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The word "Veda" means book or more recently "science" or "root" in Sanskrit. Generally it means "book" but more particularly it means "the" book. It would be hard to call it a religious book, which term is often used, but rather one of philosophy, with an origin going back about 10,000 years. It was never ONE book, but it was one set of philosophical concepts compiled in the mists of ancient time, undoubtedly related from generation to generation through the "oral historians" that fill the otherwise unknown ancient history.
Different subjects came to be known as special types of "Vedas" as, for instance, the "Rig Veda" -- the "verses of knowledge." This page is about the "Ayur Veda," the book of health, or life.
Just as the lotus is a symbol of perfection and purity, so do we embody these qualities. Just as the lotus rises from the mud, so does our higher nature rise from the world of conflict, confusion and chaos. The beauty of the lotus and the beauty within us cannot be stained or touched with imperfection. Just as the lotus flower’s graceful petals unfold layer upon layer, so does grace within us unfold revealing layer upon layer of beauty.
Many times this oral history took the form of entertaining plays -- where the actors, indeed, could recite or perform THE history for hours, never changing a syllable in years of repetition, with the audience producing one, now and then, who would learn, and take his own place as an oral historian.
These "teachings" were philosophical, but since the philosophy was rather abstract, they devolved into rites and ceremonies -- seen, nonetheless, as a vital part of allowing the oral tradition to continue. The rites and ceremonies were then seen as religious practices. Eventually the rites and ceremonies became more important than understanding the philosophy.
The common man would remember, generally, only the rites, not the philosophy. The caste system in India named as the highest caste the Brahmin -- the physician. My colleague in India, Dr. MSR Ayyangar, is of the Brahmin caste. He reads Sanskrit fluently and speaks several languages. It was the job of the Brahmin in Indian society to maintain the philosophy and teach those who would learn. Dr. Ayyangar has written his own views on Ayurvedic Medicine HERE.
As man moved on this planet, those who populated what is now Europe had to confront wild animals and a dangerous environment. Their motto was what one philosopher called, "strike the hard blow." Those with this tradition became the warriors and engineers -- practical and results - oriented. America was largely populated from lands where "strike the hard blow" was the motto.
Those, on the other hand, who wandered through the Gobi dessert and settled in the impoverished land of India had, as their motto, "endure." These were the people given to thinking and philosophy -- certainly not the realm of Western society. These people suffered hardships because they had no alternative -- they found "freedom" in philosophy, while the Westerner found freedom in a dead animal to eat for dinner.
Dr. MSR Ayyangar is an Indian Brahmin who was educated as a Western engineer -- an extremely rare combination on this planet. He is, in his Brahmin tradition, a deep thinker on high philosophy, but a practical man who builds entire manufacturing plants against a blue-print.
So, it was natural that "civilization" came early to Asia, and late to Europe, but it was also natural that Europe became far more successful in a materialistic sense. It is Western materialism which has brought forth chemical medicine, and Asian philosophy which brought forth medicine based on philosophy, as senior, and natural plants as common sources of practical use.
Western medicine teaches (ala Dr. Wundt) that man arose from a sea of chemicals, and has no soul. Eastern medicine is full of religious philosophy which has little if any practical application that works 100% of the time. Western medicine is bankrupt, dieing, yet people are trying to put band aides on the corpse -- click here for a simple example of the common story.
The comparison of the East and the West is in no way more apparent than the Western approach with drugs and the absence of God from the equation. In the East we have God, and philosophy, but these have not "worked" to improve the lot of life there. When a man's belly is empty, or his kid sick, he forgets any philosophical teaching, substituting for it the rituals which, without understanding, are without meaning and value.
What is needed is the melding of the Western practicality with the Eastern philosophy, with a dose of "honest and accurate observation" thrown in to keep the Eastern philosophy oriented toward the type of results that Westerners so love.
That is what has been absent from every religion in history -- either East or West. Somewhere, within an applied religious philosophy there must be some result in the here-and-now -- some result in this time frame. That "result" must be measurable in elimination of war and disease -- man's religions have not brought peace on earth, whether or not they bring spiritual salvation in the hereafter.
The key here is accurate and honest observation.
The Eastern Mystic could chant and dance, but the kid with chicken pox still died. Western medicine, very early on, found antibiotics and the doctor's clean hands as great advances in health. But, Western medicine has long since run past any use beyond drugging people into a state of vegetable where pain is no longer felt. Cancer therapy, in particular, is barbaric at best and the use of psychiatric drugs pushes our American society lower than any gutter. Even I, Karl Loren, without medical education (fortunately) come up with revolutions in the very core concepts about heart disease.
