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Ashtanga, the Eight Arms of Ayurveda
The above slogan tells that kaya chikitsa (treating physique or body), bala (baala) chikitsa (pediatrics), griha chikitsa (women and children), urdhvanga chikitsa (eye, ear, nose and parts above neck), salya tantra (surgery), damsthra chikitsa (toxicology), jara chikitsa (rejuvenation therapy) and vajeekarana chikitsa (aphrodisiac therapy) are the eight branches (angas) of Ayurveda.
Ashtanga hridaya is the book that tells in detail about all the eight angas of Ayurveda. It is the sum total of all knowledge spread across millions of slogas from thousands of books written by eminent Ayurveda practitioners and teachers from the past. All topics regarding Ayurveda are concentrated to some 7000 slogas in Ashtangahridaya.
Ashtanga vaidyas of Kerala learned and practiced all of the eight specialties of Ayurveda. There are different vaidya families that concentrated on specific angas only. Pampinmeykkattu family is still known for damsthra chikitsa, mainly treating snake venom related conditions.
Astagahridaya tells in detail about dinacharyas (daily routine), ritucharyas (seasonal routines) etc. Ritucharya is the method of adjusting our daily activities like taking bath, food and drinks, work and travel, entertainment, rest and sleep etc. It also details the methods of controlling our thoughts, words, action, and even what we look at and see.
There is a sloga in Ashtangahridaya, which we can regard as the corner stone of health;
Nityam hithahara vihara sevii
Datha samassthya paraha kshamava
Napthopaseveecha, bhavatya rogaha
The meaning of the sloga goes like this –
Take good food, do moderate physical exercise, think well before starting risky ventures, live a life of self respect, give alms according to your capacity, love all alike, tell only truth, maintain composure under pressure, be forgiving, mingle with good people –
The brief sloga tells about the ingredients of good physical and mental health. Deviating from this lifestyle can cause diseases.
About the Author: Dev Sri writes about Tourism and Ayurveda practices in Kerala.
Find more about Ayurveda at Kerala