Ayurveda in Sri Lanka
Ayurveda is nature’s way of caring and curing. The preparation of ayurvedic medications is usually a long process with ingredients being ground in a pestle for a prescribed period of time. Juices and extracts of plants are simmered until they reduce to a fraction of their original volume. Besides decoctions, wines, pills and powders for internal use, ayurveda also uses poultices, pastes, ointments and oils for external application.
The methods of ayurvedic treatment vary from steam baths to massages, and recommended codes for healthy living which include dietary and sodo-cultural practices. Ayurveda is a cure for a lifetime and a way of life. Generations of Sri Lankans continue to use these age-old remedies, living to a ripe old age in excellent physical and mental condition. Together with its meditative aspects, ayurveda is a gentle and relaxed treatment for both mind and body resulting in tranquility, zest and energy.
According to G Obeyesekere (in “The impact of Ayurvedic ideas on the culture and the individual in Sri Lanka” book), Ayurveda is more than a system of physical medicine, because its underlying
ideas have permeated religion and ritual. Ayurvedic principles include the doctrine of
the five bhutas, or basic elements of the universe;
the tridofa, three humors; and
the seven dhiitus, or components of the body.
The five elements are
The five elements are constituents of all life, and as such also make up the three humors and the seven physical components of the body. As the five elements contained in food are “cooked” by fires in the body they are converted
into a fine portion and refuse.
The five elements are constituents of all life, and as such also make up the
three humors and the seven physical components of the body. As the five elements contained in food are “cooked” by fires in the body they are converted into a fine portion (iihiira-prasiida) and refuse (kitta or mala).
The body eleme11ts are produced by successive transformation of the refined food substance inro food juice (rasa ), blood (rakla ), flesh (miiinsa), fat (medas), bone (asthi), marrow (majja), and semen (Sukra). Semen is said to be the most highly refined element in the body, the “vital juice” that tones the whole organism.
Physical health is maintained when the three humors are in harmonic balance, but when they are upset they become dofas, or “troubles,” of the organism. Since they arc also fundamental to body functioning they are also known as tri-dhiitu, or the three basic components of the body ; but this term must not be confused with the more common use of the word dhiitu for the seven components of the body.
(Photo – Ayurveda Treatment at Lanka Princess Hotel)