Ayurveda is timeless, according to Hindu mythology its origins go back to the Creator, Lord Brahma, Himself. While creating the Universe, He gathered knowledge from the four directions, and distilled it into the four Vedas, the ancient Hindu scriptures. This knowledge was then passed on to Prajapati Daksha, who was born out of the right thumb of Brahma and who is the ancestor of everyone on this planet. Daksha, in turn, passed this knowledge on to the Ashwini Kumaras, the twins who were the physicians to the Gods… and they, on their part, offered it to Lord Indra. It was Lord Indra who taught this science to Lord Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda.
An Awe-inspiring Appearance
A beautiful myth recounts how Lord Dhanvantari surfaced from the Ocean of Milk that was being churned by the Gods to obtain the nectar of immortality. During this churning, many divine objects emerged from the Ocean. It was an awe-inspiring sight indeed, as Lord Dhanvantari rose, holding in one hand, the Nectar of Immortality, Amrit, and in another, the jalooka or the leech that is used by Ayurvedic practitioners for bloodletting. Lord Dhanvantari is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver and protector of creation, the embodiment of mercy and goodness, the self-existent, all-pervading power that preserves the universe and maintains the cosmic order or dharma. He thus carried Vaishnava symbols like the Srichakra, which is Lord Vishnu’s discus, and the Sankh, or sacred conch shell. Mythology also tells us that Lord Dhanvantari’s incarnation was as the King of Benares, and the purpose of this incarnation was to bring the art and science of Ayurveda to us mortals. Ashtavaidya families, who are the eight hereditary families in Kerala that practice Ayurveda, are all devotees of Lord Dhanvantari. These legendary physicians have been instrumental in ensuring that Ayurveda in its purest form is nurtured, practiced and preserved in God’s Own Country. In fact, all Ayurvedic practitioners, wherever in the world they are, begin their education with the Dhanvantari Mantra, which is prayer to the God of Ayurveda
Before the invention of writing, Ayurveda’s ancient wisdom was a part of the Vedic Religion, and of the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. It was an oral tradition which was first written down by Veda Vyasa, a great sage, in the Atharva Veda It is believed that the knowledge of life or Ayurveda is eternal, with no beginning or end. To impart this knowledge, Lord Dhanvantri Himself sometimes takes an incarnation in the form of a great sage or Vaidya. This is why Ayurveda is considered to be a Divine System of Healing that is as infinite and eternal as the cosmic cycle of creation and destruction itself.