By Desiree Collazo, Ayurvedic Therapies Program Director at CE Institute LLC, Miami FL
Ayurveda dates back to Indus Valley civilization which flourished as early as 3000 B.C. There is a reference of Lord Mahavir, a great saint of Jain religion, being treated by Jivak, a guru of Ayurveda, about 2500 years back. Charak, a sage, was accounted as a great authority in Ayurveda. A compendium by Charak is known as Charak Samhita and is the oldest literature on Ayurveda found in India.
As Buddhism was spread in 500 B.C. to the next 1000 years to China, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other Eastern countries, along with it, Ayurveda also spread to these countries as well. During the 19th and earlier 20th centuries, the British ruled India and closed the Ayurvedic universities, although Ayurveda continued to be practiced in secret. The knowledge was preserved by the Guru-shishya relationship (teacher-student) through oral traditions.
All the most important of Ayurvedic scriptures existed in oral form long before being redacted in writing – therefore, writings had occurred after knowledge was in use for several thousands of years. They include:
Charaka Samhita (Medical Compendium) by Acharya Charaka (800 – 1500 B.C.)
Sushruta Samhita (Surgical Compendium) by Acharya Sushruta (1500 – 1800 B.C.)
Ashtanga Hridaya (The Eightfold Heart of Medicine) by Vaghbata (100 A.D.)
For several thousand years the teachings were passed on orally from teacher to student and about the 5th to 6th Century BC, in elaborately detailed texts written in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India.