However I have done this, I have developed a remarkable ability to observe and know the truth.
So we have gone down the chemical path for such a long distance in the West that there will be no great further advance there. And, the Eastern tradition has failed to get results for so long that the philosophy is lost and only the rituals remain. The religious philosophy, and rituals, of ancient Hinduism are of great interest, intellectually, but the wealth of India is in the herbal observations made those 5,000 years ago when there were still people who understood the philosophy and had enough expectation of results to make honest observations of which herbs, administered in what ways, would produce what results.
When an engineer builds a tunnel under the mountain there is no room for the tunnel to NOT meet in the center of the tunnel. Engineering is a precise science. Philosophy should be no less. The Ayurvedic Medicine identifies herbs with precision accuracy -- the rituals or dogma that go along are unnecessary baggage.
I wrote about this concept as it is applied in the Western World. Here, in this "modern" world, we have no tradition of oral history. The "natives" in South America, unlike the early inhabitants in Asia, have no "history" that can be traced back for thousands of years.
But, particularly in South America, there are still tribes of very uncivilized people who have not been impacted by chemical medicine. For them it is the Witch Doctor who is the local health authority -- and his memory and history may go back a few generations -- as he remembers what his grandmother taught him, about what HER grandmother taught her -- perhaps 100 or even 200 years of tradition.
What is that compared to 5,000 years of history, initially oral history, but in writing far before the West got "civilized?"
Well, it has been enough, in our Western world to spawn something called "Ethnobotany."
In that South American setting if you found that 100 people, located in 100 different areas of the continent, EACH had the same data, you could not conclude that they all got that data from the same source. Click here for the longer presentation of "ethnobotany" excerpted below.
You might conclude that each of those 100 people arrived at that data independently of the others – that each of them arrived at that data by some form of personal observation of a universal truth, uninfluenced by rumor or the opinion of others!
And, if you went around and visited the witch doctors in dozens of different villages, each out-of-reach of the other, and if you found that ALL of these witch doctors used the bark of a particular tree to cure cancer, wouldn’t you agree with me that THIS research might be more accurate and honest than that done in the laboratories paid for by the drug companies, by scientists educated at Harvard?
And, so is the science of ethnobotany born! While you can find this word, ethnobotany, in a good dictionary, you don’t get, at all, the full flavor of the power of this science.
I’ve just described it, above.
An ethno (from the same root as ethnic
a. Of or relating to sizable groups of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage.
b. Being a member of a particular ethnic group.
c. Of, relating to, or distinctive of members of such a group: ethnic restaurants; ethnic art.
And from the word, botany, the study of plants.
An ethnobotanist is one who studies plants, and particularly their medicinal values, by studying the folklore and history of groups of people who, generally, have not been in contact with other groups.
Your Adventure In The Wilds!
You, the happy adventurer, travel by mule and canoe, hundreds of miles into the wilds of Brazil. You take an interpreter with you, and spend a week at the village of the Juaaba!
You interview the witch doctor, who shows you the bark of a tree, locally called the "jawajac," and tells you that jawajac cures all diseases!
Now, are you ready to publish a scientific paper claiming that jawajac cures cancer?
If you do, who will believe you?
But, what if you get the same story from 100 different villages. Each village has its own name for "the bark," but you get samples, look at the trees, and are convinced that ALL these 100 stories are about the same tree.
Truly This Witch Doctor CAN Be A More Reliable Source Of Health Information Than A Harvard Graduate Researcher!
None of those 100 villages are in contact with any of the others.
Each of the 100 Witch Doctors tell you the same story, using different names for the tree.
Now, will your story be credible?
The story of ONE such tribal group would be worthless in terms of scientific evidence, of course. But, if 100 different tribal villages, located, each of them, 100 or more miles from any other, if EACH of these villages has a strong tradition of using the same plant (which will usually have very different names in the different languages of these 100 villages) for the same medicinal use, THEN the ethnobotanist can safely conclude that 100 different independent observers, with no influence from someone else, came to the SAME conclusion.
That is a very powerful finding!
In the circumstance of 100 different villages, no matter how crazy or foolish any one or several of them might be, you do not expect 100 of them, independently, to come to the same foolish and crazy conclusion, unless it just happens to be true!
So, ethnobotany is a very valid science, as you can guess, not well supported in our Universities, and certainly not supported at all by the massive billions of dollars spent on drug research.
