a little-known or forgotten aspect in Ayurveda, the foremost Vedic Medical Science
In the Indian cultural tradition, the highest aim of human life is to spiritually evolve through fostering the four Purusharthas of Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha, and get released from the cycle of birth and death and merge in God.
The real means and basis of achieving these Purusharthas is the total health of the body. Among the seven blessings that have been mentioned, the first blessing is healthy body. In the foremost text of Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita, in the Sutra1/15, the same thing is said Dharmaarthakamamokshanam Arogyam Moolamantramam —health is the foundation of Dharmaarthakamamoksha.
These days people are turning away from Nature, turning away from one’s own consciousness, because of which man has lost his state of natural health or Swasthya. For man to regain health of the body, filled with a pure mind and consciousness, the Margdarshan or the way shown by Ayurveda, is essential. Ayurveda connects man to one’s own nature and consciousness. It imparts knowledge of a superior lifestyle. The oldest science in the world concerning itself with health and medical treatment is Ayurveda.
In this world, there is not any substance that does not have medicinal properties. According to different needs, in different ways, every substance can be purified and used as medicine, often proven to be life-saving.
There was a time, long ago, when there used to be dialogue between human beings and plants and trees! When a man, filled with great respect and permeated with a feeling of love, asked the tree, for instance a Pipul tree, Oh Medicine of the Forest, Oh Pipul Tree, tell me how you can be useful to me, what you can do for me? So that, by using your parts, we can become healthy in body and mind.
Then, after listening to the man’s words, filled with great respect and love, the Pipul tree,
pleased, replies’ Oh man, my leaves, fruits, branches, aerial roots, and roots, will benefit you in this way—–you will benefit also from sitting and sleeping by me.
In the same way, they would go to a Neem tree and other trees and plants and ask and converse with them, and by that, easily learn their utility and them put it to use. These are all natural things and man will be happy to whatever extent he stays close to Nature and the further he moves away from Nature, to that extent, he will be unhappy. In ancient times, human beings sat under the Kalpavriksh in the same way and what they wished they received. Mention of this is also there in Jain texts.
Learning so much from plants and trees, our Rishi-Munis, searching through the power of their intellect and intuition, found out what more benefits can be derived from plants. These things came to the fore as to the essence of which plant materials would yield what medicinal materials and what medicine can be made from them; the plant material obtained under what star can be utilized for what, with what medium can the medicine be consumed and what benefit will result from it, what benefit will come from keeping which ‘jadi-bhooti’ close to oneself etcetera. From many angles, the utilization of several plant parts was taught. Even now, benefit can be derived from that research. Apart from Maharshi Charak and Sushruta, several Jain Munis and Acharyas have done deep study, research and application on the subjects of body-mind, lifestyle, diet, medicine and medical science. Thus, Ayurveda is not a mere medical science but a complete science of life.
Rishi Munis of India, after having gained comprehensive knowledge of human existence and the secret of human life and its span, searched for the means of stabilizing the life force and preventing disease. Along with this, the Muni Rishis obtained long life and showed the way to achieve Samadhi, removing obstacles to long life like illness and disease.
Bhagawan Mahavir, the last Jain tirthankar’s achievement of Kaivalya or Sarvajna, the state of supreme Knowledge, is world-famous. When Mahavir became the All-Knowing, he was in meditation under a Sal Tree. You can imagine the great contribution of the Sal Tree in His obtaining Samadhi or Supreme Knowledge. This inspires us to think that trees and plants have a singular role in the movement of the individual soul towards the Universal Soul. Without the support of Nature in this universe, we cannot obtain the aim of life, that is Moksha.
(This is an edited form of an article contributed to the Mrityunjay Mission Newsletter by Jain Muni Arvind Kumar)