faces were radiant like the fire as all of them observed spiritual discipline. In that symposium, all of them sat comfortably and exchanged their views with concentration.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 1/6-14, Longevity)
Explained: The compassion was ignited in the heart of great sages when they saw that good and righteous people are suffering with diseases and disorders and their longevity was at stake. The diseases and disorders are a great hindrance to the fulfillment of worthy projects, life pursuits and longevity.
The beauty of Ayurvedic wisdom is its universal appeal and how the various propositions are converged to one real and practical wisdom. For this noble cause, all the great minds and good hearts gathered in Himalayan region. All of them lead exemplary life that is enriched by spiritual pursuits, longevity and compassion for the suffering community was the motivating factor for this ancient symposium.
This is the first ancient ayurvedic symposium that is described in Charaka Samhita. This kind of liberal exchange of views and kind consideration of others views was the norm of the ancient ayurvedic lineage. That kind of behavior deserved to be belonged to great personalities!
We are lacking this kind of collaborative effort even in present time for the welfare of global citizens. The innovative medical developments are not motivated by compassion and welfare for the mankind but by the financial consideration of pharmacy giants and financing authorities. These exemplary saints are the true examples for the present time.
The different names and the number of delegates of this symposium is fascinating as when we analyze them in Sanskrit language, it is clearly indicated that this gathering represented global presence of great ones.
Though it can’t be proven by evidence, but then what exactly stops us from accepting this fact is not our rational mind but our ego. Why couldn’t the people belonging to the past, say 3000 or 5ooo years back, gather for the betterment of persons of their time?
The worthy pursuits of human being are grouped into four – religious, economic, sense pleasures and spiritual emancipation. The foundational role in having success with these pursuits is played by health and longevity. Diseases and disorders steal away all the present and imaginable happiness. The diseases impact all the worthy pursuits adversely. What are the means to get rid of diseases? Meditating deeply over this question, they felt intuitively that Indra is the authority to seek this wisdom for dispelling the disorders from human life.
Then the question arose who should go to Indra for receiving the wisdom of Ayurveda? Bharadwaja proactively presented himself to visit Indra. And all other saints agreed on his name.
Bharadwaja went to Indra and approached him with salutations and blessings. Bharadwaja informed Indra about the meeting of sages and its purpose and requested for bestowing the wisdom of Ayurveda for the health, happiness and longevity of people.
Indra felt Bharadwaja to be the deserving candidate for the wisdom of life and preached Bharadwaja the Ayurvedic learning in the form of aphorisms and limited words.
Bharadwaja Learning And Qualities Of Ayurveda:
“Indra imparted the wisdom of Ayurveda to Bharadwaja. Ayurveda is related to both the healthy and diseased. The ayurvedic wisdom had been threefold – Cause of disorders, clinical features and their holistic management. Ayurvedic wisdom is auspicious, beneficial and eternal. Bharadwaja received Ayurveda as it had been realized originally by Brahma.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 1/24-26, Longevity)
Explained: Bharadwaja received the knowledge of Ayurveda in its entirety and and ‘as-it-is’ from Indra. That kind of transfer of learning occurred at very high level of consciousness.
The highly focused mind, the attuned intuition and receptive heart of Bhardwaja enabled him to get this wisdom in its purity. That is why all this learning took very little amount of time as compared to an average person.
Now we concentrates on attributes of Ayurveda in the above verse. Ayurveda belongs to both the healthy individuals and diseased persons. Healthy persons can enhance their health and live healthier and happier and pursue their worthy goals in life.
The persons suffering with disorders can help them to get rid of disorders and thus can be healthy again. For dealing with disorders, the ayurvedic medicine has three main fields – knowledge of causative factors or etiology and pathological process; the clinical features of the disease and its complications; and finally various holistic tools for the management of disorders. This specific knowledge is scientific, practical and relevant and still used by all doctors when they are dealing with disorders.
