The name Dhanvantari is one that is one that inspires devotion in all those who practice Ayurveda, the world’s most ancient system of healing. Lord Dhanvantari is in fact considered to be the God of Ayurveda and physician to the Gods. The name has also been applied to other legendary as well as historical physicians and to a legendary King too. According to mythology, the Gods and the Demons both desired the elixir of eternal youth, amrit. In their search for this nectar of immortality, they churned the divine Ocean of Milk. As the churning progressed, 14 gems were produced, and one of them was Lord Dhanvantari. He rose from the ocean, an awe-inspiring vision with four arms. In one hand, He held the conch shell, the auspicious symbol that spreads positive energy and purifies the very air with its sonorous call. In the second hand, He held his Divine Weapon the Chakra, signifying that Ayurveda can destroy any evil force that attacks the body and mind. In His third hand was the Jalouka or leech, used in bloodletting, one of the principal detoxifying procedures in Ayurveda, while the fourth hand held the pot of elixir , which would eliminate all disease and ensure immortality. Lord Dhanvantri is regarded as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself and in some parts of India, His appearance on earth is celebrated every year a few days before Deepavali, India’s Festival of Lights.
The Physician with the Divine Touch
The name Dhanvantri is also associated with one of the great sages who practiced Ayurveda in ancient times. Based on Vedic traditions, he is regarded as the fountainhead of Ayurvedic knowledge. He perfected many herbal- based remedies and natural remedies. This legendary physician is credited with the discovery of the antiseptic properties of turmeric and the preservative properties of salt which he incorporated in his cures. He was also the world’s first surgeon, and his skill was so great that he is regarded as the pioneer of modern medical practices like plastic surgery. All his surgeries were performed without anesthetic, and in spite of the primitive instruments he used, his success rate was impressive. As a result of the brilliance and achievements he displayed in the field of medicine, he was chosen as one of the Nine Gems in the early Indian ruler Vikramaditya’s court. Dhanvantri taught surgery methods and procedures to Susrutha who is regarded as the Father of Ayurvedic Surgery.
Patron Deity of Physicians
Every practitioner of Ayurveda will seek the blessings of Lord Dhanvantri before starting treatment. And it is not only physicians who seek his blessings. Lord Dhanvantri is worshipped by one and all for freedom of illness, and the boon of good health and peace of mind. In Kerala, often described as the home of Ayurveda, there are eight renowned families of Ayurvedic physicians who worship Lord Dhanvantari as their family deity. They are known as the ‘Ashta vaidyas’ and the present generation follows the same protocols and procedures for treatment that their forefathers have been practicing for centuries. There are also many famous temples in Kerala dedicated to this Divine Healer. Over the ages, His name has come to be associated with excellence in healing, for He is the role model of the caring physician who upholds the nobility and dignity of the profession of medicine.