The Environment and Ayurveda?

Contemporary discourses spanning almost all fields of research place impetus on an environmental impact assessment and bring to the fore-front, ‘Nature’ and try placing their work of research within that framework. Let us delve into the tradition of Ayurvedic practice and notice if the vedic literature placed emphasis on any sense of environmental sensitivity. We came across a paper by Dr. Ernesto Iannaccone who teaches Sanskrit and Ayurveda classical texts at the ‘Ayurvedic Point’ School of Ayurvedic Medicine located at Milan, Italy. His paper titled ‘Ecological Awareness in Ayurvedic Ancient Texts’ essentially points out that in all the classical Vedic and Ayurvedic literature, that have been interpreted to scholarly satisfaction and survived the test of time, a unifying factor aims to bring the shapes and events of nature back into an essential oneness. Here the differences dissolve.

Ancient Indian thinkers, Ernesto hypothesizes, believed in a deep interrelation between living beings and the expressions of nature. Thus, the philosophical basis of human beings being inseparable from nature; and therefore, Ayurvedic ethics stress respectful behavior towards the environment. As we also see, ayurvedic authors were well aware of the risks of environmental degradation. The third chapter of Vimanastana of Charaka Samhita, one of the most ancient treatises on Ayurveda, elaborates extensively on the causes and consequences of the deterioration of climate, water, and land. These instances thus attest to the environmental sensitivity that Ayurvedic thought instilled in the people of Ancient India.

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