It is believed that during the Samudra Manthan, a mythological tale where the great ocean was churned by the shared labor of the divine and evil forces to gain divine riches from nature, Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, appeared from the ocean holding a pot containing ambrosia, which could confer immortality. Though the recipe for immortality could be consumed by the gods alone, as per Vishnu’s wish, Dhanvantari had something for all beings: Ayurveda, the science of life.
The principles of Ayurveda map the five elements, from which we all are created, to the three doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha. An imbalanced ratio of these three humors is responsible for our poor health. Ayurveda aims at taking the refuge of Mother Nature when our material nature (five elements and the mind) is out of balance, mainly due to our own karma, to reach our natural state of perfect health. While the current focus of this alternative system of medicine remains primarily on medication (herbal) and hatha yoga, mantras were also prescribed by the physician in the older days as a remedy along with plant extracts to bring the body and mind in harmony with nature again.
(Text is excerpted from Devotional Hinduism: Creating Impressions for God; iUniverse Inc, 2008.)