Levels of Ayurvedic Therapies
Ayurveda recognizes three levels of therapies - rational, psychological and spiritual. Rational therapy is mainly for the treatment of physical diseases by physical treatment methods. Psychological therapy is for calming the mind and emotions and includes meditation. Spiritual therapy consists of yogic and occult methods to counter the effects of karma that prevent ordinary physical and psychological treatments from working.
Western medicine recognizes only a kind of rational therapy, the treatment of bodily conditions by objectively verifiable medicines. Ayurveda considers such an approach to be useful but incomplete, only one part of medicine. Without considering the role of the mind and of karma, we can neither understand nor properly treat the majority of diseases, which have subjective causes and complications.
Some scholars view Ayurveda as a rational system of medicine that arose historically out of primitive religio-magical roots, like the use of mantras and amulets giving way to herbs and surgery. However, Ayurveda has never separated itself off from these subtle and spiritual levels of healing. It also considers them to be rational but from the standpoint of our immortal soul, not merely that of the physical body. These remain an integral part of Ayurvedic treatment to the present day, which uses gems, mantras and rituals, as well as diet and herbs.
1. Rational Therapy :- Rational or objectively planned therapy refers to the usage of specific medicines along with dietary regimens to counter the negative qualities evidenced by the disease. It is based upon logic and experience and reflects the Ayurvedic model for understanding the workings of natural forces in the body. Most Ayurvedic medical practice today falls within this field and it is specific to problems with a clearly defined physical origin and pathology. It generally consists of prescribing diet, herbs exercise and lifestyle recommendations contrary to the doshic nature of the disease.
2. Psychological Therapy : - Ayurvedic psychological therapy means controlling the mind to counter negative emotional states. It consists of developing the clear or Sattvic quality of the mind for gaining self-knowledge and freedom from desire. It uses the practices of Yoga and meditation to promote longevity, aid in rejuvenation, and treat disease, particularly mental disorders. It has a spiritual implication but relies less on ritualistic practices, as does spiritual therapy.
3. Spiritual Therapy :- Spiritual, literally "celestial" therapy is applied to diseases that are neither purely physical nor psychological and whose formation cannot be explained from evident causes. It consists of various subtle, religious or occult methods to ward off negative influences and to promote those which are positive. Such methods include chanting mantras, the spiritual use of herbs and gems, rituals for giving good fortune (Man gala), offerings of oblations (Bali), offerings in general (Upahara), fasting (Upavasa), pilgrimages (Gamana), performance of prostrations (Pranipata), fire sacrifices (Homa), ceremonial penances (Prayaschitta), and rituals for well-being (Swastyayana).
This therapy is found not only in Ayurveda but also in the tradition of Vedic Astrology (Jyotish) as well as in various yogic approaches, particularly teachings of the tantric order. Much of it is considered to be magical in nature but it has its logic for countering negative karmic patterns. With these three different types of therapies, Ayurveda provides diverse methods and approaches for dealing with all possible difficulties in health and well-being.
The curative aspect of Ayurveda treats diseases and contains an entire range of therapeutic measures. These curative aspects also consist of three parts - Internal Medicine, External Medicine and Surgery - which are discussed in detail below. Most attention will be given to the Internal Medicine portion as it is the most important.
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