Thus we can understand that ayurveda is beneficial for all persons. Ayurveda is auspicious or sacred because it empowers us to pursue our goals and aspirations in life.
Ayurveda is eternal. I know of the times when I saw that my juniors came to me to get this point in Ayurvedic college. This word is grossly misunderstood. Eternal means that one has existed from the beginning. It didn’t say that Ayurveda books existed right from the beginning of creation. It doesn’t imply mythological facts.
Eternal stands for the fact that Ayurvedic principles were operational right from the beginning of creation whether we have realized them or not. This is perfectly true. Like, gravitational force is eternal. Gravity has existed right from the day when earth was originated. Ayurveda is the natural wisdom of Nature that is already operating in life.
Ayurvedic principles are a set of realized wisdom and learning and it is self-evident and verifiable right inside us, in our day to day dealings. We don’t need laboratories, though they can affirm and further validate. So Ayurvedic wisdom is eternal or operational right from the beginning.
Ayurveda mentors or sages just dealt with Ayurvedic principles like Newton did with gravitational force. Ayurveda is constantly evolving in historical and medical sense. There had been new additions of herbs, treatment and pharmaceutical modalities.
The sage Bharadwaja was able to receive the wisdom of Ayurveda and realized it as it had been operational in Nature.
How Ayurveda Textbooks Were Written Down And Who Wrote Them?
This part of longevity chapter deals with the learning of Ayurveda by Bharadwaja and then its passage to other sages. Atreya taught Ayurveda to six of his disciples and they wrote it down in the form of Ayurveda textbooks.
“The highly intelligent Bharadwaja received the ayurvedic wisdom in a short period with his intuitive concentration. He realized the infinite workings and manifestation of ayurvedic principles being operational in Nature. Bharadwaja enjoyed longevity and happy life and he disciplined other sages with that wisdom in its entirety as was received by the great one himself.”
“Other sages received Ayurveda with the desire of longevity and welfare of society. Then all the sages realized Ayurveda and six substances (Generality, Specificity, Matter, Quality, Activity, Relationship) intuitively in their life.”
“In the next tradition, Punarvasu Atreya who learned Ayurveda from Bhardwaja, disciplined six disciples in Ayurvedic wisdom with the desire of compassion and friendship for all. Agnivesha, Bhela, Jatukarna, Parashara, Harita and Ksharapani were the six disciples.”
“Agnivesha was the most intelligent of all and so he ended first with a great scripture of Ayurveda. Agnivesha was followed by other disciples with their own scriptures. All these Ayurveda textbooks were reviewed by Punarvasu Atreya and other sages.”
“The sages found all these Ayurveda textbooks in their entirety and found therein all the principles that they have taught to their disciples. The sages were pleased by this effort of their disciples for the greater benefit of mankind and for longevity. All the Gods and Great ones bestowed their blessings on those disciples for they were instrumental for the begining of new era in Ayurvedic wisdom.”
“All the six main Samhita of Ayurveda were established and well recognized for their apt content. Agnivesha and other disciples were blessed with longevity, intelligence, power of execution, memory, wisdom, fame, compassion, kindness and other virtues.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 1/27-40, Longevity)
Explained: OK, we have witnessed how the great disciples of ayurvedic sages learned Ayurveda and become famous and recognized for their own written Ayurveda textbook.
We see it as a common practice even today that most of the experts write articles or books in their field of expertise. Genuinely recommendable and practical!
Presently only Agnivesha written ‘Agnivesha Tantra’ is available in rather textbook form. It is transformed by Charaka and thereafter this book became famous as Charaka Samhita. Other ancient books are either partially available or became unavailable during the course of history.
The good qualities of longevity, health and intelligence represent the characteristics of a person who is holistically healthy, whose body, mind and soul is healthy. So it is natural that these prime disciples of original ayurvedic sages were blessed by these virtues of a healthy and happy life.