Dr. Robert Svoboda gives a historical account of Ayurveda from the Vedic period to Classical India in this episode of Living with Reality.
Vedic Shamanic Medicine
In the Vedic era, Ayurveda was a traditional shamanic medicine practice. This type of medicine focused on the power of the shaman and the shaman’s ability to understand disturbances in an individual as a misalignment of energies. The shaman would employ their own energy, ritual energy, and energy from substances, in order to transform the pattern of energy inside the individual. This, hopefully, would provide relief from their condition.
For more on Ayurveda, check out another episode of Living with Reality: Advice to Students of Ayurveda
Agriculture and Waste (14:21)
Thanks to the development of agriculture, Indian people began to band together to protect the food and collaborate. As larger communities started to grow, it became more difficult to deeply know everyone. This formed a type of isolation; though there were more people around, the deeper connections found in smaller groups were lacking. More people also meant the accumulation of more waste and disease. Waste and emotional isolation can affect people’s prana as well as their physical health. This created a need for a more practical medical system than the earlier shamanic Ayurveda.
“Literal physical waste, not just aggravated or knotted up energy, but physiological material waste was accumulating in the bodies of people in these cities and towns.” – Dr. Robert Svoboda
The Transformation of Ayurveda (27:01)
Ayurveda transitioned into a medical practice that could employ substances and actions to assist the body in removing waste and rehabilitating the disturbed prana. The Vedic culture was focused on aligning itself with nature with the help of the deities and astral beings. In order to be practical as times moved forward and the environment changed, Ayurveda also had to transform. Ayurveda had to serve a growing community of humans and provide order within chaos. Dr. Svoboda stresses, however, that we still need to align ourselves with nature too. Nature provides a different type of order than humans can.
“We need to align ourselves as best as possible, get out in nature whenever we can, because it is the order in nature that is really maintaining our order.” – Dr. Robert Svoboda