Ayurveda, which literally means “the science of life”, has been an ancient medical system of India. It is a holistic healing system based upon the principles of Indian philosophy and psychology, built upon traditional medical knowledge. It teaches about living a natural and balanced life. It is holistic because it aims at the proper functioning of body, mind and soul.
Ayurveda had great influence on the medical system of ancient Egypt. Many herbs and minerals, found commonly in Ayurvedic medicines, are said to have been used by the physicians of ancient Egypt. The exchange of knowledge between India and Egypt has been confirmed by recent archaeological studies.
Ayurveda is an ancient medical system of India
Rishis or holy sages of prehistoric India are said to have discovered and developed the medical system of Ayurveda. Their deep knowledge about nature and the close relationship between spiritual and physical worlds led the sages to the discovery of Ayurveda. The discoveries of these holy sages are mentioned in the old texts of Rig Veda and Atharva Veda which are more than 4,000 years old.
Health care in ancient Egypt
Health care system in ancient Egypt was renowned for its success in treating diseases. The Pharaohs of Egypt paid great attention to the health condition of their people. Trade and wars helped Egypt to share valuable knowledge among countries.
Ayurvedic influence in ancient Egypt
1) There are evidences that Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, whose ruling period extends between 1303 BC and 1213 BC, sent physicians to the kings of other countries to train themselves in the respective medical systems of other countries.
2) Papyrus texts that belong to 4,000 years before the Christian era give details about the use of essential oils and spices from the eastern world. They tell about Egyptian import of aromatic herbs and flowers from countries like India and China.
3) Egyptian words that have the meaning of “smell” point out the importance of smell in their culture. It is well known that South India, where Ayurveda had its origin, had a vital part in exporting spices and aromatic materials to the western world. Indian spices had an important place in Egyptian health care and rituals.
4) Egyptians believed that the physical body has importance even after death. Hence they used aromatics and essentials oils that had preservative powers. There had been exchange of knowledge between India and Egypt in extracting essential oils from herbs and making use of them. Egyptian mummies tell many stories about the use of essential oils. Ayurvedic use of aromatic oils goes back even prior to the Indus Valley Civilization.
5) Massage therapy is an important branch of Ayurveda. It is used in a treatment called “Panchakarma”. Massaging can cure as well as prevent diseases. It helps energizing and detoxifying the body. Massage therapy has an important part in Egyptian health system. Isis is considered as the Egyptian goddess of all massages. There are many similarities in the myths of Egyptian and Hindu cultures.
Historical studies can bring out more interesting facts on the universal nature of ancient medical systems. Further studies are still going on to establish the close association among the ancient systems of medicine. They can surely enlighten modern medical science to find reliable solution to diseases that are still threatening humanity.