Yes, being an ethnobotanist is a lonely profession, that takes you to the far corners of the Western civilization. But, when an ethnobotanist thinks of Asia? He immediately runs into the fact that his work has already been done -- some 5,000 years ago! And is published.
The Witch Doctor has his herbs, but when the ethnobotanist visits that village is ONLY interested in the herbs -- not any "foolish" ritual that might go along with the use of the herbs. You would expect the Witch Doctor to give the herb and then dance around the patient -- chanting. His chanting is not part of some deep philosophical system. You can very safely ignore the chanting.
Westerners are intimidated by Asian philosophy -- it is "deep" and it is ancient. It was written long before any Western Bible. It cannot be ignored. When you go looking for Ayurvedic medical practitioners you will find them wrapped in the mystic and deep philosophy of the Vedas. If you come from the West you know that your own philosophy is shallow indeed compared to that of the East.
If you ARE able to stand just a few feet back from this scene, you may be able to pass judgment on the Eastern Philosophy, and realize that no matter how deep it is, it is not able to get results in the real world. As nice as it is, it is NOT what makes the leaves, stems, roots or flowers "work." They work because they work, and they work because Western Science has studied them and explained why -- in very practical terms of physics and biochemistry.
The typical Ayurvedic Center in the US, or elsewhere, is cloaked in the mysteries of the secrets of the unknown, etc.:
The Hidden Secret of Ayurveda
by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda
An excellent introduction and overview of the profound, ancient Indian healing system known as Ayurveda.
96 pp. $ 5.95 (source)
Another piece of truth about Ayurveda is that because there is no single source, not even a single "book" with the original form of these concepts, each person who became "expert" has felt free to develop his own school of thought -- so some Ayurvedic Centers are very different in what they teach and practice from others.
The ancient Rishis, or realized beings, discovered truth by means of religious practices, disciplines and through intensive meditations. Rishis and sages like Shushrutacharya, Charakacharya, Vagbaht, Sarangdhar etc. created great commentaries, contributing their efforts and insights to make it available to all of us.
Raso Vai Ayurveda brings a unique way to continue the traditional science in this modern life style. (source)
So, Western Science SHOULD look at the Indian Ayurvedic Medicine and take from it the wonderful history of herbal remedies, but separate out any religious philosophy or ceremony.
Here is an example of the combination of a ritual, or ceremony, combined with a physical treatment, showing an Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis. I would, personally, be very willing to try this treatment -- it sounds like fun. But, I would tend to scientifically study those "herbal oils" to see if "rubbing" them on your skin would accomplish the same thing. In other words, the science without the ritual. I am ready to discover that the ritual is an important part of the treatment, but I would start off somewhat skeptical.
PIZHICHIL In this treatment lukewarm herbal oils are applied all over your body in a special rhythmic way.. This treatment is very useful for Rheumatic diseases like arthritis, paralysis, hemiplegia and paralysis - agitanus, (Source)
The Western scientist is plenty bold enough to discard any strange South American ritual, but hesitates to do that in the face of 5,000 years of Indian philosophy.
So, Ayurvedic Medicine, in its use within the United States, is inevitably wrapped up in the philosophy of India -- the very same philosophy which, no matter how intellectually fascinating, has not produced practical results in India. If birds fly, let's build a bird!
So, I downgrade whatever within the supposed teachings of Ayurveda might be the spiritual philosophy, and simply take the "book" of herbal remedies, based on 5,000 years of collected observations, test those remedies with modern Western scientific studies, and feel very comfortable in presenting to you "the Ayurvedic Herbal Methyl Sulfonyl Methane" -- ancient knowledge without ancient philosophy. This is ancient knowledge combined with Western technology -- a very superior concept, particularly when contrasted with the current thrust of chemical medicine in the US.
So, I suggest to you that "Ayurvedic Medicine" is of two parts, as most in the West view it.
There is a spiritual philosophy which is very intoxicating -- because the spirituality of the East is more satisfying intellectually than the dead religious "non-philosophies" of the West. But, no matter how intoxicating is this philosophy of the East, it has not proven practical.
On the other hand, the very low level, physical universe observations of what some leaf, or some flower can do, as a herb, has no inherent philosophy in it. Oh, yes! Philosophy has been ADDED to the herbs, but it need not be.
We in Western Society can keep looking for a philosophy that can actually work, but we can take the leaves, stems, roots and flowers of thousands of Indian plants, see what has been observed to be true about them, over 5,000 years, much of that in written (Sanskrit) form, check those observations against Western scientific study, and come out far ahead of chemical medicine.
That is what the Supportt Series does!
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